Sunday, October 12, 2014

In Which I Consider My Money-Making Options

Zines Over The Years

I know it's time for me to start making some money with my knowledge and/or talent in the creative arena. I have spent so much on art supplies over the years, including instructional books of every kind, and I have definitely learned a lot and produced quite a bit of stuff...but I still wouldn't consider myself an accomplished artist in any medium, except, probably, the zine. I do consider myself somewhat an expert in zine publishing. That doesn't mean that I think I make some of the best zines ever content-wise or layout-wise, just that I have done it for a long time and therefore have insight into the whole process. But I don't know if people are interested enough in producing zines themselves to make it worthwhile to create an online zinemaking workshop. I am drawn to producing online classes because they are work up front, but the work ends and you at least have a finished product that does not need to be replenished, like an etsy store or something. But whether I offered zinemaking or art journaling or simple bookbinding workshops, there is still a learning curve for me in that area -  meaning I hardly know how to press the record button on the camera and know less than nothing about putting videos together. 

My Most Likely First Product - Handmade Books

So, while I do want to include workshops (both online and in-person) in my eventual repertoire of money-making activities, those irons are still heating up in the fire and not ready to flatten anything out yet. Which means that I need to return to handmade products, which stresses me out. Of course this whole idea of me in the marketplace stresses me out, but making products is something I have done in the past and I don't know whether I would be any better facing the challenges of doing that than I used to be - meaning, it was not a success when I have done it before. I did have people order things from me sometimes, but I never kept anything "in stock" and so I always had to run around like a chicken without a head to get the things made and mailed. Sometimes I got it done fast, but other times I didn't and so the people had to wait way too long for their stuff, which is not good business.

Brochures From My Previous Cottage Industries

I used to really like the whole "branding" process of coming up with a new cottage industry and making business cards, brochures etc. But that was the only part I was good at. Following through on my goods and/or services was always more difficult. Now I am resistant to doing any kind of business planning and branding because I equate it with my past failures in the actual running of the business. I have become overly cautious where in the past I was not cautious enough. I was setting up a website the other night because if all goes as planned, something I wrote will be published at a highly traveled Christian site, and I guess people need somewhere to "click" into from whatever little biographical blurb there is. And I really do think it would be missing an opportunity to not have some stuff available if there will be people who are somewhat likely to see it. But I am almost frozen in my proverbial tracks with resistance. Yes, I know the only way to beat resistance is to work through it, but I also know that this particular resistance was birthed in the soil of a depleted Personal Integrity Account. 

The PIA is a concept of Stephen Covey's that I have found to be true in my own life - just like relationships with others, we have a relationship with ourselves that we often (rightly or wrongly) see like a bank account. When we, for example, tell ourselves we are going to do something important to us and we actually DO IT, we make a deposit into the PIA, which makes us feel good and safe and willing to try other, maybe more risky things. If we make too many withdrawals from our own account, we don't trust ourselves and so are not as willing to take on new projects.  I know that over the years I have learned things from my past market failures that will help me to avoid future market failures...but my youthful indiscretions with a frequently overdrawn PIA make me question whether I should even try again.

But I know I will try again because  I always do. Unless, of course, I die of ebola before I get to it, which is probably still unlikely but more possible since the little pathogen is only about 20 miles from me (though if I were
                I would still regret
not doing this stuff)

Maybe Little Faudiglianis...

...Behind A Window Like This

One of my problems, though, is indecision about exactly what products to offer. Eventually I want to have a bookbinding kit, but that's honestly still in the early planning stages. The most logical thing for me to quickly stock a storefront with is handmade journals, but I know I have to avoid a severe assembly-line approach, as that was one of my downfalls in the past. I also want to somehow include my own art in some of them. I really want to do a lot of little paintings and bill them humorously as My Early Work, and I think some version of this small journal
  with an art card inside might fit the bill for that (made of pasta boxes with little plastic windows and so has the added green benefit of being recycled.)

Me and the Baby Who Will Eventually Leave Me Alone

I look at handmade books on etsy and stuff, and I think that some of my book designs are pretty unusual and/or aesthetically pleasing. I think that if people who buy homemade journals knew about my homemade journals, at least some would be purchased. But the whole marketing aspect of the thing is intimidating. But I can also see myself getting lost in "learning marketing" and once again not paying enough attention to producing the product. It's like a little tug-of-war between my inner middle manager and my inner factory worker. It's also just so much easier and fun to plan, and then instead of actually doing the work the plan requires, live in an alternate dimension in my head where I have this successful business (but I never really develop one in the real world due at least partly to fear and/or laziness). That's kinda what I have been doing for the past 20 years or so, but even apart from the ebola problem, I really don't have another 20 years to fritter away, and very soon I won't be able to get away with the "I have a baby who won't leave me alone" excuse.

But the fact also remains that while I do want to have a successful cottage industry (and I believe my definition of success is pretty modest), I am also bound and determined not to fall into I'm A Failure mode or define My Very Worth As A Human Being by success or lack thereof. I really don't have much of a desire to make a name for myself these days, which also plays into my reluctance to brand. I used to love to label myself and at one point would have enjoyed passing out a business card with my name and some long label like Christian Voluntaryist Zinemaking Memoirist Painter. I would have taken that very seriously. Those labels are still accurate as far as that goes, but I don't have the kind of interest I once did in Being Known As This Type Of Very Cool Individual. At this point in my life I really would just like to earn some money and get people to keep and/or start appreciating art,  memoir and things made and/or written by hand - not necessarily by my hand and especially by their own hand, perhaps with my help and/or encouragement.

With that disclaimer, let's see if I can stock an etsy shop by the end of the year.