Jump to content

 
Photo

Selling maps.


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1
Jacques Gélinas

Jacques Gélinas

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 103 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gatineau (Québec)
  • Canada

John Grisham said in the preface of one his latest books (Ford County).
... I discovered that selling books was much harder then writing them...

Same holds true for selling maps.

Since I published my first map, I have been working on selling it. A lot of work but also a LOT of fun.

I though I would share a few pictures of my first appearance at a small market (just one of my many marketing ideas).

Sales where good, interest high. I take a lot of pride in seeing people browsing at my map.

As for making a living at being a self publisher of maps, that won't happen for a while :) .

I know there a few map publishers lurking around this site.
Any first 'steps' in the publishing world you would like to share?

Attached Files


Jacques Gélinas
cartographer
www.cartesgeo.ca


#2
David Medeiros

David Medeiros

    Hall of Fame

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,046 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Redwood City CA
  • Interests:Cartography, wood working, wooden boats, fishing, camping, overland travel, exploring.
  • United States

Very cool, and a bold move to go straight for self publishing. I've tried the same route twice before and had limited (read 'no') success ; ) But I didn't print first, I tried to find places that would stock the prints and there were no takers.

Although I have a lot of ideas for publication maps (usually recreation focused) its very difficult to make the economics and risk of self publishing work. That's why I'm so excited about the Avenza PDF Maps store for their PDF Maps app. Looks like a great way to connect the solo cartographer with their market with much less financial risk in terms of printing product.

GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.

 

www.mapbliss.com

 


#3
Jacques Gélinas

Jacques Gélinas

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 103 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gatineau (Québec)
  • Canada

Thanks David,

It took a while to take the jump into self publishing. I have been in the business for over 25 and ran a small service oriented GIS-Mapping shop for the last 15 until I made the move last year (at age 50 :) ). Like you I pondered with numerous ideas over the years and I never came up with the guts to really try it out full time. It is a big risk. Although I think it will take a few years before it 'might' pay off I really enjoy it. For one I don't miss the 'service industry' one bit.

I think Avenza's map app and map store is nice, and as you say low in risks in terms of investments beside your time. I will be considering it in the future. The only personal rebuttal I have with the app is that it is only in English (no localized version). I made that point a while back but I don't think Avenza has any plans in providing it in various languages.

King regards and looking forward to see your first self publication,

Jacques Gélinas
cartographer
www.cartesgeo.ca


#4
Adam Wilbert

Adam Wilbert

    Legendary Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 271 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bellingham, WA, USA
  • United States

My first step was a lot like yours. Set up a tent at a local street festival. Had enough sales to break even on the deal with the canopy rental and the space rental fee and what not. But what I learned from the whole thing was invaluable. Talking to potential customers, selling your product. Its a lot different than sitting in front of the computer!

Attached File  CIMG2129.jpg   93.99KB   107 downloads

Adam Wilbert
CartoGaia.com & AdamWilbert.com
Lynda.com author of "Up and Running with ArcGIS"


#5
Jacques Gélinas

Jacques Gélinas

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 103 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gatineau (Québec)
  • Canada

Adam,

Really nice set up. I like you banner. Reflects your professionalism.

Thanks for sharing.

Jacques Gélinas
cartographer
www.cartesgeo.ca


#6
Jean-Louis

Jean-Louis

    Ultimate Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 545 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Montreal Quebec
  • Interests:In the vast ocean of my ignorance, I have a few bubbles of interests
  • Canada

Ahhh yes, It is a whole different experience to actually get in physical contact with people buying your maps. --much different from sitting in front of the computer as Adam said.
It takes you out of your comfort zone and does not make you much money but it does provide a temporary respite to the subtle and unrelenting degradation that the digital world is having on all our lives.
Jean-Louis Rheault
Montreal


#7
Derek Tonn

Derek Tonn

    Legendary Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 452 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Springfield, Minnesota, USA
  • United States

John Grisham said in the preface of one his latest books (Ford County).
... I discovered that selling books was much harder then writing them...

Same holds true for selling maps.


It's such a funny thing (the word "funny" being used loosely, in this context). People with a particular skill looking at sales and marketing (and the people who do it) as almost a necessary "evil" ...with sales people often treating the talent (map illustrators, in this particular instance) as "the help." A means to a financial end.

The truth is that illustrating maps and effectively selling our products and services are both arts in their own right. And if we're really good at one, but not good at the other (or at least not wise enough to admit our limitations and find/hire people to do the "really good" that we aren't as good at on our behalf), we'll always underwhelm when it comes to financial compensation.

The biggest disservice people in my undergraduate graphic design program were taught (which I sense is very similar related to cartography in the classroom) is the concept of "if you build it (well), they (sales) will come." While developing great maps/illustrations definitely gives you much better odds of success, it doesn't mean much (financially) if folks have little/no idea how to package/brand and sell it.

So how this ties into the topic at-hand?!

1. Is the product being developed actually meeting a demand that exists in the marketplace? Not whether some people will think it is WAY COOL and want a copy for their wall/office! That will always be true. But rather, whether enough people are willing to plunk-down their money to buy a copy...and whether you are able to charge enough per-copy to make your net ROI worth the effort. If I had $1 for every time someone approached me with their "$1 million idea" (usually creating a map of their community, from which they envision selling ads to pay for the design costs, printing costs, etc.) who hadn't bothered to even craft a business/marketing plan or research competing products/alternatives, I'd be retired by now.

