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Thursday, 18 March 2010

Comments

This is absolutely fascinating. Guyana (where I live) is a very poor country which is exceptionally hard on its artists.

I earn significantly below what would be considered the poverty line in the US (although I have a very high quality of life, relatively) although I am a professional.

Very talented artists often cannot spare the time to create simply because they have to have a day job.

I still try to help a friend of mine, who is a painter, with irregular donations. In return she frames my photo prints from time to time at reduced prices. Her framing is the day job which supports her true calling.

I would be very pleased if I can present your subscription model to her as a plan which she can try to adopt.

The gear.

What do I win?

Here's to champagne problems! May they dog the rest of your life!

I own a small family winery (and do some photography on the side) and what you are describing sounds like our Cellar Club. People sign up and as long as they want to stay in the club they get charged every couple of months for a couple of bottles of wine. We have special deals for the club and they get to come to a couple of club only events at the winery. Even if we could get to 1000 club members, I don't think we would at our size. We are thinking of capping it at around 100 (35 club members now) It's simply too much to manage...

It's too bad you didn't decide to sell your VW privately within the VW community.
It can be very difficult to get original parts for these vehicles and even third party manufacturers cannot supply everything.
These state buy-back programs often scrap entire vehicles indiscriminately, forever preventing their parts from living on in other vehicles.
A private sale can be a much better recycling program.

After working in several corporations for 25 years (before my current gig), from small ones to very large ones, I came to the conclusion that if I ever started a business that went well, when the overhead reached the point where I had to hire professional managers (administration) to run that part of the business, it would be time to sell the entire thing to someone else. At that point, from what I could tell had happened to others, it ceases to be fun. But so far, I've not had to worry about this.

Your business plan is cash-flow positive, which avoids the working capital problems associated with growth.

But, you did not specify any time or money for marketing the business, either to maintain your customer base at approximately 100 or to grow it to 300. This will absorb more resources than you think it will.

I subscribed because I wanted to get an acknowledged masters work into my hands. See it in the flesh as it were. To be honest Ctein's images, with a few exceptions, are not ones I appreciate so I was mooting whether or not I would re-subscribe and decided I would wait until I got my print. However in a strange way when I heard I was only one out of 94 it made me feel special so I will definitely re-subscribe for a further year. There must be marketing message in there somewhere.

Fortunately I'm freshly employed again so I think I'll go for another year. Interesting that during the 7 1/2 months I was unemployed I questioned owning a phone and paying for cable tv but I didn't question contributing to Mr. 's art.

Dear Nikhil,

That's very interesting! I think it would require some real thought as to how to adopt, because the "1000 True Fan" business model assumes that creation costs (time or money) for the artists are high but production and distribution costs are insignificantly low. For music and literature, distributed electronically, that is clearly true. What's novel about what I'm doing is that my friend, Peter Hentges, observed that production and distribution costs for physical photographs could be low enough that this would be effectively true.

Painting certainly doesn't fall into this category, unless your friend is extremely prolific. That doesn't mean the model can't be adapted to her, but you might need to do things differently to make it feasible.

I strongly recommend that you read my previous columns and all the comments, as well as any articles I linked to.

"1000 Photographic Fans...Maybe?"

http://tinyurl.com/cx79th

"Does Ctein Have 100 'True Fans'?"

http://tinyurl.com/d7vc7c

"Finding 1000 True Fans"

http://tinyurl.com/ybggoo4

There's a lot of thought that's already gone into this and good descriptions of the various pitfalls that can arise.

Good luck!


~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

Dear Miserere,

Absolutely nothing, because you didn't win. I got $50 more for the VW bus.

But we're sending you a nice case of Turtle Wax as a consolation prize.

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Dear Steve,

A membership cap can, in fact, be a very useful marketing tool if you use it properly. The trick is to convey the idea to people who are vaguely considering signing up that they might lose out if they wait too long. The reality, if you've only got 35 subscribers right now and you're capping it at 100, is that the risk isn't very high. But you don't tell them that. You just tell them membership in the club is limited to 100 and the offer will be withdrawn without warning when you reach that number.

