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The 5-Step Process for Your 2020 Planning by @JThiefels



by Jessica Thiefels | Featured Contributor

I’m starting to hear the 2020 planning talk, but I’m not a big New Year goal setter. In fact, it stresses me out as January 1st gets closer and it’s all anyone can talk about. I’m more a year-round goal-setting kind of girl. This allows me to ebb and flow with changes while staying excited and on track—rather than putting undue pressure on one time of the year, which inevitably leads to giving it all up… but that’s a topic for another day.

Even still, I go into each year knowing what I want to accomplish and I realized recently that I hadn’t painted a clear picture of what 2020 looks like for me. Someone asked: “So, what do you hope to accomplish speaking-wise next year?” I was like, “Ummm, to do it?” Not a great answer.⁠ I’m traveling the world, running a business and writing a book—planning for next year hadn’t quite crossed my mind with all of that going on.

A few days later, I was talking with my coach and he said, “What’s possible if you start planning 2020?” My first thought was, “Well I’ll have a roadmap. Just like I talk about in my book. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you get there?”⁠

As I kept thinking about that question though, I realized: With a plan, I can do the work, visualize the outcome, and manifest my way there—and baby, I’m manifesting some seriously big things!⁠ 

If you’re ready to kick ass in 2020, now is a great time to start thinking about what you want to accomplish and manifest into reality. You don’t need to have specific, quantifiable goals. Simply outlining what you want to do is an important step toward committing to create the life you want to live

To start this new decade off on the right foot, use my 5-step planning process. I do this myself and love the flow and exploration of the planning experience when done this way.

Step 1: The Dream Dump

2020 planning

My 2020 Dream Dump

Start with a brainstorm, or what I lovingly like to call, a Dream Dump. Separate your plans into the various areas of focus for planning. For me, these are:

  • Book
  • Business
  • Speaking
  • Writing
  • Personal

List out all the things you want to accomplish within those areas. Then, let it sit for a few days so you can come back and add to your lists as more ideas come up. Remember: this is a list of the WHAT, not the HOW. So don’t hold back. If you want to accomplish something in 2020, it belongs on this list.

Step 2: The Action Steps

Once your list is complete, it’s time to look at the HOW. Start on a fresh page and break each area of focus into lists of action items. Some of the items on my book’s action list are:

  • Improve speaking (I.E. should I hire a coach?)
  • Create website
  • Outreach to podcasts

Your lists will likely be long, but this is your chance to get it all down on paper. Big or small, add the task to your list. We’ll come back and refine later.

Step 3: The Resource List

This tip is from my upcoming book and it’s crucial if you want to be successful: create a Resource List. This is a list of all the people and things that you can leverage to start moving toward those goals and checking off those action steps.

Think about people you know that can help along with things like a Udemy credit that hasn’t been used yet. My Resource List includes: 

  • Previous speaking connections at local college
  • Editorial relationships
  • Someone I met on an airplane (yes, I’m serious)
  • Client connections
  • Networking groups that I find beneficial

You may need to create a list for every area of focus—for me, many of them overlapped. You’ll figure it out as you start brainstorming. 

Step 4: The Refining

Now that your general action steps are written down, and you have a big ol’ list of potential people, places and things that you can leverage, it’s time to refine your action list and prioritize. This way, when January rolls around, you’re ready to hit the ground running. 

Start with the refining. Take the big action steps and break them down into smaller ones. Don’t forget to add action steps based on your resource List. I.E. Reach out to old boss or Buy tickets for conference.

Now, you need to prioritize. A prioritized list ensures that you know what needs to happen first. If you’re like me and have a lot of action steps, this will help reduce that overwhelm. Much of my initial 2020 work will revolve around my business and lining up experts to tap into when my book gets published. Then, when my book is out (and on the bestseller list!), I plan to move into the next area of focus: speaking, workshops, and general book promotion.

Consider how your action steps can be refined and prioritized in this way to head into 2020 with a plan you can rely on.

