I actually was able to accomplish all I set out to do yesterday. I didn’t finish working until just after 10pm but I was very happy to get that far with things. I took photos for all six of the new projects that are going to go up on the site today, and I also wrote the instructions for all six pattern packets. I sent them off to my friend to proof read them and besides one small line work error that didn’t convert correctly on one of the ornaments, it appears that I am ready to go on everything.
Today’s main task will be posting the projects on the site, writing the descriptions and writing the email to my customer mailing list which will announce the update. It always feels good when I reach this point in the design cycle. It is very rewarding to see my hard work in the form of a new pattern packet and also a great feeling when the first one is actually ordered. I have received several emails from people who were already interested in the new stuff, and that is a good sign. I am pleased that everything is done and I will be able to move on to other new things and work on my own gifts for a while.
It wasn’t all good news though. I received a call from my editor in regards to the skating pond set. On the previous day, he called and we discussed the particulars of the set, as he was preparing the ads for the painting and wood magazines. He was also going to have an ad in it for their general craft magazine, as there are many painters who subscribe to that one. We had discussed the price of the kit of figures, which I had settled on as $60. Cutting the figures myself took several hours (both for myself and my partner) and my friend Rick who cuts very quickly didn’t want to do production work either but said if he were to do it, he would need to charge $35 – $40 per set. The best laser cutting quote that I could get was around $30 prior to taxes and shipping. I felt that $60 would be the cheapest that I would be able to offer the pieces and still make a profit.
At first my editor balked at this a bit. He expected the pieces to cost somewhere around $40 – $50 retail and the $60 figure was a bit higher than he thought. When I talked to him on Wednesday, I explained the hours involved and also that I tried several different sources and I even mentioned Rick, who he knows very well. By the end of the conversation, he was convinced that the price was fair and that by asking anything less, the project wouldn’t be worth doing.
However, he phoned yesterday to say he pitched the idea to the publisher who owns all of the magazines and that he felt it was too high of a price for the set and people wouldn’t pay it. They brought in the editors for both the painting magazine and also the general craft magazine and apparently it was voted down due to the cost of the set. So no ads will be in either of those magazines.
My editor was quite upset about this and to show his good faith, he offered to run a half page ad for me in the scroll sawing magazine. He also said that the rights to the project would once again go back to me completely, with no involvement from the magazine at all. So the good news is that all the profits of the sales of the kits and patterns will go to me, but the bad news is that I will not be able to reach the audience that I wanted to target with it.
I inquired about purchasing my own ad in the painting magazine, as I do believe that if painters see this project they will want to make it, and he is finding the cost out for me. I know though, that it is quite expensive and at this point in my life I know I cannot afford it, no matter what the cost. It is yet another disappointment regarding this project. I am beginning to think it is cursed.
In thinking about it, I am very happy that I have been diversifying so much with my design work. If I had all of my hopes tied to this project, I would certainly be devastated. After the other magazine that published it dropped the ball, I at least had the comfort of knowing that it would be seen by way of these other magazines. However, now that has changed once again and it appears that I am once again looking for a way to promote it to the audience that will want to make it.
I am very appreciative of the efforts of my editor, and I am grateful that he will at least give me the half-page ad after all of this. However, you all as woodworkers know that most woodworkers do not want to or know how to paint and although many woodworkers find the set charming, they will not attempt making such a complicated set. Realistically I know that to be the case.
So where to market it? How can I do so and reach as many people as possible on such a limited budget?
As I stated before, there is now only one major publication geared to decorative painting. That is the magazine that publishes the magazine I work for. The rest of the painting magazines have ceased to exist in this brutal economy that has killed off so many of the creative publications.
There are one or two companies which offer woodworking in addition to some painting projects and I may try to see what headway I can make there. I am not sure though, as again, it is a larger project and therefore risky from a marketing point of view when people are so timid about spending their money. But it is a thought and one that should not be overlooked.
I also plan to make several short step-by-step videos which will show several different basic painting techniques. I planned on using the piece “Mr. Snowman” from the pond scene because he encompasses so many of the different basic painting techniques in one single piece. If I highlight him in the videos and have a reference to my site and the pattern, perhaps that would generate some interest. I will have time in the next couple of weeks to pursue this and in even in the worst case scenario I will come out of it with some nice painting videos for woodworkers who want to learn to paint and also for new painters.
I sit here wondering why I don’t feel worse about this than I do. Perhaps because over these years I have learned the very valuable lesson of not counting on only one thing to make my business work. Yes, it hurts a bit, but it is certainly not going to derail me and I feel that I am still learning valuable lessons throughout this process. This is not going to discourage me, but it is going to force me to look harder at what resources I have to figure out how to make this work and successful. I believe in the product and I also believe that if it can get out there and be seen, people will want to make it. It is just a hiccup on the long road of life. Perhaps it will force me to tap into resources I didn’t even know that I had. Who knows?
So with that thought in mind, I will carry on with my day. I have a lot of good to focus on and also a lot of thinking to do as far as this little skating pond set. It is all part of learning to make a business work. There is no such thing as ‘overnight success’ as far as I am concerned. Every now and then we see someone who got lucky or had a huge amount of success come to them quickly, but we still didn’t see the hardship and disappointments that they met with along the way to that success. One of my favorite thought on that is “if it were that easy – everyone would be doing it”.
I am up for the battle though. I am in a good place with other things holding me up. I like working in many directions at once just for that reason.
And when I am finally victorious, just think how sweet that success will be!
Happy Friday to all of you!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"