Posts By: KimLawler

Honest Review of the PayPal Here

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Full disclosure: I’ve been using the PayPal Here for a couple of years now, and purchased the card reader at full price. This review is all first-hand knowledge, and PayPal hasn’t sponsored this post or provided the card reader.

A couple of people have asked me how it is to use, so I thought I’d just do a brief-ish blog post about my experiences with the PayPal Here.

So, what is the PayPal Here card reader?

The PayPal Here card reader lets you take payments from credit or debit cards by connecting, via bluetooth, to an app on your phone. So long as you have an internet connection (3G, 4G or WiFi), a PayPal account, and a supported phone, then you’re good to go!

The funds are deposited into your PayPal account, and you pay the relevant PayPal fees. A more in depth description can be found on this page over on the PayPal Here website.

How I use the PayPal Here card reader

My only use for the PayPal Here is at craft/design markets here in the UK. I take payments of between £8 – £80, and have always used the chip + pin method. I average around 10 sales a day at markets using the PayPal Here. More and more people are asking if they can pay by card, and I think a lot of people are expecting everyone to have a card reader of some kind.

The Great Things

  • The card reader is nice and compact, doesn’t take up that much more space in your already-stuffed craft fair luggage.
  • Customers are aware of the PayPal brand, so don’t have any qualms about using it.
  • You can text or email your customer a receipt right there in front of them.
  • Customers don’t need a PayPal account to pay.
  • The app (iPhone) got updated recently, and the new app comes with loads of great features that make selling a breeze. It lets you create a menu of items, so instead of entering the amount you can click on the particular item instead.
  • There are no monthly or on-going fees with the PayPal Here, just the one-off payment for the reader, and the PayPal fees for each sale.

The Not-so-good Things

  • The card reader currently costs £69, it was £99 when I bought it. It’s not a huuggeee amount, but it’s still an investment.
  • The battery life can be a little iffy, and you can only see the life left in the battery by connecting it to the phone.
  • The bluetooth connection can sometimes be a little dodgy, and have trouble connecting the first time. This has only happened a few times, but it’s annoying when it does.
  • Unless the customer has a PayPal account, and their card is connected to it, you don’t get a name on your PayPal records. This is a major buzzkill for my type-A book keeping.

Overall

Would I recommend the PayPal Here card reader? Yes. It’s a good solution for a small investment, it really makes a difference at craft fairs and markets, and stops you missing out on “I’ll just run to the cash machine… AND NEVER BE SEEN AGAIN” sales.

The fees are a bummer, but with any payment system like this, and anything you use to take card payments, you’re going to encounter fees of some kind. The PayPal Here fees are pretty decent compared to some of the alternatives.

You can get your own PayPal Here here!

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New Year

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How’s that first morning back at your desk going? Hungry? Yeah, me too.

As much as I love the New Year (fresh starts, clean slates, all that jazz) it can be pretty overwhelming.

Detox! Diet! Manifest! Be better! Exercise more! Drink less alcohol! Drink more water!

In the immortal words of Grumpy Cat, Nope. Stop trying to change me, New Year! You’re not my real Mum!

I do have a New Year thing though, and it’s become a bit of a tradition so I thought I’d share. Each New Year I have a clear out, a freshening, a… sorting of shit (on reading that sentence back it sort of sounds like I’m heading towards describing a colonic, I’m not, keep reading). It doesn’t require months of devotion, it’s easy, it’s fast, and it’s bloody cathartic (again, not a colonic).

Here’s what I do:

  • The Great Desk Purge – the rush of Christmas leaves me with an office that looks like a University dorm room. There’s jewellery making stuff everywhere, piles of important letters filed in my “sort in January” stack, and all manner of detritus that hasn’t been cleared over the past few months. I fire up a podcast, arm myself with a bin bag & duster, and get to work.
  • The Grand Wardrobe Clearing – Haven’t worn it in two years? It goes. Makes me angry every time I wear it because the sleeves are just too. damn. short? It goes. Too big? Goes. Small? Goes. You get the idea. Bin bags at the ready, and prepare for that glorious feeling of donating to charity!
  • The eBay Flog-a-thon – it’s certainly not what it used to be, but I still find myself offloading a fair few things on the old eBay. I accumulate piles of ‘to eBay’ things throughout the year & with the downtime of the Christmas break I finally find time to list them! I’ve also made use of Amazon’s marketplace for books and DVDs.
  • The Epic Unfollow – digital noise is the worst. Fire up your RSS reader, Facebook, Twitter & iTunes. Unsubscribe from everything that doesn’t bring you joy. Simple. Same goes for Magazine subscriptions & email newsletters.
  • A Tale of Two Spices – nothing tastes as good as more shelf space feels. I work on one kitchen cupboard at a time, taking everything out, figuring out if I used crockery in the past couple of years, cleaning the shelves, and rearranging. Anything out of date (by lots) goes, everything else is reorganised & condensed.
  • Ready, set, go! I spent a little time in the early days of 2015 getting stuff ready for my first week back. I wanted to sort out a new planner/schedule idea, something a little more organised than a to do list on a random bit of paper, so I spent a couple of hours putting together a printable daily schedule sheet (pictured above). There’re several free ones available around the internet (take a look on Pinterest), and I’m thinking of making mine available as a free download (do you want one?).

