Journal Making: To Sell Or Not To Sell?


Image representing Etsy as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Firstly, take a look at these INCREDIBLE handmade journals on Etsy.


A number of friends have asked if I am going to sell my journals or if I will turn it into a serious business adventure and sell them regularly. I am very on the fence about selling them for a number of reasons. The main one is the competition and being handmade and my first time, I have yet to learn a good way of trimming and the finer points of book binding plus, my art is not only not very popular and an acquired taste in most cases. I’m not very design savy or up to date with what’s hot and what’s not as far as designs and cover art goes. I am more artwork orientated rather than design and knowing how to place things.

If I were to consider it I would use Etsy over ebay. The listing costs a fraction of that of ebay and I feel much safer there as both a seller and a buyer. So many on there are so professional in every aspect as well as kind. The overall environment is very friendly and user friendly. And there really are the best of the best handmade items on Etsy and their alchemy feature, wow, just wow. I love the alchemy feature where you can ask for something custom made. I use to use my etsy to sell prints and paintings and other things I’ve made like bookmarks when I was into making things. But it’s hard. It’s very, very, very hard to sell anywhere and to get a client base which usually starts with people you know. And it takes a lot of commitment. You have to do a lot of advertising. This isn’t a bad thing, many have made a great living from it. But you have to see why I am put off from selling my journals.

I don’t have that kind of time to put into advertising and I don’t know lots of people and I don’t have much family, and getting my name out there to people has proven to be near impossible over the years which is very disheartening to anyone that might consider selling anything, and I especially don’t have the money to do it. But if I were to consider it, I would offer the alchemy option because we all like different types of journals with different grades of paper and finding the right one for you is almost impossible! I personally hate to go journal shopping. I love journals a lot, don’t get me wrong there. I’ve found two in my life, and I spent $25 on both and they are so good I am scared to write in them because of the fear of running out of pages and loosing that joy to write and have to attempt to find another like it. So I made some for myself. But some people have taken a liking to them and want the one they saw. I would hate to deny them so if they ask of course I would make it and send them one.

The types of journals I want and like don’t even exist where I live and if they did they’d be expensive. I’m even considering putting together my own art journals now. I liked the books I use to get in primary school where one page was lined the other was blank and so on and so forth. I love super thick pages in my art books because I never know when I will suddenly decide to use my watercolours on it or break out the calligraphy kit and start inking traditionally. I’m very spontaneous as a writer and even worse as an artist. I’ve been dead asleep before and leapt out of bed to write. I have a book next to me while I sleep just in case I should ever have the need to do that again but I always seem to have the wrong book available which is why I like the convenience of the one lined one blank system.

I also like to make books to handwrite manuscripts and storyboarding. I prefer to keep mine together and have it tabbed. I’ve tried others ways and the amount of fraying that happened was beyond a joke. I told a few people this and they said I should sell those but it’s simply not that easy or simple. I’ve found the 90% of the time, most people buy journals from the design a lone or the design is the main focus. I’m guilty of this myself and later I regret it because the paper is usually so very poor in quality. I’ve since then learned to feel the paper and I actually know what kinds of texture to go for and even just from feeling the thickness I can tell if it’s right for me or not.

Another factor that I thought of when making these journals and whether or not to sell them was pens. I LOVE to write in felt tipped pens and draw with them. I prefer real ink pens as opposed to biro ink or gels. I HATE gel pens with a passion because of the number of times I swore it was dry but it smeared across the page. I am so fussy about having a clean page that this really grates on my nerves. I thought about the possibilities in making a journal with thick yet absorbent paper. What stopped me? The cost of said paper. Funnily enough I found a bundle of card stock that I forgot about and I made a journal from that and it suits me perfectly. It’s thick, good to go over with watercolours and easy to print on if I want lines. Cover art prints out ok. Not amazingly as the digital version but still pretty good. And then that tiny negative voice speaks up and plants seeds of doubt everywhere. It’s that doubt that holds me back from selling or giving it a go. So this is where I stand. I have ideas but am to frightened to take the step and take a chance.

I even had an idea for a watercolour diary/journal unlike others. For documenting purposes and learning or remembering techniques. I’d make it landscape sized, half of it on the one page would have boxes and space to write and the other blank. The boxes for colours you definitely want to use again and space to write down what you did to get that colour and extra space for annotations. But the question of whether or not others would find it as useful, still remains. This is the question that always holds me back from selling anything.

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