Expect the Unexpected…There’s Always Changes Ahead
It’s been a long two weeks you guys! I’m sorry I haven’t posted, but I’ve been sick. Really sick. I even went to the doctor, which is something I never do!
Why? Because I’m an idiot and I hate doctors and I hate being sick and I’m always sure they are going to find something serious wrong with me.
After eating dinner on the 2nd, I suddenly had massive pain in my stomach. Because I had just eaten dinner, I chalked it up to “something I ate” and curled up in a little ball and went to sleep instead of heading to the ER like a normal person.
When I woke up the next day, I still had quite a bit of pain, but it wasn’t as severe as the night before, so I relaxed for the day and ate Jell-o and yogurt…thinking it would be gone the next day. But, after a week, it continued to get worse and by the time the following Monday came around, I could barely eat anything and all I wanted to do was sleep. So, I figured it was time to go to the Dr.
Lucky for me (read that with sarcasm), the doctor decided I should have some blood drawn and a CT scan…not fun! Of course, at this point, I’m sure there is something serious wrong with me and I’m definitely dying tomorrow.
I’ve not had a CT scan since I was a young teen and I was truly scared to death. But, I’m happy to say that all my blood work and the CT scan came back perfectly and they found nothing.
Awesome that I’m not sick and I don’t have anything seriously wrong with me…
But what could possibly cause such pain?
The doctor, has 2 theories…theory 1 is that I had a kidney infection and it had mostly passed by the time I went to the office. Theory 2 is that I had a kidney stone that also had already passed by the time I went to see her.
So, yeah…no real answer. Considering I’ve never had a kidney issue in my life, I’m not sure if that’s the case, but nonetheless, that’s all she could come up with for an answer.
Regardless, I’m all better now and I hope to God that never happens it again!
However, being sick for 2 weeks gave me a lot of time to think. And one of the things I spent time thinking about was this blog and my shop.
I work really hard on this little business of mine and sometimes, I feel like it’s taken over my life. Between trying to write a daily post here, renewing, relisting, rewriting, rephotographing and of course, filling and shipping orders in the shop.
I’m overwhelmed. Maybe that’s why I got sick? Maybe I’m trying too hard.
You know the old adage, “work smarter not harder”? Yeah, I’m not real good at following that one.
For some reason, my brain seems to be hard-wired to think that the more time I put into something the better the outcome. But, I know that’s not true.
There are times when I’ll draw something or design something in seconds and it turns out to be a best-seller. Other times I’ll spend hours on a design that will never sell.
The same goes for here on the blog. Sometimes I’ll spend hours writing a post that you’ll never read and other times, I’ll whip out an article in 10 minutes and you guys eat it up.
It’s the nature of the beast, I guess.
Ebb and Flow
It’s taken me a long time to build this business and for years, I’ve worked hours and hours a day. It never occurred to me not to work like that.
But, being sick gave me a whole lotta extra time to take a step back and really evaluate what I want for the future of VLHamlinDesign and the blog.
So, I spent some time asking myself questions like…
Where do you want the business to be in 1 year? 2 years? 5 years?
What do you enjoy designing most? What do you enjoy designing least?
Can you let go of some of the control? Is there anything you can outsource?
How do you intend to make these things happen? What steps do you have to go through to get to where you want to be?
I surprised myself with some of the answers. But, it gave me some clarity about where I want to go with this little business and there will be big changes ahead.
Because I’ve found that what I’ve been doing…just isn’t what I want…
The Future of VLHamlinDesign and Food Life Design
It sounds insane, but I’ve overbuilt my shop…I’m starting to feel like the freaking Wal-Mart of design and honestly, it’s gotten to be too much for one person.
I currently have over 700 products to choose from and it’s becoming more than I can keep track of on my own.
It’s time to narrow down.
Get rid of some old designs. Even though it breaks my heart to get rid of any of my work…even if it sucks.
Spend more time working with you lovely customers that prefer custom designs, because that’s where my heart is.
But, lately, my hands have been busy with filling and shipping orders, writing random posts that I think you’ll want to read and marketing both.
I love that you guys are giving me so much work, I really do. I’m so grateful for every single order that comes my way.
But, my heart is in the design and working with you to fill your hearts desire. It’s not in filling and shipping orders or marketing posts and products.
Now, don’t get me wrong…as a business owner, I know that the bread and butter of my business is filling and shipping orders and without marketing, there are no orders.
