Busy, Busy, Busy

hand-792920_1920
Credit: Pixabay

Life has suddenly gotten crazy busy.

I’m hip deep in lesson planning for school.  I’ve started a new diamond painting, this time with square drills instead of round ones.  I’m busily painting minis and trying to improve both my painting and photography skills.

I’m desperately hoping that my black thumb hasn’t killed all my garden plants, though I’ve yet to actually see any produce.  And my children are starting college, so I’m scrambling to pay tuition, buy books, and arrange schedules.

All while trying to get my Etsy business off the group, as well as launch a YouTube channel for my mandalas.  Speaking of, (insert shameless self-promotion here) if you haven’t checked out the mandalas on my Etsy store, you should!  They are larger and more intricate than my Monday mandalas.

Right now it’s just got coloring mandalas, but I’m debating putting some of my stickers up as well, maybe even some of my dot mandalas.  I’ve been hesitant to just jump in before now, but it’s amazing how having to pony up for college tuition can railroad right through your reservations about something!

I did manage to snap some photos of my most recent finished minis – I’ll try to post them later this week.  I think I’m learning how to use the contrast paints more effectively.  Now if I could just find the time to watch some tutorials on painting eyes.

Looking through my files, I found an old mandala I’d drawn using Amaziograph.  I can really see how shaky my hands are when looking at the lines here.

Amaziograph 3

I do like the flow of the design and that it’s fairly simple, but the shakiness of the lines bothers me.  Or does that make it seem more ‘authentic’?  Because it’s not perfect, so it’s clear it’s hand-drawn?  Do you consider it ‘hand-drawn’ if it’s drawn digitally rather than on a physical medium?

So many questions, so little time.  I’ve got to get back to work, so I hope you and yours are all doing well right now in this crazy world of ours.

Change is Hard

Photo by Alexas Fotos on Pexels.com

I have hit a patch of blogger’s block. That doesn’t usually happen to me. I have tons of ideas and generally don’t have trouble creating a post.

For the last week, it’s been a struggle.

It’s likely because I know I need to make some changes and I’m resisting. Which is crazy, because the only person who has a say is me. 😛 When I started this blog, it was with the idea that I would use it to further my online business. As I started writing, though, it became more of a place for me to just write about things that interest me. Which is fine, except now I find myself wanting/needing to make a pivot, because I do want my online business to be successful.

I purposely branded everything using the Introverted Hermit – my Etsy shop, this website, my social media sites. I could start all over, but I don’t want to. I’ve already bought the domain, have everything set up, etc. So the other option is to pivot and start using this site for business rather than the more personal blogging I’ve done up to this point.

I’d like to find a way to balance the two – to still have some personal content but mixed in with more business content. I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. There’s also the fear that making changes will hurt the progress I’ve made attracting readers.

Change is hard, y’all.

I spent some time today looking up editorial calendar templates because I need to get more organized with my writing – maybe that will help me focus and create the blend of business/personal I’m looking for. I found a few, but I got annoyed at the number of sites that wanted an email address before I could download the ‘free’ template. So I made a mental note that if something on my site is labeled ‘free,’ it is actually free – won’t even cost you an email address. 😛

Changes

The more things change, the more they stay the same, right? Lots of changes for me now and in the future. The pandemic has made everything very fluid, so it’s hard to plan ahead without knowing what will change.

I have an interview for a new job next week. I’m less nervous than I thought I would be, but I’m afraid that will make it hurt more if I don’t get it. :/ My youngest has now had 3 tentative dates to reschedule graduation, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve decided to go ahead and send out the announcements with a note that explains we don’t know when/if it will happen. Even if it doesn’t, or people can’t attend, I at least want them to know how proud we are of his accomplishments.

The university that both children will attend in the fall has said they intend to hold in-person classes, but they will end those early right before Thanksgiving. Everything after that (the final two weeks of classes), will be done remotely. I have to wonder, then, why bother? Everyone has been doing remote classes for most of the year, so why go back just for 2 1/2 months? My oldest has all online classes anyway, and we can probably arrange my youngest’s classes to be all online as well, so we’ll see how it all shakes out. We still aren’t sure whether my job will reopen in August, but we are planning as if we will. The new health regulations are sure making things interesting.

In the meantime, I am continuing on with my own plans. I’ve opened my Etsy shop, I’m adding additional items this week, and I am taking steps to get back on track with what I want to do for my business. I’m trying to improve my health and fitness, and I’m continuing to work on various projects, like painting more minis. 😀

Back to the Drawing Board

I’ve been working for the past week on figuring out how to sell items here on my WordPress site.  I upgraded to Premium for the Simple Payments options and started to slog through the process.

