Without a doubt, 2020 certainly has been a crazy year. I think it’s fair to say, some people have lost jobs, some have to deal with homeschooled kids, and some have contracted the Covid virus. I’m sure each of us have a story we can share. I would like to share some of my year with you.
The first of the year was looking good. I had renewed sponsorship and potential other sponsors lined up and interested in coming on board. Plus, I had a fair amount of local clients wanting furniture built. But almost as quickly as things started looking up, things started to go instantly wrong.
For starters, my beloved father in law passed away. Not living nearby, my wife and I had to travel out to the country to attend his funeral. No sooner from upon returning, Covid reared its ugly head in America. Overnight my wife’s nail salon business was shut down for a couple of months. Trying not to worry, I reassure her, business is going strong for me and we’ll be okay. Then the phone starts ringing.
One by one potential sponsors informed me that due to the current situation a “freeze” has been in place on all spending until further notice. Covid also invented social distancing. Which meant any guest appearances or demonstrations I had were canceled. In one head spinning week, my wife had no income and mine was cut in half.
Because my wife and I are both self- employed we are not eligible for unemployment. But this is not something that came as a surprise for us. We have always known this and had a savings set aside. Well, the savings was for our retirement, but we had no choice but to use it. I had also turned 50 this year and this was not where I saw myself in life. I was quite depressed and worried.
This crisis caused me to reevaluate my goals and priorities in life. I decided to focus more on my family, my friends and of course, my own furniture. I have decided to invest into my own future. I am currently working with a manager on promoting and selling my furniture and have also been working with Touchdown Agency to explore new marketing options. So what does this mean to you?
My goal has always been to make YOU a better woodworker. With my 22 years of full time experience in building furniture I have tried to be open, honest, and real in every video and article. This can be a challenge in business. To keep things free to viewers, such as the videos and newsletters, the sponsors have been a great help which allows me to provide that free content. The money from the sponsors helps pay for my time as well as new equipment such as cameras, lights, sound, and editing software so the presentation is a more enjoyable experience for the viewers.
The newsletter also comes at quite an expense. Mailchimp provides a free newsletter up to 1500 subscribers. Which is perfect for starting off. But as soon as we cross that number of 1500, the price starts to go up. I tried to offset the price of the newsletter by having plans for sale. Anything that was sold online went toward the cost and time of this newsletter. But the rate of subscribers and the cost of the newsletter was dipping into my own pocket. I even stopped promoting the newsletter in my videos because every new person cost more money. And if someone chooses not to open or read the newsletter, it still charges me. I no longer could afford the newsletter and I was going to cancel it. Luckily, CrystaLac stepped in and helped cover some of the cost to keep it going for this year.
However, this year is not showing much signs of improving. Covid is still dominating the media. Companies are still cautious with spending. And the price of things are still going up. Which brings me to a tough decision to be made, however I would like your input since this newsletter is for you.
I have always prided myself on not promoting a product unless I truly believed in it. My sponsors at Woodcraft and CrystaLac have not only supported me but also encouraged me to continue with this direction. Yet, they can only provide so much funding. To keep this newsletter free I would have to accept the offer of other new sponsors. These other sponsors would require me to promote products that I don’t necessarily believe in. The newsletter would be full of ads and sale promotions.
The other option is, I could switch to a paid monthly subscription where the newsletter would remain honest and true. I would, however, make some changes that would be beneficial to the reader. Currently with the newsletter, any of my articles and videos can be found on my website and youtube channel which doesn’t require subscribing to the newsletter. But if I switch to a paid subscription, the content would not be released to the public until a future unannounced date. This would give the subscribers exclusive content to the lessons and information first.
If this is the route I would go, my goal is to still keep the cost as low as possible. The newsletter has its fee from mailchimp.com but it also would have a fee from the third party transaction service. And of course I would have to update the website for private access to newsletter members. This is currently what Touchdown Agency is looking into for me.
Ultimately, this newsletter is for you and I would appreciate your thoughts. Would you be willing to have a monthly fee? Would you prefer ads instead of a cost? Or would you unsubscribe and leave if either change was made? In the end, your comments will make the decision. And with that being said, the lack of comments will probably say even more of the future of this newsletter. Any thoughts or suggestions are greatly welcomed.
Please, if you value the content that myself and the contributors try to provide each and every month, leave your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you. Chad Stanton