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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #183: Accepting Disappointments and Learning From Them

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 12-03-2010 02:45 PM 3563 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 182: Nativity Candle Tray is Finished Part 183 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 184: Random Thoughts on Business »

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"



9 comments so far

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7015 posts in 1961 days


#1 posted 12-03-2010 05:25 PM

quote “life wouldn’t be life if it were easy”...i think your doing great sheila, your a strong person who knows the path you want..and are doing the work to be successful , times are tough..and its the fighters who will make it…looking at your situation…finding the right way…it all works to your good…you are the best in customer service and the people you deal with know your the best…so keep plugging away…keep those great designs coming and push ahead….....have a great day..grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Handi75's profile

Handi75

371 posts in 2132 days


#2 posted 12-03-2010 07:53 PM

Sheila,

Sorry to hear that you only got a 1/2 ad. But at least you got it. I think the pond set is pretty nice, althou in my situation being low income and knee deep in bills, things like that are hard to purchase. So I can in a way see where the mag is coming from. Also the economy the way it is. You are doing VERY Well staying afloat.

Keep on truckin, keep on with your great attitude about your business and how you run it and you will succeed. You don’t think Kraft makes their money from just Cheese and Mac and Cheese do you? lol, they dervisify just as you mentioned. They own alot of differently Side companys that give them money along with their name brand items.

Handi

-- Jimmy "Handi" Warner, http://www.facebook.com/HandisWorkshop, http://www.facebook.com/HandisCreations, Twitter: @Handisworkshop, @HandisCreations

View Steven Davis's profile

Steven Davis

110 posts in 1572 days


#3 posted 12-03-2010 08:15 PM

Sheila -

Would it be possible to split the pond set into two sets (or more) to bring the price per set down? The idea of two $35 sets or one $60 set makes a lot of sense, actually. There are “mental price points” that create a lot of resistance for consumers. (Not remembering your full set precisely) the idea of having a family, a couple, some kids playing, etc. would also allow people to get their feet wet with a new type of project like this without going in too deep.

Think of a nativity creche – people buy nice sets over a period of years.

This also allows you to conceivably make more money when people buy the set bit by bit.

Best of luck.

Steve

-- Steven Davis - see me at http://www.playnoevil.com/ and http://www.stelgames.com/

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14754 posts in 2334 days


#4 posted 12-03-2010 09:17 PM

Interesting how these mental price blocks work. When I was a youngster in the early 70s and newly married, I took some economics classes in the evening at the local community college. They talked about inflation, the time value of money, but they never mentioned anything about a “mental price block.”

As a young journeyman electrician making in the neighborhood of $7/hour, I wondered how long it would be before I would be making $50 an hour? Surprisingly, using a modest inflation rate for the time, my calculations showed by the mid 90s. I was quite startled that it would be so quick. I thought about that for a while; my conclusion was it would never happen because of what I called the “psychological limit on wages.”

Construction trades were able to negotiate reasonable increases to keep pace with the high inflation of the late 70s. By 1982, we were making about $25 per hour. The business round table decided their construction costs were to high and caused an artificial recession in the building trades to compound the real recession we were in at that time.

When work stopped, the union had an opportunity to forego a $2 +/- wage hike. I felt they were crazy to not forego it, but most people never fully consider or understand the consequences of their actions. They voted to take it. Over the next 2 years, we had $4.50 an hour of wage reductions shoved sown our throat. It took until the early 90s to get back to where they were in 1982 in numbers. Of course, they will never catch up in inflation adjusted terms as middle class wages have been stagnant since Reganomics started. In real inflation adjusted terms, we, the middle class, are all collectively down 40%.

That took a bit more to explain that I had intended when I started the comment!! ;-(

Being able to understand your situation and without crippling disappointment means you are maturing as a business person. I just realized the reason I probably enjoy reading your blog is having been though all of this, taking it in stride, rolling with the flow and moving on without ever really stopping to analyze the process or quantify what I was going through.

Have a great day..

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View BritBoxmaker's profile

BritBoxmaker

4372 posts in 1694 days


#5 posted 12-03-2010 09:36 PM

We seem to increasingly be moving to a world where everything is expected for nothing and there is very little recognition of the inspiration and work of the artist/artisan. I personally could not hope to make a living doing what I do in the box line.

Does anything ever change though. A lot of the artist/artisans of the past were never able to make a decent living in their own lifetimes, now their work sells for thousands to millions. I am not counting myself alongside people like Van Gogh here, just the jobbing craftsmen who couldn’t make it pay for them.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com

View Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

213 posts in 2162 days


#6 posted 12-03-2010 10:44 PM

Hi Sheila, I was just on your site and was happy to see the new items! I will be making a order after this weekend after I see what kind of sales we had. We love the look of the new site. Rick and Kathie The Scroller and Toler

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7665 posts in 1578 days


#7 posted 12-03-2010 11:11 PM

Thank you for all the thoughts today. I just finished some things and this is the first time I am able to get back here.

I do like the idea of perhaps offering the wood figures in sets. I can see how having only so much to spend at a time would be a deterrent. I, myself have that mindset many times when shopping – either online or in a real store. I could also then add to the set in subsequent years and offer updating kits. It is a good thought and one I will seriously consider.

I do hear you Martyn regarding people’s expectations of getting everything for nothing. Again, I will blame Wall-Mart and all the companies like that who underpay their employees and purchase their stock from countries with atrocious labor laws. All it has done is train us to expect to pay less and less for everything. Never mind about quality. My partner was reading the other day how model numbers on electronics and appliances were slightly different from the same model of items given to the ‘big box’ stores. On one instance they had an identical item with just an additional letter after the number. Upon taking apart the two “identical” models, the person realized that the big box item had cheaper plastic internal parts whereas the other item had better made metal parts. It just makes you think. Are we really getting more for our money at those stores? And what is the cost globally? We want everything cheap and disposable. But don’t get me started on that . . . .

I realize I am swimming upstream many days. I would like to think that I can overcome the obstacles though and really achieve success. I realize that may not be the case, but for now I still want to fight. After all – someone has to be left standing. Why not me?

And Rick, thank you for your encouragement. I just finished sending the letter out to the customers and the site is all updated. Time for a big breath and time to do some fun stuff for the holidays. I wish you luck this weekend too. Let us know how you do.

Thanks again for the great feedback. You guys always get me thinking! :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View RonPeters's profile

RonPeters

708 posts in 1538 days


#8 posted 12-04-2010 06:12 AM

Think Barbi and Ken! You buy the doll with one set of clothes, then you buy the car, the business suit, the golf suit… each for about $15 – $25.

Steven Davis has the right idea here… this could be the ‘next stage’ of your product marketing?

You don’t want all of their money… just a little bit at a time. Folks will want to buy to ‘add to their collection’.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14754 posts in 2334 days


#9 posted 12-04-2010 06:45 AM

That sounds like a good plan of attack for that issue, teh pond and a sketer or 2, then the rest of the figures :-)

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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