Behind the Scenes: Books that Helped me Hustle

I’ve been a reading machine lately. Well, a reading machine for me. I have this friend who is a crazy fast reader (love you, Lauren!) and has already read more than 170 books this year!!!! So don’t think I’m reading like that, because I don’t think I could ever reach that bar she has set so high. 😉

But I have been reading a lot and I just can’t get enough. I’ve been on a follow-your-dreams kick, which I’m sure you have easily noticed. But these books have really helped me kick my butt into gear, open my shop and learn how to grow my new business!

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
This book helped me really look at how I spend my time each day (and week!) to see how I can use my time better. We all have 168 hours in a week, and there are many people who use those hours well. So well, in fact, that we think they simply must have more time us… but they don’t! They have full family lives, successful careers, are in great shape, etc. The author gives super practical ways to log your time and assess how you can maximize what you love by minimizing what you don’t.

Grow Your Handmade Business: How to Envision, Develop, and Sustain a Successful Creative Business
 by Kari Chapin
This book was recommended to me by my friend Allison, who has an adorable Storenvy shop for embroidery that I honestly do “envy” very much. 😉 I had approached her with a few questions about starting a shop and she told me about the books she had read by Kari Chapin. This book is a very quick read, but was so helpful to get a “behind the scenes” look at how to come up with a business plan for people who have no idea what that means (AKA me). It’s a great book to lay down some basic knowledge for business newbies.

Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff
I read this book about a year ago now, and I think this is what really lit the fire that has been burning in me since then. Jon is witty, inspiring, and downright hilarious. This book left me unsatisfied with doing what I’ve been doing… not in an ugly way, but rather in a motivated way to make a difference! He is the guy who inspired my 6am club habit, by the way.

What books have you read and loved because they inspired you?! Tell me in the comments – I’m always hungry for more good reads.

Also, do you have a Goodreads account? Let’s be friends and share books!

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Behind the Scenes: Opening My Shop

So many people respond with sweet congratulations when I opened my shop last month. (I can’t believe it’s been a month already!) Many of them also mentioned that they’ve been wanting to do the same thing for a while, but didn’t have time or were too intimidated to make it happen.

I was in your very shoes for a long time, my friends. The thought of getting everything ready for my shop was completely overwhelming and the thought of it turned me away every single time. But now that I’m on the other side and I pushed through it all, I’m so glad I did. And I want to encourage you to do the same thing!!

When I got serious about wanting to change my shop from a dream to a reality, I told myself I’d do one thing for my shop every day, no matter the size. I made a lot of lists, brainstormed names and items and pricing, and eventually it all came together. After a lot of hard work, that is. But it was an absolute blast and I can’t tell you how much my excitement grew with each completed step!

So for those of you who are on the fence, but intimidated, here are some steps you can take to making your shop a real, live business!

1. Make a list of what you want to sell and how much you would price it. I did this a few weeks before I started really working hard, and that was helpful to have already thought out and on paper when the time came to start listing items. It also helped me see what I needed to create before I could open my shop.

2. Start making things. Whether it is working on an actual item to sell or on the wording for an item’s description, every little bit counts as working toward your goal of a launch day. There are a lot of small and big parts to opening your shop – so just do something every day!

3. Pick your hosting site and create the shop. Your shop will remain “closed” until you change the status to open, so no one will even know you created one until you’re ready! Spend an hour or so perusing how you set up listings and what all will be required before you commit to the host.

4. Start taking photos of your items (if they are physical items!), or figuring out how you want to display them online if they are digital, like mine.

5. Think through how you want to package or ship your items. If you are selling physical items, figure out how you want to package them creatively to go that extra mile in customer service. I ship my files via email, so I created a “thank you” pdf that I send with every order that includes my logo and a sincere letter of thanks to my customer.

6. Open your shop!!

Now that it’s on paper, it doesn’t look so intimidating, right?! Use your lunch breaks, evenings, or even wake up early to do some hustling before you go to your day job. I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy – in fact, I want you to know this takes work. But, if this is something you’re passionate about, you will absolutely love every step in the process. So get to it! And let me know how your process is going. I would LOVE to answer any questions you have or just be the cheerleader you need to get to work!

Happy creating,

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This Week I Joined the 6am Club… and I Like It

coffee on the deck

I got up at 6am today. Believe it or not, I’ve done that every day this week, and I can (surprisingly!) tell you I’ve never felt better.

I don’t work until 8am and I have zero commuting time, since I work from home, so this 6am wake-up call has gifted me an extra 90 minutes every morning to get stuff done! This week I have pounded out some blog posts during that time, scheduled some sponsored social media posts, and checked some design projects off my to-do list. Yesterday I even went through our bills, washed dishes and cleaned the downstairs of our apartment!

Now, I have to be honest with you –  I’ve been aiming to go to bed by 10pm every night. That means I’m in bed and reading by 10 most nights, with 10:30pm being my “lights out” goal. When the alarm goes off at 6, my initial feeling is alertness, but if I choose to snooze the alarm, that’s when I start getting groggy.