And that’s about it.

I do similar clear outs with my cosmetics (did you know you can donate unopened cosmetics/toiletries to women’s charities?), pet stuff (your local pet charities are always look for spare blankets), and bedding (you can pop that old duvet cover you never use in one of those charity bins you find in supermarket car parks!).

I’m ready for you now, 2015!

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So that was 2014…

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Well, that went quickly!

I thought I’d do a bit of a ‘year in review’, from both a business and personal perspective, and a look forward to what the next year might hold.

When I look back, this year was all about increasing my strength.

I got stronger physically with the help of weights and exercise, and my business grew stronger both financially and in experience. I think this is the year my little business grew up.

Personal Strength

This year I stopped caring so much about the weight on the scales, and realised that it was the weight on the bar that really mattered to me. I stopped worrying as much about how my body looks when I realised how freaking strong it is. Thanks, body!

I’ve grown to love my thunder thighs. Did you hear that, bullies? My thighs are STRONG. They help me squat the highest weights in class. They help me take huge steps on hikes that I would’ve panicked about previously. Yeah, we’re on good terms now, my thighs and I.

I’m turning 30 in January and I’m feeling better about my body than I ever have before. That’s a pretty decent achievement, I reckon.

Business Strength

I’ll start this by admitting that I didn’t make any huge or drastic business changes this year. My laurels were well and truly rested. In its second year as a limited company, Finest Imaginary Ltd (including the Kim Lawler Creative branch) chugged along at a nice speed.

I started the year by taking an expensive (a-hem) business development class that was basically a bunch of pleasantly packaged shite, rehashed from various free resources. I formed a few friendships with fellow bitter classmates, and made a few connections & new clients, so not all was lost.

I invested in new equipment (hello my beautiful new laser cutter!), I increased my overall profits by around 30% (!), and I brought in lots of new business practices that I’m excited to develop in 2015.

I worked with around 25 clients on their websites this year, and some of them were the best people ever & I really hope to work with them again. I’m not going to lie to you, I also had my share of not-so-great projects. Swings and roundabouts!

I started working more with Shopify, too, and ditched that hefty beast Magento. And I still love WordPress, that’s a given.

I feel like my business secured its roots this year, that I have a really solid base for growth, and I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings.

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And for 2015?

I’m not really one for resolutions, I know they work for some people, but I like my goals to be on-going and flexible.

In 2015 I want to continue on my fitness journey, where ever that might take me.

I want to travel more, that’s for sure. And I want to take more time away from the computer. Life’s too short, you know?

I want to see more personal projects come to light, and mix them up in my business a little more.

I want to continue to push myself with my work, learn new skills, and offer new services.

And I definitely don’t want to rest on my laurels as much as I think I did in 2014! Yeesh!

This blog’s going to be changing a bit, too. I miss blogging about my life so I’ll be mixing some more of that back in. I don’t want to say I’ll be blogging more, but here’s hoping, eh?

Happy 2015 everyone!

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Notes to my younger self

Something a bit different today. My lovely friend Sarah (you know, that sassy Minnesotan sage with a taste for travel & cats in costumes? yeah?) has launched her kick-ass eBook, The Post College Survival Kit, and has asked some of her pals to share a little wisdom…

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Notes To My Younger Self is helping spread the word about The Post College Survival Kit. We learned the hard way so you don’t have to! You don’t have to wait till your thirties for a better job, a cuter apartment, financial stability, better relationships + friendships.

I think I did pretty well for myself “Post College” and even though I’m not one for regrets (a pointless emotion until time machines are invented) there are definitely a few things I’d do differently in hindsight. There are a fair few things I’d do exactly the same, too. What advice would I give my 23 year old self now that I’m nearing 30?

Don’t get hung up on university grades

I didn’t graduate with the grade I wanted.  I was gutted, even though I pretty much hated my degree course (oh, younger self, that time you considered changing course? probably should’ve done it!) and put in the least amount of effort I could get away with.

