Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thinking Big When You Can Only Afford Small

I haven't been printing labels since I ran out in February. I haven't had the chance to get to Staples to buy another package or two, and since my rift with the monsters at home, the printer and the home pc it's attached to has been sort of off-limits in an unspoken way. There are places like Kinkos where I can pay to print. I just wonder if it ends up costing me a lot more in the long run to do things like that.

I asked the person who does my graphics to tweak my label for me. It's hard asking a business favor from someone who isn't charging you. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of person who can keep tweaking the hell out of something over and over and over. Politeness and embarrassment won out, and after two requests for a couple of changes, I accepted the favor rather gratefully and assured myself that sometimes it's best to leave certain things to the experts.

With printers being dirt cheap these days, I considered purchasing a new printer/scanner thingy for less than $100 for my own personal label-making use. After discussing this with my mom, she pointed out that the labels I was buying at retail prices, the ink I would be paying for again and again and again would eventually make my $100 printer cost more than just having my labels printed professionally in bulk.

Surprisingly, it took me a few days to find a good label printer. Ultra pro label makers throw around terms like four color process or UV coating or other printing terminology that I really don't understand just reading. I'm a hands-on girl. I need to see and feel and have something explained to me with the example in my hands. The label makers at the trade shows I attended were always very helpful when it came to those things. Reading about something I know very little about on the internet is difficult for someone like me. I guess that means I have a limited imagination.

Yesterday, I stumbled on UPrinting. The site was VERY easy to use. They gave me a free proof within an hour. The prices are fair compared to many other sites I visited. The proof they sent back was tweaked further. They explained they had to thicken the dark purple border to account for the bleed. I debated how I was supposed to tell them that I only wanted a thin dark purple border like the original, but I don't understand bleed dimensions and I wasn't sure how to communicate that I didn't mind a white border or space around the original design. I left the proof as-is, and ordered 1000 labels.

It cost me $70.36, which includes shipping and all for 1000 3" square labels. It's 70lb matte paper (whatever that means), and it will be here within a few days. They asked for a four-day turnaround time, which is fine by me. In my haste to get my order in and not to stress tweaking it over and over, I just accepted the proof. Today, I'm sort of regretting it. What do you guys think? The first is the original. The second with the thicker purple border is the proof with the adjustment to the border to account for the bleed.

Approved Proof
I guess I can live with it. It comes to about 7 cents per label, which is absolutely fantastic! In fact, had I ordered more, the price would have been a lot cheaper. I think 1000 pieces is plenty for a first run. I really didn't want to spend this money. I wanted to take it and throw it at my credit card bills, but this is a necessary expense. There are so many options, with high-products looking tempting and sexy, but costing a lot more than I intend to spend. I know I spend enough money as it is on my packaging. In the end, it's not about the box- It's what's inside that really matters.

In fact, I'm short of boxes, supplies, and tools. Since I fell ill, I have not kept up with my supply replenishment. I just didn't have the strength or the help to run around and buy everything. As soon as I was no longer contagious, I was swamped with my orders. Small orders, plain orders, and fancy ones. They were all one on top of the other, and I'm still not feeling 100% yet.

I have a huge he/she baby shower this weekend and I am quite ill-prepared for it. I had no choice but to call Joel for help. Thankfully, he's one person who I can honestly say will always help me if he can. With a few precise instructions, he was able to pick up everything I needed, give me a detailed account of the cost, is on his way to pick me up from work so I can grab a few more things on the way home. I have a long night of baking ahead of me. (**sigh** And, I really just wanted to sleep tonight.) I offered to take him to dinner to thank him for his help (and to celebrate the birthday he just had that I completely forgot to acknowledge this past Monday.) He thanked me, but said I didn't need to do that. Gas money would help him out more, he said honestly. Easy enough, and I appreciate him turning down the dinner. He knows I have to work tonight. Sometimes, it's just easier to pay for someone's help rather than have a debt hanging over my head. Gas money is fair, and I know he's being honest.

With the last argument between us both still kind of fresh, I was worried he wouldn't agree to help me or he would think things are back to the way things were. I had that issue with my ex-friend J whenever he and I would try to re-kindle our friendship. All the issues that caused me to pull away in the first place would be disregarded, and he would go right back doing all those unacceptable things again. Joel, even with all his flaws, is a more pragmatic man with maturity, and a clear heart. I know he won't take advantage of me. I know he won't throw things back in my face. I know he will always do his best to look out for me and make sure my best interest is always a priority. As long as I'm sure to keep things on a professional level with him, and to keep my requests at a minimum, I think it will be okay. At least, I hope things will be okay.

As much as I like being independent, I know that I'm not superwoman. I can't do it all by myself anymore. Things are getting busier, orders are getting bigger, and more money is coming in, which means more money has to be spent initially. I can't spread myself any thinner than I already have. I need the help.

I hope I'm making the right decisions. Sometimes it feels like with every step forward, I end up taking three steps back. However, I can't hide behind my self-doubt forever. No one is going to give me the life I want. I have to work for it. So, here goes!