What to focus on? Greedy platforms versus the less greedy…

I have done some research and some thinking. I have been very close to another burnout. Working a full-time job and then working on weekends on my side-hassle was a bit too much as I had only a couple of hours of rest. And that was not enough to recover.

Something had to change to stay sane. I have looked closely at all my side jobs and decided on a dramatic cut. Amazon and Etsy had to be put on the side. I have decided to do only weekly maintenance, dedicating only 2 hours weekly to both. They were not delivering, I have put so much time into Amazon and so much effort into Etsy, yet the rewards are small or none. So yes, radical change was made.

I focused on Zazzle – just starting it and then building it slowly. The idea is that if I am able to sell something in November – I will keep it going as that will be a sign to me that it is worth persuading. I am not emotionally involved in it, not as much as was with Amazon and Etsy. I am more like – whatever…lets’ see.

What I put on the side as well is Instagram. I am not growing and have not been growing for a couple of years. The accent on recency does not suit me. I am staying on it but not going crazy. Same with Tik Tok. I think Tic Tok is great for sellers who have something trendy, something viral and hot. And for sellers who don’t mind having a few good years on Tik Tok and then moving to something else. I am trying to make something that is long-term so that platform is not for me.

What I am focusing on and going to focus on even more is what I call for myself the Golden Triangle. What is it?

  1. YouTube
  2. Website (Google)
  3. Pinterest

Why those three? Because they play very well together. This is really important. Your YouTube channel or Pin will get shown by Google and your Website will get shown by Google too. Also, your YouTube and Website connect well – there are now barriers unlike with Instagram where you have to stay on the platform and never ever leave (just joking of course). Pinterest will promote well both Website/YouTube and will not penalize for promoting those two. I can see more growth and more potential from the connection of these three elements hence the Golden Triangle. I think because they ‘work well together they help you to create greater visibility. To keep this going is time-consuming but by streamlining my focus, I think it is manageable. Also, I assume that only one of the three will lay the golden egg in future and the other two will just supplement it and act as a funnel. Time will show if I am correct or not. In the meantime, have a great summer dear friends and may you see your success soon 🙂

Make it more simple

Keeping everything in one spot

I really like the saying: Don’t keep your all eggs in one basket. It is on my mind, especially now when I see so many changes around me and in the POD world. This is something I am more aware of now than a few years ago – and making changes based on it.

I have selected platforms that I think are fairly stable – for me, it is still Amazon and Etsy (and testing Zazzle) but I have started my own albeit tiny blog, that will be only mine, not dependent on anybody else. It is growing very slowly, actually, the growth has been so slow that it highly discouraging. When I log in, I am greeted only with spam comments and bot visits. Ahh, patience, patience girl – that is all I can say to myself at this point. I was very tempted to spend some money on Jasper (Jarvis) AI to help me grow but now I am holding my horses, so to speak, after Google stated very clearly – no AI-created content in its vicinity…Personally, I think, that it will change in the future but at the moment Google is the doorkeeper – so not worth messing around with it.

On that note, I do think that the internet space that seemed years ago so vast and egalitarian, will become segmented among the biggest few and the access will be a lot harder to get for free. I have tried to utilize more visibility with some Ads but it did not deliver and I am too small to through my money at it. While we are talking about the future, yes, I do think, there will be new options for small businesses and I am sure, lots of clever people are drafting it now as we speak. But it will take time to materialise. Until then, I have to rely on my strategies and productivity.

With regards to Social Media, I am devoting my time only to Pinterest and YouTube. The other media ‘just ask’ too much in return for exposure. And I don’t have hours and hours to feed the greedy algos.

And of course, the last piece of the puzzle of my strategy is self-education. I really spent a lot of time on that. Currently going through a really good and inspiring course. It is from someone I have been following on Youtube for the longest time. That is also the reason, I finally signed up for a course. Even if I don’t make what the course promises, I am still happy for that person to get the sale. Just because of this ‘relationship’ that is based on trust. This is actually also a very valuable lesson for me. If you are able to have a small audience that resonates with you, that is actually enough. But you do have to keep certain qualities that are different from big companies:

  1. You have to be authentic and really be yourself, companies are not able to do this as it is always a massive group of faceless people, they try to make up for it with an influencer/celebrity face but here you have a massive advantage – it is really you, normal human-like your customers
  2. I know that everyone is advising this – brand yourself, make yourself into a brand, and yes, it works especially if you want to turn into a big company. But for me personally, it is a turn-off. I do not like people turning into a brand as they sooner or later lose that personal touch. I really prefer ordinary people making their craft or doing what they do best, and I do not need the hear their ‘value proposition.’ So yes, be yourself and tell your own story as it is.
  3. Big companies will drop anything that does not bring big bucks but the small guy can thrive here and is very specialised and focused.

