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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Wore Purple to a Funeral

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I wore purple to my grandmother’s funeral. Not because I’m a disrespectful brat, but because she didn’t want us all wearing black. Her reason for that was very simple.

“It’s so bloody depressing” is what she’d say about it. I actually don’t remember her ever wearing black. Not even in England when it was cold and miserable and it was the “in” thing to wear. She always wore something colourful. I remember she looked particularly enthralling in blue.

Unlike my Nan, I LOVE black. It’s one of my favourite clothing colour choices because well, a) it goes with everything, and b) it slims me down, and let’s face it there’s a LOT to be slimmed down. Had you asked me a few years ago, black would have been my only answer to “what’s your favourite colour?” I’m now 38 and have only just really started adding more colour to my wardrobe. My teenage black everything stage seems to have gone on for a little longer than most….

On the other hand, I love colour. Hot pink, deep purples, vivid blues and intense greens are on the top of my list (and if we’re talking clothes, it’s usually paired with something black. I’m not quite there, yet!)

When it comes to jewellery design though, I steer clear of black altogether and go for colour, colour, colour!! I do this for a few reasons; the biggest and probably most obvious being that with jewellery, we can be a little outlandish. We can have fun. If you have to wear an all black pant suit for work because bright coloured clothes are a no-no, add a little bright pink, or turquoise, or a splash of green. In jewellery we can allow our personalities to shine, even if we’re restricted by dress codes or uniforms (which is a whole ‘nother blog altogether!). Now, can you wear a giant statement necklace at a black tie formal event? Of course you can. You may not get away with it at work. So try something colourful, but subtle, and maybe a tad on the discreet side if you are wearing black at a funeral. When I was working in counselling (at a Catholic organisation), my dress code was quite explicit, but I’d work around it by wearing pieces of jewellery that caught the eye and attention of my teenage clients, and they were always a fabulous ice breaker.

Anyway, while I’m on the topic of colour, I mentioned in a previous blog about all these gorgeous gemstones that I had ordered off Ebay. Three of the 26 that I splurged on have now arrived and the colours are AMAZING.

Here are the three that I have in my little hands as we speak:

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Bumblebee jasper – this stunning, unusual blend of yellows, dark browns, and cream is just awesome! I’ve never used it before in my work, so I’m looking forward to it. To be honest, I’ve never used yellow in a design before. Not once. Not even when I was beading! I just couldn’t find a yellow I liked until I found this.

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This is a super unusual blend of natural copper, malachite and turquoise, and the colours are just lovely!! When I chose this one, I kept thinking how totally LUSH it’ll look with copper wire. It’s not a huge stone, so it won’t make a massive statement if it’s used as a pendant, so I was thinking if putting it into a bracelet instead. Gotta get that POP!

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This last one I chose simply because it reminds my of my mum. She loves tigereye and this is a gorgeous stone that has gone into a rather lovely pendant (so far, unlisted). It’s a little darker than I would have chosen before, but the colour and movement of the stone is amazing.

I could choose obsidian. Or jet. Or onyx. Or spinel. They’re all amazing stones, and they’re all beautiful. They’re all incredible shades of black.

But like my Nanna said, “Black is just so bloody depressing.”

Choose purple. I’m glad I did. 

 

How I Confronted My Inner Whiny Bitch

 

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I’ve been hearing it for months. Years, actually.

Oh my god, you suck.

You can’t do anything right.

Why can’t you just realise that you’re useless and nobody will ever give a damn about you or your jewellery…like, ever.

We all have an inner whiny bitch. Don’t deny it. She’s there. She might not be as visible or as vocal as my IWB, but she’s there. You might be able to keep your IWB in control, you may be able to get through every single day without her making an appearance. Unfortunately for me, mine has been particularly awful in recent weeks:

You cannot leave the house looking like THAT!

What on earth are you thinking? You can’t do that!

You know, that’s just rude. You can’t be asking for a sale like that. God, what’s wrong with you?!?!?

You do know that they all think you’re utterly stupid, right?

You may recognise this as negative self talk and you’re absolutely right. It is. I just happen to prefer the term, Inner Whiny Bitch. Here’s the thing. I have social anxiety, and it’s bad. It’s now at the point where I can’t make phone calls to the electric company, phone company, housing people, or any other authority figure. If I do, I have to mentally rehearse what I’ll say beforehand, and try to anticipate what they will say, so I can rehearse what I’ll say in response to their response. It’s exhausting. I avoid meetings with my kids schools because they intimidate me so much. I really want to go to playgroups and stuff with my son but that damn IWB just won’t shut up long enough for me to talk myself into just having a go and doing it, so I end up staying at home, only interacting online because that’s not so scary. Real life doesn’t have a backspace button and I tend to put foot in mouth a lot. People actually scare me. That’s a horrible thing to experience for a 38 year old woman who should be a lot more confident than she is.

