Thursday, 26 March 2015

Just when I thought I'd cracked it - the rain came


I flew through my list of jobs yesterday. The walls and ceiling of the 2nd garage that I'm converting into an office are painted and ready to go. I've painted the fascias of the garage and checked out the roof. A few small holes in the felt lining were found, but I've now filled these and it will be watertight for the Summer at least. Other odd bits around the house have been completed and I was ready to tackle the garden today. A man with a chainsaw took down the hideously overgrown tree in the front that was blocking the light and would eventually cause issues with its roots. The first job today was (and in all likelihood still is) to remove all of it to the local tip.

And then the rain came.

It's rained quite heavily for most of the night, so jobs like mowing the lawn, weeding, edging, etc just can't be done. Other jobs today included laying more stones at the peaceful spot at the end of the garden and putting up wall planters. This probably can't be done in weather conditions like this and I'll have to see if the rain stops later on in the day.

This was going to be the two days when I got everything for the house sorted for the coming Spring and Summer. Now the garden stuff and the outside cleaning (fascia and outside upstairs windows) has fallen by the wayside. There are always things to do and with the recent collapse and rebuild of my PC, I have plenty of things I can be getting in with - but none that complete an area of concern fully and allow me to move on. The next day set aside for this will be Sunday, and this is dependent on how the recovery from Saturday's wedding goes!

I'm still moving forward with the next thing method of compartmentalising my life, but there seems so much to do and so little time to do it in, as has been said before.

I'm not 100% sure whether I have mentioned this in my blog before, but one of the ways I generate an income is to complete online surveys. I'm signed up with 5 of these survey sites and they send me surveys several times a week each. You answer some basic profiling questions at the start and these filter you in or out of the earning part of the survey. Each survey company has a different way of packaging the rewards (points, £'s, vouchers, PayPal income, prize draws) but basically they all add up to money in your pocket. I'd say I probably earn around £250 to £300 a year from this and it's great for Christmas and birthday presents. Well, I've got around 30 survey invites in my inbox, so there's a few hours if my time this afternoon.

If you're interested then give it a try.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

I'm running out of ways to stall moving the business forward!


The house and garden will be ready this week, the website is built and live, I'll have the office basically ready in terms of walls and flooring so I'm actually running out of ways to put off opening this estate agency! I've still got a lot to do, but as Spring arrives I can finally see the wood from the trees and start to put in place finalised plans for how I will go forward. I will admit to you, and to myself, that it won't happen in the timeframe of 245 days that I initially set out. I have booked a holiday for later this year, so the day I booked that was really the day I gave up in opening before the time of the holiday. As I will set up the agency on my own, with perhaps some help from my wife, then I will need to be present all the time for probably the first year. I have no qualms with this, in fact I'm looking forward to it, but I need to be in a position to do this. I have two young children and I currently cherish the free time I have with them and holiday are always part of this. I will probably try to get three holidays in between now and when the business opens to set myself up for that year.

My photography course finished yesterday with the exhibition of our work. It was a good night and we all enjoyed having people look over our photographs but this is now finished until September with level 2.

The office itself still needs a desk, the garage door changing, a curtain and pole putting up to keep put noise and weather and then a good sort out. The doors and subsequently the curtain will have to change later but I should get everything else done this week, with the next two days off. This will give me a chance to finalise everything that I want done to home, garden and office and put me in a position to move forward.

When I've done this, the targets are background items that I hope will generate and income for me. The blogs that I write bring in a trickle of an income and this will continue and continue to rise but it will only ever reach a modest amount. The website will be both another channel for the blog and will possibly generate another small income from advertising. I will be writing some training material for the website, which will be paid-for by users. I am also most of the way through writing my second Kindle book to sell on Amazon and this will supplement the modest income I get from the first Kindle book.

All in all, I'm looking to have a small background income to support me as I start on this venture. I will need an income to support the family and I, whilst I set about the process of starting my estate agency business and the time it takes to generate an income.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Website up and running - next stop Kindle book!


I had an unexpected day off yesterday after my employers IT system collapsed and I couldn't carry out my particular job role. I've not avoided it completely , as I'm on the way in now on what would have been one of my days off this week. As it was unscheduled, my time was also unscheduled so it felt like a good time to get in with something that I'd planned but never really felt the time to execute - the website. The idea behind it is to have a further channel for my estate agency blog, somewhere to link estate agents and the latest news and eventually provide a platform for both my Kindle books and my training programme for estate agents, which is mainly born out of the blog in estate agency matters and how to do things differently.