Step 5: The Manifesting

You know what you want. You know what you have to do to get there. Now it’s time to manifest your goals into reality. To do so effectively, follow a simple equation:

Visualize + do the work = manifest

I’m giving you this “equation” because I want to make something clear: visualizing alone, won’t allow you to manifest what you want. Not to mention, doing the work without a vision doesn’t get you far either. To manifest the big-amazing-holy-shit things, you have to do both! And you can start right now.

Start Your 2020 Planning

Now’s the time to start thinking about 2020—before the holidays hit, along with the stress, chaos and distractions that come with them. Use this 5-step process to get your big plans out of your head and onto paper. With a crystal clear picture of what you want to accomplish, and even better, how to make it happen, 2020 will undoubtedly be a year to remember.

The post The 5-Step Process for Your 2020 Planning by @JThiefels appeared first on She Owns It.

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Tips & Tricks – How To Make Money – With or Without Investment..



I am going to give you a short and to the point, explanation of three ways (Simple, average and advanced) to make money, whether you are at the beginning of your internet marketing journey, or if you want to put some eggs in different baskets.

Reselling SEO / SMM / Accounts = Zero investment

Grow and sell / bank Pinterest accounts = 10 to 30 a month investment

Ads Arbitrage = 300 to infinite investment

Let`s rock and roll.

Reselling SEO / SMM / Accounts / Whatever = Zero investment


Have you ever looked at the marketplace of Seoclerks? How many services do you see there? Loads.

I can bet, without blinking, that some of the people who sell, even here, they find some methods or ideas around reselling, including myself.​


Why not?! Reselling things is not something new, and it will always work with little effort from you, some of which are entirely new to this world.


Fiverr, SEOClerks, Etc

Let`s talk about SEOClerks.

Personally, I am a hater of Fiverr and SEOclerks, but I was positively surprised by what I found there in the latest months. I do use them, but just for GSA blasts or tier 2-3 links, but that's another story.

Ok, we don't care; How do I make money there?

Go crossways – Fiverr/SEOClerks.

Randomly generated example

Pick a method: Let`s say you decide to do web 2.0`s because they are easy and it`s just labor work:

Fiverr: 10 web 2.0`s = They sell it for 14 apples

SeoClerks: 10 web 2.0`s = They sell it for 15 apples

Doing simple math, you must be more competitive and qualitative than them.

Be unique

If they offer just 1 page on each web 2.0 > You offer 2

If they say they will blast them with 500 links > You offer 1000 link blasts

They offer spun content > You provide unique content

Give customers bonuses; everybody loves "free" things, don`t you? I do.

If you were to do them yourself, the profit could be quite a lot higher. If you do not want to do that, just deal with someone from site A and sell from site B; in this example, you will buy from SEOClerks with your custom tweak.


3 apples – taxes – fees = You get 1 apple for nothing

Now sky is the limit: Combine package, contact sellers and tell them you want to be their reseller and they will give you a nice continuous discount.

Buy something from SeoClerks from seller X and something from seller Y > make a combo > Sell it on Fiverr

Basic first thoughts when you read this as a newbie?

I don`t want an apple; I want all three!!

Just for your information: Greedy and poor can`t be the same sentence together. Even if you have young blood, try to be a realist; if you are not gifted with the highest IQ and a brilliant idea overnight, you must work like the rest of us, hard and continuously.

I will never make money with 1-5 USD

Really? Have you ever seen one of the best sellers on SEOClerks. Do some simple math, looking at his average prices vs. his ratings ( and maybe that`s just half of sales because not all the people give ratings; it is optional.

He has got, as I write this, no more than 16,935 positive ratings

If you are from a 3rd world country, assuming you do this for 2 years with earnings as low as 1-5 USD for each sale, I guess you will still do more than the average local salary.

Bottom line: Start small, learn, fail, learn, grow, bank, scale, scale, scale.

