iPad Posting Fail

img_0087-1I’ve had many blogs over the years and one thing I always wanted was to be more mobile with my blogging.  I’m old and have terrible eyesight, so blogging on my phone has never been an option.  My eyes are too bad, my fingernails are too long, and my patience is too short to write posts on a dinky phone screen.

I’ve always been a PC kinda gal, so I am most comfortable writing that way.  A full-size keyboard is my friend, especially one with a great ‘feel.’  I learned to type on a manual typewriter (yep, I’m that old) and keyboards with no feel drive me batty.

However, over the last year or so, I’ve been using my iPad more and more.  Especially now that I am drawing on it, I tend to take it everywhere.  So I thought I would try out blogging on my iPad.  It couldn’t be that hard – even though I loathe the new ‘block’ editor (it’s not that new anymore, I suppose), I’ve been doing okay with it on the PC.

My thoughtful husband bought me a bluetooth keyboard that I could use with the iPad so that I could type with an actual keyboard rather than the on-screen one.  (I am active on some forums and let me tell you, trying to select text with the built-in keyboard is a freaking nightmare!)

I also had intentions of participating in Inktober (notice the past tense there) and had drawn up a mandala for the first prompt.  I drew it up, decided to post about it, and wrote up the post.  Simple, right?

As if.  :/

It took forever for the iOS WordPress app to load up my jpg image of the mandala.  I think it took about 5 tries before it finally loaded.  I finished up my post, proofed it, and published it.

I tried to, anyway.

After hitting publish, the app just sat there with the loading wheel spinning and spinning.  So I closed it and tried saving the post.

Nope.  Wouldn’t save either.

I tried publishing it again.  Again with the loading wheel.  I thought, well, I’ll just give it a few minutes and see if it worked.  I did a few chores around the house and came back.  Nope – still the spinning wheel.

Argh.

After about an hour of trying to post, I finally gave up.  I don’t know if WordPress hates Apple or Apple hates WordPress or they both hate me, but I was so frustrated I was ready to spit nails.  Oh, and during this whole process, I also discovered that posts I had saved to come back and read later in the app have also disappeared.

All of them.

Sigh.

So for now, I’ve resigned myself to drawing on the iPad and posting on the PC.  Not exactly what I wanted, but we can’t have everything, right?

Planning Fail

img_0087-1Several months ago, I bought one of those fancy planners.  You know, the ones you see all over YouTube and Etsy with all the bazillions of cute little stickers you can put in them?

Since I was contemplating starting my own sticker business, I bought one, along with several sticker sets from different Etsy stores to try out.

I lasted two whole weeks, I think.

I mean, it’s not the planner’s fault.  It was cute, it was in some colors I liked, and I truly thought I would use it.  It’s not the stickers’ fault – they were all cute and/or useful.  I bought a set of budgeting stickers for April (so I bought the planner even before that) and some other just cutesy stickers to decorate as I planned.

I even bought a couple of sticker packs made for the planner I bought that were digital downloads so I could try that out.  After the printing fiasco of those, I finally got them ready to use.

Now, I use a planner all the time.  I prefer the month-at-a-glance ones, rather than week by week, so that was probably my first fail.  The planner I bought does have a monthly view, but it’s pretty small and followed by weekly spreads.  So, not really enough space for what I wanted for the monthly view.

Looking back through the planner, I used it for, yep, two whole weeks.  It just felt, forced, I think.  Like I was trying too hard to make it ‘cute,’ when what I need from my planner is functional.

Weekly Planner Spread 2019_0001

Weekly Planner Spread 2019_0002

I was a bit frustrated, thinking of the money I wasted on this planner (even on sale, it was around $35) and the stickers.  As you can see above, none of the stuff I put in the planner actually got checked off, so I clearly accomplished a whole lot of nothing that week.

I pulled the planner out while I was writing this post and realized I’ve only got 3 months left to use it.  I can buy other pages and take out the ones that are currently in there, so it’s not a total loss, but I doubt I’ll spend that much to replace something I didn’t use in the first place.

Now I’m thinking maybe I’ll use it as an editorial calendar for the blog.  Then it won’t matter how messy it gets, right?  😛  Since it’s only usable til the end of this year, that seems like a good plan.  I’ll probably keep the little discs and the cover, but I’m not even sure about that.

Ah, well, another lesson learned, right?  At least I’ve narrowed down what I don’t want in a planner.  Now – what to do with all those stickers??!!

