Lunch Note Sketch

State of the Community

Leap: 366 Consecutive Days of Sketches

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Every so often there comes a time when you realize you accomplished something great. Today is one of those days for me—for Lunch Note Sketch. One year ago I set a goal to create at least one sketch a day for an entire leap year. And for 366 consecutive days, I was able to do just that. With the help of my family and friends I was able to dedicate time each and every day to create sketches that my wife and I could add to our kids’ lunches. There has been lots of positive feedback in regards to the sketches and I'm proud to say that the original goal has been accomplished.

 

Oh, The Opportunities

It has been an amazing year. Not just because the sketch-a-day goal has been reached, but because of the opportunities that have been created. The first big opportunity occurred when I was able to attend the Dad 2.0 Summit in Washington, D.C. Back in February, I spent three days surrounded by the most loving, creative group of (mostly) fathers. This summit was about finding inspiration so these gentlemen could continue being great dads, and also continue building their online dad brands/businesses. I went for the sole purpose of learning from people who took their online presence to the next level. I walked away with lots of inspiration and amazing memories. I learned new ways of thinking, but most importantly made some lifelong friendships.

 Showing off her artwork.

Showing off her artwork.

Another great opportunity occurred more recently when I was able to volunteer at the local elementary school’s art show. It was the first show of its kind in the area and I was honored to be able to speak to children about Lunch Note Sketch. I spoke about the benefits of practicing your art form despite wanting to sometimes give up. I was also able to hold a couple of how-to sessions so the children could create their own lunch notes to share with their families and friends. The best part of the day was the “thank yous” I received from the children. I also had one 5th grader create 6 notes that she wanted to take home and give to her parents and siblings. It was a truly memorable experience.

Finally, in the past few months, I have also had the honor of working with people who volunteered their time to support Lunch Note Sketch. All four of these contributors came to me and asked to submit either artwork or a blog post. I felt very blessed to have Dominic share his beautiful sketches for 8 weeks, and to have Keary, Michelle, and Sadai write inspiring stories to share on the blog for Autism Awareness Month. Each one of these contributors brought with them amazing talent and their own spin on what it means to be creative. I hope to work with each one of them again in the future.

 

Appreciated Around The World

 "Play golf" posted on Masters Sunday was one of the most popular sketches.

"Play golf" posted on Masters Sunday was one of the most popular sketches.

For the last 366 days, I have seen the Lunch Note Sketch audience steadily grow. The LNS sketches have been seen and liked by people in over a dozen countries, and the community sits right around 530 people in the various social media channels. This may be a small audience to some, but I can’t stress enough how grand it really is because it is an audience that was built by you. Not a lot of money has been spent on advertising (roughly $30 for the year), so 99% of the community was built organically. I appreciate every single one of the people who take the time to like, share, or comment on the sketches.

As stated in the mid-year post back in November, the demographic breakdown is still about the same. The Facebook community is completely U.S. based, while the Instagram audience is mostly international. Facebook reaches mostly women, specifically moms and grandmothers, while Instagram reaches mostly parents and is about a 50/50 split when it comes to gender. Another difference between the two audiences is that Instagram is heavily weighted toward the art community.

 

Thank You

What is an accomplishment without recognizing the people who made it all possible? First and foremost, I have to thank my wife who has put up with my late nights and continuous sketching. She has been a constant source of inspiration. I also want to thank each one of my three children. The highest priority for Lunch Note Sketch was to always create sketches for my kids. They have inspired me in so many ways and I hope they know that these sketches come from a place of love. I recently shared a quick conversation I had with my 5-year old about getting to day 366, and I want to share it again here:

5-year old: "A whole year?"
Me: "A leap year. It has almost been 366 days in a row."
5-year old: "That's a lot."
Me: "It sure is."
5-year old: *Big smile* "I like them."
Me: "Oh yeah? Why do you like them?"
5-year old: "Because YOU made them for me."

If there was any question whether adding a little note to someone's lunch is worth it or not, well, I have my answer. Every single sketch, every single day, was TOTALLY worth the effort. As a 5-year old, I imagine this will be one of her earliest memories. Since Lunch Note Sketch was really started in order to keep her interested in the arts during a very difficult time in her life, it gives me goosebumps thinking that she has worked through all the pain and turmoil and still takes the time to appreciate the effort.

I also want to thank my extended family because they have really helped propel Lunch Note Sketch by sharing and commenting on Facebook. Lastly, I want to say thank you to every single person who has supported Lunch Note Sketch either by contributing, asking questions, saying nice things, or interacting in person or on social media. Without you, the sketches—and their messages—wouldn’t be reaching people who need a creative pick-me-up.

 

Where Do We Go From Here

I have had a lot of people ask me what happens when I reach day 366. After a lot of thought, I have decided to continue sketching. I keep going back to my highest priority, and that is to create something for my children so they get to see a little creativity in their lives. You will most likely continue seeing a sketch every weekday, but weekends might be focused on other areas of opportunity for Lunch Note Sketch. I’d like to spend a little more time writing about creativity and parenthood. So please check the blog every so often for more posts.

Presenting at the art show gave me a chance to see how people (kids) react to lunch note tutorials. With that said, I want to introduce the first Lunch Note Sketch video tutorial. Please take a look and send me your feedback and suggestions for what kinds of lunch notes you’d like to see done. I am hoping that both kids and parents will learn how to create their own notes to share so the creativity can be passed on.

Thanks so much for your support. Now, let’s get creative!

Reaching A Milestone

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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.

 This week's Facebook stats compared to last week's. For instance, this week LNS had 2 new page likes compared to 4 from last week.

This week's Facebook stats compared to last week's. For instance, this week LNS had 2 new page likes compared to 4 from last week.

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.

 Two of the sketches that were professionally printed.

Two of the sketches that were professionally printed.

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.


Final Thoughts

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!