Read more:

  1. Pinterest grow and sell / bank / rent / whatever!

This method is pretty simple, and you don`t need to have any ideas about how Pinterest or social media works, engagement, or whatever the hell they talk about with Instagram.

If I was you, I forget about Instagram; they are too strict, and even old marketers have troubles with them, but hey… Pinterest is here to stay!

Make a business account.

Sign up with ( something general/casual ) but not shitty account!!!

Make sure you only work with broad niches/categories from Pinterest ( see them here )

Make your profile look nice, profile picture, about me, etc.

Build a couple of boards in the niche you want ( create at least 10 )

For the first couple of days, just let it sit. Do a couple of repins from other random accounts, follow a couple of people, and let it die.

My method is stupid easy and will work forever. Of course, a ban can occur but is all on automatically and who cares.

Once you have decided the niche, build a site in that niche, then verify it on Pinterest. Don`t look for fancy graphics, themes, or bullshit; focus on speed + mobile because most of them come from mobile.

Buy Jarvee or other

Setup the account with your real IP

Now the funny things come, all you need to do is POST PHOTOS.


Seriously, I`ve tested this method over the last 2 years and work flawless.

You mad?

No. Let`s say you decide to do a meme blog.

How I do it?

Go and create 10-20 blog posts > All posts must contain 10-30 images and some text.

1 Blog post = 1 board ( Must be in exactly the same sub-niche )

If you use Jarvee:

Create a campaign

> add hundreds of photos related to that board

> edit posts in bulk

> source URL

> copy source URL to others

> put the blog post related to that page ( see above )

> shuffle posts a couple of times to kill the paranoia.

Ok, how do I get hundreds of images for that specific board, sub-niche?

From Pinterest of course, but get them in bulk.

Use Chrome/Brave

Add extension: DownAlbum

Search on Pinterest seed keyword

On the right of the search bar, you will see: "All Pins “ button > click on it > and select boards

Find a board with at least 300 images, press on the down button icon from the browser then select normal download.

Let it finish or press stop if there are to many > save them > that`s it.

Now you can have thousands of targeted images in minutes. Don`t worry about duplicates. If you use jarvee just select to make images unique, Pinterest has no clue or they just don`t care.

Play around how would you like with this optional setup to look natural.

Setup the bot to post 3-10 images a day

Setup the bot also to repin random from other accounts

Setup the bot to follow 1-10 users a day

Setup the bot to unfollow after 3-6 days

Once you start having couple of hundreds of images with the source URL of your site you will get organically repins and traffic.

Good niches for traffic

memes, quotes, tattoos, makeup, nails, hairstyle, women's fashion.

How much traffic you can get?

On normal niches: 100-300 a day

On viral such as memes: 3000 a day

How to bank?

Adsense, Amazon, whatever.

How much I will earn?

Depends, even if you earn 2-5 euro a day I think it is enough to pay 20 euro a month fo Jarvee + social presence for your site.

Sell the account with the site after a few months

Rent pins.

Can I point many accounts to the same domain?

No, I have realized that they limit the root domain reach whatever you do, you can try repining, but it will have a small impact. At least it was like that for me.

Arbitrage ( WordPress + Adsense vs Facebok Ads + Google Ads = Quiz Love)

You need:

A vast history on IM

Be more than average

Understand the ads from publisher and advertiser side

Optimizations skills from publisher and advertiser side

A/B testing methods

Ads placement

Bidding skills

Be ready to





Fail bad

Bank hard

I`m not gonna explain step by step because if you want to try this, you definitely know what I`m saying above.Some people work with a couple of networks as publishers to maximize the earnings; you can do the same.

How I do it?

Rocket fast theme = any basic one will work, preferably with 2 sidebars ( left + right )

A Quiz plugin

Adsense, Google Ads, Facebook Ads accounts

A catchy niche (look at competitors) just do a quick search on google about quizzes.

