I get a surprising amount of traffic on Dogs of SF: I have at least a few hundred regular (between daily and weekly) followers, and I also get a surprising amount of traffic off of Google web searches for people looking for pictures of given breeds and breed mixes. (Unique visitors per day are generally between 100 and 200, and sometimes spike as high as 1500 or so.) It’s quite gratifying… I guess I wouldn’t be surprising anyone by saying that I enjoy (and therefore greatly appreciate) the attention.
But, well, I’m paying for the hosting, and I’m spending a lot of time and energy on the blog. I enjoy it, so this isn’t much of an issue, but I’ve been thinking lately of ways I might be able to make it pay for itself, or even make me a little money, while at the same time not being obnoxious to my audience.
Basically, what I wanted to do is find a way to make a little money, while adding value to the site for my regulars rather than annoying them. This meant that the normal way to monetize a web site (google ads, or a similar ad service) was totally out of the question. So I hit upon the idea of commissioning some Dogs of SF t-shirt designs from friends of mine. (I have a lot of friends who are excellent professional or semi-professional artists.)
I have set up a store on ‘Skreened’, an online t-shirt (and other apparel) company who bills themselves as the ethical and socially responsible alternative to Cafe Press. Over the next few months, as the designs I have commissioned trickle in, I will be adding them to the store. To start us off, though, I have two designs: first, a t-shirt and a tote bag based on the Dogs of SF logo, created by Patricia Ross:
I’ll probably making some more products and offering them for sale, possibly including other things besides apparel . If anyone has any suggestions for things they’d like to see me offer my designs on, from Skreened or RedBubble (which makes things like stickers, note cards, art prints, etc), please let me know. And if anyone has an idea for a design, let me know what the idea is, too, and if I like it and am able to make the design, I will probably* send you a free item of your choice (t-shirt, tote bag, set of stickers, whatever) with that design on it.. If you go so far as to make your own design, and I like it enough to offer it, then we can talk about other terms.
(* Probably: this is not a contract. I don’t want to promise to send someone a copy of a design they suggest, because there’s a chance that five people will end up suggesting the same thing and then get annoyed when don’t deliver, or someone will suggest a design I am already working on, or something like that. I don’t want this to end up costing me money rather than making money.)
Expect more designs, both by me and by actual artists with real talent, in the next few months. If I actually start selling a decent amount of this stuff, I might even consider doing a run of the more popular shirts myself, so I can offer them less expensively than Skreened does.
I am also considering printing up some 2013 calendars, and possibly bumper stickers or other stuff like that, and seeing if I can get some local stores interested. And finally, I am thinking about offering stretched canvas prints of the photos, either for the dog’s owner or for people who just like a given picture. These would be printed by a local Bay Area print shop (in the case of the calendars etc) or by a local San Francisco specialist in art printing that I’ve worked with before (for the stretched canvas prints.)
Comments? Thoughts? Concerns?