Category Archives: 4 – Everyday Dragons

Micobusiness Dreams

Costing out Display Bases and Removable Fencing

By | March 11, 2016
All the King's Horses

All the King’s Horses

I’ve been slowly working my way through the items that are finished and need material costing before they can be listed to the Etsy store. Today’s victim– err, volunteer is the display bases and optional fencing!

I’ve gone over the steps of how to make the bases and how to make the fencing in earlier posts, so all I’m doing here is a rundown on what materials are used and how much they cost.

Once this is done I can finally get both the finished and custom order bases up and running! 🙂

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The Mini Whinnie Condunrum

By | February 23, 2016
Mini Whinnies Surprise Series 2 Pulling Draft Horse

Pulling Draft Horse

I love painting Mini Whinnies and have a small army of them in the body box waiting for new colors. But as always my fear of ‘painting the LAST one’ has kicked in and now I’m trying to confirm that I can replace anything I customize.

Times have changed since I last stocked the body box and Breyer Mini Whinnies are only available via the blind bag Surprise Series. This makes them both crazy expensive (compared to the old offerings) and impossible to tell what you are going to get. Looking at this year’s series and last year’s series it seems that only five of the adult molds are going to be available each year.

Yikes!

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Costing out the Plaster Magnets

By | January 28, 2016
Averaging Plaster Weights

Averaging Plaster Weights

Now that I have figured out the perfect mix to use when I’m making plaster magnets, it’s time to start figuring out their actual costs so I can get all the prices in the Etsy store updated! 🙂

Per my plaster mix experiment post 20ml plaster = $0.28

Since most of my magnets are tiny, my attempts at measuring how many ml of mix went into each were a dismal failure. So instead, I went with an average weight.

I piled a bunch of the casts onto a postal scale and then calculated the average. Once I’ve worked through all the bodies I have, I’ll make a few 10 item batches of each small mold to measure how many ml are used.

The kittenloaf used 20ml and the average weight is 0.7oz, so I’m using a 1oz = $0.40.

Magnets will be added as I work out the costs, so not all of them will appear here at first…

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Safari Ltd. Body Costs

By | January 13, 2016
Safari Toob Ponies

Safari Toob Ponies

On the same theme as the Breyer Stablemate body cost list, I’ve started tracking the various Safari Ltd body costs. I’m focusing mainly on the horses (of course), but there will be the occasional non-equine that sneak onto the list.

The world needs purple sparklewolves just as much as it needs blue horses, goldarnit! 😉

While I buy most of my bodies from Michael’s (because I have zero impulse control), I’ve use the Safari Ltd. website for pricing. I’ll double-check the next time I pick up some bodies and note if there is a difference, but I think they are about the same.

So behold, yet another public Google Docs spreadsheet!

Costing out the Wooden Magnets

By | January 6, 2016
Wooden Magnets

Earth, Wind, Water…. and Catnaps

As part of my shift from business to hobby pricing, I’m slowly going through the Etsy store (and my workbench) and calculating just how much things cost to make. After the model body costs, the wooden magnets were the easiest to do!

I buy my wooden cutouts from Michaels for the most part, however I have also found quite a few folks selling on Etsy so the below will eventually grow to include a longer list of forms. I will continue to update this post as I do different magnets– if nothing else it works as a great cheatsheet when making new listings! 🙂

The magnetic tape I am using is this one from Home Depot (1/2 in. x 10 ft. Iron Ferrite Magnetic Tape @ $3.98). Which breaks down to roughly $0.04 an inch. One 2.5 inch strip is enough to hold three pieces of paper and for most of the forms I’m using multiple strips.

Note: When I calculate the “x2 material” cost, I will round up to the nearest $0.50 to make the math easier.

I am not including the cost of paint, sealer, sandpaper, or brushes in this as those materials are included in the ‘plus a dollar’ that I am adding to the x2 material price to cover fees.

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Recalculating Stablemate Body Costs

By | December 21, 2015
Less Body Box, More Body Table...

Less Body Box, More Body Table…

As part of my swap from Business Pricing to Hobby Pricing I’m trying to figure out the real cost of the materials used to make everything in the Etsy store… and the horses seemed the easiest! (At least until I actually started putting the spreadsheet together.)

This post started out as a simple rehash/update of my earlier Stablemate Body Replacement Costs posts, but alas, my favorite Breyer Horse dealer Model Horse Collector is closing its doors at the end of this year.

