Thatch Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle
Rip Van Winkle
Ill. by N.C. Wyeth, Public Domain

My, it’s been quite a while since the last update here, hasn’t it?

Rest assured, I am still alive and kicking. Just renewed my LLC for another year, and I’m hard at work. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been doing and what I’m working on today.

Started a part-time job doing electrical engineering to supplement the income from Thatch Mound. Unfortunately the job quickly turned into a basically full-time job, and sucked away all the time I had to work on The Naked Loon and some of my other unreleased projects. On the plus side, I earned more money in 2009 than any other year of my life to date.

I left the electrical engineering gig in March, and have been spending most of my time since working on a new project that I’m really excited about.

Here’s the current status of my various projects:

  • Seattle Bubble – Active and updated daily.
  • Sound Housing Quarterly – Active, new issues published quarterly.
  • The Naked Loon – In hibernation. I really hope to bring it back.
  • Priced Out Forever – In hibernation.
  • “Project PicSmack” – New! Fun! Exciting! Currently in private beta test!
  • “Project Sahara” – On the back burner for an indefinite period of time.
  • “Project Pubblefish” – Dead and gone, never to be released.
  • “Project Madison” – Mostly dead. Probably not coming back.

There will certainly be more details to come on the mysterious new “Project PicSmack.” For now I’ll just say that it’s an idea I had about nine months ago that I think has some big potential. Hopefully I’ll have a big launch announcement to make here in a month or two.

That’s all for now. I’ll be doing my best to begin updating this blog again at least once a week. We’ll see how that goes.

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Economic Downturn = Opportunity

Here’s another article on the subject of starting a business during an economic downturn: Entrepreneurs see upside in downturn

The faltering economy, tanking retail sales and a real estate market rife with foreclosures didn’t keep Ritsuko Miyazaki from launching a ceramic art store.

“I know some people would think now is not a good time. But you never know. Tomorrow may get even worse, and this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said Ms. Miyazaki, owner of Clay Mix in Fresno. “So why not now?”

Experts generally agree. Despite a tough economic climate, starting a business now has advantages for entrepreneurs with solid business plans and adequate financing.

“These tough times really force people to practice good business behaviours,” said Melissa Chang, founder of Massachusetts-based Pure Incubation, a business consulting firm. “It helps you persevere and understand that difficult times happen.”

There’s nothing particularly new in this article that I haven’t covered in past posts, it’s just nice to see another bit of press affirming that startup businesses can be successful in a period of economic turmoil.

In related news, this month’s revenue picture is shaping up to be even better than the last. It would seem that my motivation and performance in the business lately has been inversely proportionate to the shape of the economy.

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October 2008: Revenue Check

All right, time for some more good news—October finances. Things really picked up in October, with the establishment of some more reliable income streams on the advertising side, and the introduction of the first direct sales source in the quarterly newsletter.

Here’s the chart of total revenue versus goals:

Estimated vs. Actual Monthly Income

Thanks to August and September’s dismal performance, we’re currently way behind where we had hoped to be goal-wise. However, October was the best month yet, and as I stated earlier, much of October’s revenue came from the establishment of some long-term deals that will continue to bring in good money every month.

Here’s the breakdown of where the money came from:

Revenue Sources: October 2008

I have simplified the breakdown chart to show just the basic categories of revenue: direct ad sales, advertising programs (such as Google AdSense or Microsoft AdCenter), sales / donations (Sound Housing Quarterly subscriptions will go here), and contract work (which there was none of in October).

I’m pretty pleased with last month’s mix. The biggest room for improvement is on the sales slice of the pie, which we hope to grow as subscriptions to the Quarterly begin to come in more regularly. Promoting that will actually be one of the biggest goals in the coming month.

So while August and September were lousy, October brought new hope to the prospect of continuing on the path of self-employment. Things are looking up, which is a great motivation to work all the harder and push them even further toward the success I desire.

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New Project Launch: Sound Housing Quarterly

One of the good news items that I have for you this week is the release of Sound Housing Quarterly, as announced on Seattle Bubble last Friday.

With this new quarterly report I am taking the experience and insights that I have learned from Seattle Bubble and packaging them into a more user-friendly, compact format than the Seattle Bubble daily news format.

Sound Housing Quarterly marks Thatch Mound’s first foray into direct consumer sales, a new source of revenue for the company. I expect it to take a while to get rolling, but since the only comparable report in the area—The Central Puget Sound Real Estate Research Report—costs twice as much and publishes half as often, I think there’s a lot of good potential for building a subscriber base here.

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Months 7 & 8 Revenue Check

I’m going to keep this short, for two reasons. One, it’s way overdue and outdated. Two, it’s all bad news, and I’ve got lots of good news to share later this week, so let’s not dwell on the negative.

First up, let’s take a look at the total revenue versus goals:

Estimated vs. Actual Monthly Income

There are no two ways about it, August and September were really lousy months in the money-making department. The root of the problem is that despite my big plans, I really didn’t take the initiative and get things rolling to the degree that I should have.

Fortunately, this month has been far different, but I’m saving that for another post.

Here’s the breakdown of where the (small amount of) money came from in August and September:

Revenue Sources: August 2008

Revenue Sources: September 2008

The big increase in the purple “Direct Ads” chunk was a nice addition in September of another regular monthly advertiser. Other than that, there weren’t many bright spots in these months.

Thankfully, there is lots of good news on the horizon.

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