“How I grew my Pinterest followers by 500% in three months”
“Last month I made $40,787 and my income is still growing!”
“How I made $2,050 from blogging last month”
“How I grew my business to a six-figure salary”
Everywhere I turn, I’m constantly bombarded by these messages — in my Facebook feed, as I scroll through Pinterest, as I check my e-mail.
It’s enough to make me feel inadequate in my own business, like I’m failing because I’ve been doing this for four years and I’m definitely nowhere close to making that kind of money or to having that kind of following. It’s so easy to get sucked in by the messages around me: that I should be making in a month what I used to make in a year and have hundreds of thousands of followers.
It makes me think I’m clearly doing something wrong.
I have been thinking lately, a lot, about why I got into this — into starting a jewelry business & blogging — and what I want out of them.
And I think…
….it’s not to be famous
….it’s not to be rich
….it’s not to have thousands of loyal fans
I do this for me.
I do this so that I can be home with Eve. I do this so I can have the flexibility of working from home while also contributing financially to my household. I do this to grow as a person and to learn. I do this so that if I one day I return to working outside of the home, I have marketable skills because unfortunately our society’s workforce does not value the skills of stay-at-home parents. And, of course, I do this as a creative outlet.
Do I want my business to be profitable? Of course! I never expected to make a six-figure salary from any of this, nor did I necessarily expect that I would make more working full-time out of the house.
And while wanting to see my business grow and to be able to make more money from it than I have in the past are very reasonable aspirations, playing this comparison games makes me want to quit.
Guys, I don’t want to quit.
I had to remind myself how much I really want to make, so the other day I wrote down my financial goals, breaking everything down. They are modest, but still push me, gently, in my business.
And that’s what I want. To be pushed in a direction that moves me forward without feeling like I need to be raking into the money to be successful. To have the freedom to try new things and spend my days being creative. To feel like I’m constantly learning and growing — which I am, each and every day — without feeling overwhelmed by the things I’m not doing. To have a life where I can be my own boss and go on mini-adventures with my daughter this summer because I have that flexibility.
Lately, I feel like I have been writing these super planned out, time-intensive to write and edit blog posts. Despite scaling back on blogging (which has been amazing for me, by the way), I still have been writing a ton and as a result overthinking things, so today I’m going to just take it easy with the blogging and share with you a little glimpse into my life lately.
I just returned from a weekend trip to New York City to spend a girls’ weekend with my sister. Since becoming a mom, it’s become more challenging to find the time to have sisterly bonding, and we both missed it. My sister recently moved into a new place in Long Island City, which had a spectacular view of lower Manhattan.
I had never been to Long Island City before, but it was lovely. My sister and her boyfriend live near a beautiful walking path along the water, there are tons of families in the area, as well as a great selection of eateries. The best part, though, was how much calmer it is than Manhattan. I love visiting New York, but between the sheer number of people and the towering buildings, I’m always a bit relieved to head back to the relative quiet of Boston.
We spent the weekend catching up on life, sampling culinary delights at Smorgasburg (if you ever go, you must get the mozzarella sticks from Big Mozz. Best mozzarella sticks ever and definitely worth the $10), browsing shops in Brooklyn, and more eating. I think I was so consumed with eating and hanging out with my little sister, I forgot to take pictures. Woops!
By the way, I spent the entire weekend calling my sister Eve, as well as an assortment of nicknames that I call Eve. Do you ever do that?
Eve and I have been taking advantage of the beautiful weather and the very late arrival of spring with picnic lunches at our favorite local playground and another trip to the deCordova Sculpture Park & Museum, where we have a family pass. I didn’t take any photos of the sculptures (which Eve was surprisingly not that interested in the last time we went), but we did get an adorable mommy-daughter selfie.
Eeh, she’s getting so big! Where did my little baby go?
I’m in preparation mode for the launch of my new jewelry line (coming next week!). Two weeks ago I had a lifestyle photo shoot with photographer Lorna Stell and lifestye blogger Diane of Fashion on the 4th Floor. After a week of cold and miserable weather, we had a gorgeous day. I got the proofs for the photos and they look incredible! They’re still being edited, but here’s a little peek at some of some of the non-sytlized shots of my new pieces (photos all by Lorna Stell):
As part of preparing for the launch, I decided to redo the Linkouture logo — again. (And in case you missed it, this website has had a bit of a facelift to match!) Here is my new logo, which I designed myself for the first time:
And the matching new header for the blog:
I’m super proud of myself for not only figuring out how to make my vision a reality, but that for once I successfully used Photoshop!
I’m off now to Best Buy to hopefully get a new computer to replace my painfully slow 2011 MacBook Air. It’s been a good run, but it’s time for an upgrade. I’m thinking this time of getting a 2-in-1 computer/tablet. Wish me luck!
My finger hovered over the mousepad on my MacBook Air, as my thoughts vacillated between “Oh my goodness, that’s a lot of money!” to “Do it, the business needs this!”
My heart beat fast. I could feel my chest expand as I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. Deep down, I knew this was the right decision, even though the numbers staring back at my from my computer screen were more than I had ever spent on my business.
