You may know me as the Queen of GSD, your go-to for websites, digital marketing and cute dog pics on Instagram (seriously, check it out!) I hit the scene in early 2019 ready to dazzle everyone with my skillz but there’s something you may not know about me.
I quit my job in July of 2018.
In October of 2018, I thought I was living the dream.
By December 2018 I was starting to question my choice.
In January of 2019, I was in full-blown panic mode.
In February I walked into the SheHive for the first time.
When March rolled around, I wasn’t flailing around anymore. I had a plan. The plan was Queen of GSD.
April was the most successful month of this entire year.
“Ok, cool story Jackie but who cares?”
Well, I’m sure my Mom totally cares because Moms care about that sort of thing but I care. If you’re a business owner, you know the first year is amazing and bizarre and scary and a massive learning curve. You also probably questioned yourself and thought about jumping ship more times than you’d ever admit. When I quit my job I was CERTAIN that I was going to slay being a business owner but just a few months later I was already ready to work for the first person that would hire me. I didn’t believe I could do it.
Then I met the women at the SheHive. Everyone needs a SheHive and if they don’t have a SheHive they need a village of people behind them rooting them on, sharing insight and valuable life experience. It took a village to get Queen of GSD going and still heavily rely on that village. I am grateful to this village and I would literally wander through a jungle, wearing a loincloth, fighting off jaguars to remain in this village. They validated me when I really needed it helped me to see that I can do this.
“Ok, but what’s the point of this blog?”
The point is that I’m super grateful to my village but also equally grateful to all the wonderful people I got to work with this year. Below you’ll find a list of this year’s clients and when I was putting it together I was pleasantly reminded of those who trusted me with their businesses this year. Owning a business is bananas, but when you’ve got lovely people surrounding you, it feels like the bananas are manageable.
Thank you to everyone I worked with this year. Thank you to everyone who cheered me on. And the biggest of thank yous to my husband who has never doubted me, supported our family when it was dicey, and continues to think the sun shines out of my butt no matter what I do.
I hope you have a great holiday season and that we can tackle some more cool stuff in 2020.
In no particular order here are the clients that made my first year of business successful:
Madaleno’s Italian Restuarant
Academy of Roller Derby
The Sewer Doctors
And by “website shit” I mean own your domain. Own your hosting. Own your themes and plugins. Own it all.
I cannot stress this enough. You, the business owner or individual, need to own all of your own digital assets. Regardless of whether you know what to do with your domain once you buy it or have a clue what a host is or does… make sure when you acquire these things, they are IN YOUR NAME.
In the last month, I’ve had two new clients with existing websites and social media sites… and with zero access because they do not own their own shit and their super “cool” (NOT COOL) former website person isn’t cooperating. This can literally happen to anyone, including you.
The topic of ownership of digital assets really fires me up because at the root of most of these issues… is someone who is being an asshole. Plain and simple. Protect yourself against assholes. I don’t care if you are working with your bestie, your Hunny, or your mommy – make sure no one gets to be an asshole about your hard work and your business.
Here are the top 5 reasons you need to own all your digital shit.
1. Because I said so, that’s why. Seriously, you NEED to own it.
If it is not currently in your name, you do not own it. This means even though your name is Jane Smith, you do not own JaneSmith.com unless it is registered to YOU.
Many times people who are not web savvy will hire someone to set up their website, social channels, etc. and just say “handle it!” The person they hire will purchase everything under their own accounts. This makes life for your web person much easier but as your business outgrows them, it will make your life MUCH harder to try to get your stuff back. Hard as in almost impossible if they choose to be… an asshole. And if it comes down to them not getting money anymore from you, it is a high probability that assholery will abound.
If you do not own your digital assets, I urge you to please talk to whoever does and try to get it transferred over. It is devastating to lose your domain and or access to your own channels. Also – super red flag if they give you push back.
2. Accidents happen
I hate to use this as a talking point…but it’s true. People die or have terrible things happen to them. That’s life whether we want to chat about it or not.
If you don’t own your digital accounts… they will die with them too. Or be in limbo if they are recovering from an accident. I’m sure you don’t want to be THAT asshole while someone is in the hospital, calling up and asking them to sign into a website because you locked yourself out and don’t have access to reset the password. Not a great look.
I know this sounds incredibly insensitive but your business is your livelihood and an unexpected tragedy should not take it down.
3. It gives you flexibility
Let me tell you a little story.
In 2006, I was a fresh-faced college grad ready to show my online portfolio to the world and get a job. Once I got that job… I promptly let my domain lapse and it’s pretty much lost forever.
$1,500 for JackieZimmerman.com? I’d rather change my name than succumb to domain squatting like that.
All of this is to say that while my priorities changed once I got that job, I really wish I still had that domain now for other purposes. You never know when things will shift, or new opportunities will come along. This is especially true if your domain is your name.
You’d be surprised how many of your “good ideas” for website names are already taken. So whether you are ready for it or not, I’d swoop on that name instead of risking some internet asshole trying to squeeze you later on.
4. You want to make changes
If your business name ever changes, or you are totally ready to evolve your business and you want people to see your cringy but genuine beginnings or maybe you want to merge your established shit with the business you’ve been dreaming about, it’s super helpful (read: critical) to direct the traffic from one business to your new site.
Guess what you sweet summer child? You need access to the domains to redirect them.
If you decide your website is too slow and want to change the host… you need access to your current host
If you decide your website needs to be redesigned… you need access to both!
Are you seeing a pattern here??
You cannot change ANYTHING about your site if you don’t have these logins
5. People Suck
The underlying theme here is that sometimes you trust someone to manage this information and these accounts for you and they do you dirty.
