The Sacrifices of Owning Your Own Business

If you are serious about investing in yourself and owning your own business, then sacrifices have to be made. For me, here are some of the ones that I noticed needed to happen in order for my business to flourish:

  1. Eating out less
  2. Driving less, especially when gas prices are expensive.
  3. Not spending as much money on clothes, new music, going to the movies.
  4. Keeping it basic and only buying the necessities

So where does the money go?

  1. Pay down the credit card you used to purchase stuff for your business
  2. Use the money for advertising your business on Google Ads & Instagram
  3. Use it to keep on learning and acquire more knowledge.

But you just contradicted yourself. You’re not trying to spend yet here you are spending on advertising. Why?

Again, sacrifices have to be made. Do you choose to spend your money on food, gas and entertainment, or do you spend it on advertising for your business? Which one’s going to give you a return on investment? Think about that.

What I mean when I say ‘return on investment’ is a lot more simple than the definition used in the finance and business world. For this blog post, return on investment (ROI) means what you get in return for what you put into it.

So if you enjoyed the movie you watched, it was worth watching. Your return on investment (ROI) is entertainment.

If you spend money on ads and you got a client from it, then your ROI is your client; that or more people are starting to get familiar with your business.

A lot of people don’t advertise because they think marketing and advertising is gross.

Trust me when I say that I used to be in the same boat as these people – I really just wanted to be an artsy fartsy graphic designer – until I was forced to think about marketing and why the words and images I used for our advertising campaign is important. I learned over time that marketing & advertising is a necessity for anyone who owns a business -– big or small.

If nobody sees your offer, how is anyone going to know what you are offering?

If you don’t talk about your business or tell people, how is anyone going to know about it? This is what sold me on finally learning how to advertise on Google and Instagram. There are people out there right now searching for the exact thing that you are offering, so really – your marketing doesn’t have to be “gross”.

Start thinking long term

Those who want their business to flourish aren’t thinking of a get-rich-quick-scheme…or maybe they tried but it didn’t work out. They’re all thinking for the long term.

Life is short but it’s also quite long. Stay focused and be consistent with your offering – especially when no one’s paying attention yet. And then one day, people will finally start to remember you and take your offering.

Conclusion:

Business success isn’t an overnight thing, it takes sacrifice and thinking for the long term.

Some Things I’ve Learned from Having a Small Business

I launched my online only crystal shop on April 22nd, 2017 – I wanted to share some things I’ve learned since then.

Treat all of it as an experiment so you won’t get disappointed, at least not as much.

It’s going to be up and down. Some months you will make consistent sales and you’ll feel happy and accomplished, other times not so much. You will go through a slump, you’ll feel disappointed with yourself and your efforts and often wonder: ‘WTF am I doing wrong’?

There could be a lot of factors as to why you’re not making sales right now; the market you’re in could be oversaturated. Or nobody is really buying right now either. You don’t have to know it all, but it helps to pay attention to the current economic climate and what people are spending their money on.

Lots of people are selling the same thing online too. You’ll have to think of ways to stand out somehow. Get creative, play and experiment with different ways you could tell people about your small business. Social media is great for that.

Focus on doing what you enjoy the most.

This may or may not be true for everybody but having a small business means you’ll probably be doing everything: taking products photos, listing products, packing, shipping, admin and accounting, graphics, email and social media marketing, web design, video editing. The list goes on and on and it can start to feel overwhelming.

Like, there’s SO MUCH to think about. What should you do, what should you focus on?

Some things are a drag, like accounting and taxes but are necessary. As long as you stay organized and keep good records of your sales & purchases, you can stay on top of it.

If you have the resources to do so, maybe pay someone to do the stuff you don’t like to do or if they don’t mind learning and doing things for free, maybe teach or mentor them?

If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of doing it all, pick one thing you really like to do and do that, consistently.

For me, I enjoy taking photos of the crystals, then listing and writing about them. Even though I didn’t build the website from scratch, I still put a lot of effort into customizing it as well as creating & writing unique visual content and posting on Instagram. I did a lot of SEO on it too.

Don’t quit your day job.

There was a time when I thought being an entrepreneur would be a good fit for me, even though I have only worked fulltime my entire life and freelanced when I was in between jobs. I wanted to quit my job so bad during my first year, thinking that my small business selling crystals would sustain me and my family and that I would be able to just work from home.

