The Dave Report / January 2013
SUMMARY: What happened to the ETP iOS App? What’s going on with those Index Card Blocks? Answers to those burning questions, and more!
I’ve been busy! Since January 8th, I’ve been waking up every day at 700AM and starting a 15-minute work chunk at 715AM to get started. This seems utterly implausible to me, a night owl by nature, but it’s working. The surge in productivity is due to the new habit of meeting my friend Brad in our private Campfire chat room at 715AM during the week. It also helps that we both want to get our creative output working for ourselves. For me, the goal is to design and write interesting things, and somehow derive a primary income from it. For him, it’s much the same, except with cartoon art and vector illustration. Throughout the day, we leave notes in the chat room (it keeps a transcript, and allows file uploads) on the progress, and share solutions as we solve certain problems. It’s pretty cool. In some ways, it’s the co-working that I’ve been looking for.
The downside is that I’ve become a hermit. I haven’t left the house in the past 10 days, except to get groceries a few days ago. The funny thing is that it doesn’t feel really bad. I’m saving money, and the extra time at home has shaped the workspace into something more comfortable. I’m quite content dealing with people through the Internet, and not having to deal with the icy cold outside. Brr.
I’m in a mood today to make a status report on projects from 2012.
The State of the Emergent Task Planner iOS Application – My developer friend Al has been whacked by a triumvirate of big life events: job changes, building a house, and preparing for new offspring, and so this has put us off our schedule. The plan is for me to learn some rudiments of iOS programming so we can continue to make progress. I’ve wanted to learn how to do this for some time, and I have a fairly good programming background. With Al to show me the ropes, himself an experienced iOS developer and Macintosh user, this may go pretty well. Figuring out when to do it is probably the more difficult problem.
The Backlog of New Form Designs – I have a long list of form requests and updates that I’ve collected over the years. They trickle out every once in a while. There have been a few blocks. The major one has been my pre-occupation with figuring out the “income side” of the Dave equation, and I didn’t think creating custom forms would contribute to that. There was also the “do I want to be ‘that form guy’ on the Internet” part of the equation. My personal answer has been been NO for a long time, but I’m starting to see that this won’t be crippling. The discovery that perhaps there is a ‘Dave Seah Way’ that can serve as my umbrella identity has put my mind at ease here. The beginnings of this are already up in the new ‘About Page’. I’m writing a new blog post that picks up from part IV of the “Quiet Reflection on Failure” series from last year. Reflection time is over, and now it’s time to start laying down the principles for moving forward.
The Index Card Blocks – I’d put these aside for a while, having solved most of the small-scale production problems, with the exception of deep staining and getting that antiqued finish. Next is branding them (wood burning, perhaps) and then packaging them for sale on Etsy. There’s also the pesky fulfillment challenge, including international shipping. As my desire is for the process to be as easy as possible without being tied down by the shipping chain, I’m looking for an automated solution. One, in particular, that doesn’t include PayPal, because PayPal bugs me. Anyway, I’ve given quite a few of the prototypes away to people who have come to visit, and people generally like them. I’ve also recently rediscovered the glory of the Lee Valley / Veritas Tool Catalog, which is amazing. I’m buying all my woodworking stuff from here now.
Money Money Money – E-commerce is on my brain! I have been working with the Gumroad service, which is dead-simple and wonderful to use. I’m slowly getting used to the idea that selling my work doesn’t mean I’m selling out. I’m also starting to see the value of splitting the personal work from what is purely commercial. For example, the various Printable CEO forms are somewhat personal to me because I want people to benefit from the ideas, which makes it hard to charge for them. The Amazon products are added-value versions; you’re paying for the delightful paper they’re printed on. I’m starting to see how I can create related products for a different audience: the ones who are just looking for a nice-looking pad of paper at a good price while surfing Amazon. The separation of Art from Craft! I’m also encouraged by the approach taken by the bloggers at Pinch of Yum—thanks, Robin, for the link! They’re not only food bloggers first, but they are open about how they are making their food blog as well. They post resources and their income, which is hugely generous and cool. On a similar note, my buddy Brad sent me a link to freelance writer Tom Ewer’s Leaving Work Behind blog, where he talks very openly about his approach to combining freelance work with blogging as a platform to create a desirable lifestyle. While I am usually turned-off by “how to be successful” blogs, on a deeper read I can see that Tom is providing useful, insightful information. Like Pinch of Yum, he provides income reports so you can see how he does it.
Sales Sales Sales – since launching the 365 page PDF almanac, I’ve been seeing an average or 4 or so sales a day over the past 7 days. This is very encouraging, and makes me want to make more things. In response to a recent comment, I added a donation button to the site. The minimum donation is $1, and you get a PDF of me holding a sign for the fast-approaching Groundhog Day Resolutions. It’s designed to print at 4×6 inches, and borrowing an idea from the art world it will be a limited time download. After March 1st, I’ll change the download to something else. I like the idea of a “collectable card” version of me…pika pika!
Podcasting – I used to have a podcast with my friend Sid, but we haven’t done one for over a year. I think we’re going to get back into it this week.
Those are the major things on my mind at the moment.