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  • #969878
    Meli
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    Hi There Everyone

    I am excited to say that I have just joined with flying solo :-)

    I have recently started up my own business and am having trouble getting it off the ground. I am getting close to throwing it all in and would really love some encouragement and possibly some advise to get me through. I am thinking of finding a business partner but am unsure how to go about it.

    First i better explain what it is that i do: I have created an online store that sells motion reference material to animators and artists – in short, for one to animate a character in their 3D programme they must first study how the body mechanics play out in the real world then apply this to their character. I have made available high definition movie files of the human body doing everyday actions, these can be viewed in slow motion, with grid overlays for detail, and with multiple camera angles. These are available as individual sales items or unlimited downloads for $49.95 per month.

    That sums it up really, I know it is a very niche market and i am getting a great response from the animation industry as far as it being a great idea and very helpfull tool – but the main response is ‘pitty its not free’ I do believe that as the site content increases so will the sales, at the moment there is only a couple of hundred files – this needs to be in the thousands to really make an impact in the industry.

    But on the plus side, I have had 2 members since the launch, so atleast i know there is someone interested to pay.

    At the moment it is costing me far too much to film the video files as i am certainly no videographer and my filming resources are very limited. But i am able to do the editing (this is my specialty) and i am also falling apart with marketing (once again as a video editor i love to keep my head buried in my computer) and lack confidence in promotion.

    Can anybody share some advise on how to get a business partner on board, i am thinking a videoographer might be a good idea?? I am hoping that with the extra support i might get the confidence to market the site better also. I have always wanted the business to be my own, but now i am thinking that sharing half of something is better that all of nothing. Or is that a bad idea?

    Thank you in advance

    Regards
    Meli

    #1041343
    Anonymous
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    • Total posts: 11,464
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    Hi Meli,

    Welcome to Flying Solo!

    What an interesting niche you’ve found for yourself! I hope you find the right person to help you with the information and support you need.

    Good luck with everything,
    Jayne

    #1041344
    sixx
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    • Total posts: 333
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    Have to agree with Jane, what an interesting niche, sounds awesome!

    Know absolutely nothing about your type of business but am wondering why animators love it, but wish it was for free. Essentially they are saying they would use it, so the hard work is done. You have a product they want.
    Maybe you need to find out what’s stopping them from signing up. It’s possible they can’t see the value in your pricing because they won’t use it enough to justify the monthly ongoing expenditure so there is possibly a window there to offer a seperate price structure.
    Have you considered offering a pay-per-download option? much like an apps store or itunes where you charge say $5.95 per download or whatever you consider a sensible one off purchase price.

    It could be the ongoing cost scaring off prospects, whereas in future if you had a thousand apps with a regular clientele you may find they spend $100 one month and nothing for two months, then they come back and purchase newly created work. Win-win.

    In regards to a partnership, if I were you I would try and retain 100% ownership but possibly bring in a partner on a commision basis.
    If you had a pay-per-download option you could offer a percentage royalty for each animation app downloaded.

    #1041345
    Meli
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    • Total posts: 6
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    Thank you so much for your response sixx!!

    Good thing is that i have already got a pay per download option, but once again maybe the price is too high – they are set at $9.95 ea.

    I like what you say about there being a product that they want and maybe i should look at the pricing, I only have one member at the moment and they would always be happy enough to receive an email to say the price has dropped too, so no real problem there. I have been thinking of dropping the price to $24.95 and i could make the individuals something like $4.95 and then i guess it is just a matter of building the content.

    You have brought to mind 2 options – i could advertise on the site for ‘footage wanted’ and market it to the film makers and keen artists and offer a commission – like we see in stockfootage sites like istockphoto and/or i could contact some videographers here on the coast to see if they would be interested in producing some footage on a higher commission rate??

    Is there any way i can keep the costs down for the buyers by selling advertising space on my site?? or is this only really available for sites that have a large revenue?

    Cheers again and thank you for getting me thinking!!!

    Mel

    #1041346
    JohnSheppard
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    Meli, post: 50149 wrote:
    Is there any way i can keep the costs down for the buyers by selling advertising space on my site?? or is this only really available for sites that have a large revenue?

    Hello there Meli,

    IMO, doing this is a bad idea. I have never seen any successful business advertising their competitors in their store :). It also drags your site down into the realms of a business that doesn’t believe in their own products. It’s hardly conducive to customer confidence. On the other hand however, if you chose to use this as a sole means of revenue stream it might be worth consideration.

    I also think that reducing your price is not a good idea. I think you should raise it if anything. People only value what they pay for something. I believe if you do some research there is evidence available to indicate you will sell more at a higher price. Besides….your product is not utilitarian, people don’t purchase your product on price, they buy it for other reasons. IMO, Put your price up to cater to those other reasons.