The blog is now 107 editions old, so initially creates it's own content to share on the site. There are so many options that I will change the blog part of the website on a weekly basis with different themes. I've started with the most popular blogs in terms of readership, but I'll look at themes in the following weeks such as-

*Social media marketing
*Housing supply
*Visibility as an agent
*The nuts and bolts of everyday estate agency

Having a set of blog posts that work together as a group will give a better link for my readers. The fact that each featured blog will be linked in some way will ensure that those that land on the page will find a selection of reading that interests them.

I've started my latest news page by linking to news coverage from my blog, estate agency news sites and the BBC. This will develop over time as I look at more diverse sources of news and how these affect the estate agency industry. I want to provide a place where estate agency professionals can go to see links to the latest news that affects their industry on different levels. This can be from local, national, industry-specific and international sources so I think it's a good thing to have these stories in one place.

There is a link and short description about my Kindle book on there and in addition I'll put links and information there about future Kindle books, such as the one I'm currently writing based on how to go about buying a house. The other area that needs development is the training area, where I will upload training material for budding estate agents and refresher courses for existing estate agents. This will be paid-for content but will be on a menu basis, where you can select the areas that you feel you need the help in and just pay for what you need.

I'm excited about the start of the project and from here on it's about maintaining the freshness of the changing content and writing the content still to be uploaded - the content that's in development.

The website can be found at-

Take a look and see what you think.

Monday, 9 March 2015

That's it, I'm taking control!


I've let events wash over me the last week or so. I've had so much going in that I've been stuck in a situation where I've not been able to focus in one thing and often ended up not doing anything much of significance. Don't get me wrong, I've been blogging, taking photos, mystery shopping and I've nearly got everything I wanted done around the house, but none of it feels like I've made massive progress or set the world alight-

My photography is moving along really well and I'm happier every week with the quality and consistency of the work I'm producing. My tutor is very pleased with my progress and I'm now 100% set on moving on to year 2 and level 2. My work is getting great feedback in class and on social media. I'm really in a very happy place with all this. In terms of the course, it's time to round up my folder tonight and then next week we are setting up our exhibition and then it's all finished until late September when level 2 begins.

I've been blogging apace and one of my blogs has just reached it's 100th edition-

I've decided to commemorate this milestone by producing a week of blogs looking back at the highlights of the first 100. It's an interesting way to look back at all the words I've written and pulling together the themes that I've looked at in terms of estate agency.

Mystery shopping has been going steadily but not spectacularly. We're coming to the end if the quarter and traditionally this and Easter mean that things slow down dramatically. Having said this, I've managed to conduct 6 mystery shops over the last week and I've got 2 in the pipeline. With only one day off this week, I probably won't do much more than that but I'll be looking for  a single day next week where I can conduct 10 to 15 mystery ships and bring in a few hundred pounds.

Work around the house is continuing, but again without feeling that it's flying ahead. The main bedroom is curtain lining away from complete and I'll finish the bathroom on Wednesday. After that there's just outdoor things to complete as spring starts and the weather turns warmer.

Wednesday is also the day when I start my warm weather exercise regime - in starting running again. I'm losing weight slowly but I don't feel that I've for a very good fitness level at the moment. Since finishing the Great North Run half marathon in September last year, I've inly ran once. I generally stop over the winter and I've missed my place in the ballot for the 2015 run but it's time to get fit again.

Friday, 6 March 2015

It's caught me up and passed me by


Just a week where I've felt that everything has caught me up and passed me by, and I've made little progress. I've conducted 4 mystery shops, done a couple of little chores around the house, but with a days overtime at work I've not really had the time to make much of an impact on anything and the what's next list feels like it hasn't changed since the start of the week.

I'm almost at the end of my photography course with just three weeks left. One to pull the folder together to hand in, one to frame and hang my prints for the exhibition and the last one is the exhibition itself. That will kick start the creative writing side of things. I've also looked at starting a distance marketing course run by a local university that will lead to diploma status if I follow through the three years (you only sign up for a year at a time.) I'm desperate to have as many skills as finely honed as possible and I believe that having all these things in place will hugely help me in setting up and running an estate agency. And I'm really interested in marketing. Looking three years into the future and having diplomas in marketing and photography will put me well ahead of the competition in terms of qualifications and it will be a case of applying this to the business.

I've made no moves towards even finishing my office for the business, after having found a wii senn strut gnawed through and mouse dropping in the floor if the garage I am still converting. The mouse bait has gone down and the strut has been patched up, pending a full repair. I need paint to finish this and then look at the desk, the flooring and the doors. A long way to go with this, but I'm sure there are brighter days ahead on this front.