Friday, December 30, 2011

For a New Year: 2012

I'm not much into "resolutions". One can resolve many things but without the power and resources to accomplish those goals, it's pretty much pointless. Comes to mind that familiar prayer, co-opted by twelve-steppers but actually crucial for any being with a soul to carry in their heart and mind as they wear through the days: God give me the SERENITY to accept those things I cannot change, The COURAGE to change that which I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.

In the end it usually comes down to that Higher Power, whatever you believe him/her/it/them to be. If you don't believe there is something outside of yourself, whether you believe in God, little green men from Mars, a creeping red fungus or a six foot tall invisible rabbit you call Harvey, then you are pretty much lost before you begin. But I digress.

My WILL, wishes, desire for the coming year, my ask of my Guardian spirits whatever they may be, would be first for that Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom cited above. That much seems pretty comprehensive to me, a good starting point for any journey. Beyond that, give me agility and foreknowlege to sidestep and avoid the bullies in the world, because it has been my life experience that in most cases, the bullies generally win, and they are everywhere.  When necessary give me the strength and resources and many allies to stand against the bullies and win. Give me the inner strength to resist the efforts of negative and abusive people to pull me down into that morass of depression they would drag me into for their own entertainmant. Give me a clear head and a sound body. Give me imagination and creativity (imagination being the thought and creativity being the action) and the wherewithall to see my creative longings manifest. Allow me to stay employed and to be able to keep my little house I have waited so long to have. Guardians, help me to remember kindness, even in the face of cruelty, and to think before I speak or act so that I don't add to the misery in the world.

I probably wish for a lot more but that covers most of it. I of course wish for my George to become healthy and stronger emotionally, for him to find something to be passionate about and kick his depression (this is the longest one I've seen him in, since May without break), to maybe get a little part time job where he can interact with people (he likes people) and be out of the house. I wish I could find a way to attain ownership of the tiny strip of land next to my home so that I can protect this little wetland from potential developers who would kill it -- a big wish, probably too big, but I can wish it anyway.
Stranger things have happened when you turn them over to that Higher Power. OTOH I'm still waiting for World Peace ... the cure for cancer, AIDS, famine ...
Containing my list of asks of my Guardian spirits to my own immediate corner of the world for now. Tomorrow the Omniverse.

Blessed Be.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One step closer

I sign the final papers for my new home tomorrow, and then if all goes well I can take possession Tuesday. THEN I have a ton of work to make the place habitable before I can move in, and a timeline of just 8 weeks.

First all the electric heaters need to be replaced as they are over 20 years old and 2 are known to be bad. Then the adoreable imported (from Ireland) kitchen wood stove needs to be completely cleaned out along with the chimney it is attached to, as it has never (and I mean never) been cleaned -- there is a dead baby duck in the cleanout and ash just came POURING out of the cleanout door when I opened it, plus the stove itself is so crudded with creosote I only hope the chimney guy can actually make it servicable again.

After that, all the totally unfinished soft fir wood floors need to be sanded and finished, and two of the three bathrooms need work just to make them useable. Of course the whole place needs all walls washed and painted before I can move anything in. And apparently there is a problem with the septic pump -- we had septic back in Florida and we didn't have "pumps" in those, but apparently up here there is a pump between the tank and the drainfield, and this one is possibly broken.

Oh and the driveway looks like a mine field AFTER all the mines were blown, so I need to have that re-gravelled before I can do much as any car or truck that has any weight to it will just get stuck and never make it to the house (as well as block the way for the next victim). Then a bunch of other things I can put on a longer timeline like the leaky roof and the exterior painting, the broken window in my garage loft, doors that need replaced, a shed that needs demo'd and a huge pile of debris I need to pay to have hauled off, and the list goes on and on.

But it's all good ... I hope.

And it all starts tomorrow with the signing.

I haven't forgotten all my Bonanza customers, I am just way overwhelmed right now.
I shall return!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

WOO HOO Got it!

I THINK!

Day before Christmas I was looking through the MLS listings as I have been for months, and had set my filter to show homes that had been reduced in the previous 7 days. Suddenly out of the blue this huge property I had bookmarked and filed away as impossible because it was soooo beyond my means came up as like $80,000 reduction, not only within my means but COMFORTABLY so. I dropped everything and drove out to see it, in the freezing rain. Walked around, looked really interesting, called my agent and let her know I wanted to see it after Christmas. Meanwhile, on Christmas DAY I took my significant other, who after all would also be living there, to see it and we discovered even more to love about the place. Did the official look-see a couple days later then brought S.O. in with me for a second interior look next day and made offer, which included a seller assist for virtually all the closing costs except my down payment. And they accepted it!

