What to do when blogging and online business hurts

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Selling online involves a surprising amount of interaction with others. Etsy convos, blog posts, emails, forums, tweets, timelines, and pins are all ways we communicate with our customers, friends, and target market online. Sometimes it hurts more than you might expect.

After three plus years of blogging at what certainly couldn’t be called anything less than a “full-time” level, I’m still not 100% used to online interaction.

People are different online.

As an online entrepreneur, you’ve got to have a pretty thick skin. In fact, that’s an understatement. I think you need armor. Alligators, armadillos, rhinoceroses, and porcupines come to mind. I’m talking pretty heavy duty defenses.

Otherwise, you’re going to get hurt.

My defenses aren’t so great so I get bounced around sometimes. So does Kim. What about you? Have you ever felt wounded by a relationship you have online? Either with a single person or with your whole audience?

What’s the best way to deal with it?

You certainly can’t roll up in a ball and hide. If you don’t “put yourself out there” it’s going to be a long road to success online. It’s a pretty long haul as it is, you don’t want to stretch it even further.

No, you have to be out there. You have to do your best to put the real you on the line. You’ve got to run with your ideas, put them in the public eye, pray they do well, and be able to handle it when they don’t. Which is often.

Here’s five ways to deal with the cyber version of a bruised ego or hurt feelings:

  1. Spend some time with real world friends and family. If your family is like ours, they don’t really understand the internet business world, so they usually talk about other things. That can be really good at times!
  2. Back away from blogging or social media for a couple of days or weeks, but come back! (backing away is dangerous. If you don’t set a time limit, it can turn into quitting.)
  3. Remind yourself that people online sometimes forget that you’re a real person, not just a program on the computer. Don’t take it personally.
  4. Remember your vision. Hopefully it’s clear enough that you can concentrate on the big dreams that made you start this whole thing to begin with. Focus on the destination and take another step.
  5. Take a breath . Have a cup of tea (or something stronger). Take a walk outside. One of the biggest challenges of working online is in becoming too wrapped-up in what happens online. There is life out there… go see!

I’m sure you’ve had times that the world of online business has broken through your best defenses. What do you do? What advice do you have for getting back up on that horse?

I’d love to hear in the comments!

Comments

  1. Oh I so much agree with your comments Tim. In regard to hurt feelings… put them behind you and get yourself to a happier place.

    I try to keep in mind that the customer is always right and I’ll stand on my head to accommodate them and fix what they are complaining about. Do the fix immediately, carefully, and cheerfully and never, never go on the attack.

    Keep in mind that there are only so many hours in a day. Do the best you can and never allow yourself to feel guilty if you didn’t get around to completing a goal. Tomorrow is another day. We are human and far from perfect. And, you know something? That’s okay.

    I’m enjoying your posts and I’m happy they don’t come everyday as I wouldn’t have time to really enjoy them. Keep at it and know that you are appreciated.
    Faye
    BaubleBinBeads & SlicKnits at Etsy and beyond

    • Tim Layton says:

      What a great comment Faye! It sounds like you’ve really got a good approach and perspective. Great advice (and thanks for the encouragement regarding my posting frequency of late!) – Tim

  2. This is so very true. (unfortunately.) It stings when you’ve poured your heart into something, and it meets with criticism. If you’re not careful, it can wound you to the point that it makes you afraid to create or take risks.

    Also, I find that many times I get offended, not because of what people say, but what they don’t say. I attempt to sell online as much for the interaction as for the money. When customers or readers do not respond in kind, I feel I’ve wasted the effort or that something’s wrong with me. But really, in this day and age, people are so accustomed to dealing with huge impersonal corporations, they tend to not interact much. And that style has to be okay too.

    • Tim Layton says:

      It’s true that what people don’t say can be just as much of a challenge. I’ve been very thankful here on Etsypreneur.com to have lots of comments and interaction with readers, but I’ve written hundreds of posts on various other sites that have had the big zero in the comment counter. It does make you wonder what you did wrong! No doubt about it.

      Thanks for your comment.

      – Tim

  3. This article came at the perfect time. I was feeling very discouraged yesterday and thinking, “Why am I doing this? It’s not working. (selling online) But today I have my favorite music on and working and moving forward. Music really helps me. There’s always a new day.

    Thank you for helping us stay positive.
    Kathy
    Alex And Ria – Etsy

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Kathy! Good to see you here.

      You bring up a great point about music that I SO often forget. Music definitely helps while doing certain types of work.

      Thanks for the feedback!

      -Tim

  4. I rent a bedroom in a house and I have a large dog. My landlord won’t let me put him in the yard so I have to take him out several times a day. I make sure at least one walk is a good, long, hour plus walk at a local park or hiking trail. No matter how bad my day has been after we get going I start to relax. I let my mind wander, I enjoy the day and nature and the time with my dog. By the time I get home I feel like a new person.

