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.
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?
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.
That seems to be a lesson the universe keeps sending me lately.
I need to learn new things so that I can be better at the new job I hope to get. That’s good, and I’m working on it. I’ve already taken three classes and have at least three more I’d like to take over the summer.
I need to learn new things so I can be better at blogging. This one is a bit harder – I’m trying to figure out how to set up the Google Analytics for the blog, and I’m struggling. I need an Analytics ID, but to get that I have to set up a Google Property (whatever that is?) and when I follow the links they show, I get stuck.
The directions says to go to the admin section, but I don’t seem to have one. 😦 I’m sure I’m just missing a step somewhere, but after several failed attempts, I’m going to leave it for another day when I have more patience.
This weekend I also learned that I am forgetful. I was so happy about all the progress I made with my mini painting (see here and here) and thought I had only 5 or 6 left besides my CR KS minis.
Until I went downstairs to put away the minis I had finished, and discovered this:
A whole tray of unpainted minis. These are mostly minis we bought to use for our PCs, and then promptly forgot about. Gah! This isn’t even all of them, as I pulled some of them out of the tray. I cleaned off mold lines and flashing and then washed them.
My initial reaction was just to ignore them, but then I thought I could use them for painting experience/experiments, if nothing else. More learning! And, since I will need to take photos of them as I go, even more learning!
I’m starting to finally consider myself on summer vacation, even though I’ve been off work since mid-March. So, I will continue painting, photographing, and learning. I’m even trying my hand this year at gardening, so we’ll see how that goes. 😛
One of the things I’ve noticed with everyone at home is that people seem to feel guilty if they are not ‘busy.’ It apparently has become a cultural expectation that you are ‘busy’ all the time. The busier you are, the more successful you must be.
The internet is filled these days with things you can do/learn/bake/read/create/draw/make/paint/etc. to make sure that you’re staying busy. You’re made to feel guilty if you aren’t using this ‘time off’ (hah) to somehow improve yourself – whether it’s by learning a new skill, working on your fitness, or whatever.
I find this strange on several levels.
If you look at people who are very wealthy, they’re not generally very busy. Some are, of course, but most aren’t. “Deals get made on the golf course,” you’ll hear. As if the deal they are supposedly working on somehow cancels out the fact that they are golfing, not working.
I think we can all agree that meetings are some of the least productive things you can do with your time. But again, wealthy people (like CEOs) expect you to believe that they are busy (and thus important) because their days are filled with meetings.
Also, busy does not equal productive. You can be very busy and accomplish nothing. You can be less busy and still be productive. Here’s a little secret:
It’s okay if you aren’t busy every minute of every day.
The world won’t end. It just means that you need to slow down sometimes and recharge. Vacations are a thing for a reason.
Although, now that I think about it, most people are encouraged NOT to take vacations (at least in my experience). You need to be busy, busy, busy and putting your time and effort in at your job. (This may not be true everywhere – I happen to live the US, and that is very much the culture here.) In fact, most people only get two weeks of vacation a year, and that’s if you have a very good job. In today’s gig economy, most jobs don’t offer benefits like vacation. You can take a vacation, but then you don’t get paid – something a lot of people can’t afford.
I have made a conscious effort to keep myself occupied, because depression can sneak up on me if I don’t. But it’s okay if some days you just want to lay on the couch and read. Or lay on the couch and do nothing. All the things on your to-do list will still be there later. It’s okay to not be busy.
Ok, I admit, parties aren’t really my thing. (Introvert, remember?) A few days ago, when I was upgrading my WP account, I discovered that I am not using the ‘block editor’.
I’m a WP user from waaaay back, and I remember when the editor looked like this:
So, since my new editor looks like this:
I thought I was using the new block editor.
Apparently, that’s the ‘Classic editor.’
The NEW block editor looks like this:
I tried writing this post in the actual NEW block editor, and it made me want to pull my hair out. Now, I’m all for learning new things, but it’s always scary to do this on your blog/website. Because you never know what it will do to your old content. Maybe nothing? Or maybe it will break everything?
I mean, unless I’m updating old posts for some reason, after switching to the the new editor, it shouldn’t change anything, right?
The new editor does look like it has some cool features, but it also was frustrating trying to search around and find things, since everything seems to be moved around.
I’m also debating getting a new theme (now that I upgraded and have access to more), but I have the same fear – that changing the theme will somehow break some of the old content. What to do, what to do.
