Starting something new

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Yesterday I realised, somewhat reluctantly, that my Facebook page was just well and truly dead. I have over 450 likers on it but interaction was near zero, and I had pretty much had enough of the struggle. Even the promise of giveaways wasn’t working to bring people in. So after sitting through a three hour webinar hosted by the amazing James Tuckerman and understanding that my page was definitely in the Facebook Valley Of Death, I decided to start all over.

Gulp.

Now, this isn’t easy. I’ve done it once before when I went from my old business name to Seven Oaks, and I never really recovered and the numbers were never as good again. Doing it again was scary as hell. But, I remembered what James said, “people relate to people, not businesses” so I took the leap and started my new page. It’s not 24 hours old yet and I have over 50 likers so far. Not bad, right?!? I’m actually really happy with that progress!

I’m actually a little bit in love with it. It’s pretty. It has good content so far (considering it’s still a baby), and I’m hoping that it will go far.

Change is scary.

Embrace the hell out of it.

 

xoxoJacquiV2

 

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Overwhelmed and Under Motivated

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I must be mad.

In my last job as a teacher, Professional Development is a given. There are literally DAYS full of it, and that’s totally understandable. After all, teaching is a profession and of course it’s important to be constantly up-skilling and learning different things….even on days where all you want to do is hide under the covers. I did it (sometimes reluctantly) because I had to. It was my job.

I haven’t taught for almost a year now and have been working exclusively on developing  Seven Oaks as a business rather than just a hobby. It’s been very slow going but I feel  like I’m sort of on the right track now. Awesome, right? Of course, right.

The problem is now that I’m trying to do so much. I’m doing challenges, I’m reading everything I can get my eyes on online to do with small business, marketing, sales and now email list building and blogging. I’ve always loved being a student so learning all this cool stuff is awesome, but when do you draw the line? I am signed up for FOUR webinars this week. It should have been five but unfortunately I had a personal appointment today which clashed ( as I type, my inner little voice is saying, “I should be able to make the next one….”). 

Every single day on Facebook I’m seeing promoted posts from business coaches who all seem to be saying very different stuff, making me feel like I absolutely MUST read this article, or sign up for this webinar, or take this class, or……

Oh my God. Let it stop.

  •  I feel guilty if I don’t sign up because “aww this person is just trying to make a living, just like me.”
  • I feel guilty if I sign up for something then don’t attend (yes, I’m in Australia and have been known to sit up until 2am to listen in to a webinar on using Pinterest for my business).
  • I feel even worse when I get to the end of a great webinar and then undoubtedly can’t afford to take their miracle course that will change my life and my business forever….
  • I feel conflicted and confused because what Person A said on her webinar is sooo far removed from what Person B said on his. Which one is the right one?!?

It’s crazy.

When does it get to the point where we as business owners have to say, “No.”

No more reading. No more webinars. No more feeling guilty because we’re genuinely so broke that we can LOVE the free content, then not be able to do any more than that even though we’d absolutely crush it if we could.

I’m certainly not taking anything away from the people who are really amazing at what they do. I just think I’ve signed up to too many. Today I got an email saying “Hi, I’m Sarah, __________ ‘s assistant. I see you watched his training video and we just wanted to say……..” I honestly can’t remember who he is, and I definitely don’t remember watching a training video from him! Oh dear. 

So, this will be my very last week of “just learning stuff.” I’m cleaning out my inbox and unsubscribing from the dozens of marketing gurus who I signed up to forever ago and never worked with. I’m making a committment to pick FIVE, and stick with them and their advice, and then mix and match it so that it makes perfect sense to ME. Enough with trying to implement a dozen or more different ways of doing stuff. It’s not working, and I’m overwhelmed and totally under motivated in my business. I’m not UNmotivated, because I’m here, and I’m showing up every day even when I don’t want to, and I’m doing what I need to do. I’m just not doing it well.

Time to change that, I reckon.

 

What changes have you made in your life lately that will help you in the long run? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Ultimate Truth …. aka My Why

My Why

Because I’m a total glutton for punishment, and am just absorbing information like a freaking sponge lately, I signed up for yet another content challenge, this time for a whopping 30 days. I’m going through it on a daily basis, and doing the stuff that is expected of me, but am finding it difficult to write up all the awesomeness on the same day as I’m supposed to do it.

