posts tagged with the keyword ‘money’

2013.02.15

CR-V

I sold my car on craigslist. I’ve used craigslist before, but never to buy a big ticket item, and I’ve never sold a big ticket item until now… it was very interesting.

I posted the ad on a Sunday (not just any Sunday, but Super Bowl Sunday) and within an hour I had 7 people email me, 3 of whom decided to email me twice. I began to think that maybe we should have had a higher price, but no matter, the deed was done.

Here’s a few excepts from some of the great responses I got:

Do you still have car available i am really interested please let me no thanks

You can sand namber because i wants see you car thanks you

Crv if do I got money

hey i like to buy u car please call me for apoitment

Hi” U still have d cr v?

OK, so guy #1 (as in, the first person to respond via email) gets the call, and he says he can come out that night to check out the car. His email said he lived in Pewaukee, but somehow when I called him he was no where near Pewaukee and said it would take an hour to come over. He called me an hour later lost in Pewaukee, which was no good because the car was in Delafield. Anyway, he made it, we took the car for a drive, and he offered me less money than I asked for. Not great. We talked for a bit, and he really wanted it, but didn’t have enough cash, but said he could get it by the next day… I told him to return in 24 hours with the cash for the asking price, and I’d sell it to him.

The next day guy #1 calls and says he can’t get the rest of the money, and offers me less. I tell him I’ll have the second guy (guy #2) looking at it that night (who has already said he’d pay the asking price if the car ran good) and oh yeah, emails from ten other people interested, and if none of them panned out, I’d call him back… On to guy #2.

I set things up with guy #2 to come over around 6:30, and before it’s even 5:00 he calls and says he can’t make it. So yeah, back to guy #1 who explains now that he isn’t going to buy the car, but his friend (guy #3) wants to. Yeah, it’s still only been about 26 hours since I listed the car, if you’re keeping track.

So 6:30 rolls around and I get a call from guy #1 saying he and guy #3 are running late. No worries… They eventually arrive, and we look things over, and we do the paperwork, and there’s some money involved, and it’s done. My 1999 Honda CR-V is no longer my 1999 Honda CR-V. It’s weird, mainly because (if you know me) I’ve been saying I would never replace it. Well, I replaced it, but that’s a story for another time.

tl;dr: I sold my car on craigslist!

2013.01.08

GoPro $$$

This is an interesting one, and I’m still not sure what I think about it…

I’ll start by saying that I’m a fan of open in that the sharing of knowledge is important to me, as is the sharing of sources, not just in software, but in other areas as well. Yes, there’s money to be made, but generally, besides the fact that money allows us to have a place to live, and food to eat, and all the other things needed to survive, I’m not really a fan. Money itself is boring, but it can allow you to do interesting things.

I recently posted about the GoPro Hero3 Frame I made. I made it because it was a thing I needed, and didn’t feel like spending $40 on the nice one that GoPro sells. I shared the design files because I thought they might be useful to others. I share things because I’ve gotten so much value out of others sharing things over the years. It’s been over 20 years that I’ve tried to live by that ideal. It mostly works.

I was quite pleased to see that someone found value in my sharing, and improved upon my design to create GoPro Hero3 Frame – Improved. Again, this is how I want the world to work. I made a thing, and someone else made it better. Everyone wins, right?

So anyway, I’m doing the daily browse, and I come across this blog post from Shapeways titled 3D Printed Stand for the OP-1 Synthesizer. I have little interest in a synthesizer stand, but I love 3D printing, and think it’s the future. In the post is a link to all the GoPro items on Shapeways. (Shapeways, for those who don’t know, lets people design things, get them 3D printed for themselves, and even sell them to others. It’s a great thing for people who don’t yet have a 3D printer, or want higher quality, or different materials, etc.)

Shapeways

Where was I? Oh yes, I click on the link to see the GoPro related items and see a GoPro Hero3 Frame and think “Hey! Someone else made one too! Cool!” and I read the text, and it sounds just like mine! Now, it was about 4am so my brain was a little slow… but I clicked on the link…

Shapeways

Holy Crap, that is mine! Yeah, that’s mine. And it’s for sale, but not by me. Here’s where you decide whether to freak out… and to what degree.

Now, I designed my item, and shared it freely on Thingiverse, and even used a Creative Commons Attribution License. I specifically wanted others to be able to have it. Mission accomplished, right? Right.