A very engaging quiz to keep user engaged

The quiz must be:

10+ questions

Written by a skilled guy who is not an average college guy

4-5 answer bullet points for each question

Answer must be almost real/authentic (psychological related) so that the visitor can be impressed by the results so they will share with/friends/family or on socials.

How to put ads?

Be sure you have a big header (more than 2/4 of the size of the first screen seen) so the user is "forced" to scroll down.

Unique image by a professional graphic designer ( me )​


Make pop-up with: subscribe, facebook like box or other social networks

Make an exit pop-up

Give points to users

How much can you earn?

It depends, start small with a couple of euro a day and see how it is converting; even if you are on 0 profit, it`s actually is amazing. I say it`s amazing because you get free laser target traffic > so from this 100% maybe 1-3% of the people will like your page, will follow your profile, will subscribe to your newsletter; so you can benefit from them later.

My opinion: Arbitrage is not like what other people are saying: Some kind of rocket science and only people with big money will do, that`s total bs. You can even do it with 5-10 euro a day, once you learn it then you scale it and play around with networks from advertiser to publisher side.

Final Conclusion

Don`t do as I have said word by word, method with method, take the idea and do it in your way. I did the same.

Reselling: Maybe you can resell better on Facebook Groups or mail blasting, or maybe you start to resell straight away a 500 euro service, not just a few euros.

Pinterest: Maybe you want to bot 100 accounts at once, maybe you want to do a mother/child account, be creative.

Arbitrage: You can use a couple of networks on both sides, you can use only Google Ads to Google Adsense, whatever you think will fit you.


Mega bonus black hat much wow sneaky method: Once you are familiar with link building, go on Fiverr, SEOClerks and ask for REAL SAMPLES. Most of them just try to sell you links from sites where you can get them free, but you will be the master of link building and you will do it yourself. Do Instagram Automation using "Kioko Media" Just google it! Grow a list and Send Email campaigns.. I use bulkmailer[dot]vip belive me they are the best in Email Marketing..

Shitty bonus method: Collect a lot of guest post opportunities (paid or free) and resell them (if this method start to be saturated and all the decent companies will just ignore/delete your spammy message because you will sell whatever 95% of the market sells)

Best of luck..

submitted by /u/PeterMag1

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Starting a $4K/month veteran and first responder woodworking company



Hey – Pat from here with another interview.

Today's interview is with James Wolfer (u/TBLCoastie) of Valhalla Wood Forge, a brand that makes rustic decor, furniture, rings.

Some stats:

  • Product: Rustic decor, furniture, rings.
  • Revenue/mo: $4,300
  • Started: May 2017
  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is James Wolfer, and I am the founder, owner, and operator of Valhalla Wood Forge. We are a veteran and first responder run woodworking company that started in 2017.

We focus on making rustic wood decor and high end men’s jewelry. Our biggest seller is custom wedding bands made from unique items such as whiskey and wine barrels, meteorite, and coffee grounds. We also sell a ton of heirloom patriotic wood flags, custom cornhole boards, signs, and other woodworks.

Our rings are absolutely huge sellers in the springtime, as primarily we cater to guys (although we make women’s wedding bands as well!) Guys typically wait until the last minute to get their wedding band, and we do a lot of custom and rush work, so we do the bulk of our sales for rings in April and May with about a 4-6 week rush turnaround.

Our second best seller is our custom, rustic wood flags, which really picks up in the fall and towards the holiday gift season. We offer several sizes and customization options, from small desktop-sized flags to large 5-foot wood flags. Our customizations include military branch emblems, police badges, names, dates and unit logos carved right into the wood. Our flags are sealed with a high gloss so they really seem to stand out from our competitors. Plus, being veterans and first responders ourselves, we understand the culture of our customers, which for these are largely veterans, cops, firefighters, and their family members, so our customer service and customizations are top-notch and really, what keeps our reviews high and keeps customers coming back over and over. For this product line, we have A LOT of return customers and referrals.

