Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This business is for my pleasure

Most afternoons when I get home from my day job (which I do love), I spend time cooking (if I need to), eating, taking some time in my bullet journal, working out, and working in The Plus Diaries!  However, there is one thing I don't think a lot of people understand - The Plus Diaries just isn't this blog.  There is so much more stuff under this umbrella of one name.  There is a non-profit section.  There is a podcast section (coming soon).  There is taking the time to set up and complete interviews for this blog.  There is my inner MUA and stylist that loves helping people feel and look their best.  There's a little bit more, but I figured that was enough to get my point across.  Basically, I work hard and I hope that my blog and everything under my blog is a reflection of the hours I put in to get this complete!  



That is so true!  I do type with a purose and my purpose is to provide a great blog that you will want to keep coming back to and even follow because you don't want to miss anything I may type!  I appreciate you and I absolutely love you because your support means so much to me.  But then, there is that dirty side of this blogging and business life and unfortunately, it comes from the people close to me and who I thought would be behind me one hundred percent.  

For any of you tyring to do anything out of your comfort zone (including a business, going back to school, getting ready to move to a new place), let me tell you one thing - it will not work unless you have a group of peole who understand you and what you are trying to do.  Here is a surprise - that group of people (which I recommend you keep very small) will be strangers who will eventually turn into friends.  How do I know this?  Because it has happened to me.

  
I've told you time and time again, I believe in being open and honest with you!  I will always do my absolute best to let you know of the things happening in my life that are important to this blog and to the business itself.  Don't get me wrong, I will retain a level of privacy, but when it comes to this safe place, I have no problem telling you how it is and the things I have learned so far (which is constantly changing) along this business journey.  That brings us to the meat of this post tonight.  

Almost three months ago, I wrote a post about things I had learned about blogging.  I can already tell you, it is time for that post to be re-evaluated and probably a new post should be written in order to give it proper justice.  But until then, feel free to read the post from June by clicking here.  In the post, I talked specifically about my blogging journey, but this post is about the journey as a whole.  Believe me, they are two very different things because honestly, it's coming from a totally different perspective.  In order to make this more easy to follow, I'll break it up into three categories - friends, family, and time.  After those specifics are complete, I'll tie them all together with a broad view of things, but I may break those down just to make it easy too!  


Friends:


What can I say about friends?  I have some really great ones, but I also know I have some really cool acquaintances whom I would not let ten feet within my business zone.  Some people are just around for what they can get from you.  Don't get me wrong, I offer a friends and family discount.  Key words - friends and family!  This doesn't mean I am hooking up a friend of a friend or a family member that remembers changing my diapers, but I haven't seen since I really began to remember my own life.  Nah, that's not how I roll!

You have to have a solid circle of friends who do not want to see you fail!  Yes, I said it.  There are honestly going to be some people around you that are waiting for you to fall flat on your face.  Quite frankly, they get excited when something goes wrong in your life.  They get even more excited when they see you scrambling to make something work.  Oh, things are going to go wrong in this business - spelling error hear, grammatical error their (see what I did) and a few other things, but that's the only thing they are going to see - the failure.  They are not going to see you sitting down to read a post three times before you let it go live.  They are not going to see the possible draft you have made and all the marks in your blogging journal.  They are not going to see the calendar you use to keep everything straight (because if they did see it, it would blow their minds).  All they are going to see if your mistake and happily point it out to you (and they may even do it on a public platform).  However, for every one of those, there are going to be five strangers (people you don't know face to face) who will give you a raving review, a beautiful comment, or a like or retweet on Twitter.  It may turn out to be the strangers who give you the best support because if you find a community of people on social media who do the same thing you do (i.e. blogging, bullet journaling, music, etc.), they are going to understand and realize nothing is perfect in our blogging world!  It's good to have people like that in your corner, even if you never meet them.  

You will also need to keep a small group of friends who are willing to see an error and give constructive criticism.  There is a difference in between helping someone and being straight up rude.  

Going back to Twitter - do not be surprised if the majority of your likes and retweets come from people you have never seen face to face.  Social media is cool to me because it is building a community and a support system for when you feel like you are failing.  Your live friends may not get it, but your social media buddies who do the same thing may have gone through it before and can give you some solid advice.  Whether it is Twitter or Instagram, make sure you follow back people.  I'm not telling you to follow everyone who follows you.  I'm telling you to see who is out there and if you are down with what they are doing, support them.  However, keep in mind and be wary of bots.  I go on a blocking spree every single day, simply because I refuse to have that madness on any of my sites!   

Last, unless you trust your friends, DO NOT GO INTO BUSINESS WITH THEM!!!  I know you may love what you do and together you might be the dream team, but do not ruin a solid friendship over something one of you are not going to put all your effort into.  The thing about going into business with a friend is the fact of having the relationship and feeling like you can talk to them no matter what is going on.  However, in five years when one of you are ready to move on and the other one is not, unless you have a solid friendship foundation, expect a rocky road to be ahead.  I can assure you, it will be nothing like the ice cream.  

Let's move on to the next category - family.


Family:


Let's just be honest - family can be the worst!!!  Some of my cousins, aunts, and (maybe) uncles are probably going to read this and get all in their feelings.  But, seeing as how I have lived in my current city for five years and not once have any of them made the effort to come visit, I really do not care that I wrote what I wrote and the feelings I may have hurt.  Consider it another part of my transparency, even when it comes to blood.

