When Melyssa Griffin was living in Japan, her lack of physcial community pushed her online. As her freelance income and blog, The Nectar Collective, grew Melyssa found herself in a position to quit her job and focus on her own business.
Inspired by community, puppies and neopets, The Nectar Collective is a striking combination of beautiful bright design and unmissable intelligence. Fostering inspiration and sharing some of the most valuable information we've seen, Melyssa dominates the world of information products, Pinterest growth and just generally being the quirky role model we always wanted.
Here's what she has to say...
1. Tell us what you do in 2 sentences:
I create fun and informative info products that help entrepreneurs and bloggers grow their audiences and earn an income online. I am also fueled by both a sense of community and solo dance parties in my living room, so I try to incorporate them into everyday. ;)
2. At what point did you decide the traditional 9-5 office job wasn't for you?
My last few 9-5 jobs were as English teachers at various schools in Japan. I loved the experience of living in Japan, of connecting with the students, and of watching them learn, but I had trouble watching my creativity dwindle as I led mandatory lessons from a textbook.
I also didn’t like that when I thought of a new ideas to help my students, they were usually shot down because of “budgets” or “time” or what I essentially translated as “politics.” I wanted a job where I could use my creativity and execute new ideas without needing someone else’s approval.
3. What did you do next?
At that point, my blog was still in its infancy, but within a few months, I was starting to sell my design services for a little side cash. I never expected my online gig to be anything more than “fun money” that I made after work, but soon things started picking up, and to my excitement, I no longer needed my teaching job to keep me afloat.
4. What was the hardest part?
At first, it was hard because I lived in Japan where few people work for themselves. So, I had trouble finding a community or support system to chat about my business ideas with. But that changed eventually when I discovered the vast beauty of the internet and the hoards of people who wanted to abandon their 9-5, just like me. In a way, living in Japan and lacking that physical community was a good thing; it forced me to connect with people online and build my own community there.
5. What has been the best part of running your own business?
I remember in college, one of my close friends, Kenny, and I would always dream up new businesses or organizations we wanted to start. We had such big ideas, yet at the time, I think we both silently wondered how we’d ever accomplish them. I know for me, I felt like they weren’t attainable. The kinds of things “Other People” do.
But the best part of running my own business is that I now feel like anything is possible. I no longer look at other people’s success and think of them as Other People. Now, I look at them and think, “how can I accomplish that?” and “how can I do it even better?” There’s no ceiling when you run your own business, and I love the challenge and excitement that brings. Funnily enough, my friend Kenny is now getting started in the online business world, too. Maybe this quirky virtual universe attracts certain types of people!
6. What are your plans for the future?
To be honest, I try not to plan too far into the future. I’m sure that sounds crazy! I know some people have their goals already written out for the next five years, but I’ve never found that to be productive for myself, nor have I ever met someone whose life followed the exact plan they set for themselves.
I do plan for the near future, like the next few months, and I can tell you that I’ll be releasing lots of new ways for my audience to grow their businesses. I’m also always looking for ways to grow The Nectar Collective into a bigger and even more accepting online (and in-person!) community.
Aside from that, I’d someday soon love to buy a house, own several dogs, and spend time in nature everyday.
7. How did you first get interested in Pinterest (it's pretty new in the world of profitable social media)?
I started using Pinterest like most people do -- as a place to save pictures of expensive shoes and herds of tiny puppies.
But my interest in using it for my website grew when I started looking at my analytics and noticed that, without really trying, it was one of my top traffic sources. So, I went through and pinned some of my old blog posts, hoping to drive more traffic to my blog. It totally worked! The more research and experimentation I did with Pinterest, the more traffic, subscribers, and customers it brought me. Now, it’s one of the most important parts of my business and has helped me to dramatically grow my email list and income over the past year.
8. Your photographs are beautiful! Where do they come from?
Ha! Thank you. Don’t tell anyone, but they’re stock photos. ;) I tend to use the “Bloguettes Stock That Rocks.”
9. We all love your design. How did you cultivate your eye for design and your style?
Why thank you! Yesterday, one of my subscribers emailed me to say, “I’m a graphic designer, but when I look at other designers’ work, I feel like I suck. You ever felt that way?”
My response was essentially, “Yes I have. Because I actually did suck.” I think we all suck in the beginning, which is probably life’s twisted way of reminding us that growth is more important than perfection.
But in any case, the only reason I improved at design is because I practiced it constantly. In 6th grade, my mom gave me a pirated version of Photoshop to play around with. I ended up building an Angel Fire website for my NeoPets and there the seed was planted. I only really started to improve when I launched my blog and had tons of new things to design for my site. But seriously. The best (only?) way I’ve found to improve is to just do the damn thing and accept that you’ll be kind of bad at it for awhile.
10. What resources do you suggest for other people wanting to ditch their day job?
I would find a handful of online entrepreneurs who teach about this very subject and then study them carefully. Read their blog posts in every free moment. Listen to their podcasts on the way to work. Skip Netflix and watch their webinars. But study, study, study.
Also, taking e-courses that teach about the things you need to learn can be very valuable, but also fairly expensive. If the cost is holding you back, then just buy a book on the same subject. Between you and me, I’ve learned just as much from some $7 books as I have from some $1,000 courses.
11. What advice would you give to someone starting to generate income indpendently?
In the midst of your research, start a mastermind group, which is just a group of typically 3-4 people who meet every week or two and talk about their budding businesses. They’re a great place to hash out your ideas, feel supported, get feedback, and begin honing your plans for world domination. ;)
And as important as it is to study and learn, it’s even more important to take action. When you feel even a smidgen of readiness to begin implementing what you’ve learned, then do it. Revel in the fact that you will make mistakes; mistakes are a necessary part of the game. And if anything, remember this quote from Adventure Time: “Dude, sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.”
You got this.