It’s been a rough start but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing worth having comes easy.
About a month ago I had my first speaking engagement for Watering Our Seeds. You talk about nervous. I’m more of the behind the scenes contributor and I leave all the shine for Don, my husband. I knew I would tackle this one on my own for a few reasons. I was invited by my high school friend, Danielle Thomas who just recently started a group called I Am a Diamond. It is designed to empower women and give them a safe haven to exchange knowledge and information. It’s a great idea and the information shared in her meetings can help you tremendously (I’ll get more into that later). I also knew I would take on this speaking opportunity because I’m all about overcoming my fears and pushing myself to the limit.
I was a given a few months’ notice which allowed me plenty of time to get my thoughts together. I wasn’t quite sure how I would fill the hour or so I anticipated speaking because we are still at the beginning stages of Watering Our Seeds. Although we aren’t fully established, our experiences or lack thereof can definitely help encourage someone else. I opted to speak a little about the vision for Watering Our Seeds but most of my time was spent talking about all our experiences from launch date to present. Our goal with this format was to give those looking to start a business and/or non-profit the heads up on some things to expect.
Our Biggest Challenges
1. Creating a professional blog/website – We had no experience with building websites. We had a person who was willing to help but when the time arrived they didn’t know as much as they claimed to know. Then another source thought it was important to self-host which I had no clue about. I wanted to blog not become a website expert. In the end, we were left to create a website on our own. If I have to say so myself, it turned out pretty nice for a newbie.
Tip: Stick to what you know and do what you know you can maintain.
2. Getting others to see your vision/building a following – You will get a serious reality check here. Your feelings will be hurt when you see how few people support what you do. In our case, support means subscribe to our blog, follow us on social media, like or share our content. All things that don’t cost a dime. The people you expect to follow, won’t and the people you don’t expect, will.
Don recently spoke about Watering Our Seeds at our family reunion in Chicago at the request of one of our supportive family members. Everything went well until we mentioned that we have t-shirts available to spread the word about our mission. We got such a negative response from our family. There were all kinds of grunts and groans because they thought the price was too high. No response in this case would have been the best. It was so disappointing and discouraging but as we all know, family can be the worse.
Tip: Don’t allow those people to discourage you, some people need to see you at the top before they buy in.
3. Understanding social media for businesses – How often should I post? Am I posting too much? These are all questions you ask yourself. You never want to bombard those that have accepted your invite but you also want to post often enough to ensure those followers actually see your content. I began researching social media and discovered algorithms and how they affect those that see your posts. Who knew there was so much put into it. At one point social media shared everything with everyone. They now determine what you see based off several factors. This is referred to as social media algorithms which is a set of rules or circumstances that define usage in a social platform. Here’s what we found when we decided to dig a little deeper.
- Affinity Score – how connected your brand and/or message is to the user. For example, my sister and I are frequently writing on each other’s Facebook Walls and we have 123 mutual friends so my Affinity Score with my sister is very high. Affinity scores are one-way; I have a different affinity score to my sister than my sister does to me.
- Edge Weight – how valuable the action is. A comment has more edge weight to a post than a like and the same goes with a share.
- Time Decay – how old the story is, the older it is the lower it is ranked.
Social Media sites now allow you to boost your posts so that more people can view it. This comes with a fee that is based off the amount of people you want to see the post. Although you may have 1000 followers, only 6-10% of them will see your posts without a boost.
Tip: Don’t overspend boosting your post on social media when the chance of obtaining new followers is slim.
4. Staying professional when people come at you online – Internet trolls are real. These are people who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people. Who knew when trying to do something positive you would still be attacked? We had a follower on Instagram that we interacted with regularly. We often liked and commented on each other’s post so when she unfollowed me I was a bit surprised. I know you’re wondering how we knew she unfollowed. We have the Instafollow app. When it comes to our business page, we are here for networking with other businesses. Outside of that, we share information with our followers to help them not for other similar businesses to possibly copy (eventually we will have stuff to copy…lol). If we aren’t mutually following each other then we aren’t networking. This warrants an unfollow. When I unfollowed this particular business, they sent me the nastiest message saying I had a horrible attitude and I should teach my children to not be wrapped up in social media numbers. Yes, she attacked my character and my parenting skills, two things I take much pride in. I was ready to give her a piece of my mind but I was reminded (by Don) that I must remain professional. It was hard at first. I had to step away and gather myself. I eventually responded reminding her that she unfollowed me first and that sending me a message was a clear indication that she was the one wrapped up in the numbers. Then I blocked her ass. People are seriously crazy. I was discouraged and vowed to be done with the whole social media thing until I reminded myself of the bigger picture. I got over it real quick.
