Cottage Industrialist Economics : Stray Observations

About 3 weeks ago, I decided it would be good to have “Question Of The Week”… a high-level, strategic question to ponder over the coming week, each week… keep in the back of mind, and focus on when trapped into periods of inactivity… eg: driving about etc.

The first week’s question was “Why does it take me so long to get my shit together?”

No clear answers were forthcoming, and the Question Of The Week project was discontinued.

Various things however:

1) you spend a fuck of a long time looking for things like this:

Which you start out not even knowing the name of. You can spend 1/2 a day fruitless scouring google-images… invariably coming up with places like Ali Baba… who might have what you’re looking for, but who will only sell you them a million at a time.

Then you do find a supplier… order… takes over a week to arrive.

If you’re trial-and-erroring (which you are), then you’ve got about a 1/3 chance that this widget will actually work, and then you’re back to square one. If you live in New Zealand then all durations are doubled… although to be fair, I can remember looking for electronic components in London, and that was a pain in the arse as well. Can’t imagine what it must be like in Africa… impossible I guess. The Maker Movement is utterly dependent on a good postal service.

There must be a way around the massive amount of time it takes to source stuff – I’m guessing it’s being a member of an online community would help… maybe I ought to do that.

2) Projects on Indiegogo are starting to pull in similar $ to Kickstarter

They are fewer and further between… but 6-figure multiples are starting to appear. This is interesting because Indigogo doesn’t suffer from the same locational-apartheid that Amazon imposes on Kickstarter. That said, all of the first page of “most successful” projects are American anyway… so maybe that’s a moot point.

There are a couple of successful projects that are connected to viral videos/events… with the indiegogo campaign created after the fact… which is an interesting one, because until now, the chances of anyone actually benefiting from their (often fairly exploitative) 15 minutes of fame have been pretty slim… or have just been more exploitation.

3) Polish doesn’t sell

So I thought my calipers website looked like a dog’s breakfast… which it did, so I redesigned it… it all looks beautiful… new photos, fluid layout, everything lines up etc etc…

… and thence followed the worst crash in income it has ever experienced.

I think (hope) I’ve got the copy wrong… which is to say, it’s a lot less personal than the last site, and there’s a lot less… copy. I’m going to try that next (today) (screengrab of existing site here).

Failing that, I’m going to make a shite-looking version and run a split-test.

I spend an awful lot of time buying stuff off an awful lot of sites that look awful… eg … and I’d always assumed it was because they’d set up their site 10 years ago and were now running a successful business out of it, and changing it was simply too much grief. Which is true. I’d also always thought that and looked fucking terrible… but I’ve been to talks by the trademe people, and they actually send UI people round to their user’s houses to see how the site is being used, how it can be improved etc… so maybe the terribility is a finely-tuned terribility.

Ebay will be the same of course – it’s a far bigger company. Etsy doesn’t look terrible though… so maybe not… but I have this feeling that “what a shop looks like” has precipitated out, and embedded itself in the minds of the internet… and a shop looks like a shop. It doesn’t look like a 5-star hotel room… and when people see something they like in a shop that does look like a 5-star hotel room, they think “that’s nice, I wonder if it’s available from a shop?”

Maybe. Might just be a lack of copy on my part though.

2 Comments » for Cottage Industrialist Economics : Stray Observations
  1. True and good points all. I adore your hand made calipers. They are works of skilled art and look incredible in the studio and make me look as though I know something ancient and infinite.

    But that’s because I have them and can see how they kick precision instrument ass.

    Could you make a video that shows them being used to apply the principle behind them? Maybe I could apply them to something I’m doing not only greatly admire them, although that is enough.

  2. Rafael Carrascosa says:

    About sourcing stuff: I live in Argentina; it’s South America, not Africa, but it’s damn hard to get stuff.
    I have the impression that local shops go with “If you can’t fix a car with it, we ain’t selling it”. So yeah `The Maker Movement is utterly dependent on a good postal service` and I would add “as much as it depends on the internet for information”.