2019 has seen insane growth for us, and we’re having trouble keeping up with demand. Typically, for this type of business, October and November are the biggest months, often double or even tripling the normal average month. So, we hired our first employee last month, a full-time law enforcement officer (and veteran) that I’ve worked with before who has both sales and woodworking experience, who’ll be helping us with everything from production to sales.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I started Valhalla Wood Forge in 2017 while working full-time as a police officer. Our department was smaller, only seven of us total, we didn’t have full-time detectives so we had to fulfill dual roles as patrol and doing detective level investigations. I was working long hours, investigating a lot of sex crimes, which were taking a huge emotional and mental toll. Additionally, I was (and still am) a Coast Guard reservist, doing law enforcement and search and rescue, so my stress level was very high.

One day, the Police Chief ordered a big wooden flag for like, $500. I remember looking at it and thinking, “I could make that, but better.” So I got some wood, borrowed a circular saw from my parents, and made a flag to donate to my department. The department put a picture of me with the handmade flag on Facebook, and pretty soon, I was getting requests from cops and military buddies for their own flags. For the rest of 2017 and really, the first half of 2018, I didn’t charge much as I was only making 1-2 flags a month. I was having fun and had found a way to unwind and work through a lot of stress, and have my tools get paid for. Score, right?

Then, in the summer of 2018, Damascus steel and wood-lined wedding band my wife had bought me from some company marketed towards men broke. After doing my research, I found out this company was simply importing cheap rings from China and marking them up, and their reviews were tanking. By that point, I was getting pretty good at woodworking, and again, I thought “I could make that, but better.” So I started making wood rings, combining them with metals or carbon fiber to really strengthen them.

The holiday season of 2018 became very busy, and I found myself working long nights to keep up with demand. I began reading everything I could on SEO and social media, specifically focusing on Instagram. My wife came on board and has a natural eye for product photography. With her product photos, I built an Etsy shop, a Shopify store, and began pushing hard for organic growth on my Instagram page. We went from 100 followers to almost 4K of organic followers seemingly overnight.

2019 exploded further. The typical January slump of handcrafted business didn’t hit me, but instead, almost tripled, and continues to grow each month. I really think this is because I have multiple product lines that do well during different times of the year. I have had to figure out ways to streamline my process, as I still do everything myself. We bought a house that came with an external shop, and I really focused on making a space that furthered efficiency. I began batch ordering materials to fulfill orders in groups. I bought a CNC machine to help carve flags, and upgraded my lathe to a metal lathe and got faster at my process. And recently, I hired a buddy to help me with physically fulfilling orders so I can keep scaling up without spending all my free time in the shop.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

The first flag I ever made was honestly, not the greatest. I glued on stars and used too thin of wood. I quickly moved into using better, thicker wood and hand carving the stars using a hammer and chisel. I sold the first few flags for dirt cheap to friends in the law enforcement and military communities, which got me great feedback and even better word of mouth referrals.

A typical flag would take me about 10 hours to make. After a while, I moved to use a Dremel and hand-carved the stars and other customizations, which brought down the process to about 5-6 hours per flag. Now, using a CNC to carve the stars, I can do an entire 50-star wood flag in less than an hour. I can work on multiple flags at once, and within two hours, have 2-5 flags done.

I’ve also streamlined the ring process. I bulk order ring blanks, which are the metal rings with a channel cut in them, and then inlay whatever wood and other materials in the channel before finishing it with 10+ coats of a polished sealant. For example, inlaying whiskey barrel into a metal ring involves drilling a hole in a piece of whiskey barrel, sanding it the exact width of the channel in the metal ring, gluing it in, and letting that glue cure for several hours before I am able to sand it down smooth and put the sealant on it. I’ll do “glue-ups” of 5-10 rings on one day, and then the next day, sand down smooth and finish those rings.

For many of my ring prototypes, I will make test designs and give them out to friends and ask for their feedback. This has worked well to gauge the response. Additionally, since my social media following is entirely organic, I post pictures and videos of prototypes and gauge the engagement. I get roughly 85% of my orders directly referred through social media, so that’s a pretty good gauge of product interest.