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Dear photogdave,

No, I don't think it's too bad at all. While I probably got as much money from the state as I would've gotten selling the vehicle, I wasn't expecting that. I was expecting to get about half as much. I didn't care. I was performing a social service by getting a vehicle that consumed unreasonable amounts of fossil fuel and spewed out unreasonable amounts of pollution off the road. Our new vehicle gets 250% better mileage and it's well under 1/10 the amount of smog forming chemicals.

As a lifelong VW owner (up to this point) I'm never going to tell someone else that they shouldn't drive and love their ancient VWs. But if all of them were to magically disappear from the planet tomorrow, I would not shed a single tear.

As I said in my previous post, I don't much care for cars. But living in suburban San Francisco Bay Area doesn't leave me with many good alternatives. Nonetheless, over the 10 years that I had that VW bus, I drove it an average of only 110 miles a month. Anybody who knows this area notes that is no small achievement; I did my best to minimize my footprint. Now I'm scrapping the shoes.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
=====================================

Dear Robert,

Oh you bet, I am never, ever going to have an employee. The aggravation, inconvenience, and expense are huge.

Fortunately, should I ever be lucky enough to get near 1000 true fans, the majority of my administrative overhead can be contracted out; I wouldn't need to hire anyone.

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Dear Bill,

As I described in my previous column, it was even more cash-flow-positive than I expected. Had I known how many people were willing to pay in one lump sum, I would have structured the offer somewhat differently.

Maintaining/expanding the contributor base is exactly what the last paragraph of this column alludes to. Yes, it's a big problem. I'm even thinking of throwing several thousand dollars at a professional marketing consultant I know and trust.

I'll be talking about all this stuff the next time I write about this.

One thing that works mildly in my favor: The administrative overhead the first year included startup costs (in terms of my time) that will not get repeated. I'm not going to need to redesign websites, spreadsheets, and mailing templates. As you and I are aware, doing that stuff takes a lot more time than nonprofessionals realize.

Truth is that if I didn't have the first TOP print sale from 2008 under my belt, I never would have even contemplated doing this. I simply would've had no idea how to go about it. That sale forced me to revamp and redesign a lot of how I did business. I didn't plan it that way going in, but it was the only way to survive.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

Dear Paul,

Well, it's a really good idea you decided to resubscribe for another year, because you selected the dye transfer print, which means you're still not getting to find out what a "master's" digital prints look like. Fortunately, through your foresight and generosity, you will find out next year.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Tom,

I just love a man who's got his priorities straight.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
======================================

You should have sell the camera gear to your contributor. How about "This is the actual lens who takes this picture!"

Proud to be one of the 94

Dear Ctein,

Thank you for the links, I shall be sure to go through them carefully. As it happens I was so excited by the idea yesterday that I went over to my friend and had a chat with her.

What it looks like we are coming up with is more a patronage scheme than a true subscription.

The average starting wage for a new graduate here is between US$250 and US$500 per month.

We thought that if she could get between 5 and 10 patrons contributing US$50 per month she could ease a lot of her more pressing day to day concerns and concentrate on her painting.

In return, she would offer to this limited set of people one painting (of a size to be determined by her) per year, plus advantageous pricing on her other work, including framing.

She thinks she can handle 5 to 10 paintings per year.

Issues of distribution, such as would arise in your case, would not apply here as the population is relatively small and concentrated in one small geographical region.

I can't remember the last time I was this excited over an issue of money :)

Dear Dennis,

Ha ha ha ha, I LOVE it! An opportunity wasted; vast riches could have been mine if only I had thought to market my ever-so-collectible (not!) gear properly.

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Dear Nikhil,

I think it's great that you two are thinking up a way to make this work for her. I don't know anything about Guyanan culture, so I wouldn't have any idea what sorts of approaches to people and marketing techniques would work there. The basic rule, though, is to be creative. Always be trying to think of things that would entice new people to join and would enhance your relationship with people who already have.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
======================================
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
=====================================

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