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.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Long Live the King
Cash is king and debt is the kingslayer. I can't do anything until my MasterCard's appetite has been sated with $5,000. I ought to be able to whittle that down now that the government and my accountant have been paid.
"Ought to" isn't "can." American Express is offering a 0% APR on new purchases through the end of the year...but "new purchases" doesn't include balance transfers, so first I had to pay my previous balance down to zero, which I just did on Wednesday. Now I can hypothetically steer all of my income to MasterCard while letting new debt accumulate on the Amex.
Thing is, everyone else in the world serves the same king that I do and wants a piece of my cash flow. Two weeks ago The UPS Store got its annual $160 rent payment (down from $200, thanks to my AARP discount). Then one of those pseudo-government phishing scams reminded me that my Curio City trademark is going to expire. It's unclear whether I need to come up with $400 this year or next (or I could let the scammer handle it for a cool $900). I can't afford to enforce my service mark against various squatters who are infringing on it, but I do need to keep the legal high ground just in case a retailer ever tries to horn in. Upgrading my laptop to Windows 10 broke the print function in QuickBooks Pro 2009 so it can no longer save and email PDF forms -- a function that I don't use often, but one that I really need when I do need it. After multiple repair efforts failed it looks like I'm going to have to cough up $200-300 for the latest desktop version of QuickBooks...and I'm going to need it before I start mailing out Christmas purchase orders. (Intuit would like me to pay $24 per month indefinitely for their online version. Years of bloating QuickBooks with unwanted features and trying to squeeze upgrades and support payments from their customers have made Intuit one of the more reviled companies out there; I need their program but would rather not ever buy it again. It's a safe bet that the newest version will be overcomplicated and run poorly.)
It's always something. MasterCard is at the front of the payment line, but it's going to be July or August before I retire my Christmas debt.
Let us observe a moment of silence for two retired categories: I moved the last few stragglers in Home Decor and Clocks & Watches to Odds & Ends. Home Decor was big in Curio City's early days, when "nice things" were a loose product category; Clocks was huge when DayClocks were my #1 bestseller. DayClocks still exist, but discounters ultimately ruined them for Curio City. I miss them and haven't ruled out giving them a second wind someday, if I can be confident that I won't be undersold.
Last week's Metal Earth newsletter flopped even worse than the previous week's Switchables newsletter: 383 sent, 85 opened, a whopping six clicks, and of course no conversions. 68% of those emails were opened on mobile devices, which are next to worthless when it comes to selling stuff. I should purge most of the 295 did-not-open addresses, export my mailing list, and close the Constant Contact account. Shutting it down will be hard after producing 82 newsletters in 11 years, but I'm probably the only person who will notice their demise. I can always open a new one if I can ever afford to re-implement the newsletter signup box that Turnkey dropped from Sunshop. Newsletters sent during November and December get some results, but I strongly doubt that they justify the $240+ annual expense. The only thing holding me back is not having any other way to publish coupons. Fewer than 10 of my 218 subscribers ever see my regular Facebook posts so that's a dead horse (these blog posts usually draw 20-30 views).
Some of the didn't-opens are active customers who just weren't interested in the subject line or didn't feel like shopping just now. The system uses an invisible 1-pixel graphic to track opens, so if you have disabled graphic downloads Constant Contact won't see you. I'd guess that at least 200 of those 298 didn't-opens are really dead addresses...but I'd hate to throw away 98 that potentially aren't.
What do you think? Are you a newsletter subscriber? Would you miss them if they stopped?