I have been pondering this whole online-business thing for a long, long time.
Just so you know, I’m no stranger to the idea of owning a business. Nick and I have both worked for ourselves for – well – most of our adult lives. I’ve made my money (over the years) doing the following:
- Freelance graphic designer (later owned a graphic design business)
- Freelance illustrator
- Freelance photographer
- Musician & songwriter
- Music & vocal arranger
- Speaking engagements & teaching workshops & courses
- Big projects sponsored by corporations (like VENT!)
- Occasional concerts where I was paid as a musician or singer.
My income has ebbed and flowed over the years.
When I had my design business, I was bringing in a lot of money (but had a rotten, stressed-out quality of life in return). Other times (like for the past couple of years) – I’ve made very little money – but have invested enormous amounts of time and energy into projects and work which fulfil me in other ways, like:
- Beautiful Life Project
- Tapestry of Dreams
- WOODO (Women who DO!)
- Homeschooling / Unschooling (I hate the pigeon-holing) my kids.
- Writing this blog (and another blog)
- Writing a book.
- Making random art.
- Writing random songs.
- Writing random scripts.
- Occasionally helping Nick out with film-stuff.
- Preparing for our big Family Adventure.
The stuff above makes little to no money. But it does make me happy and fulfilled… and, in all, I’m a much happier person (and certainly better company for my family) than I was in 2007.
Nick (as you may have gathered) has been our primary breadwinner since 2007 (which was when I jettisoned the graphic design business). He makes money by doing this:
- Cinematographer & Director of Photography (he has a very nice RED camera which he uses to shoot movies / doccies & music videos).
- Film Editor (he is very very good at this… and is in huge demand – which is both a good thing and a bad thing).
- Flash Programmer. You know that “flash” stuff that you see online? Nick is a flash-whiz. He can make flash-anything!
- Programmer (don’t ask me for the jargon)… he has a degree in computer science – so he can write code and program back-end stuff. He doesn’t LOVE this work (in the same way that he loves filmmaking) – but it brings in the moola – so he’s happy to do it.
He makes money (for all of us) by doing a combination of the above.
Now – Nick’s work is pretty conducive for a location-independent lifestyle. In fact, much of his business has come from international clients – and he’s only needed his computer and an internet connection to make money.
Obviously – if he is needed on a shoot… or in a specific location to actually film something – we will weigh up the pro’s and con’s of that particular job – and he’ll probably fly off to various locations (depending on the pay – and depending on the length of time he’d need to be away from us).
But… to cut a long story short… I really feel that it’s time for ME to contribute financially to our family as well.
Nick hasn’t pushed me to do this… but there is only so much time in a day – and I would love to ease the pressure on him. He works harder than anyone I know. I don’t write that because he’s my husband and I’m being bias – I write that because honestly: he works harder than anyone I know!
I have been wanting (for a long time) to launch an online business.
But have been absolutely bogged down in the muck of complete CONFUSION about what kind of online business that someone like me should start – given my particular skills… talents… connections and passions.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that if you want to make GOOD money… or if you want to create any kind of passive income… then you have to sell a PRODUCT of some kind – instead of a SKILL.
Selling your skills (like graphic design) can pay the bills, sure! But you never get ahead. You just spend a shit-load full of time designing, designing, designing… and never actually getting AHEAD!
I definitely don’t want to do graphic design (unless it’s for my own projects – or a project that I really really believe in).
Graphic design makes me feel resentful. I don’t want to roll other people’s turds in glitter for a living (to coin a phrase from an English copywriter). And that’s exactly what I did for years: beautified other people’s shitty products and services… (with an awesome product thrown in on rare occasions to keep me from slitting my wrists in a warm bath).
pulls self together
So – a few months ago, I wrote the following list:
I want to create an online business that:
- Makes a decent profit and a positive difference.
- That I can operate from anywhere in the world – that doesn’t tie me down to a single location.
- That sells a product (instead of a service) – selling decent products makes more money and is less draining & time-consuming (than selling services).
- That the work / business makes me genuinelly happy, fulfilled and rewarded… instead of making me feel resentful and unenthusiastic (the way that freelance graphic design makes me feel).
- That the work doesn’t suck away all of my TIME (especially after August). I understand that I will need to invest a lot of time and work initially – but this investment has the aim of making the business sustainable. I won’t want to spend more than 3’ish hours per day after August.
- That the work I do somehow helps… uplifts… motivates… encourages… inspires and does something positive for other people (as well as making them laugh & smile).
- I want to feel exceptionally proud about sharing this story and this business with the world. I want it to feel – in a sense – that it’s a real and honest representation of ME.
- I want the business to have an international reach and to spark future opportunities for other endeavours (ie: speaking engagements, music, etc).
- I want it to be generating an income – even if it’s only a small one to start off with – by August 2013.
So… for months… I’ve been experimenting with this and that… trying different things… doing a HUGE amount of research… asking endless questions of endless people – and guess what?
I got even more confused! And frustrated… and confused… and frustrated.
I was really struggling to fit the gazillion pieces of the picture together in a cohesive way that made sense. Every idea I had was either going to be very draining (and unpleasant to work on)… OR it would be pleasant to work on (but wouldn’t be able to generate any kind of income!).
I wanted to earn money AND make a difference. I wanted to earn money AND be fulfilled and happy in my work. I wanted to earn money AND still have lots of time to spend with my family.
And then something happened. I visited Marie Forleo’s website… and something sparked deep inside of me.
And – two weeks later… I finally had that wonderful thing I had been trying so hard to discover: Clarity! Crystal-Clear-Clarity!
I knew EXACTLY what I was going to do… EXACTLY what kind of online business I was going to start… and EXACTLY how it would make money and make a positive difference in the world.
Best part? The clarity is still there! 100% Crystal Clear!
And because I now have VISION… I have PURPOSE! And because I have PURPOSE, I have DIRECTION! And because I have direction – I know exactly what I need to do in the next couple of months before August arrives.
There is a LOT of work that needs to be done. A mammoth amount of work… but every day, I attack a bite-sized chunk and I push forward.
You may be saying: “So, spit it out Heather! What’s this genius idea you have?”
‘fraid I can’t tell you. Not yet.
I want you to SEE it in action… I don’t want to do a poor job of trying to explain it to you.
But watch this space… and if any of you (especially the nomads out there) have any awesome online-business-advice to send my way – drop me an E! (firstname.lastname@example.org) I’m all ears!
hug to everyone!