It’s been a long week.

man showing distress
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

You and me both, stock photo man.  :/

Things I’ve realized as I worked:

  • I didn’t need to upgrade to Premium – Simple Payments doesn’t let me provide automatic emails/links for downloading the digital products.
  • Inserting my own PayPal buttons on my site was waaaay more complicated than it should be.
  • iOS doesn’t play nice with anyone.
  • I do not like coding.  I can grasp the basics, but any more than that is just frustrating.
  • I still need to track buyer’s addresses for sales tax, in case I would go over any given state’s transaction limit for remote sellers.
  • No wonder people use Etsy, Amazon, Ebay, and the like – it’s sooo much easier.

So, after working diligently for a week and having little to show for it, I need to take a step back and rethink what I’m doing.

I’m going to give myself a mental break this weekend and have a good long think about how best to achieve what I want.  What advice would I give someone else in this situation?  And am I brave enough to take it?

Here’s hoping.

Money for Nothing

FailYesterday was frustrating.  Very frustrating.

I upgraded my site to premium so that I could use the simple payments option – something WordPress has been lauding as a way to use your site to make money.  Great! That was my eventual goal here – to start selling my mandalas and stickers, but on my own site, so that I wasn’t paying Amazon and Etsy lots of money in fees.

I’ve read so many people who say that they drive their own traffic to Etsy – so if I’m gonna do all that work, I might as well drive people to my own site, right?  Then I’m making the money off my hard work, instead of Etsy.

After upgrading to the Premium plan, I started researching how to use the Simple Payments buttons to sell my digital coloring mandalas.  Turns out, the Simple Payments just lets you collect payments for your products – there is no way to add a link or anything to the payment button.

So, essentially, a person would pay, then have to wait for me to receive the notification from PayPal that I’d been paid, and then wait for me to send an email with the link or file for what they purchased.  Which isn’t horrible, but isn’t at all what I was led to believe I could do with the simple payments.

After more research, I discovered a way to use Google Docs and PayPal to add things to my site for sale.  That was an experience in itself, because what I wanted was for buyers to be taken directly to a download link for the item after they paid.  Making a download link from a Google doc required even more research, because of course it’s not an option in Drive.

During the first test, I got to the document, but it didn’t appear that the file was downloading correctly.  (My husband was testing for me on his iPad.)  After getting the direct download link issue sorted, then I realized that for some reason (I’m assuming because he’s using his iPad and iOS never plays well with others), he isn’t being taken directly to the page with the download link from PayPal.  He has to ‘return to merchant’ inside PayPal and then he gets taken to the correct place for the download.

Soooo frustrating.  This is probably why so many people would rather just use Etsy or Amazon for this.  In fact, I’m debating if this is all worth it myself, particularly since I apparently upgraded my WordPress plan for nothing.  I could have inserted the PayPal buttons and configured it as it without upgrading, because all the payments take place on PayPal anyway.  I guess I could upgrade to the next tier on WordPress, where there are some actual e-commerce options, but after feeling like I’ve already spent some money for nothing, that doesn’t seem appealing.

Aaaaarrrrggghhh.  😦

Taking the Plunge

photo of man jumping from boat to the sea
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

With the extra time I’ve had in the last few weeks, I’ve been doing research and trying to figure out how to make my business a good fit for me.  So much research that my brain is now filled with what-if’s – What if it doesn’t work?  What if I can’t figure out the tech pieces?  What if I screw up on taxes somehow?  What if I’ve missed something vital?

The panic and anxiety my brain can produce is endless.

But I’m not going to let it win.  So, I’m going to just take the plunge and hope it works out for the best.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to do everything I can to make it successful, but it does mean that I have to let go of my fears and do SOMETHING.

Anything is better than standing still.  A journey starts with a single step.  (Feel free to throw in any other cliches that seem to fit here. 😛 )

What I’ve decided to do to start is to upgrade my plan here on WordPress to Premium.  I already pay for the Personal plan, so upgrading won’t be that much more.  Doing that will allow me to use their Simple Payments for selling digital downloads.  I already have PayPal set up, so it’s just a matter of hosting the files and posting them.

I’m still going to be writing posts about other things, but I will be adding more posts about my mandalas and the stickers I make.  I haven’t worked out all the details yet, because some of the products I want to sell are physical, not digital.  But digital is a good place to start, especially since selling them here on my own site means I don’t have to worry about pesky sales tax!  My state doesn’t collect sales tax on digital goods, and since I’m using my own website for sales (instead of a marketplace like Amazon or Etsy), I don’t have to worry about any other states either – I won’t ever hit their revenue/number of sales limits for small sellers.

In the meantime, there may some changes here and there so I can arrange things on the site for selling some of these goods, so bear with me.