    When I tell people I do this they almost always say, oh you must have a lot of free time, or I don’t have time for that. No, I don’t have a lot of free time. Trying to run my business keeps me really busy, I make the time. I feel it is really important to step away from everything for awhile. It helps me be more creative, it helps me unwind and it helps me deal with the hurt feelings, etc. that can happen when you are dealing with people online.

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Lori,

      Thanks for your comment on this. You remind me of one of my best stress busting techniques, which is to get into nature. I’m a woods guy and I kind of live on the beach, so the nature that is readily available is nice, but not my favorite. I’ve thought of moving to Oregon or Northern California so I can have the woods and the beach. But then I’d miss the calm clear water and white sand! Can’t have it all I guess.

      You make another good point regarding the amount of time you stay out. I think it does take awhile in nature to slow down and start to notice the sounds and air around you. There is always more than you first notice and it always reminds me that nothing I’m working on is that big of a deal in the overall scheme of things.

      Thanks again!

      Tim

  5. Great post! I agree people aren’t their typical selves when they have a computer screen between them & others. Hopefully, they are better when looking people in the eye! :)
    However, I’ve always been taught that folks that are being cranky, either in person, or on line……..are there to be our teachers. Without them, we wouldn’t get a chance to practice the skills it takes to deal with these folks!

    • Tim Layton says:

      Great perspective Sue! Consider these things as opportunities to learn. Love it! Thanks for your comment.

      Tim

  6. Thank you for so many nice Tips. I’m in the process of preparing to open my Etsy shop. I’m busy creating, reading all your posts, and learning the ropes of running a successful on-line business.

    I also wanted to mention that everyones comments are extremely helpful as well. I’m very excited and looking forward to joing all of you on Etsy.

    Keep up the good work and please keep posting.
    :)

    • Tim Layton says:

      Thanks for your comment Bobbie. I agree that the comments are often better than the original post! I’m glad you’ve noticed.

      Tim

  7. It really stinks when you work your butt off on something to not have to appreciated, noticed, or you get rude comments on it, and this goes for products and services such as helpful blogs. You have to look at it as a learning process for who your target market is, and who it is not. It is just as important to realize the type of people who will never like your stuff, as it is to find those who will love it. You can never please 100% of people all of the time and that is OK. Those who love what you do will love it even more without having a watered down version of your product or service that tries to appeal to everyone.

  8. What a great post! Remember, everyone has an opinion.

    And that must be respected. Deal with problems to the best of your ability. That’s all you can do. If in the end the outcome is good, congratulations! If not, then stand up straight, brush yourself off, look forward to another day and smile, because you know you did the best you could. There will be plenty of positives!

    I had a very bad medical scare a few years back, and it’s amazing what you take for granted. In my soul searching, I realized what was really, really important to me and moved forward in a positive direction. This is one of the reasons I began selling on Etsy. With no local avenues, it was a great place to get my feet wet, and get feedback on well…my talents. I absolutely love creating!

    We are all artists in one way or another. We look at the world in a different way, a unique way…our own way. Look for what makes you happy and keep working to maintain that. Don’t let anyone take it away from you. Listen to music, listen to the birds, take a walk, take a bath! Do whatever you need to keep yourself rejuvenated and refreshed, no matter how hard it is at times. Sometimes, you just need to step away. That’s okay, because you know in your heart you’ll always be back.

    And Tim, I have to agree, once a day is a lot, especially for you. Take a break whenever you need one. We all understand and appreciate all that you and Kim do.

    • Tim Layton says:

      What an inspiring comment Karen! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave it. I hope you had a great weekend and your week is off to a good start today.

      Funny you mention the birds. Every morning I step outside and the sky is busy with birds. Today, however, it was especially fun to watch. It was like they were putting on an airshow complete with aerobatics and lots of noise!

      Thanks again for being here.

      Tim

  9. I missed you. Glad you are back!
    deb

    • Tim Layton says:

      Nice to be missed! Your little avatar is making me want a cup of coffee! We recently made a big switch from coffee to oolong tea. Love the tea and it seems to have some health benefits… don’t laugh… I swear some of my grey hairs are turning back to black! But we still drink a pot of coffee once or twice a week. (we used to drink two or three pots a day!)

  10. Tim, so glad you are back, you were missed, got worried something might have happened.

    But I do think it is a good idea for you to take a break, which we all need at times, it makes it easier to deal with grumpy people:)

    Keep up the good and informative work, both you and Kim are part of my world and I look forward to everything in my in box from both of you.