Photo Fail

I’ve been working on drawing and coloring mandalas, experimenting with all the different ways to use them so that I can get an idea of what people who purchase them might want to do with them.

I printed out a couple of my Monday Mandalas from this blog and colored them in with my favorite colored pencils.  I wanted to take a photo of them and show you how they turned out.

Unfortunately for me, my photo skills aren’t up to par and apparently neither are my photo editing skills.  I’ve taken a million photos and I can’t seem to get the paper to look white – there’s always a weird yellow cast.  I’ve tried editing the photo, but whatever I do also affects the colors I used on the mandala, which I don’t want.

So, after much frustration and face-palming, I’ve decided that this is a fail that I need to accept and move on from.  The photo itself wasn’t the point, the experience of coloring it in was.

The failed photo:

Colored Mandala MeSee how it’s dark on the right side?  So, clearly, one of the things I need to work on is how to take better digital photos, especially if I’m going to be posting some of my designs for sale on Etsy.

Ignoring the lighting fail, actually coloring in the mandala went well.  This one is a fairly simple design, but that meant that I could color it in quickly, which is nice.  I like how it turned out, even if my photo skills don’t do it justice.

Maybe I’ll try taking some of the photos with my digital camera rather than my phone and see if that works better.  In the meantime, I’m also experimenting with layering some of my designs and turning those into coloring pages.  Hopefully I’ll have something to post about that here soon.

Learning Curve

FailMy struggle to start my online business continues.  For whatever reason, my brain insists that before I start something, I must know ALL THE THINGS.  So I decided to see how other people were running their sticker businesses on Etsy.

My first goal was to order some stickers from other stores. I had a million questions.  What kind of paper do they use? How do they package their products? What do they charge? How much is postage?  Do they charge shipping?  What about sales tax?

So I purchased some stickers for my own use and I also purchased some stickers that I could download, print, and cut myself. I’m still deciding whether I want to mail out orders, which will add to the cost because of postage and packaging, or whether I want to just sell downloadable files.

So I purchased a couple of downloadable files that also included the cut files so I could use the Cameo and see how things work. Buy the files, download, open, print, cut – easy peasy, right?

Right.

After 30 minutes of work, I was ready to pull out my hair. I made ALL the rookie mistakes. I’d tried to read and research about how to use the software and the cutting machine, so I thought I was ready to go.

Nope.

First, I wanted to try out my new CMYK printer and see what the print quality was like. It was okay, though not as saturated as I thought it would be. The images I was printing were kind of washed out, so I’ll wait and see how I feel after printing more than 3 or 4 pages.

I printed two pages of the stickers I purchased and then got ready to cut them. Opened the cut files and loaded the cutting machine. And then realized, after the cut job failed, that I had just printed the pdf files of the stickers, which don’t include the registration marks that the cutting machine needs to cut.

Sigh.

So, I opened the cut files and printed the stickers again – this time making sure the registration marks printed. So far, so good. Next headache – my Cameo is connected to my PC via bluetooth because it sits too far away from the PC to connect with a cord. Then I got the cut job loaded and ready to go, but when I went to send it to the machine, the bluetooth was continually searching (and not finding) the Cameo.

Grrr.

Deep breath, and then I shut off the Cameo, counted to 5 and turned it back on. Finally, the bluetooth connected and I was able to get the cut job started. I did notice that the blade didn’t seem to have moved (my Cameo came with an auto blade), but I didn’t think much of it. I wanted to track how long it took to cut, so I was watching the clock.

As I said, rookie mistake. When the job finished, the machine had cut, but not deep enough to peel the stickers off easily. Some of them were quite small and they ripped as I tried to take them off, or I couldn’t get them separated at all. Clearly, my blade wasn’t cutting deep enough. Google, here I come.

After spending just a few minutes searching, I found the answer. Because my machine has an auto blade, the machine has to adjust the setting on the blade, rather than me doing it manually (which is how some other machines work). Apparently most newbies insert the blade incorrectly. Mine was actually inserted correctly, so that wasn’t the problem.

I went back to the cut file and realized that the cut file assumes that your machine has a ratchet blade (one that you adjust manually). So, that problem solved. I just change the blade selection to reflect that my machine has the auto blade.

Success! I load the paper to be cut, get the machine connected via bluetooth, and when the job starts, it adjusts the blade. Yay!! I wait another 4 minutes for the job to finish and then I go to remove the sticker paper from the cutting mat. As I pull, I realize that the blade, rather than kiss-cutting the stickers, has instead cut all the way through the paper. Which means when I try to peel the paper off the tacky cutting mat, it comes up in pieces, leaving the stickers stuck to the mat.