Wait. That made no sense.

Okay. Today’s blog post was actually written on Day 2 of the challenge….which was on Friday. I’m taking advantage of the fabulous scheduling feature of WP and it’s saving so much stress, it’s unreal.

So today, I want to talk to you about expectations. Societal, familial, whatever….we all have them. We all have this stuff we are “supposed” to do, whether we want to or not. For me, I was “supposed” to go to school and finish high school with amazing results after year 12. Umm…oops. I made it to year 11 and I’d had enough.

I was “supposed” to go to university. I was “supposed” to meet some lovely man and get married and have children and have a house and a lovely car and a lovely holiday every year and blah blah blah…..

That’s not exactly what happened.

I left school. I bummed around a bit not really knowing what I wanted to do. I got pregnant at 18 after being with my boyfriend for 2 months, and left the country to come to Australia a month after that. I was a single mum for two years, then I met my ex, who was anything but the “lovely man” I had envisioned. I was a walking punch bag for 6 years instead. I had two more kids with him, kids who I adore, and will never, ever regret having, but who have had a few hard lessons into family and love and relationships. I was expected to just get out of that relationship. Just like that. The cops told me to move interstate. Funny.

Then I went to uni. I got a bachelor in psychology, followed by an honours degree. I got married to a lovely man (who flew half way around the world to be with me even though all our family and friends said we were insane…again, there’s those familial and societal expectations!). I had two more kids, then returned to uni for the third time to get a graduate diploma in education because, well, society says I have to work for other people, and to do that I have to have lots of pieces of paper to prove that I can sit in a classroom and behave myself and write a fairly good academic paper.

Truth is, I’m not the best counsellor on the planet, but I worked my arse off for my clients. I’m a brand new teacher who wasn’t excelling and left my last school swearing I’d never teach again…..but I adored my students and worked 17 hours a day every day to make sure I could say I at least tried….at the expense of time with my own kids and husband.

Why??

Because society says so.

Society says I have to be this and do that, and have this, and get that….but it has to be done by going to work for people who don’t give a shit about me, or my kids, or my family in general. I have to go to work with tears streaming down my face because I know in my gut that I’m not living MY way, or MY truth.

They don’t care that I don’t want to work 17 hour days, wolfing down whatever snack food I can get my hands on and getting fatter and more miserable by the second.

They don’t care that I’d much rather work in my pyjamas, or be able to say “Nah. Not today. Today is for my kids.”

They certainly don’t care that the only person I want as my employer is me.  

I’m actually thinking of going back to uni but this time to do something in marketing or something similar so that I can put ALL of my time and energy into my own business. I have LOADS of ideas floating around in my  head for both SOHJ and other more business like type stuff. But there’s bills to pay and mouths to feed, and society says I can’t stay like this forever….

I hate being told by society that I’m wrong. I hate being judged by society because I am actively choosing to stay at home with my son while he’s little; he’ll be in transition next year and I’ll never get this time with him back. I love being at home for my beautiful teen daughters who I am teaching to do what they love! I don’t care if they never finish school. They’re not academic and school just isn’t for everyone. Miss 15 wants to be a photographer; Miss 14 wants to dance….and good on them, too! I’m tired of being made to fit in a box that I’ll just never fit in. My kids will never fit into those boxes either.

Why should we? Why should we repeatedly go to jobs we’re qualified for but aren’t enjoying? Why are we forced to only dream about a life that we’ll never really be able to have because 6 weeks annual leave just isn’t enough for all the exploring we want to do? Who the hell made it this way?

This is my why. This is why I stretch myself as an artist and why I’m absorbing business information like a sponge. It’s why I’m doing LIVE videos even though they scare the living daylights out of me. I can go to bed at night knowing that I spent the day doing something that might not mean a whole lot to the world at large but truly makes me a happier, more content person, and a much better mum than I was before.

Release yourself from these bloody societal “norms” and do what makes you happy. Choose to do what makes your soul soar!

