Calling ALL music teacher/directors

Calling all band, choir, and orchestra nerds 😉

I have a great way to make a custom affordable addition to that ink stained old dry erase board or dusty chalkboard. This is the best dry erase surface I have every seen. Top that off with with a custom design. Easy to install (for you or your parent volunteers) or I can come install if you are in the Austin/San Antonio area.

This is printed graphic on high quality car wrap vinyl, it is durable and easy to install. Customize it to suit your needs. Share this with other music educators or others not in the music education scene, maybe their classrooms could use a little refreshing.

music white board

Images are low resolution and not a sample of actual products produces by Lucky Sky Graphics.

 

My Old Fashioned Approach to Twitter

Some of my ideas may seem Old Fashioned or out of touch, but it’s working for me. I’ve added 130 new followers in one month using these ideas. Now that may not seem like many, but they are followers that I didn’t buy or trick into following me. They genuinely want to follow me, and have stayed followers, because they chose to.

I follow-back. At least I follow-back tweeters that appear to be a legitimate account (not porn) or check mark bluethose that are just building a followers list. Following is the only way to meet other tweeters. I follow-back about 90-95% of followers.

I am skeptical of accounts that only re-tweet, or only post ads or links to their own sights. I have found the best twitter followers are the ones that are actually engaged with their twitter posts. In other words tweeters who mix it up by re-tweeting, favoriting, commenting, and posting original material. That is proof that their account is managed by a human, not an app.

I unfollow. Don’t try and trick me in to remaining a follower by unfollowing me hours or days Xafter we have you have followed me. Unless you hold some specific interest to me I won’t remain on your followers list. Just look for the words “FOLLOWS YOU” when you pull up your “following” list, or use an app that captures when someone unfollows you.

Make a personal connection. Don’t let your first contact be a request to go to a link. Like I said, “Old Facomputer handshakeshioned,” say hi, introduce yourself (not just your business). Several connections have become loyal customers and a few have turned into actual friendships.

Tweet. Tweet interesting content. Be sure and tweet things that are relative to your business, but don’t stop there. Include tweets that are interesting, news worthy, fun, topical, and even trending. If you are having an actual face to face conversation with a business or customer you usually talk about other things besides business, open up the conversation to other topics.

Solitude

Solitude in the sand dunes I work from home, not as a ‘home maker’ but I run my business from home. My business is a sign shop and digital printing. I have turned over my home office, my dining room and front hallway, and soon at least a portion of my garage for my business. My working companions are two dogs, who are gated out of the work space and I spend a portion of my days letting them in and out of the house. Other than than the two of them and rarely one of my children or the hubby, I work alone.

Working alone isn’t for everyone. It is difficult. There is no one to share the successes, no one to commiserate the failures, no one to share the work load, and no one else to take over when you need a break. It is just me. Alone. By myself.

Solitude is a scary word. There are people who run fast and far away from being alone, especially working alone. Many people think working alone from home sounds like a dream come true, just think hours of comfortable uninterrupted solitude to finally finish ___________ (fill in the blank with what you want to get done). Sure, much of the time it is just that, uninterrupted solitude to get the job done, but lately for me it is just distraction after distraction.

Distractions are my brains way of filling the solitude. I also have ADD, so I don’t have to look for distractions they find me. It’s my way of staying sane when the solitude turns to loneblue sunsetliness.

Tomorrow is another day, hell, five minutes from now I’ll be focused on something else. Now, on to the next distraction…until next time.

Top 5 Reasons to NOT work from home

This list is part of the reason I started working from home, but after having a home office for a while now (7 years) there are some parts of being at home that definitely make me less than productive.

 

1 w. butterfliesQuiet. Yes, it is quiet and when I am writing that is incredibly important. The problem is that most of the time it is just too quiet. I live in the country and can hear the birds and far away sounds, but not necessarily noise. Some days it is deafeningly quiet. Most of my work is in graphic design or sign making and doesn’t engage my whole thought process so I have ended up with the most unproductive thing in my office…a television. I grew up with TV noise in the background and I find myself listening to it more than watching…most of the time. It can also be very lonely. It’s just me, by myself, with little interaction with the outside world.

 

2Refrigerator, or should I just say the entire kitchen. Even if you have access to a kitchen at work it is not stocked like your home kitchen. Since I am here almost every day it has actually ended up being stocked more like an office frig. I have to be very careful how I stock the kitchen because I have full access to it and very little will power when it comes to snacking.

 

3maggie line drawing minus blackPets, or animals, or kids. I find it amazing that when I am away from the house my Boston terrier can stay inside all day with no one here to let her out. When I am here she seems to need out every hour. My first attempt at a home based business was when my kids were small, when I wasn’t trying to work, they could stay busy playing quietly for hours, but the minute I sat down to do something productive they required my attention, no, demanded my attention. That time it didn’t work for me so I gave it up that venture. I try and plan for those interruptions to curb the frustration, but I must admit it is hard to plan for the cows getting out of the fence or the dogs encountering some wild critter in the yard.