I’m not an idiot.
But, guess what? There’s a way around some of it and I’ve found the loophole.
Up ’til now, I have designed, printed and shipped all of my orders myself. I don’t have any employees, unless you count the puppies (but they’re kinda lazy) and I’ve never used a printing company before.
Honestly, I never thought I would…I have a kinda control issue when it comes to my products.
Each and every one of my designs is like one of my babies and I hate the idea of someone else printing and shipping my babies off to the world without proper care.
However, I’ve decided that it’s time to start outsourcing some of the printing.
It’ll save me so much time, which in turn gives me more time to work with you!
I’ll be working with 2 really awesome companies.
One of those companies has been in business for over 20 years and will soon be printing all of my personalized stationery and invitations. I recently sent an order to them for printing and I’m so impressed with their quality, customer service and shipping times!
The other company will be printing all of my new tote bags and spiral notebooks. They do an amazing job with the notebooks and the quality of the tote bags is super impressive! You could carry rocks in them…if you wanted to…maybe.
I’m sorry I didn’t do this sooner. I could’ve saved myself a whole lotta stress and aggravation, my friends!
As for the blog…
I’m really happy with how the blog has grown this past year. I’ve had double the amount of views as the year before and the newsletter is steadily growing.
However, with the growth, I’ve noticed a mass difference in views in some of my posts.
In the past, I’ve treated this blog as a sort of magazine, writing a variety of lifestyle type articles that don’t always correspond to my business. While I enjoy writing some of those posts, it’s become obvious to me, that you don’t really come here for the fluff and filler.
The random how to articles and tutorials don’t seem to get as much attention as those that directly correspond to me, my life and my business.
I could take that to heart and be all sorts of giggly that you want to learn more about me…but I know that’s not the case. I haven’t exactly been super personable on this blog.
It’s not really me you want to learn about…it’s the steps…the struggle…the joy and the sorrow of running a home based business. Right?
The articles I’ve written this year about how to sell on Etsy and how to start a craft business have been the most popular posts I’ve ever written on here. That tells me you want to learn more about what it’s like to run a home based business and that’s perfect, because that’s the stuff I really want out of this blog.
If I think back to the first time I ever started a blog (back in like 2005), the only goal I really had was to help other stay at home mommy’s make some extra money. I didn’t really have any specific focus or goal in mind and I just blabbed about whatever new idea I found. Obviously, that blog wasn’t very successful.
However, when I started Food Life Design, I wanted to create a space where I could talk about my growing business, share ideas and tips with you and maybe a little bit of food and life stuff, too. I wanted to create an extension of my business, not a whole other business. But, somewhere along the way, I allowed myself to become all scatterbrained again.
Somewhere along the way, I started to listen to all the so-called experts and tried to run my blog like a magazine business instead of what it’s meant to be…a place to chat and share.
So, I’m done with it. I’m not going to write any more fluff and filler. I’m not going to worry about having a super important, super good, super perfect article written everyday.
From here on out, I’ll be running Food Life Design as more of a life and business journal.
I’ll be sharing more about actually running a business, more about me, my steps, my passions, my goals and maybe, if you’re nice and stick around (;) I’ll share some tips, some sneak peeks and some more free printables.
So, what does all this mean to you?
Expect more ranting posts like this one…
Expect to learn more about me and my life…
Look out for more posts about what it’s really like to run an online/home-based business.
Watch for changes to your favorite products from VLHamlinDesign.
Keep an eye out for new products and sales on those that I plan to discontinue! (and don’t forget you lovely readers get 10% off everyday!)
Thank you, dear readers. For listening to my rant, for understanding the changes I need to make to grow my business and myself.
Thank you for always reading…even if my posts sometimes suck.
And thank you for staying on and waiting out the changes with me. I have big dreams and big goals for this little business and blog of mine.
Be sure to signup for my newsletter to keep up on all the changes ahead!
Have a Spectacular Day!
Vanessa Hamlin is the owner and founder of Food Life Design and VLHamlinDesign. With her passion for frugal living and homesteading, Vanessa loves to write about easy recipes, making money, gardening, home remedies and everything else that a good life entails! When she’s not writing for Food Life Design or creating products for VLHamlinDesign, you’ll find Vanessa reading, drawing, gardening, cooking or spending time with her family.