Interview: What I’ve Learned on the Small Business Journey

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Vizaca, an online magazine for global entrepreneurs and small business owners, for interviewing me about my small business journey. It was a pleasure to discover this resource and share my experience with others.

Jaime Shine, Owner of Clearly Conveyed Communications


Tell us about yourself?

I’m Jaime Shine, founder of Clearly Conveyed Communications. I’m a writer, marketing professional and social media strategist helping brands communicate with their target audiences.

While most kids were playing with blocks or dolls, I was publishing magazines and newspapers – feature articles, ads, sports box scores, the whole nine yards. From promotions director to advertising roles to branding projects, I’ve always been interested in all forms of marketing. That interest blossomed into a career path and led me to open my own business in 2012.

It’s been a crazy ride, but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Growing up in an unincorporated village, owning a business isn’t something you do. I’ve learned so much about business – and myself – along the way.

How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

It was an aha moment 15 years in the making. One day at work, I realized that so many small business owners don’t know how to market themselves and can’t afford traditional agency fees. With my diverse background in marketing, I could start a business offering professional marketing services and experience at affordable rates. I could give brands a voice – via marketing, writing and social media services – so business owners could focus on the reason they’re in business, their sweet spot, and not struggle with marketing decisions, writing copy and developing social media strategies. While I work with brands of all sizes, I do have a soft spot for fellow small businesses and startups.

“It was an aha moment 15 years in the making.”

How much potential market share can you achieve in next 3 years?

I’m not focused on market share, because I realize I’m a small fish in a big pond. My focus is on finding the right mix of clients that generate enough revenue while still allowing me to deliver the personal service they expect.

What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?

Three books have impacted my life the most.

A Big Life in Advertising by Mary Wells Lawrence gave me big ideas about my future (in marketing and advertising) when I read it in college. Lawrence left her mark in a male-dominated space and encouraged me to do the same.

On Writing by Stephen King is a memoir by my favorite author and a straightforward, practical guide to help writers perfect their craft. This book (and a professor) inspired me to pursue writing as a career.

Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking felt like it was written for me. There’s value in listening to all voices – not only the loudest – in business and in life.

Browse CCC's work at https://jaimeshine.com/portfolio

 

What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?

My home makes me smile every time I walk in the door. Even though I bought it at the worst possible time (right before the Great Recession), it was a smart decision. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here for 10 ½ years!

Owning a home can be frustrating and expensive, so my worst purchase has probably been a service company who failed to live up to my expectations (or even show up).

What takes up too much of your time?

Owning a business takes a lot of time. I’ve implemented processes to handle administrative work more efficiently and am starting to outsource some activities, such as IT, but there’s still room to improve. The more I can focus on my clients and revenue-generating activity, the more my business will succeed.

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?

Learn from every opportunity. Pay attention and make yourself useful in every situation, from the classroom to volunteer work to your current job. It may not seem related to what you want to do, but there’s insight to be had if you’re looking for it.

Network, network, network. Your professional network can be a big boost to your career or business, but it’s up to you to build and maintain it. Get to know professionals in your industry, offer your help when appropriate and listen when they speak.

Plan and adapt. Starting a business is a big risk, but you can mitigate your risk by planning as much as possible. Why do you want to start a business? What market need are you satisfying? Who is your target audience or ideal customer? How will you pay for your business? Despite all your planning, you’ll need to adapt – to changing consumer tastes, market conditions and life occurrences. The ability to adapt is one of the biggest advantages of startups and small businesses, and you’ll need it to succeed.

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

I’m impressed by Richard Branson, both his accomplishments and his outlook on life. He’s experienced successes and failures but learns from every situation, even today. He’s an innovative thinker, calculated risk taker and genuine human being.

Tell us about something you are proud of – about your greatest challenge.

This spring, my business celebrated its sixth anniversary. Most small businesses fail, so I’m proud that Clearly Conveyed Communications is still giving brands a voice. It’s been a long, winding road, but what a feeling of accomplishment!

How should people connect with you?

