I heard a great piece of advice once in an entrepreneurial podcast. The host said, “If you think you have a good idea, it doesn’t matter if you can find a hundred people that tell you its a good idea. Go out and find a hundred people who will give you money for your idea, and then you have something.”
The last couple of weeks have been something of an experiment. I’ve played around over the years with different ways to fund my little Shakespeare addiction here, running ads over in the side bar, doing some affiliate linking, stuff like that. Always nickel and dimey stuff. I’ve always had merchandise but it’s always been one-off stuff and I’m lucky to see 2 or 3 sales in a month.
So when I spotted Teespring
, billed as “Kickstarter for T-shirts”, I thought “This might be worth a shot. By getting the volume up we can keep the price down, and everybody wins.” So I took my most popular image (To be or not to be, translated into different languages) and brought the quality up to standard by consulting translators, adding languages, and cleaning up the design. Thus was born the Shakespeare is Universal
The big question was, after eight years of posting over two thousand times on the subject of Shakespeare, do I have a “good enough” idea here that I’ve gathered those magical 100 loyal followers who would indeed pay real money for the value they receive?
As I write this, the answer is no.
The game’s not over, not for five more days. We might still make it. If I look at the last two weeks as purely a lesson in business and marketing it’s been enlightening. I’ve reached out well past my comfort level in self-promotion, to be certain. I’ve hounded celebrities for endorsements. I’ve tried to rally the troups on Twitter and Facebook and email to feel like they are a part of a cause. Every day I watch that number go up, I get a little thrill and wonder immediately, “Ok, what did I *just* do that made that happen?”
But I could equally step back and think, “You know, I launched this whole thing
on Shakespeare’s Birthday, my biggest traffic day of the year by far. In the best circumstance we could have crushed that 100 goal on the very first day.” I think we got about 15. I don’t even want to begin to do that math, to consider how much those dedicated fans cost me. It would not be a very balanced equation.
I don’t know how I feel about this. I know that I put real effort into this and my other sites and projects. They cause me real world stress. They cost me real world time and real world money. It’s been an amazing experience, and I’ve done and learned a lot of things.
But is this something that I can keep up forever? Especially now, with the knowledge that such a large audience out there just really doesn’t care all that much whether I’m putting in the effort or not?
That, I have to think about.
The Shakespeare Geek blog has been around since 2005, making it the oldest continually active Shakespeare blog today. Shakespeare is Universal represents our biggest fund-raising effort to date. For almost eight years and almost three thousand posts I’ve tried my best to make a place where everyone can talk about everything related to the subject of Shakespeare. If you’ve found my sites and products useful and interesting, I would greatly appreciate your support so that I can continue to do even more. Thank you.