So that is all, I have been thinking and working on this summer. I have included a little schema as some of you prefer visuals 🙂

Have a great summer dear friends and keep on going!

My simple plan for Q3

Creating something from scratch again

I have done it again. I have decided to try something new. But this time I told myself that this is really, really the last time, I am trying a POD site. The reason for that is that I have not experienced any success with the POD style business. And I have been trying since 2018. So yes, this is the last try and it is rather symbolic that its name starts with the letter ‘Z’.

Yes, you guessed it. It IS ZAZZLE. I kept on hearing about it for many years but I have never tried it. Mainly because that from what I have heard the rewards were slow and small. Not what I wanted. But now, after all my experiences, I am thinking that there is nothing to loose. I am going to try to build it over the summer and test it for Q4 which should be (at least in theory) the best one. Based on the results, I will decide what to do next.

As for my other ventures. I am enjoying You Tube but I can see, how lots can people burn out. It is growing very slowly and I will definitely not get monetised this year. It is snail paced at best, but I am doing it mainly for the experience and hopefully later on connecting it to my blog. And yes, still working on my blog. My feeling about it so far – what is very liberating, is the fact that I don’t have to conform to ‘any platform’ and create/organise things exactly the way, I want. At this moment, I can’t see, how I will be reaching a wide audience. The traffic is painfully slow. But, I am committed and will let you know my progress as I go.

Just a reminder to you all, my dear friends. This is the slowest period for any online business. Very little is happening at the moment – unless you are a big fish 🙂

So keep on going and don’t jump to any conclusions based on this slow season.

Accepting the lows

To blog or not to blog

I have tried lots of part-time avenues. And most of them were online and most of them were exhaustive and brought very little return. No matter what the influencer said and no matter what the gurus told.

At the beginning of 2022, I even thought to myself that I am lucky to have a full-time job and maybe that is how it is going to be for me. Just maybe the passive income way was working a few years ago. Maybe I started too late and chose very saturated niches. J was just not getting the proof of concept, I wanted to see.

But you know me by now, I do want to explore all options before I give up. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my Etsy shop (even made a backup website shop), and I am still active on Amazon (even though the sales are meagre). I am not cancelling everything, I have built over the years but it is not just my main focus. I am taking one last shot at the passive income and that is the one I have mentioned recently – blogging.

My aim is to build it to 50 posts and then assess it. Then write more posts but more targeted ones. Let it all seep for a year and then make my last decision about the passive income journey. The main hurdle was to start, the next hurdle was to get through a course (which is very good but very extensive), then choose the NICHE. Yes, there are so many strategies how to choose the right one and the most profitable one. I made a big compromise there – chose a niche related to my work, so I am kind of an expert in it, I do have some unique ideas about it, it is easy for me to write about it…is it the most exciting thing for me? Certainly not. I do not love it but I like it enough. And it has that helping community element which I really like.

So yes, that is what I am testing and concentrating on this year. I am not giving any links as I want purely organic traffic and I want it to be unaffected by anything, including social media.

Currently, I have about 5 pages, 15 posts and a handful of links. Very little traffic after 3 months of its existence. We are talking tens or ones. But, as I said, I have committed for at least a year. So we will see 🙂

I hope you are having more success with your passive income, dear friends!

Tired of passive income hype

Upgrade or not

This one is a short one. I had WordPress.com for several years now. I went from an unpaid plan to a paid one, back to unpaid and again to a paid one.

Since I have upgraded, I have noticed that I do get more exposure, I have got more subscribers and I do have an access to the Help Desk (which I’ve not used). But is it really such a big difference from the unpaid one – I have to say that there is not a big visible difference whatsoever. Maybe if I upgrade then I will see a bigger difference? But frankly, I do not have the extra funds or the patience. When the times come, I will go back to the unpaid plan and this blog will stay the same – a tiny little blog with some of my list and ideas.

There is one more thing I don’t like, and I have to apologise for this. Every time I publish, there is a notification in your Inbox, whether I like it or not. I myself don’t like full Inbox, so I know how it feels. I did try to cancel the notification and let the subscribers decide, unfortunately, it is not possible. This just adds to my overall feeling. that WordPress.com is just too expensive and too controlling.

My new blog is in on a different platform, and I will let you know, how it went. I do need it to age a bit before I make any conclusions.

