3 Things I Needed to Go From Wannabe to Successful Entrepreneur

3 Things I Needed to Go From Wannabe to Successful Entrepreneur

I should be on a plane right now. Heading back to Pennsylvania, ready to resume my 8-to-5 on Monday.

Instead, I’m sipping tea at my lovely house sit in Oxford, waiting for my clothes to air dry (because dryers aren’t really thing in Europe), deciding what I want for dinner, and strategizing about how to grow my business.

Location independence was a dream of mine for so long, but I always had this fear in the back of my head that it wouldn’t happen. I was smart, but not special. Creative, but lazy. Great with ideas, but not ambitious in the slightest.

So I maxed out my two-week vacations with trips to Europe and NYC and Chicago, gradually started investing in better courses online from people who were living the life I wanted, and began hanging out in communities online with people who were starting businesses.

But I still had no clients, and it felt like I would never have a successful business. Then 3 things changed.

These are the 3 things that changed for me between “wishing” for location independence and it actually becoming a possibility!

1. I found a tribe. The Bucketlist Bombshells were all about having location independence, but not having to work for years and years to get to that point. Through their courses I rediscovered my love for design and learned the best way to start earning a steady income while traveling – an ongoing service-based business.

2. I found a niche. I was completely intrigued by the idea of being a Pinterest manager, but it seemed almost too good to be true. So I signed up for a course, and then a few others. We’re still bit of a newer thing, so Pinterest management often gets grouped with social media, even though it’s not very social. What I really loved about focusing on Pinterest was a) it used my design skills, b) I could do the work whenever I wanted due to scheduling aka complete time freedom, and c) it provided a tangible result for clients – more traffic to their websites.

3. I found a mentor/client. After a little success with Pinterest design, I knew I would need to have some ongoing management clients to bring in steady income. The problem was, while I knew so much about Pinterest from the courses I’d taken, I had no experience actually managing a Pinterest account for someone else! Enter Susi. I shared in her group promo thread an offer I was trying out – 50% off my services for 3 months – and she took me up on it! And she has shared about my work in her group several times, leading to additional clients. I’ve also gained so much from what she shares, from improving my mindset to making travel more affordable with house sitting!

That’s it. Those are the 3 things that changed for me, between being a wannabe entrepreneur to the beginning of an actual business!

How long did it take? I found my tribe in April 2017, and it took a bit before I bought their courses and started doing them. I first heard about Pinterest management in November 2017, and bought my first course in January 2018. I had my first Pinterest design client within a month, while I was still finishing up the course, and Susi became my first management client in March 2018.

Want to know more about my journey? Join the Create Wherever Female Entrepreneur Facebook group!

Want to hire me as a Pinterest Designer and Manager to help you get more traffic, leads, and income for your blog or business? Check out this page to see what I can do to help you grow!

Entrepreneurial Roots

Entrepreneurial Roots

I’ve never been much of a salesperson. I’m quiet, not pushy, and if someone declines politely I generally never ask them again. However, for most of my childhood I didn’t have an allowance, and for a good portion of my adulthood I didn’t have a full-time job, so when it comes to making money, I’ve learned to be creative. Here are a few things I’ve done over the years:

Household Chores

My siblings and I each had our own list of chores growing up, but there were a few things we could do above and beyond those to earn cash. For a bit, it was ironing. I could iron 12 pieces of clothing for a dollar. Needless to say, I did not get rich off this.

Bread Business

While I’ve never been a great cook, baking has always come easily to me, so in high school I started selling bread to earn a little cash. I sold a bit to people at church, but the majority to my dad’s coworkers. I would spend most of a day baking, and Dad would cart the boxes into his office and come back with the money I’d earned – usually around $20 after I’d paid my parents back for ingredients. In retrospect, I should have raised my prices, since the same people were going to buy a loaf or two regardless if they were $2 or $4.

Selling on eBay and Amazon

Pretty self-explanatory. I dealt mostly in used books, so I generally didn’t make much.

Online Research

This is one clear case where more assertiveness could have led me down a completely different path in life. I did some work online for a recruiting company – mostly resume mining and database cleanup. A coworker offered to train me to be a recruiter, but barely out of high school me was terrified of talking on the phone, especially to strangers. A more writing-based version of recruiting may have suited me, but I let the opportunity pass by and gradually they needed less and less of my help.

Book Reviews and Articles

Thanks to some review opportunities at my local bookstore, I began reviewing books for a couple small magazines. The pay was generally a free book, but the magazine connections did lead to a few articles that actually paid cash. I also started a book blog, and later a TV blog, and made a few pennies in Google Adsense revenue.

Database Work

One of the websites for which I reviewed needed help entering book information into their website database. The owner received the first chapters of books in Microsoft Word from the publishers, and needed help formatting each one for the web. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was my first coding job, as I manually inserted HTML tags throughout the text before uploading it and some metadata to the database. And this and my resume mining job were my first taste of Virtual Assistant work – though I don’t think the term had gained traction at that point.

