I received an e-mail from a reader last week asking some questions about how The Radical Uprise came to be, and here’s what I have to say.
What advice do you have for people looking to start an online business such as yours? Do what you love and find a market for it. That’s really it. The Radical Uprise basically started as a self-help project for myself, and it’s since turned into something more powerful – A tool that many others use through their quest of self-exploration and discovery. It’s not a just site that offers tips and hints on adopting and maintaining a Positive Mental Attitude. It also serves as a daily reminder to myself to live life accordingly.
How did you learn to make zines? For the most part, I am “self taught.” I used underground press (Zines 101) to help with the simple FAQs, as well as how to properly number and collate. From there, it was cake. I’ve always enjoyed crafty things (scrap-booking, for example) like cutting things out and gluing them onto other things. There’s something extremely gratifying about having an idea and watching it blossom before your eyes into a tangible object.
How did you get so well known? I don’t believe I’m quite there yet. (; I created a product that I believed in and put in out there. My mentality is/was, “If this is something I’d like to read, I’m sure others would like to read it as well.” I’d also like to think I offer something other’s don’t. There are several motivational bloggers and speakers all over the world. I think it’s just that I’m “myself” and don’t hold back a lot of who I am or what I’m about. I’m not afraid to tweet about something meaningful or spiritual, and thirty minutes later make a comment about having to go “number two.” A lot of people comment that I’m “raw,” and think that’s respectable. I suppose being genuine and just having fun gets people’s attention. Plus, I’m not a “conventional” motivational blogger. I have more of an “alternative” look and I mix “business with pleasure,” if you will. Most of my readers are in High-school to their mid-twenties, so I believe they can relate with me more than they would a suit and tie’d motivational speaker. I try to take time to interact with my readers, write people back when they send letters and keep up on putting fresh, new content out weekly. Tagging helps as well (Tumblr loves zines, buttons and queer chicks).
What’s the deal with shipping, what’s that all about? Shipping rates will be something you learn along the way. I know which zines require a .45 stamp, and which ones require a .85 stamp. I try to have a stock of stamps on hand, so I can post mark my own parcels, which saves waiting time at the post office. In every city I’ve shipped out of, the post office is always a long (and generally crowded) wait. Be as prepared as possible when you walk up to the counter to save yourself and others time. I typically ship 3-4 times a week, depending on the number of orders, but this is something you’re going to want to advertise. My local post office is just a few blocks from my house, but if you don’t have to luxury, be sure to let others know that you only ship once or twice a week.
Should I get a P.O. box? A P.O. box is definitely something you should look into if you don’t want the Internet knowing your address. It’s nice to be able to solicit an address for people to send things to without worrying about someone showing up on your doorstep.
Why did you switch from Etsy to Storenvy? Fees. Long story short, Etsy takes more money than I’d like to give. Etsy is great because it’s a larger platform. More people use (and are familiar with) Etsy, so it’s an easy way to reach out to a lot of people. Storenvy is just as easy to use, but since it hasn’t been around as long, it’s not as reputable at Etsy, so it doesn’t get as much traffic. There may very well be several entrepreneur sites that are a lot better than Etsy or Storenvy, but I seem to be doing just fine where I am. If you’re just getting started, I suggest starting with Etsy, only because you’ll be able to reach out to a larger number of potential buyers. If it’s not too much of a hassle to open up a shop on each site, I say go for it. The more exposure the better.
What’s the most difficult part of the job? Keeping up with e-mails. My inbox is flooded nearly every day. Weight on my shoulders. A lot of people dump their problems on me and expect me to “fix” them. I get a lot of sob stories about subjects I am not trained to handle. As someone who promotes a PMA, many people treat me as a sort of a “help desk,” and some of the messages I receive are pretty heavy, which is why I created this disclaimer. Requires a lot of attention. It’s a lot of work. I don’t do this full time yet, as I have a part time job and spending a lot of time outside of the house, but it does require a lot of work and dedication. You take the good with the bad. While these are minor struggles I experience, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, and I can deal with an intense number of e-mails if that means TRU is getting exposure and people and becoming better people because of it.
Last words about the subject? Just have fun! When you have fun, it doesn’t seem like work. Sure, there are days when the last thing I want to do is go to the copy and print shop for a last minute run, but knowing that what I’m doing is inspiring and provoking people, it makes it all worth while.
Please be advised that this post is for entertainment purposes only, not to be used any kind of business advice. If you found this article helpful, please consider a small donation to The Radical Uprise. This site exists because because readers like you choose to support it. Please click here to submit a donation. Thank you for supporting my creative endeavors. Stay radical. xx