Are you using the new block editor? Any tips/tricks/horror stories you’d like to share?
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?
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.
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.
It’s not too often that I have one of these, but when I do, it’s a doozy. In my family, it’s referred to as a ‘Grammy moment.’ Why? Because my older sister, while watching the Grammy’s on TV a few years ago, suddenly realized that the award is, in fact, in the shape of a gramophone. “So that’s why they call it a Grammy,” she mused aloud.
My Grammy moment was years in the making. A few years ago, I wanted to try a standing desk (another fail, but that’s a separate blog post). I also wanted a manual treadmill to place underneath it, but couldn’t find one that worked. Instead, I found a standing elliptical. It looks something like this:
I could stand at my desk and walk at the same time. Great, right?
My balance is not always great and I would find myself leaning on the desk to keep my balance, which meant that working on the computer was difficult. Using a mouse while using it? Nope.
Now, I’m old, and I have bad knees. So I prefer using an elliptical to a treadmill, because it’s easier on my joints. But I spend a lot of time in front of the computer sitting and I wanted a way to get some activity at the same time. I tried putting the machine under my desk, but I couldn’t use it, because my knees kept banging into the desk. Sigh. Another useless purchase.
So the machine sat in the floor of my office, near my analog work space, in the vain hopes that I could use it while doing analog work. Just FYI – walking and writing don’t really mix well.
Fast forward a year or so. A few days ago I saw an advertisement for an under-desk elliptical machine. It mentioned that it’s a great way for people who spend a lot of time on their computers to get some activity in. My husband had recently rearranged our living room and it left enough space that I thought I would drag the machine into the living room for use while watching TV. I could use a kitchen chair or something, I thought, to get me high enough that it was comfortable to use. I ended up on our large stepstool with a cushion. It wasn’t exactly comfortable, but at least I felt I could get some use out of the machine. My husband came home and saw it. He had questions and I explained about the ad I saw and that I wanted to use this machine since it’s basically been a paperweight for several years.
I told him I really wanted to put it under my desk, but I couldn’t make it work because I kept banging my knees. He looked at me and then said, “Why don’t you just turn it the other way?”
He took the machine and rotated it 180 degrees. Suddenly, it was the right height to use it with a chair, the couch, MY DESK.
Two years as a paperweight, because it never occurred to me to TURN. THE. MACHINE. AROUND.
Well, here it is, almost the end of 2019, and I have yet to launch my sticker business.
I’m trying not to beat myself up about it too much, but I am frustrated with myself. I’ve been so productive in many other ways this year, but for whatever reason, I find myself unable to pull the trigger on this.
Every time I get close to launching, I find an excuse why I shouldn’t. The biggest issue for me is the whole stumbling block over the excessive tax paperwork if I sell on Etsy. I’ve even looked into hiring a bookkeeper/tax professional to handle it for me, but it’s just too cost-prohibitive at this point.
Over the holidays, I’m going to do some number crunching and see if it makes more sense to use Etsy, or if I want to try having my products available here. If I upgrade to the Premium WordPress plan, I can do simple PayPal orders – without the added headache of sales tax, because I wouldn’t need to collect any as a small business owner selling on my own website.
If I did that, however, I’m not sure how I would set it up here for that. A separate page for products, I think, so that I could keep them separate from the blog posts, yet easily accessible.
I also need to do some experimenting with PayPal – I’ve never used it before, so I’m not fully comfortable with all the ins and outs of it.
I’ve set up some social media accounts to try and increase my exposure – if I’m not going to go the Etsy route, I need to work on bringing customers in myself. Honestly, that’s the only appeal of Etsy – the built-in traffic. I’ve set up a Twitter account and I was already on Ello. I’ve added Pinterest, because the planners and stickers are so visual, but I need to spend some time researching how to use Pinterest. It’s not at all intuitive and I’m finding it more difficult to use than I had anticipated.
I’d also like to add YouTube into the mix, but until I get a better recording set up, that isn’t an option. I need to shoot from overhead and it’s more complicated than I thought. I tried using my smartphone, but the quality just isn’t what I want it to be. I really want to use my Canon camera to record, but I need the right equipment to shoot from overhead with it.
So, as usual, lots of plans. Here’s hoping I can follow through with them, instead of continuing to procrastinate. Fingers crossed!