Don't Worry Be Happy
by Rebecca Slaton


I got stiffed on a job. In 20 years this has never happened to me. You would think I’d be mad, sad, or disappointed especially since I’m hustling to make every job count. Maybe I felt a twinge of all those things, but mostly what I experienced was resolve.  Because looking back on this project, it was bound to end this way-all the signs were there.  I didn’t take time to know the designer or the homeowner.  They wanted me to copy a decades old finish from their old home.  It was a crackled paint (Need I say more?).  It was sprayed which I couldn’t do in the new home.  I didn’t see the room before starting and it turns out the walls are 14 feet tall and the designer’s specs were miscalculated under by 250 square feet.  After 3 samples, I still couldn’t get the finish to crack right and they rejected my more easily controlled cracked plaster.  The finish was ugly, dated and I hated it. So I did the job.

Why did I take on a project that wouldn’t pay off financially or creatively? One I didn’t even have time to do? Because I was afraid not to take it.

I’ve spent this year living in a state of two tenses. The past tense where I’m stuck on regrets and “what-if’s” and the future tense where I dwell on the unknown and worry.  My present is a box of fear tied up in a knot. Sound familiar? Here is how I too control.

  1.   “Productive Paranoia.”   I wrote out all my fears. Crossed off the ridiculous (zombie apocalypse) and the things I can’t control (twitter rants) and focused on legitimate concerns.  Which really came down to one thing: being economically independent as I age. What’s the worst case? I have no money. Solution? Be financially prepared.  Know your current assets, debts and budget.   What do you need to make each month and how much to save?  Set up a record keeping system to honestly track time, product, and pay. Boring stuff but a critical foundation. My advice to everyone doing this as a second income? Treat it as your primary income.  Life changes very fast-be prepared.

  2. Score your hustle.  Now I know what I need to make. Next is deciding the most profitable means. I now evaluate a job with my head over my heart. This can be tough for an artist but important for a business owner.  I owned a studio that sold product. I taught classes. And I went back into the field. All three generated some revenue but it wasn’t overall productive. I scored each area on several things:
  • What was the income to overhead ratio?
  • How much time and effort did I expend?
  • What things did I like the most? And what did I enjoy the least? 
  • Where did these activities fit into future goals?

Although the product studio was the least physical, it was the activity I ultimately decided to let go. Lots of us are engaging in the side hustle-looking for an alternative to physical labor. Know that one of the biggest impediments to success is focus.  While I’m working on the One thing generating the most income, I save One day a week to build my One new path.

  1. Reality Check.  The good old days of people paying for decorative painting through a home loan are over.  The clientele for our services is shrinking. Wallpaper is coming back.  Simple painted cabinets get you in the door. You can be afraid of the change or embrace it. I went through all my samples and tossed or painted over 70% of them.  Yes, it was like disowning a child but it had to be done.  I kept finishes where the layers are limited, products are reliable and I enjoy the application.  I assigned a price per square foot per sample keeping only 10% of ones in the $12 or above category. Intricate cabinet finishes are island or vanity only.  Even though the finish may not impress on Instagram, my clients are happy and I make money.
      
  2. Experience Counts. I’ve been a successful entrepreneur through talent, some luck but mostly hard work for over 20 years. I know after all this time how to spot potential trouble and stinker jobs. Worrying about competition and impressing colleagues is wasted energy. 

  3. Everything Ends. Walking away from a profession is hard. It’s easier in pieces.  Soon I won’t be able to do ceilings or floors-better to hire help or refer for a commission. What can I do at 60? What do I want to do?  I challenge you to answer the question: How will this end? Everything I listed above should support this answer. 

Do I stress? Sure. It’s a normal part of life.  But I no longer make dumb decisions out of fear. I don’t think about the past and I feel more in control of the future. My focus is now and I pulled the worry out of the box and replaced it with Acceptance. I signed my card Perseverance and tied it with a bow of Trust.  It took me weeks to get here and now I’m passing the gift off to you.




How to Improve Your Facebook Page
by Regina Garay

I was a decorative painter for many years and even though I'm all about digital marketing now, it's still one of my true loves. With decorative painting, you learn quickly what works and what doesn't: adapted pricing structures to keep you in business, what finishes and colors are on trend, honing in on project timing for a successful schedule, the clients targeted on your marketing efforts, taking out portfolio samples that are just not working, and more. The same works with digital marketing, and specifically for this article, your Facebook Page. Thankfully, you can easily see a wealth of data for your business page with Facebook Insight.

The analytics are extensive and we'll focus on some key ones here. I fully encourage you to 'play' more with it! Once you're on your page, the Insights are located along your top right tab menu. You will then see a menu on the right hand side. 

Overview: An overall look at your page data

Promotions: Data on promotions run on behalf of your page.

Followers: Data on your followers

Likes: Data on your likes

Reach: Who your posts were served to.

Page Views: Who viewed which section of your page

Actions on Page: What people did on your page

Posts: Data on your Posts

Branded Content: Data on your Branded/Paid Content

Events: Data on your Events

Videos: Data on your Videos

People: Who engaged with your page

Local: Data on the people around your business, if a Local business page 

Messages: Message Analytics

We are going to focus on the Overview, Posts, and People. The analytics I'm using is for a local client not related to decorative painting.

