Shutting down blog – decision to give up

Shutting down blog - decision to give up - Dismaland Smile

Shutting down blog – this is something I was thinking about recently. Deleting it, ditching out on blogging entirely. Seriously. I’ve got one million excuses to not write, all of them could be summarised as simple “I don’t have time for it”. Statement sufficient enough to give up.

Not only blogging…

There was one other situation I had a few days ago. I started to work on one new project and it drove me crazy. This project became source of stress and frustration. When I realised that, I stopped. For a few minutes. I stopped to think what was wrong with this whole situation. And I found the answer.

I realised that root cause of problem was my personal approach. Problem was that I put my focus on results and became nervous when they weren’t visible in desired time. Then I thought about one important thing I long forgot:

We should enjoy everything we do

That’s it. We’ve got just one life and it’s up to us to make it either miserable or enjoyable. So if we do something, we should enjoy it. Or don’t bother. Looking from other perspective – if we decide to sacrifice our time and energy for some activity, we need to ensure it’s something what makes positive impact on us. If it could have positive impact on others as well, that’s even better.

I realised that I needed to switch my focus from expected results to activity itself – if I like it, I should do it. No other reason is necessary. Results will come eventually anyway.

So what about shutting down blog?

I think all of us have moments of doubts from time to time. It is then necessary to review our priorities, what we want to do and if we do anything then we need think again about most important part – why did we start? One of my personal reasons to start blogging is included in post: My biggest challenge: communication. There are a few more good reasons, but the key point is if I like it or not.

I do.

As much as I enjoy working my projects. There are quite often obstacles, lack of immediate results, lack of time and a lot of different discouraging moments, but generally this is something I like doing.

I understand now that no other reason is necessary to continue. I’m not giving up. I don’t go with shutting down blog then, I’m not abandoning my projects. At least as long as there’s still some fun doing it 🙂

I hope you all enjoy everything you’re doing and can do everything you enjoy!

 

In the end, I’d like to say big thank you to all who supports me, especially to these, who help me open my eyes to certain facts. A few words is sometimes enough to change someone’s approach. Thanks.

Instagram shopping – how to buy and sell

Instagram Shopping

Introduction of Instagram Shopping

On 20th March 2018 Instagram Shopping feature was rolled out in 8 new countries – United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Brazil. This expansion followed one year trial in United States, so at the time being it can be considered as stable and well tested.

Important: this feature is available only on Instagram app. Web version of this social media doesn’t support it.

Is there value for buyers and sellers?

What changes for potential buyers – in other words, for every single Instagram user? If you follow your favourite brands or try to discover new, independent shops, everything remains the same as it used to be. With one small but significant exception. Option to view shoppable products in posts.

Instagram Shopping - Instagram Product

This function allows to see all products visible on the picture. With their prices, links to detailed product description and option to buy. Example:

Instagram Shopping - Instagram Product with Price Tag

No more scrolling through description hoping to find price, switching to company bio to find link, search for product on company website… With all that hassle I wouldn’t bother unless I was really desperate to get it. But if all that process was simplified, I could give a try. And now it is.

If this new experience gets customers where they want with just two or three taps, that’s valuable. And if that makes customers happy, that makes sellers even more happy.

How to buy on Instagram?

Once you get into your favourite brand account, you can find small icon of shopping bag in upper right corner of some pictures. It indicates that this post contain shoppable tags. If you’re interested only in this type of post, you can click Shop button to show only price-tagged pictures.

All examples are from Instagram account:

https://www.instagram.com/sebixltd/

Instagram Shopping - Sebix Account on Instagram

When you apply this filter, there’s no more bag icon shown on pictures, as obviously all of them are shoppable.

Instagram Shopping - Shoppable Products on Instagram

From this point we can tap on product, tap to check price then tap on price to get more details.

Instagram Shopping - Instagram Product with Shop Now Option

This gives you possibility to get detailed product description without leaving social media.  If you like, you can now tap Shop Now to get into product page on company website.

