Leap of Faith: A Progress Report

Image Spark

It’s been a little over two years since I learned that I was losing my full-time job and decided to take my leap of faith. These last couple of years have been a time of major change for me. I lost the job that I’d had for ten years; my parents moved out of and sold my childhood home; I was robbed twice, and I lost a nephew and my dad in a year’s time. There’s been some good too; I’ve slowly but surely been growing my Etsy business and gradually become comfortable with what it means to not have a conventional job. That in itself is a pretty big adjustment. It’s really hard to explain to others; having multiple sources of income and an irregular work schedule is not the norm. One of the first questions new people ask is, “What do you do?” Figuring out how to answer that has been a work in progress.

Focus

One of the hardest parts about taking this leap of faith has been finding direction, but I finally feel like that’s coming together. I’m starting to grasp that I can’t focus on twenty different profit centers at once. I can gradually expand to a greater number, but I can’t begin there. Focusing is hard when the possibilities are endless. I knew pretty early on that I wanted to start an Etsy store but there were so many things I could do. My first plan was to sell crocheted and knitted items. I quickly realized that it was going to take me awhile to stock my store and that if I primarily offered scarves, there would be many months out of the year that I didn’t have many sales; plus the market is pretty saturated. I haven’t completely ruled out adding such a store as a profit center, but fortunately I realized that it probably wasn’t the best place to start. I’m so thankful I stumbled upon a print-on-demand site and started down the path to Dizana Designs.

Etsy

When I think about the things I really enjoy doing, graphic design, in particular pattern design, is at the top of the list. Whether I’m shopping or surfing the net, I always find myself examining patterns in textiles. I remember as a kid being particularly fascinated with the wallpaper we had in one of the bathrooms. I loved finding the repeat in the pattern and studying the design that seemed to always be changing, kind of like staring at the clouds and seeing different things. So when I started seeing all the print-on- demand opportunities, I knew that putting my patterns on various items would be a great way to explore that interest. At the time I opened my shop, the market wasn’t too saturated. It has gradually grown more so, especially the iPhone case market. But as long as I keep working on making original patterns that people like, I believe my business can continue to grow. I plan to devote more of my time each day to growing as a designer, studying pattern design and creating multiple patterns every week, as well as seeking out new products to add to my store.

Print-on-Demand Sites

In addition to my Etsy shop, I am exploring other venues for selling my designs. There are a number of print-on-demand sites that will handle the sales. I can upload designs and set they price, they will handle the orders. If I were beginning now, this is where I would start. It’s a great way to get your art/designs out there and start earning commissions, without a lot of ongoing effort. There are at least three print-on-demand sites that I hope to add as profit centers soon. I will let you know as I branch out.

Other Potential Profit Centers

In addition to designing; I would like to add a Vintage Etsy store to my lineup. Etsy’s not just handmade; you can sell vintage (anything over twenty years old) and supplies too. I already have a number of things that I would like to sell. And I love a good vintage shopping trip and the thrill of exploring thrift stores and “antique” stores for something of value. I often find things that I love that don’t really fit in my house. I think selling vintage would be a great outlet for that. I am also exploring the option of reselling on Amazon. There are a number of sellers that buy items from various sources at a highly discounted rate and then sell them on Amazon for a profit. I’ve done this on a small scale with Disney movies but would like to expand on this.

Blogging

I’ve always enjoyed writing and had been a longtime fan of blogs like Not Martha, Heart of Light, and Making it Lovely, when I started this journey I felt like blogging would be a perfect fit as one of my profit centers. I read lots of advice on blogging and one of the most repeated pieces of wisdom is to narrow your focus, don’t go too broad. So I opted to start two blogs, this one, which leans towards the personal finance genre, and dizana.com, which falls more in the design genre. The thing is, like me, both blogs are hard to compartmentalize. I have a wide variety of interests which to some might not combine into a cohesive topic. But that’s me, and my favorite blogs can be pretty varied in subject matter. So I’ve decided that I’m going to combine the two blogs into one – the life of a renaissance girl (or woman) if you will. Am I too old to refer to myself as a girl? Gal, maybe? My plan is to create a new design for dizana.com and combine all the posts from this blog with the posts from dizana.com so none of the content will be missing. Then I will redirect the domain, leapoffaithblog.com, to dizana.com. I anticipate that this will take some time to accomplish. In the mean time, I’m not sure how often I will be posting here. I appreciate you guys reading and putting up with my works in progress.

The Cons of Working for Myself

While working for myself has been pretty great. There have been a few cons. Some I was expecting, like the decrease in income and the difficulties of healthcare coverage. But there are a few that I wasn’t expecting. I’ve recently been trying to catch up on some bookkeeping for my business and have had a terrible time getting numbers to total. I think maybe I’ve been spending too much time planning and creating and not enough time thinking and problem solving and, as my dad would say, my brain has turned to mush. In my past life, as a law firm administrator, my job was 90% problem solving. After awhile, all that problem solving started to get a little tiring. Since many of the problems were people oriented, many of the problems were pretty repetitive. I don’t miss a lot of the problems, but I think my problem solving skills have started to decline. I think that as business starts to increase I will probably be a bit more challenged mentally, in the meantime I am giving up some of my Pinterest time and attempting to do a Sudoku and a crossword every day to rebuild and maintain my problem solving skills.

I miss getting up and moving around. The office where I worked was pretty large, we had much of the 8th floor of an office building. Moving around was really part of the job; I had to get up and walk to the file room to make copies or pickup something off the printer. Or I’d walk across the cat-walk to the other side of the office to solve computer problems. I’ve found that when I work at home or at my part-time job, I will go several hours without getting up and when I do, I don’t have far to go. I need to be more conscientious about making an effort to move around a bit more throughout the day.

Most of all, I miss the people. I always thought I’d really enjoy working from home, and I do, but I miss the people a lot more than I thought I would (some more than others). I miss having co-workers drop by my office to chat and even the noise from the offices next door (I was officed in between two pretty noisy guys; one that loved his speakerphone and the other that frequently enjoyed loud internet videos). I miss the banter and inside jokes that go along with working in a bigger office. And I miss the constant activity that goes with having lots of people around. I have my part-time job, but there are only three of us in the office so it’s not much different than working at home with the dogs; except my co-workers don’t bark wildly at the mailman. It’s not financially feasible now, but maybe in the future I will consider an office sharing situation.

So that’s where things stand. I have a few other ideas in mind but they’re not ready for prime-time; my goal for the rest of the year is to focus on the above. Have you taken a leap of faith and made major changes in your life? How did it work out for you?

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