So the freakout… is it a good freakout, or a bad freakout, or a weird mixture? Do I want to be in the business of selling GoPro Hero3 Frames? Probably not. I have enough other business to deal with, and as I said, GoPro sells one, and it’s probably of much higher quality. Am I upset that someone is using my work? I shouldn’t be (right?) The description does say “Created by Raster” and has the URL (but not a link) the the Thingiverse page. But who is cadbury204? They have no designs of their own in their Shapeways shop. Is it some automated bot that pulls items from Thingiverse and sells them on Shapeways? I don’t know… if it is, does that change things? I don’t know…

If I think about the “spirit” of open source, as it’s ofter referred to, is this “cadbury204″ following it? Are they providing value just by allowing someone to easily order the item through Shapeways? Are they just out to make money from the work of others? Again, I don’t know… I don’t even know if I should care, but I guess I do, mainly because I find it interesting.

And, I’m interested to hear what you think about it.

2012.12.23

Cookie Cutters

Back when I wrote my Printing Violations? post I brought up the issue of licensing, and while I am a believer of open culture and sharing, I’m still torn on the topic of artists who take the creative work of others (even if the “others” are huge corporations) and use it to make money.

When I saw the post Maker Mom Builds Cookie-Cutter Empire With 3-D Printers my first thought was about the rights and licensing issues. (I was then pleasantly surprised to see the comments addressing the issue right away.)

Cookie Cutters

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Athey is not an artist, she’s a really good artist, and has some impressive and very well executed designs. This is important, I think. I mean, anyone can download an image of a video game character or a Dalek and quickly make it into something, but her work is well beyond that. Still, is it right for her to be using things others have created to make money? Her web site at warpzoneprints.com says:

Now I’ve somehow turned what started as a hobby into a full-time job!

I spend a lot of time thinking of myself as a terrible artist, and I’ve made plenty of badly drawn robots, but I’d feel much better about myself selling a badly drawn robot that is my own creation than a well drawn robot that someone else created. (I’m going with the belief that Athey has not properly licensed the characters she is using.)

Of course there’s the issue of licensing… It’s no secret that I use a lot of art from OpenClipArt.org to make things. The license of all art on OpenClipArt is Public Domain Dedication which states:

You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

So yeah, I’ve not sold anything I’ve made yet using art from OpenClipArt, but at least I’d feel fine doing it. And yeah, I have friends who make good money making things based on successful movies, games, books, etc. Maybe this is just the world we live in now, where everyone is a maker and selling of things, and it’s all just a big mash-up anyway.

I guess I’d break things into a few categories:

A.) Using things others have created to make things for yourself.

B.) Using things others have created to make things to give to family/friends as gifts.

C:) Using things others have created and creating design files that others can use.

D:) Using things others have created to create and sell things.

I’m all for A. and B., and I think C. is pretty much OK. (Think of the many items on Thingiverse) As for D., that’s the one I’m still not sure about, and that’s the one Athey and Warpzone Prints falls under. What do you think?

(I should probably do a post in the future that talks a bit more about my own usage of others work in my own art, as I’m not completely free of that behavior myself.)

2012.05.25

Maker Business - The Real Costs

You know me, I’ve always got more to say… I just wanted to touch on the real costs of making a thing.

In the olden days, when I primarily worked with software, there was an old saying “Linux is only free if your time has no value” and while it’s a slightly amusing phrase, there maybe some truth to it. Maybe. If you’re a Linux fan, the saying may come across as an insult. Sure, sometimes working with Linux feels a lot like yak shaving. When you need to install this library to install that library to install some other library to install the software you really wanted to install… you get the idea. (Linux has gotten much better at this in the last few years though, so much of these issues have gone away.)

With software, it’s (almost) all about the time you spend on it. If you’ve got a computer, you can develop software. Most of the tools are free, or low-cost (depending on the platform) and if you got access to the Internet, or a library, you can learn, learn, learn and become a software developer. (I’ll answer the question of if you should in another post!)

So you’ve got a computer, you’ve got time, you’ve got a desire to learn… those can be the basic building blocks to make software. Go for it. Now, keep in mind that many developers (especially in the open source world) are doing what they do because they want to solve their own problems. I really wanted DokuWiki to be able to present a random page, and when I found a plugin that didn’t work, it was worth a few hours to fix it. I didn’t go as far as adopting the plugin, since it appears to have been orphaned, but I did drop it on GitHub so if someone really wants my work, they can have it. The sharing and collaboration is part of what I love about open source.

