Changing tracks

Image

My life is going through some transitions right now.

I’m working a lot of hours at my day job. That’s a good thing because it means I have steady money coming in.

Steady income does a lot for my mental health. Not worrying about if the basic bills will get paid is a huge load off my mind. I’m not rolling in money, but I know the basics are covered – and that reduces my stress immensely.

I haven’t had any time to pay attention to the blog or to business lately. I’m even cutting back on tutoring!

Which has me thinking about what to do with the blog.

Instead of walking away from it, I want to write on a more regular basis. I think it’s a good outlet for me.

But I’m not sure how the business side will be. I don’t have time to do readings, so for now, that’s down.

I still feel that I have valuable things to say, and I want to write.

As you can see, I’ve changed the look and feel of the blog. I had been on Blogger forever but decided to move to WordPress. There’s supposed to be better customization and widgets on WordPress. We’ll see. So far, I’m not finding it as intuitive as Blogger, but I’m learning.

The theme will likely change a few more times before I settle on something.

I’m being a bit rambly now, so I’m going to end. 🙂

Let’s talk about money & business

I thought I’d give you guys and myself a little run-down on my income for this year, since it’s the first year I’ve tried to make money with this blog.

 My tutoring income is one of my lowest since I started doing it – but I did not advertise or really hustle for clients at all.

Source
Gross
Fees
Net
AdSense
$8.95
$8.95
YNAB Referral
$6.00
$6.00
Leonie Referral
$93.95
$93.95
Amazon
$11.85
$11.85
Tarot Sales
$1,210.00
-40.66
$1,169.34
Tutoring
$3,340.00
$3,340.00
Totals
$4670.75
-40.66
$4,630.09

Now, Amazon doesn’t pay until you reach $10, so I do have another $0.51 earned there that’s unpaid.
Google Adsense doesn’t pay until you reach $100. Total, since 2009, Adsense has earned $24.98 from several of my blogs.
The fees mentioned above are PayPal fees.
I have not yet added up buying office supplies, paying for my URL, or any other business expenses, but my profit is likely really small. 
I guess I thought it was important to post this because when starting out, a person may NOT get a few thousand a month right away. “Get your first 5 figure month in 3 months, starting with nothing!!!”
Yeah, no. 
It might work like that for someone that already has a huge list or can pay for advertising, or knows someone who will pimp her stuff.
But most people don’t.
I could have made more, and I know it.
When my energy ebbed in the summer, I got behind on completing readings. Then I felt guilty for not getting them done on time. 
I didn’t feel like it was a good idea to push and advertise for more sales when I wasn’t fulfilling my obligations from sales already made.
I’m hoping that this will also encourage me. If I can do better in 2014 than I did this year, then even if I don’t meet my own sometimes lofty goals, I can still track how I’m doing, and see that I’m better.
Here’s the thing, though. I don’t know if readings is really what I want to do.
I started doing them because it was something I could do, already had the stuff for and people would pay for – NOT because I’m totally passionate about doing readings. 
I LOVE doing readings, but I love doing them when I feel like doing them, not when I *have* to.
What I think would be better, for me, is to create something that could sell itself even when I’m at a low-energy point.
For me, products might be better than services, because I can’t/don’t have the energy to be consistent with services. 
Next problem: what could I write or create that would sell? 

Heading into a new year

Unprofound

It’s been more than a month since I posted about Changes.

I like the work I’m doing for the small company, but there are some things I need to keep an eye on.

Thanksgiving week I flaked and didn’t do all the work I was supposed to do. It’s not fatal to me, but it meant I had to talk to the owner about a couple of uncomfortable things.

I’ve been running hypomanic – not getting enough sleep. Unfortunately, I’ve only been partially productive.

I’ve been thinking about all the work I did earlier in the year on business and this blog.

Where do I go next?

First, I want to talk about some of that work.

I listened to and watched dozens of “telesummits”.