Visit my website for my full contact information, so we can connect via your preferred channel. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

*****

Are you an entrepreneur or small business owner? Vizaca can help you showcase your business, connect you with the right audience and promote your products and services worldwide.

Continuing on the small business journey,
Jaime

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50 Things I’m Grateful For, Summer 2018 Edition

The tradition continues. Each year since 2012 (the year I started CCC), I’ve published a list of 50 things I’m grateful for. This isn’t a 5-minute exercise. I create the list over the course of weeks or even months. Oftentimes, I’ll jot down an activity I’m doing or a memory triggered by a conversation or passage in a book. What are you grateful for?

Celebrating CCC's 6th anniversary in the office

My business, Clearly Conveyed Communications, turned 6 in May. That’s something to be grateful for!

 

50 Things I’m Grateful For, Summer 2018 Edition

  • Coffee shop patios on overcast, stressful days
  • My smartphone — and the mobility it provides
  • Rare moments that I can put my phone away
  • Ocean waves crashing
  • Playing with my nephew
  • Meeting fellow KSU alumni
  • Handwritten cards, letters and notes
  • Instagram Stories
  • My niece, who’s growing into another strong Shine woman
  • Stephen King

  • Lifelong friends
  • Fireworks on a summer night
  • Listening to the orchestra
  • Firetrucks in parades
  • Brands who own their voice
  • 80’s movies
  • Classic rock
  • Finishing a workout and feeling strong
  • Linda by Chuck Close
  • Rollerskating (and Roller Derby)

  • Capturing a moment — in picture or prose
  • Creating content
  • Solving problems
  • Reliable technology
  • The power of putting pen to paper
  • Traveling for pleasure
  • Experiencing different cultures
  • Taking a journey in a book
  • Donating plasma to those who need it
  • Exploring trails

 

A lake view

I love water views — while working, relaxing or contemplating life.

 

  • Water views
  • CCC’s 6th anniversary
  • Small victories
  • Eating tacos on a patio on a beautiful, summer day
  • Sipping a latte
  • Long weekends
  • Touchscreen devices
  • Solving WONDERWORD, crossword and other word puzzles
  • Different viewpoints
  • Aha moments

  • Pocket, Evernote and other productivity apps
  • Mesmerizing stories and storytellers
  • Editing and revising a rough draft into sharp content with a clear message
  • Vegetarian enfrijoladas
  • Family
  • Outdoor concerts and movies
  • A night at the ballpark
  • Food carts and street food
  • Reaping the fruits (and vegetables) of a garden
  • Strong women

That’s my list for the summer of 2018. Take a moment to think about what you’re grateful for in your life right now. Share your list, however long or short, in the comments or leave a link to your own post. Writing down what you’re grateful for is a powerful exercise to remember to count the blessings in your life.

So, what are you grateful for?

Counting my blessings,
Jaime

Let’s connect:
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Vlog: CCC Turns 6!

 

This week, my crazy, little venture turned six. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but I would do it all over again.

I’m blessed to work with amazing people and am so appreciative of everyone who has supported me — and my fledgling business — along the way.

It’s been so much fun (and life-changing) to build a business from the ground up and watch CCC grow. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

If you have a marketing challenge, writing opportunity or social media question, we would love to help.

Thank you for the past six incredible, challenging years, which have felt like a lifetime, yet passed in the blink of an eye.

We’re looking forward to working with you!

Grateful and proud,

Jaime

A CCC Christmas and Your 2017 Favorites

It’s our favorite time of the year at CCC!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from CCC!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from CCC!

We’ve been enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season while finishing client projects with care. As we count down toward Christmas Day and the New Year, we wanted to showcase your favorites from throughout the year. Enjoy!

Top 5 Most Read Posts of 2017

5 Years In: Life as a Small Business Owner

We're celebrating 5 years in business!

 

Content Marketing: A Crucial Component of the Customer Experience

pexels-photo-296878

 

Understanding Social Media Etiquette with Real-World Scenarios

Not sure if something is appropriate online? Translate it into a real-world scenario.

 

4 Ways to Add More Fun (& Productivity) To Your Events 

Promotional product ideas for meetings & events

Don’t forget the fun! Events shouldn’t be all work and no play.

