It's been 10 years since I dove into my solopreneur adventure with Solo Build It! (SBI! for short).
It's hard to believe I started this site way back in 2006. There has been a lot of work, and a lot of learning - All totally worthwhile because I have the best readers on the internet, and a pretty great life.
To celebrate 10+ years online, I wanted to share my story. Oh, and I might eat some cake later, too. Celebrations are always better with cake.
If you've ever wondered, who is this person who is fixated on helping craft business owners? What motivates her? And how did she get such a sweet gig? Here's the scoop.
I really do have the best readers, and I'm not just saying that to be nice.
Before 2006, I ran career coaching workshops, then I helped people who were making career changes. The motto of the non-profit I worked for was, "Helping people help themselves." I fully believed in that sentiment - I still do. I had fabulous clients. I loved working together with them, helping them help themselves, to achieve their goals.
When I found Solo Build It! and moved my work online, I wondered if I'd lose that connection to people. Happily I feel absolutely connected to my readers. You send me the kindest emails, and post the best, most helpful comments on this site.
Thank you for that. It makes writing this site a true pleasure. I love checking my messages because it's frequently from someone with a kind word to say or a helpful tip to share. Crafters are really the best people.
When I started this site, I didn't really think of it as a business.
At the time, the company I worked for lost some important funding, and I was laid off from my job as a career coach. It had been a fabulous job that let me work from home and set my own hours. There were no other jobs like it in my area and in my industry.
I knew I couldn't easily replace that job, but I also did not want to go back to a 9 to 5 in an office with a long commute. My son was young, and I had slogged through years of commuting, which included a bad winter accident on a busy highway. I'd had a taste of what it's like to control your own time, and I liked it - a lot.
I didn't see where to go next in that field. I was a career expert having a career crisis.
I initially started my career in a creative field, and I was really missing that element in my work. That need to bring creativity back into my life is what inspired me to start my own craft business.
It was a different time. Etsy had just launched. I had a manual credit card machine. There were no credit card readers you could just hook up to your smart phone. Actually, I didn't even have a smart phone back then.
I was lucky to be part of a small business program that provided me with a mentor. My business mentor was pressuring me to launch a website. Honestly, I was annoyed at him for pressuring me. I knew nothing about building a website, and I knew even less about how to promote a website. After all, what's the point of building a website that no one visits?
In my research, I came across a product called Solo Build It!. That was the game changer. Sometimes we can point to definitive turning points in our lives. That was one for me.
I spent some time spent researching Solo Build It! reviews and learning about the company, SiteSell, that develops SBI!. I determined it was the right tool for me, and that's when I launched this site.
It didn't end up being the site my old business mentor had in mind. Instead, all my career coaching experience took over my thinking. I realized, I was learning a lot about selling crafts, I had the privilege of working with experienced mentors, but I also had to go through a lot of trial and error. I thought building this site would be a great way to share everything I had learned, and was still learning, about building a creative business. Helping creative people help themselves.
I couldn't have predicted that little kernel of an idea would turn into something so significant and positive.
I need to thank everyone who reads and supports this site for a fabulous 10+ years, and I look forward to 10+ more.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to everyone at SiteSell for giving me the tools, information and support I needed to make it happen. I couldn't have done this without them.
In reflecting on the successes of the last 10 years, I find I'm not moved to brag about buying fabulous material things. I do earn enough that going back to a nine to five job makes no sense for me. The reality is, we all have expenses, and I'm grateful I can help provide for my family. But that's not what ultimately motivates and excites me in any work that I do.
One thing I learned when I was training to be a career coach is that people are happiest in their work when their values are in line with what they do. You can shrug off challenges, push through setbacks, and greet the day with a smile; little things don't aggravate you when you truly believe in the big picture of what you're doing.
Everyone's work values are different. You might value creative expression, independence, relationships, achievement, helping others, money, family, learning, variety, simple living, prestige...
There's a huge range of values that motivate each of us individually, and being in harmony with your values is the foundation of happiness in your work.
This site allows me to work in a way that is fully in line with my own values.
That is huge. It is the most important success of my 10+ years as a solopreneur. It's why I don't dread Monday mornings. It's why I love the work I do, and I'd be lost without it.
I value family, helping others, creative expression, and independence.
This site provides all of those things for me.
I'm available for my kids. My boys are both in school full time. I walk them to school every day, say good morning to my neighbors, then I walk back home and work at my business for the six hours that they are at school.
My husband comes home for lunch most days, and we eat lunch together. How many couples have that luxury? I'm pretty fortunate.
My kids bound in the door after school, and I'm there to ask about their day, and get them started on homework. I normally work a bit longer while they are doing their own homework. We all sit around the kitchen table together doing our work.
My younger son has some health concerns. I'm able to take him to medical appointments without the stress of having to ask a boss for time off. The school secretary has called me a couple times because he was having a reaction at school. I was able to drop everything and be at the school in 10 minutes flat - No need to ask permission to leave work.
I don't see how I could do any of those things if I was working a traditional 9 to 5.
This site allows me to help hundreds of thousands of craft professionals every year. That's meaningful to me.
There wasn't much money in my family when I was growing up, and my childhood was pretty unstable. I have a great life now. I pulled myself out of an unstable life with the help of some wonderful mentors. I was motivated and worked hard, but I needed to seek out help to understand exactly how to achieve what I wanted to achieve.
I know, first hand, how important good support and guidance are. So many people have spectacular strengths within themselves, and they just need the right guidance to share those strengths with the world.
