Old projects week | revamping iCrewz

icrewz

This week I will start revamping one of my old projects, iCrewz.com, which is a membership website for people in the film industry who are looking for crew member jobs, locations or equipment hire. The website is ten years old now and I haven’t promoted it at all, so it’s time to pick up the pace with this.

I’ll need a VA to post the available jobs, and then I’ll make sure the posts are echoed out to Twitter and Facebook. This should bring traffic in to start with. I’ll look at further marketing strategies once the site is fully revamped and having jobs posted to it regularly.

My third income stream

Once the website is completed, it will become my third income stream. It’s the addition of multiple income streams that will get me to the $100K – whilst at the same time, not letting any streams fall out of favour. Keep your attention rotating and don’t miss a trick with any of your income streams. Set a schedule to check in on your projects and make sure they’re running okay.

Work Overload – Hitting The Wall

I’m now at a point, in mid-February, where the amount of work I have to do exceeds the amount of time I have available to work. I was exhausted this weekend, and spent most of my time in bed.

One of my big nightmares (amongst many) was updating the Amazon Pricing Rules via upload. It’s not intuitive how to fill in the feed, and it took me over 10 attempts to get a working version. That version only covers around 10% of my inventory and there’s a lot more to be done. However, I have so much to do with my freelance clients, too, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to revisit it.

From Clickfunnels, to Wix, to WordPress, to Magento, to Shopify – I’m multi-tasking and going full speed. Currently bringing in around £800 a week which will account for around half of my $100K goal if I can keep up the pace until the end of the year.

I’m officially self-employed now, and it’s scary and exhausting. It’s also liberating. I’m looking forward to seeing where the path will take me.

January Recap – Setting the Foundation

I spent January stocking up and getting my ducks in a row. I have potential freelance work that will hopefully take me up to 25 hours a week guaranteed over February, and as I heat up the Amazon Seller Central marketplace, those two streams of income should steady themselves out over the next few weeks.

10 Things I Achieved In January:

  1. Updated my CV
  2. Learned new skills in Amazon Forecast
  3. Made advertising banners for Amazon Services and completed the application
  4. Found out information about New Enterprise Allowance scheme and almost finished the process
  5. Set up dropshipping process in Amazon UK and Amazon US
  6. Started work on my agency website
  7. Helped my friend design his business leaflets (seee the featured image)
  8. Learned more advanced Excel skills – even though I’ve been using it for years, always something new!
  9. Successfully secured my annual customer’s order.
  10. Became comfortable with AWS.

What I Didn’t Do Well In January:

  1. I didn’t get the stock out of the house
  2. I put on a LOT of weight
  3. I didn’t manage my time as effectively as I could have: better than usual but still lacking.
  4. I didn’t manage my money efficiently.

On the negative side, I had one client cancel a contract suddenly, and I’ve put on over a stone. It’s because I’m not getting out much and eating junk, but that’s something else I’ll focus on in the month to come.

I still have a lot of niggly bits to do before I’m ready to settle down and let things flow, but it’s been a good start. With pay day in sight on Thursday, and plenty of plans coming together, I’m hopeful that month two of 2020 will be doubly productive.

Expansion week | international listings & advertising campaigns.

With the full selection of products online on Amazon, my next task is to expand those offers across all the countries that Amazon reaches. Yes, postage costs a fortune – but in hard to reach areas, I figure that people are used to paying the postage. After assessing the demand, I can look at how to ship to warehouses around the world to reduce those costs.

The first things I’m doing, locally, is tripling my advertising spend. My current aCos is 2% – I can afford to increase the aCos to 40% and make less profit per sale if it gets me enough sales. I will monitor it for a week, and see where the aCos is at: then I will either increase or decrease again.

Then I’m creating listings for all the new markets. Sadly the inventory uploader file is different for every country, Amazon aren’t known for making things easy. I’m starting with UAE as its a fairly new market – then USA, then Canada, then Australia, Finally, Italy, France, Spain and Germany. I need a German Tax ID to sell on Amazon Germany, so that’s going to be a bother – and soon, Amazon will be requiring French Tax IDs, too.

My final targets will be Japan and Mexico. Even I’m not cheeky enough to try offering Chinese products back to the Chinese market at a UK price… although maybe I should?

