Monday, April 18, 2016

i tried it: poshmark

In January, I did a lot of spring cleaning. I also discovered the Family Thrift Outlet, where everything starts at $2 on Thursdays and gets cheaper as the week goes on until the entire store is 50 cents per piece on Wednesdays. Visits there were addictive, but they don't have fitting rooms. That, combined with passing cute designer clothes in perfect shape but not in my size, made me look into selling clothes online. And that's where Poshmark came in.

If you want to save this post for later, I made it nice and pinnable - that's how much I love this app.

A friend who's an avid eBayer said that it can be hard for newbies to get into that, so I was excited to try something new. Poshmark is mostly app based and it's a marketplace for people to sell women's clothing. Every user has a closet and you can set prices, run sales, describe items however you see fit, and market yourself. It's not as hard as it sounds. What I liked the most is that shipping is one flat rate charged to the buyer and as a seller, you just have to print the shipping label and drop the item off at a post office - no wondering how to get it there the cheapest way possible, contemplating paying for insurance, or underestimating charges.

1) After you download the app, you have to set up an account. You can't change your username, so choose wisely. I chose laurenmart because a mart is a store, duh, and it plays off my last name. You can set up your sizes and favorite brands here, but since I have never bought anything off of Poshmark, I didn't spend much time on that. You'll see that as soon as your account is created, people will start following you. This is a good thing - these are the people who will be able to see your items once they're listed!

2) Get things in your closet! I read that the most successful closets have ten things in them, so I went through my closet and pulled out things that I wouldn't be heartbroken to get rid of as well as things that I wanted to get altered but hadn't or things that might fit one day but currently didn't. You can upload up to four photos of the item (phone pictures are fine), write a brief headline of the item, a longer description, fill in information about the brand, color, and size, and then enter the item's original price and the price you want to charge. Poshmark takes 20% of each sale or a flat $2.95 for items under $15. While that is higher than eBay, the convenience made it worth it for me.

3) After your item is listed, you have to work to sell it. There are three things to work on to make a sale:
  •  Follow to get follows: Unless someone searches for the brand you're selling, the only way anyone will see your item is by following you and having your item show up in their feed. On Poshmark, the rule is normally a follow for a follow. Someone follows you, you visit their profile and follow them back. When you first get started, follow anyone you can find. I like to go into my settings, click on "find people" and follow as many suggested users as possible. I will also go into closets with a lot of followers and just scroll through that person's followers to follow people in hopes that they will follow me back. It sounds time consuming, but it's easy to do while taking a brain break at work for a minute or while watching TV. 
  • Share other listings: Good Poshmark etiquette means when you share someone's item, they should share one of yours. Sharing is e-a-s-y. I try to share something that's a great deal or would be something I would wear. You go into the person's closet, select something you like, and then click the arrow on the top right to share to your followers. So easy. That seller gets an alert that you shared their item and a reminder that they should share one of yours. When I have a few extra minutes, I try to share the items of people with large followings in hopes of a good return on my share.
  • Give people a deal: You can set up bundle deals in your closet where shoppers save a certain percentage by buying multiple items. This also saves on shipping. Shipping is normally $5.95. However, if you lower the price of your item and someone has "liked" that item (which I'll get to in a minute), that shopper will get a notification that the price has gone down and they can get reduced shipping if they purchase in the next hour. Users can also place bids on your items. You will receive a note about bids privately and can accept it in 24 hours or counteroffer. Once you accept it, it's sold - the buyer doesn't have a chance to back out. When buyers make me an offer that's too low, I make sure that they "like" the item and then lower the listed price in hopes of triggering reduced shipping so we both win. Since it benefits both of us, it has been very successful so far!
4) Share your closet! I have the best luck when I share each item in my closet at least once a day. Poshmark also runs Posh Parties, which are themed by designer, article of clothing, or occasion and happen three times a day. You can share items to those parties so they can reach an audience who may not follow you.

5) Be a good seller: There are a few expectations to keep up once you make a sale. Once you decide to start a Poshmark shop, I suggest a trip to the dollar store for curling ribbon, tissue paper, and cute cards. You may also want to dig out any plain cardboard boxes you have for mailing or make a trip to the post office for a few priority mail boxes (not flat rate... I can never find these so I have ordered them online for free). You're expected to make the Poshmark experience fun for the buyer, so extra effort is the norm - you should wrap the item in tissue and enclose a handwritten note. You have five days after a sale to mail the package. After the seller marks the item as received, the money will be in your account to spend on Poshmark or get direct deposited to your bank account.

