Monday, July 23, 2012

Making Money


What's always amazing to me is how people become "professional" bloggers - where they somehow make enough money to quit their day jobs and blog full time. I have to admit, I am really jealous. Not so much that they were able to quit their jobs (ok, I am jealous about that) but mostly because they found a way to make some money off of something they love doing and that they made it seem effortless.

In my full time field of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, I've read a lot of research that has found entrepreneurship is linked to personality - some people want it and strive for it naturally, and other people just don't. I'm the first to admit that it doesn't come naturally to me. Every personality inventory, motivation assessment and value survey I have ever taken has rated commerce as low priority for me. Meaning that, generally speaking, I don't value money as much as I value say, feeling empowered. It also means that when I decided to open a business, I had an uphill battle because the first priority for me never seemed to be the profit.

Back in 2008, when I first started fumbling around with Believe Notes - my priority was to learn the trade. I did a lot of work for free, for friends and family mostly, and I made a few sales here and there, but I always lost money on the sales I made. I under priced, made mistakes, and miscalculated. If I can be really honest, I still struggle with underpricing. But it never bothered me to lose money, because I felt like I was gaining the experience, and the experience to me was worth more than the money. I understand that my nonchalance about losing money really is a personality thing, but I'm a smart person, and smart business people need to find a way to make money.

After a few years of testing the water, I started to grow - as a designer and as a business owner. I started to become more confident, and began making goals and decisions that would specifically aim to increase my profit - it was, and still is, very hard for me. I created a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, and an Etsy shop. I joined Facebook groups for Etsy sellers, I started participating more in online forums, and I began to read other blogs that had small business tips. With every little bit of effort, I would see a little bit more return. Maybe just one or two more Etsy sales, or more page views on my blog. I was thrilled.

But then I stopped.

I thought "Ok, so I did all the stuff, now I stop and let it ride." Right? Wrong. Things started to slow down, my sales decreased, I had less visitors on my blog, and people actually started to drop my facebook page. Ouch.

So then I started again. But not only did I start again, but I started with an entirely new feeling of empowerment, because I felt like I discovered something really, really good. Ready for my secret? Here it is:


It's simple, but it works. I know some people make things looks easy, as if they put no effort at all and all of their success comes magically. And maybe some people really do have viral/instant success, but in reality, most people don't. Most people have to work for their successes, and not just work, but work really goddamn hard.

Around January of this past year I decided I was going to start working hard. I didn't want my business to be a hobby anymore, I wanted it to make money. I realized that my day job, while good, should really only be responsible for taking care of my "regular" life, but it couldn't keep paying for my business. My business needed to pay for itself. I started thinking about all of my expenses and figured out how much I needed to earn in order to at least cover all of my business costs. I started making clearer goals for myself that I followed through. I really began taking things seriously - I got my Tax Id and registered my business, I'm making a very pointed effort to network more, I am adding some affiliate marketing to my blog and am thinking of selling some spots for recommended vendors, I started thinking about who/what my audience looks like and what they actually want, I'm researching new products before I invest in selling them. I took a hard look at what failure/success means to me, and I allow myself to redefine that definition if I need to.

Since I've been making so much more of an effort, I really have been seeing the results. I've been making not just enough earnings to cover my costs, but I'm at a point where I can save the money and start thinking about future business investments. I've learned the truth behind the saying "you have to spend some to get some" and I've been trying to spend little bits of money (for things such as search ads and advertising) to make some pretty big returns.  I hope some day to revisit this blog post and be able to talk about some major successes, but for now, I'm going to just keep on swimming and putting in the effort.

If anybody has any of their own little business tips, I would love to hear them :)

5 comments:

  1. Amazing! Great post. Love the chart! A great refresher about effort. I think there may also be room for patience along the right hand side (!!)

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  2. Love your blog, Jackie! Your posts are always really insightful and interesting. I am also not a natural business person, and am wondering if I want to keep stationery design as a hobby or really try to make a go of it :)

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  3. Thanks ladies! Kimberly, ugh, sometimes I have to repeat the mantra "patience is a virtue" over and over and over!

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