 

4 Ways Running Can Help You Run A Business

The author finishing a 5k

How did you find us?

  1. Search Engines
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. Android mobile apps
  5. Foxweber

Top 5 Most Visited Pages 

  1. Come on in… Our Front Door
  2. Contact Us
  3. Marketing Services
  4. The Voice Behind CCC
  5. Pay It Forward

Top 3 Countries of Visitors

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada

Top 5 Tags & Categories

  1. Business category
  2. Marketing tag
  3. Business tag
  4. Writing tag
  5. Writing category

Milestones Celebrated in 2017

20,000 Views 

12,500 Visitors

CCC’s 5 Year Anniversary!

 

Thank you for your support this year! We appreciate every visitor, click and share, and we’re looking forward to providing more valuable content in 2018. A special thank you to our clients, who are amazing to work with!

Comment Here

What was your favorite post of 2017?

How did you find jaimeshine.com?

Which page(s) do you visit most often?

Which tag and/or category do you visit most often?

What type of content do you visit the CCC blog to read? Are there any topics you’d like to see written about more in 2018?

We appreciate your feedback and enjoy incorporating it into future blog and content decisions.

Best wishes for an enjoyable holiday season to all.

Merry Christmas from all of us at CCC!

Jaime

Let’s connect:

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50 Things I’m Grateful For, Fall 2017 Edition

When I started my business in 2012, I knew that gratitude and helping others would play a large part. Each year, I write down 50 things I’m grateful for as a reminder to not take any blessings for granted, large or small. Show your gratitude by sharing your list (of any size) in the comments or linking to your own blog post.

Yours truly at Kent State Alumni Association's National Day of Service 2015

Preparing garden beds for future vegetables during my alumni association’s National Day of Service in 2015. Do I have a future as a back model?


50 Things I’m Grateful For, Fall 2017 Edition

  • Golden retrievers and four-legged furry friends of all kinds
  • Espresso blend dark roast coffee
  • Quiet (a lack of noise and the book)
  • Soothing sounds of nature
  • A good laugh
  • Firefighters, EMS professionals, police officers and first responders
  • The feeling of crossing the finish line
  • Reading the paper while sipping a latte
  • Our wounded veterans and those who never make it home
  • Cracking open a peanut at the ballgame
  • Fireworks
  • Firetrucks in a parade
  • Fourth of July
  • Sending a card to celebrate, console, thank or say hello
  • Lunch with friends
  • Getting lost in a good book
  • A Swenson’s Salad Boy burger
  • My family’s health and happiness
  • Live music on a summer night, cold brew in hand
  • Solving a crossword puzzle over coffee
  • The small business journey
  • A sunset over water
  • A handwritten note
  • The sun shining on my face during a trail run
  • That sibling bond
We're celebrating 5 years in business!

CCC turned five in May!

  • CCC’s 5th anniversary
  • A day or night at the ballpark
  • The feel of a felt tip pen on paper
  • Lunch on a patio under blue, clear skies
  • Waving to the train conductor on a run through the Summit Metro Parks
  • Enjoying the beauty of nature in the middle of the city
  • Bright ideas and brainstorming sessions
  • The ability to unplug (occasionally)
  • Good advice
  • My night owl nature
  • A beautiful fall day
  • Helping clients achieve success
  • Small wins
  • Contributing to something bigger than myself
  • Accomplishing something I’ve worked hard for
  • A conversation with a longtime friend
  • Hitting the trails
  • Exploring Main Street in Park City, Utah
  • Talking shop with fellow marketing professionals & small business owners
  • Learning

 

  • A place to call home
  • The ability to donate platelets to help others
  • When social media is used for good
  • Writing, writing, writing (and reading)
  • Strong women, in fiction and real life

There’s so much in life to be grateful for. What’s on your list?

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about gratitude, hopes and dreams, your marketing needs or otherwise):

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4 Ways Running Can Help You Run A Business

Are you a runner or is shopping your cardio? 😉

The author finishing a 5k

I started running later in life (i.e. post-school), and I’m so glad I did. Besides being excellent exercise, it’s fun to be a part of such a wonderful community. The running community embraces runners of all capabilities and provides support in the form of running partners, groups and tips from more experienced runners.