I do not understand designers and developers that withhold access to these things for petty reasons but alas, they do. Money, clout, personal issues – just jump onto a YouTube drama channel if you want to see how fast people can turn or how Petty LaBelle they can get.
They say not to mix family or friends with business, but a large number of people (especially entrepreneurs) do it. DNA and love don’t give immunity to assholery.
So to save yourself from some disgruntled former employee, or exploding family drama, put everything in your name from the start.
On most platforms, there are user role settings that allow you to create logins for other people but don’t allow them to take ownership. This is especially important on social channels.
Whew. I feel better.
I really want to be your hairstylist. Wait..what I mean is I really want to be like you hairstylist. Let me explain.
Today, for the first time in 8 months, I got a hair cut and long-overdue color update. I’m not proud of the recent state of my hair, but it was the result of making hard choices, like paying bills or having kick-ass hair. The beginning of 2019 was really hard for me. I had no business, no clients and no money but things have turned around and now I can pay bills and have kick-ass hair. I’m really living the dream.
Ok, but why are you talking about your hair?
I really like getting my hair done. I find the whole experience really appealing and exciting. My stylist, Michelle, has been my friend for about 8 years and I met her while doing a half marathon for the Crohn’s and Colitis foundation. We’re both Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients, and I like visiting with her, talking about her family and talks about our diseased butts. It’s just what we do. I love having my hair colored and washed, and Michelle massages my head and I think I’ve almost proposed to her a few times while sitting in her chair. I always leave looking far better than when I walked in and today I realized that I also leave feeling really confident. I’m confident about how I look, which makes me feel good, which makes me even more confident and so on. It’s not just about having good hair, because if you’ve ever seen me in the wild, you know that I can’t really do my own hair and I’m sure Michelle is embarrassed by what I do on a daily basis. Anyway, getting my hair done is about the experience. It’s about the relationship I have with Michelle, and the confidence I have that lasts well after my appointment. I know I look good and I wish like hell I had a presentation or something to give right now. Instead, I’m just going to take 10 selfies to post on Instagram.
Ok, but really…you’re still talking about your hair…
Here’s my point. Finally. I want the relationships I have with my clients to be like the one I have with Michelle. I want to know about their lives, to create friendships with them, and most importantly, I want them to feel like I make them look good. When I write an enewsletter for a client, I want her to be confident about how it will be perceived by the people on her list. When I design a website for a client, I want her to know her business looks good and to feel like she can snag any potential client she meets. The relationships I built with my clients are more than transactional and I hope working with me is an experience that they want to keep doing.
Shameless plug: If you’d like to talk about how we can create a relationship like this, shoot me a message and let’s talk about how we can do cool stuff together.
Extra Shameless Comment: But seriously, look how good my hair looks!
I’ve been arguing with my husband lately. You see, he keeps telling me how impressive it is that my business is doing well and I keep telling him how unimpressive it is. I know… he sounds awful, right?! 😜
The year was 2006. It was before social media was huge and sharing pictures of food became the norm. It was a simpler time.
I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in Graphic Design and in my final semester, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Back in my day (2006), there wasn’t really a way to share this information with everyone I knew at one time and I’m not even really sure I wanted to share it with everyone. I was 21 and had zero people in my life I could talk to about MS, so I started a blog where I could essentially talk to myself. I had no idea what a pivotal moment this would be in my life.
I began writing about my life, fears, struggles and everything else about living with MS at a young age…and with the wonders of the internet, other people read it. In 2009, when I was also diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I decided to up my blogging game and started sharing way too much information about my life with UC. And people read that one too. I had developed a way of sharing my story that was open and it was here that my “voice” was born. I prided my writing on being candid and embarrassed myself regularly on the internet for the greater good. I was honest, and vulgar and shared too much information but it was all me, and people liked it.
People liked it so much that other websites started asking me to write for them, which was mind-blowing at the time. People wanted to pay me to talk about this stuff? Ok, sign me up. For years I’ve been writing articles for various health sites about living with MS and Inflammatory Bowel Disease and over these years I began to write for a larger audience. My articles became less about me personally and more about general information regarding living with chronic illness. It’s all valuable information, but my tone and my voice had gotten lost. The sass and personality that helped me gain notoriety in the first place had gotten toned down in order to keep my pieces appealing to larger audiences.
It wasn’t until I decided to start Queen of GSD, that I realized how lost my voice actually was. I wrote all the copy for this website and it sounded stale and generic. It wasn’t me but it was the way I had learned to write. I was trying to appeal to the masses, to not offend and to be informative because that’s what I was used to. I remember being very frustrated with myself. Why the hell couldn’t I just write how I talk? Why was this so hard?
It took revision after revision to finally find my sass again. I had to talk out loud to other people about what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to work with in order to see what I would say off the tongue. It was weirdly like interviewing myself. It was in one of these verbal vomit sessions that I actually came up with Queen of GSD.
“I just get shit done. I’m like the queen of getting shit done”.
At that moment, when I decided to have “shit” in the title of my business, I knew I was back. It’s not just that I like to swear or that swearing is the brand I wanted to create, but it was that I had given myself the permission to run the risk of offending someone, while simultaneously opening myself up to the people who I really want to work with. And the result is that I work with women who are like-minded, sassy, powerful and direct. The women who like what they read here, like working with me because this is really who I am. I’m honest, I’m good at what I do, I swear, I have typos and I have grammatical errors if Grammarly doesn’t pick them up.
Don’t get me wrong… I still totally write for those other sites because duh, money. But I have to admit… I feel like I’m having a Brett Farve-like come back. It feels damn good to rediscover my voice in my writing, which is giving me the confidence I need to keep kicking ass.