The early days


Pre-CNC days

Making a USMC flag

Describe the process of launching the business.

In 2018, after I launched the wedding band product line, my Instagram page started getting serious attention. I realized that I no longer had a paying hobby, but had a legitimate business with a ton of potential. I started a website with Shopify, which for e-commerce, is absolutely amazing. I built my website entirely myself, using Shopify free themes and apps, and the basic Shopify plan of $30 a month.

I registered the business name with the state, first as an LLC as an umbrella for future businesses and then a DBA for this specific one. That cost me about $300 in total. I registered on GoDaddy for pretty cheap, I think around $15 a year, and then got Google Suite for an email with the domain name, which cost around $10 a month for a single .com email address. I’ve since added my wife and our employee, so I pay around $25 a month for three hosted email addresses. I also ordered business cards for like, $50 through Vistaprint.

I completely bootstrapped this business. The material and shipping costs are ridiculously low on rings, like 20%, and my flags and larger items sit around 30-40%, so I had plenty of profit to keep investing. I didn’t start paying myself anything until 2019, choosing instead to invest in the business. I went from a borrowed circular saw to having a fully stocked 20×20 shop in my backyard. In the spring of 2019, we used a personal credit card to buy the CNC, which cost around $2,000, which we paid back within just a couple of months from the profit made from using it.


Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Really, focusing on social media and great customer service has been our two biggest advantages. I try to be extremely responsive to customers and potential customers, including doing digital mockups of their customization requests. For a physical product, Instagram has been our best referral for rings, especially with the stunning product photography my wife does. I rarely have done paid ads, focusing instead on generating organic followers who will actually buy my products. Shopify is amazing for this, as it can directly plug into Facebook and Instagram, so we’re able to tag our products on both and have people click through to our site direct from Instagram.

To grow the follower count organically, I’ve hosted a few giveaways of larger items, such as our wood flags. Lately, I’ve partnered with some smaller influencers in similar niches, such as construction and the veteran community, to do joint giveaways where in order to win, you have to follow both accounts and comment on the giveaway post. This makes Instagram’s algorithm recognize engagement, which then leads Instagram to push these posts higher in search results. I’ll usually do a paid boost for these posts, around $50 or so, which makes the engagement skyrocket. This helped grow the follower count to where it is today, around 4,000. In order to keep these followers, however, I make sure that I post a quality post, once a day.

Lately, I’ve found that engagement seems highest when I post a good mix of high-quality product photos, as well as “lifestyle” photos showing us in the shop working, or out and about living life while wearing a ring. For example, I often post photos that customers send in of their flags hanging in their houses, or wedding photos their photographer took of them with our rings on.

Also, as I mentioned above, you just can’t beat great customer service. I answer emails within hours of getting them whenever I can. If a ring has a defect that is my fault, I make it right, no matter what. Often, even though I have a no return policy, I will go above and beyond to help customers who damage their rings or got sized wrong, replacing or resizing rings for free. This has reflected in my reviews on both Etsy and Shopify, with all 5-star ratings so far. The biggest thing I keep hearing and seeing is how great our customer service is, and I’ve definitely started seeing an increase in repeat customers.

Finally, I’ve started increasing paid ads on Etsy. Etsy is probably 20% of our orders, but it’s a built-in marketplace. In August, they changed their ad structure and it costs quite a bit more for results. I saw a lot of sellers complaining about this online and decided to move away from Etsy entirely. Since Etsy is only a portion of our gross revenue, I decided to do the opposite, and more than doubled my ad spend within Etsy. This has resulted in a HUGE increase in sales for the last couple of months. But really, I think I have my budget at $2.50 a day and it’s paid off about with an average of ten times ROI, leading to September being my best month ever on Etsy, during a typically low performing month for handcrafted goods.