It's a bank-owned home, so they just want to unload it and cut their losses.  We are in the 'accepted pending inspection' phase right now, waiting on the seller to "de-winterize" the place (ie turn the water on) so we can do the formal inspection, and then I am sure a few other kinds of things before we can actually close on the thing.

It's a fixer, no question, but so far my personal inspection shows mostly cosmetic stuff. Still I will be quite busy doing these reno projects for several weeks after I close so I have put my Bonanza products on RESERVE for the time being (didn't want to put the whole place on vacation because I want to still be available for b-mails and to build websites in the evenings if I get time, I have made people wait a long time already).

One pic to give an idea. Will post before/afters of the reno in a few months:


Now THAT is a real Conjurewoman's Cottage!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Long Winding Road HOME

I am still waiting to hear the seller's response to my offer on the house. I think they may be considering it, I can only hope. They asked for more financial information so I think maybe that's a good sign.

And as I was preparing all this documentation, and trying to think of how I can explain why I am not just blown out of my chair by the fact I have nearly $30,000 in credit card debt, I was reminded just how far I have really come in the past 5 1/2 years. Actually more like the past 22 years ...

In 1989 I accepted responsibility for my then 2 1/2 year old disabled godchild, Ashley, and I spent the next 16 years peddling as fast as I could to keep up. She has a type of Muscular Dystrophy called Mitochondrial Myopathy (sometimes called Mitochondrial Cytopathy).  At the time the doctors insisted she would not live to see her third birthday. I proved them wrong.  In the 16 years I had her I spent not one but TWO substantial inheritances on her special needs, and slowly accrued nearly $100,000 in credit card debt (total of something like 13 cards going at once) and had zero in savings. I always made my minimum payments, and my credit score was actually quite good at 720, considering I had such massive debt. When she moved out in 2005, I was finally free, and started the long arduous road home.

With so many credit cards, I had to make a plan, and I had to stick to it. We had never lived extravagantly: most of our clothes were from thrift stores and we ate a lot of macaroni, even re-used coffee grounds (did you know you can usually make a second pot from them? might have to drip it through twice the second time but it works), I am a master at recycling anything and everything, but now I had a more specific goal.  My ONE extravagance I allowed myself for the first part of this transition period was to move into a very nice house with a higher rent than I'd have been comfortable with usually. I had been doing without so many things, I decided I just wanted to feel a little luxury for a year or two. I molded that in to my financial plan though and it worked out. I started with the cards that had the highest interest rate. Every paycheck (every 2 weeks), I would pay double the minimum monthy required on that one card (and then for the month just the minimum on all the others), and when that was paid off, I chopped up the card and called the company to make sure it was cancelled, gone forever. Then I'd start on the one with the next highest interest. One after the other I disposed of them, and each month I had more money to devote to the whole project than the month before (because I had fewer cards to be paying on). After the first year even though I was still paying off cards I started putting some serious money into a savings account as well, "pay yourself first" as my mother taught me. Near the end, I put the small remaining balances of two cards onto my two lowest interest cards at 8.9%, and have been more slowly paying these off the past year. I went to three days a week at my job -- making almost as much after all with a little "Me Time".

I know to the financial experts, carrying almost $30k in revolving debt is a lot, but considering where I started, I am truly amazed that I have ONLY that much. And with the low interest, my monthly payments are very managable. Assuming I get the house, I'll get these 2 cards paid off over the next 2 years and then start whittling away at the mortgage, a little at a time like I did the cards.

I am living proof that you CAN do anything you truly put your mind to. You have to really want it, and you have to be willing to sacrifice and work at it, and expect NOT to see instant results but to keep plugging away at it, a penny at a time if that's what it takes. Make a plan, make it one you can live with (build in a few luxuries but stick to just those in the plan) and stick to it.

I don't know if I will get the house, I really hope so. If I don't, I'll go back to the plan and continue saving, go back to 4-5 days a week at my job in the coming year and get rid of the balances on those 2 cards to make myself more desireable to lenders next time, and the next house I WILL get. You don't give up, you find a way and you make it work.
I am going to make this work!

