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?

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.

Epic Fail

img_0087-1It’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:

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Image Credit: workwhilewalking.com

I could stand at my desk and walk at the same time.  Great, right?

Not really.

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?”

Umm, what?

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.

That’s why they call it a Grammy, folks.

Failure to Launch

img_0087-1Well, 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!

I’m Doing This All Wrong

img_0087-1I’ve been working for months on a planner sticker business.  I’ve been busily creating stickers and kits and all the things.

Yesterday I watched a video from a well-known Etsy planner sticker creator and after less than a minute, I was like, I’m doing this all wrong!

I’ve been creating my stickers in Procreate on my iPad and then using my cutting machine software to create the sticker sheets.  I’ve done the designing, cutting, layout – pretty much everything aside from drawing the stickers themselves – in my cutting software program.

This particular creator showed how they did all of that in Photoshop first, so all they had to do was drag and drop a couple of files and then everything was set up and ready to go.  I just sat there with my mouth open, thinking, Why?  Why would you do it that way?  How do you set up the cut lines if everything is one image?  A million questions suddenly flooded my brain and I immediately began to doubt everything I’ve accomplished so far.

Imposter syndrome is real, y’all.  :/

After freaking out for a few minutes, I had a little pep talk with myself.  It’s OK if I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.  That was the point of this whole blog, after all.  To let other people watch me fail and see that it’s OK – that’s how you learn.

I’m me, and how I accomplish something doesn’t matter as much as if I accomplish something.   And after watching the video, now I know a different way to accomplish the same thing I’ve already been doing.  Which is good – now I have options.

So I’m going to take what I have learned, and apply it to my future endeavors.  There’s probably a million and one things I’m currently doing that I could do faster and more efficiently.  But as long as they’re getting done, I’m going to call it a win.

 

 

Reposting Etiquette?

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Credit: Pixabay

One of the things that is always stressed to bloggers is to write ‘evergreen’ content – content that is generally ‘timeless’ and generally useful, in order to keep traffic coming to your blog.

It does work, and I strive to write some of that ‘evergreen’ content on my own blog.  However, I recently came across an issue with this ‘evergreen’ content that I hadn’t encountered before.

I was reading a thoughtfully written post, and I wanted to comment on some of the things that were written because I had some personal experience with the topic.  The post was new, just posted that day, and it already had hundreds of comments and likes.  Great!  The blogger must be doing a good job, and I was excited to post something into what seemed like a busy community on the blog.

So I was confused when I scrolled down to comment and discovered that the comments were over a year old.

What?

Why would I want to comment on a post that was written over a year ago?  I mean, I could just leave a comment, but for me, the point of commenting is to try and build a community and interact with them.  On a post that’s over a year old, who’s still paying attention?  In today’s social media/instant gratification world, I have my doubts that anyone would be.

It got me thinking.  While I want that ‘evergreen’ content to keep people finding and returning to my blog, I don’t want my readers to feel like I did after my experience.

I felt – tricked.  If I had known from the beginning that I was reading an old post, I would likely still have read it and perhaps returned to read other things, knowing that I might find some new gems from this blogger.

But since it appeared the post was freshly published, it seemed a bit shady to republish something a year old and make it look like a new post.  If the blogger wanted to re-post it, why not just add a blurb at the beginning about it being an older post?  Or write a new post that links back to the old content?

I know a lot of bloggers share older content on social media and I think that’s fine, as it generally is apparent once you go to the post that it is older content.  But again, the way this post was handled, I ended up feeling tricked and unfollowed the blog because of it. Maybe it’s just my background in education, but not having a date on content is a pet peeve of mine.  If I’m looking something up, many times the information is time-dependent.  For instance, if I want to look up a comparison between Verizon and Sprint, a post about that from 3 years ago is probably no longer relevant today.

The whole situation just left a bad taste in my mouth and I wondered how other bloggers handled this issue.  How do you feel about this?  Do you re-post old content as if it’s new?  If so, have you ever gotten a bad reaction from a reader?

Planner Overload

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Credit: Pixabay

When I started this blog, it was with the intent to open a planner sticker business on Etsy.  I’m still not there yet, but that’s a post for another day.

I am working on it, creating stickers that I could sell.  I’ve concentrated on things I would use first, because if I never sell anything, at least I’ve created something I will use myself.

I’ve been a planner girl since forever.  When I was in school, it was a way to keep track of my homework.  As I got older, it became a way to keep track of my life.  And I’m still using them.