    Thanking you
    Elly

  11. Great article Tim!
    This is something I wrestle with a lot – not just from customer interaction but also lack thereof which comes from low or no sales. It’s hard not to take it personally when your stuff just doesn’t sell despite your efforts. Some days I decide I’m giving up, but then remind myself that I don’t have a lot to lose and giving up is a lot more depressing than at least trying.
    Thanks for your insightful writing, I really appreciate it :)

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Kelly,

      You know… I truly believe that if you don’t give up that your creative brain will figure out exactly what steps are needed to bring those sales in. It can take awhile if you’ve got lots of other stuff going on in your life, but if you don’t give up, it will happen.

      Then you’ll be really glad you didn’t give up.

      I’ve always loved the saying “if you don’t quit, you can’t lose”.

      I hope you keep on keeping on!

      Tim

  12. Hey there! We missed you…but I’m glad you took a break if you needed it :-)

    So far I haven’t really had to deal with negative feedback or comments, but I do definitely experience the need to get away from the computer for a while and just BREATHE!

    One way I do that is making sure I take a walk in the morning before I settle down to business for the day. It’s as much for my mental and spiritual health as it is for physical health.

    I’ve also found that I’ve had to deal with bouts of discouragement from lack of sales. These are the times when I give myself a few days off and just hang with my kids, visit a friend, read a good novel… Often, when I get back to work, I’m re-energized and have fresh ideas that I’m itching to try.

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Malaika,

      Good to hear from you. I love the morning walks too. As summer rolls around it becomes a choice of getting up at 5am to walk while it’s cool, or sweating your butt off once the sun is up. I might switch to a morning paddle in my kayak for summertime!

      Thanks for your thoughts and tips.

      Tim

  13. That’s was a great topic, Tim!!
    I guess we all get hurt (real or cyber life) and we have to take that hurt and turn it into something positive.
    Ok, a client complained so make sure to not take it personally and use it so you won’t make the same mistake again or whatever had happened.
    We are all human and we make mistakes and as Tim said sometimes people forget that and think that we are like machines that will NEVER make mistakes (I wish but hey, I am only human!).
    I once had a client that, after I had to post a brooch for her twice (she had her wrong address on PayPal so I had to chase the package and end up losing money in the process). complained about it saying that I made one of the ribbons with a slightly (and I mean slightly) difference in length than the others. She didn’t even thank me for going out of my way to find her package! So what could I do? I apologized and use it as a reminder of always double check if not triple check it!
    That was one of my first sales and it kind of hurt but I didn’t take it personal.
    :-)

    Thank you, Tim. I really appreciate your tips.

    • Tim Layton says:

      I’m glad to see that you kept going after that! Luckily, people that act like that are pretty rare.

      Thanks for your encouragement!

      Tim

  14. One of the biggest helps I’ve found is similar to number one, getting in touch with others – but in a private online forum for other stationery designers. It’s nice to have like-minded and more experienced folks to vent to about difficult situations and to offer advice.

    Email and other online communication is so boobytrapped with potential to accidentally offend – I personally follow the rule that if I’m feeling steamed about a situation, I avoid responding right away in a knee jerk reaction, and ask one of my real life friends if my response sounds good BEFORE I send it –

    Also, in a really tough situation, the kind that makes me feel like quitting everything I love (and I work in the wedding industry which DOES have the potential to be very heated!) I try to envision myself one year from now, and how I’ll probably forget most of the details!!

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Ruth!

      I love your tip about envisioning yourself one year from now. You’re so right that you probably won’t remember any of the little things that bother you. What you will remember is where you were in general a year before, and when you compare that to where you are the obvious progress is very encouraging.

      Interesting to hear that you can keep good friendships that support you through a private forum. I know lots of people who are a part of peer focus groups and I know they enjoy it.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Tim

  15. Tim,

    You make very good points! I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now. I’ve blogged hru a bout with breast cancer and treatment, plus I maintain an Etsy shop, and I have been VERY fortunate on both. I have had a very minimal amount of negative experiences online. BUT, that said, the delete button is an excellent tool, especially for crappy comments, and I’ve used it twice.

    On my blog I try to have good content available all the time. The response to my post on Elmer’s glue crackle painting has blown me away. I’ve found bloggers are an enthusiastic and uplifting bunch.

    I find family time, plus personal time with good music, a cuppa tea and a good book can brighten my mood when I’m low. We now live close to all our kids and grand kids which makes for an excellent boost.

    The other thing is, I LOVE what I make and sell online. Especially painting, which I’ll be doing more often. When primitive Raggedy Anns became work and not fun, I re focused on primitive Santas and that has made a great difference in my enthusiasm. Also, I rediscovered vintage style Halloween arts and crafts. I made a few pillows on a whim and found they sell. I keep trying new stuff all the time.

    Thanks for your post. It helps to keep things in perspective!