I mean, a bitch can dream right? Well, turns out I was naive and completely wrong about it. I’m glad I didn’t quit or else I’d be screwed. How would I provide for my family, how do I pay my bills?

Some people will say that you don’t need to spend money to start your business, and while that may be true – you’re going to have to put A LOT of effort. If you spend money, things will go faster meaning your business will really pick up. That’s just my opinion on it, I could be wrong.

Here’s a personal example of what I mean: I spent money on Google Ads and sure enough, I was getting traffic to the website and I made some sales.

Not quitting your day job means you can put those expenses (like buying Google Ads) on a credit card and pay it off with your paycheck.

Whatever profit you make from your sales, usually goes back to buying more inventory to sell, for advertising and for other costs of running a small business. But you also have to pay taxes, so you need to put some money aside to pay your federal & state.

It might take years before your small business is finally sustainable so until then, keep on working.

Conclusion:

There’s probably a lot more to this, I just can’t think of it right now. It’s easy to get swept away and romanticize entrepreneurship or having a small business. The reality is far from it. I’m just writing this based on my experience so far with my own small business.

Reasons To Blog In 2019

It’s true, everyone and their mom is on social media.🙄

But if you’re anything like me, you’re still blogging in 2019. First of all – why and who cares? It’s not like I get a lot of traffic here, as everybody either hangs out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or divide their between all of them. Blogging is DEAD.💀

Let me just say that blogging is not dead, it’s just not as popular.

Reason to blog #1:

People still search for things, and blogs are usually the ones that pop up during a Google search.

For example: when I’m at work and I need help with something HTML, CSS, Javascript or PHP related, I get the bulk of my answers from searching for the exact issue (I literally have to search a few times if I’m not finding the answer I need) and then finding it on a blog, like this one: How to center things with style in CSS

or Easily Password Protect a Website or Subdirectory

Reason to blog #2:

Blogs help solve a problem someone is currently having; the writer usually writes a step by step solution to the same exact problem you searched for. That is so freakin helpful to me.

You can also write a blog that might be helpful to someone else down the line.

Reason to blog #3:

I personally like to practice my writing via blogging – it’s just not easy to type long blocks of text over your phone for a social media post. Blogging or writing gets the brain going and fleshes out ideas in your head.

Reason to blog #4:

If you have a few website properties – blogging will help boost your websites by bringing free traffic via Google search. Again, people still use search to either buy or look for a specific item or solve a problem or get more information so writing new content will help people find your website. It also helps to do some SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

How do I know blogging works? As some of you probably know, I have an online crystal shop that I’ve been experimenting with for almost 2 years now. I haven’t blogged consistently on there because day job, but the few blog posts I did write still get a lot of search engine traffic, like these two:

Why Are Crystals So Expensive?

Self Love Healing with Affirmations and Rose Quartz

I did keyword research on the above blog posts. Keyword research is finding the right keywords that people tend to search for often, then creating content that tailors to those exact keywords.

Conclusion:

Blogging in 2019 is still legit. You should create blog content if:

+ You have an online business
+ You have website properties and cannot afford to buy paid traffic always
+ You want to share some kind of specific knowledge that might be useful to someone else
+ You just love to write and have LOTS of things to say

Some Tips for Selling Online

Let me start off by saying that I am not an expert at selling whatsoever, but for some reason I wanted to write this down as a blog post.

I will also reference crystals & stones here because that is what I sell and that is what I know and have experience with.

Tip 1: Take pictures in natural lighting

You don’t have to add ridiculous filters to make your product photos stand out. Keep it simple. I personally just take photos with my iPhone in natural or indirect sunlight.

Tip 2: Have an online location where customers can buy

People often tend to post pictures of what they’re selling, but as soon as someone wants to buy – they don’t have anything ready for the person inquiring.

If you don’t have an online location (Ebay, Etsy, your own website), then at the very least let people know you accept payments through PayPal.

Tip 3: Get to know the USPS, their box sizes and their shipping methods.


I have to admit, shipping was the most confusing thing for me to understand when I first started selling; I’m not very good with math & measurements so I left it to my husband to figure it out since he has more experience selling stuff online.

Eventually (about 2 years later), I finally got the hang of it and it basically goes like this:

+ Anything over 13 oz will be sent Priority Mail
+ Anything under 13 oz can be sent First Class.

Of course you can read up on the other types of shipping but these are the most commonly used ones.