So let’s talk about hardware…

Hardware consists of real bits, not just zeros and ones, but actual physical things that are created. When I turned one of my projects into a product I did my best to make sure the final price was such that I would actually make money. Making money is important. Note that I didn’t say making LOTS and LOTS of money is important. I mean, it is to some people, but… whatever.

So you’ve got your maker business, and you want to treat customers (and potential customers) right, and this will cause you to make certain decisions. I remember talking to someone 9 months ago who ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, and he pointed out to me that the first thing you need to do once you think you determine your costs, is to pad it. Remember that Kickstarter and Amazon each take a cut. The campaigner also said that he got one backer who had some terrible thing happen in his personal life, and asked if he could be refunded his pledge. If you do refund someone’s pledge, do you do the full amount or do you withhold what Kickstarter and Amazon take out of it?

Once you’re shipping actual products, if you’re not charging enough, how many returns does it take to make you start losing money? Things break during shipping, or get lost, or stolen, or just plain don’t work. It’s your job to determine how far you’ll go (and how much you’ll spend) to have satisfied customers.

And yeah, as I mentioned, physical things cost money, and when you are not big (as in, a small company, or someone just starting out) you probably have zero leverage to get any sort of discounts. This is where a lot of Kickstarter campaigns come in, as they involve raising enough money to do bulk purchases to drive down costs. It’s a good idea in some cases, but not all.

Even after you have all the physical things you need to assemble a product, there are at least two more thing you may need. Time (just like with software) and tools (which compare to a computer in the software example above.) In my case, to build my products I had some of the tools I needed, but I also had to buy some of them. If you don’t want to buy your own tools you can consider a makerspace or something like TechShop if you have one near you. As you continue to create your product you may end up spending more on tools, to do things better, faster, etc. This is another cost you may not think about. There’s also repairing and replacing tools, and consumables like blades, bits, paint, shipping materials, etc. and each one of those also takes some time. If you’re driving to a store, or even just ordering online, that’s time, and if your time is worth anything, you need to be compensated in some way.

I’m all about DIY, when it makes sense, and sometimes even when it doesn’t make sense, and that’s the key here. Sure, time is money, and yak shaving isn’t always the best thing to do, but sometimes you do it anyway. The good thing is, everyone has a different scale of what they are willing to do (or what they can do) and what they are willing to pay someone else to do.

I’ve gone off the rails a bit, and I guess I’ll need to do a 12.5 post to continue this. If it’s a bit rambling, forgive me, I’m still thinking through a lot of this.

(See all the posts in this series: Begin, Stock, Buy Smart, Basic Rules, No Leeway, Be Open, Community, Manufacturability, Marketing, Shipping, Lessons Learned.)

2012.01.02

Delafield, WI

I had 3 goals for 2011, which I stated a year ago in this post. I figured it was worth a look back at how I did.

  1. Try Harder

    I always try, and the effort varies, but how did I do in 2011? I don’t know if there’s a way to gauge such things, but I felt like in some of the things I do, I definitely tried harder. This one was probably a bit nebulous, but if pressed then I’ll definitely say yes, I did try harder, and in some ways, I definitely did better. Which brings us to…

  2. Do Better

    There are specific things I can think of that I did better in 2011. From personal to work related things, even if some of them were small victories, I felt like I did better. I made some mistakes in 2010 that I didn’t repeat in 2011. That’s good! Making mistakes once is fine, in fact, it’s how you learn, but to keep making the same mistakes over and over, well… that’s not a good thing.

  3. Make Money

    I made (some) more money! Again, this was not a greed motivated goal, but more of a comfort/cushion goal. I managed to pay off 3 of my debts in 2011, which is great. I’ve spent the last lustrum trying to pay off some of the debt I’ve fallen into, and while there’s still much to deal with, I’ve got some of it taken care of. Oh, and when you see me eating peanut butter sandwhiches at my desk, and driving a car that is (literally) falling to pieces, just know that it’s because instead of going deeper into debt, I’m working hard to get out of it.

Overall I think stating these goals was a good thing, and probably should have checked in on them part way through the year (but I didn’t because, um…) Anyway, I’m going to stick with these goals again for 2012, and probably every year. I have a few other goals, but I’ll save those for another post. Happy New Year, folks!

« Older Entries |

buy the button:

Buy The Button

recently at:


top recent artists: