2012 Twenty Questions Interviews : Alyice Edrich
20 Questions Interview with Alyice Edrich
The Dabbling Mum® Founder
1. What's your name?
2. Where are you from?
Oregon, but grew up in California and now reside in South Dakota.
3. Who are you today?
I am mom. I will always be mom. But as my youngest child finishes her last year of high school, I'm discovering a new role emerging. It's both frightening and exciting. I am on a journey of self-discovery as I plan the next stage of my life.
4. What do you do? (Elevator speech)
I wear many hats. I am mom, wife, volunteer, and creative entrepreneur.
As a creative entrepreneur, I run an online magazine and shopping portal known as The Dabbling Mum®. It's a place where BUSY people and creative entrepreneurs can glean from insightful articles, step-by-step tutorials, and more.
As a freelance writer for hire, I work with small businesses as a ghostwriter. I write on various topics for their blogs, newsletters, and websites . . . and on rare occasions I also take over posting content to their Facebook pages.
As an author, I create how-to instructional books that I sell through a digital download service. Currently, I am working on a few crafting books, as well as a few small business tip booklets
As an artist, I create mixed media art. I currently do not have a style, though I've been told, by a few colleagues, that my art is classified as contemporary folk art. I currently have over 300 photographs and art pieces lists on Zazzle, a print-on-demand company which licenses my work, and in return I receive an affiliate commission for each sale.
5. What's your story (how did you get here)?
I was working as mobile notary public when I discovered that as much as I loved the gig, and the pay, I found it difficult to find last-minute babysitters — mainly because I was so picky of who watched my children. And I was frustrated that I had to learn the entire business on my own — by trial and error — because people in the industry guarded the ins and outs with their lives. So after I figured out how the business worked, I wrote a book on the subject.
To sell the book, I printed out pages at the local printer and had them bound. After people started asking for a quicker way to receive them, I started offering digital copies (this was before e-books became so popular).
I loved writing so much that I switched gears and began learning everything I could about the industry. Soon, I was being published in various online sites, and getting paid to write for small businesses.
Shortly thereafter, I realized that my dream of running a magazine could come true . . . so I started The Dabbling Mum® on a few free servers. As the years progressed, I purchased a domain name, trademarked my company name, and began publishing content on my own site.
At first, I geared the publication towards work-at-home, stay-at-home parents . . . after all, I was one and who better to understand them. But as my children began to need me less and less (got a love/hate relationship with the teenage years), I began to realize that my heart was less interested in the parenting movement and more interested in the creative / work-from-home movement, so I switched gears.
Today, I am working hard to blend my love of teaching others through the written word, and sharing inspiration through my art.
6. Why is creativity important to you?
Being creative frees the soul. It allows for exploration in ways other jobs or hobbies don't. You can start with a blank slate (whether paper or canvas) and walk away with something that enriches the lives of others.
7. When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I think I answered this when I told my story, but I'll say this . . . I have always enjoyed creating with my hands, and have always loved writing.
When I was a little girl, I was shy and very non-confrontational, so I wrote my feelings down and shared them with whomever hurt me or whomever I wanted to bless with kindness. My mom used to say that I didn't write letters, I wrote short books.
My love of art came because of my Aunt Sue. She was my mom's best friend and she used to take me on the weekends and spend time with me by creating art. At first, we painted statuary. Later we painted t-shirts. And we did a lot of vintage postcard collecting. Her love of art rubbed off on me and as the years progressed, I often tried many different forms of art.
8. How did you embrace it?
I loved every minute I spent writing and creating art. It was my time to truly be me.
9. How did that feel?
I stopped creating art for a few years, but after a bout of depression my husband encouraged me to pick up my paints and get creating again. When I picked up those paintbrushes, and created those craft projects, it was as if a part of me that was missing had been found again . . . and I came alive.
It truly is amazing how the simple act of creating something with your own two hands can change your whole world . . . how it can lift your spirits.
10. Where has your journey taken you?
Everywhere! Not in the physical sense, of course. But I've been able to reach so many homes through my publication The Dabbling Mum® and the emails I've received over the years have been priceless.