 

4The commute. My commute is great! No traffic, very short, and extremely economical. Sounds great, right? Except that I am hear all the time, and I do get cabin fever. I get out and go to lunch with friends a few times a month. My house is always a mess because my business spills out of my designated space into the hall, then the dining room table, the living room, the garage… I hope you have a space to work in that you love and it inspires you. If you don’t like to be in the space you might not go to work some days.

 

5 webAvailability. Yes, you will be available to flex your schedule and go volunteer doing something fulfilling. Maybe you could volunteer at your kids school or after school activities, plan a friend’s shower or get involved in an organization you find gratifying. I experienced being bullied into volunteering because of my flexible schedule and the perception of availability. Many folks that work in a more traditional work environment assume that because you have the flexibility to work from home then you are the one that has more time to volunteer than they do. Actually I have less time. I have also over extended myself, then inevitably my business picks up and I have more commitments than I can handle. My advise: Be very selective about where, whenvolunteers, and how much you make yourself available otherwise you could be doing more volunteer work than running your business.

 

As I mentioned at the beginning these problems were the reasons I decided to go into business for myself. And are still the reason (most days) I work really hard to grow my business and make sure that I am profitable. Running a home based business is rewarding, but those rewards turned into challenges I never expected. Good luck with your ventures into home based businesses.

 

Thank you for reading.

Jeannene

Lucky Sky Graphics

Major Computer Crash takes my Roland BN-20 out for days

I’m still recovering from a computer crash about 10 days ago, the printer I used as a rip station to run my Roland BN-20 crashed. It is (was) a Gateway DX4860 that I purchased before I purchased my printer and was informed that this machine with an intel i3 processor and windows 7 could handle the printer just fine. While that was true, I discovered quickly that I couldn’t do anything else with the computer while a job was printing. It was so frustrating to have the computer freeze and require a reboot in the middle of printing on a wide format print job. Not only is it a waste of vinyl and ink, but because the BN-20 is one of the slowest wide format prints it is a HUGE waste of time.

BN-20I made lots of adjustments to optimize the computer, I can’t remember exactly what I did, but at the time it seemed like a lot. I basically did everything that I could that didn’t cost too much. As a start-up I had to use as many resources that I had on hand, until I actually started making some money. I still had problems with it freezing with some of the simplest of operations while I was printing, so I had to just let it be while printing. My son had an Aspire mini tower that was his first major purchase many years earlier, it was just collecting dust in his room. It runs on Vista and has a noisy graphics card, but it would still connect to the internet and had an open usb to run the BN-20. Wiped the hard drive and reinstalled only the essential operating system and drivers, installed VerseWorks and connected the BN-20. It worked like a charm and I was able to use the Gateway for design work while the printed whirred along.

Fast forward about a year and a half and I decided the business was successful enough to do some computer upgrades. Just what should I do? Since the Gateway didn’t have any problems running the BN-20 I decided to invest in a Lenovo with an i7 processor, something I could use for design work on the go. It is a great machine and the gateway was chugging along.

My business was getting busier and more profitable. I had an issue with the printer that shut me down for almost two weeks. The technician noted that it looked like my monitor was going out, there were some strange pixels and an occasional lines. The monitor, like the Aspire computer, was retrieved from one of my kids, it was buried under layers of dust and behind a pile of junk on his deck. One day while trying to print, the monitor went black. I rebooted the Gateway and the monitor came back on and got everything running just to black out again, after pressing every button on the monitor with no results except the pull up the monitors menu. I rebooted again, this time the monitor came on for a few seconds, then one more time and nothing. The gateway had an upgraded graphics card with VGA and DVI ports, so I thought that card had gone out so I plugged into the primary VGA port and nothing, I connected to an external USB graphics card and nothing. I went back to the graphics card and connected to the VGA port and nothing. Tried all four options with a different monitor…still nothing.

I had fortunately installed VersaWorks on the Lenovo laptop, because I was trying to use it to run my newly acquire CammPro cutter. I connected it to the BN-20 and couldn’t get it to print. I ran every upgrade I thought would get it going. The computer and printer were connected, but VersaWorks wouldn’t print…and of course it was Saturday. Monday started with an ‘earlish’ call to Roland in California to figure out if they could help me get the printer going again. It was going to require a 710 ‘meg’ download. I don’t live in a city, I’m actually about 5 miles down a dead-end country road, so our internet options are limited, and to top it off we were having severe weather, so that would mean the possibility of the connection dropping was even higher. After a couple of hours and two attempts I packed up and headed into my husband’s office to borrow their wireless internet. Finally, downloaded and upgraded and it seemed to be ready to print. Headed home and it took a couple of calls to Roland service and was finally up and running. [Note: make sure you’re connected to a USB 3.0, not a 2.0 or an always on connection]

I don’t want to keep printing on the laptop, so I picked up a new desk top. Computer upgrades happen so fast that I decided to do a pretty big upgrade so I won’t be doing another hardware upgrade for a couple of years. I love shopping were the salespeople actually use and know the equipment so I shop at Fry’s Electronics when I can. Thanks to their staff for asking the right questions and providing several options and suggestions with pro and cons about each machine. ImageI ended up with an ASUS with an i7 processor and 32 gig of RAM. It is an amazing computer, I haven’t been this impressed with a computer in a long time. Don’t get me wrong the Lenovo is a great and fast machine, but I was so overwhelmed by switching to windows 8 and didn’t notice the speed.

