Is Amazon Associate Program Worth It?

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Credit: Pixabay

I follow a lot of YouTubers and bloggers in the sticker/planner community.  Most of them are Amazon Associates (used to be called Affiliates).  Basically, you can get special links for items for sale on Amazon and get paid if people use them.  You, of course, have to promote and/or talk about the products, but it seems like a good way to make some (mostly) passive income.

I myself use Amazon a lot.  We’re Prime members and I live in a rural area, the membership fee is more than covered by the free two-day shipping I receive.  (I know, technically the shipping is not free, it’s covered by the membership fees.)  I purchased most of my holiday gifts from Amazon, and all of my husband’s birthday gifts were purchased there as well.

I’m currently waiting on a delivery of calligraphy markers that I ordered so I could practice my hand lettering for my planner.  In fact, I’ve ordered a lot of my planner/sticker products on Amazon, so it seems like a no-brainer to talk about them here on my blog and be able to have Associate links that would put a few pennies in my pocket.  (And it likely would be pennies to start, while I am building up my audience.)

Have you been or are you an Amazon Associate? How is it working for you? Are there things you like about the program, besides than the income? Any things you dislike?

Social Media & Marketing

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Credit: Pixabay

Let me just start off by saying that I have no idea what I’m doing.  Well, I suppose that’s not strictly true.  I know what I want, I’m just not sure if what I’m doing is going to get me there.

I want to get my sticker business up and running, but I’m having a hard time taking that first leap of faith.  However, I do know that I need to get eyeballs on my stuff – hence this blog and my foray into social media and marketing.

I’m still vacillating about Etsy/Amazon and the sales tax headache, but while I’m vacillating, I’ve been working on my social media presence.  I’ve joined Ello, Twitter, and Pinterest, and I’ve got a page on Ko-Fi for any kind souls who would like to buy me a coffee to fuel this introvert on her entrepreneurial journey.

I do have some experience with social media, but none with marketing and so I’m learning as I go.  You all know how I hate stat tracking, but I do understand that it is necessary to get where I want to go.

This social media stuff is hard, ya’ll.

I mean, I want to grow my audience and I want to be authentic, but it’s harder than it looks.  Each platform has its own ins and outs, and trying to learn them all is hard work.  For most platforms, it’s all about your followers.  It’s been slow going, and I know part of it is because I’ve not been consistent enough with my posting.  I’ve used Twitter in the past, and I know I’ll get traction there eventually as I get more consistent with my tweeting.  Ello is an enigma – there’s not much information about how to get noticed there, so I’m trying to just let things grow organically.

Pinterest, though, is a complete mystery.  I’ve done some research, but I still have no idea how it works.  In just a few weeks, I’ve gone from 0 reach (something that Pinterest measures) to 7.8K.  Which sounds great!  Except I have no idea what it means.  I think it means people are looking at things I pin, which is awesome.  But I pin a lot of things that aren’t mine, so I’m not sure how those figure in, if they do.

I don’t even have any followers on Pinterest and I’ve yet to figure out how to find others to follow.  Trying to find people, for me anyway, has been like following a trail of breadcrumbs and never finding the end.  I see a pin I like, so I click, but it’s just a pin of a pin of a pin of a pin of a pin of a pin . . .  and I never seem to get to where the actual pin came from.  Or if I do, it’s a website, not a person I can follow on Pinterest.

Mostly it feels like I’m just screaming into a void and hoping someone hears me.  Hello?

Monday Mandala 26

Mandala_26This mandala is a departure from all the previous designs.  As I was experimenting with different mandalas, I was using a template as a guide while I drew.  After watching some other artists create their mandalas, I realized that the template, while a great tool, was in many ways constraining how I drew my mandalas.

So out went the templates.  I think the design of this one is an improvement – the circles in the design are cohesive and it has enough intricate pieces to be a nice piece to color.

Productive and Present

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Credit: Pixabay

I can’t believe it’s already halfway through January of 2020.  2019 flew by and there are some big things on the horizon for me in 2020.  I don’t want to miss anything, so I’m making an effort this year to be more present in the moment.  My mortality has definitely been on my mind more lately and I have things I want to do/accomplish before I shuffle of this mortal coil.

I am working hard on stickers for my sticker business.  I wanted to have 10 products ready when it launched and I’m happy to say that I have over 10 done!  Now, I have to take photographs and get them ready to list and sell.

I’ve also made more headway in paring down the number of planners I’m using.  I’m now down to only 3 – a budget planner and 2 daily planners.  I really need to just jettison my cheap daily planner and use the Happy Planner but I’m resisting that.  Sunk cost theory and all that.  I’ve given myself until next month to get rid of it as I slowly transition everything over to the Happy Planner.  I have the classic size, but I may try out the larger size next time to see if that works better for me.

I have to say, I’m actually loving the budget planner.  I feel like it’s helping me keep better control of our spending.  I’ve also been following some of the Dave Ramsey method to try and pay off our debts.  I would love to be debt free (except for our mortgage) in the next 4 years.  I created some inserts for my Happy Planner – a debt snowball tracker, a savings tracker, and a sinking funds tracker.  So far we’ve managed to pay off one car loan and we’re close to paying off the second.