Family is hardly going to support you because they knew you when you did this or they remember when you did that.  Sad part is, those same people doing all the remembering are probably in worst shape now than they were when you were young and dumb and allowed to make a few mistakes.  It's called living and learning lessons!  For me, it is called living and getting some great material for this blog and for my collection of short stories I'm working on.  

With my loss, I have been able to help at least two families.  I would not have been able to do that without having gone through it myself.  Believe me, I hated it and I still do, but I know that I went through it all for a reason.  Now, I don't feel as if my story of my son gets told in vain.  

If your family is on your case and causing you so much grief, start trimming limbs off your family tree.  Then, remember the small number of friends I was telling you about earlier?  If you want, turn some of them into family.  They are probably treating you better than your blood relatives anyway.  Plus, isn't it cool to be able to pick family?!  I mean, I have nieces and I have no siblings and I'm not married!  How in the world did I get nieces?  I have a close friend (aka my twin) with three beautiful girls.  That's how I got nieces.  

Last, but certainly not least, let's talk time!  


Time:


I know you love your business because I love mine.  However, you have to learn to take some time for yourself.  This week, I decided to take a mini hiatus (not doing a lot of blogging) and the business side of my giant umbrella is going to be taking a break starting Friday.  During those times, I do not respond to emails (well, I do have an auto-reply) until I am off break.  You have to take a break because your mind needs a chance to rest.  I felt myself getting ready to crash, so I knew it was time.  Listen to your body.  


Bloggers, business owners, MUAs, etc get invited to events.  Make sure you are choosing your events wisely.  You don't want to have events three nights in a row and you get to the night of the event you really want to attend and you are too tired.  You know missing the event would be a bummer, so you get yourself together and drag yourself there.  Is that really any fun?  It can't be!!!  

I know you want to support everybody because for most of us, human nature takes.  However, make sure you take the time to support the people who truly support you.  I'm not saying be at every event held because that's impossible because they cannot make it to every event you have.  On the other hand, a text, email, or even sending a card goes a long way.  I know it is cliche, but honestly, little things do count.  

Now that we have covered the three I wanted to really hit home, let's talk about a few things on the broad spectrum.


Cancellations:


Nobody likes to put in work for stuff and then get a last minute cancellation, unless it is weather related.  You cannot help that.  I would include sick, but I've known people who have been troopers and handled their business with a box of tissues in their hand.  However, just up and cancelling because you don't feel like doing something is absolutely unprofessional!  I've been burned a few times when it comes to being a MUA and personal stylist for an event.  What did I learn?  Make a contract.  

I was trying to not to have to go down the contract route because I wanted to be different and flexible.  However, if I have already cleared my schedule for you and you up and decide to cancel or do something else, I will probably not even make an attempt to work with you again.  Why?  Well, I cleared my schedule so that means my block of time was devoted to you and you have made me potentially lose money (unless someone contacts me last minute).  Again, since I cleared my schedule, that means I could have been doing something else fun.  These are the reasons I have a strict cancellation policy in place and the cancellation fee (aka deposit) is due at the time you sign the contract.  You can email the contract and send the funds via PayPal, but without the funds, the contract does not exist!  Just make sure you are very clear on your contract because people will try to play you!  


Branding:


Be very careful of the places you go.  One photo at a wrong place at the wrong time can be career ending.  You do not want one photo to ruin something you have worked years to build, but it can happen.  Also, please make sure you go out looking presentable.  I cannot hand you a business card with my contact info telling you I am a personal stylist and look like I just rolled out of bed or out of a gym!  You are going to roll your eyes at me and throw my card in the first trash can you see.  And you know what?  I wouldn't blame you not one bit.  The best marketing and branding tool I have is myself!  Therefore, I always do my best to be decent and photo ready while I'm in pubic.  Now, if I'm at home or at the house of one of my friends and not worrying about being seen out in public, you can easily find me in sweats.  However, you better believe that if we decide to go shopping, I will be going home to change clothes.  


Discounts:


I know that I mentioned I give a friends and family discount earlier, but I want to touch on this again.  Be mindful of the friends and family who always expect the friends and family discount.  You could give them a discount one time and they always bring it up.  You may have to kindly let them know of the policy change and that you will expect all your coins when services are rendered.  Please, I am not above wiping all the makeup off your face if you cannot pay me, especially if I have already given you a discount!  Try me...


Be Thankful:


Ladies and gentlemen, your business does not happen without support.  You didn't do this by yourself.  I'm not doing this by myself.  You had a rough day and you needed to vent, thank the person who was there to listen.  You couldn't get an idea to flow properly and someone helped you talk it out, thank them.  You were invited to your friend's house and they let you take over a part of their bar to write, thank them!  You were feeling overwhelmed and someone did not let you give up, thank them!  You were not having a good day and someone had a feeling and sent you a text, thank them.  Without readers, this blog doesn't exist, so THANK YOU!!!  You mean more to me than you will ever know or understand.


Well, concerning the business side of things, these are the things I have learned on this three year journey...and hopefully counting!  Blogging, well growing in general, it takes time.  Nothing will happen overnight so keep going.  I promise you, you are doing a lot better than you think! 

Photo credit: moore.owen38 via Visual hunt / CC BY 
Photo credit: jessicafm via Visualhunt / CC BY-ND
Photo credit: Shayla Em Follow

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