Etsy order history YTD – I started using Etsy ads heavily starting in September

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I’ve since left law enforcement and work a full-time job while I continue to scale the business. I am working hard to one day replace my full-time income. It’s already at the point where my wife was able to go down to part-time at her job to spend more time at home with our family, as well as work on the bookkeeping and administrative side of things.

Right now, after hiring an employee, our profit margin is roughly 50% of gross revenue, meaning we’re paying ourselves about $2,000 a month. We’ve decided to take about $500 a month of that gross profit and re-invest it back into the business. Going into 2020, we plan to expand into some new product lines, add a laser engraver, and invest quite a bit of money into Facebook, Instagram and Google ads to further scale the business.

Additionally, I plan on getting our Instagram follower count above 10,000 followers, which seems to be a sweet spot for profitability. My goal is to increase our monthly gross revenue to at least $10,000 while keeping a roughly 50% profit margin in 2020 and double it again in 2021. To maintain the margins, we’ll likely be investing in a second and possible third CNC, and we’re also considering outsourcing some of our painting and wood cutting work to local contractors.

And finally, I plan to spend a bit more time on our Youtube channel. I’ve started making videos showing how we make the rings, flags, and other products from start to finish. There is a lot of revenue potential in Youtube videos, plus the exposure from having a great Youtube channel is staggering.


Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Pretty early on, I hired someone to do marketing for me. They were just starting out as a digital marketing brand after successfully building their own brand, and offered to do marketing for me for free for a couple of months as a portfolio builder, but using my money for ad spend.

Their success as a brand did not translate well to starting a marketing agency, and turning over marketing control to them with my money as ad spend, especially in the early days, hurt a lot. I ended up reverse-engineering what they were doing in Facebook ads, reading everything I could on that platform, and trying it myself by doing everything they weren’t. I realized they honestly had zero ideas of what they were doing and had really only been successful with their niche because they were the first to do it, not because they actually knew what they were doing. So I fired them and focused on my own marketing efforts which have been far more successful. So the big lesson here is, do your homework if you’re going to use outside marketing agencies, and don’t take shortcuts.

Recently, I learned another huge lesson: a friend of mine who also runs a business ordered an extremely custom plaque as a gift for one of his employees and asked me to rush it as he needed it in two weeks. I sent him mock-ups based on his written requests, and once he signed off on those, I began work without requiring a deposit for materials. After I made it, I sent him a photo of it in process, and he realized he had spelled the name of his employee wrong when he sent the information to me and asked me to redo it, saying he would pay for both.

I stayed up extremely late getting the redo done in time, and asked him for payment before shipping. The guy completely ghosted me for over a month, ignoring texts, calls, and emails, including a formal invoice, then finally responded that he had been busy with work and would respond to me later. He never did respond or pay me, and I ended up eating the loss on the materials, labor, and really, the friendship. The lesson learned here was not to do favors for friends with your business. A family and friends discount is one thing, but a favor without at least a deposit is quite another. This is your business, and if you don’t treat it like a business, neither will they.

One huge thing that has been helpful has been to network with other makers. I work closely with several other makers who are technically competitors, but really, we’re all still pretty small fish when you compare us to the big companies like ManlyBands (who imports all their rings from China). We help each other out when we have technical problems, go in on bulk orders together, and also in emergencies. For example, one of the other makers had a family emergency and had to go back east for over a month. He had a couple pending orders he had to get out, so he sub-contracted those to me, knowing that I made the same quality he did. Another maker, again a technical competitor to me, constantly gives me shoutouts on social media since we have different styles, and recently, he commissioned a custom sign from me for his business.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

  • Sales Platform: Shopify and Etsy

  • Reviews App:

  • Email: G Suite by Google

  • Shipping: Shipstation, which is amazing as it imports all my orders from both Shopify and Etsy.

  • CNC design software: Easel (Pro) by Inventables

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I listen to Entrepeneurs on Fire by John Lee Dumas on my way to my day job. This keeps me motivated to keep pushing, and I’ve also picked up a lot of strategies for streamlining my processes from there.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

The biggest lesson I learned, outside of what I already talked about above, is wishing that I treated it more like a business earlier on instead of a hobby. If you are passionate about something and making a little bit of money with it, you can turn that into a lot of money.