So instead, I’m hitting up the Breyer website for my body cost calculations. I’m sure there’s another hobby-based online retailer out there, I just haven’t gone looking yet. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the spreadsheet! 🙂

To be a little more update-friendly I have created a public Google Docs spreadsheet that tracks the per body cost for every Stablemate item that Breyer currently has on its website. You can sort by mold and by price, so it’s an easy way to see what is available and the cheapest way to get it.

Well, almost… I’ve only included the ‘sets’ if it’s the only way to get the mold– there’s no point in paying $15.99 for the Barrel Racing set if all you want is the Mustang! (But sadly the Peruvian Paso (G3) the Deluxe Stable Set is as cheap as it gets.)

I was going to include the Mini Whinnies body costs in here as well… but apparently they aren’t sold anymore? It’s weird, because I can find them online at various retailers, but the Breyer website has them all listed as ‘Retired.’

Hobby Pricing vs. Business Pricing

By | December 10, 2015

Net vs. GrossBack when I started my microbusiness I really disliked my day job and was looking for a way out. Now I’m in a job I love and as much as I love being creative, I don’t want to leave the rat race anymore. For a long time after I got the current job I held onto the idea that if I wasn’t still trying to run my hobbies like a business, I wasn’t doing it ‘right’.

This year has been a turning point against that mindset.

I took the plunge back in May when I decided to take my art and eBook adventuring back to a Hobby level. Then I won a thirty minute coaching session from Téa over at Story Bistro and talking with her really cemented the fact that I’m doing this out of love instead of profit motive. (Not that the two are mutually exclusive!)

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When I Grow Up…

By | October 11, 2015

Martha Bechtel’s eBooks Smashwords
I won a 30-min coaching/strategy session in a random-draw survey contest over at Story Bistro and I find myself in the odd position of having to put some serious thought into my long-term business plan.

Or, at this point, my lack-of-a-business plan.

Martha Bechtel's Custom Model Horses Etsy

Téa is an awesome person (check out her blog if you haven’t stumbled across it before!) and it seems the height of rudeness to head into a coaching session with “I have no idea what I’m doing, much less how to market it– HELP!” as my summary.

Although that’s probably more common than I’d like to think. I know from the comments section on her blog that there are a lot of folks like me out there… but they didn’t randomly win a coaching session and thus aren’t flailing around like idiots.

So it’s time to start hammering my nebulous ideas into something that can be described outside of my own head.

And that you can apply marketing kungfu to.

Somehow.

*rolls up sleeves and gets to work*

Baby steps (or: Etsy store reboots)

By | August 23, 2015
Empty Etsy Store

Behold, the desolation of Smaug– err, Procrastination!

I wasn’t paying attention and the last of my active listings in the Etsy store expired this month. I went to show a friend some examples of what a storefront looks like and the poor thing was sitting there forlorn and desolate… this shall not stand! [insert dramatic pose here]

But the problem with dramatic reboots is that all of a sudden nothing I’ve done up to this point is good enough.

  • I need to take better photos.
  • I need to touch-up existing paint jobs.
  • I need to redesign the shop’s categories to better handle my new addition to plaster and resin magnet-making.
  • I need to make a metric ton of new stuff so that the store has lots to choose from and people can easily find something that fits their price range and tastes.
  • I need to work out the Listing Rotations so there is always something new and the offerings are balanced between the categories.
  • I just generally need to be more awesome.

None of which actually needs to happen… I’m just caught up in that perfection’s dance where I can’t start any project until I’m 150% prepared.

Phooey on that!

Starting today there are only two requirements for listings going back into the store:

  1. I have unpacked the item and verified it isn’t damaged.
  2. The photos for the listing don’t have a datestamp on them.

I’m not going to make any sort of rules on how many things to  post a day, or when to post them, or what categories need to be posted in what order. As long as they meet the two criteria above, they are going into the store.

And if they don’t, well that’s why the other post I’m writing today is ‘Finding Workspaces That Work’. 😉

Turning back into a Hobby…

By | May 20, 2015
Live-ish From the Workbench 05-15-2015

Live-ish From the Workbench 05-15-2015

It’s been almost a month in the new house and my art desk is still hidden away behind boxes… so I think it’s time to finally admit I’ve thrown in the towel.

After looking over revenue from the past 12 months and then looking forward, I’ve decided to turn my micro business back into a hobby. I’m nowhere near profitability for this year to date and I lost money last year– I don’t think I can argue that I’ve got enough of a profit motive to be considered a business anymore.

I’ve made a couple of attempts to get the fire going again, but with the new house (and all it’s assorted projects) I don’t think I’m going to have the time to really get things started. So I’ll still be creating art and running the Etsy store, but I’ll be doing it without an official profit motive.