I downloaded workbooks.

I brainstormed.

I talked about it.

I started selling

I “invested” in a couple of small things and one big thing. I was able to arrange a payment plan for a big course. And then, two or three weeks into the course, I collapsed and didn’t finish the course, or pay for it (yet).

I joined a couple of communities for support.

I did make some money. Not nearly enough to live on, but enough to show that it was possible for me to make money.

I became overwhelmed, though, not with the actual running the business, but with all the “this is how to run your business” information flooding my inbox.

At some point, they all began to look the same. They were pushing their own products to tell me how to run/set-up my own business.

I became aware that a couple of them were not much further on the road to creating a business than I was. And that’s fine, really, because part of what one needs when seeking help is to see that someone else has done it or is doing it.

But they were all sounding alike.

And one of my favorites. . .

She released a new course.

I quickly realized that it was very similar to her old course, and it still included some stuff lifted directly from another source (she did give credit to that source).

All of these sources started out wanting to help people. And somehow they always ended up convincing each other to help people build businesses.

It got overwhelming and repetitive at the same time.

And I kept getting stuck at defining my purpose and my ideal client.

I don’t know.

I don’t have an “ideal client”.

I want to help people, and I think straddling the lines of logic, spirituality, and mental illness, my experience is unique.

I also watched several people start out with reasonable offerings and watch their prices double, triple or more in a short period of time.

Now, I know why. Once you get popular, your time becomes more valuable. If you’re doing one-on-one coaching or readings or anything else that takes your time, you need to charge enough that you don’t become overwhelmed, taking too much of your time away from family and so on. And one deserves to be compensated for their time. I get that.

But the advice became uniform: give summits/classes. Sell packages. It doesn’t matter if you’ve even actually created the content yet. Sell it first!

I don’t like that. I just don’t.

I get that you don’t want to spend a lot of time creating something no one will buy, but you really want to sell something you haven’t created yet?

So, no, I’ll never do that, and if that’s what it takes to be successful. . .  then fuck it, I won’t be successful.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to turn this little blog into a full-time job.

And I don’t care.

I like writing the blog. I like giving readings. I want to write a book.

If other people enjoy that, then great, maybe I’ll make a little money here and there.

If not, well, ok then.

Now that I have income coming in from another source, I’m not totally stressed, and can do what I want with this.

So, I’m still here. I’m still struggling balancing my life with the bipolar. I’m still giving readings. I’m still writing, though less than I was.

Part of why this comes up is that Leonie Dawson’s Amazing Life and Biz workbooks and calendars are out. If you’re interested in buying them, I’m an affiliate so buy through that link. 🙂

This may be the last year I buy it – I think I may make my own for next year.

Just a little random update

Some bits of randomness.

