So what goes on your website?

Yes, yes, I realize this is basic. But while you’re juggling all the stress of starting your own business, it’s easy to forget the basics.

The great news is that there are numerous website builders that make your job easier.

Here’s what you should have on your website:

  1. Your company name
  2. The name of your product or service 
  3. Descriptions of your products or services along with pricing
  4. Information about how to contact you directly
  5. Any social media accounts you have 

Those are the crucial essential items to have on your website. 

In terms of how your website should look and feel, that’s up to you! Enjoy the process of creating an identity for you website.

A few best practices:

  • Have a clean design with minimal clutter. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience with a busy design or anything that distracts from your main focus, which should be information on your products and services.
  • The design should match your company’s products and services. For instance, if you provide accounting or legal services via Ourglass.live, your website should look slightly more formal and serious. Whereas if you teach painting, music, or one of the arts, you might be able to get away with a more flamboyant and loud design. Again, have fun with it!
  • Minimize the amount of text on your website. Again, this goes to the previous point of a clean design. Communicate in less words and include more pictures if at all possible.
  • Symmetry – human eyes love symmetry. A symmetrical website design will do you more favors than one that isn’t. There are a few exceptions that an asymmetrical website can be done artfully and in those cases, would be unique and masterful enough to justify the asymmetry!
  • Have a logical flow and order to your website. Make it easy to follow for your audience!  

 

 

If you’re new to Ourglass, you’re probably wondering 1) what it is and 2) how do you get started?

Well, for the first question, you can find the overview video at Ourglass.live

For the second question, it’s quite simple. There are only a few basic things you need to get started:

  1. A cell phone with either Android or Apple iOS software
  2. Reliable internet connection
  3. The Ourglass App which can be downloaded here

If you’re reading this, we assume you already know what you want to teach, that you have the essential equipment (e.g. you have a guitar if you teach guitar lessons) and that you have at least one person who is willing to pay you for a session. Professionals can invite clients or students directly after having set up the app on their phones. 

There are bells and whistles that you can add to snazzy up your teaching such as:

We’ll be posting more details on the above so stay tuned! 

 

Fate and destiny. What are they and why are they important to your journey as an independent professional? Well frankly, for this article, it doesn’t matter. We take fate and destiny to mean the same thing, even though they are not . What is the most important is the end point you are striving towards. Since most of our readers tend to be independent professionals, we will assume that your end points are to have an incredibly successful independent business that frees you up to live life on your own terms. 

If you haven’t read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, it is a story with the main theme of openly pursuing our goals or making them known to the public. The world will do everything it can to conspire to help you achieve those goals. 

While this cosmic perspective may seem far-fetched to some, we are big believers in focus. By making your goals known to your friends and family, it creates both a carrot and a stick.  The stick can be the social pressure you’ve imposed on yourself to prevent embarrassment or preserve pride by reaching your publicized goals. The carrot can be the people who help you reach your goals because they’re aware of them and want you to succeed. 

While this cosmic perspective may seem far-fetched to some, we are big believers in focus. By making your goals known to your friends and family, it creates both a carrot and a stick.  The stick can be the social pressure you’ve imposed on yourself to prevent embarrassment or preserve pride by reaching your publicized goals. The carrot can the people who help you reach your goals because they’re aware of them and want you to succeed. 

Entrepreneurial in spirit ourselves, we realize there are often naysayers who will discourage you, or unintentional saboteurs who are quick to point out the obstacles you face achieving your goals.  That needs the intention of a separate, dedicated blog post!  The important thing is to stay focused on your goals — on OUR goals.  We believe our focus has manifested itself in the simple, elegant design of Ourglass.  We hope this can help many people out there reach their income and independence goals!

 

Hobbies

If you’re like most people, then you probably have at least one hobby that you enjoy doing! You may love your hobby so much that you’ve considered making money from it, either part-time or full-time. But how do you actually turn your hobby into a business?  We hope this article will give you insight on how to do so. 

Let’s say you are a part of maker culture and enjoy carpentry. There are many ways one can make money from a hobby:

  • You can teach what you know
  • You can offer advice or guidance for someone who is having trouble with a build
  • You can sell carpentry products that you’ve built and created
  • You can get a part-time paying job at a hardware store like WoodCraft
  • Enter and win money prizes and sponsorships at competitions such as the SkillsUSA Carpentry Competition

Since we at Ourglass offer a platform that helps professionals make money from their expertise, we’ll focus on the first two ways of making money – teaching or offering advice. 

Our first recommendation is to start simple with your first step by asking yourself what aspect of your hobby do you want to teach? If you’re a carpenter, there are probably many aspects you can start teaching including the types of wood, types of tools, and where to buy materials. As we suggested in our How to Teach Online article, simplify your curriculum.

The second step is to find students! This sounds like a very obvious thing to do but you’d be surprised to know that most people overestimate how many people would actually pay for a lesson. You can find students on Craigslist, word-of-mouth, online forum, friends of friends, retail stores that relate to your hobby, etc.

Third, find a place to teach. Naturally, we at Ourglass recommend starting online! The awesome benefit to starting online is that it doesn’t cost very much to start and it’s also safer from a health perspective. You could teach in-person but that means you would have to go through the hassles of finding a public space to teach in, invite possible strangers into your home or go to possible strangers’ homes! If you find a neutral public space to teach in, you often won’t have privacy or the tools you would want or need and it might cost you money to rent that space out. Starting online removes all of those hassles and doesn’t cost you anything other than equipment and a website!