Which leads me to Tip 4: Get a scale

In the mineral world, price is often determined by the weight of the crystal or stone. When you’re sending out packages, it’s important to know the weight and dimensions of the package you’re sending out so postage can be calculated accordingly.

So get yourself a scale, the one we have is digital.

Conclusion

There’s probably more things I could add to this, but I can’t think of them at the moment. I will keep adding once I remember.

If you want to get serious about making money online or having passive income, then a system needs to be in place in order to receive payments as well as to mail out products.

Web Dev Rambles📚💻📓

A collection of web programming, Photoshop & SEO books that I’ve held on to. I’m a hoarder, I know.

Time sure does fly as one gets older. I took a 10 week Web Development course at General Assembly in 2014 and five years later – even though I’ve been employed this entire time and using the knowledge I acquired, I still feel like I barely know anything. I’m pretty good with HTML and CSS, not so great with Javascript. I also still need to really learn more PHP.

It seems as if I learned how to code, only to use WordPress.😐 The main site I’ve coded and worked on for years, is now a WP site and not by my choice. It is what it is and I’m not mad really; I’m grateful that for those 5 years, I was able to gain a lot of hands on experience coding and building sites from scratch.

Which means I have more time on my hands now to revisit and hopefully relearn some subjects and to me that’s actually a good thing; we have to recognize opportunity when it presents itself.😊 I was browsing Craigslist and noticed how some employers want to hire someone who A) can code and B) doesn’t rely entirely on frameworks (Bootstrap, WordPress), so I’m hopeful that my skills are still useful.

Was it worth paying for that 10 week course? Yes, I was able to use what I learned for work, but apparently WordPress is better suited. Again, what do I really know? I’ve learned to put my need for control aside and to just go with the flow.

I’ve coded lots of sites using HTML & CSS, unfortunately I still can’t fully code in Javascript; most of the time I usually just search for some kind of library/preset code to suit my employer’s needs – like a JQuery slideshow, then I just enter in the data and customize it to make it work with the site I built. Employers usually want stuff to be up and running quickly, you know? There’s no time to be slow, you have to work fast.

You’re probably wondering: why don’t I show any of the sites I’ve worked on? Since I work in adult entertainment, I can’t really show anything.😐

Who’s to blame for my lack of knowledge? There’s no one to blame but me. If I really wanted to become an expert with web development, I would’ve really invested my time after work. But really though, who has time to do that when you already do a little bit of everything? I suppose it all depends on what motivates you and how bad you want it.

Obviously, my motivation is money. If I can finally get a handle on PHP & Javascript, I know I can make more. But at the same time, with more money comes more responsibility; a part of me doesn’t want to work harder than I already do.

I’m also motivated to keep on learning, it’s the Sagittarius in me.♐️

I don’t blame myself entirely for not knowing everything – I have so many useful skills already – I mean, look at all the books I’ve accumulated over the years for the sake of learning my craft (though I never finished reading any one of them). I’m proud and happy of how far I’ve come. But even though I know how to do a lot, I still feel inadequate sometimes or even better – I get impostor syndrome. Getting older will do the trick, too.😶

Procrastination Is Good For You

I LOVE procrastinating; as a matter of fact, I’m a chronic procrastinator.😉

That doesn’t mean I’m lazy or I don’t get shit done, I’m actually very good at meeting deadlines; it’s one of the reasons why I believe I’m still employed.

Here are a few reasons why I think procrastination is good for you:

  1. Lets your creative mind wander and explore
  2. Helps generates new ideas
  3. Gives you time to rest and relax

These are my personal reasons; as someone who has to come up with ideas and execute them on a weekly basis, I strongly believe in procrastinating and just allowing thoughts and ideas to come through.

It may seem as if I’m just ‘browsing’ the internet or whatever, in reality my mind is searching for its next idea.

If you understand the creative process, then you probably understand why procrastination is just as important.

Anyway, enjoy the animated gif I made.

Some Useful Tips for Graphic Designers

Some words of wisdom from me to you. Hopefully this will help you on your journey whether you work for someone fulltime or freelance as a Graphic Designer.

Follow Instructions

You’d be surprised as to how many people cannot do this. I can attribute my longevity to keeping a job for the simple fact that I am able to follow instructions or take direction. Make it easy for someone to work with you by simply following instructions and I guarantee that you’ll always have a job or have work consistently.

