Today marks a special day for Lunch Note Sketch. It is the 183rd consecutive day of sketching and posting the sketches online. Why is that significant? Well, I started posting lunch note sketches back in May with the hopes of posting everyday for a year. And since 2016 is a leap year, that means day 183 marks the halfway point.
To celebrate this milestone, I wanted to tell you about the journey and give you some insight into where Lunch Note Sketch (LNS) stands. I also wanted to share some thoughts on this fun little side project that has blossomed into something more. I want to talk about the past 183 days, the current state of LNS, and where we’re headed. I want to share some details in hopes this information will help someone start a side project, build a business, or learn something new.
Before I get into the details, I want to take a minute to thank my wife who has provided tremendous support in this endeavor. Lunch Note Sketch is something I work on after our children go to bed every night and my wife is the person who suffers through it. Without her understanding and commitment LNS would not exist. I’d also like to thank my children who have shown such an interest in the arts. My oldest is really into drawing, painting, and building things. My middle child has shown interest in music, dance, and drama. And my youngest, well, he is only one. So he is into everything as he explores his world. Finally, I also want to thank everyone who has encouraged me, provided feedback, and engaged online throughout this journey.
The Past 183 Days
Lunch Note Sketch started online with the hopes of building a community where parents could share what they do for their children to showcase a little creativity and love. There have been some folks who shared examples of their work on Facebook and it has been fantastic. I hope to continue finding people who are willing to share, but it has definitely proven to be a difficult task thus far. It’s a lot to ask people to share when there is no immediate gratification or incentive. Instagram has seen some people use the #LunchNoteSketch hashtag, but like Facebook it has been inconsistent.
The good news is that the community has steadily grown over the past 183 days on the two social sites I engage the most: Facebook and Instagram. Our Facebook community is over 100 people strong and somewhat actively liking and commenting. Instagram is hovering around 150 followers and gets more engagement than Facebook. The Facebook community is mostly located in the US, while Instagram is much more global. So, thank you to everyone who is following, liking, commenting, and engaging on social media.
An important point to make is that, while the Twitter account is one that I post to, I have not made much of an effort to engage with that community yet. I do have plans to spend more time there, but it has not played a large role to this point and I understand it’s a missed opportunity.
To help grow the community I have utilized a few tactics. The first is paid advertising on Facebook. I have set up and tested 5 campaigns and spent a total of $16.92 (big spender, eh?). For that amount of money I was able to reach 2,877 people and get about 20 post engagements. These campaigns can certainly do better in the future, but they were really just a way to test Facebook advertising and to see if I could narrow LNS’s audience. I am happy with the results and what was ultimately achieved.
The second tactic for building the community is simply talking to people about it. I have talked to about 20 people (not including family) and gotten a lot of good feedback. Most of those people have liked or followed on social media and a few have really engaged. Another outcome is that I have realized I really enjoy talking about the history of LNS, where we hope to take it, and how creativity impacts children. I plan on continuing the conversations with folks in order to draw more interest and I really appreciate the power of face-to-face interactions more than I did in the past.
Finally, I have recently started sharing some sketches with other people. I had a number of sketches printed on square business cards in hopes of selling them as a product and using them as giveaways. These cards have been really well received. I am getting incredibly positive feedback and look forward to exploring the ecommerce angle and running contests.
Lunch Note Sketch Today
As I have already mentioned, our community sits at about 250 users on social media and a handful of people not on social media. I have invested about $1,000 on this side project to date. These costs include the website that is run through Squarespace, Facebook advertising, photoshoot equipment so the website has some photography, professional printing, and small business setup fees.
The professional printing was done so I could test the market. I have heard from folks that they would be interested in putting notes in their child's lunches, but feel they lack the time and/or skill to create something. If there is enough interest I have a lot of ideas on how to get these notes into the hands of people who would enjoy/use them. I was lucky enough to attend a one-day print conference where I had an opportunity to meet some great people who could help. I have already started discussions with different vendors to figure out logistics and costs for some future product ideas. I won’t divulge this information yet, but it is an exciting time for LNS. The idea of selling something online, though, is a little scary, so I also invested in making Lunch Note Sketch an official LLC.
I save a lot of money in the digital aspect of the business because I have many years of experience in web design and development, as well as other digital strategies relating to social media and marketing. I also have a background in photography which is proving helpful in the web and product photoshoots. I imagine my investment would need to grow considerably if I didn’t do a lot this work myself.
The other amazing news is that Lunch Note Sketch is starting to make a name for itself in the local community. I got a request to create a small coloring book for an after school art class at a local elementary school. I am currently in the process of creating it and hope to share more news when it is complete. This coloring book offers a great opportunity to spread the word amongst children AND adults.
The Road Ahead
Thinking about the future of Lunch Note Sketch is really exciting. A lot of work has gone into it to this point and there are so many opportunities to have an impact. Growing and engaging with the community sits at the top of the list. Creating and selling new products, as well as volunteering in the community are also important. I also want to be more active blogging and start email marketing. Beyond those items, though, I want to spend some time on two other things: finding advocates and speaking/presenting on creativity.
In order to grow the community it will be important to get help. My goal is to find advocates who will help by sharing their artwork or talk about LNS with their family, friends, teachers, etc. There are many challenges to overcome, but I think there is tremendous opportunity. I have already been approached by a friend of mine who offered assistance. We will be talking more in the near future and I hope to utilize his expertise and willingness to lend a hand. It will be very important to me to make sure he is engaged and is doing things that make HIM happy to be involved. Just like I started this side project in hopes of learning more about setting up a business, social media marketing, building a community, etc., I want him to learn and try new things that interest him.
I also mentioned that I enjoy talking about Lunch Note Sketch and its history. I hope to find ways to share the story and preach about the importance of creativity in kids’ lives. I will be working to figure out an approach or angle so that I can hopefully one day speak at an appropriate event. I also have ideas on hosting my own events locally to get experience and to spread the word about creativity.
Finally, the future will eventually bring us to day 366. My initial goal was to stop creating a sketch every day at that point, but I’m not sure if that will happen. I am not able to promise the sketch-a-day will continue, but I am certain this project—now business—will live on well beyond day 366. I am excited to see where LNS will be in another 183 days, though.
As Lunch Note Sketch continues to grow I want to keep the initial goal and my highest priority in mind. The list of things to do is getting longer and there are so many new ideas that come to mind, but LNS is about creating notes for my children. The most important aspect of all of this is to continue showing off a little creativity to them. I want to lead by example in hopes they never lose the ability to approach challenges with an open mind and to offer solutions that are extraordinary.
In conclusion, Lunch Note Sketch has been a success in my opinion. If nothing else, I have learned so much. The fact that I am interacting with people from all over the world still amazes me and is truly humbling. I am excited with the community that has formed and the opportunities that lie ahead. So, let’s get creative!