Monday, September 20, 2010

TOOT your own horn! No one ELSE will!!

To be successful you MUST backlink, no exception no excuses. It is just how it works.
Back-Linking is like:

OK say you are having a garage sale. You have options.

1) Put up your garage door, pull out all your stuff, display it nicely, put labels and price tags on everything, and sit there in your driveway and wait.
This is what most sellers here do, and expect to get sales. No advertising, no signs, nothing. Somehow customers are supposed to magically "know" they are here and what they have to sell, and be able to find them.

2) Put up your garage door and all the rest in option #1, and then put big signs in your driveway that say "Thanks for stopping by now go on over to Joe's Store over there and buy stuff from him!"
Somehow that is what one fellow here (who wants for some obscure reason to put outbound links to unnamed "affiliates" in their listings) would do if he could. Still no advertising to get people INTO their booth but they insist they cannot get sales because they cannot send customers AWAY to other places. I cannot even see how such a scheme helps the poor affiliate since they still do nothing to get people IN to the booth to even see that affiliates link either. What the hey you say? Me too.


option 3) Put up your garage door, put out your stuff displayed nicely with nice descriptions and prices on everything, and the night before go around to EVERY street corner in the area and POST colorful SIGNS with giant lettering and your address and arrows pointing the way that say "Garage sale here. Vintage clothing" (or whatever you are selling) AND don't stop at that, but make sure you post ads in craigslist and local free newspapers and even any local bulletin boards that will allow it and whereever you can POST PICTURES and descriptions of what you have for sale at your garage sale and how to get there.

THIS (#3) is the equivalent of posting YOUR LINKS in blogs and Facebook and Myspace and Twitter and putting widgets and RSS feeds out there for your booth, everywhere you can, pointing the way so people out there on the internet highway know you are there and that you have stuff to sell and they can actually find you. Every one of these is a sign pointing the way. Putting up ONE facebook or twitter note, or one posting on craigslist, or one anything, is like having one little yellow post-it note on one street corner. Other people are also having garage sales the same day as you, and the more ambitious ones have color coded signs and many many of them, say one seller has all green signs, buyers can follow them easily because they just follow the green signs, or another one has orange or yellow or blue: they WANT buyers to find them easily. And the more there are, the easier it is and the more likely buyers will indeed find them. Shoppers have long ago forgotten about your one little post-it note if they saw it at all.
These ambitious sellers will close their garage doors tonite with nice clean empty garages, while you spend the evening dragging everything back into your crowded garage wondering why.

And while on the subject, constantly saying "I don’t know what RSS is" or "I’m not techie" etc is irrelevant: I wasn't either but I learned because I HAD to. You are trying to sell on the internet, YOU chose the venue of online vs real world, if you are at all interested in actually selling, you’ll make a point of LEARNING what these things are and how to use them because this is where you are. It is the job, YOU chose it.

SO
BACKLINKS people.

or as we used to say in church: don’t hide your light under a bushel basket! LET IT SHINE!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thermodynamics, TANSTAAFL and Online Business

Selling online is a daily job, there is really NO place that you can just "list and forget" without putting in daily work which includes tweeting and blogging and facebooking and getting your BACKLINKS out there on the web to be spidered by search engines so that people searching for what you have to sell can FIND you. It's just how it works. I have also noticed that literally EVERY time I "update my Bonanzle Booth", even if I have not changed a darn thing, I get a sale, so I try to remember to do that at least weekly. It refreshes the feed and makes everything look "new" on the web.

Lots of people on Bonanzle do offer services, both free and for fee, to get your stuff noticed, indexed, spidered, etc. I am currently on hiatus (after I finish these last three orders) until November 1st, but I build Bonzmerchant websites which creates a search engine searchable backlink for EVERY ITEM in your booth (not javascript which search engines can NOT see) doubling your exposure and increasing your "ranking" on the web so your items will show up higher in a web search. Add a blog to that and any item you blog about (and link to) gets triple exposure and if I feed that blog into a bonzmerchant website the same way I do the inventory it then QUADRUPLES the backlinks to those items. Add (tweet) those same items to twitter and that's 5 backlinks to each item and then those tweets added to a bonzmerchant page that is SIX backlinks to those items you have blogged and tweeted and your ranking goes up and up. Greendevil Designs will put up a single feed page (not sure how many items) for you for free. That's still more essential backlinks. Link on a public facebook FAN page and there's even more. THAT is how you get customers.

