MF 388 : June 2022 updates (mid-season finale)
Updated: Jun 28, 2022
Today, we cover summer updates, including tech and book tips, updates on Poshmark and my upcoming Poshmark book, and more. Note: the podcast will return in late July. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
June 2022 updates (mid-season finale)
For this week's tech tip, I wanted to share a simple way to create and brand QR codes. QR codes aren't new and have been around for well over a decade. For those of you unfamiliar with them, they are similar to barcodes in that they're scannable codes that link to information. The most common barcodes are found on items you buy at the store or online. Think of the grocery store when you checkout at a cashier or do your own self-scan checkout. You or the clerk passes your items over a scanner, which pulls up the item and price, which is then added to your bill. QR codes are similar in function but more resemble inkblot patterns and are square shape. QR codes often lead to websites but can be programmed to do everything from compose emails or text messages to issuing and receiving payments. Over the past several years, major brands have started using QR codes and we're now seeing them in restaurants, on buses, subways, movie posters and even in commercials aired during the Super Bowl.
In prior years, QR codes were not that easy to create or read, requiring third-party apps to do both. Now, they're much more accessible from a creation and consumer standpoint.
If you use Chrome, you can quickly create QR codes from to websites from your phone or computer.
Simply open up the website, hit the up arrow next to the URL and open up a delivery menu.
Among the options is to create a QR code. Click it to generate a QR code to the website.
Download the code and affix to any website, documentation, email signature line, etc..
Chrome's QR codes are fairly generic: black dots against a white background with a dinosaur icon in the middle.
If you want to spruce up the code, you can use a graphic design platform like Canva or Photoshop to change the background color and add an icon. Below is a simple illustration of how I created a QR code for bemovingforward.com and spruced it up with a different color scheme and icon. If you do step 3, make sure to test it out to make sure it still works.
Three steps to create and customize a QR code.
On the user end, the latest IOS on iPhone will automatically read QR codes when you open your camera and point it at the code. You no longer need to use a third-party app. I'm guessing the same is true with most Android phones.
Poshmark update: search within your own closet
Let's move on to Poshmark. Recently, Poshmark added a small enhancement that many of you may have missed. You now have the ability to search within your closet. If you're just starting out or have only a few items, this is not a feature you'll use very often. However, if you plan to grow your inventory and moreover, if you use Poshmark as an extension of a brick-and-mortar business as we do, then this will become a frequently used feature in your daily activities.
As I've discussed on the mini-series, inventory management is a big challenge when using Poshmark to sell items that you also sell in person. Currently, Poshmark doesn't interface with any store CRM (customer-relationship-management) platforms or POP (point-of-purchase) systems. This means, if we sell one item in-store that we have listed on Poshmark, we have to update the Poshmark listing manually. If you have a small closet then it should be fairly easy to scroll and find a specific listing. However, once you grow your closet to several hundred or thousand listings, that becomes unwieldy. That's when search engines become vital for inventory management. In the past, if we wanted to update a listing we had to search all of Poshmark to do so. This would include every active listing from every Poshmark seller. The problem with the universal search is that it's too broad. If you search "green coat," you'll pull up thousands of listings. This is why we added SKU or stock-keeping unit numbers to our listings. We could narrow down the results by using this unique identifier. We typically use the style number on the tag as the SKU. However, even doing this wouldn't always narrow down all the results on Poshmark's universal search since other sellers might have added that same information to their listings if they're selling the same item.
Now, with the search-within-your-closet feature, you can restrict searches to just your closet. This is useful for both broad searches such as the aforementioned "green coat," if you're styling a potential customer or specific searches using a style or SKU number. Both are illustrated below.
Broad search within our closet.
Narrow search within our closet using a SKU.
We still add SKUs to new listings as it helps with inventory management and is a practice I recommend all sellers use, even if you have a small closet.
Writing series: why your first book should not be a co-written one
A few weeks ago, I wrapped up the writing series with a recap and review of the authors I interviewed for that series (episodes 385 and 386). Originally, I wanted to add some of my own tips and best practices but for time sake I didn't get to on those episodes. Moreover, I wanted the focus to be on the great guests from that series. So now, I'm going to talk a little about a topic that was not covered on the series: the pitfalls of co-writing a book.
I don't talk about my prior books that much anymore, save for the coloring book. The reason is that I have withdrawn my story from both of those books (with full reservation and preservation of my copyright) and they are now out-of-print. I have also ended my association and dissolved all ties with my former co-author. Frankly, co-writing two books was a very unpleasant experience and in retrospect, a significant error in judgment on my part in accepting that invitation. I won't get into all the down and dirty details today but what I will share are some important lessons I learned from that experience. I hope these will inform you if you are considering co-writing a book or have been invited to do so. More importantly, I hope I save you a lot of wasted time and headache.