Arrrggghhh.

I spent 10 minutes peeling off all the stickers from the mat. Another piece of paper wasted. But – now I know what not to do. So, back to the drawing board. Print the stickers, make sure they have the registration marks, make sure the machine is connected to the PC, and adjust the blade settings so that it doesn’t cut all the way through the paper.

How did it go?

Well, partial success. I adjusted the blade setting, but I left everything else the same. Mistake. I considered adjusting the force/pressure of the blade as well, but I decided not to. After spending more time cutting the stickers, this time I think the blade depth is good, but it is still cutting too deep. Some stickers were fine, but others were still cutting through the backing of the paper. Not enough that I couldn’t pull it off the cutting mat in one piece, but enough to make it unworkable as a setting.

Back to the drawing (cutting?) board. 😛

Who Should I Follow?

img_0087-1Alternative Title: I Suck at Search

A few days ago, past me was be-bopping along, writing some posts (ahead of time, gasp!) and reading through the other blogs I follow.  And I thought, I need some new blogs to add to my reader feed.  So I’ll do a search and find some new and interesting and exciting blogs to follow.  Right?

Sigh.

Maybe it’s because my blog isn’t really a ‘niche’ blog.  Or maybe it’s because I’m interested in everything. (Except creepy crawlies – those can f*ck right off.)

I’m interested in photography, editing photographs, writing, blogging, creating, dungeons and dragons, painting miniatures, mandalas, stickers, self-publishing, running my own business, virtual reality – the list goes on and on.

But I have had no luck just doing searches on WordPress and trying to find other bloggers/writers to support and read.  I mean, I’ve found some that look interesting, but I feel like I must be missing a whole huge lot of them.

So – who do you follow?  Who’s funny? Who makes you think? Who posts pretty things?  I need AALLLLL the links!  Post them below – don’t forget to include your own blog so I can follow you too!

 

Music Fail

Keep Calm Hate Apple
Credit: keepcalmandposters.com

A few days ago I decided that I wanted to add some music to my smartphone.  I’m a music lover and I have a large collection of music files that I’ve compiled over the years – CD’s I owned that I ripped the music from, songs I’ve purchased at various places (including Amazon and iTunes), even some old cassettes and vinyl that I converted into digital files.

I have Amazon music on my phone, but it only lets me play songs I’ve purchased from Amazon.  You used to be able to upload other songs you owned, but I never did that.  You still can, but you are limited to 250 songs.  With something like 12,000 songs in my library, that didn’t seem feasible.

I do have an iPod, but rather than carry two items (my phone and iPod) around, I thought, “Why not put some of the music files on my phone?”  Easy, right?

I spent an hour or so pulling out some music and putting it in a file on my PC so that I could drag/drop it onto my phone.  Unfortunately, I forgot something.

I own an iPhone.  😦

So when I hooked up my iPhone, it wanted to sync with my iTunes account.  Which wouldn’t have worked, because I have two different apple IDs – one on my phone and one for iTunes.  And which I didn’t want anyway, because I didn’t want my entire iTunes library on my phone.

Now, I own the music in my library.  I also own the phone.  So why can I not just simply drag/drop files from my PC onto my phone?  Oh, right, because it’s Apple.  :/

I could go out and get a third party app/software that would let me transfer the music files.  But it would still put them in the iTunes library on my phone, which I also do not want.  My husband doesn’t understand my frustration.  Maybe you won’t either.

Regardless, I am incredibly frustrated.  After two hours and bunch of internet searches later, I am disgusted with the whole process.  All I wanted was to have my music (again, which I own) be portable so that I could take it with me.

Guess I’ll go dig out my Sony Walkman.  😛

Imposter Syndrome

Image Credit: Pixabay

Last time I was talking about my (lifelong) tendency to procrastinate. I hope I’m doing better (past me is writing this, so I hope future me is doing better). However, I’ve been dealing with a lot of Imposter Syndrome lately.

For those of you unfamiliar with Imposter Syndrome (lucky you!), it is defined as ‘the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.’ (Dictionary.com) Basically, I feel like a fraud and that at any moment, someone will discover that I really have no idea what I’m doing.

It’s the opposite of the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is defined as ‘a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.’ (Wikipedia.com)

I wonder if there’s any way to trick my brain into switching one out for the other?

