1-Year Anniversary

Scarcity mindset, a new dataviz project, reviewing a data visualization portfolio

It’s been one year since I started this newsletter subscription. What a ride eh? You’ve seen me change a lot. You’ve seen me cry and celebrate. I’ve talked about the ups and downs. A new learning I had was about the scarcity mindset. Did you know, there are some people in the world who believe that there is enough for everyone in the world? They don’t believe that opportunities and resources are scarce. I didn’t realize that I was on the opposite end of this until recently. I have scarcity mindset. You know, it’s the idea of “if I don’t take on this freelance client, then there might not be another one like it coming my way”, or “if we don’t hoard all the toilet paper now, then we are screwed”.

Scarcity mindset kinda drove me crazy a little as I was building my e-commerce business. I kept telling myself the story that all the big agencies are taking the clients I want to work with, and that there is no room for me to do any business. It’s a trap. Because I’ve told myself, without solid proof, that I should quit. I alleviated the symptoms after I watched this video.

At the end of the video, he has the audience say the following words, which I stuck to my wall above my desk.

Scarcity mindset has been deeply ingrained in my mind. I am trying my best to undo it as much as possible. It’s not always bad though, I think it needs to exist in moderation. Too much of it can lead to fear and unnecessary anxiety.

I’ve been writing monthly for this newsletter and I told myself to commit for one year. I did it. So what now? I’ll be writing less frequently. Maybe quarterly, maybe twice a year, maybe once a year, not sure. I want to spend more time to focus on my new business. You’ll see me around less often in your inbox moving forward.

What I’m Working On

All my dataviz work now exists on the weekends only. I don’t even bother trying to do any during weekday evenings. I’m still busy building my new business, it’s a lot of work and so much to comb through.

I started a project earlier in the year about handmade businesses. I had to abandon it because it was a high maintenance project. However, I picked up another dataviz project about 2 months ago.

So many people have asked me about personal projects and how to get them done. There’s no easy answer and for everyone, it’s a different approach.

What I like to do is try and overlap goals. What I mean is when I do a personal project, I try to maximize the outcome of it. Currently, I am in the middle of a personal project that studies e-commerce platforms. Since I am entering the e-commerce business, might as use this dataviz project as an opportunity to learn more about it.

Sketches from my dataviz project about e-commerce platforms. I chose to use a tree branch as a metaphor of investment into a website platform. So many merchants look at it as a cost. The difference between investment and cost is that one gives back, the other doesn’t. A tree to me is a great metaphor because it takes time and energy to nurture it. If you work at it, the tree will blossom flowers and bear the fruits of your labour.

The project I’m working on now is about e-commerce websites. If you ever needed to build a website, but struggled to decide which tools to use, then you know this problem. With so many options available, how do you know which one is right for you? Sure, there are loads of blogs and videos that can help you make a decision, but you are still unsure. So I decided to try and tackle this problem for e-commerce merchants. What’s interesting about my dataset is that I’m looking at about 5 platforms, but the data is dense. Variables I am considering are based on what merchants ask questions about. I did a lot of social listening in the beginning, observing Reddit and Facebook groups to see what merchants struggle with when making their choice. Of course, the most important variable to consider is price. But price is very complex. Some platforms charge monthly, others charge annually, but advertise it as a monthly fee (aka, they tell you it costs $30/month on an annual plan, which means you need to pay $360 on the first month, and you don’t see this full price until you are very close to paying with your credit card). In addition, pricing isn’t fully transparent, things like payment for apps/plugins, domain, and transaction fees are sort of hidden. So in reality, merchants don’t just pay for the subscription of the platform, but there are many other fees associated with it. And this is just ONE variable - pricing. I’ve got about another 5 or 10 I’m looking at. Isn’t it interesting how life is so complex and chaotic? This is where the power of data comparisons in visual form can solve complex issues of how we understand the world.

From the community

My latest blog post on Why I’m Finally Learning to Draw inspired other dataviz folks to pick up the pen to draw! Here’s a lovely message I got in my inbox from Silvia:

The result of reading your article is that today I'm going to receive my first set of pens: I'm eager to start my journey with Drawabox. Multiple times I tried to keep drawing and sketching, but now I know that the fear of the blank page is what always kept me

And as a bonus, I got this message as a comment from Gurman Bhatia:

I also ordered some pens after reading your posts. Waiting for them to arrive. And hopefully giving it a shot. Thank you for the inspiration!

Woohooo! Exciting!

I recently just completed the 250 box challenge.

I submitted my drawings for feedback and I got a pass, I am ready to move onto lesson 2 (lol, I still have so much to learn!).

Ask Jane

John Baker asked me to give them feedback on his website portfolio. I agreed and asked if it was OK to record my feedback as a video. There’s a lot of data in watching how I interact with a website, and it can get lost through a written feedback.

The key takeaway is to understand who your reader is. A common challenge I have looking at portfolios that are very technical is that they are filled with too much jargon. John told me his primary goal was to land a job. From my experience, folks who recruit are either from HR with little technical background, or managers who have some technical background. Usually, it’s better to assume that they have little to no technical information and it’s always a better strategy to distill case studies in a way that someone with no knowledge of your field can understand. If you can do what Neil DeGrasse Tyson did for astrophysics with your portfolio, then that makes it so much easier for companies to understand if you’re the right fit.

The reality is, companies don’t have a lot of time to sort through portfolios. They have a checklist they are working through when they hire and if you can figure out what’s on that checklist, it makes it easier to structure your information. My suggestion for John was to look up to 5 job postings he would apply to, then organize case study to reflect that.

Here’s the video:


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