Stairs at a fishing spot in William B Pond Rec area
just taking one at a time. . . .
  • I contacted my doctor. 
    • If you are a vet and use the VA for medical care, MyHealtheVet is getting more sophisticated all the time. Once your account is verified (by bringing an id to your local VA), Secure Messaging allows you to contact your doctor(s) through email for non-urgent issues. Godsend, really. I’m MUCH more likely to contact people via electronic messaging than by calling. A few months ago, I could only contact my primary care doc, but FINALLY, my pdoc is on there – and he’s even more responsive than the primary care.
    • His response: Sorry to learn that you are not doing too well. Just a word of advice, while you have the right to appeal for increased benefits, it is important not to look like your recurrence of symptoms are not due to either job or financial stress, but only due to underlying mood disorder. I will explain in details when I see you.
    • Ok, so English is not his first language, but the way I read that is that he thinks my current issues are primarily because of my financial stress and if so, when that’s taken care of maybe the mood disorder would be more manageable. 
  • We’re getting closer and closer to C starting college. 
    • She went to an information session about work-study yesterday. 
    • I got something from the county Veterans Service Office for her fee waiver and she was supposed to take it to the school’s veterans office today. 
    • She is supposed to be writing her resume for work-study today.
    • She has a little over 7 weeks until she turns 18. She’s been talking about moving out. 
      • On the one hand, I think it might be good for her to stay home for the first semester, while she gets used to college and figures out how to handle her money a bit better. We’ve talked about her paying a little rent here to get used to it (and help out a bit). She’s also supposed to be taking over paying her own phone bill.
      • On the other hand. . . . if her stuff wasn’t here, the bedroom would be cleaner. I could get rid of the bunk beds and get my bed out of storage. Get at least one dresser out of storage. I’ve started kind of planning around this. Kind of feel a bit weird about that – like I want to kick my kid out – which of course is not the case.
  • Minor obsessions – I get obsessed about things. 
    • Right now, one of the obsessions is probably pretty good. One of my new duties for my contracting job has to do with social media, so I’m doing tons of research and trying to figure out what can help the company.
    • Another. . . *sigh* It’s an old obsession. I really do need to take a step back from it. It’s becoming another source of stress. I need to let it go. 
  • Business – I’ve made no move toward doing anything for the business in more than 2 weeks. But I’ve just sold another reading, so I really need to get to work.

Sort-of Vacay

It’s hard to take a vacation when you don’t have a day job.

One might say, “What do you need a vacation from if you don’t work?”

Answer: my life.

Despite spending too much time sleeping and/or sitting around doing nothing, I’m still often stressed.

There’s the huge list of, “I really should do” stuff.

And the messy apartment.

And ten thousand stupid things my head won’t shut up about.

For a few years, my local BFF would come over and make sure I got out of the house every week. The last couplefew years that hasn’t happened for various reasons for both of us. And that’s fine.

But I feel guilty anytime I spend money on anything that isn’t an absolute priority.

My car is starting to have problems and sometimes I don’t have any money for gas, much less maintenance on the car.

I have a lot of friends all over the country, but few locally.

And I spend waaaayyy to much time online, which doesn’t actually help me relax.

Me and C outside the old part of Crocker Art Museum

I haven’t traveled for a vacation in a long time, although I have gone to the Bay Area a few times in the last year or so.

So, when my HS BFF wanted to come out to celebrate my daughter’s graduation and get away from her husband and kids for a few days, I said, “Hell, yes! Come on out!” We met in 5th grade and by the middle of 6th grade, we were besties, all through school. We visited each other in England and Italy when she was in college and I was in the Navy. When I lived near her and C was little, she would sometimes “rent” my kid for the weekend before she and her husband had kids.

She knows my situation, both the mental health issues and the financial ones.

We went out to eat a few times, went swimming, met with my local BFF, went to the movies, grocery shopping, drove up to Sutter Creek and looked at some antique places. But mostly, we talked and talked and talked. That was fantastic. I’ve missed that. Chatting on FB is just not the same, you know?

I needed this time with her something fierce.

We talked about everything, including some of my current issues: work, money, motivation, career direction, what’s next for me.

She gave me a lot to think about.

In the meantime, though, I’ve put off doing some stuff I need to do.

I’m really behind in doing readings that people have paid for. I feel really bad about that, and I’ve got some thinking to do about that.

I’m good at doing the readings. But I don’t know if it’s really a good direction for me to build a business around.

Obviously, I haven’t done well with the Blogging Challenge, either.

What direction now?

The last week has been rough for a couple/few reasons.

1. There was a heatwave for the last 7 days. I don’t do well in hot to begin with, and 105+ degrees (Fahrenheit) doesn’t help.
2. The air conditioning in my apartment is still broken. I’ve been having trouble with it for about a year and a half now. No one knows what is wrong. They’ve replaced everything except the lines. Tuesday they thought everything was fine, but it was over 85 degrees inside at 10pm. The expert can’t get out there until Friday (the 5th).
3. The brake lights on my car are doing this weird thing where one of them isn’t going out. So, I had a dead battery. I needed to replace the battery, but didn’t have the money and had to borrow that.
4. I’ve been staying at friends’ homes while waiting for the a/c expert.
5. All last weekend, I slept about 4-6 hours, broken sleep, not good sleep. Losing sleep is very bad for my mood state.