Magazine Writing

My experience and connections in the book industry led to one of my most lucrative ventures to date – writing for an online magazine as a contributing editor. I was in charge of two different genres, and I interviewed authors via phone or email and created an article from the interview. It was awesome getting to talk with some of my favorite authors, and I would generally try to read some books by the authors I didn’t know before the interviews. I also gathered industry news into another column, and several times was asked to write an additional feature piece.

Avon

I sold Avon for a while in my early 20s, then stopped since I wasn’t making money with it. Some coworkers encouraged me to sign up again more than 3 years ago, and I’m still selling it. Most of what I make is due to one steady customer, so if they stopped purchasing, I likely wouldn’t make a profit and discontinue selling it. As it is, I make a little for my travel fund and get clothes and beauty products at a discount.

 

What jobs have you done in the past to earn money? Can you use the skills you’ve learned from them to help create a location-independent business for yourself?

Want to hire me as a Pinterest Designer and Manager to help you get more traffic, leads, and income for your blog or business? Check out this page to see what I can do to help you grow!

GGB Challenge Day 1 – Reasons Why

GGB Challenge Day 1 – Reasons Why

It’s so serendipitous how this worked out – yesterday I listed all my obstacles to becoming a digital nomad. Today, Globetrotting Girl Bosses (update: now Bucketlist Bombshells Tribe) started their 7-day challenge asking us to write down the reasons why we want to work online! So I am sharing that with you here! (Also, the order suits my personality – I always want to get the bad stuff out of the way first so I can focus on the positive! So you might think I’m a pessimist if you only talk to me for a few minutes or read the first part of a blog post, but I’m really not!)

Freedom to Travel

This is the biggest reason why I want to become a digital nomad – I got bit by the travel bug 2 1/2 years ago, and one trip a year is not enough! I used to think that I need to wait to travel until I was married, or had a lot of money, or had a big group of friends going. Now I know I can figure out most curveballs travel throws my way, and in fall 2017 I’ll get the chance to try a new challenge – solo travel in a country where English is not the primary language! I always try to see far too much in my limited time traveling – I want the freedom to linger. I want to spend 1-2 weeks (or more) in a city, not 1-2 days.

Freedom to Set My Own Schedule

I am not a morning person. My brain just doesn’t work well in the mornings – no matter how much sleep I’ve had the night before. I hate working 8-5 (though I know others have even earlier schedules), and I live for Friday and Saturday nights where I can stay up being creative (if I haven’t deprived myself of too much sleep during the week). My ideal schedule would be staying up till 4am and sleeping in till noon (I’ve even worked second shift before and done this). But I also want to be able to spend time with family and friends some evenings.

Freedom to Be Creative

While my job does allow for some creativity now that I’ve studied FileMaker and can do some development work, most of my tasks are boring and repetitive. I do know that there will still be some repetition in any job, but if I am my own boss I can outsource and automate any tasks I don’t want to do over and over. I can say no to projects. I can set things aside and come back to them fresh. I can figure out new and better ways of doing things.

Freedom of Unlimited Earning Potential

As a solopreneur, I will be in charge of how much money I make. I won’t be at the mercy of working a year or more before I get a couple more cents an hour. If I don’t have enough clients, I can hustle and find some. If I have too much work, I can raise my rates. I can develop products that earn me money while I’m out exploring castles and dreaming of ways to expand my business. And I can help others earn money as well – whether cross-promotion, team-ups, long-term partnerships, or even employees.

Freedom to Foster Community

I love how supportive people can be in the tech/design community and in the travel community. I want to have more time to build and grow that community. I’m the type of person who sees a request for help or advice, and if I know anything related to the topic, it’s like catnip and I can’t help but try to assist them! I’ve spent hours researching problems and solutions for others for free. I want that to be part of my day-to-day workflow without feeling guilty about not doing “real work”. It will be my real work.

Freedom to Be Me – Confidently

I’m not the most confident person. I am always second-guessing myself and thinking that others are better than me. Building a business will give me something to look and say, “I did that!” whenever doubts come in. And I can create it my way, building on my strengths and eliminating the things that tear me down. I can spend my time working with and for the people who bring out the best in me. I can wander through new cities and build new friendships based on who I am at that moment and find more to like about myself every single day.

Want to hire me as a Pinterest Designer and Manager to help you get more traffic, leads, and income for your blog or business? Check out this page to see what I can do to help you grow!

Digital Nomad Obstacles

Digital Nomad Obstacles

It’s really easy to get discouraged when you are pursuing a dream – especially when you don’t have a clear picture of what that dream is and what steps you need to take to reach it.

I have loved the idea of moving to Europe and/or becoming a digital nomad with frequent stays in Europe for years now. But it always seemed impossible. And wouldn’t I find the guy of my dreams sometime soon? Better not make any concrete plans, since Prince Charming would find me soon and we’d travel the world together.

Well, Charming is still MIA, and I realized I could do this travel thing myself. I also realized two weeks of vacation a year is not nearly enough for all the travel I want to do, and I was spending 25-30% of my budget just getting to Europe, plus the days of jet lag. So I started taking courses to up my digital skills to help make a nomad life possible.

