I’ve spent the whole week packing and dispatching Elfin Diaries – over 200 orders. Still got 90-odd orders to fullfill, but these are all hardbacked diaries and desk diaries, and I’m waiting for more deliveries. That wont arrive before the weekend, so I’m taking advantage of the calm to catch up on office work; there is piles of filing to be done, followed by the monthly accounting.
It’s been a mad and exhausting week – I had some stress problems, with my left ankle copying my left knee in swelling and complaining. But after that I decided to pace myself, stop flapping and panicking, stay calm. And I think I’m getting on top of this work thing now. The headaches are almost gone as well – looks like Doc G was right when he said they were stress-related.
It would be nice to have some more orders in, though. And I have to think about next year – will I put up prices, will I increase the print run, how will I advertise, get a proper list of shops together…. etc etc…. I’m in business now, got to think ahead.

Well, got rid of all the first consignment of Elfin Diaries and still got hundreds of orders to fulfill. Another consignment should arrive any minute now. I’ve tidied up my desk, got all the labels and printer ready, got the order lists printed out.
So now I’m sat here just tapping my fingers.

I’ve decided to give up web design work. I never had many orders for it, never found it easy and spent all my time boning up on the latest techniques (there seemed to be new ones coming along every week). I reckon that publishing and distributing the Elfin Diary is going to be pretty much a full-time job for several months of the year at least. So I’m simplifying my (online) life, unsubbing from forums and email lists; I won’t have the time to read them all even if I was still professionally interested.
But all the work ought to be worthwhile; I’ve done the figures and the Diaries, while not making me a fortune, should be a decent little earner. After years and years of scrimping and doing without, I can’t wait to have a little spare cash.

Too busy posting stuff to post stuff on here!

Getting the Elfin  Diaries out!

Getting the Elfin Diaries out!

The first batch of Elfin Diaries finally arrived at Elfin HQ last Wednesday, and I’ve been busy packing them up and dispatching them. Being able to print the postage online is a great time-saver – I can simply print out the labels and hand the packages to the postie, instead of trekking off to the village with them.
That’s providing I manage to catch the postie on his way around the houses. This morning, I turned my back for just a minute and he was here and gone! The car is in for some minor repairs, so I had to load up the shopping trolley and practice my trekking.
Still got loads of orders to fulfill, but I’m having to wait for more Diaries to be delivered, sometime next week. Oh well…..

…Yes, I’m not posting here much lately, am I? That’s because the Elfin Diary is really taking off now – orders are coming in daily and I haven’t even had the first batch of Diaries delivered yet. If sales continue at this rate, I’m on target for breaking even; in fact, I could quite possibly make a profit!
It’s keeping me very busy – for the first time in my life, I’m running a business all by myself. I’m having to talk to suppliers and shops, engage with customers, keep accounts and records, keep a very close eye on finances and constantly stay ahead of deadlines. It’s both frightening and exciting.
Strangely, I’m not feeling at all stressed (apart from those odd moments lying awake at 4am when I wonder what the hell I’ve got myself into…) Having something to do every day, a purpose and goals, seems to have cured a lot of the generalised ennui that’s been dogging me for years. I’ve even stopped the betablockers that I’ve been taking for years. It’s now been a fortnight and I haven’t had a tachycardia attack yet. Plus I’m sleeping a whole lot better and not constantly battling tiredness. I’ll not throw the pills away; they could come in useful for stressful times.

As I said, I’m busy – too busy for doing quite a lot of things that I used to do. So I’ve decided to give up the web design work. I’ve never had a lot of web work coming in and I’m not all that good at it anyway. So I’m retiring my web design portfolio pages on here. I won’t necessarily turn work away, but I will be putting the Elfin Diary work first. That’s going to pay rather better, I think.

Well, I’m landed with the Elfin Diary good and proper. Before I took it on, I had some idea it would be easy; after all, wasn’t most of the work in the laying out of the pages, the entering of the data, the research, the proof-reading and so on? I was already doing all that, and it was pretty easy. Naturally, I hadn’t given much thought to what was involved in actually selling the thing – the advertising, the distribution, the suppliers….
Gah, the suppliers. I wasn’t allowed to touch any paperwork when I went to Caroline’s house, let alone copy stuff off her computer (I’d bought along memory sticks and recordable DVDs, naively thinking I’d be welcome to take the business information that I needed.). So I have no idea of which shops stocked the Diary, who printed her T-shirts, where she got her special incense from and all the rest. I’m having to start right at the beginning and source my own suppliers.

At the mo, I’m trying to get a proper computerised mailing list of customers organised. This is not easy. Caroline was a technophobe and kept a lot of stuff on paper only. Her “mailing list” consisted of two boxes of addressed C5 envelopes – one box for people who had bought the 2011 Diary, the other for past customers who hadn’t. Worse, the envelopes are all handwritten, so I can’t even scan the names and addresses into an OCR program and digitise them.
I do have one customer list in digital form. It’s the one from the e-commerce shop on the website, of people who bought the 2011 Diary only. There was an option to download it in CSV format, which can be imported into a spreadsheet; the file duly imported but the result was incredibly messy, with fields and data all over the shop. I’ve just spent the entire morning tidying it up and now I’m going through the envelopes to weed out the website customers from the rest; I already have their email addresses and I can save postage by using email.
I’m not even going to attempt to enter the undigitised names and addresses into the computer – I’ll just use the envelopes to send them the one flyer each and only put the responders on the computer.

There are approximately 400 envelopes to sort through. Caroline was organised enough to file them alphabetically; I’ve just finished going through the Bs. Not far to go now….

Have spent the whole day designing! Decided this morning that the Elfin Diary site needed a spruce-up before the shop site opens and next year’s Diaries go on sale.
Didn’t ask Caroline about it, and haven’t heard what she thinks of it. But even if she hates it and tells me to put it back as it was before (which I can do it about four clicks – I saved the old site), I’ll still be cheerful.
Cos I’ve been designing! Yay!