Tip: The devil comes in many forms. We must not allow him to knock us off the path God has created for us.
5. Supporting black businesses – This one hurts me to the core to have to write. I love my people. We are all about building up the community in which we live which also means supporting black businesses. I tried on multiple occasions, making several attempts to only be disappointed again and again. We wanted a logo for our business and I worked with a guy that said he did this type of thing on the side. I threw out some ideas. It took a few weeks to get our first design. It wasn’t anything close to what we wanted mainly because we didn’t know what we wanted. Let me remind you that I work with the guy and we walked together every day. There was no mention of it and I never got another version of the logo, EVER. I gave him about 2 months before I moved on. A guy I worked with previously put my logo together in less than a week. My first attempt failed but we didn’t give up.
A few months later we wanted to order t-shirts to spread the word about our business. Don knew a guy that had his own t-shirt shop. He communicated with him by phone on price and design. We stopped by the shop to place our order. The guy ate ribs in our face the entire time saying he was very hungry. Keep in mind there are many rib bones in the box so at some point the hunger stage had passed. Then the prices went up. This should have been enough for us to run the other way but nope, we kept trying. We eventually worked up a total price and were ready to pay using our debit card. His machine was down. We agreed to go get cash so we asked how much down. He told us we had to pay it all up front. We walked out and never came back. He never reached out to us either. There were so many signs from the beginning but we kept trying to only be disappointed on so many levels. This is not to say we are done supporting black businesses but know that it can be difficult at times.
Tip: All black businesses are not the same. Take heed to the warning signs (procrastination, unprofessionalism, etc). Hold non-black businesses to the same expectations and be willing to walk away from them too.
Now back to the speaking engagement we were invited to. I had such an amazing time. Danielle is all about empowering other women and she has so much information to share. We had a small but mighty group at this meeting and everyone had something to contribute. I was able to gather information for a local coding class held for women. Danielle picked up on my need for it when I talked about creating a professional website. The classes are free too.
I left with information for local people that can help me with business cards and t-shirts.
The most exciting part of the meeting was Danielle sharing a group she is a part of on Facebook that has helped her get more serious about her finances. I instantly joined the group. I left that day feeling empowered but I didn’t realize just how much I would be until I visited the group page on Facebook.
This year we wanted to really focus on getting our credit in order. We anticipate getting back into real estate in the 3rd quarter of 2017. The group gives advice on saving money, disputing credit information, entrepreneur adventures, couponing, and more. There is something for everyone. We have disputed information on our credit and had multiple items successfully removed. We began the dime challenge where you save every dime you touch. We will use this for our vacations (a two liter of dimes is about $700). They have a $5 challenge that I’m not quite ready for yet. This challenge has you saving every $5 bill you touch. Can you imagine how fast that adds up. We also set up the app Digit. This app is designed to help you save money. It links to your bank account, analyzes your spending patterns, and finds ways to transfer small amounts of money to a savings account. The transfers can be increased, decreased, or cancelled at any time. Upon request the money can be transferred back to your bank account within 24 hours. We will use this savings for activities and vacations. We also found out that we can save $5 a month on Apple Music if you’re a student and have a school email address. Guess who’s a student and has a school email address?!? We do. This takes it from $9.99 to $4.99 a month. There are so many testimonials on how members have cleaned up their finances and increased their credit scores in as little as a month. Most of my time on Facebook is now spent in this group. It is unbelievable just how much you can learn. If you’re interested in this group please send us a message here or on social media. We will gladly share.
We hope the information shared in this post can be of some use for you and your family. Please feel free to follow us on Facebook where we share similar information. We’re on Instagram too……there you will get more of a visual of our life and adventures.