It occurred to me the other day that I haven't written about the "Michele Made Me Shop" much at all. So I wanted to share a little of what having my own online shop is like for me.
First, some background. I opened my shop back in September 2011 which, wowee, makes it a whole year and a half old I guess! It features downloadable PDF tutorials of predominantly re-use type projects, similar to the free tutorials that appear on the blog. I don't sell actual objects. Only digital content.
My shop setup couldn't be simpler. I set it up on one of my blog pages and powered it through E-junkie. What's that? E-junkie is, in the words of the company itself, "a copy-paste shopping cart and digital delivery service to sell anything, anywhere, easily". Essentially, I just upload my PDF tutorials to their site and, for a small monthly fee, they take care of the rest from dealing with payment to distributing the documents to my client. I'm so pleased with how smoothly it worked right from the get-go. It's pretty great!
I don't know how I decide which projects will become shop PDFs. I think I reserve what I consider to be my more unique ideas for the shop. But not always. Each PDF tutorial is a labour of love, that's for sure. Every one takes energy and time. Once I decide to make a shop PDF, then my level of effort goes up a notch because I know that people will be handing over their hard-earned money for it. I do not take that for granted. I try very hard to put the best of myself in each one.
I create all my shop tutorials in Apple iPages, a word processor and page layout program. When I decided to open the shop, I knew nothing of iPages or document layout at all. To this day, I'm picking it up as I go. I find learning new software super-challenging and scary. Something about it turns me into this spineless, incompetent, intensely whiny monster. It's not a side of myself that I'm particularly proud of. She doesn't come out very often; I try to keep her under lock and key. And I know my go-to computer guy (my husband Lo), barely tolerates her. BUT I had to let her out to learn iPages and eventually, she did! I want to cry though because I'm familiar with iPages now, it works for me and I actually like it, but Apple hasn't updated it for 4 years and probably never will!!! Snif snif... At some point I will have to look into a new layout program like Adobe In-Design. Which, of course, means releasing the monster. So I put it off... I put it off... I put it off... I put it off... One day I'll have to take the plunge, and, Gord, it won't be pretty. Sigh...
Edited to Add 13 Feb 2013:
The brilliant Sister Diane just sent me a note to let me know that iPages was (despite Apple still calling it iPages '09) updated in 2012. I'm a little confused about the name thing BUT happy/relieved! Here's a link with those details: Apple Updates iWork. Thanks so much Diane!
|Screen shot of Egg Carton Nativity Scene PDF Tutorial|
Having only one shop to go by, and therefore only one data point, I can only speculate as to how well the Michele Made Me Shop is actually doing. I'm not a millionaire yet, in case you were wondering. But it has a nice flow of visitors and customers too. So I think it's doing pretty well.
What motivates a person to want to open an on-line digital shop? In my case, it was financial. I felt that I could only rationalize continuing to blog at the pace I do if I were contributing to my family's earnings. After all, we all have to eat and clothe ourselves. Coconut macaroons are a must. As are flannel pyjamas. I considered the many and varied ways to make the blog pay for itself. To be honest, I continue to think about it. What feels right for me? What suits my character? What fits in with my values? Obviously, one of the money-making strategies I settled on, was the digital shop. For someone who is lazy in certain crucial ways as I am, the Michele Made Me Shop is a perfect fit. Basically, it runs itself. When I'm ready, I upload new tutorials to the shop. I don't ever worry about filling orders. Customers download the PDF tutorials at their own leisure. And I get to share my michele-way of crafting with the world while making money!
|Screen shot of Denim Bowl PDF Tutorial|
Maybe this is absolutely the wrong way of looking at it, but I kinda see my shop as a glorified donation button. For a few dollars and a couple clicks, people who want to support me and see this blog continue and flourish can very easily download a beautiful creative re-use tutorial. I often feel that when a client clicks that cute "add-to-cart" button, they are not just doing it to get the next thing. They are telling me something. They're sending me a message. And it says: "I really love what you're doing here. It's worth something to me." That's important to hear sometimes I think. It's a message that builds me up and makes me stronger. And I thank you, my precious client, for sending it.