Wednesday, August 26, 2015

TURNING 30: THE HEAD ON THE DOOR

The Cure is one of those bands that are truly special. They always manage to make great music, and no matter which album you listen to, you're likely to fall in love with it. Not many bands can say that, especially since they've been doing it for over 30 years now.

They released their sixth album, 'The Head on the Door' on August 26th, 1985. It served as the band's first big international success, charting in several countries. It also marked the return of bass guitarist and keyboardist Simon Gallup, as well as the introduction of musician Porl Thompson.

Album artwork for 'The Head on the Door'
It's an amazing album. 'In Between Days' is one of the first songs of theirs that I discovered as a teen, and I fell madly in love with them soon after. 'A Night Like This' and 'Kyoto Song' are also really standout tracks for me as well. (But really, pick any of them and you won't be disappointed.) 

The album was reissued in 2006 as a deluxe edition that includes several great demos, and bootleg live versions. Highly recommended.



 A Night Like This

Sunday, August 9, 2015

SELLING AVON ONLINE

Before I say anything, let me just say from the get go that this isn't going to be an anti-Avon post. I may not be an Avon rep anymore, but I actually still really like Avon, and am only writing this to provide an honest view of my experience with them. All opinions expressed are my own, my mine only.

This next sentence is going to sound kind of funny, but the truth is, I only sold Avon for a week.

Yep, a week.

The reasons for why I'll get to, but first let me tell you how I even came to do it in the first place.

I've been buying Avon for about 11 years now. I love their products, and am kind of known for using them. Recently, someone I know was interested in becoming an Avon rep herself, and she asked me if I knew what the qualifications were for doing so. I didn't, so I looked into it for her, and ended up speaking with a really nice lady who recruits representatives. After asking a lot of questions, she sold me on the idea of doing it myself.

Oddly enough, even though I've been buying it for years, I've never actually had the desire to sell it. Even when I signed up, I still didn't, but was intrigued by the idea of having an online shop. It sounded interesting, and since I'm familiar with Avon, I figured it would be a fun way to earn a little money on the side.

SO, I signed up through the recruiters link, and again, she was an extremely nice lady who answered every question I asked her, (And I asked her many.) so I think I really lucked out with finding her. Prior to, and even after I signed up, I read a ton of blogs that people had written about their experiences with Avon, and came across quite a few horror stories about recruiters. It was kind of frightening, to be honest, so to get someone who was not only nice, but honest, was great. For the first few days, I was excited.

All I had to pay when I signed up was $15 for my starter kit. That's it. I only planned to sell online, so I didn't need to buy the bigger one, and seemingly, nothing else ever. They give you your own eStore for free, so if you're only going to sell online, your overall cost is minimal to nothing.

For now... that is.

Something I learned quickly is that there's only so much you can do with your shop. You don't have any control over it, and all you do when you set it up is add a photo, a short bio, and your social media links — finish that, and voila! You've got your own online store. It's super easy, and a great setup for people who don't have experience with web design. So that part, I had no qualms with. You're selling their products, so of course you're going to use their website. (Which is essentially all it is, their website with your name at the top.)

The part I did have issue with when it came to the eStore, is how you're allowed to promote it. For example, you're not allowed to use any Avon images to promote your shop. No product images, no logos, nothing. The logo I could understand, because that's their trademark, and they have to protect their brand, so fair enough on that one. The product photos, however, I didn't understand, because I wasn't sure how I was supposed to promote products if I couldn't use images of them.

After reading more into the guidelines, it has a section that tells you about Avon Apps, which is where you're supposed to find the images that they've approved for you to use. Unfortunately for me, they apparently haven't updated their guidelines in awhile, and I had to learn the hard way that it doesn't exist anymore. After getting really frustrated while scanning their site over and over, I finally asked my recruiter about it, and she told me they've done away with it and have now added something completely different. (So if you've signed up and were looking for that too, you can stop looking.) 

Instead of giving you images to use, they've created this thing called the, "Social Media Center," where you can basically tweet or Facebook advertisements they've made for you. It's very convenient, and again, actually really helpful for someone who isn't internet savvy. They make the advertisements, load them all in one place, and you just click a few buttons to send them out on your social media pages. Cool enough.

While I can see the obvious benefit in that, especially for promotions or sales for specific items, it also left me a little disappointed, because obviously they only advertise certain things. If there was say, a pair of shoes that I really liked in the current campaign and wanted to advertise them, it would be against the rules for me to use a picture of them to do so. It would also be difficult to specifically advertise them through my shop, because unless someone is already using your store and it's saved on their browser, any Avon link you send out isn't going to go to your store, it's just going to go to Avon's website. So even though they DO allow you to link to products, it's still a bit tricky to figure out how to make that work in your favor.

Another reason it's tricky is because another thing that's against the rules is having an Avon website or blog. I can understand why they wouldn't want you to have your own Avon website, and truthfully, you don't even need it since you have your shop — but not allowing you to blog about Avon products was confusing to me. It'd be so much easier if I could just blog about a product I like, add a link to my store with the item number, and go about gaining sales and customers that way. Otherwise, it's a bit difficult and restricted for my taste. I'm sure a lot of reps don't even care about it, you could argue that using the social media center is enough, but I personally just didn't feel so. Especially since the stuff you're promoting is the exact same advert that every other rep is sending out... what's the point in everyone sending out the same thing? I don't get it, but it obviously works for a lot of representatives, so to each their own.

There were some other things in the guidelines that I found odd, but those were my main concerns with being an eRep. I just wasn't into how you're allowed to advertise yourself and your shop, and was honestly a bit confused by how they expected you to make it successful that way. For that reason, I decided it wasn't for me, and backed out before I got involved with anything more complicated than losing $15.