11. What challenges have you faced?
From a financial standpoint, it's been tough. As a stay-at-home mom (first and foremost), money has been tight, so anything I do to promote the business, or to pay for business expenses, has to come out of the money the business earns.
That meant, that if I wanted to pay a writer, I had to earn the money. At first, I earned the money through e-book sales. Later, I was introduced to Google Adsense and added them to the mix. Now that advertising dollars have slowed down, I'm back to relying on the sales of my e-books or my own writing services to pay my writers.
And of course, with limited funds, I haven't been able to hire a web designer so I had to learn how to code myself. Another challenge I faced was dealing with depression. After my mother died, I felt so alone . . . we had just moved to a new state where making new friends proved to be a difficult task, and my mom's death, combined with the economic crash, and my husband's job loss really played havoc on my emotions. Except for a few regular clients, and an occasional post here and there, my business pretty much sat dormant. It was online, it was still receiving an income from the e-books, and advertising . . . but I just didn't have the emotional energy to keep it growing and thriving.
12. What worked for you?
Being financially strapped, and a stay-at-home mom, I knew what others were going through in order to build a homebased business, so I could offer tips and advice from personal experience, not just hearsay. When I was publishing a weekly newsletter those personal tid-bits meant the world to my readers.
Another thing that worked was article marketing. Sharing content with other publications allowed me to receive a free ad spot in the form of my byline. With limited funds, those ad spots were priceless!
13. What didn't work for you?
Writing while I was depressed. My mind just couldn't form the thoughts necessary to create a publishable piece so it took me a lot longer to write something of value. For instance, I have one client I've worked with for ten years. Before the depression, I could whip something out for her in less than an hour. After the depression, that same style of writing would take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. Since I charged a flat-fee, she didn't notice, but it disheartened me.
14. What three tips can you share with those starting on a similar path?
The first thing I would say is, "don't be afraid to dabble." When I first started my publication, several people refused to be interviewed by me, let alone write for me, because to them, dabbling meant they weren't professionals. I am happy to say that I've since changed their minds, but that being said . . . if you don't try new things, you won't know where your true talent lies.
The second thing I would say is, "never give up." So what if life takes a turn in a direction you weren't expecting and you have to put your dreams and goals on hold, it's okay. Do something every week to work towards your goals and dreams, just to stay in-tune with what you want for yourself but don't beat yourself up if you can't get to where you thought you would be. When I was depressed, it was hard putting out a single article, but I forced myself to do it and I allowed myself to work within my current limitations, all the while knowing that it wouldn't last forever.
The third thing I would say is, "love yourself." You've got to love who you are first if you're ever going to be anything in this world. The hardest part about building a business from scratch — whether it's writing or art or something completely different — is being able to believe in yourself when the odds are against you, when nobody else believes in you, when you are rejected over and over again. And belief in yourself, in your idea, in your dreams can only begin when you love who you are first.
15. What are you working on now?
I just learned CSS style sheets and re-designed the entire site so I am going through the pages and fixing any kinks. Another thing I'm doing is removing content that no longer fits the direction I want to go with the site, or my business.
I used to have 200 more articles on the site, all of which I paid cash for . . . but recipes, parenting topics, direct sales or network marketing articles are no longer in line with the new direction I'm headed in . . . melding my creative worlds together means narrowing my focus.
This was really hard to do, but so important to the overall health of my business.
16. What's coming up for you in the next year?
I'm in the process of finalizing the digital collage sheets I am hoping to introduce in 2013.
I'm also starting the newsletter back up, but moving to a once a month schedule, so that I can keep fans up-to-date on new art for sale, new articles loaded to the site, while allowing me more time to create product: e-books, collage sheets, original art, and art prints.
17. What else do you desire/dream to do?
I'd like to get past my shyness/insecurities and get in front of the camera to create how-to video tutorials. I find hiding behind the written word so much easier!
And one day, I'd like a members-only section of the site.
18. How will you make that happen?
One day at a time. I'm not out for fame or riches, but I'd like to get back to making a comfortable living from my creative works.
19. What one question would you like to answer that hasn't been asked?
20. What’s your Web site and/or blog address?