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Nov 2010: What I've Been Up To

By John Clarke

Thought I’d write a quick update about what I’ve been up to recently.


So it turns out the best thing about running your own proper busi­ness is not only do you have to shell out shit­loads for an account­ant, but your work­load also increases by loads with all the day to day book­keep­ing! Ugh. Not only am I now busier than ever, but my work enjoy­ment density, or average enjoy­ment per arbit­rary amount of work I have to do, has declined. And! This month is when our first year’s accounts have to be com­pleted, as we’ve been a limited company since last October.

(The one benefit to running a limited company is that I have a “company seal” — a little rubber squeezy stamp type thing that imprints “John & Jo’s Coffeesh0p Limited” in any piece of paper that’s had the mis­for­tune to cross my path. Fuck knows what it’s actu­ally for, but it does offer some small comfort at least.)

So today, I’ve been hacking together various scripts and queries to try and auto­mate the drudgery some­what.

Stock photo of some account­ants.
Their appar­ent dynam­ism & relaxed atti­tude are but a thin veneer dis­guising unpar­alleled boredom, resent­ment for their boss, col­leagues & clients alike, and a cold, black, lonely heart.


I men­tioned it on Twitter, but we went to Ams­ter­dam a couple of weeks ago. I suppose that’s another perk, since the busi­ness kindly agreed to pay for it. Hope­fully, the Mrs will write up at least some of the trip even­tu­ally, but she’s busier than me! I’ll also talk about a related com­pet­i­tion-type thing soon…

Anyway, as you’d expect, going away for a week results in moun­tains and moun­tains of…


So many emails! I’m still catch­ing up on the work-related ones, and I haven’t had time to reply to anyone that’s emailed me here for lit­er­ally months. Really sorry if you’ve been in touch and I’ve not had the chance to reply yet. Unless you’ve sent me some kind of hate mail. Then I’m not sorry in the slight­est!

Bagging Stuff

The problem with selling more and more stuff is that more and more stuff needs pack­aging, which often means my fingers are raw from labelling up bags or I’m elbow-deep in kilo­gram sacks of mis­cel­laneous entheo­gen; tissue rammed up my nose as a pre-emptive strike against the inev­it­able green snot or uncon­trol­lable sneez­ing. On the upside, we’ve recently had our first few whole­sale orders of Meen Green, which is doing way better than we ever could have expec­ted.

New Products

Not only have I got a boxful of products not yet on Coffeesh0p, but we’re also just about to release a new solid, crumbly incense. It’s ser­i­ously amazing, and it’s good to go, I just haven’t had enough time in the day to finally get it on the site!

The thing with new products is, it’s not just upload­ing data from the sup­plier into a data­base; it’s quite a bit more effort. There’s the usual stuff like pricing and other boring data like what cat­egory they’ll reside in, where abouts in the cat­egory they should go or what other products to recom­mend, but the biggest tasks are writing descrip­tions that are both inter­est­ing and, most import­antly, honest, without stray­ing into hyped-up mar­ket­ing bull­shit talk, and sorting out the images. I’ve seen loads of sites in this industry just robbing crappy lo-res pics off other com­pet­ing sites, or using the same stock photo from the sup­plier as every­one else, but where’s the fun in that?! To get a decent pic up along side the product descrip­tion, the first step is trying to take a decent photo of it. This usually involves me running madly between rooms on a quest to achieve the perfect light­ing (impossible in this house), com­mand­eer­ing the tiny bath­room mirror to capture the maximum amount of photons, laying down sheets of white paper to make a plain back­ground and fudging together little sup­ports to keep it in all place. When  I’ve finally taken a half decent picture, then I have to pho­toshop the crap out of it.

Before your feath­ers get all ruffled and you start declar­ing shenanigans, my goal is to make the digital image actu­ally look like the product in real life. That’s it. I don’t have a proper studio or mega expens­ive camera — as I said, I take all the product pic­tures round the house, using printer paper for a back­drop in dim light. Most pic­tures start out looking dull, covered in a murky orange haze, so I mainly tinker with the levels,  con­trast, sat­ur­a­tion — that sort of thing — and then try and cut out the back­ground so it’s com­pletely white. For products with actual pack­aging, I might straighten them up, as if I’d taken the picture pre­cisely above it, or I might get rid of the natural, ter­rible shadow and replace it with some­thing slightly more uniform. I also like having a couple of images for each product, so that process needs repeat­ing for each image, then, finally, I need to cut out a suit­able thumb­nail to display on cat­egory pages and search results.

I might actu­ally write a full post about doing product pics, like a step by step guide, so you can see the improve­ments and how little mis­chief I’m really up to. Which brings me to my final point…


My last post already talked about all the behind-the-scenes stuff I’ve been up to, but I’ve also got a few half fin­ished posts I’ve been meaning to get done, as well as ideas for a million more.

So, yeah, don’t start to think I’ve lost interest, or can’t be arsed reply­ing to you. We’re both in this for the long haul!.

One Response to Nov 2010: What I've Been Up To

  1. Tim says:

    I took my first trip to Dam this year for my stag do.. good times 😉
    keep up the posting !

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