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First blog - WTF do I say?

So, my first blog.

I never thought I would ever become a 'blogger'. In honesty, as this is only my first attempt, I'm not even sure I have the right to call myself a blogger.

But I've worked very hard at trying to build my business and am still in the process of doing so. As such, based on the huge number of SEO experts who claim that  "backlinks created from your own blog generates more traffic to your site", Here I am.

But what do you actually say in these things? Do people really want to hear my personal views on politics, reality TV or what I think I might have for my tea? I doubt it.

So maybe I should just write about the current product range I have available on the site. But wouldn't that be just a little bit boring? And just browsing the site and looking at my latest updates page will give people this information anyway.

So, I've decided to air some of my views on things that are just relevant, or of interest to me, and quick updates on how the business is going in general. So, here we go...

Over the last few years, a friend of mine occasionally asks me, 'How's business'? 'Not too bad' I say.  'Well, as long as you can pay the bills'.

But recently, I've been thinking a lot about this typical exchange we have. His response has now been upgraded to 'Well, as long as you're making a living'.
But I've realised that I don't want to just 'Pay the bills' or 'Make a living'. I actually want to create a business.

It's been a long hard struggle. The same as anybody starting in a new business/profession, there have been hurdles and stumbling blocks. On 2 separate occasions I have had my business practically closed down due to issues regarding copyright and trademarks.

The first occasion was when my eBay account was suspended because of infringing the trade mark 'Keep Calm And Carry On'. I didn't even know it was a trade mark as I believed it was in the public domain. But no. Some <expletive> chancer realised that there was no trade mark on what I essentially think of as a very British motto and, after applying for, and then retracting, his application for the trade mark in the UK, he took his application to the EU and was granted the trade mark for the phrase.

The results of this was that in a single day, from making enough money to 'pay the bills' my income went to zero.
So I rebuilt my business and my whole product range, trying to make it as safe as possible from this type of action again. Unfortunately, this wasn't the case and the Cyber Crime division of my local council's trading standards paid me a visit.

'This advert with a picture of your product on a wall. Is it yours'?
'Yes, it is'.
'Did you actually take the picture of the wall'?'I'm sorry'?
'Did YOU take the picture of the wall'?
'Erm, no. It's just a generic picture of a wall in a house'.
'Doesn't matter. YOU didn't take it and you're in breach of copyright'.
'Has the owner of the photo made a complaint against me'?
'No. But we did receive a call from somebody pointing this out to us'.
'We're not at liberty to divulge their identity'.

Anyway, the net result was that, again, in a single day, my income dropped to zero as I had to close my eBay store and my web-site as I had to re-design all of my listings and adverts with different pictures of walls/cars etc. This was a very long and costly process as I wanted to make sure this wouldn't happen to me again.
I eventually subscribed to a site that allowed you to use their images for a small licence fee. This was with Dollar Photo club which has since finished trading. However, they appear to have sold to Adobe and I know get all of my stock photos and product images from there. Up until now, so far, so good.
In each case, it took me 2-3 years to establish myself as a paying business.

Unfortunately, one of the knock-on effects of this was that because I closed my website for longer than 3 months, my original account, with my web host, was closed and my web site was deleted in it's entirety. If you have set up a web-shop and know all of the hassle you have to go through trying to create listings, shipping rates etc, you know what I mean.

And this is why my new, current web site has such a small amount of products on it. I have hundreds more products to advertise and sell, but due to other (new) parts of my business, I struggle for time. All of my eBay orders keep me occupied Mon-Fri 8am-6pm, where I then go and post all of my items and head up to my unit to start on all of my hydrographics setup.

I normally work there from 7pm till 11-12ish, then go home, answer emails from eBay and the web site (oh, and ETSY) then bed.

Weekends consist of updating eBay listings (they've changed their policies AGAIN) until about 3pm and then up to the unit till 10-11pm ish both Saturday & Sunday. I've been doing this for the last 6 weeks or so and I have to admit I'm getting a bit run down. Haven't had a holiday or weekend break in over 5 years. I did go to Manchester for a day out about 5 or 6 months ago. So there's that.

Q. What is the definition of a farmer?
A. A man out standing in his field.

Just thought I'd throw that in. Anyway, the hydrographics. The last 6 or 7 weeks has been a steep learning curve as I don't come from a bodywork/spraying background. That, plus having to learn all about the 'dipping' process and techniques has meant some very long hours and late finishes.
During this time, I've done a lot, LOT, of research on the internet. Watching videos, reading articles, joining and quizzing forum members and then the actual physical, hands-on dipping. My first efforts were abysmal. So I had to start identifying where I was going wrong, why I was doing it wrong and how to rectify the mistakes. As I progressed, I began to realise that, compared to some of the finished items I could see from other 'dippers', my stuff wasn't too bad. But it still wasn't good enough for me. As such, my latest dips have been really good and of a standard that I would be more than happy to send out to a customer.
I've got people beating down my door asking me to do stuff, but why bother if I wasn't sure of the results and ended giving myself a bad name before I even start?

But anyway, I'm now almost ready to go. It's Friday now (24th June 2016) and I think I'm actually going to try and have a bit of a weekend off. When I say weekend off, I mean I'll be updating eBay listings and the web site on my PC while I watch the MotoGP next to me on the laptop. Gotta take whatever you can get...

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