Them.

As in, plural.  Something I never have done before.  I’ve always just had one planner, and it was one with a monthly spread, because I never use the weekly ones.  I want to be able to glance at my month and see what’s going on that month.  Drilling down into weekdays and hours is just too much for me.  I get information overload.

However, since I dove into the world of planner stickers, I realized I had no idea how many people seem to use planners these days – and multiple ones, at that.

In the planner community, there are two big planner companies.  Each of those companies sells multiple types of planners – different layouts, different themes, different sizes, etc.  But they also sell planners for multiple purposes.  You can buy a fitness/workout planner, a budget planner, a faith planner, a life planner, a household planner, a kids’ planner, and more.

I’ve watched plenty of YouTube videos of planner people who use these multiple planners and thought, sheesh, why would you need that many planners?

I’m now one of them.  :/

I have my original, cheap $5 2 year monthly planner.  I have my bill planner (it’s really just a small spiral notebook where I track my bills).  Now I also have a yearly planner from one of the two big companies – because I needed to know what it was like to use one before I could make/sell stickers for it, right?  And I bought a budget pack from that same company – again, because I need to know how people use it before I can make stuff for it, right?  And I’m currently trying to talk myself out of buying a planner from the other company for the same reasons.

Oh, I forgot, I have a Bullet Journal that I’ve been trying to use again.  The BuJo was appealing because it was functional and not focused on ‘pretty,’ but if you spend any time on YouTube, you’ll find tons of artists who show off their illustrated-to-the-nines BuJos.

So, that’s now 5 (5!) planners I’m using.  Which is ridiculous, I know.  Especially since some of these planners are $40 and up.  But I’m having a hard time paring them down.  I’m actually enjoying using the new yearly planner.  2 issues with it – one, it has lots of pages for weekdays that I will never use, so that’s a waste of trees and money, and 2, the monthly spread, while good, isn’t big enough.  Since I only use the monthly spread, that’s a whole month’s worth of stuff that has to get written down – bills, appointments, schedules, holidays – for 4 people, since I track everyone in my household.  I suppose I could size up to the bigger planner, but then that’s even more money (and pages I won’t use, because it also has pages for weekdays).

And even though I understand the whole ‘sunk cost fallacy,’ I find it hard to get rid of my original cheap $5 planner, because it’s good for another whole year!  And it’s bigger than my new planner, so I have more room to write stuff down.

I am planning to get rid of my little spiral bill planner, because I do like the new budget planner I’ve been using.  Recording things in both places is getting obnoxious, and the new one has much more space to write.  I guess it’s just resistance to change that’s keeping me using both.

I also could incorporate my new budget planner into my new yearly planner – the rings are designed so that you can add/remove/rework pages as necessary.  I just haven’t done it yet.  Doing those two things would at least get me down to 3 planners instead of 5, which is something.

I have also explored the idea of using digital planners for all these things, but honestly, I like using an analog planner.  I like writing with my pens, the feel of the paper, and the stickers.  Digital planning just wouldn’t be the same, plus I’d be worried about it all somehow getting hacked.  So for now, analog planning is the plan.

I’m still trying to figure out if the Bullet Journal is something I want to stick with.  I like that it’s functional, but I’m discovering I would also like it to be pretty.  Something that seems a lot easier with my yearly planner than the BuJo.  We shall see.

How Do You Follow?

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Image: Pixabay

I’m afraid I’m going to become a Luddite in my old age.  I mean, I grew up thinking Super Simon was a technological marvel.  😛

I’m trying to keep up with the times, but it seems like everything moves too fast for me these days.  One of the constants today is that ‘there’s an app for that,’ right?  So I’ve been using the WordPress app on my iPad to keep up with my blog while I’m on the go.

However, I’m not sure if iOS hates WP, or WP hates Apple, but either way, the app just doesn’t work well.  In addition to eating my own posts, it often eats the posts I save so I can come back and read them later.

Which got me thinking – how do other bloggers/readers find and follow blogs?  It used to be that everyone used an RSS reader like Feedly – do those even exist anymore? If they do, does anyone still use them?  Or do you just use the built-in WordPress Reader to find and follow blogs/sites?

I know that I can manually add websites to my reader to follow, but it doesn’t seem to work well.  I did a quick Google search to see if RSS was still a thing.  Google didn’t know, either.  It seems some people still use it, but many have abandoned it due to the rise of social media.  One article said that people use things like Facebook and Twitter in place of RSS readers now.  Is that true?