Instagram Shopping - Sebix Shop Product PageSimple, isn’t it? 😉

Who can sell on Instagram?

Any company selling physical goods. There are no restriction other then that, however read carefully next section.

Selling. Before you start…

In order to have Instagram shopping enabled, there are some prerequisites required:

  • Company needs to have e-commerce platform. It can be bespoken solution or one of popular e-commerce solution. I would advice using platform with Facebook and Instagram integration supported, as this simplify entire process significantly.
  • You need to have Facebook page for your company.
  • Facebook page needs to contain product catalogue integrated with company e-shop. But as I said earlier – all major shopping platforms offer such integration. So you can have this type of catalogue created automatically with just a few clicks.

Instagram Shopping - Facebook Page with Products

Example screenshot from page: https://www.facebook.com/sebixltd/

  • There are certain rules specifying what products can be listed on Facebook, so once these products are approved, there’s no need for further verification made by Instagram. You can read about some annoying Facebook practices in my post How I was censored by Facebook
  • Company needs to have Instagram account, and this account needs to be linked with Facebook page (instructions to do that: https://help.instagram.com/356902681064399).
  • E-commerce platform used needs to have Instagram integration installed and activated. This can be either native functionality or provided by external plugin. This probably applies to most small and medium businesses. If you use bespoken solution, talk to your developer – they will apply relevant solution or advice on manual process.

Posting images for Instagram Shopping

In previous section I mentioned that you need to activate integration functionality in your shop. Once it’s done, Instagram keeps you waiting for a few days to have your account reviewed. In my case it took 2 working days to get approval.

After approval, you will get new functionality added to your account interface (remember to have you app up to date to use it!).

Entire process of adding pictures looks exactly the same as previously.

Instagram Shopping - Adding Photo on Instagram

This is followed by usual graphic enhancements, and then we go to well known page where we can add all information related to post. With Instagram Shopping enabled, we’re getting additional feature to tag products.

Instagram Shopping - Tag Product on Instagram

After tapping this option, we’re getting access to product list from company Facebook account, so it is possible now to associate picture with relevant product.

Instagram Shopping - Tagging Product on Instagram

And in final step, we need to tap product to tag relevant part of picture. There is possibility to tag up to 5 items on one image.

Instagram Shopping - Product Tagged on Instagram

That’s all. With everything set up correctly, making posts shoppable is as quick and easy as adding location. One detail worth mentioning is that Shop tab in business account will appear only after adding at least 9 products tagged

Advertisement and marketing

At the time of releasing Instagram Shopping, there is no option of promoting this type of posts. The ability to tag products in posts is only available in organic posts. We may like it or not, but I’m sure it’s just matter of time and this type of ads will become available.

Will shopping through Instagram become popular? I’m sure we all find out soon, and if you have any thoughts on this, please leave your comment.

And if you are on Instagram, please find (and follow if you like) these two accounts:

 

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Not so long ago I was nominated by Michael David from A Classic Gent for The Sunshine Blogger Award. Have a read of his post here. This is my first nomination, so thanks a lot for that!

Rules For The Sunshine Blogger Award

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog;
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you;
  • Nominate 11 bloggers to receive this award and ask them 11 new questions; and
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog site.

Michael’s Questions

1. What do you consider to be your biggest strength?

Ability to sort out technical problems. As a full time geek (computer engineer) I really enjoy it. If there is a problem to resolve, I never ask IF it is possible to do it, instead I’m finding out HOW to it. And I’ve got enough patience and determination to do that, as sometimes huge amount of time is required to succeed.

2. If you could pick up and master any skill in just one day, what skill would it be? (Playing an instrument, speaking a language? Etc)

 I won’t be original here – my choice would be mastering guitar. This is on my TO DO list, however due to other priorities it may need to wait until I’m retired 😀 If I could achieve that within one day, that’s the time I can sacrifice for it this year 🙂

3. What is the best place you have visited as a tourist and why?

 Rhodes, Greece.