I did another mental calculation of my upcoming business expenses and checked the balance in my bank account one last time.
With one final deep breath, I clicked on the button on the screen. A screen popped in front of me, thanking me for my purchase.
I let out a deep exhale as a sense of calm mixed with excitement cascaded down my body.
I knew I had made a wise investment in my business.
As a the sole owner of a small business, I notice every amount of money that goes in and out of it. From the 20 cents I pay to renew a listing on Etsy to the monthly fee I pay for the newsletter service I use, I think long and hard about each financial decision I make.
Over the years I have learned that not only is ok to spend money on my buisness, but that wise investments will help it to thrive and grow.
Have I spent money on products or services that have not actually helped? Probably, but I see each of those as a learning experience.
With time, I have also learned when and where to better invest my financial resources.
Please note, this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase I may earn a small comission at no extra cost to you.
When you feel like you are at a standstill and you don’t know how to proceed
At the end of 2015, I was feeling frustrated with the state of my business. Sales of my book, which had been low to begin with, had stopped. I was losing money and wasting time at craft shows. My business, which had morphed so much over the year, didn’t feel cohesive. I knew I needed to make changes, but I wasn’t sure where to go, or even where to start.
When an opportunity opened up to work with April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle, a business coach who I greatly admired and respected, I jumped on it. I knew I needed the assistance of an outside person to help move me along. She is the only business coach I have hired, and it is one of the biggest financial investments I have ever made for my business. I was nervous about the financial aspect of it, but she helped to guide me and my business that I would have never seen as someone so deeply entrenched in it.
If you are in a place where you feel like you are stuck and need that one-on-one guidance, or just need someone to help bring your business to the next level, the right business coach or a meeting with a business can end up paying dividends on your business.
When the cost of your time greatly exceeds the cost of hiring out
Since I opened my Etsy shop, I had done 95% of my product photography. When I decided to totally redo my product line this year, I realized the time had come for me to hire a professional photographer. Was I capable of doing my own product photography? Sure, but the amount of time it would have taken me to do it would have cost me hours that I do not have.
As solopreneurs, we often feel like we have to do everything ourselves. (And when you are just starting our, you likely don’t yet have the capitol to pay for someone.) But ourtime is limited and precious, and it’s best to spend those hours on things that will be the best value of your time rather than trying to do it all yourself, whether it’s hiring a Virtual Assistant to set up Etsy listings or hiring a professional to do your product photography.
When you are lacking a skill set that someone else has
Along the way, I have hired professionals to do things such as build a new website from scratch, redo my logo, and design the cover for my book. I realized early on that these are skills that I do not have, and I would have wasted a significant amount time and energy trying to do them all myself. Just as with the previous point, hiring people who know what they are doing will to give you to the time to work on the skills on which your business is built.
In the front entryway in Nana and Grandpa’s house, there is a vent near the floor, near the table that sits right there. At one point there wasn’t a table there, and I discovered in the cold, winter months, when warmth radiated from the vents, it was the perfect place to cuddle up under a blanket and read a book.
I have a very distinct memory of sitting there with this massive book, a type of kid-version of an encyclopedia, called The Big Book of Tell Me Why, which answered the types of questions little kids are prone to ask. It is entirely possible that I read other books in that spot. For some reason, that book in that particular spot has stuck out in my head as a treasured memory.
I have always been an avid reader.
In fourth grade my teacher, Mrs. Goodman, held a Book Bingo challenge. We were each given a sheet with nine squares, each filled in with a different genre, from history to nonfiction, mystery to biography. My chart was soon overflowing with books, especially the fiction section. I could not get enough of tThe Babysitter’s Club series (by the way, there’s a massive collection of them in Nana and Grandpa’s basement waiting for you.) I was one of the top readers for the class, among the five kids in my class who read the most books that year.
Although Mrs. Goodman had to basically bribe me and my friend Sarah to expand our horizons and read more books that were not part of that series.
As I sit here, thinking about what of my favorite spots are and have been, they very often involve books.
When I’m on a beach vacation, nothing complements the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, the warmth of the sun, and the smell of saltwater than a good book in hand.
At our house in Cambridge, the one we lived at when Papa and I got married, and the house that we later brought you home to, my favorite place was early morning on our front porch, a warm mug of coffee and a good book in hand.
For six years I have been part of a book club. It began in the apartment that Papa and I first lived in together. Members have come and gone through the year, as people’s lives have changed and they have moved in and out of the area, or life circumstances have made it more difficult for them to attend. But the feeling is still there, that strong sense of connection and friendship. Every two months or so when we meet I’m surrounded by close friends and great conversation as we discuss the books and the latest news in our lives: proposals, new jobs, marriage, pregnancy.
As I wind down for the evening, snuggled beneath my covers, often one of the last things I do before I go to sleep is read from a book. You will always see a small stack there, for rarely does a day go by that I haven’t read at least one book.
Before your nap and at night, I love to sit in the rocking chair in your room hold you in my lap, your warm, soft body pressed against me as I read and sing to you. From the time you were a tiny newborn, I have always read to you. It felt a little silly when you were so small and weren’t even yet strong enough to hold your head up to look at it, but it has always been part of our bedtime routine.