So that is all for today, have a lovely spring, dear friends 🙂

The truth is, that blogging is hard

My strange strategy paid off

This is going to be very brief. Something surprising happened to me on Pinterest. It might not be applicable to other social media though…

My Pinterest was not doing that well and the numbers kept on going doing. I kept on trying different things and kept on watching every Pinterest guru I could find.

The numbers were plummeting and I could not figure out the reason. What was frustrating was that there was no one, who would be able to give me an answer. I had to face a simple decision – is it worth my time or not? And I decided that yes, it is worth my time. I am a visual person, I like the idea of pins. So I thought to myself – ok – I will be persistent and consistent and not care about what the analytics will say. I will stay with it for three months and I will make a decision then.

The plan was simple – 3 pins on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (that is when I got most traffic) and 1 pin for the rest of the week. Pinning to my most visited board only. Nothing was happening for a while until December. I have attached the most recent snapshot – and it is really surprising. The consistency got me to a lot more clicks within 3 months. So here you go. The strategy was so simple – consistent pinning, and my mindset was basically – I don’t care about analytics…

Pinterest Analytics Screen Shot

Why blogging is not the shiny thing

Blogging is my next venture and this time I am doing it differently. Amazon, Etsy and other of my attempts were very amateurish, to say the least. There was some success but quickly fizzled out or there is a success but not in a monetary sense.

Being a blogger longer time ago was definitely easier. I have quickly found out that most bloggers today treat it as a business and are not just writing about any random stuff. They choose their niche carefully and answer queries that are people actually asking on the net. They write at least 100 posts in a year and those posts are pretty extensive and in-depth. So yes, I do have my second thoughts on going that route as the commitment is MASSIVE and LONGTERM.

I did find a niche that I can work on and write about – sadly it is connected to my full-time job. I say sadly because I do want to escape my full-time job and not to get more wrapped in it. But at the same time, it is something I do not a lot about and offers sound advice. It however curbs my enthusiasm about the whole thing.

I have got a course that I follow and which helps to get over through different hurdles faster – this is the first time I bought a course and I must say, it is paying off. It is hugely motivational as the creator understands how demotivating can blogging be. I have noticed that most successful people in blogging are those who write about their passion (like a hobby they do on regular basis) or they recommend products they actually use and show all the detail that you can get on the shopping sites. The most profitable are those with strong affiliate links, second place would go to those who live on ads and there there is a third group that sells their product or expertise on their blog. I have not found any numbers that would tell me that this third group is the most profitable but I think you can earn a bit this way as well – but it goes in waves – you have good months and bad months. Unless you are big enough and known enough. But that is not what I am writing about here. I am focused on the small, one-person venture, side income.

I know this is not the most inspiring post but I think it is important, to be honest with these things. I will try to get the 100 posts out and then report back – what actually happened. Yes, of course, I have to finish with a list at the end. This is what I have figured about blogging:

  1. needs a commintment 12-18 months
  2. 100 posts minimum (2 posts a week)
  3. In-depth useful information that is sought by people on the net
  4. Choosing a topic that can be monetize through affiliate, ads of via own product/service
  5. be prepared not see any results for many months
  6. get a course or find someone who will motivate you

And with that, I am going to close today. If you have an experience with blogging – good or bad – and would like to share it, please do 🙂

Have a great February everyone and stay with whatever you doing, remember it is often the marathon and not the sprint that works for us – one-person business owners 🙂

Blogging in 2022

Is blogging too lame for 2022?

So, 2021 is almost over and I have one question on my mind: Is blogging the answer to my goal? (I still want to retire early hahaha, dream on girl…)

Anyways, I did try the Amazon route – unsuccessfully. Simply because I found out that I need to invest a lot more money than I have or want to. I tried the good old printables but that did not work – yet. Tried the Etsy route – unsuccessfully again. I am not quitting, don’t get me wrong. But I am scaling down significantly on these three. There is this nudging feeling: “Don’t give up, yet!” What if this is not the right time to give up on these channels. One thing I have realised is that sometimes people breakthrough simply because of staying with something for a very long time. When I listen to my favourite YouTubers and Bloggers – they all started at least 5 years ago. In that sense, my ventures are very ‘green’ and I should be more patient. My biggest regret so far is how much time I have put into all these. I know that I will not get that back and that is also the reason, why I am looking for something that will not bring the same disappointment.

