Last year I wrote about my experiences in the first 6 months blogging about coloring books.
Well it’s 12 months in and time for an update.
Where has the time gone?
It’s hard to believe, for me, that it’s been a year since I first started my little coloring blog. It’s even harder for me to believe that I still haven’t ticked items off my “To Do” list that I wrote in February of 2016! I had such great plans then! When I was on holidays, before I started my blog, I had a little book that I wrote all my big ideas in. That little book is still packed with ideas – none of which I’ve done!
When I wrote about being a coloring book reviewer I said that there were three things that I wanted to focus on in the next 6 months so I’m going to update you now on each of those things:
I ended up being sick from end of March to December 2016. I have to say that it was the worse experience that I’ve had in my life. It was scary, frustrating and debilitating. I hope that I never go through anything like this again because, quite frankly, I don’t think I could handle it.
I feel like my body has been through the wringer in the last year plus it has been burdened with a lot of medications as well that can often leave side effects. Feeling the need to build up my immune system I started a regime of vitamins twice a day. I then added a wheatgrass shot in the afternoon, several cups of green tea, peppermint tea and a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water each morning.
Each day, provided it is not heatwave weather or pouring rain, I take my little dog for a walk for a couple of kilometers and it’s something we both enjoy. Sometimes, we stop at the coffee shop. I have a naughty frothy coffee and he gets lots of attention from people passing. If I didn’t get out to do this, I am likely to sit glued to a computer or some sort of device all day.
In a couple of weeks time I am also starting some yoga classes a couple of times a week. My respiratory system has really had a beating since April which ended in December being hooked up to oxygen. I have been told by a few people that yoga can really help strengthen your lungs and respiratory system and that’s what I want to do before Winter comes knocking.
My intentions are always good to set aside some time to color each week. My “me” time. I started out well, taking the Friday afternoon off as my “me time” and either following a tutorial or tuning in to a Kit and Clowder class.
That lasted two weeks.
What can I say, I’m terrible at relaxing. I feel awful when I see all this other work that needs to be done and things on my list and prioritise that first over my “me” time.
I’m going to try and make Friday my “me” time and take the afternoon off. I’m really going to try and make this a regular thing where I don’t feel guilty and just color in to please me.
Usually, when hubby falls asleep of a night on the couch I grab a coloring book and just color on the couch. It’s not comfortable, and using the side of the couch as a desk is not the best way to color in. Although I’m coloring, I’m not pleased with my efforts as it is just really solid color without any technique. It’s a start though 🙂
Towards the end of last year, I had some work problems – no work, reapply for a job, unsuccessful application, reapply again, successful and then due to government changes ……..no work. Working somewhere for 13 years then no longer having work was quite stressful. Even though I am technically still employed, there’s no work for me or anyone else in our department and no income. During this time, I found that I was drawn to coloring mandalas and would spend about 15 minutes each morning before tackling the work drama with a mandala. I cannot say enough how soothing coloring mandalas was. I’ve become a real fan of this form of coloring book for coloring in quiet reflection and will add this to my routine for just general calmness.
One of the things that I did want to do was improve my productivity, so that I had more time in the day to focus on projects and tick items off my “to do” list. To increase my productivity I am using a software program to time myself. I allocate a set period of time to a task, then I have to race to beat the clock to finish. For some people this may be a version of hell but I’m from a time billing background and I’m trained like Pavlov’s dog to work like this.
The other thing that I am doing more of is batching my tasks. I’ve always done this to some extent, but I am just taking it a step further. Batching is the process of doing all like tasks at once. So I do all filming on one day. Usually that is a Sunday so that hubby can mind the fur balls. They do tend to yap a lot when mummy is working otherwise (means more editing for mummy). I do all my editing at once, one video after another and then I batch upload. The last few weeks I haven’t been able to do this due to the heatwave or storms in Sydney. The heat meant that I could not have the fan on in my office as it distorts the audio. Without it, I’m just a sweaty mess in this weather. The storms meant pouring rain on a tin roof that reverberates on the audio as well – there’s only so much I can do in editing!
I also do all my social media interactions and sending and replying to emails etc in batches as well. Otherwise, when I am on social media intermittently I tend to let time slip by me. I work from screen to screen so I’ll have Twitter, You Tube and Facebook open and just jump between the screens and have Instagram on my ipad. This means that I can work through all the social media sites in a shorter amount of time.
In the next few weeks I am hoping to batch even more tasks like do all my writing at once, take all my photos at once and do all my silent flips for Instagram at once as well. I am sure that there are other things that I can batch task as well once I think more about it.
I’ve just spent some time setting up a FAQ page to also help with my productivity. As I seem to be getting more and more messages, emails, DM’s many of them are the same. I’ve compiled the most often asked questions into the FAQ and will add to it from time to time. The idea is that it will help with my productivity as I still have this giant “to do” list and an income to earn.
How’s the backlog?
I had to have a quiet chuckle the other day when a publisher emailed me and asked how my backlog was going. As I said, I’ve pretty well waved the white flag on trying to catch up. What I am continuing to do is add a coloring book or two each week that is older and progress that way. We all come to coloring at different times so many books may not have been seen by all colorists.
I am shocked that I still have books that I bought in April 2016 that I haven’t reviewed! Once you get behind and when you have already ordered or bought books, it just snowballs. I’m in danger of drowning under a sea of books!
The running costs have remained the same as I set out previously in my first post. However, I have had to buy an extra 4TB hard drive.
Some of you may remember a month or so ago on Facebook when I stupidly killed my new computer 🙁 I am a massive Apple fan (after using PCs for years) and I was so pleased in October when I finally upgraded my old Apple computer to a new model (she’s so pretty). All was going well until one night at 2.00 a.m. I stupidly deleted an essential part of the system.
