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….