I feel disconnected from everything, even though I spent most of the day yesterday getting caught up on sleep. I thought I’d feel better after I slept, but I don’t.

I’m doing various things right now to bring in money, and even though there’s a lull right now, things will pick up a bit in August.

But my energy is scattered because I can’t concentrate on any of the things.

I’m trying to turn the blog into a business, and in some ways it’s starting to move. I’ve made a couple hundred dollars each month since I started doing the Tarot readings, a little more each month. My FB page now has just under 150 “likes”. On FB, people respond and we’ve gotten a few good conversations going. Those are good things. When I pay attention to it and post regularly, stuff happens.

I’ve been trying to think of what my next step with this business is.

If I want the blog and business to concentrate on the Tarot and Oracle card readings, the next step would be to start writing up a series of “how to” posts, and then eventually package them as an ebook or an online class.

Except. . . .

I started selling the readings so that I had something to sell, so I could get started right away. And I like doing them, and it’s going well. But I never intended for my blog and/or business to concentrate only on those things.

Whenever I start thinking about writing up training stuff, I just think. . . . There’s already so.fucking.much. out there. There are literally hundreds of books written on the topic, and I don’t know how to even count how many websites doing it.

I guess I feel like it’s not that difficult, like anyone can do it if they want to.

But is that true? Or is it just my mood state making me feel inadequate? After all, I’ve been reading on and off for about 25 years. Maybe there’s something in my head that could help people?

Just pick up a couple/few books and start practicing on people you know. Meditate on a new card every day. Keep a notebook and write up what comes up for you in the meditation. Practice, practice, practice. Make sure you read several books and get different perspectives. Maybe play with a little numerology or look into how the cards correspond with various aspects of the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life. . . .

I think part of me feels that if I start down that road, I won’t be able to change later, but as I write that sentence, I realize that is a silly fear – I’m in charge, I can always change direction or add to it.

So, I’m asking – Would any of my readers be interested in that?

I started writing up how I was learning a new oracle deck on FB in the “notes” section, but that didn’t garner any responses at all.

If you’re NOT interested in that, what would you be interested in?

Instructions on meditating, with things like email reminders to get you to take a few minutes to clear your head? Guided meditations?

More posts on how to get through hard times?

More posts on mental illness?

Feeling better about yourself?

Looking for some ideas here, if you’ve got anything, comment here or on the FB page.

Business: Networking and Social Media

There are things you are “supposed” to do to promote a business like the one I’m trying to get started here.

Part of that is to “be authentic” (pretty sure I’ve got that down – you guys see the good and the bad!).

And you’ve got to be “present” in social media on a regular basis – I’m probably a little too real there, but not really . . . pushy enough on the selling.

Having “mastermind” and/or support groups with others walking a similar path is supposed to help (when we’re not all comparing ourselves to each other!)

But there’s a problem with that sometimes.

First, I’m part of a couple of great smaller groups – my little masterminds (3 people each!) I love! One has been somewhat dormant, but when we do post stuff there, or talk, it’s good. In the beginning we had a couple of telephone conversations/meetings that really spurred us to get some stuff done.

But the somewhat larger groups. . . .

There’s supposed to be talking about what we’re doing in our businesses, yes, but asking for help, giving help and inspiration, TALKING to each other. . . .

And after a fairly short period of time, two that started out really, really well turned into advertisements for trying to sell to each other. In particular, two or three people that offer great services started spamming several groups at once.

It totally ruined the atmosphere.

So many of us stopped posting because of it.