My computer backs up to a Time Machine but 6 attempts to restore all failed for me. That’s when I called on the Apple Support Team. I have never had to use Apple Support in the 10 years I’ve been an Apple ra ra girl, but this time I was so frustrated that I booked a time with Apple. I had put it off because, quite frankly I’m pretty techie to start with and I hate waiting when I could give it a whirl and find a solution.
After three tiring days of trying (once all night) I just couldn’t get it to budge. I have to say that Apple Support have made me even more of a fan girl if that is at all possible. They spent 3 1/2 hours on the phone with me including remote access until we got the system back up to where it was.
I did lose a little bit of data including things like my browser bookmarks and passwords. As I have been working online for over 10 years there was quite a lot there that I didn’t want to lose. Luckily, I had kept my old computer in storage so after a few days of failing to restore these items I was able to back up from my old computer and restore. Yay! The whole drama did cost me about 2 weeks in productivity though and there were a few things that were lost but not that important 🙁
Some of the books that I review I get paid a commission of about 20c if someone buys through my link. This is called an affiliate commission and does not affect the sale price of the book. Unfortunately, most of the books that I review are from overseas where there is no affiliate program, or Amazon Japan where I am not a member of their affiliate program (I have been rejected three times 🙁 )
Luckily though enough commissions came in during the Christmas season to pay for the 4Tb hard drive and to pay for the monthly giveaways that I offer each month. I was so incredibly grateful for that as it meant that the blog is becoming a little more self supporting. I am still hopeful that one day the commissions will support the purchase of coloring books for review, fingers crossed.
I spent about a month in total over the last few months going through this blog, post by post from February to September adding in all the affiliate links and buy links for each book and doing the same at You Tube. This was a tedious task that had to be done. As I usually try and find a number of options for people to purchase the book it took a lot longer than I had anticipated.
Where I’m at
At the moment I have uploaded 415 videos to You Tube since starting last February. So even though I have been sick for most of that time, in the days that I felt slightly more human, I worked.
As I never wanted to be overwhelmed I started the You Tube Channel first, the blog a month or so later, then a Pinterest account, a Twitter account and months and months later a Facebook page and finally an Instagram account. I’m still working on building those platforms up and trying to have a schedule that works for me.
The Next 6 months
In the next 6 months I really want to do a lot more and I hope to tackle that giant “to do” list from February 2016. Here are my main goals:
This is ongoing. I am continuing with my healthy eating regime and exercise program with the addition of yoga.
As well as implementing more batching and timing I am also doing more pre- planning of content and scheduling. My current plan for the next 12 months is divided into 30 day slots where I am hopeful of knocking off some of those old tasks each 30 days.
I am not starting my plan until March as January and February were spent with bad weather and computer problems, which already put me behind.
Today is Friday. This afternoon I am going back to the beginning with coloring and studying and practicing the basics. Hopefully this weekly afternoon time will be a regular thing.
For the first time in my life I do not have an external employer. I had thought of returning to the corporate world that I spent half my working career in, as I have never completely left it. However, the reasons I left in the first place are still there. When you work in that environment there is nothing but work and it can be soul destroying.
In addition, hubby and I are planning to move to another State of Australia mid year so it would really only be a few months work. Before we move though, I have to project manage some house renovations, find a property in another State to live in and organise any renovations on that as well. We decided that that would probably keep me out of mischief for a few months 🙂 Want to know a secret? I love power tools! Sssh don’t tell anyone but I also love renovating houses and knocking a few walls down myself. Ever since I was 15 all I ever wanted to do was renovate houses and be a writer. Before my father died, he said one of his biggest regrets was never buying a house for me to renovate when I was still in high school. As I don’t want to have the same regrets, it’s super important that I check off this task on my list.
In addition to the house renovations and moving I’m also starting up a little ecommerce store. This was one of the things that I wanted to do last year so hopefully I can get these things off the ground this year. I have spent about 10 years in online marketing while working, often two jobs, as well. In the past I’ve had my own courses, written books and sold products and services online.
A couple of years ago I had so much employed work oddly enough teaching and consulting with others how to do what I was doing, that I let my own online business slide and eventually abandoned it. It seems an odd turn of events 🙂 So back to online ecommerce I go. This time I am doing things completely different from what I have done in the past as I don’t feel the passion for that area anymore. As I have been teaching rather than doing for a couple of years it will be a bit of a learning curve to get back in. The types of products that I want to sell also require a bit of a learning curve. I love a challenge. As usual, I could have gone with what I know and can do with my eyes closed, but I always choose what makes me happy above what is easy to do.
Study & Learning
In order to create my new ecommerce store there are some skills that I am missing that I am going to have to learn. I’ll need to spend quite a bit of time learning some new things which is fantastic. I love to learn new things and never stop learning, so this is something that I’m really looking forward to.
Some readers may remember that I have a massive stash of art work that I had hired artists to create for me and some that I had created myself when I wanted to create coloring books initially. The stash survived the computer disaster 🙂 Rather than create coloring books I’ve decided to use this art for journals, prints and other products and I’m looking forward to exploring some more hands on creativity.
Some readers may know that I have worked for 10 years teaching ecommerce, web design, online marketing and helping businesses with their ecommerce and digital media solutions. I thought that I would add some of that knowledge to this blog for others looking to enter the coloring book market. It won’t be a how to on creating your coloring book but the other things that people can sometimes overlook. Provided I have the time, with all the other things happening, I’ll be adding a little section in here for that as well.
I’ll update in 6 months.
Happy coloring x