Does anyone sign up to receive notifications about new posts via email?  I don’t, because I don’t want the email spam.  That’s why I use the WP Reader – then everything is in one place and I can scroll through and read when I have time.  I do miss being able to mark things to come back and read later – there’s an option for that in the Reader, but in my iOS app, it doesn’t work half the time.

So how do you follow all the blogs and websites you like?  Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Other social media?  Or do you use something like Feedly? Or just email?  Sound off in the comments and let me know.

5 Things I Hate About Blogging

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Image Source: Pixabay

I love blogging, I really do.  Sometimes just the process of getting my jumbled thoughts out of my brain onto the screen is all it takes to make my day better.  But there are some things I don’t like about blogging. Some are just annoyances, but some are things that make me want to avoid blogging all together.  I guess my ego is bigger than my dislike, since I’m here.  😀  Right, on with the list!

#5.  Dealing with the technology

I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but I am by no means a tech person.  I liken it to driving a car – I know how to operate it; I can fix simple things – gas, flat tire, blown fuse, etc., but some things are beyond my skills – broken engine mounts (which aren’t apparently as terrible as they sound), broken shifter linkage, suspension issues, and the like.  Same with tech – I can operate my blog and fix simple things, but sometimes things break and I have no idea how to fix them.

One of the reasons I have my blog set up the way I do is that I didn’t want to be responsible for security and other tech issues.  Maybe someday I’ll feel that confident, but not yet.  Technology is great – as long as it works.  😛

#4.  Finding people to follow and interact with

This is a big one for me.  I’m naturally an introvert, and I spend a lot of my time alone – some by necessity, some by need. I like to people watch and observe – interaction is difficult for me and not something I feel adept at.  So just hopping over to someone’s blog and commenting does not come naturally.  I’m constantly afraid I will come off as rude, condescending, or at worst, ignorant.

Has anyone ever made me feel that way?  No, of course not.  Have I ever felt that way about anyone who interacts or comments on my blog?  Nope, never.  Just my own demons following me into the digital realm.

I also apparently suck at searching for other like-minded blogs to follow.  I have a wide range of interests, but it can be difficult to find blogs to follow even then.  Like everyone else, I’m looking for good content, but also consistency.  I’ve found some great blogs, but then discover that the owner hasn’t posted anything in months.

#3.  Blogger’s block

I suffer from this a lot, mostly because I have that little voice in my brain that says that no one will care about what I have to say.  Plus, as mentioned in #2, I think consistency is important, so I try to stick to my posting schedule.  The pressure to post regularly can lead to brain drain, and I have trouble finding a topic I think is relevant that I want to post about.

These days to combat blogger’s block, I either go draw or I go for a walk.  It’s amazing what a little exercise can do to get my neurons firing.  Even if I don’t end up finding a topic, I can at least get myself out of that negative headspace you get into when you are blocked creatively.

#2.  Bragging about yourself

I don’t think most people start a blog thinking, “Hey, I need a forum to brag about myself.”  That said, a lot of the time, that’s what it feels like I’m doing.  Ultimately, I’m trying to get people to listen to me, follow me, and hopefully, spend some money on things I’ve created.

But that darn imposter syndrome is always there, lurking behind me.  There’s always going to be somebody who is better than you at whatever it is you’re doing.  I think we’ve become so conditioned to compare ourselves to others that it can be extremely hard to recognize when you’re doing it.  In the same way, we’ve been conditioned not to brag about ourselves and I find it hard to do.  (Though now that I think about it, social media is mostly that, so maybe it’s just me?)

#1.  Stat tracking

This is my absolute least favorite thing about blogging.  I want to grow my audience and attract followers, but keeping track of all the stats just gives me a headache.  Again, I understand the basics, but drilling down too far makes me want to scream.  Numbers are not my thing – words are.

Plus, I am never sure what stats are more important.  Visits? Views? Comments? Number of followers?  Keywords?  Ugh, I’m making myself tired just writing about all of this.

 

While there are things I don’t like about blogging, what I do get out of it more than makes up for it.  It’s work, for sure, but I enjoy the process, even if I don’t think I’m good at it sometimes.  But that was the point behind this blog – to be public about my successes and my failures.  Now, if I could just figure out how to clone myself so I have time for everything I want to do!