I’ve wanted to get up and do things in the morning before work for a long time, but it’s never been something I was disciplined enough to do. When my alarm goes off, usually I think, “I don’t really need to get up this early,” and I proceed to hit snooze until the last minute. That leaves me groggy and unfocused while I scramble to get ready for work and sit down at my desk. It also leaves me with a long to-do list that I think about all day until 5pm, only to push it back even further after I get off work, with dinner and whatever evening commitments we have that night.

I’ve been reading a lot about time management and various business strategies lately, and so many people said you need to find the time that works for you and protect it. Then actually use it to get stuff done. I’m learning that I cherish those extra 90 minutes of quiet and coffee every morning because I can start off the day doing things I love to do – blogging, business strategizing, designing, getting organized, etc. Then, when I sit down at my desk for my “real” job at 8, I don’t feel like I’m spending my whole day doing something (I appreciate very much!!! but….) I am not passionate about… see what I mean?

For those of you in a similar boat – working your “day job,” but hoping it might turn into something else… don’t be passive about it! Get up and carve out time for your dreams. It’s so worth it!

Surprise!!!!!!!! This is what I’ve been working on:

If you’re looking for The Albrechts Blog, you’re in the right place, I promise… we’ve just changed a little.

Many of you know that I’ve been talking about starting my own shop for months now. Well, I’ve really been talking about it for close to a year, if I’m honest. But after tons of work last week, the shop is so close to ready I can hardly stand it!! But all of this work for my new shop got me thinking about my blog. I really wanted my blog & shop to complement each other, and I started to sense “The Albrechts Blog” might be reaching the end of its life.

I asked myself, “Does The Albrechts Blog really fit this blog anymore?” Sure, it’s about “The Albrechts”… but it’s pretty one-sided. Jacob has written one post and, while I write about our marriage and adventures, I write a lot about my personal faith, my love for running, crafting and dreaming –  all things I love to do or am passionate about.

So, I’ve decided to go all in on this one and rebrand. Unfortunately, it seems like that is what everyone is doing lately… but that’s what works best for me and I’m really excited to move forward from here! Don’t worry, the content will be a lot of the same – faith, running, home decor, stories, and encouragement to chase your dreams. I think moving away from “The Albrechts Blog” and into “34 Magnolia Street” will open up many doors for new creativity, though.

AND FINALLY!!! My shop, also called 34 Magnolia Street, will launch on May 12! So, as excited as I am and anxious to get it out there, I’m making myself wait so I can tie up every loose string before it goes live. I hope you’ll celebrate with me and check it out on the 12th!

In the mean time, take a few minutes and look around – absolutely everything has been revamped, rewritten, and redesigned to fit this new chapter of life. I’m so excited. And I can’t say thank you enough for your support these past few weeks, especially last week, as I took extra time to work behind the scenes – I hope you like it as much as I do!

Don’t forget! If you have this page bookmarked, save a NEW bookmark with the new URL: www.magnoliastreetblog.com – I don’t want you to miss out on anything! 😉

Tell me what you think!!!

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For the dreamer who’s afraid to dream:

As I grow older, I’m becoming more of a dreamer. Don’t get me wrong – my parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be, probably just like yours did, and I believed them. But I got to an age when I started noticing that people usually weren’t doing what they wanted to do. All of a sudden, my dreams did not seem quite so attainable. They were too big, or too scary, and I didn’t know how to make them a reality. So they faded away and I thought I would be happy with an office job.

This post-graduate season of my life has taught me a lot about myself, especially in the working world. I’ve learned that an administrative position – something I always thought would work well for me – is not what I’m cut out for. I need something with more of a creative outlet and room for growth. I’ve realized my dreams are much bigger than the path I’ve set myself on and I’m itching to take them somewhere.

But instead of seeing those dreams as too far off and overwhelming, now I see them goals that will take time. And I don’t have to achieve them right now. In fact, there’s no way I can achieve them right now. But there’s plenty of time for me to nail down a few pieces of wood each day, getting closer and closer to making those dreams a reality.

Sometimes I worry that chasing these dreams is a selfish thing. Shouldn’t I be ministering to other people, leading Bible studies, and spending time with the Lord in all my free time? Is it really okay to go to bed at a good time of night and spend my lunch breaks designing items for my shop-to-be or brainstorming how I can work for myself one day?

Here’s the thing. I think it’s more than okay to chase your dreams. I believe our passions are God-given, and running with them brings us great joy and great glory to him. What is more beautiful and inviting to the unbelievers around me than being filled with the joy in knowing I’m using my God-given talents and passions? He has called us to live freely and fully – he’s given us the gift in Christ to do so.

So if you’re a dreamer who is too scared to commit, be brave. If you’re a dreamer who feels selfish for doing things for yourself – forget that. You need to be filled up to give to others in the first place. Do something that fills you. If you’re the dreamer who is looking for that last push to say, “Okay, I’m really doing this….”

This is it. Start by taking baby steps.

Last month my goal was to have opened my shop by this month. That didn’t happen because life gets in the way, but because of that delay, I have even greater things coming your way! And I’ve committed to doing something every single day this month toward making my shop come alive. Whether it’s as little as a few minutes of research to as large as a few hours of designing. Every day I will do something, no matter the size of the task, because I’m chasing my dreams and I’m not afraid of failure.

So go for it, dreamer. I’m cheering you on.