Rhodes

Great place for both lazy time on the beach and for visiting interesting historical places. So I did that interchangeably. I was also impressed by the night life in the capitol of this island – you can go for shopping up to late hours or choose one of many ships waiting to take you for night cruise. I had impression that people didn’t sleep there at all 🙂

4. What are your three favourite films?

  • Wild at Heart (1990, David Lynch)
  • Natural Born Killers (1995, Oliver Stone)
  • The Matrix (1999, The Wachowskis)

5. List 3 fun things you would like to do before you die.

  • Create independent film.
  • Play some music on stage (after mastering guitar in one day 🙂 )
  • Learn to fly a plane.

6. If you could go back in time to any point in history, and stay there for 24 hours, just observing, where would you go and why?

 I’d like to go back to the point when pyramids where built to find out what amazing technology was used for this job. Other choice would be to go to Vikings times as that’s my favourite historical period.

7. What is the most you have ever won or lost in one session of gambling or on a bet?

The biggest money I lost was £2 and I did it just because it was kind of lottery organised for charity. Normally, I don’t gamble.

8. What is your most prized material possession?

My car.

9. What are your main goals (not blog related) for 2018?

To put bigger focus on healthy lifestyle – more exercising, better diet and add some work on spiritual side as well. To be happy and share it with others.

10. Who is the most famous person you have met face to face? Briefly describe the encounter.

It was many years ago in Poland, when I met Roman Kostrzewski  – leader of music band Kat. They were founded in ’80s and are considered as fathers of Polish Heavy Metal. I met him once just on a bus stop, we started to talk somehow and then had a chat through entire bus journey (about 1h).

11. What is your favourite alcoholic beverage?

Mead. Did I mention my interest in Vikings history? This beverage is symbol of that epoch – it wasn’t just ordinary alcohol in those times but was related to many rituals and left its presence in Nordic myths and legends. My personal recommendation is to drink it slightly heated – warm, but never hot. Great especially in cold days.

My Questions

  1. What motivates you to keep blogging?
  2. What is your favourite band/singer from previous century?
  3. If you wanted go to other country for 1 year, which one would it be and why?
  4. What is your source of creativity? Where do you find inspiration?
  5. The most hilarious situation from your job/school.
  6. What are your favourite clothes?
  7. If you could become film character, who would you choose?
  8. What was your best and your worst shopping experience?
  9. What is your favourite social media and what would you add/change to make it better?
  10. What do you find most relaxing for you?
  11. Can you imagine your life without Internet?

I nominate:

http://populariswrong.com/

http://afiercemind.com/

https://everydaylifegirl.wordpress.com/

https://www.quirkheavy.com/

https://diaryofaspanglishgirl.com/

https://myscrambledeggblog.wordpress.com/

https://theessenceofred.co.uk/

https://mariebxmastree.com/

https://diaryofalonelygirlblog.wordpress.com/

http://fashionandfrappes.com/

https://twitter.com/tiffanyschmoyer

I’d like to read your post –  please remember to tag me on Twitter (@FashionButHow) when you publish your answers. And if you find it fun, please share and subscribe 🙂

 

Extra: if you’d like to see who I was talking about in point 10, try this video:

How to achieve inner peace and calm?

Ship on calm sea

If you’ve ever tried to search for answer to this question, it means that you’re aware that you need it. I was not. It took me long time to realise this is something important in life, something necessary to be really happy. And I want to be happy, because it’s much better then being unhappy. Believe me.

So is it really needed to focus on inner calm?

There’s not so much talking about that but a lot of talking about everything on opposite side – stress, anxiety, lack of motivation, anger, overthinking, sleepless nights, and a lot of other negative feelings and nasty effects. This is that wrong side, so obviously there must be some right one as well. And that’s happiness, love, passion and all things positive. They all start somewhere, and this place is not so distant. Actually, it’s not distant at all – it all has source within ourselves. This is good news – it means, we’ve got 100% control on it. Next step is to learn how to use this control but it may come with steep learning curve.

Achieving inner peace and calm is starting point to boost any positive energy within us and with this, we can do everything. Literally – we can do and we have will to do something, to use this energy in any creative way.

