Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, June 06, 2008

I'm Too Busy to Work

I was too busy with personal chores to do much work for Curio City most of last week. I laid in a lot of project supplies, then scraped the old flaking paint from the trim in back of our house and primed our new porch. Today a third consecutive day of rain postponed my plan to hoe the garden and mow the lawn. I’ve used these enforced office days to spend a lot of money on supplies and reorders, even though that deepens my open-to-buy hole further. I hope it will recharge next week.

As soon as the rain ends, I need to hoe-and-mow, plant my last few tomato plants, erect my bean towers and plant those seeds, replace the pepper plants that died, put in another hill of zucchini, paint the top coat of the porch and surrounding trim, paint the decking, paint the porch chairs, and put in a couple of new flower beds. I figure that’s a solid week’s worth of daily chores, and possibly closer to two. After today, Curio City goes back on autopilot for a week (or until it rains again!).

Reason to hate Google (a little less): Google Checkout fixed their parcel post bug again, but as of two days ago they were still undercharging for UPS. That might be fixed now; I haven’t tested it. They aren’t going to offer first-class parcel rates at all because that service is not in their implementation spec (although media mail is…go figure). About a third of my orders go out via first class, saving customers anywhere from $2 to $4 over the next cheapest method. Its omission from GC is unfathomable. Was it a simple design oversight? Or a sinister plot by USPS to sell more priority mail? I'm not even sure whom I should hate here.

Reason to hate Yahoo (a little less): Yesterday I sat in on the first of Yahoo’s three weekly “webinars” (what a stupid word) about Yahoo Search Marketing, which regular readers will recognize as the very soul of evil. If Yahoo delivers on their promise to pay me $20 in ad credits for completing a survey at the end of each webinar, I'll make $60 for roughly four hours, and pick up a helpful tip or two in the process. Given that Curio City only pays me $2 per hour, I can’t pass that up. Once I finish my personal chores and get cracking on Curio City again, I’m going to overhaul my YSM campaigns to use some of these tips. Maybe I'll even rebuild and restructure the whole thing.

Sales these past couple weeks have been very good. Thanks in large part to one very substantial Switchables night light order, I just earned my biggest paycheck so far this year – a bit over $3 per hour, based on a 40-hour week…in fact, since I only worked half-time last week, my real hourly rate approached minimum wage! Truly, the big bucks are within reach.

So far this year, shipping and handling fee collections have exceeded actual shipping expenses by about 5%. Therefore I took the bold step of cutting my handling fee by 5 cents per order. Customers won’t notice that, but it’s a symbolic move for me. Someday, when my volume grows sufficient to cover a structural postage deficit (or when I qualify for volume shipping discounts), I will drop the handling fee entirely. For now, it’s easy to justify: The $160 that I spent on boxes, mailers, and packing tape yesterday wiped out my postage surplus.

Coming Attractions:

  • Running with the Big Dogs
  • The Zombie Store
  • Legal Extortion

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