A Supportive Community 

A supportive community is one way that running translates to running a business. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you’re probably working alone. Tapping into the entrepreneurial community can help you grow and manage your business. Whether you frequent a co-working space or join an online community, fellow small business owners can give you advice, help you brainstorm ideas and offer support from someone who understands what you’re experiencing.

Related: Is collaboration the new competition?

Long-Term Plan

Runners tend to have a long-term plan, incorporating when they’re competing in races, rest days and specific things they’re working on (i.e. a stronger kick, running technique). Small business owners need to plan as well, so they can run their business effectively and look for growth opportunities. Looking at your bigger picture helps when making decisions about what opportunities to pursue and which areas to focus on at specific times. Of course the best plans should always be adjustable.

Rest Days / Down Time

As noted above, part of a runner’s long-term plan is incorporating rest days. They’re vital to performing well, in running and business. Small business owners tend to wear a lot of hats, which can make it difficult to unplug. It’s important to your long-term outlook (and health) that you take time for yourself so you can be at your best when focusing on your business. Don’t burn yourself out and short circuit your business before you’re able to achieve your dreams. Running a business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Related: How to Take a Break from Technology Without Moving to the Woods

Aha Moments 

When I run, I listen to my tunes and try to empty my mind (or think of inspirational movie scenes if I need an extra boost to reach the top of the hill). I’m not thinking about customers, business issues or other important topics. That’s probably why I come up with some of my best ideas or feel confident making a decision I’ve been thinking about after a run. The combination of physical activity, clearing my mind and the euphoria of finishing my run seems to spark creativity and clarify my decision-making process. The next time you’re struggling with a business decision or client project, go for a run. It may spark an ‘aha moment!’

Running translates well to running a business on several fronts. Runners can draw inspiration and insight from their hobby while they tackle the tough task of running a business. Not a runner? It’s never too late to lace ’em up and hit the pavement or trails. Couch to 5k can help you get started, or find a running community to join. You’ll find the same support, camaraderie and inspiration as you find in your entrepreneurial or small business community.

Happy running (a business)!

Just a (small biz owner &) runner from Akron,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about small business life, running, your marketing needs or otherwise):

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5 Years In: Life as a Small Business Owner

Something crazy happened this week: CCC celebrated its 5th anniversary. In the midst of client projects and deadlines, I almost missed it — which is so appropriate. It was just another day in what has become my life as a small business owner.

We're celebrating 5 years in business!

When I started this journey, I never thought I’d get here. Sure, I made plans and thought about where I — and my business — would be in five years, but to be honest, none of it was real. There was too much treading water just trying to stay afloat.

Looking back, I’ve learned a few things and will continue to do so every day. That’s part of the process, one that I enjoy.

Here are five lessons I’ve learned in five years as a small business owner:

  • This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done — and my greatest accomplishment (to date). Finishing my first half-marathon is a close second, but the daily grind of starting and building my own business has permanently changed me. It’s challenged me beyond my wildest dreams, and shown me what I’m capable of. You can read and plan all you want (and you should), but until you jump in, it’s hard to imagine.

An Omnipresent View? The Life of a Small Business Owner

  • You have to learn to say no. Your time is your most valuable commodity, especially because you probably won’t have the money to hire help when you start out. It’s not about missing opportunities or being afraid to take chances; it’s about taking control of your time and your business. Saying yes to everything and everyone will leave you burnt out and likely out of business.

The Power of Saying ‘No’

  • Enjoy the everyday moments. Take time to sip a latte on a patio on a beautiful spring day while brainstorming a blog post or contemplating future business decisions. It may be tough for you to take time off from your business for a long time, so enjoy these moments that relieve stress and sustain you for another day.