Monitoring the progress of each country is going to take time, to make sure each remains profitable, however once in place & working, the international aspect will provide another income stream.

Website week | Building an affiliate website

This week I am going to step back from Amazon FBA and focus on building an affiliate website. It’s one that’s been up my sleeves for a long time, but I’ve never dedicated the time or resources to it. This will be my second income stream throughout the 2020s.

I’ve not even decided which operating system to use yet, or how to program it, or where to host it. Amazon AWS is tempting, but that in itself is a minefield of new technology to learn. Realistically, this will take me a month to build well, but I’m giving myself a week to prototype it.

My second income stream

Once this website is created, it will provide a second income stream for me. I may need to do some marketing activities to get Google to recognise it, but that will come in later weeks once the content is fully developed and ready to go. Ideally I will be in a position to do that by the end of February, and may dedicate a week to marketing at that point.

Clearout Week | Boxing, Labelling & Bubble Wrap

boxes

This week’s focus will be on selling as much stuff as possible from around the house. It’s a general clear out of things that are no longer needed, things that are no longer used and things that are past their sell-by date. There’ll be lots of visits to the tip, and lots of visits from UPS to send things to the Amazon warehouse. I’m even aiming to clear the garage which will be a bit of a nightmare.

At the end of the day though, everything that is junk to me remains sellable to others. Most of it is boxed and new, and now the listings on FBA have been completed, I can send them to Amazon for fulfilment.

Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Steve Jobs, Stanford University Commencement Address, 2005

However, unlike Steve’s vision, once everything is gone, it’s time to get everything back again from storage. Whether that will be accomplished this week, I’m uncertain, but I’m hoping to be a lot closer at the end.

Week 1 Progress Report: Dropship Week, Amazon FBA and Excel

I managed to get just short of 2,500 seller-fulfilled products listed on Amazon this week. I used three spreadsheets to accomplish the task: the pricing master spreadsheet (which works out VAT, Amazon fees and profit by markup); the upload master spreadsheet which uses a series of concats and vlookups to create descriptions and keywords; and the FBA Custom Inventory Uploader.

I managed to get just short of 2,500 seller-fulfilled products listed on Amazon this week. I used three spreadsheets to accomplish the task: the pricing master spreadsheet (which works out VAT, Amazon fees and profit by markup); the upload master spreadsheet which uses a series of concats and vlookups to create descriptions and keywords; and the FBA Custom Inventory Uploader.

It took me 4 iterations of the final spreadsheet to get everything correct. FIrst: Amazon was adding in stray columns at the end (check this if you get the duplicate column error). Then, I’d put some dimensions in with the unit of measurement. Then there were various issues pulling the images in, but I’m finally at the point where I have all the products from one particular supplier up on Amazon.

Selling on Amazon will be my second income stream this year in my quest for $100K. I’ve also managed to watch all the Hollyoaks episodes from start of January to end of June 2019… so it’s been quite a productive week in all!

Transferwise, Payoneer and PayPal – handling international freelance earnings

usd currency

Most of the money I’ll make this year wll be in USD. The system I freelance under currently only pays out via Paypal or Payoneer. Both of these carry fees for receiving cash.

With an international Paypal account, the transaction fee is 2% with a maximum of $20.00 USD per payment, or the foreign currency equivalent of $20.00 USD.

With a Payoneer account, the transaction fee is $3 fixed per transfer.

However, a US PayPal account just has a fixed transaction fee of 2%, which is capped at $1 per payment.

Therefore the desirable option was to set up a US PayPal account. This wasn’t without its struggles: luckily I had an ITIN, which allowed me to do this pretty seamlessly. For those without an ITIN, it is still possible to set up a basic US PayPal account to receive funds and direct them straight to your bank account upon receipt.

If you want to open a Transferwise Account, please do me a favour and let them know I refered you by using this link. Thank you!

Sarah Eaglesfield

Then from PayPal, I transfer the payments without any fees to my Wells Fargo account in the USA.

Then the question is, what is the most cost effective way to move USD money from Wells Fargo to GBP money in my bank account in the UK?

Transferwise

Transferwise fees on a $1K USD transfer to GBP

The fees for using Transferwise work out at slightly over $9 to transfer my USD balance to my GBP balance. They have good rates, and I particularly like their currency card management features, but they are not the best on the market for ongoing money management.