I graduated back in 2007 with a pretty pointless degree in something a bit like Fine Art. Luckily, I’d forged my own skill set by learning how to make websites in my spare time (yay for extra-curricular learning!), and managed to brag a job within 6 months of University ending.

And now? that grade doesn’t mean anything.

Try not to spend too much on credit cards

Between university, travelling, and other fun stuff, I managed a rack up quite a bit of credit card debt. Nothing that I wasn’t able to manage, but something that in the years after university I would’ve preferred not to have hanging around. That said, would I trade my trip to Australia for that lack of card debt? No way, I’d do it all again.

Travel as much as possible

Between leaving university and turning 25, I’d travelled across the USA on a train, popped into Canada, taken a trip to Australia & hiked in the Blue Mountains, and visited a friend in Hong Kong. There’s still SO MUCH more that I’d love to see in the world, but my life just isn’t as flexible to fit lots of travel in anymore. I’m sure I’ll get around to it all one day, but I kinda wish I’d done a little more back then!

It’s totally fine to be interested in several different career paths

My career has always been weird and conflicted. Growing up, I always wanted to be a vet. Then I kinda went down the art & design route, but also applied for a Zoology degree. Then I applied for a Fine Art-ish degree, and also a Biomedical & Forensics degree. I did the Fine Art-ish one (see above). Then I started learning to code, and became a web developer. But… I also started my own jewellery line. Still with me?

I always felt pulled in two directions, constantly told that I needed to choose one path. Now? I’ve made my own perfect career! I happily make jewellery, websites, and write helpful things for people. I’ve forged my own path, and I wish my younger self knew that that’s what was gonna happen.

Staying home with your cat is, and always will be, okay

I think I hit 18 and turned into a grandma. Given the choice between staying in and going to a club? I’ve already got my slippers on & a book picked out. I’m not sure if I’m totally introverted, I love to meet new people & travel, but I have issues with wasting money on ‘going out’ when there’s a comfy sofa with my name on it! Younger self – this is fine, you’ll find others just like you in a few years time, kick back with that puzzle & get an early night.

 

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Why “If you’re not happy, change it” is the worst piece of advice… ever.

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I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it before. “If you’re not happy, just change it!”. In fact, I’ve probably told people that in the past, too. It’s a massively knee jerk, all assumptive statement, isn’t it?

I mean, think about it. You might not be happy with something in your life right now (your job, your home, your relationship, your health), and you’ve probably racked your brains trying to come up with a solution. So when you start confiding in someone about it, and they just come back with a throw away “If you’re not happy, change it!”, then you’re gonna be pretty damn pissed.

It just isn’t that easy.

There are dependents, bills, family, and a whole host of other grown-up shit to think about when you’re wanting to make a huge (or even minor!) change.

Things need sorting out, pigeon holing, lists needs writing, gears need setting in motion. It’s downright ridiculous to just assume that you can “change something” on a whim and that everything will then turn into peaches & cream. Stupid!

Here’s a better piece of advice. 

If you’re not happy…

  • Ask yourself why you’re not happy (or, ask your friend). It’s usually not just “I hate my entire life”, or “My job sucks”. It’s specifics. “I have no direction, I feel like I’m letting everyone down” … “I have no free time, my job takes up so much of my evenings and weekends”.
  • What can you do right now to make it just a little bit easier? Take a look at evening classes? Spend an hour on a recruitment website? Organise a meeting with your boss? This is the start of the change. I wasn’t fulfilled in my last 9-5 job, the first thing I did? Cancel magazine subscriptions so I could start saving up for my self-employment buffer. Somehow, by doing that, it made it all feel real.
  • What’s your end goal? Do you want a new job? A new skill? Do you want to travel? What do you think would make you happy. I say think because happiness is really subjective, the grass is greener and all that. Sometimes just small shifts in your current situation can make the world of difference.
  • Plan it out. You have an end goal, you’ve thought about how that would make you feel, now it’s time to make small steps towards it. These steps should be measurable, succinct, and easy. Things like “Have 1 meal a week sat at the table with my family, phones off”, “get to the gym twice a week”, “make a list of city breaks I could take this year”. Working backwards form your end goal sometimes helps.
  • Here’s the most important piece of advice. Count your god damn blessings.  Don’t dwell on how you would be happy when _____, think about what makes you happy right now. Appreciate everything that you have in this instance, wouldn’t it be better to head towards your end goal with a happy heart and joyous everyday? Just like that douchey text-over-photo quote that goes around Pinterest and Facebook…

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
– Vivian Greene

Extra Credits // @afeitar recommended this book, Mindfulness at Work: Flourishing in the workplace, after reading this blog post!

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