GHDR Review 6: Tangible Progress

I’m close to launching a new “money making activity” (MMA): a gun safety poster I made back in 2005 when I was learning how to shoot. I also had my first real inquiry into the “Inexpensive Websites” package; alas, I have to set up my LLC before I start accepting money for this. The past month has also been marked by a stepping-up in my online journaling and workflow awareness; it finally feels like I’m starting to build-up some steam.

Last Month Recap

I wanted to emphasize one challenge: maintaining continuity on my goals, as I’ve become increasingly convinced that my productivity issues would go away if I spent more time maintaining continuity on what I was doing. So I implemented a few plans:

  • Be unapologetic about writing down everything
  • Implement continuity measures and support systems
  • Be unapologetic about maintaining balance of tasks, within my personal limits

What Got Done

The major accomplishments, which I had almost forgotten (thanks, Wunderlist, for your “completed tasks” display):

  • Successfully converted to use the “multisite” feature of WordPress. This allowed me to create almost a dozen sub-blogs that I can now use for detailed process notes, without cluttering up the main blog. As each sub-blog is populated, I add it to the “Process Logs” navigation menu.

  • Moved all my website development work to source control (subversion), and refactored my project filing system to take this into account. This has been a great boon to productivity, not to mention it is SATISFYING to check-in a change. It feels like a reward :)

  • Revamped my workflow to incorporate massive stream-of-consciousness writing as part of the process. This was triggered by the epiphany that I think best when I’m writing, and therefore writing is what fuels my productivity. An associated epiphany is that the continuous writing provides continuity of thought from day-to-day, and from project-to-project. This makes context switching much easier, as I can merely read what I last wrote to see where I left off. More notes on this on my Workflow V2 post, which is based on the notes from my (not recommended for casual readers) stream of consciousness journal.

  • Successfully (mostly) committed to an “early to bed, early to rise” schedule. The driving epiphany here is that I can’t get up early if I don’t go to sleep early. I also acknowledged that there is a certain “balance of tasks” required for me to feel like I’m on my game, and that a certain amount of goof-off downtime is required; this is summarized in the Apportioning the Day post.

  • Because I’ve been keeping copious continuity notes throughout the day, I’ve been able to document creative crisis in a way that has led to quicker resolution. The most recent example of this is the desktop wallpaper I made for Colleen’s 50 for 50 fundraising extravaganza; more on that later this week.

  • Finished one MMA: the Gun Safety poster. Looked at a lot of e-commerce stuff and did a lot of thinking of a different nature: how does one launch a product? I’d done it once before with the Emergent Task Planner pads more than 3 years ago, and once more with the experiment with digital products via E-Junkie’s service.


p>I feel like I’m unlocking new methods to keep on-track, and I’m learning what the limits are too. I am finding also that writing to myself every day is actually filling in the need to talk to other people about this, which is handy and unexpected. It sort of makes sense from an introverted point of view (maybe).

It also feels like I am converging to a kind of design practice that is a natural fit for me. This is due, I think, to the additional clarity that I’ve gained from my daily process writing. And I have noticed an uptick of design inquiries since expanding my writing. Coincidence, or is it due to the stream-of-consciousness writing I’ve been doing? We’ll see next month :) In the meantime, I’m encouraged by the daily writing. I like it alot.

The Numbers

They are holding steady from last month.

Product Projected Revenue Actual Revenue Notes
AdSense $70 $0 Pay out every $100 or so dollars
ETP pads $400 $707.89 $140 more than last month!
PDF 12-pack Cals $5 $5 holding steady at 1-per-month
PDF A5 7Task ETP $20 $20 two orders
PDF A5 5Task ETP $10 $0 no orders
Donation $10 $5 One donation received
Simple Websites II $100 $0 Estimating 1 sale of $400 every 4 months
ETP Pads EU ??? ??? Independent operation
Gun Safety 11×8.5 ??? 0 New printed information sheet

I’ve added the three new MMAs that are just getting going, two from last month and the new one.

It seems that the ETP continues to trend upward. I also realized there is a problem in my revenue tracking spreadsheet, as it doesn’t take into account cost of production. I’ll have to fix that, or create a different accounting sheet. Again, this is gross revenue that doesn’t take cost of materials into account. The actual profit is more like 20%. Still, it is starting to become significant.

I haven’t yet gotten numbers on ETP Europe sales (it is an independent operation), but I’ll have to ask about them.

Also, it’s wonderful to get a donation + note! Thanks Lynn R! You are awesome! :)

The New MMAs

As I commented last month, it takes a lot of time to launch a new money-making activity. There are dozens of tiny details that are unknown until you do them. This time around, though, I have an inkling of an idea of what to do.

"Safety Poster" The Gun Safety poster has been redesigned and updated from the original I made back in 2005, and I sent it out to digital press to test the paper stock and packaging options. This is more expensive, but I am thinking it is the cost of marketing. Now I have to work up the courage to show it to actual people who might want to order it. I’ve also been trying to figure out how to handle fulfillment. As it turns out, it’s difficult to sell anything for less than around $7 on Amazon using their fulfillment because of the fees; the fixed cost is around $4 bucks, and the rest of the money goes toward the actual cost of production (including packaging materials) and stocking the warehouse. Shipwire is slightly cheaper, but requires you to pay up-front.

Next Month

I’m starting to realize that I really like the idea of selling things; it’s just that I need to create the systems that make it into a kind of game. I have a predisposition toward physical products. Digital products are great because there’s practically no incremental production cost once you’ve designed it, but I love having physical paper and packaging. I like seeing boxes of stuff with my name on it. It’s the stationery nerd in me, I suppose. The trick is figuring out how to fund and pay for it all.

I think the next MMA will be another physical product, either the Fountain Pen Notebook or the Hard Bound Mini ETP. This will probably take a month to develop and launch, so I’m expecting it to go to market in the fall, perhaps by 10/10 or 11/11. I also have to get the Gun Safety poster into the retail channel, and there is a lot to figure out there too.

I think I can see the following structure emerging for me:

  • Beautiful Stationery / Planning Products
  • Free or Inexpensive PDF Downloads
  • Extensive Process Documentation and Sharing through the Blog
  • Solving Problems of Information and Workflow through Design

Hey, it might work!

2011 Groundhog Day Resolution Posts