Mar
30
2011

Picking a path

So, having established a goal of $2000 per month, all Jak and I needed was a plan for getting from here to there.

We agreed on the first thing: that we need to focus on products rather than services. Running a freelance service business — as each of us have done before — is just another kind of treadmill. And even more to the point, I personally suck at the sort of relentless self-promotion that’s necessary to keep a steady flow of incoming work.

Jak leapt immediately from ‘products’ to ‘books’ … and that’s where we diverged. He wants to write — and possibly edit and/or publish — electronic and print-on-demand books. He thinks if he manages one title per year, he’ll have enough combined backlist income to make the quota in six years. And he could very well be right.

But I can’t follow that path with him, at least not right now. If I could, I would have gone back to work on our collaboration last month when the chaos of this past winter finally settled. But I’m too raw, it seems, from prior failures. A project of that length — a solid year or more in pursuit of a single goal — entails a great deal of risk, and having gambled big and lost a couple of times in recent years, I don’t seem to have the emotional resilience required.

As a chronic depressive, one of my primary coping strategies is: when one big thing is too much to handle, try a bunch of small things instead.

So, no books for me, not for a while. I do have two smaller writing projects, both nonfiction, which I am prodding along from time to time. But the key word there is ‘smaller’, and I don’t consider them very likely to contribute to the LI6 goal.

Instead, I’m going to try applying my design skills and (I hope) latent artistic talent to other print-on-demand products. (You know — t-shirts, cards — the kind of stuff sold by CafePress and Zazzle.) I have scores of ideas, and once I have familiarized myself with the various processes, I should be able to turn out something new every day or two.

Profit margins via these companies are low; I could never imagine making a living from this in our current circumstances. But they do have two all-important features: one, minimal overhead, so that I can throw a huge variety of things out there and see what sticks; and two, entirely remote production and fulfillment, because shipping from Mexico just isn’t going to work. (I checked.)

I’m hoping both that the variety of options will keep my fox brain satisfied, and that by spreading my emotional eggs amongst a few hundred baskets I can avoid getting dragged under by any single failure.

So Jak’s going to try his tack, and I’ll try mine, and we’ll hope for the best. If neither does the trick, well … hopefully six years is enough lead time that we can regroup and try something else altogether.

If you’re interested in seeing what I come up with, you can follow my new little shop blog. And if you have an opinion (good or bad) on anything, I’d love to hear it — it will help me decide what to do next!

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