Celebrate the Magic in Everyday Moments

  • Be honest — with your clients, prospects and yourself. It may be uncomfortable, but it will benefit all involved in the long run. As difficult as some situations may be, try to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. If you’re not best suited to help a prospect, refer him to another company. If you’re continually running into issues with a client, have an honest (yet professional) conversation. It will either spur changes or an end to the relationship, which may be for the best. Long-term, mutually beneficial relationships cannot be built on lies and half-truths — in business or in life.

A Look Back: 4 Lessons Learned in 4 Years as an Entrepreneur

  • Stay true to why you started your business. It can be difficult to remember your vision as you get bogged down in day-to-day activity, start to grow or deal with a catastrophe. Whether you create a vision board or have an image burned into your mind, keep it front and center. Remembering why you started the business can help you make decisions and decide which opportunities to pursue.

It’s been fun looking back on the last five years this week, which have been an incredible journey. Right now, there’s more work to do, but maybe I’ll be able to sip a latte on a patio this weekend to celebrate this special milestone in CCC’s story.

Thanks to everyone for your support!

Starting chapter six,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about small business life, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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How to Take a Break from Technology Without Moving to the Woods

The views were breathtaking.

snow covered mountains in Park City, UT

Park City, Utah

After a client conference last week, I took a day off in nearby Park City, Utah. If you’ve never been, the landscape is breathtaking, and I didn’t even have a chance to hit the slopes. If you’re not a skier, there’s plenty of other sights and sounds to entertain you.

There’s almost a magical quality to Park City, with its old-fashioned Main Street, Mom and Pop shops and mountain backdrops. As I was heading back to the airport the following morning (in a snowstorm), I realized my stress level was much lower than it had been when I arrived. Why? I tried to limit technology as much as possible for a 12-hour span.

Technology transports us to new worlds, allows us to work remotely and offers nearly unlimited learning opportunities. It’s also addictive, available 24/7 and difficult to get away from in our lives today. I’m not suggesting that you move to the woods and shun all forms of technology, but there are ways to take a break from technology and lower your stress level.

How technology gets us hooked

How to Take a Break from Technology and Reduce Your Anxiety Level

  • Switch Screens: Some days you have to be plugged in all day; there’s no way of getting around it. It helps me to switch screens, going from my laptop to mobile, when possible. Something about not standing (or sitting) in front of a computer makes me feel like I’m not as plugged in.
  • Take a Break: Most people work better in spurts, and as counterproductive as it may seem, taking short breaks can make you more productive. You may have a mountain of work to do, but taking a quick walk or heading out of the office for lunch can give you a productivity boost for the rest of the day. I try to move around in between projects to break up the work day.

Things I Carry: Pen and Paper

  • Go Old School: Can you lose technology for any part of your job (even once in awhile)? I love to write outlines and rough drafts on paper. A blank page is much more inviting to me than a flashing cursor, and the process of writing by hand is soothing to me. Pick up a physical business book or attend a conference in-person to hone your skills instead of reading an article or attending a webinar online.
  • Change Your Environment: When I worked in corporate America, I loved to go out to lunch to change the scenery. Oftentimes, I would come up with an idea or solve a problem while sitting at a local cafe or coffee shop. Changing your environment can drive creativity and refresh you, which is why coffee shops are popular alternative working locations.

How the Hum of a Coffee Shop Can Boost Creativity

  • Adjust Your Schedule: What is your typical work schedule? Do you have any flexibility? Try to group projects so that you’re able to enjoy some time off, even a few hours. Maybe you can schedule more on 3-4 days a week so that you can regroup and plan on lighter days or even take a day off. What works best for you? If you’re an early bird, work on your most important projects first before you lose momentum. More of a night owl? Save more thought-provoking work for later in the day. We all work our best differently, so try to make your schedule work for you.
  • Shut It Off: Take a vacation, even one day. It’s amazing how much more relaxed you’ll feel when you leave your phone at home or at least don’t check it every five minutes. As a small business owner, I understand how difficult it is to clock out, so to speak, but I always feel so refreshed when I do. You may not be able to take a week-long vacation to some tropical destination, but enjoying an activity you like — ice skating, shopping, getting a massage — can pull you out of the digital world back into the real world.