I used stuff I already had to outfit this skirt and it sold really fast! | A package ready to go out. I make a little tag from a scrapbook punch for an extra touch.

Other Poshmark Tips:
- A good flat lay seems to seal the deal on Poshmark. I have had more luck selling items that I have outfitted than those sitting alone or hanging.
- A "like" on Poshmark is not a like on instagram. You only want to like items that you might want to buy.
- There's no private messaging on Poshmark - all communication is out in the open. I think this is to keep everything going through the site so no one sets up a PayPal business on the side.
- You get feedback from each buyer and the site knows how long it takes you to mail your items. This is all kept private, though. 
- The more effort you put in, the more your items will sell. I thought letting my items merely exist in my closet would be good enough - after all, my keywords were pretty good so people would find them, right? Nope. Not sharing meant that no one saw anything and my sales dried up. 
- Name brand items sell the best and fastest, though I have had a Kmart skirt (we don't have them here so I didn't recognize the brand) sell pretty well.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't. I've compared prices on thredUP and Poshmark seems to make me more money with admittedly more effort. If you have a good amount of name brand clothing to get rid of (or a thrifting problem like I do), it's worth it!

Any questions? Let me know! And if this post motivates you to create a Poshmark account, please sign up using the code JZYUU - you'll get $10 for downloading the app and I'll get $10 if you make a purchase.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

books in a word

Last month, I posted a haiku about each book which seemed to be fun for everyone. This month, I think I'll take a page from Frank Rath in The Silent Girls (more about that below). He's an investigator that has people answer his questions in one word so that they get to the point. What's better than brevity in a sea of great book posts? All words will be elaborated on, of course...

The Royal We: Precious. I really liked the concept of this story and the narrator's relatability in a situation that so few people have been in. I liked being in this world, even when there was conflict. It makes you really imagine what it was like (and still is) for Kate Middleton to marry Prince William.

(A) The Silent Girls: Dark. So little good happens in this book, from the main character being in constant pain from a bad back to the action itself. I listened to this as an audiobook and thought the narrator was a perfect choice for a gruff ex-cop, though, so that likely influenced my rating. I found the story interesting and while I had some suspicions about who committed the crimes, the way the aforementioned Frank Rath went about solving them was definitely entertaining to listen to.

Attachments: Quaint. It's weird that a book written about 1999 can feel charmingly old-fashioned, but it does. The story is about a guy who reads people's emails at his work in the name of security and keeping people on track and falls in love with one of his coworkers that he doesn't even know. I like Rainbow Rowell a lot, but I didn't love this one. Lincoln was a total wuss. Also, he was 28 years old and still pining after his high school girlfriend, which made him seem much younger. Cute, and check it out if you like the author, but definitely not my favorite from her (that would be Landline, though I'm in the minority since everyone else loves Eleanor & Park).

(A) How to Start a Fire: Carefully written. I almost quit this book a few times, but I'm glad I didn't. It tells the story of three women who meet in college and stay in each other's lives for years after. The events of one night shape their lives for years to come, but there's no driving plot point. The story is told in snippets over time - nothing is ever linear, and it can be hard to keep the storylines and try to keep the timeline straight. After finishing it, I had an appreciation for the author's ability to throw in tiny details that tied the whole narrative together. It's a good story of friendship, but it won't be a book for everyone.

Things You Won't Say: Eyeroll emoji. Not a word, but how I felt. The concept of this story is interesting enough - it's about a white police officer who shoots an unarmed Hispanic teenager shortly after witnessing his partner get shot in the line of duty. There are always two sides to every story, so I appreciate looking into how something like this might affect the officer; however, this was told through the lens of the officer's wife, her sister, and the mother of his son and all three women were petulant and just plain stupid throughout a lot of the book. The storyline featuring the zookeeper sister and the elephant at the zoo giving birth was highly unnecessary. There was way too much going on. What made me roll my eyes the most, though, was the "you have a black friend, that means you're not racist" point of defense that just plain bothered me. This is one of the few books I've given two stars to - I kept hoping it would get better!

