With the week closing out, I can honestly say it has been a productive one. Everything went well with the site update yesterday and it is getting easier to navigate around the software. I am finding myself feeling comfortable doing things and the tasks go rather quickly.
The notification letters look really nice too. It is a vast improvement over the previous software which only allowed text and some basic html. This software uses ‘stationary’ which matches the tone of my site, and I am able to add in my logo, as well as photographs. I have received many compliments on the improvement and I believe it puts forth a professional look and distinguishes the notices from ‘junk mail’. All these factors are small, but important in gaining customer confidence I believe.
I loved the advice and comments from yesterdays post. I think that perhaps splitting up the skating set into individual sub-sets of several pieces is a great idea. It will take a bit of work, as I will need to rewrite the instructions into several different packets, but I feel it may be well worth the effort. I should decide soon however before I create the ad for the magazine. I agree with the fact that it will be far less intimidating for people if they don’t have to invest so much money initially and can bite off small pieces as they see fit. It also allows me to naturally add into the set when I wish to expand it. Since the majority of the work is done on it, I think it will be a good thing to experiment on and see which of the marketing tactics will be most successful.
I contacted someone from a company that offers decorative painting patterns yesterday and approached her with the idea of selling the set and/or the pattern. This company has been around a while and is one of the most well-known in the decorative painting industry. They also sell wooden blanks to go with patterns, much like I am offering and since the pieces are all ready for laser cutting, I am hoping that it will possibly help open the door for the company to give me a try. They work with several of the other designers that I like who are also cottage-type industries and I thought it was worth it to me to at least inquire and let them know I am out here. We will have to wait and see what the response is.
When I submit to new places such as this, I have learned to go into it with the attitude of “what have I got to lose?” With times being as they are, I do realize that many companies are downsizing rather than expanding and most of them are not willing to take risks. However, some may take some chances, as they realize that they still need to provide fresh ideas and material for their customers. Hopefully, I will be able to fill that need.
I have learned to accept rejection rather well over the years. I am not saying that as a martyr, but anyone in my business will tell you that things are rejected far more than accepted in the publishing field. Especially when you are just starting out. It seems that it takes some time to get a feel for what the publishers are looking for, whether they are publishing a magazine or an instruction book or whatever. I have found that each company that I work with has a different agenda and it takes some time to be able to develop the intuition needed to satisfy them time and time again.
I found that the best way to work is to diversify and not count on only one place to be successful. It is like playing the stock market. If you invest all of your resources into a single stock, then you are a slave to its performance. However, if you invest your resources in many different places, if one fails you aren’t hurt as deeply and are still able to function and survive.
I believe business should be the same way. When things are going well for your company, everyone wants you to focus only on them. I try to spread things around – in good times and bad – and keep my several outlets for my business all happy. This includes myself and my own website. As a matter of fact, I am finding that myself and my website are (and should be) the most important factors in my business. I had always thought of the site as kind of an afterthought until this year. The website was something that I had for the few customers that had internet access to see and I was terrible about keeping it updated. It showed in the figures too, as the sales were few and far between. Just two years ago I had a total of only about $600 in sales – for the year.
For some reason, a year or so ago when I began rebuilding my company, it dawned on me the power that I held in my own hands with that site. It was a tremendous amount of work to get it up to par, and still will require more work to get it to where I want it to be, but it is turning out to be a great tool and asset to my overall business. It is the one aspect of my business that I have total control of. I also like the fact that any changes that I make to it are instantaneous. I can test market new ideas and things and see the results in a relatively short time frame. (Unlike when I have to wait for months for things to be published) I also like that I don’t have to ask permission or answer to anyone regarding what I do with it. I can try what I wish and not have to go through committees or approval processes.
All in all, I am very happy with the job I chose. I realize that it isn’t for everyone, and you need to have a pretty thick skin sometimes, but I also feel that the rewards are very much worth it. It seems that no matter how successful I am, there is always another challenge right around the corner to meet. I do like that and I feel it helps me grow as a designer and a businesswoman. I can’t wait to see what is coming next!
Thanks to all of you for your continued support and friendship. I hope you all have a great Saturday.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"