I was struggling to find enough good energy within myself, so I asked a question – what could be the reason for that? What drags me down, doesn’t allow to fully use my potential and fully enjoy my life? And why I hardly could achieve inner calm? I needed to clear my mind and search for answer in a place I was never looking for answers.

Meditation

Within myself.

That’s the place where all answers related to ourselves are stored. But it’s so difficult to get there. I needed to clear my mind and forget about all external factors – it’s always easy to blame people around, complain about bad luck, rainy day, unsuitable conditions etc. I put that aside and looked much deeper. Call it meditation, if you like. During that session I realised that there is connection between our body and mind. And if there’s anything wrong with one, it gets reflected in other. We’re all aware that if we’re under stress, we feel tension in muscles. Or we can react with stomach problems to experiences we don’t like. But other way round?

How much our body influences our mind?

When someone is visibly sick, got flu for example, such person is unlikely to smile and be full of power. This power goes somewhere else – body uses most of it to fight sickness. Other good example is hangover – after heavy drinking we feel awful next day. This is our body fighting toxins. In both cases our bad mood is closely related to bad energy coming from virus or toxins – anything our organism doesn’t like and fights with. Once that fight is won, we feel better again – both physically and spiritually.

Let’s go one step further.

Examples above show that there’s direct link between toxins in our body and how we feel. So if that’s the rule, then in most cases our negative feelings can be related to presence of offensive substances in our organism. In my moment of enlightenment I realised following:

  • In order to feel good and happy, we need to achieve harmony within ourself.
  • Spiritual being is always aligned with physical being.
  • Bad mood is usually reflection of bad physical health.
  • In most cases that’s caused by viruses and toxins in organism.

Conclusion:

Getting rid of toxins from the body should be the first step on any spiritual journey.

First step to achieve inner calm. I set this direction for myself and results are surprising. I’ll continue my story in future posts, watch this space (or just hit follow 😉 ).

 

Extra – totally related song, but try only if you’re brave:

Planning is great, but…

Devon Landscape with River

Let me tell you a story. It was years ago in a small town in Wiltshire, when I had one Friday evening without any plans at all. And was just walking with my friend around the town. Without any special purpose. Suddenly appeared option to come for weekend to friends in Bristol. So I was asked if I wanted to go and informed that if I did, then train to Bristol was expected in 5 minutes, so I had to decide quick.

It was nice weekend. Other surprise was that after night in Bristol we went to Devon for 2 days.

Waterfall somewhere in Devon

We went completely unprepared and it ended up to be quite nice time. I even tried surfing for the first time in my life.

In business, every professional book says that everything should be planned. Business plan comes first, followed by plenty of detailed plans, strategies and all sorts of formalised TO DO lists. The same applies to professional blogging – scheduled posts and tweets and lists of topics to cover for next half year are common.

It is all good.

But… When unexpected opportunity appears, f**k schedules and go ahead! There’s no such thing like coincidence – if something appears in our life, there must be reason for that. Don’t overthink such chances, just trust your feelings and make us of them. All in all, deep inside we always know what’s right.

 

Extra: Some unusual music I found this week. My recent chance to try something new.

10 days without coffee

Addictions are good. They give sense of live, help to cope with everyday problems and can be powerful motor for all our actions. Being addicted to anything for years, it is difficult to imagine life without our favourite magic. It becomes lifestyle, part of our daily routine, something we cannot live without.

Or can we?

I decided to undertake a challenge to give up my last, the longest and strongest addiction – caffeine. 10 days trial.

First day – terrible headache was killing me. Ordinary painkillers didn’t work. It was Thursday and I was at work – multiple complex problems to sort out with headache and without help of coffee, just perfect day. But I survived.

Second day – half conscious, but no headache. It came back little bit on Sunday and much worse on Monday. Kept me entire day. I thought about helping myself with little bit of tea – there is caffeine in it as well. But I finally decided – no cheating. When I drank tea, it was strawberry one or something similar. I Survived.

