At the end of last month, I’d come up with a relatively straightforward plan to launch three things in November, as well as do a significantly better job of keeping up with another two areas of my business. I’m happy to tell you my blogging and client work have gone unusually smoothly, but the projects… not so much.
Everyone always shares what they did to make things work, sometimes what didn’t work during those launches, and how much work happened behind the scenes that you may have assumed did not. They usually talk about things that happened, after they happened. The fact that they got pushed back or weren’t ready when they were supposed to is a line in the larger scheme of things — just like I’m hoping this post will be a small note once I get my projects going.
But for now, I’m going to tell you about how this month, I didn’t.
1. Life In Progress Planner
The process from “yay! I’m doing this!” to “er, I guess maybe next year” for my custom designed planner was eerily reminiscent of the last time I went to and dropped out of college. I was waiting for something beyond my control to get started on my end of the deal, and since the something wasn’t materializing, I never moved a finger.
That time in college, I couldn’t bring myself to put the work in because I didn’t know if my parents would pay for my tuition; it was a vicious circle. This time, I couldn’t bring myself to put in the work until I had a budget for printing the planners, and the printer never gave me one.
Seriously. We exchanged two emails; their rep said they’d asked again. I followed up twice over the following two weeks. I’d considered using their estimate for one planner as a base for my pricing, and now I’m so thankful I didn’t because they never got back to me.
I was holding out for them because it was a local printer and this is not the kind of town where you find a place that will do a custom planner on every street. It was basically a miracle this one said yes, which is why I decided to go with it — how likely was it that I’d thought I wanted to design my own planner and found a manufacturer on that very day? It was meant to be.
So I’ve got sketches and ideas, and copy for my Kickstarter, and a verified Kickstarter account — and no manufacturer or planner design. I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do about this; I may play with month-long (or undated) planner-like stationery for the shop I’m working on, and printable PDFs to sell. But I’ve yet to start on the planner itself, so we’ll see how that goes. I’d like to go for it next year, but I’m pretty sure May to November is going to be busy in terms of moving around for me, so I’m trying not to put too much pressure on me.
It’ll happen eventually, anyway. It’s always been a dream of mine. And I want that planner for myself, so I’m going to at least put some work into a prototype. But I’m in no rush.
I wrote the copy for my podcast page, and made a list of episodes for November and a list of relevant blog posts that would go up alongside them. Part of it would have been a funnel of sorts to get people to check out my media kit templates and buy, which is why those were the two things I postponed first, together.
I could have started podcasting something else, but I didn’t. I also don’t have a logo yet, though I sketched some alongside the logos for my planner. I had some brief moments of “maybe I should find intro music, no I’m not going to do that let’s not make this any harder than it has to be, this is supposed to be a hobby.”
Which — I probably should explain, maybe? Because every time I’ve thought about launching something in the past few years it’s been with an eye on making money from it, which I realize is not always the healthiest approach, especially when there’s a learning curve. I used to write fanfic and play guitar and those were not for profit, and I still read fanfic (more than I read books, even) but I miss having things that are just for myself and not with an end goal in mind. And my podcast is that thing — it’s easier and quicker than youtube, not as much hassle, no need to put on makeup, and I can talk about things I’m passionate about and try to make a difference for the people who listen.
Sure, I can talk about PRs and give advice on pricing and how to approach people, and mention my media kits, but that’s a side benefit.
So hilariously, this podcast has been the only thing since I started my business that I wrote a brand statement for in two minutes flat, it was so easy.
I think some of my struggle with the podcast is I have no idea how long each episode is going to be, and I won’t know until I record one. But I still haven’t. It’s as silly as it sounds. I also want to brainstorm a list of at least 30 episodes, but I keep putting it off for some reason.
I’m also mildly afraid of potential backlash and harassment from dickbags, but it’s not like that affects what I tweet, and this is important content to me.
So as with everything else, I kinda just need to sit down and get going.
3. Media kit template shop
Related: I design custom media kits.
Like I said, my podcast was supposed to market this, so once I postponed the podcast I figured I might as well postpone the media kit shop. In retrospect this does not follow, because I didn’t need the podcast to work on my media kit shop; what I need was the media kit shop so I could send people to it on the PR-related episodes of my podcast. I don’t always think straight.
Anyway, I’ve been working on this on and off — I did create a subdomain, installed my blog design and set up WooCommerce on it. I just don’t have products on there yet. That’s why I probably need some new dates, because otherwise I’m going to languish, unless I’m out of clients in three weeks and get bored, which could happen. But I’m not counting on mustering the energy to work through Christmas. I’m not the kind of entrepreneur who works every hour of the day. It is literally impossible for me with my mental health issues. I like that my work allows me to account for that.
In the meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about other things to add to the shop, aside from the planner printables. I’ve been wanting to sell photography prints again for a while, and Jasmine Dowling does it in a really nice way, with limited edition themed sets. I think I’m going to try that and see how it goes.
The other thing, sort of a #4 but we’ll add it here, is the stock photography subscription library. It’s a nice pipe dream, but I’ve also been pondering adding stock photography bundles to the shop instead. It seems like significantly less hassle, and I could see how that goes before I spend the time on building a library and figuring out how to run premium subscriptions with a choice of content.
Why I’m Glad This Happened
Honestly, the planner was rushed as it was. I wish I’d started the podcast, but I am getting to it, and I have been working on the media kit shop.
The thing is, I’m trying to take a proactive, as opposed to reactive, approach to my mental health (h/t!), and while that showed in the extended amount of time I had to deal with things as well as the freedom to postpone the projects I outlined, I’ve still got a long way to go. I didn’t account for having any consecutive off days, or for running out of clean clothes, or for the weather generally being awful. I didn’t account for how incredibly late I’ve been getting up, because it’s one of those things where I don’t want it to be happening so I tell myself it’ll be different and then it isn’t but I don’t want to assume it will be the same because it feels like giving up — blah blah, depression is bullshit.
All those things affected my schedule and productivity and for once I put client work above everything else, like I always should have, and I’m grateful I was able to make that decision without incredible guilt and worry inevitably following on its heels.
I thought I could take all of this on, but I couldn’t, and it’s a relief to accept that. I think it’s really important that I’m not dividing my attention so much: I’d love to start 2016 with as much of a clean slate as I can. Dragging a backlog was a nightmare through so much of last year and this one, and it’s incredible not to be crushed by anxiety all the time.
The main takeaway from this entire experience is that things take time, and it’s no failure to let them.