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?

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!

It’s Always Something

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Credit: Pixabay

Last week I posted about keeping your online identity separate from your real life and wondered whether it was possible.  I know that being online comes with a risk, and that the only way to protect your data is to not be online at all.  Actually, I’m not sure that’s even true, given how many companies sell our data.  I mean, my mortgage bank could sell my data, my insurance company, my credit card company – you name it, they’ve probably sold it.  And everything is hackable – everything.  So the best we can do is try to be risk-aware, and be as safe as possible.

But it’s always something.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from Reddit asking me to verify my email address.  Problem – I didn’t sign up for a Reddit account.  Immediately suspicious of a phishing attempt, I looked at the email sender’s address – an https link to reddit.com.  I looked at the verify link – also an https link to reddit.com.  And the third link (again, an https link to reddit.com) – one to click on to say that it wasn’t me who had set up this account.  Which means this happens often enough that companies like Reddit know to include that last option.

Now, I have no idea why someone would need to use my email to open a Reddit account.  I mean, email addresses are free and easy to get from a variety of sources.  So why mine?  I have had this happen before, with another email.  Someone shopping at Lulelemon (someplace I would never shop) used one of my email addresses and I got not only spam emails (which I’m assuming was the point of not using their own email address), I also got their purchase receipts.  With name, address, phone number, etc.  Now, those could have been someone else’s too, I suppose, but it seems dumb to avoid spam by using someone else’s email address and then hand that person your (possible) personal information.

So, I managed to let Reddit know that it was not me who had signed up for the account and they have removed my email.  However, since using other people’s email addresses is apparently a thing, for my own peace of mind, I’m going to take some preemptive action.  I’ve been putting off signing up for social media accounts because – well, honestly, because I don’t like social media.  I know I’m going to have to use it eventually, though, and this has just precipitated my signing up.

At the very least, signing up will ensure that no one else can try to use my email for those sites, even if I never use them myself.  Which, for many of them, I likely won’t.  It still won’t keep people from trying to use my email, but hopefully it will make it just a little more difficult to succeed.

Have you ever had this happen to you?  How did you resolve the issue? 

Separate Lives?

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Credit: Pixabay

Privacy has become a big issue in today’s world.  Big business owners like Mark Zuckerberg want to convince you that privacy is dead, while at the same time retaining a stranglehold on their own.  Why? Because they can make billions off your lack of privacy.  That’s all.  Simple greed.

I grew up before the internet existed.  (Yes, it is possible to survive childhood without the internet, I promise.)  Cell phones were not ubiquitous – mostly because when I was a kid, they were hella expensive and the size of a dictionary. 😛

When the internet became a thing, we didn’t think about the consequences.  (Same thing as nuclear bombs and plastics and asbestos and cell phones and, and well, pretty much everything we invent.)  It’s new, so it must be good, right?

I’ve always been a private person, even as a kid.  Probably due in large part to my lack of social skills, but also because I’m an introvert, and being around a lot of people is mentally and emotionally exhausting for me.  I don’t like, nor do I want, everyone knowing my business.

So, why am I on the internet, you ask?  Good question.  I suppose because I get something out of blogging that I can’t find anywhere else, and also because the benefits to me outweigh the risks.

I think of myself as a normal person, but my sister constantly teases me about my tinfoil hat.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but I don’t think it’s wrong to try and limit the potential risks of being online.

I pay bills online, I blog, I am hopefully at some point soon going to open an online Etsy shop.  But I do try to keep my real life and my online life as separate as I can.  Is that weird?  Do other people not do this?

I have a cell phone, but I really only use it for texting and (gasp!) phone calls.  I do have an email account on it, but that’s pretty much it.  I have a few apps (less than 5) that I have installed, most of the rest of the stuff on the phone are things that came with the phone that I can’t delete.

I don’t really do social media.  I used to have a Facebook, but I do not like their lack of ethics, so I deleted it years ago.  I don’t have an Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or anything else.  I don’t like someone else (whether it’s a person or an algorithm) deciding for me what I should see and when.