There’s a friend of mine on Facebook who has started to restore furniture and is really quite good at it and has sold her pieces. I told her she could turn that into a legitimate business, but she doesn’t have the confidence right now. I’m telling you, if people buy your stuff, especially strangers, it means more people will buy your stuff.

The other biggest mistake I’m seeing from other people selling handcrafted items is regarding Etsy. I’m seeing people do one of two things: underutilize the platform, or they are solely using the platform.

What I mean by this is that I’m seeing a whole lot of handcrafters that only use Etsy because it’s easy. But referring people to an Etsy page as your webpage isn’t as professional as a dot com webpage, plus, Etsy’s fees are much higher than Shopify. Also, when Etsy makes changes to its marketing structure, I’ve seen people who have no other website get absolutely screwed and their shops go under.

The other camp is those that refuse to use Etsy at all. Etsy is a marketplace, with a built-in audience that is often searching for exactly the product you make! Both camps are making the mistake of not diversifying their markets. Use Etsy, it’s an amazing sales tool, but don’t rely on it solely.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

Liked this text interview? Check out the full interview with photos, tools, books, and other data.

For more interviews, check out r/starter_story – I post new stories there daily.

Interested in sharing your own story? Send me a PM

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Turning a Lifelong Passion Into A Business With Abbi Burns



I can’t wait for you to listen to this episode of the She Means Business podcast because it’s as fun as it is inspiring! I caught up with Abbi Burns, founder of entertainment company, Darley Dance Productions, as she walked me through her journey of transforming from a dancer into a business owner and building a successful business.

Abbi has been a dancer since the age of three, but after she rebelled and quit professional dance at 18 years old, she soon realised that it was in fact her lifelong passion. She decided to start her own dance company, despite the fact that she had no clue about running a business. She says business, to her, was all about “men in grey suits with briefcases”, and it took her years to acknowledge that she was in fact a business owner running a “proper” business. 

Abbi discovered FEA and joined the Members’ Club a few years ago, when she felt like she had nowhere to turn to for answers to her business questions as the years went on, guidance on becoming a better business owner and inspiration to help her get over her fears. Since joining, her business has gone from strength to strength, and she’s become an entrepreneur that regularly “follows the fear” and pushes herself out of her comfort zone. 

In this podcast, Abbi and I talk about:

  • Her first years as a dancer, why she decided to quit and why starting a dance company was her way of staying true to her lifelong passion, in a completely different way. 
  • How she learned the ropes in her business and the challenges she faced throughout the first years, including her struggle to identify herself as a business owner.
  • The first things she worked on as soon as she joined the Members’ Club, including setting serious goals for her business and focusing on improving her mindset so that she could scale and grow.
  • How she went from being a pessimist that stopped in her tracks when she felt challenged, scared and uncomfortable, to an entrepreneur with a positive mindset that regularly follows her fears and pushes herself out of her comfort zone.

Abbi’s top tips for success are:

  • To recognise that fear is simply your own perception of a situation, and that what you’re scared of isn’t in fact real! Abbi says that she always asks herself, “What’s the worst that could happen!” and that she now follows her fear because that’s where success is waiting for us. Abbi says that through her experiences she’s realised that as you overcome more and more scary challenges, you’ll start to realise how amazing and capable you actually are!
  • There’s value in making mistakes and you just need to be who you are, even if you’re scared that you might look like a fool or embarrass yourself! Even if you do make mistakes, it makes you more relatable to your audience and your clients. 
  • The most important thing you can do for yourself and your business is to work on your mindset and the biggest thing you need to overcome is your own fear!

Find out more or connect with Abbi:
Instagram: @darleydance

The post Turning a Lifelong Passion Into A Business With Abbi Burns appeared first on Female Entrepreneur Association.

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