But I still have many obstacles in my way.

Money

I know I will need a solid buffer of cash before I will feel comfortable leaving my fulltime job. But I am also making far less than I’m worth at the company, and a discussion about salary hasn’t happened 2 months after requesting it. Coupled with depleting my savings to help my sister buy a car (she’ll pay me back eventually), my upcoming 2-week trip to Europe, and spending money on training, and my finances, while not terrible, should be healthier. Once my trip happens in early September, I can start putting aside that money for a much longer trip!

Housing and Belongings

I just signed a year lease. My sister and I moved to a new place so that a good friend could move in with us (and we could potentially add a 4th person later on). That makes my rent actually quite reasonable, but still something I would have to pay, even if I’m not here. At the end of the lease I would still need somewhere to put my stuff if I wasn’t living here. I can see getting rid of some things, but I don’t think I can pare down my 75ish boxes and furniture to a couple boxes in someone’s basement. Having a home base here in the States wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it would drain my money faster.

Family

One of the reasons why I can see myself keeping a home base here is that most of my family is in the area. I have 8 younger siblings, and my parents and all but two are in the area – and it would be especially hard to leave my two nieces. So I can see myself splitting my time between here and Europe – coming home for a month or two at a time would be much nicer if I had my own place. But still, money – for keeping a room in an apartment and plane tickets back and forth.

Visas

Depending on where I want to live in Europe, it may be impossible to work there legally. Most digital nomads aren’t in one place for long enough to worry about that, and just stay on tourist visas (but moving from place to place can be a lot more expensive). I was thinking this would kill my dream outright, until I found out about a freelancer work visa in Germany that is difficult, but not impossible to get. While living in the UK or Ireland would have been preferable (hello, English language!), Germany is a great alternate choice for me, for several reasons. One, since most of my ancestry is German (various branches of my family immigrated to North America between 1700 and 1900), I’ve always been interested in the country and culture. Two, due to this, I’ve actually been studying German, so this would help both my comfort level in the country and improve my skills with the language. Three, it is very centrally located for exploring the rest of Europe. Four, I love castles, and Germany has many beautiful ones to visit!

Current Job

I’ve been with my company for three years now and my skills have improved greatly during that time. I also have a casual dress code, short commute, and great coworkers. While my salary and vacation time is lacking, this job does give me more time and emotional freedom to pursue freelancing on the side that a stressful new job with a longer commute would not. It would be great to work for my company remotely in the future, and they have approved my trip to Europe, so I am reluctant to leave, even for a job that may pay a bit better and help me save money.

Business Under Construction

I have not officially launched my freelance business and have therefore earned $0 with my new skills. Will I be able to make a living as a freelancer? The last freelance money I earned was writing for a magazine 4+ years ago, and that was just a couple hundred extra a month. I will want to be fully established with several clients before I can even think of moving it to fulltime, not to mention the needed money buffer.

Conclusion

All of this points to it being at least a year until I make the leap to digital nomad. But here are some steps I will be taking:

  1. Launch my business so I can start earning money and paying myself from it
  2. Start saving more every month
  3. Get rid of more stuff
  4. Use my trip to evaluate where I would want to live in Europe

What obstacles to becoming a digital nomad do you face?

Want to hire me as a Pinterest Designer and Manager to help you get more traffic, leads, and income for your blog or business? Check out this page to see what I can do to help you grow!

Unreachable Dreams

Unreachable Dreams

It’s been one of those days.

A day where everything seems to go wrong, but not badly enough that you have excuse to hide away or rage at the world. A day filled with pointlessly doing and undoing and redoing. A day connected to so many inefficient systems that make you want to scream at the committee who came up with them. A day where you’ve felt overlooked and unappreciated and stuck.

On a day like today, my dream of having the freedom to travel the world and create seems impossibly far away.

At this moment, I’ve not made a penny with the new skills I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to learn. How can I possibly build a business that will let me leave my day job? And if I do, will it be so stressful and full of repetition and angry clients that I will beg my old boss to take me back?

Yes, I’ve made my dream trip to the UK happen, and I’m going to Europe again this fall. But two weeks abroad every two years is just a taste of the life I want, with no time to befriend locals and fellow travelers, experience the culture, or to just be. And every day I’m just one step further in a lifetime of waiting for my real life to start.

Sometimes I wonder what my real life is supposed to look like. I surely thought there would be a significant other by now, but he hasn’t shown up, or if he has, he’s doing a great job of being a barely-there casual friend. I thought we would travel the world together, but instead I’ll be going to Paris alone. I thought I would be a mom, but every day my chances for that lessen and I can barely support myself alone – my cash for travel and online learning comes from living with roommates. I thought I would be a writer, but I’ve reviewed enough novels to know that mine are half-baked and not fit for public consumption. I thought I would have a tight-knit group of friends, but almost all are married and off living their own lives.

I really hope tomorrow isn’t one of those days.

Want to hire me as a Pinterest Designer and Manager to help you get more traffic, leads, and income for your blog or business? Check out this page to see what I can do to help you grow!