If I can help people get closer to achieving the things they want to achieve, I feel I'm paying it forward. I'm giving back some of the important support that shaped my own life when I was younger.
I am fascinated by the act of creating something of value out of (almost) nothing.
That's why I love the craft industry. You take some quality raw materials that have potential, use the right tools, add your skill and imagination, and you end up with something beautiful and more valuable than what you started with. It's a bit magical.
I see this website in that way. I started with a raw idea and some knowledge, used a good web business building tool, added time and effort, and now I have something wonderful and valuable that I built myself.
Being able to rely on myself is critical for me. I like knowing I can be responsible for my own success. And I enjoy the freedom of being the boss of my own life.
I spend Friday mornings at a dance class that I love. In the summer, I take my kids to swimming lessons every week day. I take vacation time when I choose, not when it's convenient for an employer. When there's a terrible winter storm, and driving is treacherous, I stay home. I don't have to ask anyone's permission.
Being independent also means I'm fully responsible, and that means I need to make smart choices. I still work hard. If I give up work time to do something fun, I make it up. And I invest in good advice from smart business leaders to ensure I'm making the right decisions for my business.
Something Worth Celebrating
That's what I'm grateful for, and that's what I'm celebrating 10 years into this big adventure with SBI! - Independence, creative expression, the ability to pay it forward and help others, and freedom to be available for my family.
If you frequent this site, I assume you're focused on building a creative business of some form, to build a life that includes independence and creativity, along with other work values.
The way I've built my own business isn't right for everyone. But if you think I have a pretty sweet gig, and taking your own business online might be right for you, I'd encourage you to take a good look at Solo Build It!.
Building an online business is a fabulous way to build independence and creativity into your life. Sadly, there are a whole lot of traps out there in the world of online business building. I'm immensely grateful I found the real deal 10 years ago.
There are way too many companies that will take your money, but don't have a track record of helping their clients build websites that get enough traffic to create a viable business.
I've seen this before in my career coaching days. It's disheartening when you realize how many people build their own fortunes on promoting things that do not serve people's best interests.
As a career coach, I helped clients avoid traps like that. I taught them to look at hard numbers. Often, people get caught up in the romanticism and excitement of a new idea. They misplace their trust, or they don't know the right questions to ask. I taught clients to stop, look at hard data, and make sure the path they were committing their precious time and money to could reasonably be expected to help them achieve their big dream.
If you want to take your craft business online, I'm asking you to do the same due diligence when choosing a web business building company. Solo Build It! is the only company I know of that has published hard numbers on their clients' achievements - real results achieved by real people that you can confirm for yourself.
They have hundreds of customers with website traffic in the top .5% of all online sites. As of this writing, my own site is in the top .5%, and traffic is growing.
What does reaching the top .5% mean? There are about 170 million sites online. If you're in the top .5%, that means you get more traffic than almost 169 million other sites online. That's traffic you can build a business on.
I have more readers than about 169 million other websites. I achieved that with no initial knowledge about building an online business, and no staff. It's just me, working at home by myself using what SiteSell teaches me.
Results - Support - Integrity
The three things that have kept me a Solo Build It! customer for 10+ years are results, support, and integrity.
My results were there from the start. As long as I worked on my site, I could see traffic growing, and then income started growing. It took time. Anyone who is being honest with you will tell you there is no overnight success. But as long as I kept working, I saw progress. You can see the results of SBI! customers proven in the numbers. Other companies like to brag that they are the best, or their system is easy, but they fail to provide any real proof. I've never seen any other online business building company back up their claims with hard numbers the way SBI! does.
I'm convinced the exceptional support I get from SBI! is key to my success. They take you step by step, in detail through everything you need to learn starting with their Action Guide, and continuing on with more business building information, research, and help from experts.
I never worry about doing something new or complicated because SBI! provides exceptional guidance.
The answer to any question is somewhere to be found. Their help documents are clear, thorough, and cover a huge array of web business building topics. Their forums are full of smart, friendly, helpful business owners. The motto on the forums is "help and be helped," and that's truly the atmosphere there. Plus, they have exceptional customer service people who will walk you through the answer to a question in a clear, helpful, and timely manner.
The bottom line for me is SiteSell has integrity. They do exactly what they promise - provide tools and resources that give the average person what they need to build a real, viable online business.
They put their customers first.
The price of an SBI! subscription is $299 per year - about the cost of booth space for two or three days at a good craft show. That, plus time and effort on your part, gives you your own platform to showcase your business 365 days per year. Plus, unlike craft shows, there's a 90 day money back guarantee just in case you try it and discover it's more work than you're able to commit to.
I'm immensely grateful I found SBI! 10+ years ago. When I think about the scams out there, the dead ends I could have followed when I was less savvy about internet marketing, I thank my lucky stars every day that I found this tool that has enabled me to build a life and a business that I love.
That is something definitely worth celebrating - with cake!
If you're intrigued, and you want to learn more to discover whether building your own website with SBI! might be the right next step for your business, here's where you can do more research.
Learn More About Solo Build It!
sitesell.com - SiteSell home page - This is a good place to start to get a general overview.
results.sitesell.com - 500 SBI! sites with traffic in the top .5% of all active sites online. Check the "Hobbies" section on this page for craft-related sites.
tools.sitesell.com - A list of everything that comes with a Solo Build It! subscription.
ag.sitesell.com - All about the Action Guide - The Action Guide takes you step by step through the process of building a website that gets enough traffic to support an online business. This resource is priceless.