Through the next few days it was getting better, although I didn’t realise that initially. I realised however that it was giving up this habit was really hard, especially going through withdrawal symptoms and low mood – that was really discouraging. Believe me, for me it was much harder then giving up smoking years ago. Additionally, I lost this wonderful feeling of being fully awake in the morning after first cup.

So why bother?

After ten days I realised I don’t really need caffeine. It takes me longer to be fully awake but also takes me longer to get tired (so no need for extra shot of coffee every few hours). I was also told by someone close to me, that I became less nervous and shouted at people less often 🙂 Indeed, I think I started to better cope with stress. Actually, it’s  something more – many situation somehow became less stressful.

Addictions are good. They make us strong and powerful when we give them up. That’s the only real benefit they come with. At the time of writing this I must say, those initial 10 days planned extended to 3 weeks and will extend even more. I just feel better 🙂

 

Extra: drinking coffee isn’t that bad comparing to what these guys prefer:

Why do I read blogs?

Almost every blogger in their lifetime wrote a post why did they start blogging. In this post I’m going to show opposite side and write about my reasons to read blogs. Please find below a list of magic 10 points why I like to spend time on this type of literature:

  1. I have time for it. Sometimes. Side effect of my professional work – I often need to wait for some tests to be completed. It’s usually too little time to start other tasks but enough for quick read.
  2. More waiting on many different occasions means more time for reading. Especially if I’m kind of grounded and cannot do anything else. Like waiting for MOT to be completed. However with more time available books win over blogs, sorry.
  3. I like to learn. Specialised blogs are great for this purpose. These can be technical, business oriented, about social media and more. And its possible to find anything from beginner level up to highly advanced, professional articles.
  4. I need entertainment sometimes as well. So I read some posts just for fun.
  5. I enjoy some posts as form of art, either due to specific writing style or interesting graphics/photos. With bigger focus on writing anyway.
  6. I like motivational posts, they give me – guess what – motivation to do more. Incredibly useful when level of energy is low. And regular reading of such posts changes thinking in positive way, highly recommended!
  7. I can learn from others how to write blog. I’m newbie.
  8. It is possible to find new ideas, get inspiration and move forward. More about it can be found in post Where to find inspiration?
  9. It is good that there’s always possibility to leave comment and read some other comments – they’re quite often as interesting as post itself.
  10. The last point is that in many blogs I like personal approach to some topics – it is interesting to read someone’s view based on experience.

 

They were my reasons to read. If you ever doubt if it’s worth blogging – let them be your reason to write.

 

Extra: song from a band who also like to read and have lyrics inspired by books. I’m sure you know, what books:

 

Guest Post: METAS

Dear readers!
I would like to unveil you part of one version of my fairytale. It could be with explanation that META and AS in the end of my fairytale not come true. But there is a conception to better ideas.
Best regards.

Anna Kęskiewicz

METAS.
RIGHT.

Wherever the 22°34’E crosses with 51°14’N the Metas is located. On the map you will not find them only in that corner. The bigger of them has appeared. Plank- Bólbas was present! Anicet has been determined to arrive. Zygmunt was content. They did not eat cake with raisins and they ran away!

RETURN OF CLEPSYDRA, CHANGE OF THE DWELLING.

The platform vehicle moved them to the island. Balance. Next they have settled. Well… Who are you? Old Galeo shouted. There are rules from this planet, dear guests, Ladies and Gentleman. I invite you to have a meal, a plentiful table. Finally, berry juice with Andrzej and Barbara will reassure you. Until dawn, only the youngest Metas will not be garrulous … And so it happened.

 
”All rights reserved”, Anna Kęskiewicz (annakmymail@gmail.com)

When is the best time to start business?

If you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you’ve already thought about starting your own business. Or maybe you’re thinking about it now. Or maybe you’re not sure if it’s a good idea and you’re doing some research to find out. In any case, learning from someone’s experience is always great idea. Let me share my experience then and I’ll be happy to read your comment if you find it useful. Or if you disagree.

Going to the point, the only correct answer to question in post title is:

NOW

No? Why not? I can assure you, there will be always many reasons to postpone this decision. Find below 10 most common excuses and how to deal with them.