Recently, a couple of people, including me, have tried to revive the groups in the spirit of which they were intended. And it’s failing.  I know one left in a huff because she felt she was being chastised. Others are just not even looking. Something I posted earlier today only had 3 views out of 79 people who are members.

I posted this in the group that I thought would get the most feedback. Three of these groups are somewhat nested in each other. Group 1 has 700 member, subgroup 2 has 79, subgroup 3 has 51. Everyone in subgroups 2 and 3 are in group 1 and some overlap between 2 & 3. So, I don’t want to post the same thing in all three places – that’s spammy and self-serving, even if I’m not selling anything.

And then there’s Group 4, which is totally separate, but still has a couple dozen overlapping people – so, again, I don’t want to keep posting it in different places.

But I thought more than 3 people would see it where I posted.

And they probably will, eventually. I’m probably overreacting – I do that sometimes, but I’m not the only one that thinks this happens.

Recently, another leader in the spiritual/self-help business community started another of these groups with the stated intention that it be for “authentically” connecting – which is GREAT. But there’s already over 400 people.

I’m afraid that this will start out gangbusters, and then it will die – again.

Maybe not – this woman has a large following and does good stuff, and it appears she wants to moderate the group. If there continues to be moderation, it might be good.

I think that’s the problem with the other groups – not enough moderation.

But why do we do that? We’re supposed to be supporting each other. To SOME extent that means talking about our services, but it should be so much more than that. Talking about:

  • How to find our target audience?
  • Sales techniques that don’t feel spammy, or too salesy?
  • What to do when X isn’t working?
  • Do we need support to get something going? Encouragement not to give up?
  • Help with pricing?
  • Feedback on our offerings? 
  • Testing our offerings out with each other?
Why did it turn into trying to sell to each other?
Where did the support go?
Today, during a nap, I had a dream that I really felt was about trying to build this business.
Last week, I was offered an opportunity that might end up helping me grow rapidly.
Taking advantage of the opportunity is a great risk, and I was really wishy-washy about it.
But earlier this year, saying, “Yes,” to a few things got me some well-timed help and information.
While I’m not making nearly enough money to live on, I have made moves to actually DO stuff, which I had not done in several years previous. 
This help and info got me moving – taking action – which is something I had been scared to do.
So, I spent several days consciously thinking about this opportunity.
And yesterday, I spent a great deal of time in meditation, unsure if I was making the right decision.
I still did not really reach a strong decision. 
But today, I took a nap, and I had this dream.  . . . and this is what I posted to this support group:
photo by cosmic dustbunny
As part of the dream, I was going to go skinny-dipping in this beautiful lake. As I got close to the shore, the  edge of the lake wasn’t nearly as nice as it looked from a distance, but that wasn’t going to stop me. 

I got undressed and started to go into the water. I expected it to be cool, but it was colder than I expected. Still not going to stop me, though. 

I start wading out. The rocks under the shallow water go from being smooth to pointy, cutting into my feet, and the water still isn’t deep enough to actually swim. But I keep going.

The water is about knee deep when I come to a drop off, where the lake suddenly gets a lot deeper. Suddenly, the water isn’t clear any more – it’s dark, almost black. Something moves under the water, and I can’t see what it was.

Now, I am suddenly fearful. If the water is this cold in the shallows, it MUST be even colder in the deep part. And I can’t see what’s in the water. What if there are dangerous animals? I really WANT to go swimming but I’m so scared, I freeze and just stand there for a minute, and then turn back. I’m mad at myself for turning back, but tell myself I will go get someone to come in with me, it wouldn’t be so scary then.

The dream morphed into something else then, in the way of dreams, but damn, if that and the disappointment I felt when waking up isn’t a CLEAR message to keep going, I don’t know what would be.

So, it’s scary, I don’t know where it leads, what’s under the water or where to go next, but damn if I don’t need to jump in and see.




So, I think I need to take the opportunity – if it’s still on the table.