Side Note:  Did you know that under your media tab here on WP you can access a library of free photos?  There’s a menu option called ‘free photo library’ with a ton of pics that you can use (the attribution is attached to the photo, so you don’t have to do anything except add it).

March 2020 Kit – Big Happy Planner

February just flew by, didn’t it?  I suddenly realized I hadn’t created a kit for March for my planner yet.  I have decided to move from the classic size Happy Planner to the big size – I have tons more room to write, and I can still see everything at once, without having to flip back and forth from the weekly views.

I tried using the weekly views, but having to flip back to the monthly overall just got annoying.  I guess I’m just set in my ways. 😛

Anyhoo, here’s the kit I created for March 2020 for my Big Happy Planner:

IH March 2020 Big Pg 1 JPEG

It’s a fairly simple kit – just the two top washi, two bottom washi, a couple of holiday stickers, some full boxes, and the date covers.  I printed the payday stickers, but I keep all my budget stuff in a separate planner, so I don’t really need those for my big planner.  Same for the bill due stickers.  I know a lot of people find them useful, so I included them in the kit.

Here’s what it looks like after I applied it to the pages in my planner:

March Kit HP Big

Again, my photography skills aren’t the best, but you get the idea.  I am still deciding what to do with the kits for the big Happy Planners.  Because they are so large, it takes an entire 8.5″ X 11″ sheet of paper just for the stickers.  Which means they will cost more to mail, so I am considering whether I should make them available for download rather than as a physical product.  We shall see.

Sticker Tetris

tetris-2973518_1920
Credit: Pixabay

I’m still working on my sticker templates for my sticker business.  I’ve designed monthly kits for both the Happy Planner (mini, classic, and big sizes) and the Erin Condren Life Planner.

Now that the templates are done, I can simply fill them in with designs and then sell the themed kits.  Designing the templates, however, was an experience.

First I had to acquire each planner so I could measure for sizes.  I did try just looking up the sizes on the internet, but every site had slightly different sizes, so I decided to measure them myself.  Also, most of the measurements I found were in inches, and they weren’t easy measurements.  For example, some of the monthly boxes were listed as 1.56″.  That’s a weird measurement when you’re working in inches.

So I decided to try metric.  You remember metric? That system they had us learn in the 70’s because the US was going to start using it?  The one where everything is in multiples of 10?  Yeah, that one. 🙂

Amazingly, using millimeters to measure, I ended up with easy to remember numbers.  40mm X 40mm.  40mm X 20mm.  And so on.  No weird decimals to deal with.

So once I had all the sizes I need for the various stickers that go in a kit, I had to try and fit them into a small sheet.  I have to mail the sheets, so I wanted to keep the sheets small to save on postage.  Somewhere around 7″x5″ is pretty typical for the kits.

But trying to fit all the stickers into that 7″X5″ area is like playing a game of Tetris.  You think you have everything placed perfectly, and then realize you forgot a sticker.  Or you want to try and fit in just one more sticker, and that means rearranging everything else.

I persevered, and the templates are done.  Now I can move on to the next job.  😀

February Planner Stickers

Once again, I am behind schedule.  I have been working on my sticker business, creating stickers and figuring out what works for me.  If I wouldn’t use it, I don’t want to sell it.

It’s taken more trial and error than I had anticipated.  I wanted to start offering my monthly sticker kits in February, but since I’m behind, now I’m aiming for March.  Le sigh.

However, there is good news.  I’ve been creating stickers and I’m happy with how they’ve turned out so far.  I’ve avoided posting pics of what I’ve created because I want to wait until I have them ready for sale (i.e., when I’ve finally decided if I’m going to plunge into Etsy).  But since I’m not going to sell this February kit, I thought I’d share it.

My picture taking skills still need work, but here’s what the first two pages of the kit look like:

IH Feb Tulips Monthly Kit

It’s not perfect (the kit or the picture), but I’m working on it.  I am going to use this kit myself for February.  I made a winter-themed kit for January that I’m using as well.  I didn’t think initially that I would need weekly kits, but I am going to try creating some of those as well.

Using kits like these are any easy way to make my planner prettier, while still remaining functional. There is a third page with some additional full and half boxes, as well as some script and scalloped stickers.

Here’s a picture of the kit in use:

IH Feb Tulips Monthly Layout

I think it turned out pretty well, though my sticker application skills could use some work.  As could my photo skills, since there are weird shadows on my photos – I took this using a light box and they’re still there.  I guess I need to use the light box and my ring light.

I made these for my classic Happy Planner, but I’m struggling to keep from purchasing the other sizes and brands to see which one I like better.  I have to say, I love the disc system and the fact that I can take the pages out and write without the discs getting in my way.

My next tasks are to improve my photography, get busy creating for March kits, and working on other functional stickers.