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The Highs and Lows : Day 16 March Meet The Maker

This is actually a tough one.  The Highs and Lows.  Of running a small business, of being a maker. 

Here's the prompts: "Highs & lows - celebrate the highs of running your own creative business but also keep it real with some of the low points too. It’s always refreshing to see people talk about both! Highs could be anything from getting your first wholesale order, hitting a target you set, selling out of something, achieving something you’ve always dreamed of or anything else you’re proud of! Lows could be things like launching a new product and it not going as well as hoped or perhaps you sent out a bunch of emails to potential new stockists and didn’t hear anything back. The lows are the bits that we don’t usually talk about but we all experience them!"

I'm a very...umm...balanced person.  I'm a glass half full, realist.  This means that I always see the silver lining, in the darkest of clouds, and move on from 'lows' without much thought.  Doesn't mean I don't feel them, but does mean I'm searching deep to give any examples here - I have never been one to dwell, regret or worry.  I control the things I can control, and move on from the things I can't. So I'm intentionally going to start with the lows.  And then I'll get to the highs - which I also don't celebrate as much as I should, cos you never know what's round the corner hahahah

OK.  The biggest, ever present, LOW of being a self employed maker, is uncertainty.  I don't get paid every Friday. Some months, I'm not even sure I'm going to meet my bills. The most visible example of this, as we all experienced in some way, was when covid hit.  I can't remember if it was the day we went in to lockdown, or if it was a few days earlier, but I went live on Facebook, to announce that my next few pop ups had been cancelled, due to this scary, new pandemic, that none of us could get our head's round.  That day, in the moment, I honestly felt like a curtain had been drawn, and that was the end of my business.  I didn't quite say that, I wasn't being pessimistic, as such, I was just keeping it real. I had my health, and I knew everything would work out, if I kept that.  But towards the end of the Live stream, the tears came, and I felt that life as I knew it, was over. I didn't have workmates to turn to, I didn't have a boss to scream at, I didn't have the safety of an employment contract. No financial aid had been mentioned at that point, and I knew I didn't want to rush out and get a job, in such scary times.  I also knew I had, maybe 4-6 weeks worth of income, that I could use for bills and food, and I honestly didn't see ANY orders coming in, for the foreseeable.  I felt sick, but I also felt resigned to 'what will be will be'.  It was a low outwith my control, and a low that millions of us felt at the same time.  But it certainly was a real fucking low, thinking that your entire vocation, living and income, was gone...

Other lows, I don't really recognise as lows.  Yeah, it's sad when I approach new stockists, and they don't get back to me. But, you know what?  What's for you won't go by you, so things like that, don't really get to me.  If it's meant to be, it'll happen.  Lows in email marketing are frequent - I'll spend a couple of hours building an email I'm really proud of, and it'll be opened by 12 of my 6000+ subscriber list.  Or it'll be opened by 4000, only for me to notice a broken link or terrible typo.  That's a constant source of cringe for me! What are other lows?  I'm not really sure. I think things like working 18 hour days, being away from home for most of the year, standing in muddy fields and pishing rain whilst selling fuck all, would be lows for many - but that's all part of the fun for me, and all part of the pay off! Told you I'm a silver lining kinda gal! A low could be getting to the end of an amazing, 5000 fold book, only for the spine to collapse. But that's not a low, it's a high, because at least it happened before I sent it...I, perhaps annoyingly, will always find the positive, in the shittiest of situations. 

Highs are simple.  Every, single order that pops in, still gives me butterflies in my tummy!  There's no better feeling!  And that can happen several times a day!  Highs are reading heartfelt customer reviews, and seeing my stockists listing my books on their websites, and posting on their social media.  A high is every person who stops by my NoBooksOnTour stand, and walks away with a book, a business card, or just a smile!  A high is every Facebook comment, every email. It's every repeat order - I have a weird recognition of names/postcodes, so I notice almost every order from a previous customer - you mean you liked the book you bought in 2014 so much, that you're ordering another one in 2023?  Amazing!! A high is every new stockist who gets in touch, it's every book that goes in the post.  It's every new batch of reclaimed books that come to join my stock, it's the grain of unusually nice pages, it's being able to work from home, it's every early start, late finish, it's every day spent folding in my fluffy socks, it's knowing that I am lucky enough to be doing what makes my heart sing, and just about making a living - even if I don't get paid every Friday! 

A trillion miniscule HIGHS far outweigh the tiny LOWS, that I really have to struggle to list...because I'm too busy thinking about the fact that as soon as I finish this blog post, I'm away to fold an order, and what better high is there than that?! 

I'm taking part in this year's March Meet The Maker. It's primarily an Instagram thing, with the focus being on telling your story via photos.  You might have noticed, I take shite photos, but I can ramble on in type for ages haha So I'm going to mostly take part, right here, on

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