The old retrieved monitor has never looked better and I pulled the hard drive from the Gateway and it is heading to my local donation center. Now I’ve decided to rearrange the office to maximize the use of the laptop and the new desktop with the printer and the cutter from one desk. Wish me luck making that transition, it will be a little like a Rubik’s Cube rearranging this office.

Thanks for visiting my blog and website. Have a great day.

What’s in a name?

Lucky Sky Graphics! How important is your business name?

Lucky Sky Graphics wasn’t the first name I started with; it wasn’t even the second name. I had decided to go to the USSC (United State Sign Council) show in Atlantic City to research the sign and graphics business but I didn’t have a business name. If you want to register your business for the discounted conference rate you must have a name. So I came up with OMT, an acronym for “One More Thing”.  At the time it was funny. I am a professional historian, I was involved with a large booster club, I’m a landlord, one kid in College and a Senior in High School, and we run a small cattle ranch. So…why not just add “one more thing”? The truth was, I didn’t love the name…I felt like I was complaining about the responsibilities I was juggling.

When I finally decided to take the plunge and invest in a printer I found a supplier I wanted to buy from—and they were having a BIG sale. Typical for me I waited until the last day of the sale to place my order, but to get the sales tax waived I needed a sales tax number. I applied online to get the number immediately, and of course they needed a business name. I knew I wasn’t going to keep OMT, so in a pinch I completed the application with the name Sticker TXT. As soon as I hit send I hated the name and wished that I had stuck with OMT.

Now I was all ready to get going, but I had a company name that I hated.

I allowed myself a break from the business of names and waited to see if something came to me in my sleep or while in the shower…nothing.

One day, determined to force the creative effort, I fixed a large cup of coffee and sat down to brainstorm. I came up with…nothing.

I had many hours of effort over many days/weeks and pages of scribbles and doodles and I had filled up my internet history with pages and pages of searches looking for inspiration…nothing

lucky

Lucky

Then, almost from thin air, I needed a password for something completely unrelated. I decided to go back through some really old ones that had served me well in the past. One was luckysky. THAT WAS IT! Lucky Sky Graphics! I scribbled it down, I said it out loud, I shouted it (glad no one was home), I typed it on the computer, and I searched to make sure no one else had the url. It was exhilaration and relief at the same time.

sky

Sky

Why was it so important for me to find “the right” business name? What was a name going to do, I was the one doing the work? There are lots of bad business names out there and in the end it’s about the product, service, connections, or image that propels the business. I needed a business name that provided me with the confidence to step off into the unknown.

Thank you for reading about Lucky Sky Graphics. Please contact for your vinyl graphic and sign orders.

Hello!

Hello! Let me introduce myself. My name is Jeannene. I own and operate Lucky Sky Graphics a vinyl graphics design and printing business. I have absolutely no formal training in the sign/graphics business, but what I have is an eye for good design (most of the time), an ability to work with customers, and a passion for the business. I started researching the business idea and industry in 2011 through online research and attending the USSC (United States Sign Council) conference in Atlantic City. I was energized by that event and decided to take the plunge into a home based business featuring vinyl graphics and sign shop.

My interest in this area comes from several different directions. Many years ago I purchased one of the early versions of the Corel draw. I don’t recall exactly why I bought it but I basically used it to create birthday party invitations for my kids, and I designed a label for a product my husband’s company manufactured and sold, then later I used it to create brochures and draw maps for my events and for my employer.

Fast forward a few years to a time when I was teaching my son to drive a car with a manual transmission (in a very hilly town). I was getting very frustrated with the lack of space other drivers would leave him and looked without success for something to alert other drivers that we were driving a stick shift. He figured it out without the benefit of a sticker, but the idea and need for something like that stuck with me.

 
A couple of years later as a representative for a booster organization I ordered brag stickers from different vendors two different years and there was with large gaps in their pricing. I started researching purchasing my own desktop printer/cutter. My thought was, I would do a few of those school/team brag stickers and pay for the printer. This was about the time that Roland had just launched their BN-20 “desktop” metallic color printer cutter. It’s basically a “small” large format printer/cutter. Desktop is a very misleading term, at least in my mind, it requires the entire desk, so don’t plan on pushing it off to the side while you work. The final push was a guarantee of a steady customer, a manufacturer I know who was in need of decals and labels for the equipment they manufacture…Lucky Sky Graphics was born.