Maybe because I grew up without the internet, being without those things doesn’t bother me.  On the other hand, my children, who have definitely grown up with the internet, don’t really do social media either.  They text their friends, and they play online games.  But neither one of them have a Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or Snapchat or whatever other new shiny has popped up lately.

As more and more information comes out about how companies are using data in unethical ways, I find myself trying even harder to maintain the separation between my real life and my online life.  Which, admittedly, is becoming more and more difficult.  Not only because so many companies are trading data as a commodity, but also because the people who use the internet (you know, us regular people), value authenticity.  (That’s what the prevailing wisdom says, anyway.)  Is it possible to be authentic and still keep your real life separate from your online life?

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.

Brain Overload

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(Image Source: Pixabay) This is my brain on technology 😛

For the last several weeks, I’ve been dipping my digital toes into the (cess?)pool of social media.  I’ve blogged about joining Ello and I’ve also recently joined Ko-Fi.  I guess that Ko-Fi isn’t technically social media? Or maybe it is?  I don’t know.

If you’re not familiar with Ko-Fi, it’s a site where you sign up, create a page for yourself, and people can donate via PayPal to support you – i.e., buy you a cup of coffee.  It’s similar to Patreon, I suppose, although you have to pay a monthly fee for recurring payments from supporters.  So Patreon Lite, maybe?

In any event, I thought it looked like a cool way to provide an opportunity for those who don’t have tons of cash lying around (like me), but would like to send something small to those whose talents we appreciate.

So now I have a Ko-Fi page set up for myself.  If you’re interested, check it out here.  It’s still pretty bare bones, but I’ll be adding to it in the coming months.  Learning to navigate all these new (to me) sites has really taxed my poor brain.

Just setting up a PayPal account gave me a headache.  I set it up as a business account, but since I’m a sole proprietor, things can be tricky.  The state I live in doesn’t require me to register my business as a sole proprietor, so some of the questions either didn’t apply or didn’t make sense to me.

Also, their categories for type of business was disappointing.  I didn’t see anything that I thought applied to what I do, but I suppose it doesn’t matter.  I think it’s more for PayPal to send me marketing crap than it is to actually help me out.  We’ll see, I suppose.  I wonder if I can change the category later?  Now I just have to wait for PayPal to do their thing with the test deposits/withdrawals from my bank account so I can get down to business.

I still want to set up a YouTube channel, but I think I may wait and tackle that project another day.  My poor brain is on overload dealing with all these different sites.  Ain’t technology grand?!

‘Ello!

Ello Logo
Ello Logo

Ok, lame title, but I’m trying here!

I am in the process of trying to figure out how to increase my reach, because I need eyeballs on my work if I want to sell any of it, right?

Facebook and Instagram are out for me, for reasons I’ve discussed before.  I’ve narrowed down my options and I’m starting to slowly add social media accounts as I feel able.

Social media is such a time suck for me, so I’m trying to be mindful about what I’m doing and how much time I invest in each area.  Of course, drawing and creating products needs to take the bulk of my time.  So where do I want to go to bring in a bigger audience?

The blog, of course, is where I started.  I’ve now branched out into Ello – a social network that was originally intended as an alternative to Facebook.  It’s become more of a hipster/artiste hangout, but I like the site and their privacy policies (*adjusts tinfoil hat*).

So if you’d like to follow me over there, please do!  If any of you are on Ello, I’d love to follow you as well.  Ello link: here.

There’s not much to see yet, but I’ll be adding content as I can.  I wish Ello had a way to schedule posts, but if it does, I can’t find it.  At some point I may need to start using a social media managing app like Hootsuite or something, but for now, I’m happy to manage things manually.

I’m also kicking around the idea of starting a YouTube channel where I post short videos of me drawing.  Though I’m not sure how much interest there would be in something like that.  But I won’t know until I try, right?

Keeping my fear of failure at bay while I venture into new things is scary and hard.  But I’m pushing through.  Failure isn’t the end, it’s just a learning experience!