These two new channels are – Blogging and YouTube. Yes, I know. It is nothing new and shiny. Especially blogging. I have avoided that path simply because I had this blog and used it as my little diary. I am not massively into writing and I am not super excited about blogging – but – and this is the pragmatic side of me talking – I know that the other channels I tried, have a very low barrier to entry and as such, they are over-saturated. Whereas blogging is fairly hard to sell to people. Most of them react like me. Blogging? Really? Not everyone likes writing and is willing to do it for a long time without getting any monetary results. So yes, it is hard, not shiny and needs long-term commitment. But on an upside that makes a higher barrier to entry, right? Also, as long there is internet – there will be blogs. Just think about it. What do we have on Google when we are searching for things – ads, ads, ads, then big websites (brands) and blogs. Guess which one I like to read? Right, the blogs, especially those small blogs from people who are sharing their real experiences – simply because there is the REAL value. And that will not change, no matter how the internet world is going to change. I can see that even from this tiny blog of mine, which I started just to share things that work for me.

So, the decision has been made. Of course, I will let you know, how is it going and hopefully by the end of 2022, I will have something good to write about. I have included one motivational video for you, in case you have been asking yourself if blogging is dead or not.

Have a great 2022, dear friends 🙂

Success in 2022

This post is for my loyal followers and friend who stuck with me and kept on reading and following this. I think you know by now that I am writing it in a very honest manner. Yes, I am still not able to answer the question that resonates through most of my posts: “Is it possible to retire early simply by building a side hassle as an extra source of income?” To keep it honest, in my own experience the answer by the end of 2021 is: “No, it was possible to achieve it, yet.”

But don’t forget, this is just my own experience and your experience might be completely different from yours. Actually, if you were able to achieve it, please do share it in the comments. It would give me and others hope.

I do not want to sound too gloomy. This was meant to be a happy, Christmasy post. I am not losing my optimism and I will continue with this blog so you will be able to see if there is any improvement. I have restructured my focus and doing things differently in 2022, I have to, otherwise, another burnout is imminent. I will be writing about it in January when I set up everything

So, now what I have for you. I am going to share the most popular posts. It reveals what people care for, what are they interested in and are willing to read about in greater detail. My hope is that it will helpful to you and your own ventures.

  1. the winner is ‘Testing the social media algo’, it had the most likes that I ever got on my blog. It shows me the following (yes, I can’t help myself to include a list 🙂
  • Social media is a big topic but providing concrete experience is priceless, if you can do that, you will provide something people are interested. At the same time this information is not widely available or it is not free of charge. I find it as a great potential niche, if you do it right and stay truthful

2. Second place goes to “Provide value and you will be rewarded (eventually)…” this was more of a philosophical post. I wrote it at a time when I was losing sight of why I am doing all of this and kind of reminded myself that everything I do, has to have some value. Frankly, I did not expect many likes on this one as it is not providing any concrete information. It belongs to motivational posts.

I think this shows me, shows us, what people (clients and customers if you like) want. They want V A L U E. This is one of the reasons why I am changing my approach for 2022. I will be looking at my products and asking myself: What value does this product provide? Is there anything in it or is it just empty fluff? A big takeaway for me personally.

3. And last but not least is “Where to put your energy“. Again, it is a post that brings something concrete – data from different sources and research papers. It shows that providing concrete data is a value, people appreciate and want to read about. Moreover, the topic was based on my own questions about one-person business: ” Am I wasting time on something that has no chance of success?” I think that you will agree if I say, that T I M E is one of the most valuable assets small business owner has. We just can’t afford to waste it. If we are using our free time, after work hours, weekends and holidays to create something – we need to know that it is worth it.

I hope that this information will help you in some way and that you will accept it as a small Christmas present from me.

Dear friends, let us make the year 2022 a successful one!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Finding “the thing”

Does your business have to be your calling? Not necessarily – but I would argue, that it should be as close to it as possible. I know that many people are not sure what it is they actually want to do. I am not different. Sometimes I know exactly what it is and sometimes I doubt it. Moreover, this can change over time as well. However, try to find some area or niche that is close to your heart. You will stick with it for longer and hence you are more likely to succeed.

  1. What would be your interest (hobby) if you did not have to think about money?
  2. What would you do if you had an unlimited time available to you?
  3. What do you like to do and you dont mind the time spent on it?
  4. Do you prefer to make things or teach how to make them?
  5. What are your strenghts?
  6. What compliments do you get from others?
  7. What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
  8. What were your talents in the past (but you dropped them for one reason or another)?
  9. What are you passionate about?
  10. What is missing in your life?

When you have your answers – look for a common theme and your area of interest. Repeat with a week or two weeks gap and compare your answers.

The area of work you are made for should emerge by then.

Good luck, dear friends 🙂

Prompts to think about – especially for solopreneurs