    I don’t know your market, but your issue is, do people need it? Who/what is your market and why do they need to pay for what you offer? what problem are you solving?

    My 2 cents.

    #1041347
    marketingweb
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    • Total posts: 625
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    Hi Meli,

    Sounds like you have a really interesting product, but a tough job marketing it as it’s such a micro niche AND one that people may not know exists so wont know to search for you.

    I think your biggest challenge if you stick with a subscription model is achieving “critical mass” in terms of your numbers of files. I notice you mention you had 2 members in your first post, and 1 in your second – so someone has left. Way too small a sample to prove anything of course, but it may be a case where at the number of files you have people could easily download the entire lot in a month and not feel the need to come back.

    For such a specialist product I agree completely with JohnSheppard, it seems way too cheap and may have people who are specialists with big budgets your service isn’t “serious”.

    Regarding the partner, this could be a good or bad idea depending on what they bring to the table, what you aim to get out of it etc. It’s a partnership where they focus on sales and marketing, you focus on content generation, it could work. If you are thinking “partner” as more an “investor” to help you keep afloat then you will have very little chance of finding any because you haven’t proven the concept is viable yet.

    Re advertising, basically very few people buy advertising these days in the sense you are talking about – rather it’s based on CPM (Cost per thousand impressions or views) or on a per click basis. You need to be getting thousands and thousands of views for it to pay big time, which you aren’t. This sort of thing is normally good for “monitizing” a blog or informational site with lots of visitors but not income strategy. Unfortunately in your case these visitor volumes don’t apply.

    Not sure how much help this is, but just my thoughts. If you could publish the address of your site i’m sure we would be interested to see and provide more advice.

    Matt

    #1041348
    sixx
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    • Total posts: 333
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    Hiya Mel,

    Have to agree with John also regarding price, Up if anything but I think the biggest hurdle (if you continue with subscriptions) is finding the appropriate point between your subscriptions costs and one off download costs. My price example in my last post was based on your $600 per annum subscription fee @100 currently available apps, so if you were happy with that then the $9.95 is probably about right for individual downloads.

    One thing that did cross my mind with the monthly unlimited subscription fee, is there anything stopping me signing up, paying my $49.95 and downloading all 100 apps then never to be seen again? if this is possible I would scrap the monthly fee and make it annual or you could end up selling your 100 apps for $0.49 each.
    Another option is having an 100 app pre-paid pack, 50 app pack and so on. Clients can pick and choose how they spend their credits as you add more stock.

    Will you need a qualified videographer to do what you require or is there scope to train someone to do only what is applicable to your business? I wouldn’t necessarily pay a Landscape Gardener $175hr to plant a couple of tress when all I need is someone who can dig holes. Maybe you could teach someone the part you require or get a student studying sound and vision already on a part-time comission basis. They’d love the experience and it’s a chance to make some money.

    You do need some solid data though. Questions answered from prospective markets.
    Get a survey on your site or send them out to prospects (even offer a free sample download for completing it).
    You need to start getting some numbers together, would they use it, how many, how often, what incentives would make them use more often, what is a fair price point, what is stopping them from signing up etc.
    Gold!

    Really looking forward to how your business progresses. Hope you can keep us posted. :)

    #1041349
    Meli
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    • Total posts: 6
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    Oh boy, lots to think about now, thanks heaps guys.

    I have posted the site address and details on the community reviews forum – please check it out!!.

    I think one this is proving clear to me and that is i need to build my content base most importantly – cause yep, someone could download all the files in a month and be gone.

    Im going to have to process all of your advise and see where it takes me – i’ll keep you all posted!!

    cheers!!

    #1041350
    mediainsider
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    • Total posts: 14
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    My advice is simple and to the point.
    Do not have a friend as a business partner.
    The friendship has a far betrer chance of lasting if there are no financial disctractions.
    Mark Aiston
    http://www.mediainsider.com.au

    #1041351
    Tracey Baird
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    • Total posts: 20
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    Hi Meli,

    I too started a business this year, and like yours, mine is also membership based. I decided early on to bring a partner on board as my website specialises in fitness resources and videos for mums so I wanted a personal trainer to develop the content. I’ve really benefited from having a partner onboard and I’d totally recommend it.

    Firstly it provides me with someone else to build the content whilst I focus on the sales and marketing (and yes – it’s slow going – but these things take time to build momentum). We also share some duties – like videoing our content (although I also edit my video).

    Secondly, having a business partner on board makes me more determined to make it work. We have a 60/40 ownership split and cover the costs of the business in the same ratio – therefore it’s not just my money I’m working for and it makes me more determined to get the business profitable.