    Regards,
    Ann@makethebestofthings@gmail.com

    • Tim Layton says:

      Thanks for your insightful comment Anne. Vintage style Halloween arts and crafts sounds cool. Halloween is a MAJOR to-do in the historic district in Punta Gorda, which is where we live. Kim decorates every year and you wouldn’t believe the number of kids that come by. Literally four or five hours of kids lined-up to get candy!

      I hope you come back and remind us about your Halloween stuff next year!

      Tim

  16. I recently had a very tough customer, who just complained about everything that is so essential to what my product is–being handmade…it’s true essence. You know what I mean? I thought, why in the world are you shopping on Etsy? There are plenty of made in China, factory born, cookie cutter items you can get instead.

    Sometimes, you can feel so assaulted, but it probably is just a rite of passage. I figure, I probably have to get that one negative feedback from someone to really say I have arrived. So far, she has not given it, but I keep checking to see it there! I think I was able to calmly reply to her, and not get too defensive…I hope!!

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Courtney,

      From reading a few of the other feedback comments at your shop, I’m thinking you don’t need to worry too much! Your work looks great (not that I’ll be needing any of those items personally…) and it sounds like your customers love you.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Tim

  17. These are such great tips and definitely ones I think everyone that’s just getting started with an online presence should read. It’s hard to be prepared for the first negative comment you get, but it’s certainly easier with tips like these. At least it’s something most people have had to deal with; it helps knowing that!

  18. Off current subject for a brief moment…I’m a newbee to Etsy politics/rules/undertakings. I followed your suggestion a few weeks back and started up with Gator. What a pain in the neck! Their business procedures are lacking professionalism. I signed up; gave my credit card, etc…..still cannot find out the next step. They seem to have several people with several different ideas. I had a website 10 years ago with my domain name and it was pretty easy back then. Quite disappointed…any suggestions? JC

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi JC,

      My guess is that the problem you’re dealing with is more of a knowledge gap type thing. Companies like Hostgator sell a technical product and I think they try as hard as they can to make the steps very easy for anyone, even if they don’t have any web knowledge at all. But I know from my personal experience that sometimes even what is “plain and simple” to a technical company isn’t so simple to you and me.

      I’ve had very good experience with Hostgator. I mean to the point that I could hang a Hostgator flag in front of my house. Very good. So I would imagine your problem can be resolved simply by emailing support@hostgator.com with a straightforward question. Even if you have to email step-by-step you sometimes get better results with a very direct quesiton than with a general “I can’t figure this mess out” kind of email.

      So if you signed-up and paid then you should have gotten an email at the email address you used when you signed up. That email would give you login details to your cPanel (control panel for your hosting account). From there, you can go down the screen until you find the icon labled “quick install” (I think that’s what it is called) and click on that. Then you follow the instructions to install WordPress and the system does it for you. From there, it’s a matter of learning WordPress, which is a longer term undertaking. But the basics are easily learned within a few hours.

      Try emailing them at support@hostgator.com with a direct question. If you ask, they’ll sometimes even do the steps for you for free. Like I said, Hostgator is anything BUT unprofessional. They are totally awesome in my experience.

      I hope things turn around for you soon!

      Tim

  19. I have not commented lately because I have been so busy implementing all of your great ideas and good advice I haven’t had any extra time but I had to comment on this one. This is a great post about something that is a real issue for those who are putting it out there online. Thank you for addressing it. It was a concern of mine when deciding to take the blog step and even the online store step. I live in a very small town and have learned, even in real life, not everyone wants you to succeed and the sting of being personally critiqued/criticized is difficult. Maybe people who don’t live in a small town deal with this too but certainly not at every turn.
    I think it is wise to remember that in some fashion these critics admire what you are doing. If they thought it was unworthy they wouldn’t take the time to read what you have to say or respond to it.
    We all make choices every day wether to say something encouraging that lifts another up or something discouraging that drags them down. It is our choice and I believe it is these one by one decisions that make us who we are and make our life what it is. Will I be a person who helps the situation/person or will I be someone who hurts another when I get the opportunity, and what good would that possibly do for them or me? Online or in life those who choose to discourage are acting on a selfish need to temporarily feel superior but making someone else feel less worthy, less knowledgeable, less skilled, less whatever. Honesty yes and kindness, it is always possible to be honest and kind at the same time. Knowing your own intentions and knowing who you are, the only response is to feel sorry for people who are feeling so badly about themselves as to need to get a dig in on you.
    For me, I try to honestly asses what a critic might say and see how I can learn from it or improve from it, pray for the person and pray that I can forgive and forget and get past it (I’m always so annoyed at my self when I let that person continue to hurt me by reliving it again and again in my head – again, my choice!) and then to decide to feel empowered by the information that I’m doing something that is creating a reaction, which if you are going to have an impact on the world, you know that the critics will come!
    So I don’t know what happened and I’m sorry it did but all it means is that you are making a difference, and that’s what you wanted to do. People are paying attention to you and that’s cool.

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