There was a point in time, perhaps when you were about a year, when you showed very little interest in books, but thankfully that phase passed. Like me, you seem to have a deep love of books and reading. In the mornings when we’re getting ready to leave the house and I peek into your room, you often are sitting there quietly reading a book. It warms my heart to see how special books are to you, and I look forward to seeing what will be your own special book places.
This is month four of the “Who I Am” project. This month the prompt is favorite places and like my previous posts, I wrote this as if I were speaking to Eve (and any other children I have in the future).
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NutrishCatCrafts #CollectiveBias
Every morning when my internal alarm clock awakens me at 5:00, and Sam and Eve are still fast asleep, there is someone else at that early hour who I can count on to be my side.
That’s this little guy, Leo.
Leo has been in my life since about a year after Sam and I started dating. Sam and his friend and roommate at the time adopted Leo from a friend of a friend, who sadly had to give away her four feline friends for health reasons.
In his short life, Leo has gone through some major life transitions, from living with that family to a home with five 20-somethings. Shortly after Sam and I moved in together Leo joined us and then moved with us two more times. He’s gone from having our sole attention to having to share it with Eve and figuring out how to navigate the world of small, loud children.
While Leo is still learning to appreciate boisterous toddlers, he absolutely loves adults. I like to joke he is our cat-dog he loves being around people so much. From the moment I wake up he is right by my side, poking his little face into mine and begging for me to pet him. As I start my morning routine — a trip to the kitchen for a glass of water, followed by yoga in our living room — he is right by my side.
And I mean that literally. He’s pressed up against my leg as my yoga poses, but I’ve learned to adapt and move around him.
As you may know, I like to harness my creativity in multiple ways, including making little presents for my family members. I wanted to make a fun cat toy for Leo to keep him engaged and active, and to use to enjoy during our mornings together.
I made a cat feather wand, which took a little time for Leo to warm up to, but eventually he got into the spirit of it. It took just a few minutes to make, and I’m going to show you how you can make one of your own.
Supplies you’ll need to make your DIY cat feather wand toy:
String (I used hemp string)
How to make your cat toy:
Tie a piece of string securely around one end of the dowel.
Wrap the string around the dowel a few times so that it covers most of the loose piece of string.
Cut off the string so that it is about two feet long. Put the end of the string and a few feathers through the top of the bell that sticks up.
Tie it in a double knot so that the bell and feathers are secure to the end.
Tie a second piece of string onto the dowel to the small piece of string #1 that is sticking out, repeat the previous . Do that all one more time until you have three total strings hanging down with bells and feathers attached.
Now it’s time to have some fun playing with your cat!
In addition to petting and playing with Leo, part of the way we show him how important he is to us is through the food we feed him. Just as I care about the food that I put on the plates of the human members of our family, it’s important that we give Leo equally healthy and nourishing food. In the past we bought the cheap stuff from the pet store, but upon further investigation we realized it was full of ingredients that cats are not supposed to eat.
I was really happy to learn about the Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® cat food line, which is made from real ingredients. It started in 2007 with a line of dog food created with help from pet nutrition expert and inspired by recipes from Rachael Ray’s kitchen. Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® is dedicated to “Real Recipes. Real Ingredients. Real Good.” It is made from simple, wholesome ingredients such as U.S farm-raised chicken or salmon as the #1 ingredient, and does not contain by-product meal; fillers, such as corn, wheat, or soy; or artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors — just essential vitamins, minerals and taurine for a tasty food your cat will love.
We purchased the Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® cat Grain Free Wet Food for Cats conveniently online on Amazon.com.
It comes in a variety of recipes, including Chicken & Shrimp Pawttenesca™, Chicken & Salmon Catterole™, Chicken Purrcata®, Paw Lickin’ Chicken & Liver, Tuna Purrfection™, Ocean Fish-a-licious®, Lip Smackin’ Sardine ‘N Mackerel, Ocean Fish & Chicken Catch-iatore, Chicken Lovers Variety Pack and Ocean Lovers Variety Pack.
We purchased the Chicken Purrcata®, which Leo loved and gobbled right up. (And he has been known to be a picky eater, so that says a lot!)
(By the way, if you make a change to your cat’s diet, gradually introduce the new food by incorporate it into your current food over 7-10 days, slowly replacing your pet’s current food with Rachael Ray™ Nutrish®.)
The Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® cat food line also offers a Zero Grain Dry Food For Cats, featuring real, delicious chicken or whitefish as the #1 ingredient with zero grains, gluten, fillers, artificial preservatives, colors, artificial flavors, or meat/poultry by-product meal.
Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® wet and dry cat food varieties are available at a wide variety of quality retailers your family shops at every day, as well as online at Amazon.com. To see where you can purchase them, click here.
In addition to feeling good about the food I’m feeding Leo, one of the things that I also like about Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® is that Rachael’s personal proceeds go to Rachael’s Rescue Missions. It was created to help shelter pets in need, with money going toward food, medical supplies, and treatments for those animals. To date, Rachael Ray has donated over $14 million.