So with that said, let me just say straight out that unless you're somebody who has a lot of friends and family who are already willing to buy from you, don't expect to do well online. At least not at first, if you're patient enough to build up a good following, then I do think you can make something out of it. You need to sell a minimum of $50 per campaign to get paid, though. If you only sell $49.00, they don't pay you anything. And what you would make from that $50 in commission is hard to say, because it would depend on certain factors, so it'd really be up to you as to whether you think it's worth it or not.

I actually do think it's possible to make money selling Avon. I read quite a few blogs that were written by former representatives who were adamant that it's a scam, but I don't think so. I just think it's something you really need to put some serious thought into before you get involved with it. Because again, unless you already have people waiting to buy from you, then it's up to you to find customers. You'll have to promote the hell out of yourself, whether it be online or selling in person — and truthfully, you should probably do both, because that seems like the best bet for making any real money. That's why I said, "for now" in regards to what you'll spend, because you do have to spend money to sell things in person. For example, the brochures that you give to you customers, you actually buy yourself. They're somewhat cheap, it's $7 and some odd cents for 20 of them, but it's still an expense, and something to consider.

Something else to really consider is that Avon is an MLM business — that means "multi level marketing." Recruiters are the ones who end up doing the best, because being at the top of their "team," they end up making money not only from their own sales, but yours as well. Whenever you hear about someone being really successful with Avon, I would bet just about anything that it's because they're a recruiter that's managed to sign up a lot of people as representatives. So if you're willing to promote yourself, recruit people, and have patience, then you might actually do pretty well with it. But if not, and you don't feel like you're the kind of person who's going to be able to round up a lot of customers, then I'd recommend taking some time to consider the pros and cons.

Because that's really the most important point, in order to be successful with a business like this, you have to devote your life to it in a way. If you already have a job, then this will be your second job — it's not a hobby, unless you just don't need the money and are okay with not making much. (Or anything at all, really.) So if you're okay with that, then go for it. Otherwise, I would suggest really taking your time and thinking it out before making a decision.

I still love Avon and will always buy it. They make great products, and support some really great causes. (And make the only foundation that has EVER matched my deathly pale skin.) So even though I wasn't into selling it, I'm in no way bashing them as a company overall. I do think they perhaps need to work on some of their marketing techniques, and as far as a lot of the complaints I read from other people, I believe them — there are other problems to address. But I also think there are probably some people who get into it without really knowing how an MLM business works, and thus their expectations don't always live up to what actually ends up happening. (And you get left with some really pissed off bloggers.)

Do your own research and give it your best judgement, always.


The last thing I'm gonna do is leave a link to my recruiters site for anyone who might be interested in signing up. She really was nice, and was very helpful to me, so I highly recommend her.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

THE PERFECT NOTEBOOK FOR FALL

I can't remember how I first found it, but buyolympia.com is one of the coolest online shops I've ever come across. Just about everything on it is something I'd want to buy, and if my bank account didn't dictate otherwise, I probably would.

It's hard to narrow it down, but I think my favorite thing on the whole site is the I Love Leaves notebook.

buyolympia.com

Look at that thing! *heart eyes* It's gorgeous. I love everything about it.

It was designed by an artist named, Eloise Renouf, who's also designed some other great stuff on their website that you can see here. (I looked at some of her other work on her Facebook + Etsy page, and it's fabulous.)

buyolympia.com

Even the inside is beautiful! I love that contrasting pink, with the leaf printed pages. Perfect. I'll just take all the notebooks, thank you.

Here's the actual website link: Eloise Renouf - I Love Leaves

If you end up buying it, great! I can't wait to get mine. Another thing I like about BuyOlympia is that they're a small owned business, if you can support a shop like that, please do. I've been trying to buy more from small businesses in the past few years.


And now maybe I'll get back to summer... but probably not.

Monday, August 3, 2015

50 DAYS TILL FALL

I know it's still summer, and I really shouldn't be talking about autumn yet, but I have fall fever and can't help myself. 50 days!

Photo from my porch, last October.


As you could undoubtedly tell from my last post, I kinda like this time of year. Beginning the countdown to fall is a special thing for me, and I like to start it a bit early because autumn feels so short in comparison to all the other seasons; it may not end till late December, but December 1st isn't autumn anymore, it's Christmas. (And don't even get me started on those people who put up a tree the day after Halloween... I love Christmas too, but come on.) So designating August as, "pre-autumn" is just another way for a fall enthusiast like myself to enjoy the season a little bit longer.

I do have some sense though, I won't be decorating or putting anything fall related out till next month. So for now, back to summer!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hello August!

August! One of my favorite months of the year, and in a lot of ways, the start of the "new year" for me.

Foggy Cumberland Mountains, outside my house.

School always begins in August where I live, and even though I'm an adult now, I still feel like everything changes this time of year. Nothing really changes in January, (cue U2) and it's hard to feel motivated when you're snowed in and can't go outside without the risk of losing a limb to frostbite. And spring... well, I love spring — truly, I do, but spring for me involves a lot of working up to motivation after a long winter being stuck inside. So by the time summer rolls around, I'm kind of in overdrive trying to do a million things that I dreamt up from January to May.

That all calms down by August, though — or as we like to call it here, "pre-autumn." Everything gets a bit slower, the mornings get a bit foggier, and the crickets chirp a bit louder at night; things just feel great. There's something really invigorating about fall, and the lead up to it. Maybe it's because I'm a fall baby, (born November 1) but I really feel the most alive this time of year. I love it.

So Happy August! And Happy New Year.