The Girl You Left Behind: Interesting. It's about a painting in WWI and where it ends up in present time. I read The Nightingale, so naturally I feel like an expert on German-occupied France during WWI. I liked the Sophie storyline a lot. However, Liv and Paul never grew on me. I didn't get their attraction and the strength of their relationship was totally glossed over. Clearly the woman wasn't ready to move on from her ex. That said, I liked how the stories tied together and thinking about the legality of it all. Was Liv an idiot? Totally. But I kept reading to see how far she would take her case and I was invested in the characters the whole way through, so I liked it.

I've been listening to Pretty Girls, which is a whopping 20 hours long, so that affects how many books I got through this month. About halfway through, I realized that I didn't really enjoy it, but after ten hours, I feel oddly compelled to see (hear?) it through. More next month on how that worked for me. I'll be happy to finish it so I can catch up with Steph and Jana on The Armchair Librarians podcast. Thanks as always for hosting, ladies!

Friday, April 1, 2016

five things lately

Five on Friday is my favorite way to update you (and remind my future self) of what's been happening lately.

1) I got to hang out with Rick Bayless! And by hang out, I mean attend a cooking demonstration, get his autograph, and take a quick picture. Rick Bayless has been one of my favorite chefs since I saw him as a guest judge on Top Chef and then watched him win Top Chef Masters. When I visited Chicago a few years ago, I think I had his food at least four times. I heard he was coming to a Macy's event in Houston and I had to check it out. He made horchata french toast, a beet salad, and a green drink with pineapple, kale, and mint. They gave out samples and everything was delicious. Macy's had a deal where if you bought things in the home section, you could get autographed copies of his books, so of course I did. It wasn't a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Pics or it didn't happen, right? Andrew opted out of the photo and in my head, that book was held much more naturally.

2) I found a bar and I adore it. If you follow me on snapchat or twitter, then this is old news. Other than Public Services, neither Andrew nor I really like bars. But, when I heard that a craft beer bar opened about three miles from our house, I thought we should give it a try. If nothing else, Andrew could get growlers to go. Well, we went on a Friday night and fell in love. The owners opened the place because they love beer (luckily for me, they also serve wine). They also love vinyl and encourage you to bring your own vinyl. The first night we walked in, there was basically an Avett Brothers singalong and after that, I knew we would spend a lot of time there. In the past two weeks, we have been in four times. It's so nice to have somewhere to go when you want to be out of the house for an hour or two.

They tweeted this pic of us. I like that I can go in grubby clothes. Also, we brought those records (Sgt. Pepper and Simon and Garfunkel Live).

3) I'm Yelp Elite. This shouldn't matter because Yelp is mostly hated in the food community, but I wanted to be invited to events and now I have a special badge, so it makes me happy. We can be friends if we aren't already.

4) Serial, season two. Did anyone else (grudgingly) make it all the way through? I was about to quit and then I found out yesterday's episode was the finale so I listened. There were about three episodes of the eleven that I found interesting, but this season lacked so much. In season one, Sarah's relationship with Adnan clearly colored her vision, but as listeners, we grew to like him even though he very well could be a murderer. The lack of a relationship with her subject made this season seem really detached to me. Let's hope for more from season three. (Speaking of podcasts, I listened to The Armchair Librarians yesterday. Steph and Jana are so fun - it's like eavesdropping on two friends talking about books.)

5) I should talk about spring break. I was so excited for it, but entertaining a seven year old and an almost 16 year old simultaneously is hard. We wandered around a shopping plaza and then the older one said she liked thrifting so I took her on a thrift shopping spree and she was thrilled. I took a day for myself and did nothing but run errands, go to the gym, nap, and walk the dog. Also, they built a Costco in my suburb so of course I went (I love Costco) and bought unnecessary things in bulk. And a dress and a jacket. It wasn't the most memorable five day weekend, but it was great before the work craziness of April creeps in, which seeps into May, and before I know it, it's summer and too hot to enjoy anything.

This month makes three years of blogging for me. I feel like it has changed so much, and expectations for it are all kinds of crazy. Sorry not sorry that my instagram will never be white with pops of color (when people ask me what color my house is decorated in, I tell them "it's all the colors." As is my life.) and my content will rarely, if ever, be pinnable. More posts to come, if I ever get my act together, on social media realizations and more bits and pieces of my life. That's what I like to read, so that's what I'll keep writing.