As amazing as technology is, it’s important to unplug regularly to recharge and enjoy the world around us. You may be surprised at your reduced stress levels and improved productivity and efficiency. So turn off your computer, put your phone down and head outside. The world awaits!

Your Turn: How Do You Unplug?

How do you take a break from technology?
What’s your favorite getaway destination?
What are your favorite activities that don’t involve technology?

p.s. It’s a coincidence that I wrote and published this post on the National Day of Unplugging. It’s not a coincidence that I wrote it in a coffee shop. 😉

An old school Gen X’er in a digital world,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about unplugging, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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On Thanksgiving, We’re Thankful For…

As Thanksgiving nears, we’re reminded of so many reasons to be thankful.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake

We started a tradition in 2012 to post a list of 50 Things We’re Grateful For… during each summer as one simple way to keep gratitude near and dear to our hearts. While we won’t duplicate those efforts in this post, we did want to share a few things that we’re thankful for this Thanksgiving.

#GivingTuesday is a national day of giving to kick off the generous holiday season. After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, think about supporting your favorite charity or cause. Then, see how you can get more involved during the rest of the year. What’s your favorite charity or cause? Let us know in the comments below!

On Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful for #GivingTuesday

Our awesome clients and the CCC community make us smile every day. We appreciate every project, referral, comment, like, share and reader! We’re thankful to work with so many wonderful people who are doing good. If you’re reading this post, say hello!

50 Things I’m Grateful For… Summer 2016 Edition

We’re looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

How do you celebrate?
What are you thankful for?
What’s your favorite charity or cause?

Usually smiling & always thankful,
Chef Jaime

Let’s chat (about what you’re thankful for, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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To Give or Not To Give: A 4-Year Journey

I regularly check the Popular Content section on the sidebar of this blog to see what readers are enjoying the most. This valuable information helps me plan future topics or encourages me to tackle previous topics from another angle or with updates. One post that always shows up is To Give or Not To Give…, a look at my first platelets donation experience, so I wanted to share more about my experience since this post.

Donating platelets at the American Red Cross

A lot has happened since my previous post four years ago. I’ve become a regular platelets donor, averaging 12 donations a year, and notching 18 visits in 2015. I’ve accepted the fact that I freeze during my donations, wrapping up in blankets and utilizing a large heating pad (and hot pack to squeeze). I do seem to set off the monitor a little less frequently now, so my mummifying attempts seem to be working. 🙂

As noted above, I try to make it to my local DC (donation center) monthly, which is a little easier to do with a couple of Red Cross updates. The Blood Donor app is so convenient! It allows you to schedule platelets donations online, review your donation history, manage appointments and track your donations, among other tasks. Rapid Pass is a time-saver, as it allows you to answer the interview questions in advance on the day of your appointment. It’s not available via mobile, but it is a nice way to cut down on the time you spend at the facility. [2018 UPDATE: Rapid Pass is now available via mobile!]

Changes have been made to the actual donation process too. In the past year, the Red Cross has gone back to a two-needle donation process: blood is drawn from one arm and returned in your other arm after having your platelets (and possibly plasma) removed. Unfortunately my body didn’t take to the two-arm process at all, so my DC accepts my donations via a one-arm donation.

After taking a few months off, I’m starting to donate monthly again. I realize others donate more, up to the maximum of 24 times per year, but that seems to be too much for my body to handle. Last fall, I started to have issues during donations, so the Red Cross stopped taking plasma during my platelets donations, which has helped immensely.

I’m continuing to monitor how my body handles donations going forward but am looking forward to making regular monthly donations again. The Blood Donor app, Rapid Pass and returning to a one-arm donation process have helped me continue to help others in need. Curious? Visit http://www.redcrossblood.org/platelets to learn more about the platelets donation process.

Your Feedback Requested

Do you donate blood, platelets, plasma or a platelets/plasma combination?

Do you react to the anticoagulant by sneezing frequently? (I just made it through my first donation without needing TUMS!)

What do you think of the two-arm collection process vs. the one-arm?

Have you experienced any side effects from donating?

To all fellow donors, thank you!

Jaime

Let’s chat (about platelets donations, paying it forward or otherwise):
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