Today though, I gave my IWB the ass whooping she deserved.

I’m doing an awesome facebook engagement challenge at the moment, which is working superbly well, and every day the challenge developer Sherri-Lee makes us do a task that will help us to increase reach and engagement on our business pages.

Day one and day two were easy, basically stuff I was already doing on my page but not quite doing the right way. Now that I have the right way under my belt, I’m noticing some huge differences and that is truly awesome.

Day three was like a slap in the face. It made me freeze. I got chills. I got panicky. I couldn’t breathe. I had a moment where I thought, “Well that’s as far as I’ll go in this one, then!”

Yep, she wanted us to do a Facebook Live video. 

Me. In all my weird accented, chubby faced, lispy “gorgeousness”….and she wants me to do a video.

No. No, no, no.

I thought about it all night. It went around and around in my head. I got dizzy. And my IWB freaking LOVED IT.

See?? I told you this was a stupid waste of time.

People will think you’re fat.

You don’t have enough makeup to cover all your ugly.

This is the dumbest thing you’ve ever done.

You do remember how the videos of your counselling sessions at university went, yes? You sucked then, and you’ll suck now.

I tried everything I could to block her out. I took long, deep, cleansing breaths. I listened to calming music. I grounded myself as best as I could so I didn’t spiral into a full blown panic attack. I went to bed, and didn’t think of it again until morning.

I knew I had a webinar I wanted to listen to this morning. I also knew that the best time for me to do this (if it was ever going to happen!) was 8am. But my kids were sick and my son just wanted to snuggle with me and the whole time, she was there…whispering.

Excuses, excuses. You’ll never do it. You’re too scared. You’re……

I drowned her out by busying myself with my son and his needs. The next thing I knew I was getting dressed, and putting on my makeup.

“Mum, what are you doing?” asked my daughter.

“Umm…I have to do a live video for my page.” I stammered.

“Oh. Wear this wig, mum. I like this one!” It’s lovely to be supported. It’s lovely to know that she knows that a wig was most definitely necessary to help me to step into that zone…

So…I was dressed, face on, hair on and ready to go. I got all comfy and positioned on my daughter’s bed (her room has great lighting), figured out how to set my phone up on a bunch of books, leaning against a glass (probably not the best set up, but it’ll do for now).I put the title of the live video in….and froze.  I sat there for 15 minutes, staring out the window with my IWB whispering her words of doubt and self loathing into my head.

This was my next facebook post. IWB at her finest:

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Great. At that point, I was ready to pack it all up and retreat to bed for snuggles with my boy, but then I remembered something. A Year 5 student I worked with while I was on prac for my education diploma asked me once, “Miss, did you ever get anything wrong when you were a kid?” My answer was simple. “Oh yes. All the time, but that’s how we learn, isn’t it? You can’t let fear of getting it wrong stop you from trying.” 

IWB didn’t know how to deal with that.

But I told you! You SUCK and you’ll fail at this!! I….I….know you will! What the hell?

Oi!! Listen to me! Why aren’t you listening?!?

All of a sudden, her voice became smaller, quieter, more distant, and my Inner Queen Diva came out to play instead:

Honey, you look great. You’re out of your comfort zone and that’s scary, I know. But this is for something you’re passionate about, something that defines who you are. You can do this. Talk about what you love. You’ll be okay. I’m with you every step of the way. Now go. Do it!

So, I did. I hit that “Go Live” button with the shakiest, most terrified hands, but I hit the button and spoke. There were screw ups, and technical issues. I actually had to do it twice because I stuffed up the first one when I instincively swiped a notification away on my phone…oops! But now I know…don’t touch any part of the screen when on FB Live! I stumbled over a few words and lost track a little bit, but I did it. It feels so good to have just gone with it. It wasn’t perfect and I’m never, ever going to be a star of the screen, but it’s done.

My people didn’t laugh at me. They celebrated with me. They didn’t tell me I looked fat or that my skin was awful. They didn’t tell me how much I sucked or that I should “get a real job” like my IWB has told me so many times lately.  I did get a friendly ribbing  about my bizarre accent but that I can handle because it’s true and it came from someone I adore.

I feel so good. My IWB is in hiding somewhere, licking her wounds…and she needs to stay there. She has no place in my head anymore.

Have you overcome your IWB lately? Tell me how in the comments.

Sending you much love and high fives,

Jacqui

xxx

PS For those who’d like to witness this whooping of the IWB…you can watch my FB Live video here. 

Photo credit: Nick Kenrick. via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

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.