Everybody and his brother, sister, aunt, cousin and childhood sweetheart is out there on the web competing with you, many selling the exact same or similar items. You have to do the work to make YOUR listings stand out in this crowd.

Bottom line is you get out of it what you put into it, doesn't matter whether you list here or Etsy or whatever, the VENUE isn't the problem. It's like those three laws of thermodynamics (you can transfer energy but you cannot just create it from nothing), or as Robert Heinlein stated "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" often referred to as TANSTAAFL.

Friday, June 11, 2010

BonzMerchant.com off and running!!

I know I have not been keeping up with my blogs as I should, just been so darned busy. I have finally launched my latest enterprise Bonzmerchant.com and this whole month has been full of details and lots of work. If you haven't checked out Bonzmerchant yet, drop on over and see what I can do for you!

So, what's new:
I have developed and redeveloped the FAQ section and even added a second page for all your questions. I've done my best to anticipate and answer your questions about Bonzmerchant, how it works, WHY it works, what it can do for you, etc. Please read through the FAQ and then if you still have questions, feel free to email me at conjurewoman@aol.com
I have made the TOS printable. I have very few rules, and in fact they mostly center around public decency and intellectual property rights. Most of my TOS mirror the web host's TOS that I myself have to abide by, so it's nothing unusual.
I have set up a scheduling page or the "Queue" so I can plan my work and coordinate with my day job as well as my personal life. Start dates are approximate: Life happens.

I am a little behind but catching up. Had to deal with some technical issues: my own fault cos it didn’t occur to me to ask one client where her graphics came from and I know better! Still that artist did NOT have to be so nasty about it! Now I make a point to ask no matter what. As it turned out, the complainant didn't even OWN the artwork in question, it is owned by OutlawbyDesign, from whom I obtained written permission to use the little fairy in question. A nicer person you will never meet! And I will be working with her again to be sure. I did NOT use this client's banner to begin with because it was totally unuseable, very distorted and full of "noise", what we call "dithering", so I had to go to the original fairy image to create a new banner from scratch. It did come out rather nice if I do say so.

I absolutely respect other artists’ copyrights and if I EVER make a website with something that belongs to YOU and neglect to give you credit, PLEASE contact me directly and I will fix it immediately. My personal integrity is very important to me and I want you to always know that I take your intellectual property rights very seriously. Be NICE about it: if I did it, it was not intentional.

I would never intentionally use another artist’s work without permission. I do get “public domain” stuff from the internet and I have paid memberships in several Royalty Free graphics sites including Animation Factory and Outlaw by Design, among others. AND I have my own extensive library of graphics which I have license to use. I usually significantly alter the graphics I use anyway to make them match whatever I am doing so often what you see is literally my own creation in whole or in part.

If I make a website for you, PLEASE tell me before I start who made your banner or avatar or anything else you might like me to use so I can give proper respect to the creator of those items. I will ask you, but if I forget, tell me anyway.

If you want a website, please email me and I'll put you in the queue.
While you are waiting I need specific things from you that you can be gathering to make the job go quicker. I need first to know who made your graphics, and I need to know what graphics and colors you prefer. If you want something different than what is in your booth, do your best to describe it for me. If you have seen something you like on the web, send me the URL and I can use it for inspiration (again I will NOT take another arist's work but I can often see HOW they made a thing and can usually do something similar for you in my own style).
You do NOT have to know or DO anything technical, that's MY job. All you need to do is maintain your Bonanzle Booth, I do the rest.

I will need 30-40 GOOD key words to use for your metatags -- again you don't have to know what metatags are, I do, but YOU need to provide them to me because YOU are the expert on what products you sell. I also need to know 5-6 categories of items for your page feeds: Your "product pages" come from your Bonanzle RSS content. If you don't understand what that is, it's OK, I do. However I need 5-6 categories that correspond either to Bonanzles built-in categories OR to your Custom Booth categories because that is the only way the RSS content can be gathered into your pages. I cannot combine categories on a page and you really do not want more than 5-6 categories (most I have done is 10) because it gets too deep for the average customer to peruse. The objective is SIMPLICITY so keep it simple. 5-6 categories of 20-100 items each is best.