I’ve always been the type of person that creates endless business ideas in his head. Almost every day I get a spark of inspiration and I start jotting down my thoughts in a notebook, or on my phone. A lot of these ideas have stayed as just thoughts, but some of them have come to fruition in the past. Each of them had their ups and downs, but most importantly they all came with some valuable lessons that I have become useful in the present day. I hope you find these helpful.
Jolly Jonny – the magic of drop shipping
I started jollyjonny.com in a bid to learn about setting up an e-commerce store from scratch. On this website, I sell silly mugs, and I intend to eventually come back to it and expand the range to t-shirts, phone cases, greeting cards and all that.
The problem I had when putting this side hustle together wasn’t anything to do with the technicalities of building a working online store (that was one of the easy parts), the problem was that I didn’t have the space to store my products. When you’re selling physical goods it’s better to order a huge bulk from your supplier, this is because it gets cheaper the more you buy. I searched online for sublimation printing equipment, and on Alibaba for blank mugs that I could print my designs on. After a lot of research, it all seemed counter-productive, and I didn’t want the headache of juggling shipping and storing boxes of white mugs that could potentially waste away.
The solution for all this was what is called “drop shipping”. This is a type of service used by many online stores that may not have the storage space but want to offer great products online. A typical drop shipping service act as the middle person between the store and customer. They typically deal with the supplies, printing, and delivery of the products. What makes it so great is that the deliveries are white labelled, meaning that there is no branding, so you’re able to put your own logos and vouchers on the delivery as well if you wish to do so.
Drop shipping has saved me a lot of time because I don’t need to worry about anything but the creative side, and for those of us who have a 9 to 5, this is quickly becoming the preferred option. A lot of people make a living off this when it’s done right, so it’s worth looking into.
Freelancing – know your worth
I freelanced after my first job as the social media manager/designer for a small digital agency. I figured that while I was single without kids and had no credit cards to pay off, it was the right time to make all the mistakes I was going to make, and boy, did I make plenty of mistakes! It was all worth it though, and if I ever decide to freelance again I know what and what not to do.
For someone that didn’t have many clients waiting in the pipeline, I was still super busy, volunteering at my church office, going to networking meetings and training from the Prince’s Trust, and meeting people in the hopes that they would turn out to be the paying clients I was hoping for.
I really didn’t know my worth at this time, and I struggled to turn an initial meeting into a job that pays. When I did manage to get some paying work, I was undercutting my prices so much in the hopes of getting the job in the first place. I didn’t have the confidence needed in order to blow my own trumpet, and this is something that I only learned to do much later.
Lesson learned? You’re awesome at what you do, don’t sell yourself cheap.
Skank like David – focus on your strengths and be consistent
During the time that SBTV gained popularity as a reliable producer of content, I wanted to jump on the trend and create a similar website for young Christians to browse. I bought myself a cheap camcorder, and Skank like David was born. The aim was to take advantage of the growth of Christian grime music in churches by recording singers, rappers, poets, dancers etc. There was a Youtube channel, and I built the website by customising one of the basic themes on WordPress. I did a few videos, printed shirts, and even got a couple of content writers for to write blogs for it. Looking back on it, it was a pretty good initiative, and if I kept up with it maybe it would have become a reliable place to find reliable content.
The problem I found was that creating all that content consistently was a challenge. I hadn’t realised that each channel needed so much time, and with the demands of work and university I just couldn’t keep up. If I was to do it differently today, I would focus solely on video content and rebrand as more of a media company. Things like Snapchat and Instagram would have come in handy back then, but anyway, I learned my lesson. The moral of the story? Focus on one thing that you can do by yourself and produce the content consistently.
Are there any lessons you’ve learned in your career? Let me know in the comments.