I'm a puppet maker with a degree in theatre. A former lighting techie, stage manager and producer. And I like to think that with puppetry, the only limit is your imagination. More...
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After last week’s puppetry summit (which you can read about at my alternate site), I have finally a moment to reflect on the future plans for myself.
Regular readers of School of Puppetry will notice a distinct lack of new content this year, outside of a few event notices which I’ll go into in a moment. This is partially from spending more of a focus on the Puppets in Melbourne side of my business, and partially from lack of building. Although I’ve gotten through most of the migration of articles from that site to this, 60 articles remain and they are mostly patterns or tutorials. Though I’ve wanted to spend more time getting these through as fast as possible, it simply hasn’t been doable with various issues at hand this year.
One big one is financial. I’ve pushed it as far as I can go financially, and since April I’ve seen a significant drop-off in sales. May was "good" in that I got the most sales ever, but due to it being a mark-down on prices it meant I actually made less than my more profitable months last year when sales were lower. While it’s made it clear that heavy marketing is necessary to get higher sales, I simply can’t afford to spend the time necessary on it. Even if content is slow to arrive, I am active, in the ‘backend’ of things, preparing content, fixing problems with the site, checking stats, replying to enquiries, and making what little marketing I can in the meantime.
Sadly, I am spending 10 hours of marketing per sale: and obviously $24.95 per 10 hours is not enough to live off of. I have this week re-edited a monthly budgeting sheet, that tracks how much I need to earn per month to keep my business running. Although last year I was making great strides - not just breaking even but showing profit - this year has been awful. Visitor numbers have dropped to where they were in 2010 when I started migrating stuff, and sales have dropped to 2008 levels when I barely started making puppets as a serious effort.
Returning back for a moment to content, I recognise part of this drop-off has been to do with the regional-specificity of recent School of Puppetry updates. I know I’ve lost a few subscribers (although this year picked up more than I lost), and with the majority of visitors coming from the USA it means the Australian info gets in the way. This site was never intended to attract American visitors, and though I am tempted to cater more for a larger audience, I am still one of a handful of Aussies online who make regular updates about local events and feel it’s necessary to continue doing that. I have helped a lot of people get in touch with local puppetry, and I’ve been glad to do it. I feel that as things are, non-Australians can either find their local info elsewhere (Americans have plenty of places for puppetry info, Aussies don’t) or else this site will fall to a more archival premise, like The Puppetry Homepage, where there are articles but no "news" items added. This is not to say that School of Puppetry would not be added to or developed further over time; I am merely referring to a possible stoppage of Australian puppetry news being posted here.
And I know that there have been a lot of "holidays" for me over the past year from this site. Again, that was mainly due to finances, and needing a bit of time and space to get on with other jobs. I find it incredibly hard to put my creative energy into more than one job at a time. I had thought by now things would settle a bit and I could get back to puppetry articles, but no, life has other ideas.
Having said all of that, it’s time to admit that for the moment at least School of Puppetry will remain relatively dormant. I will be continuing the slow migration of old content, but as for new… that will have to wait. It is unfortunate, however I need to spend a lot of my time now on earning some decent money. Updates will come on an "as I feel like it" basis, rather than on my usual one-two updates per week schedule. To everyone who bought a pattern: thank you. You kept things going. To my regular readers: I do hope you keep subscribed and watching, because there will be more things coming. (Just not as regularly)
And if anyone needs any cheap virtual assistance on web design, content and marketing, let me know. I am available for hire via Elance, or you can contact me via this site.
This isn’t goodbye. It’s just "see you soon".send feedback / have a question?
Australians may want to buy locally. Where? I explain here.