With all my love,

Jacqui

 

Photo credit: Marco / Zak via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-ND

What to charge for your handmade products

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Photo credit: mr-numb via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

 

My blood is boiling, people!

I’m in a lot of jewellery related groups on Facebook and recently that pesky question, “What should I charge for this? is $20 too much?” has once again raised it’s ugly head.

Now, I’m all for people asking for help. I am. But when it comes to pricing, I really get annoyed very quickly and so I try to avoid these discussions. Charging $20 for a necklace you probably spent hours making is not okay. It’s too low. Far too low! Jewellery is a luxury item. Stop being so afraid to charge what it’s worth! 

I do understand, though. When I first started out, my prices seemed obscene and I’d often lament to my poor hubby, “Who the heck is going to pay $20 for THAT?!?” and he’d get all annoyed and tell me that I had to remember that it was made by hand, and not in some sweatshop being sold for pennies to big stores. It took me a couple of years to come around to his way of thinking, but now I can charge $240 for a wire woven bracelet thast took me six hours to make (probably more, if I’m honest, when you include treating with LoS, scrubbing, polishing, photographing, listing on the website etc…..) and not feel guilty about it. I’m also learning about my dream client, so now I design, produce and market to her, and she can afford my prices. More on that in a later blog, I think!

Handmadeology sums it up beautifully:

If you charge too low, you are not only cheapening the perceived value of your own work, you are also cheapening the work of others because the public learns to think that some jewelers who charge what they are worth, are charging too much. – http://www.handmadeology.com/pricing-your-handmade-jewelry/

So, here’s what you should be charging for:

Time

Your time is precious. Charge for it! And for the love of all things holy, don’t charge less than minimum wage for your hourly rate. Right now, I charge minimum wage for my wire work but that will increase as my skill level increases. I’m not going to train and study and practice and learn for years just to keep paying myself minimum wage. That’s ridiculous. It’s harmful. You also have to take into consideration things like down time because you’re sick, or you want to take a holiday with your family, or whatever…charge an hourly rate that works for you, and stick to it (or even increase it as your needs change). Aussie designer Simone Walsh has a great article on her site about this, including a great method to settle on your final hourly rate. Check it out here.

Overheads

You should be charging for your overheads, too. Just because you’re a stay at home mumpreneur doing this for some extra dollars doesn’t mean that you don’t have overheads. My lights wouldn’t be on until 2am every day if I wasn’t doing this. My computer wouldn’t be on until all hours. Internet access wouldn’t be such a necessity, either. Electricity and internet are not free (or if they are free wherever you are, I’m moving!). Charge for your overheads (industry standard is 20% of materials + labour).

Materials

Materials don’t buy themselves. Charge accordingly, but please don’t forget….you are charging what it would cost to replace those items, so if you got them on sale, you charge regular price because by the time you sell the piece and go to replace those items, the chances are they’re not on sale anymore. So now you have to replace those items at full price, whcih chews into your profit. Think about it. Also, take into consideration the currency that you buy items in. I have to buy most of my things from overseas and for the longest time, I undercut myself on materials because I was forgetting to charge in Australian dollars! So, let’s say I bought a stone for $5 USD, I’ve actually paid $6.87 Australian for it. (Ebay is fantastic because it tells me exactly what I paid in my currency so it stops this confusion). If I only charged $5 (Australian), I’d be screwing myself out of $1.87!! That adds up fast.

Re-investment

A percentage of each sale should be going right back into your business. Charge  so you can afford to do so.

Profit

You do want to make some money from your jewellery, yes? Then you need to be taking your profit into account too.

So really….is $20 for that necklace that took you 4 hours to weave really enough? No? I didn’t think so. 

Love,

Jacqui

 

PS. A quick google search will bring up a million and one different calculations, formulas etc on how to price your work, but I love this calculator which was developed by Laura Bracken. It takes ALL the guesswork out of pricing, and includes five different pricing formulas so you can choose which one feels right to you. The newest version, which I just got today (you get free updates for life), even includes your re-investment amount so you know exactly where every cent is going. It’s awesome and I can’t do pricing without it, anymore.