Every time I sit down to try and work on designs for my (eventual) store, I am beset by doubts. Nothing seems good enough. That little voice in my head starts whispering about how I’m not trained, I’m a hack, an amateur, a fraud. Then the very next day (or sometimes sooner), I am looking at other people’s work and thinking, pfft, I can do that!

The Imposter Syndrome was so bad that my Cameo, after sitting in the box for two weeks, sat for another two weeks in my office before I actually tried using it. And I only did it then because my husband was busy working on some designs of his own and wanted to use the machine to cut them (he was making vinyl decals).

I nixed him getting to use it before I did, so I finally sat down and tried cutting out some sticker files that I had purchased on Etsy. (That is another failure story, so keep an eye out for that one.) So, I have now used the machine and learned a few things, but I am still suffering from both Imposter Syndrome and my usual procrastination.

Meanwhile, my husband is busy creating designs and cutting out decals in his spare time and has decorated several of our vehicles with them. Le sigh.

How do you deal with procrastination and/or Imposter Syndrome?

Procrastinators Unite! Tomorrow

Image Credit: Pixabay

I am a procrastinator. Which is bad for a home business, probably. I work best under pressure (like writing a 5 page college paper the night before it’s due, etc). I think I get overwhelmed by choices, so leaving things until the last minute forces me to make quick choices and I don’t have the time to over think them. (I think there’s a sticker in there somewhere!)

So when I decided to try and start a sticker business, I was making list after list after list. What would I use as a name? Did I need a blog? What equipment and supplies would I need? My husband, on the other hand, was immediately online, researching what the best equipment and supplies would be and encouraging me to order them asap so I could get started.

We ended up purchasing a new printer, since my current printer was about 7 years old. We also bought a Silhouette Cameo 3, which I will be using to cut out the stickers I plan to sell. The printer we bought locally, but both items sat in the box for about two weeks – I needed to rearrange some things in my office to make room for the new machines.

We finally got around to rearranging the office so we could set up the new printer and the Cameo. A few days ago I set up a separate bank account to use for the business and got a PO Box as well. So now I don’t have any more excuses for not getting started.

So, have I? Of course not.

I set a deadline for myself of April 1, which has come and gone. I do have the machines set up and I’ve been working on designs and learning the ins and outs of the Cameo. But it seems that external deadlines are easier for me to worry about than internal ones. So I’m going to try my hardest to meet the next one – by May 1 I want to have at least 10 products ready to launch. Crossing my fingers that I can stick with this one.

How do you keep yourself motivated to meet personal deadlines?

You Can’t Know Everything

You can’t know everything – a fact which frustrates me often. Take today, for example. I was doing some research to see what counted as views on my blog. Because WordPress has set up this fantastic Reader which lets me follow and comment on all the millions of blogs out there, so surely using it helps the people I’m following, right? And vice versa?

Turns out, not so much. From what I was able to find, the answer about whether it’s counted as view is – it depends. But essentially, unless I go to the actual URL of a blog/site, it probably isn’t counted as a view. Which I get. But then, why have the Reader? Convenience, sure, but is that enough?

So then I thought – well, what if I use Feedly (that’s still around, right? Or did I just date myself?) or some other RSS aggregator? That would count as view since I have to actually put in the blogs/sites I want to follow, surely.

Nope.

Viewing a site using RSS doesn’t count. I think.

You know, I’m an educated person and, I’d like to think, a fairly quick learner. But I can’t know everything. Dealing with the internet makes me think I have to. It seems like there is never a straight-forward answer, and what answers there are contain a bunch of jargon that I don’t understand.

With all the wonders the internet has provided (including memes and hilarious animal videos), following blogs I like all in one place, while also providing a view to those blogs doesn’t seem like a huge undertaking, does it? I’m not a tech person, so there’s probably nuances to this issue I don’t understand or haven’t thought of.

So, for now, this will have to be one of those topics that doesn’t make sense to me. I could spend more time doing research, but it will probably frustrate me and it’s not a topic I want to spend a lot of time on. I mean, views are nice, but they are not the reason I started this blog. I will use the Reader to follow other blogs that interest me, and I hope others are doing the same. If it doesn’t count as a view on my blog, it’s not the end of the world for me.

Organic growth is what I’m hoping for – that what I put out here has some value to others and that my writing speaks for itself. If it doesn’t, and it fails, then that’s another lesson for me, right?