Monday, June 29, 2015

Figuring It Out as I Go

I wrote the first part of this post from a table in a Starbucks. I finished up my onsite client work at about 3:00, and wasn't ready to stop for the day. Usually, I'd go home and work for awhile, then go pick up Pumpkin at summer camp, but the construction at my house is often quite noisy, so I decided to try to work at a Starbucks. There's one near my client site, but I figured it would be better to get closer to the summer camp, and skip the evening rush traffic.

Sadly, this was the wrong decision. It was a crowded Starbucks. I had a longish wait to get a drink, and I scored the last table. If I'd been a little later, I'd have had to ask one of the people who had strategically placed their things so as to take up three spots at the long communal table to make some space for me. By the time I got settled in, I only had about 30 minutes left to work.

And it was a noisy coffee shop- which is fine! People should talk in coffee shops. Still, I could hear three conversations from my table. In one, a guy was expounding on how easy it is to make money as an ebook author (HA HA HA HA HA). In another, two guys were discussing flipping condos, and in the third, a guy seemed to be interviewing someone to be some sort of sales associate.

I felt a bit old school just sitting there writing a blog post. There was no way I was going to be able to concentrate on the more strictly work-like writing I had planned to do, so I didn't even try.

I clearly need a better answer for how to work during the construction project, which is scheduled to run until early October. I'm considering a formal co-working space, but it is a bit expensive. At half the price, I'd be in for sure. At the actual price, I am on the fence, still trying to piece something together with libraries, coffee shops, and the occasional use of my sister's condo.


Speaking of pricing... I am finding setting the price for things to be one of the hardest parts of my new business. I have come to the conclusion that I should have priced Navigating the Path to Industry a little higher. At the current price, I don't have the room to run sales without losing the good royalty rate on the retailer sites. Also, I've come to the conclusion that most people won't pay for job search advice at all, and for those who will pay, the difference between $2.99 and $3.99 would not affect the decision to buy.

Oh well- that was a learner project, so I'll take that lesson and see whether I can learn the right thing from it. Some books won't be long enough to support a higher price, but some will. I think.

Speaking of other books, the "teaser" page for the next book I'm publishing is up now. Check it out!


One of the ideas I'm trying to decide whether to pursue, and how to price if I do pursue it, is the idea of offering short (~1 hr) seminars on specific management topics. This is spurred by the success of the Get More Done class, and by the fact that I really enjoyed preparing and giving that class. That tells me that perhaps I should try to find more ways to do that sort of thing.

I was going to let this idea percolate a bit longer, but then I forgot to cancel the premium level meeting hosting after my class finished, so I have already paid for another month of the level that allows me to host and record the type of meeting I'd need. So now I'm thinking that maybe I should just go for it.

I'm leaning towards doing it, because I don't think there is anyway to find out whether or not this idea is any good without just trying it. However, right now I can't pick a topic that will require a lot of research- particularly if I want to do it before the "extra" month of meeting support ends. I think I could pull together a good seminar about running effective meetings without doing much research, so that's what I'm leaning towards doing.

But I'm debating how much to charge... and as my experience with the coworking place shows, sometimes that really matters.

Like I said, pricing is hard.


I've got new things to figure out on the home front, too- after years of resisting, I've finally joined Facebook. The final straw was learning in the last week of school that there had been an after school music program running this semester. I hadn't heard about it because most of the discussion happened on Facebook.

I realized that I need to go where the rest of the people are if I want to stay in the loop. I don't want to be that Mom who insists that the group should cater to me and my preferences.

Besides, we recently granted Pumpkin's request for her own email address. Requests to be on Facebook probably aren't too far off in our future. One of us had better start figuring out the privacy settings and other finer details, and it certainly wasn't going to be Mr. Snarky. He's perfectly willing to be that Dad and insist on staying off Facebook, and this isn't something I feel like arguing with him over.

So, now I'm on Facebook, trying to figure out how I want to use it.

In short: there's a lot of figuring things out on the fly going on here right now. I'm trying not to let it stress me out!


  1. About figuring Facebook, I find that it pays to have an account for keeping in touch with some people and planning some group actions. I generally have a light touch presence on it though, no need to do a blow by blow account of my life on it.

    1. Yes, I don't plan to be all that active on Facebook. I don't want to cut into my Twitter time!

  2. I got on Facebook for precisely the same reason you did: there's a closed group for parents of my kid's school, and I was missing stuff that got announced or discussed there, that I didn't want to miss.

    My strategy is: a) log in every few days to monitor the school group; b) be very very very selective about friend requests; c) don't really post anything of substance, or really anything at all, and d) log into Facebook in a browser that I ONLY use for Facebook, so it can't access my browsing history, cookies, etc. So far it's working for me.

  3. Anonymous7:33 AM

    About doing a class, but wondering about time to prepare: I think you would agree that you have an enormous depth of experience and you shouldn't need to need to prepare so much to have enough, except that otherwise it's hard to put together a coherent story/lesson plan. So maybe consider something more extemporaneous like a detailed question and answer session, perhaps started with a brief lesson or discussion of your book?
    (I'm not going to sign in from this device but this is Tinkering Theorist, not that I've commented enough for you to remember.)

    1. I've had a couple of suggestions to do some sort of class or discussion around the topics covered in Navigating the Path to Industry... but my feeling is that most people aren't actually all that interested in paying for job search advice, so I haven't really looked into it. Perhaps I should. I do have a (paid!) engagement to speak about the topic at a nearby institution in September, so perhaps I should considering taking that talk and offering it online.

  4. Anonymous9:00 AM

    I hear you on the whole renovations thing. We are currently having our basement done and my husband works from home and it's driving him bonkers. Jackhammering is not conducive to working.
    He's self employed and like you also agonizes quite a bit about what to charge for his services. Most of the time he vastly undercharges clients, but he's getting better at it.

    1. We only had one day of jackhammering. It was unfortunately a day they needed me to be here to answer questions, though, and I was basically at the end of my rope by the end of the day.

      Today is another day I need to be here, to talk to an electrician who is coming by. So far, there is hammering, some sort of power tool (maybe a saw?), and music. I could ask them to turn off their radio, but I don't actually mind the music as long as it is not too loud. I do mind the hammering- but that is sort of essential.

      Your husband has my sympathy!

  5. Anonymous5:06 PM

    Your first class was great, and I would be very interested in a seminar on running effective meetings. Best wishes for the renovation!

    1. Thanks! I'm going to be putting up the registration page in the next day or so.


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