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I worked for a community theatre for nearly a decade and developed a very profitable fundraising campaign for them in which we sold some of the items donated for our extensive costume stock to vintage clothing dealers. 

I have a couple of blogs on organizing costume shops (avg hits 5-6/day) and I also have a popular article (http://www.squidoo.com/communitytheatrefundraising), which gets about 200+ hits per month.  I feel there's a lot of advice I could give on how to conduct such a fundraiser, and hope I could get some extra income by connecting buyers and sellers. 

What is the best format to do this?  I see a few possibilities right off:

  1. Do an article where I feature a list of sellers with links to their site and try and work out a referral deal where they would pay for successful referrals.  This could be hard to track.  
  2. Create an electronic list of buyers that theatres could purchase with more detailed contact information, items they'd like to purchase etc.  Along with tips and helpful information it could be a complete resource. 
  3. Create a separate place on my site or a new article where vintage dealers could pay to advertise and I could direct traffic from these different locations to that page or article. 

I know that there are some popular directories on amazon like Maloney's resource directory for collectibles, and another called the theatre sourcebook that do well connecting potential sellers to buyers.  Does this seem viable?

Tags: antiques, collectibles, costumes, theatre

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Bonnie, all great ideas... I like option number 1, and tracking the purchases through their affiliate links is how I see this on the surface.

Just a thought, but what if the sellers sponsored you? Instead they're paying you to advertise, and it would then be your job to bring buyers to your site.

Thanks for the input.  The difficult part about the affiliate route is that most of these buyers are independents.  Some may have websites, but all individually run with individual items sold only one time (since it's vintage).  Others only sell on eBay or other marketplace sites. 

I've actually run into this problem with larger costume rental houses too.  I have a lot of costuming articles and would LOVE to drive some business to costume rental houses for even a tiny commission, but it just doesn't exist in that market.  Larger houses rent shows that can easily run from $5000-20000 for a show. 

Sponsorships could work in that situation too.  Thanks for your thoughts. 

My mother took a different approach. (And later so did I.) Her area of expertise was country store collectibles, and her way of making money was to publish a price guide. Click on the link to see book cover. She set the standard for the industry and every antique store owner, picker, yard sale and flea market seller and buyer had to have a copy. She also had dealers send her photos of their collections for inclusion in her book. Later she started an appraisal service and got paid to estimate fair values on individual items.  Perhaps this is a route you could go.

Andrea

Authority Marketing: www.AndreaReynolds.com/authority

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That's a great approach if you are an expert, I would agree.  The issue here is that I'm an expert at how to realize that you have something if you are starting with NO information, and I know where to find dealers and how to negotiate either a wholesale deal or a commission deal with them to sell your items.  The dealers are the real item experts, not me.  I know more about the process. 

Love to see people trying to build off an asset they already have working for them!

I have one huge concern right off the bat and that's the traffic numbers you're citing. And how many of those are landing on your page for keywords other than "community theatre fundraising"? (Google says nobody is searching for that phrase actually. Yikes.)

A small market isn't a bad thing. It just means you have to be really careful to make sure the work you're planning is worth it. Pitching advertising to a billion vintage shops for a page that only gets a few hits a month is never going to pay off. Not to mention the amount of work you'd have to do to promote the page to all those community theatre fundraisers (who also have to be convinced to try something new and risky).

Given that your ideas are based in some part of needing traffic, I'd consider first whether you have a good plan in place for driving that. I can see the directory being more of a push than pull sell strategy, but that means more time on your part for possibly little money.

Not that it's the answer to everything, but I'd start by drawing on your expertise. Create a series of "workbooks" around each of your great fundraising ideas. So how to make money selling to vintage shops, how to promote a Zazzle store profitably, how to … . Make them however long they need to be (10-12 pages?), pretty detailed with great checklists/worksheets/resources that pretty much put it all in black and white for me so I don't have to think. And also so it's much easier to sell my board on trying a crazy new idea. (Make that a section "how to sell your board on this.) Different from your directory idea in that it is about how-to, not just here's a list and good luck. I'd pay money for the first, not so sure about the second. Sell them on Amazon, Smashwords, etc. and promote on Community Theater Green Room, your own site, via your mailing list, etc.

(Overly long answer as usual. Hope there's something useful for you in there!)

I love this answer, thank you!  I looked at my stats and over 50% of the hits to that one page are from google searches with the words "fundraising (or er)" and "theatre" in some combination.  I have three theatre blogs, a website and a couple of POD stores and 50 squidoo articles that all cross link, that's where the rest of the traffic is coming.  But you're right--It's a lot of work when I don't know if I can promote it. 

I like the idea of little workbooks.  I could start them off as squidoo articles and see how they do.  Then if they're popular I could put them into a workbook format and promote them right on the article.  Great idea, thank you!

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