    Thirdly, my business partner has become a great sounding wall as I’m a bit of a crazy ideas girl and she gives me someone to discuss the ideas with, weed the good from the ugly and inspires me to run with them. She shares the enthusiasm for the service we provide and helps keep me motivated on those tough days.

    When I went out looking for my business partner I literally googled personal trainers with post natal exercise experience. I then rang them, told them a bit about what I was doing and asked if they were interested in meeting for coffee to discuss it further. I’m lucky that I’ve got a background in sales so picking up the phone and calling prospective partners was not as daunting for me as I’m sure others find it. Just be confident, understand the value of what you have to offer and see what happens.

    I rang about 5 personal trainers and met with 3. The first two I met with were keen at first but couldn’t fit the extra commitment into their schedules so this is something to bear in mind too. Are you looking for a full time partner or someone who can contribute just 5 hours a week? It’s definitely worth having this clear in you mind before you make any calls.

    My advice when selecting a partner is to look for the following:
    – Complementary Skills: People with experience or skills you don’t have (or don’t like doing) – perhaps a sales person or someone with great industry connections will be the best bet for you?
    – Complementary Personality: Someone you will get along with but perhaps brings other aspects of personality that differ from yours. My business partner is risk adverse whereas I’m a risk taker, I’m impulsive and she likes to take some time to think things over. Although this might appear to be a problem it means that we balance each other well and offer different takes on a situation
    – United Vision – makes sure your expectations in terms of input, income, direction and organisational vision is the same. You need a clear and agreed vision for your business.
    – Make sure you like them. My partner and I both have kids, she is warm and personable, we laugh together and enjoy the excitement of our venture together.

    With two of you on board you should be able to do twice the amount of work which should mean twice the amount of return (or more if your skills are really complementary) so although you are diluting your share you are also increasing your ability to create more profit.

    Go for it, keep you chin up – you are getting great feedback from the industry so keep up the hard work and ensure you keep communicating with your target market. Start looking for a partner but don’t rush into working with someone before you are sure you can work with them and get a partnership agreement drawn up with your lawyer before they get formally involved to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

    Best of luck!

    Tracey Baird
    Quick Business Tips & WorkoutRightNow
    P.S. My sister is a freelance computer animator in the UK – what is your website address – I’ll send it to her.

    #1041352
    Serena Star Leonard
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    • Total posts: 43
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    Hey Meli,

    I agree with Tracey, there are so many wonderful benefits to finding a great business partner, however it is all about finding the RIGHT one! A wrong chocie of business partner can create a whole lot of misery or even cost you the business!

    I currently have a fantastic business partner, we have the same values and work ethic, we are completely different which is great because it brings depth to our decision making. What really works for us is that we understand that we are different and we respect that as a benefit to the business. In fact we have a laugh at how we approach things so differently.

    We do however have the same values, and a high work standard which means we can rely on each other.

    I find when I need a business partner that I put the word out through all my networks and I often find several people to choose from.

    With a business partner you must evaluate everything especially your gut instinct. If you don’t get a good vibe off someone, don’t partner with them for other reasons! A business partner relationship is like a marriage so make sure you think they are amazing!

    You need to create a strong line of communication from the outset and to sit down and agree upon who will be doing what and by when.

    As for the sale of your products, pricing is hard to judge especially when you don’t have a huge amount of traffic in the beginning. But rather than the price your focus should be on creating value. Good compelling sales copy is an art form, everything from the headline on the page, to the benefits your downloads offer.

    We changed a few things on one sales page and sales jumped overnight, analyse how long people spend on the page. If they leave after a few seconds, then improve your headline. If they leave after 15 minutes without buying then you may need to instill more confidence, perhaps with a money back guarentee or a testimonial.

    The key to internet sales is creating a compelling valuable offer that yoru potential customers can’t refuse and when you can do that, then price will fall back in importance.

    Good Luck!
    Serena : )

    #1041353
    GuiltFree Business Mother
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    • Total posts: 24
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    Well done Meli for getting started. Now this is great timing – I was just going to add a new thread and then I saw your post.

    We’re just days away from launching a new service at Guilt Free Business Mothers to help people find the right project partner– and it’s completely free right now. So if you looking for a videographer or someone to help with the marketing, or anyone else with particular skills you need – you can do just that, and take advantage of the internet to reach out to find the best person for you. You can specify if you are looking for a contractor, or someone to partner for a particular project or a business partner – or keep it open.

    Let me know if you’re interested in a free listing and I’ll give you the new site details.
    All the best
    Jayne
    http://www.GuiltFreeBusinessMothers.com

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