Fourth, determine your pricing. We wrote an article about pricing here and will post more on pricing later.

 Finally, schedule and start a session with your first client or student! Once the session is finished, be sure to collect payment from your clients. 

 

 

4 hour workweek

In an age when startups have been popularized by digital’s low barrier to entry, many of us know someone who has worked on a startup, is working on a startup, or wants to work on a startup.  Many startups begin as ‘side hustles’ for people who are already working full time.  For these people, efficient time management is critical. Books on how to maximize spare time have arguably become a pulp genre, including the popular “The Four Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris.

So is there such a thing as a 4 hour work week?

From our perspective?  A resounding…no.  At least not for the vast majority of us. The people who can afford to work only 4hours a week either worked MANY hours a week (or lucky inheritance?) that led to enough wealth independence to afford a lower income, and therefore much less work.  

While Tim Ferris’ book provides a lot of tips to save time and maximize your efficiency, there’s really no substitute for hard work. We will assume that Tim worked hard to write and promote this book, and now he is practicing what he preaches by only working 4 hours a week…with a sizable nest egg grown from his successful book.

Assuming the average work week is 40 hours, here are some surprising factoids on time spent per activity per week: 

Total hours in one week: 24×7 = 168 hours

  • 2 ⅓ days are “wasted” while sleeping – 8 hrs/day x 7 days = 56 hrs
  • ~1 day spent eating – 1 hour making & eating food x 3 meals/day x 7 days/week = 21 hours eating)
  • Nearly 1 full workday on personal maintenance (showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed) –  30 mins in morning, 30 mins at night x 7 days a week = 7 hours 
  • 3 ½ days is spent on these basics —  That’s half the week! 56+21+7=84 hours, or 3 ½ days.

If you add the 40 hour work week to the 84 hours for the basic, the average person spends over 5 days a week spent before hobbies, spending quality time with family, or leisure.  Hopefully you find work fun and interesting, but most people want to do things that don’t require checking email, making your boss happy, etc. 

These calculations may also explain why Tim sold so many books on the hope of a 4 hour work week.  Perhaps Tim entertained the alternative title “36 hours freed from your week.”  

Because we see our jobs at Ourglass as enabling independent professionals (and because if we had 36 more free hours per week we’d use it to build Ourglass anyway) we encourage you to adopt advice and tips that help you optimize your efficiency.  At Ourglass, our business is helping you conduct your business in less time for more earnings.  We use the latest and greatest tools to automate and accelerate our business, such as  Asana (task management), Hubspot (customer management), and  Hootsuite (social media management).  The product of these tools and a little creativity is  Ourglass (video calls combined with payments) with the lofty goal of helping you get to the right hours per week for you.

Photo: Spenser Sembrat

10/2/2020

 

The deluge of bad news related to COVID can be overwhelming.  However, as a glass-half-full start-up, today we’d like to offer some hope. This hope is predicated on some sobering facts on the adverse effects COVID has had certain segments of the workforce, namely women. 

According to a report from the US Department of Labor, women left the workforce in September 2020 at four times the rate of men: 865,000 women 20 and older dropped out of the American workforce compared to 216,000 men in the same age group.  In addition to lower workforce demand, many of these work departures are to return home for childcare as childcare facilities are shuttered and older children are now home from school.  One survey found 63% of households were having difficulty finding childcare, and “13.3 percent of working parents had lost a job or reduced their hours because of a lack of child care.” (Washington Post)  With online schooling a new normal for the majority of households in the year of COVID, mothers have taken on more work to ensure their kids on time, fed, and logged into their virtual classrooms. And there is an inverse proportion between children’s ages and parenting efforts; the younger the kids, the more the work.  We haven’t even mentioned Zoom fatigue! 

Enter Ourglass. We’ve created an app designed for anyone who wants to earn money as an independent professional.  Ourglass simply combines video calls with billing so that pros get paid more money with less time and no hassle.  Time on paid video calls is tracked precisely, clients are required to have a valid payment method before the video call starts, and you are paid immediately at the end of the call. Ourglass lets you work at your own pace and earn income on your own terms. Terms that can be very attractive for the large number of women leaving the workforce and balancing the demands of households in 2020.  Ourglass supports any kind of fee-for-hire expertise you can offer: from certified professionals in business consulting, legal counsel, and healthcare, to experience-based expertise such as singing and dancing lessons, arts and crafts, yoga, etc…   

With Ourglass, you create as many services as you want — perhaps an hour long consulting session, a 30 minute lesson, or a free 15 minute consultation.  If your video call goes long, Ourglass give you the option to charge your client on a prorated basis. Or you can optionally charge less if the video call is short; Ourglass is perfect for clients who have a question that might take only 7 minutes to answer.  No more monkey math, awkward billing conversations, or chasing clients down for payment!

Ourglass is a perfect tool for anyone with expertise to offer, and provides the flexibility in schedule and location.  This may not be a silver bullet for all situations, but with the disproportionately large number of women leaving the workforce in 2020, Ourglass is a tool for women to still earn money for their expertise while juggling the demands of our new normal.  Perhaps the employment implosion of 2020 can become an expertise explosion with Ourglass. 

#zoomdoom #zoomfatigue

 

Source: NPR: Multiple Demands Causing Women to Abandon Workforce

Source: Bloomberg: Women drop out of workforce at fastest pace since pandemic peak