I created some daily to-do lists for myself and I love how productive I’ve been lately.  I get a little thrill every time I get to check something off my list as done.  And now that I’ve got my under-desk elliptical, I’m getting way more steps in every day.  I feel like I’m off to a good start in 2020.  Now all I have to do is stay consistent.

Progress

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Credit: Pixabay

During the holidays, I tried to take advantage of my free time to create and be productive.  I made some progress.  I wanted to have 10 products ready to go, and so far I’ve gotten 4 of them done.  They all have some things I want to tweak, but I’m forcing myself to move on to another item.  If I don’t, I’ll spend all my time tweaking instead of working on new things.  I can always go back and tweak them later, once I’ve got some spare time.

I’ve also spent time learning.  I’ve been playing around with digitally coloring my mandalas, I’ve done some more exploring in iColorama, and this weekend I taught myself how to make my own SVG files to use in my Silhouette Design software.

I’ve added in social media for the business (find me on Pinterest, Ello, Twitter and Ko-Fi) and it is keeping me busy.  Not too busy to experiment, though. 😛

I decided to take Mandala 25 and color it digitally.  Here’s how it turned out:

Mandala 25 Colored

Once I was done coloring it, I decided to try out iColorama again.  I’ve watched a few videos on how to use and discovered all the amazing presets – something I somehow missed the first few times I used it.

I wanted to add some texture and depth to the image.  I shifted the colors a bit, using one of those presets, and I added some texture using a couple of different filters.  I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out:

Mandala 25 colored

It looks like a piece of printed fabric, or perhaps a needlepoint someone stitched. I’ve still got a list of things I want to try out, including using some overlays and filters in Procreate to color in some of the mandalas.  But I’m making progress, which is the important thing!

Monday Mandala 25

Mandala_25More experimentation with this mandala.  Not a typical mandala, but I wanted to experiment with using more geometric shapes, reminiscent of Native American and/or Nazca art.

It definitely has a southwest feel to it, so I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out.  It would be interesting to digitally color this one and see how it turns out.

Use It or Lose It

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Credit: Pixabay

“Use it or Lose It” – a cliché that people throw around all the time, so most of us just ignore it.  The thing about clichés, though, is that they become clichés because they’re true.

Today people use their brains less.  How long has it been since you memorized a phone number? You don’t really need to, since all the numbers you need are in your smartphone.  Do you even remember your own phone number?  What about your spouse’s or kids’ numbers?  I can still tell you my previous three landline numbers, even though I haven’t used them in over 20 years.

I’ve noticed this lately because I’ve been spending more time on the computer and so I need to keep more passwords in my memory banks.  I don’t trust those password sites that say they will remember your passwords for you.  I’m sure they will, but I also know that everything can be hacked, so I’d prefer to not have every single one of my passwords stored in one place.

What I’ve noticed is that I CAN actually remember lots of passwords – if I use them on a regular basis.  In a day, I probably use between 20-25 passwords for various websites and apps.  That sounds like a lot, but it’s probably less than a lot of people use, because I assume I use fewer apps than most.

So one of my goals for this year is to spend more time working out my brain – whether it’s memorizing passwords, reading, or whatever – I’m gonna use it so I don’t lose it!

Bullet Journal Blues

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Credit: Pixabay

One of my goals for this year was to reduce the number of planners I was using.  I’m down from 6 to 4, so yay!  Unfortunately, one of the planners I’ve decided to abandon this year is my Bullet Journal.

I love the idea of the Bullet Journal – having everything all in one place is ideal for me, I thought.  What I’ve come to realize is that I’m a functional planner, not a decor or artistic planner.  I use my planner(s) to keep my life organized.  If they’re also pretty, that’s a bonus, but not a need.  Which is how Bullet Journals started – as a functional planner.

These days, all the Bullet Journals you see are the ones where amazingly artistic people have spent what must be hours slaving over gorgeous spreads.  I don’t want to spend that kind of time – writing the same calendar over and over and over, drawing (in my case, poorly) decorations, etc.

BuJo Movie Tracker Spread
Credit: Tealnotes.com

If I spent the time to draw this movie tracker, I wouldn’t have any time to watch the movies!  Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest are chock-full of spread ideas like this for making your BuJo beautiful.

And that’s great.  Nothing wrong with decorating your BuJo, if that’s what makes you happy.  Me?  I’d rather buy a preprinted planner and create stickers to make it useful (and pretty).  I wanted to stick with the BuJo, I really did.

But after several months of gritting my teeth and forcing myself to use it, I decided it wasn’t worth the headache and guilt for me.  I spent more time avoiding it than I did using it, which defeated the whole purpose.

Someday maybe I’ll use it again.  But for now, I’m sticking with what works – and that is not using the Bullet Journal.  A lesson to remember – if it doesn’t work for you, leave it and move on.  Now I’m free to concentrate on other things.