Creating a physical planner seems like it would be an easier process than it was.
At least easier than I thought it would be.
You would think that print-on-demand for a planner would be a super straight-forward easy process, but that’s not the case.
Well, let me correct that. It’s not a straight-forward profitable process.
I’ll get into the details of each piece of the process, but let’s back and up look at why we chose to create a physical planner, specifically for something digital (online content creation and marketing).
Why A Physical Planner for Content Marketing
As much as I love all things digital, I have never stopped being a pen & paper person. I’ve tried plenty of to-do apps, online programs, you name it… but I always come back to pen and paper. I use an app for creating my daily to-do list and we use a project management app for this brand, but when it comes to planning and creating, physically writing things down helps me remember them and process them as I’m writing.
I even prefer handwriting my grocery list, mainly because when I put it on my phone, I forget to go back to it because I’m usually listening to podcasts while I shop so never think to look back at my list. The benefit is that even if I forget to look at my physical list I’ve already written it down and am much more likely to remember what I wrote.
I know Jodi is the same way (and has a ton of experience with physical printing, whereas I don’t have any). After 25 years in business as a graphic designer, she still uses a paper notebook in her business.
In the last year, I found myself physically mapping out what I was doing in my business (and for what it’s worth, I’ve never been much of a mind-mapper, but have found a tool that I’ve fallen in love with specifically for creating content, but more on that later). This all started when I got back into painting and drawing as a hobby. As a child, I would spend hours drawing and creating in my room without a care in the world. I took art classes in high school and college and was even a graphic design major for a while, but always doubted if I was ‘good enough’, so went a different direction (thankfully Jodi trusted her talent and stayed the course).
I started doing watercolor paintings (first attempt at this, mainly because I don’t think I had the patience when I was younger) and got back into lettering and drawing as well.
Then in a casual conversation with my aunt one afternoon she mentions this thing called The Bullet Journal.
I had noticed that there seemed to be a lot more journals becoming popular but for whatever reason, none of them really grabbed me or got me excited. The systems behind using The Bullet Journal fascinated me.
Until it didn’t.
I tend to go into massive resistance when I have to do things a certain way. The Bullet Journal is brilliant but way too structured for me. However, I fell in love with the dot grid pages, quality of paper, and fell down a massive rabbit hole when I realized there was this entire sub-culture of bullet journal enthusiasts!
People with YouTube channels of 1 million subscribers, massive followings, monthly and weekly spread videos.
It was like gifting that little kid who loved to draw permission to play again.
The fun part about discovering this ‘sub-culture’ is that I let it evolve organically. At the time, I just had fun. I started paying more attention to this space, was journaling more, was getting back into using fun pens (as opposed to just a ballpoint pen to write), and kept doing what I was doing (at the time I was working on a software product that is now defunct, but was continuing to build a community for Content Creators).
Initially, I thought I would leave the planner idea until 2019, but life has a funny way of putting things in front of you when the time is right.
Jodi and I have talked about how we decided to do this and how it came about a handful of times, but the long and short of it is that we had a conversation in August of 2018 while she was away on a cruise and by December of 2018 we had launched the Kickstarter (I’ve done an entire post and podcast on that process, you can listen to ‘When a Failed Kickstarter Leads to A Successful Product’ here). As quickly as this was accomplished, there was a lot involved.
The Steps to Creating A Physical Planner
In no way am I saying this was an easy undertaking, but with our combined experience and time online it was much more manageable than for someone who was new to this space or without the resources (skills, audience, knowledge).
Obviously, the first step in creating the physical planner was to design it.
I started with some initial sketches (I drew some of the pages out by hand) sent them to Jodi and she jumped into Adobe In-Design.
After multiple Zoom calls, screen sharing, notes, and social proof (poor Jodi, the second I got back a new layout I shared it in the Facebook group because I was beyond giddy), we had a working PDF that we could move forward with.
I’m going to break down the steps into 7 major areas:
- Designing the planner
- Creating the brand
- Building the website
- Launching the Kickstarter
- Printing & fulfillment
- Business Structure
I’m going to list some bullets below each of the 7 major areas to give you an idea of what’s involved, but for the sake of keeping this consumable and not a tome, I won’t go into too much detail on each. It’s simply to give you an idea as to what has been involved.
Designing the planner
- Initial concept
- Process flow of concept /pages
- Actual design
- Copy for pages
Creating the brand
- Brand concept (that will support additional products)
- Brand design
- Brand story (a work in progress)
- Our market /audience
Building the website
- Handing this off to someone else (DavinderKingh Sainth of iGuiding Creative is the genius behind the site)
- Site structure (what pages)
- Copy (always the hardest part)
Launching the Kickstarter
- Setting up the Kickstarter
- Creating the Kickstarter video (currently on the homepage of this site)
- Creating all the rewards, graphics, and copy
- Launching and marketing the Kickstarter
Printing & fulfillment
- Deciding: printing vs. publishing
- Sourcing a printer (we looked at multiple options for this: print broker, overseas, publishing companies, etc.)
- Print quantities (the more you print the more cost-effective it is)
- Shipping and fulfillment (we’ll be working on finding other ways to fulfill in UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand later in the year)
- Different print versions (paper, covers, binding, etc.)
- Kickstarter marketing
- Post-Kickstarter marketing
- Content and graphics
- Planning our content (with the planner of course)
- Beginning to publish
- The business entity (we both have our own businesses and this is its own stand-alone structure)
- Business filings
- Bank account
- Resellers license
- Partnership agreement
- Accounting/bookkeeping (we’re not managing this ourselves)
As you can see, each of those major areas could be a post in and of itself, but since we’re not here to give you general business advice, we’re going to leave that for now.
The most important take away from this entire process (which has been invaluable and I’m glad we did things the way we did them), was that we now have an amazing product. We’ve received massive market validation that this is something people want, now we just need to get it in front of as many people as possible.
We’ve already got plans for supporting products, but we’re keeping those on lockdown and won’t be touching them until we’ve got the initial print-run done and our first set of pre-sale orders have been fulfilled.
The only other thing we’re focusing on right now is to get the customer member area up (we’ll have free training and will continually be adding to the customer member area) and our master class delivered (this was one of the rewards we offered for the Kickstarter and then the pre-sale orders).
I think we’ve got a good year of getting this running like a well-oiled machine: printing & fulfillment is on auto-pilot, marketing is scaling, content is being published, and we have a handful of supporting products (more on that later).
Either way, we’re thrilled we took the leap and created this physical planner. We’re committed to getting people out of their own way when it comes to creating successful content marketing plans that drive traffic and sales.