Ironically this might mean I actually get more art done, which means more things to sell… but it’s a heavy might.

Will I start up the business again someday? I’m honestly not sure– but I’d like to. Maybe I just need to wait until I retire properly and have more time to turn my hobby of running a business back into a business of running a hobby.

Bundling Prompts for NaNoWriMo

By | October 10, 2014
Prompts by Any Other Name

Prompts by Any Other Name…

On top of the Custom Prompt eBooks, I’m also looking at offering some theme-bundled prompts before NaNoWriMo starts up again. There’s nothing quite as much fun as getting other folk’s PlotBunnies hopping and with the forum reset delay I’m itching to get to work!

As you can tell from the checklist, I’m still pre-prompting my way through the 2015 calendar year, so I’m not at a point where I can easily stop and write new prompts. Thus it’s time to dig into the 1200+ prompts I already have… and try to suss out repeating themes.

Right now I’m going with: Death, Cats, and Sarcastic Banter. *sighs*

But assuming I can find enough prompts, I’m still waffling over the size and final price point. Long ago (and far away?) I did math on how much I should be charging per word and a $0.99 collection should thus run 20,000 words.

Yeeeah, no. There are only 7,000 words in a yearly collection and that’s 250+ prompts. eBook vendors really don’t want to see anything below the $0.99 price point, so I’m going to have to find an equilibrium that works. Right now I’m looking at ‘101 Prompts of BLAH’ just because it’s a fun number, but I’m not sure I’ll have that many unless I go with really broad topics.

But I won’t know if I don’t try, so into the mines! 😀 (Anyone have themes they’d like to see? If so drop me a comment and I’ll see if I can’t make it happen!)

Small Horse Head Magnets : Costs, How-to’s, etc.

By | October 5, 2014
Mix and Match Equines!

Mix and Match Equines!

I’m finally getting ready to start posting magnets to Etsy, so I figured what better time to do a How-to on how I make them, how much they cost to make (and sell).

This will cover all the supplies used, the time and methods for each step, and the accounting bits that go alongside. To be honest I made these just to learn how to cast in plaster, but then I got addicted to all the color possibilities and the fun of rearranging them. Figured it couldn’t hurt to share them in case another office out there was in dire need of a small crazy colored herd of whimsy.

The process of making these really isn’t that hard, but it does take time to learn how to make the silicone molds and to learn how to cast with the Plaster of Paris and wood glue mixture. While it’s still obviously cheaper to buy the magnets from me than to make them, it’s certainly more fun to grow your own! 😀 Continue reading

Spreadsheets 1, Schedule C 0! (or: Five Minute Taxes)

By | February 26, 2014
Schedule C, Have at thee!

Schedule C, Have at thee!

One of the joys of having a crafting micro-business is doing yearly battle with the Schedule C (Profit or Loss From Business).

I might not have pulled in the big bucks last year, but I made it into the black and now it’s time to pay up. Thankfully I’ve learned a trick or two over the years and the actual form only took me a few minutes to fill out!

Stacking the deck for your Schedule C fight is as simple as tagging all of the entries in the accounting Ledger with a code for which line they go on. That way when tax time rolls around all you have to check for is if any costs have shifted groups. Continue reading

Model Horse Listing Rotations: Take 4

By | September 15, 2013
Custom Model Horse Rotation 09-16-2013

Round 1, Fight!

I’m starting to run out of 2013 and with my goal to at least break even this year, it’s time to get serious about my sales.

I’ve made stabs at getting a listing rotation done before, but that was primarily looking at the Model Horse Sales Pages and after looking at the traffic results I’ve moved away from that venue.

Which leaves me with just Etsy and eBay to build my scheduling around.

I’ve built up a nice little herd on Etsy and since the main page can only display 24 horses (6 x 4), anything beyond that isn’t going to catch the eye. I’d still like to keep most of the horses in the store, but it’s time to start up an eBay rotation to get the old horses moving out as the new horses move in. Continue reading

Micro Mini Shipping Methods, Redux

By | September 6, 2013

Micro Shipping Boxes

I’ve been using USPS Priority Mail for all my Etsy listings, which works out to roughly $6.51 for VA to CA shipping for a 5oz package. The boxes are free and the tracking number is included, so it seems like a good deal– right?

Well not when you pair it with an $11 horse!

It wasn’t until I started working on revamping the listings to match the new custom order prices that it really hit me how much the shipping was. The micros are supposed to be cheap and fun, and 50% markup for shipping is neither. Continue reading