Payoneer

Payoneer’s fees depend on how you move the money around their accounts internally before doing a transfer. The fees for withdrawing a USD balance straight to a GBP bank account are 2% – so on a $1,000 balance, that’s $20.

Payoneer fees to withdraw direct from USD balance to GBP Balance

However, if I conver the money from USD to GBP in Payoneer, the fee is 0.5% of the total amount.

Then, if I withdraw GBP to my GBP account, the fee is a flat £1.50.

Therefore the cost of withdrawing $1K fron Payoneer is around $7. Or, it would be – but Payoneer don’t allow you to transfer to your home currency, whch ruins the process.

On the plus side, Payoneer’s currency conversion rate is 2% over the mid-market exchange rate. Obviously exchange rates constantly change, but it turns out that Transferwise has a very handy page to see what you will get from various currency exchange services.

Comparing them all

This was the exchange rate on the 2nd January 2020 and is not accurate as of this date

Transferwise haven’t included the Payoneer comparison here. However, as we know that the transfer fee is 2% and they exchange at 2% above the Mid-market exchange rate, (0.77598948 as of 2nd January) the amount you would receive with a Payoneer transfer would be £760.46 – putting them slightly ahead of the competitors. However, my Freelance company would need to pay me directly into Payoneer, as they do not accept payments from individuals.

I will keep investigating the best way to move money from USD to GBP. It may be that there are some trading platforms or similar where you could vastly reduce the fee. For now, I want to get the money out as quickly and simply as I can, so I’ll stick to Transferwise – but my choice may change in the future. It takes WellsFargo forever to send money, it’s not the instant transfers we’re used to in the UK. Scheduling to keep on top of cashflow is very important, and not something I want to spend too much time worrying about in the future.

Iwoca Business Loans – the pros and cons of small business finance.

I have a number of debts I need to kill off this year.

Some debts can be recycled month by month (such as credit card debt being used to pay for backdated bills). Others are not coming back to you, no matter what you do.

One of these that I have to pay off now is Iwoca, as they stopped renewing my rolling overdraft. It was good at the time, and allowed me to get a lot of stock in for my store. However, the stock didn’t sell as fast as I’d hope – and when I went to renew the terms with them, they refused.

The pros of Iwoca are many:

  • Easy cash to help with business flow
  • Very simple and quick approval for your business
  • You can repay your loan at any time, so if you need money to bridge you over for a couple of days, it’s ideal.

The cons of Iwoca are:

  • They can retract their offer at any time, and instead of being a rolling overdraft, you’re left with a standard loan.
  • The interest rate can be hefty if you take a loan over a long period.
  • If you make a big payment in error, they’ll take it to pay off the loan instead of refunding you.

If despite this you want to try them out to see if they can help your business, click here and tell them that Sarah Eaglesfield from TrophyMaker UK sent you. You’ll get an interest free loan for 30 days, and I’ll get a little to help me towards my own debt with them. For now, my repayment plan with them is as follows:

30/01/2020£4.19£481.56£485.75
02/03/2020£395.75£155.45£551.20
30/03/2020£431.80£119.40£551.20
30/04/2020£439.09£112.11£551.20
01/06/2020£456.55£94.65£551.20
30/06/2020£485.29£65.92£551.21
30/07/2020£504.83£46.36£551.19
01/09/2020£525.21£26.00£551.21

It’s one I want to kill off as quickly as I can.

A CRM for Freelance Work

I started freelancing seriously at the end of 2019. I have about five clients already, but the work isn’t regular and I’ve already finished most of their projects for them. Reaching out to multiple clients has left me with a lot of names to remember and a lot of projects to keep track of, so I’ve set up a CRM system.

I’m using Dolibarr 10.0.5 which I installed through the Softalicious Installer. So far it’s helping me keep track of my prospects and exisiting client, and remindng me when to chase up on leads. I looked at a number of paid and free solutions before deciding on this one, a close contender was Flowlu, however I am not currently earning enough from my freelance work to justify it at this point.

I am still getting used to Dolibarr but so far it’s proved perfect for what I needed it to do. It also has billing and financial tracking capabilities – I use alternative solutions for this at the moment, but will see how easy these are to integrate later in the year.