Sunday, May 17, 2015

What's Your Goal - To Be a Blogger or a Writer?

A good friend, and even better writer, asked me the other day what advice I would give her about blogging, as she launches her very own blog.  You're not Chicken Little if you dare to put your words out in the world, so I applaud the many who do.  Before you think about the business of your blog, I implore you to . . .
Make your blog
personal playground
and laboratory
You've probably started a blog, because you have something to say. Something compelling you want to write about and share your knowledge with others.  Before you start, understand your goals for blogging.
  • Are you blogging to be a professional blogger?  This means you derive income from your blog. 
  • Are you blogging to market your business?  This might look like short posts to talk more about what you can offer to others.
If you google tips on blogging, you will find these "gems" of wisdom repeated over and over:  
  • stick to a schedule
  • be consistent
  • have something of value for your reader
A beginning blogger might go on Facebook looking for advice on blogging, and readers, not bloggers, give advice - they, of course, mention the schedule and consistency. Why?  Because they benefit from you it.  But ask yourself - DO YOU?  You are not getting paid for this, most likely, so I'd rather you think about why you are blogging than why you need to be consistent. 

Readers, who have never done a blog, have no earthly idea what goes into just one post.  It is not just composed of writing - there's photo editing, word editing, research, etc.  The amount of hours it takes me to do one post like this interview, of a website highlighting moms and creativity, might take 5-6 hours. An interview like this one takes about 7-8 hours.  And I'm not getting paid a nickel for any of it, which is not a comment made to complain.  It's a comment made to help you understand the time involved, in order to help you align your time and energy with your goals.

The three main reasons people give up on blogging are:
  1. The amount of work it takes.
  2. No income is being derived from it.
  3. No one is reading it.
Here is how I made my blog work for me and pull a profit.
  • I keep no schedule.  Why?  Because I am a freelancer and work at a variety of things where my schedule changes weekly. I may have more time one week to post than another.
  • I try things out.  Bathroom Diaries is the one that I love the most right now.  If someone thinks it's weird, what do I care? I'm not doing this as my real job.  And I love interior design, so this enables me to do something quick, fun and that makes me smile.
  • If I have something to say, I say it.  My blog is not about mental illness.  But if I have a subject nagging at me, I write about it and move on.
  • I use it as a vehicle to promote things I love, like artists, and learn from them.  Interviewing creative people is my crack.
  • I keep blogging.  I love the visual and written memory of my days here on this planet for myself and for my kids.
When someone reads my blog, and takes a moment to comment, that is money to me.  But even if they don't, I keep going, because I enjoy writing.  I want to be a paid writer, not a paid blogger. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

10 Most Popular Questions Regarding Louis Vuitton

Working in retail since I was in high school, when people ask me where I've worked, and I mention Louis Vuitton, I seem to get the same questions asked.  I thought you might be interested in what they are, and what the answers would be.

1.  Is their stuff leather?
Everything Louis Vuitton makes has a component of leather on it. Some bags, like the EPI leather line, are composed entirely of leather.  But what most are referring to when they ask this question is the brown signature fabric with the LV stamped on it that you see everybody carrying.  This is composed of cotton canvas that has a PVC coating on top.   Things like the handles on these bags are made of an undyed, natural cowhide, known as Vache.

2.  Did you get a really good discount?
The answer is yes.  The best discount I ever got in 32 years of working retail.  How good was it?  When I started in 1998, I could get wallets for $25.00, Speedy bags (originally designed for Audrey Hepburn, don't you know) for about $100.00 and when shoes were first introduced, a pair for $49.95.  It's not this good anymore, or so I hear.

3.  They burn all the stuff that doesn't sell, right?
Wrong.  All the prices I mentioned, in my answer to question 2, are great for employees because discontinued items, damages, etc. are sold to the employees.  These are known as RTVs (Return to Vendor).

4.  I heard they were now producing in China.
Ummm . . . no.  They have a factories in the US, France and Spain last time I checked. 

5.  How can you tell if a bag is real or fake?
We got asked this question so much, especially by phone, that I wanted to scream.  There is no formula I can explain in 2 minutes that could convey how we know.  With the large amount of products manufactured, there are specific linings used in certain products, types of stitching, hardware that cannot be replicated, etc. I could look at your specific bag and tell you 15 ways it differs from the original.  With so many knock-offs out there, I can't give you an explanation by phone.  But, if you go into the store, and compare to the real thing, you'd be amazed.

6.  They have a Lifetime Warranty?
What has a lifetime warranty?  Name one thing that is used every day that has a lifetime warranty.  It's not going to be a wallet or handbag, I can assure you.

7.  What was it like to work there?
Awesome.  Incredible.  And hard work.  But good hard.  The pace is tough, you are on your feet the whole time, and it is always busy. But I like being busy.  

8.  When do they have sales?
Never.  This is why as a retail manager it is a dream to work there - no markdown's ever.  

9.  How do I clean my bag?  
Depends on which bag you are talking about.  If it is white spots on your signature canvas . . . that is probably from bumping against the wall with the bag and it is paint.  A Magic Eraser or a very slight amount of Windex on a very wet paper towel will take it right off.  Your cowhide handles?  Can't really be cleaned.  You can use saddle soap, which will darken the leather, but if they have gotten too dark, you can also get new handles put on for a fee and have a basically new bag.

10.  I just carry a fake, because you can't really tell the difference anyway.
Let me be frank here - you are no longer my friend.  Why? Because you are supporting illegal activity.  Read the book, Deluxe, and then we will talk about the fact that you are supporting terrorism, illegal drug trade and a variety of other activities that use the sale of counterfeit goods to support and money launder their business.  I saw raids on these businesses.  And you contribute to it by having the vanity and ego to want the bag, but to not pay for it through the proper channels.  

My stance is unpopular, I am sure, but I stand behind it 100%.  Buy real or don't buy.

I hope that answers many of your curiosities.