Family Business?

I’ve been working for the past several months on designs for my mandalas.  I have decided that I also want to make stickers to sell on Etsy.  That was my original plan, but then I got sidetracked by how much fun I was having with the mandalas.

I spent some time recently using my Silhouette cutting machine to make some craft kits for a preschool classroom.  It was so much fun, I may have to find other kits to make and sell!

Here’s the craft kit I made – they were doing a monster design for ‘M’ week, so I used my machine to cut out all the circles and horns for the monsters.  Enough for 40+ kids done in about 15 minutes.  It would have taken me all weekend to cut these by hand, not to mention they wouldn’t have been true circles.

Monster Craft Kit 2

My husband is getting in on the action, too.  He is working with vinyl rather than paper, and he’s been making vinyl decals for cars.  He made some for his car and his colleagues saw the decals and asked if he could make some designs for them.

He’s spent the last two weekends working on the computer, designing decals, and having a blast.  He told me yesterday that he really wants to invest some time into seeing if he can turn it into a viable small business.

Crossing my fingers that he can and we can turn this into a family business. 🙂  Now to get busy working on my own designs!

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??!!

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. 😛

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?

My First Fail

My OCD need for organization has been the butt of many jokes in my life. My children find it hilarious that I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but I can tell you if someone moved my stapler two inches. (Maybe that’s just my OCD and not my need for organization, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

I’ve always been a ‘neatnik,’ as my mother would have said. I like things to have a place and for things to be in that place. There are things I don’t do – like organize my clothes by color or season or things like that (because I don’t have the time, nor do I care, frankly). When it comes to my office and files, however, I want everything neat and tidy.

I started using daily planners in college to help keep track of homework, due dates, etc. I’ve been using them ever since. However, I usually have just purchased a generic daily planner and used those. I like having my month laid out so I can see everything at once. The planner was something I liked and used because I wanted to, but once I had children, it became a necessity.

A few years ago, someone mentioned a bullet journal and I was intrigued. I did some research and decided I would try it.

Huge failure.

My need for perfection ruined my use of the bullet journal. I felt like I had to not only be an expert at using the bullet journal, but also be a fantastic artist and decorate it beautifully as well. Which, of course, didn’t happen, and I got so frustrated I quit using it and went back to my generic planners.

Fast forward to about 6 months ago, and I discovered the planner/sticker community on YouTube and Etsy. I was instantly hooked – a way to stay organized with a planner and make it look cute and fancy, but with stickers! As I dove deeper into the idea, I realized a sticker business was something I was interested in. I could work from home, set my own schedule, have some extra income, and satisfy my own need for creativity and organization.

I don’t know if this business idea will work out, but that’s part of the fun, right? I might succeed, I might fail. Either way, at least I will have tried, which is more than most people can say. I’m still working out the logistics of everything – setting up my Etsy store, making product, learning about incredibly boring things like sales tax and online business, but it’s all slowly coming together.

I’m also a huge procrastinator and I suffer from sometimes debilitating bouts of imposter syndrome, but I am determined to see this through. So follow along and watch me fail and learn.

I Am Not A Niche

Created with Quozio

I know all the advice out there says you should ‘niche’ your blog. I’m still not sure I understand why. I mean, I get wanting to be seen as an expert in your field. But I am interested in people, not in niches. When I think about it in that light, it makes me wonder about the other advice you always hear on social media – be authentic, be real. But authentic and real people are complex and multi-dimensional, not a single ‘niche’ idea, right?

As an introvert, people usually assume that I hate people. I don’t. I love watching people, observing their behavior, trying to figure out what makes them tick. Interacting with people is a completely different thing, though. Because I’m an introvert, I’m socially awkward. I mean, I can handle being in social situations, but I don’t generally enjoy them. Mostly because I don’t understand them. If you don’t really care how I am, why are you asking? I want to talk about deep and meaningful things, but most social conversation is completely superficial.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked, sorry. This post is about why this blog likely won’t fit into a neat little niche. The purpose behind it is not to present myself as an expert about anything, but rather to (hopefully) show people that with success comes a lot of failure. I think that people are so afraid these days to fail at anything that they prefer to do nothing. But you don’t learn if you don’t fail. I think that’s a lesson that so many people miss. We’re so focused on success that we forget it is driven by failure.

I decided to start a business, and as is usual with me, I jumped right in with both feet. But after spending a week or so researching and doing some paperwork, that darn imposter syndrome showed its ugly face. Suddenly, the whole prospect seemed incredibly daunting. I have no idea what I’m doing; what was I thinking?

Then I started to really head down the rabbit hole. I don’t even really use social media – I have no ‘following’ to promote this business to, so how in the world am I going to get sales? Then I started researching selling online and all the new tax and privacy laws in the US and elsewhere and it really started to get overwhelming. How am I ever going to make this a success?

Then one day, in the midst of all my angst, I thought, why the hell am I worrying about all this? When I originally decided to start the business, I told myself that I wouldn’t worry about failing. If I did fail, then at least I would have learned something. If I fail, I’ll have lost some money and some time, but at least I will have tried. I’d regret not trying more than I’d regret failing. So, here I am.

If you’re expecting this to be a blog about only things relating to an online business venture, you might be disappointed. I will write about that, but other things interest me, and since this is, after all, my blog, I will probably write about them too.

I’m opening at Etsy shop selling planner stickers and vinyl decals. Topics you may encounter in this blog: starting an online home business, cutting machines (like the Silhouette Cameo), stickers, planners, vinyl, decals, sales tax, using Etsy, etc. I may also write about things like fonts, software, blogging, writing, creating, art, being an introvert (and sometimes a hermit), my tinfoil hat theories (shh, don’t tell anyone about these), and you may encounter my snark/sarcasm.

If any of those don’t strike your fancy, no problem. The internet is a big place, and this is just one tiny corner of it. If you’re interested in watching me fail (or succeed), then slap the follow button and let’s go!