Co-writing a book is not less work. On paper, it may seem like an easier task to co-write a book. You may think you'll write half, the other person will write half, and therefore, it's half the work. This could not be more wrong. Co-writing a book is not only more complicated but will more likely double or triple the work rather than halve it. Logistics, deadlines, workflows, and mixed writing styles are just some of the obstacles you will have to work through.
You will run into problems. Writing a book should be taken seriously and treated like a business. Several of the authors I spoke to on the writing series emphasized how a book is either an extension of a business or in the case of a full-time writer, your entire business. If you co-write a book, I guarantee you and the other person will not be on the same page on one or more of the following: expectations, deadlines, marketing strategy (and tone), writing schedules, and a hundred other factors.
You are entering into a business relationship. While it may seem fun to co-write a book with a friend or colleague, you are adding a new and potentially complex and fraught dimension to your relationship with that person. In other words, co-writing a book is a essentially a business partnership. This is true whether you're going the traditional publishing route, in which you'll both be beholden to a publishing contracts' terms and conditions, or if you're self-publishing. I would argue that the latter is even more complicated as it involves structuring revenue and expense sharing, which will add loads more to your accounting and tax filing work. While you and your friend or colleague may get along great as a friends, the same may not be true once you decide to go into business together.
Bottom line (lessons):
Avoid co-writing a book as your first one: Writing a book is challenging enough. Co-writing one won't make it any easier. Focus on telling your story and building your strengths as a writer. Once you have more experience under your belt, then you can consider if you want to co-write a second book (if at all).
Exception: On episode 377, Rich Perry makes a compelling argument for getting experience by participating in a joint-venture (JV), in which you write one chapter of a collaborative work. I agree that it can be an excellent way to get your writing chops and test the waters. The only caveat I would add is to make sure the JV is run by an experienced author or someone who has excellent organizational skills. A few years ago, I was invited to add a chapter to a JV that ended up fizzling out. Fortunately, it folded early before I started writing anything so I didn't waste any time or effort. That aside, being responsible for one chapter or section of a collaborative book will be far less cumbersome than managing a co-written book.
If you co-write a book, make sure you create a formal agreement: Spell out every term and condition. Talk out all assumptions, responsibilities, and most importantly potential problems and solutions. I also strongly recommend an exit plan such that you're not bound together forever. Below are just some of the considerations and steps you should work out:
Exit: Before you start co-writing your magnum opus, decide what the end result will be and how you'll get there. Will you traditionally publish or self-publish? If the former, work with your agent and the publisher to hash out the terms and conditions such as proceed sharing, marketing, etc. If the latter, then you're in for a lot of administrative work. Consider making the book a limited run with a fixed publishing term and agree to an end-date, in which the book will be unpublished. The route you take will have many considerations and require a formal meeting of the minds on how you'll get there.
Deadlines: I'm a firm believer in deadlines. Make sure you come up with them and adhere to them for all milestones on the project. More importantly, come up with agreed-upon consequences if one of the writers misses a deadline. Otherwise, you're asking for trouble.
Responsibilities: Most partnerships aren't perfect 50-50 splits but each writer should strive to make it as fair and even-handed as possible when it comes to what he or she brings to the table. Talk these out. In the alternative, if one party is doing more work, then split the proceeds in a way that reflects that. Note: if you're going the traditional route, these are matters you'll have to work out with your literary agent and publisher.
Anticipate problems: You're going to have them. Talk them out early. Think of every possible issue you'll run into from the writing to the rewriting stage to the editing to the post-publishing and marketing of the book. Unless you're really similar or have extensive experience working with one another, assume you'll have clashes in style, workrate, or expectations in one or more of these areas. Talk these out thoroughly and come up with ways to deal with them before you start.
Formalize the agreement: Once you've hashed out the terms and conditions, set it into a formal contract. You may even want an attorney (or separate attorneys) to handle that. Include formal start and end-dates, and break or escape clauses in the event things don't work out.
Finally, if all of this sounds like it's more trouble than it's worth, then don't do it. Instead, write your book and wish the other person luck. While I've seen examples of great co-writer duos, I've seen an equal or greater number that have ended in disaster. Just remember, any endeavor that involves you working with another person should be weighed heavily before starting or putting down a single word on paper.
As the title of this episode indicates, this will serve as a mid-season finale. I'll be taking about a month off to work on several high priority projects.
First, I'm in the midst of finalizing my book on Poshmark, which I'm getting ready to self-publish. The manuscript is pretty much done and I'm getting feedback from two beta readers who are also experienced Poshmark sellers. My hope is to get the book out within the next month or two.
Second, I'm doing some major work on my website and the podcast, including some overdue maintenance and clean-up that I never got around after I transitioned to a new website in early 2021 (see episode 324).
As a result, I made the tough decision to temporarily step away recording new episodes so I could focus my time and attention fully to these two big projects.
I plan to return no later than Thursday, July 21st with episode 389. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the latest episodes and catch up on ones you may have missed.
Check out the Moving Forward mini-series collection
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