2. Getting the most bang for your marketing buck. Tracking the revenues and expenses tied to particular sales activities. It's not the news people want, but the net ROI of sitting behind a table/booth and selling maps isn't even 1/10 as profitable as investing that time/$$$ into a strong web presence. A great social networking presence (Facebook, blogs, ???). I agree 100000% with Jean-Louis that it's something that needs to be done from time to time to "disconnect" from cyberspace and remember what a handshake and a face-to-face conversation feels like! :) However, that said, you won't make nearly the per-hour ROI for your investment doing those types of things vs. having a really good/smart business plan and electronic marketing initiatives.

3. Re-Read #1. :) I would love nothing more than to hire one of our talented team members to produce an absolutely stunning, award-winning map illustration of our local community! Only one TINY problem: We're a town of 2,200 people (and aging/shrinking), and what I would need to charge residents, business owners, and former residents per-map to have a beautiful illustration hanging in their living room or office (just to break even on what I'd have to pay for the illustration and printing) would have them choosing between the illustration or buying groceries this week. Unless I'm writing off thousands in losses...which makes complete business sense?! Or not.

I wish I was wealthy enough to just draw whatever I wanted to draw (or hire people far more talented then I am to draw it for me). But until that day comes, probably around 3350 A.D. (lol), we've got to produce what we know can/will sell. And that means either contract work (being paid X to deliver Y for a particular project/client), or having someone immensely talented/experienced (like Jean-Louis) coaching/guiding us on how to SELL it. Drawing it?! We've got at least 5-6 people in our shop who can do it. Selling it? We've got one...and maybe a second person (me) if Jean-Louis is willing to be my Sensei on all-things ad-mapping. :P

Do they teach any sales/marketing concepts in Cartography programs out there...or is it "if you build it, they will come?" Which is about the equivalent to the business plan employed by the Underpants Gnomes in the TV Show South Park:

Posted Image

1. Collect Underpants.
2. ??????
3. BIG profits!

Of course, those gnomes are then innocently asked "what's step 2?" And they have no idea. As is the case with most people who want to produce and sell a product/service...but don't use due-diligence to actually figure out if they've got enough of a market and potential sources of revenue to off-set all of the development time, printing costs, sales/advertising costs, taxes, misc. overhead costs, et al.

I'll be quiet now...I promise! I could talk marketing all day/night though...I love it.
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#8
Jacques Gélinas

Jacques Gélinas

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 103 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gatineau (Québec)
  • Canada

Jean-Louis, yes selling your own maps to REAL people is most pleasant as it takes you away from the digital 'isolation'.

As for Derek your insight on Marketing is always interesting to read. :) Thank you for sharing

Although I personally think that when it comes to selling products (maps) one should also consider Steve Jobs approach: create something nobody actually knows they will want. I also think not all things need to be 100% planned, 'just do it' on your own time and take it one step at time afterward. Sure you need to plan it out somewhat and it is not easy making money selling what you create but you don't always need to invest a lot in terms of financial capital.


as for this topic,
Any first 'steps' in the map publishing world you would like to share. Fun anecdotes welcome, ideas etc...

Regards,

Jacques Gélinas
cartographer
www.cartesgeo.ca


#9
Derek Tonn

Derek Tonn

    Legendary Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 452 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Springfield, Minnesota, USA
  • United States

Although I personally think that when it comes to selling products (maps) one should also consider Steve Jobs approach: create something nobody actually knows they will want. I also think not all things need to be 100% planned, 'just do it' on your own time and take it one step at time afterward. Sure you need to plan it out somewhat and it is not easy making money selling what you create but you don't always need to invest a lot in terms of financial capital.


Folks do realize, however, the obvious GIANT difference between where most of us are at in our lives/careers and where Steve Jobs is at...right?!

Jobs can afford to lose $100K here, $500K there if he decides to have Apple launch a full-line of iToasters and iBlenders (although with Apple practically being a religion with a cult following, I'm sure Mac fanatics would be lined-up around the corner to buy whatever Apple is selling...regardless of price). Most of us, however, can't afford to have a net-negative of even a few thousand...or even "only" break-even on our time/costs. We need that money to eat and pay the rent/mortgage...where Jobs could throw $100 bills out the window of his car on his drive to/from the office and not miss a beat. :)

That said, life would be impossibly boring without a little spontaneity and taking chances! Most of us gamble with our discretionary time because that's what we think/know we can afford...even though time is the absolute most-valuable asset we've got. It's when we need to rely upon that gamble turning a profit, however, that we can get ourselves into deep trouble.

I've made 2-3 absolutely awful business decisions over the past 11 years...costing myself and our company something in the neighborhood of around $40,000 in losses as a result of said decisions. However, it was lessons I needed to learn in order to get us on the path that we're on now. That $40,000 would sure be nice though...a little "retirement money," maybe an actual vacation for the first time in about 4-5 years, etc. Take some chances and follow your heart related to map products/services. Just don't risk your financial/mental health in the process... :)
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#10
Jacques Gélinas

Jacques Gélinas

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 103 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gatineau (Québec)
  • Canada

Thanks Derek for your insight on your first attempt at selling maps etc.

Regards,

Jacques Gélinas
cartographer
www.cartesgeo.ca


#11
ProMapper

ProMapper

    Master Contributor

  • Validated Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 216 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:India
  • Interests:promapper@gmail.com
  • India

Take some chances and follow your heart related to map products/services. Just don't risk your financial/mental health in the process... :)

How true.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

-->