OVERVIEW

The Overview gives you a look at the last 7 days. The other tabs dig deeper into each of the sections. It will also give you the Reach and Engagement percentage for your last 5 posts. You can also add a local or national competitor's business page to 'watch' and compare to your own. 

POSTS

On the Days info, it tells you what days the most of your fans are online. Scroll through the Times and you can see what time your fans are most online. Knowing the times, set up scheduled posts to go on at this time to see how it affects your Reach and Engagement. Tip: Sometimes the times when your fans are most online will not be the ideal time to post as your most ardent fans may be online at a different time. For instance, we had a page where, according to Facebook Insights, 9pm was the ideal time. After testing, we discovered that 9pm may be the time when most of our fans were online but 8am was the sweet spot for the most engaged audience. So, test, test, test.

On the All Posts Published, you will see data on your posted shares. You can also see at a glance which types of posts (link, photo, video, subject) do much better than others. On the columns, we are going to look at Reach and Engagement Rate. (The percentage under 'Engagement' is not the default. I got there by clicking the 'Reactions, Comments & Shares' tab - see arrow - and picked Engagement Rate from the dropdown menu.) Add the Reach figures for one month, and that gives you your monthly reach. Take the average engagement for the month and that gives you your average engagement rate. I like to keep these figures in mind because that tells me how I'm doing month to month and can gauge if my efforts are paying off or if I need to tweak more.  

Note: I've 'taped' out the posts here for privacy and under the Type column, you will see it is one link and three images. The images do better than the links! Please note that this particular page's fans can support multiple posts per day but for others it might be too much. Please test your pages and review your insights to get a gauge of what your audience likes.

PEOPLE

It's important to know who is coming to your page and from where. This page gives you more info on your fans such as age group, gender, location, and language. Not only can it help inform the type of copy you write as well as the content you share, this information, along with Audience Insights on the separate Ads Manager, can help inform your specific target demographics for any promoted content.

~

I hope this has helped! And yes, I still encourage you to play, play, play with the Insights. Alter the calendar, see what different drop menus do, and learn more about your page. It will help you create a better overall experience for yourself and your fans! 



You're Doing Better Than You Think
by Aaron Wade Bailey

I generally try to be as forthcoming and honest as I can, sometimes to the point that my wife will inconspicuously elbow me in the ribs, claw my thigh under the table, or step on my foot during conversations with others. She also has "the look," which is the most painful and scary thing in her entire arsenal. So, that being said, I will begin this article with a piece of personal information that, honestly, is pretty humiliating. And don't worry, my wife is sitting next to me right now, but she can't see what I'm typing.

In 2015, I had to borrow money to pay our mortgage two months in a row, as jobs came to a complete halt for what seemed an eternity. Last summer, I only had to borrow one month, which was an improvement, but it's still terribly embarrassing having to ask my parents to help keep a roof over my family's head, especially after being (mostly) independent since I was nineteen. Thankfully, I am fortunate enough to have great parents, and they're great not just because they cut me checks...but that certainly helps.

Why am I telling you this? It's because, in this day and age of social media, I feel we are compelled to compete with everyone else's "Greatest Hits Albums." I will explain my metaphor, but first, know that I have nothing against social media. I think it's a fantastic tool--especially for artists--and although I am not the best at it, I'm trying to get better (I plan on paying special attention to Regina Garay's future articles, and so should you).

But back to my "Greatest Hits" comment. What I am trying to say is that most people don't go on Facebook to upload pictures of their failed projects or post detailed accounts of their bad decisions. I know I don't. Instead, we post the positive, and show the best of what we are. It's why I rarely post anything.

If a project doesn't photograph well, or if it just isn't impressive enough, I don't share it. And, even when I am pleased with something, I spend WAY too much time thinking about and crafting what I say, and all of it because I am trying to project a certain image. My reality is way different, and I need to remember that everyone else's is, too.

During that summer in 2015, I wrote and illustrated a children's book while I was out of work, and upon its competion, I posted several illustrations, a synopsis, and a link to a self-publishing website where people could buy it.

But do you think I included my terrible initial sketches, or any of the hundreds of ill-conceived drafts I went through? Did I let people in on the fact that I wrote the book because I had nothing else to do, and that it was produced between panic attacks and musings about whether or not I had made a horrible mistake committing to art full time? You think I mentioned that, for the past four years, I have mentally gone back and forth between unwavering confidence in my path and complete and utter doubt, wondering if I should go crawling back with my tail between my legs to my previous career in theme park entertainment?

I like to think I'm honest, but I'm not THAT honest.

So why am I owning up to it now? 

Because we all, myself included, need to remember that we're all doing better than we think.  We need a reminder that, when looking at social media posts, or even talking to others face-to-face, you're generally only getting other people's "Greatest Hits Albums," and you can't compete with that.

Now, before I sign off, I'd like to share a bit of positivity, because I feel like this article has been so heavy...

1) My mother (and business partner) and I are currently booked through until late August, and I don't think I will have to borrow money to pay the mortgage this summer.  I've actually even saved a little.

2) I got to go to my three neices' classrooms and read the children's book to them and their classmates, which is appropriate, since they're the reason I wrote it in the first place.

3) I've been asked to be a part of a really cool E-magazine for an organization of people who share the same passion I do.

Are things perfect? No. They never will be. But we artists keep grinding, becuase we love what we do. And I keep telling myself one thing, as you should, too.

You're doing better than you think. 





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