Follow Their Lead

As much as you want to add your own creative input, it’s best to follow the person’s vision. Unless you work for a cutting edge, out of the box company – the reality of graphic design is that most people really just want you to copy someone else’s existing design. They probably saw what works for another company and so they want to replicate the same thing. You’re getting paid for the job, so again just follow their lead.

I know this may seem frustrating at first. I mean after all, you’re supposed to be doing original and creative stuff. Not necessarily. I’ve learned over the years that if I’m getting paid to do something, I’m creating someone else’s vision – even if that vision was inspired or copied from something else. This is how most people operate and you must be understanding about it.

Be Prepared to Know More Than The Person You’re Working For

Graphic Design is not just creating things visually. You must also know your specs and final outputs, which some designers don’t know. Trust me when I say that I didn’t enjoy the technical aspects of design, I just wanted to create! But it’s part of the job, and in order to be a really good designer – you MUST understand the technical parts too.

For example, whatever you’re creating: is it for print or web? You need to know the difference between the two as print and web have very different outputs.

Also, each printer has their own specifications. So again, you must be able to follow instructions and ask questions too.

Through my own trial and error, I’ve learned that if I’m to create a logo then I need to create it in Adobe Illustrator, not Photoshop.

Why? Because Adobe Illustrator is a Vector based program. It allows you to create graphics, scale them large or small and it will retain it’s sharpness and quality. Not so much with Photoshop.

Conclusion

These are just some of the tips off the top of my head. They have worked for me so far and I’ve been working in graphic/web design for over 8 years.

I could go on and on with this topic as there’s so much to know and learn and so much that I left out, really. Whatever I’m writing down here is all based on my experience of creating graphics and designs for other people.

A Few Things I’ve Learned from Having My Small Business

Most people might call it a hobby or a side hustle. Whatever it is, my online crystal shop, Metaphysical Vibes has been up & running for almost 2 years. Here’s what I’ve learned from it:

You will experience ups and downs, especially in sales.

Sales are super slow right now and when it slows down, it feels like a total bummer. Nobody’s buying and nothing’s moving. What’s even bummier about it is that I don’t have a whole lot of money to spend on paid traffic so I only get to buy traffic in very small, sporadic amounts. Like every other weekend or two.

So I have to find other ways to stay occupied and learn how to optimize my ecommerce website somehow without spending any more money.

Here’s a useful link that I found: 10 Do-it-yourself SEO Tips to Save Money

Don’t compare yourself to others, just keep your head down and work.

This is important. Although it’s good to look at what your competitors are up to, don’t look too hard. You will start to feel like shit and feel like you’re not doing enough. And then you fall into a rabbit hole of negative self talk and comparison.

Everyone is on different levels of their entrepreneurship journey. Mine is different because I still have a fulltime job. I’ve mentioned this before in another post: I’m just a wannabe.

You must persist and keep at it, especially when you’re not seeing results right away.

When I say ‘keep your head down and work’ – what I really mean is ‘mind your own business and do whatever you feel like doing’. Having a business doesn’t have to be hard work, I personally choose to have fun and go at my own pace.

It’s better to be generous than to be greedy.

I read something online that one of the ways for people to remember your business is to give something away. I’ve been exercising this strategy and it works 50% of the time. Like those who are getting something for free will most likely buy something eventually.

So yes, definitely give things away for free. Plus it shows that you are generous.

Conclusion:

Don’t give up, especially when sales are slow. Figure out ways to optimize or make your ecommerce website better somehow.

Random Thoughts About Wealth & Money

Since I am officially in my 40’s now, I’ve been thinking about money, wealth and retirement a whole lot more – like how to keep more of it.

I’ve been reading this book titled “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy” and while reading it has given me regrets about my own spending habits for the first 40 years of my life, I still have about 40 to go that I can go about differently.

The main takeaway from this book is: no matter what your income is, you must live below your means.

The book gives a lot of examples of people who supposedly look wealthy based on what they buy – house, luxury car, spending habits, etc. versus the people who don’t buy very often but have a high net worth.

So even if you get a pay raise from your job, do not increase your consumption. Instead put that money away; pay down your credit card debts, create your emergency fund, then learn how to invest.

I feel frustrated that I spent my first 40 years of my life not knowing this. My parents did the best they could to educate me on finances but it just wasn’t enough.

So instead of regretting the past, I’m going to attempt being frugal and more conscious of where my money goes from here on out. It would be nice to have at least half a million for retirement. We shall see, as I have so much to learn still.