Where do I start?
It seems to me that there are 2 kinds of people in the world of work; those who work for themselves and those who work for others to get money for themselves. I’ve mostly been one of the latter; working for others to gain something for myself. This kind of working is the norm, I am guessing, for the majority of people. In Spain I did a bit of both.
When I first arrived in Seville, very green and new to the world of teaching, not to mention the world of Spain, with nothing more than a willingness to work and a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate in my sweaty hand I ended up getting 2 jobs I could do at the same time within one week. One was teaching young adults at a central Seville language academy that I wont mention as they deserve no publicity whatsoever. The other was working for an agency that supplied English teachers to big organisations including the armed forces and the Civil Guard. Both jobs were enjoyable, in that teaching in and of itself is enjoyable, if you like that sort of thing, and both paid the bills. What I hated about them, however, was that I knew in both cases I was receiving nothing but crumbs for my efforts in comparison to what the people I was working for were making out of my efforts, purely by connecting teacher with pupil. Naturally, this always rankled and rubbed me the wrong way, I believed I should have benefitted more than I did. But show me a worker who doesn’t want more money and I’ll show you a failed communist system!
Soon enough I got a reputation and people started contacting me for private classes. Normally the students came to my house and after the class, when that money was placed into my hand, directly from the ‘customer’, the feeling was amazing, warm, fuzzy and utterly satisfying. No one else has benefitted from that work I just did with that student. They made no middleman better off and neither did I; that has to be one of the most satisfying elements about working for oneself!
A Brave New World!
So now I’m back in England and have been setting up this website for a year, more or less. The plan was this: get a website up and running, offer English and basic Spanish classes, do a voice showreel to land some lucrative voiceover work, put my photo projects up and sell loads of those-this part would be my bread and butter-and generally eek a living from doing all the above. On paper this all sounds relatively easy and comfortably do-able from home in one’s spare time and yet here I am, a couple of months in and I have sold the grand total of 0 (zero!) photos, been contracted to do 0 (zero!) voiceover jobs, had 0 (yep, ZERO again!) enquiries about teaching and, well, you get the picture…
So, why hasn’t this all taken off as planned? What have I been doing wrong? Well, I am just beginning to see the answer now and it all seems to come down to the fact that if you want to do something online you have to have a very prominent online ‘presence’. You have to talk to people, but not face to face, you have to create a network of like-minded people who can possibly help you, promote your site and get your name out there in the ether. I have just recently realised that the ONLY way to do all this is through having a full understanding of the magic of what is called Social Media, a term that until recently really didn’t mean anything much to me. My understanding of it was, more or less, that it meant being ‘on’ Facebook and Twitter.
My understanding of those two entities was that people went on them and posted usually inane, irrelevant drivel to anyone remotely interested enough to read it. I had a Facebook account once, many years ago, because everyone else had one and I was soon bombarded with emails telling me that so-and-so had ‘written on my wall’ I went outside to look at my wall and saw nothing there. I was told what someone had done the previous night along with supporting photos and comments from others who had been there too… mountains of pointless ‘shared’ information that I had absolutely no interest in whatsoever. And on and on it went until I’d had enough and tried to delete my account as not worthy of my time or intellect. Something that is apparently impossible to do, ever, which is enough to make me keep my distance, forever. I dismissed it as a fad for juveniles to keep in touch and collect the greatest number of ‘friends’ in an endless competition for social popularity. I wanted none of it, none. And as for Twitter, I had its card marked as a kind of Facebook ‘lite’ where one was limited to so many characters per post, thus, hopefully, keeping the drivel to a minimum. I still don’t have a Facebook account and never will.
How painfully wrong I was, at least about Twitter. I signed up to a Twitter account and am beginning to use it fairly regularly as a tool to drum up some interest in my site and particularly in my photos. I now know that Twitter really is an amzing tool that can have people as far away as New York retweeting my tweets and so getting the word round the world, literally, that there is a website selling incredibly amazing (my adjectives ;-)) photos in England called sunsoakedcreative.com !
So, if by any chance you find yourself reading this and you happen to have a similar story, i.e setting up an e-commerce business and have found great success and are keen to share your secrets of success then please share! Equally, if you are at the beginning of the daunting journey of setting up an e-commerce business and just want to share your thoughts and ideas for how to get it all moving in the right direction then leave a comment below and we might possibly even be able to help each other out!