1. I have no money.

Or too little money. Not enough. The true is, that money is just one of factors needed to run business and there are a few ways to get funds for your business:

  • Private savings
  • Personal / Business Loan
  • Grants
  • Investors
  • Crowd funding

And finally, re-think your business model to start with small projects (less money needed) and then move to bigger investments.

2. I have no idea for business.

Sit down and think. Still nothing? Get ideas from friends, family, Internet. Or go other route – business is not always about new inventions. You can improve existing ideas, make them different, add some extra value – it works for many businesses.

3. I have no idea about running business.

This is skill like any other and can be learnt as any other. Sign up for course, go to university, read and watch professional materials. Find other entrepreneur to be your mentor and adviser. That’s theory. But you will never learn anything properly without practice – that’s actually good reason to start business, not to avoid it.

4. I’m afraid of financial instability.

This is unavoidable. There will be ups an downs for sure, important skill to gain is how to manage that. At the beginning, this risk can be limited by running business part time only with full time job. Or full time business with part time job.

5. I’m afraid of failure.

According to statistics, 90% startups fail. But also according to statistics, most successful entrepreneurs experienced failures during their careers. They succeeded because they didn’t give up and started over. Remember Edison’s quote: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

6. I’m not sure if my product / service is good.

Make research and find out. Ask family and friends for opinion or ask for independent review. Bloggers are good choice if you’re looking for professional review, check this one (about my shop) as example:

SEBIX CLOTHING REVIEW

Make adjustments and improvements if necessary. Your product doesn’t need to be perfect. It needs to be good enough to make your customer happy. So don’t focus just on product but also on customer needs, maybe you can actually have what they want.

7. I can’t compete with big corporations.

No you can’t. Don’t even try to. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Surprising? Some customers are looking for different experience, which can be provided only by small businesses. This can be through customised or unique products, special deals and the most important – exceptional customer service.

8. I have no time for it.

Improve your time management. This article can be helpful:

How to find more time?

9. I’m too young / too old for that.

Some people start businesses on retirement, some as early as secondary school (I bet there are some exception starting even earlier). I don’t buy this as excuse then. Go on.

10. I think I should wait until I’m ready.

That’s called procrastinating. Change it into planning instead. Getting ideas and making business plan will make you ready. If you’re aware of any activities required before starting your business – you’re ready. You know what to do step by step. So go and do it. Now.

 

As extra, one old song about problem with important decision:

 

 

Where to find inspiration?

If it happens to you that you feel like you stuck, it can look bad. Sometimes situation can look just hopeless. The good news is, big change is just around the corner.

If we realise that we stuck and don’t know what to do next, that’s surprisingly good. It means that we’ve already asked right question and now are seeking an answer. It means that we’ve already made first, most important step in right direction.

I’ve found myself in such situation several times and I’m sure there will be more. But it is possible to handle that. All we need is inspiration. Solid kick to move forward. Let me share 10 ideas how to get unstuck.

  1. Make a list of ideas. Have no ideas? Try other points and come back to making list later.
  2. Read books. It boosts imagination.
  3. Try something new. Completely new. If you work in the office, try painting. If you’re an artist, try new sport. Anything to break daily routine.
  4. Change your usual environment. Find new places and meet new people. Visit your friends living far away. This was one nice place to be:Bridge
  5. In need of big changes? Move to other city or other country.
  6. Change your job. Or get another one. Or start your business. Try at least some new tasks in your current job.
  7. Do something for fun. What I did once, was writing funny post: True reason for starting business is… I got also a few funny items for my shop (Men’s Underwear).
  8. Find something new to learn. If not new, then deepen your knowledge in your favourite area.
  9. Think what you wanted to do as a child or teenager. Do it. Be sure to leave comment here what was that 🙂
  10. Surprise someone.

I think I tried all above. I also believe that if anything else could be inspirational, it’s worth trying. I’m going to find it if I haven’t already.

Trying some unusual music can be also inspirational: