Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Little Help From My Friends

I am unsettled to announce that things here are getting seriously rough, as far as keeping the farm goes. Things have always been tight and sketchy, but going into winter firewood costs, dental work, and hay bills have gotten me dangerously behind. I have never been this close to the edge and I'm losing sleep, focus, and finding it harder and harder to keep a calm head. So I am coming to you folks, the readers of this blog, to ask for help in the form of a rogue marketing campaign. I am asking for you to share the links below on your Social Media of choice. It's quick, costs you nothing but time (seconds to a minute), and you never know when that share on your Pinterest Pages, Twitter, or Facebook could be the share that sends some income this way to Cold Antler.

Please help me get the word out about my two biggest sale items in hopes it drives some business this way. Below are the two links of offers I have that I feel are amazing values, help support other farmers besides myself through my favorite charity, and offer the gifts of learning to play an instrument or a professional logo for your farm and/or business. If you use twitter, facebook, instagram, heck even just emailing your cousin in NYC about these two things would be a huge help to this little farm. So, behold these two links:

The Fiddle Package Gift

The Logo Sale (with Heifer International donation)

Thank you in advance for helping get the word out. With hard work, some luck, positive thinking and hard scheduling I feel I can keep this place mine. This place just needs a break, is all, and sometimes you need to ask for help finding it. So please do share those two links and know I am grateful and eager to do the work to keep music playing, art rising, and all the animals and myself fed, strong, and warm.

44 Comments:

Blogger Good Shepherd Homestead said...

Shared both on twitter.

November 28, 2015 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger esther said...

Maybe you should try to get a part-time job , just enough hours to pay the mortgage ?
I know it,s not what you want, but better then losing your farm?
Good luck!

November 29, 2015 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Denton, Texas said...

Hi Jenna. I've shared with Twitter, FB and also LinkedIn. I hope this helps you!

November 29, 2015 at 7:15 AM  
Blogger sarah e blog said...

maybe you can offer house cleaning or barn cleaning services, anything for quick cash?

November 29, 2015 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger becky said...

I know you have put your all into the farm an making it work with out working off the farm, but would you consider it a step back if you picked up part time work until you get ahead. I know you taught archery at a place a while back and maybe it wouldn't be that cool. maybe 15-20 hours a week off farm to get the creditors off your back. I know it sounds radical but I would hate to see you lose everything you've put so much blood sweat and tears into. Best of Luck rooting for here from Northern Michigan.

November 29, 2015 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Thanks for sharing and your comments!

Per the part-time job. I of course hear this often from folk, and I think they are confused how unrealistic it is since the idea of "getting a job" is everyone's answer to more money. Let's say I land a $15 an hour part time job. Pretty great right? Let's say I work there three 8-hours days a week. That comes to $360 dollars a week, without taxes taken out. Then remove 20% + for NYS taxes, gas money to drive there, and you might end up with $275 left if you are lucky for 3 days totally spent off farm. $275 a week is NOTHING to sneeze at. But if I sell 2 Logos a week, or one fiddle camp day, or one freelance gig all week I can make that same amount of money (or much more) while taking care of my animals, being here to heat my home, and not spending money on gas or having a giant chunk taken out for taxes (My accountant takes care of that). When I think of all the things happening here, I can't imagine being off farm for 10+ hours a day to commute to Saratoga or Albany or Troy (closest places with jobs that pay at least $15 an hour).

I lost money driving to Vermont for that archery gig an sometimes people didn't even tip. I could have spent those days here, not driving an hour and half in a run down truck, not spending all that time away from the place that actually earns money. That was learning the hard way but working in a place with hawks and archery as a job was worth it, still. I was happy being outside but it was no where near as good for the farm as advertising classes, workshops, lessons, logos and such here is.

So I hope that explains the situation. I feel that nobody asks the farmer at the Farmer's Market yelling about potatoes on sale to get a part time job when they see them offering deals or sales. No one walks into their local mechanic's office offering a killer discount on tires or oil changes to consider going back to night school. That's because we see those signs, farm stands, mechanics as "real job" being a blogger is not seen that way. Not a all. Being a writer isn't either, to most people, unless your a novelist at casting calls for their Young Adult hit about to become a movie.

So I understand when people suggest getting a job, but this IS my job. This blog and the stories I write, the ads I sell, the discounts I offer, the classes and stories and google ads and youtube videos are my job. They all produce income and it's usually enough, especially with a book deal to cushion things. Right now its been a year since a book deal and I need to really really sell those things I offer. All I was asking for in that last post was to help spread the word on social media. People did, and I really appreciate it. Just one sale this week keeps me on farm and helps keep me living a life I'm so excited to have It's worth fighting for.




November 29, 2015 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Good Shepherd Homestead said...

Did you ever consider selling knitted items? Now would be the perfect opportunity since people are looking for Christmas items. I've crocheted while watching TV and it's amazing how time flies and projects get done. Do something simplementation like scarves.

I understand your plight with the part time job. I've been there myself. Driving 30 minutes or more aND it was for $8.50 per hour. Doesn't pay to even drive there. I don't know what your aRea is like bus ask some locals if there is anything you can help with to get some cash. Maybe tell your story and they will be more wIlling to hire. And what about the bookstore? Can you do any book signings? Snow removal? Meal preps? Things that won't take you a lot of time and away from the farm.

Just trying to give you some ideas. I feel for you. I've been there. Being self employed sucks!

November 29, 2015 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

Living in a rural area with "real jobs" a 40 mile round trip.....it takes more vehicle, more gas, time, etc to get that extra money. It turns out not to be extra at all, and certainly not after taxes. And if you move in closer to the good jobs, you simply pay more for housing and taxes. Your math makes sense to me....you just have an irregular budge and pay schedule. :)

(Oh and check your email. )

November 29, 2015 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger bluejeener said...

Tweeted your link. Good luck.

November 29, 2015 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger English sheep gal said...

Jenna - will certainly share your current promotions, lets hope some good stuff comes your way, I remember one year after a mention of firewood needs - someone turned up and left several cords on your driveway! Sorry this is a stressful time for you, hope you get some sales for logo's or season pass purchases soon.

I loved the recent vlog about One Woman Farm, filmed in front of the pigs pen, and you talking a little about why you wrote it, what the book means to you, your favorite illustrations.

I know you don't necessarily welcome advice - but hope you don't mind me sharing my idea - how about extending 'small business Saturday' this weekend - and make a new vlog about suggestions for readers / subscribers, who are really keen to support a small local business eg Cold Antler Farm!

Many, like me, are probably starting to think now about Christmas gifts for friends and family. With the many new people who have subscribed in recent months to the Youtube channel, I wonder how many of them have seen the wonderful trailer for your Cold Antler Farm book, how many of them know someone thinking of chickens who may want to buy Chick Days, someone with the beginnings of an idea about homesteading who would really enjoy reading 'Made From Scratch'.

Basically I'm suggesting a kind of 'sales' vlog, rather than individual posts about logo offers, season passes etc, a run through all the things you have to offer. Also answers the common question from readers about how do you make it work, without an off farm job - what a great chance to explain how many different ways you have to be creative about income in order to keep your farm going. Do you have any yarn or roving from your sheep for sale, or was it all used up in a wool workshop?

You could include a brief mention of all the different kinds of workshops you run there - which people can buy a gift cert for, or a season pass as a gift - I know you already have great photos of fiddle camp, archery, and working with the horses moving lumber etc which could be running in the background. Are you still offering the Indie days? I can't remember if you've ever mentioned your logo work on a vlog - even if you just refer people back to a previous post where they can see examples of your design work, it may generate some new business.

For people who aren't in the market to buy things right now, do they realize even clicking on the advertising links on your blog brings you a small income?

I know this idea means a lot of work for you, but I get the feeling you enjoy making the vlogs as much as we enjoy watching them. If it's going to be too time consuming to do all this, how about a book focused one, you already have the trailer for Cold Antler Farm, maybe you have time for a vlog just about your books, what year they were written, where you were living then, did you have any idea where you'd end up next? I wonder if new readers of the blog are aware that if they purchase your books from Battenkill Books you are able to get down there and write messages in them as well as sign them - I have done this for multiple friends in recent years and to have a personal message from the author inside the book makes it a really special gift.

Sending positive thoughts your way.....

November 29, 2015 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger mama, ph.d. said...

I think you are awesome. And I can only talk about experiences that I have had, that honestly, I still double think. I have a Ph.D. Truly, I would love to freelance as a way to pay my mortgage. I did it for 15 years. I loved every minute (except for the days I where I had no clients and little work on the horizon). I love being home, and would work for 14 hours a day happily. But honestly, bills were piling up. I sold out. I got offered, and took, a full time public sector job with a regular salary and health insurance, in a big city. It takes me so out of my comfort zone, and I am not sure that I love it. But I do love that I can provide for my family, and pay the mortgage. Again, I am not an advice giver, and am so rooting for you to make all your dreams come true. I am also old enough to know that sometimes life throws us other plans, no matter how hard we try and resist them. Wishing you all the very best. I've shared your services on Twitter.

November 29, 2015 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Simple as ALC said...

Hopefully there will be $$ to be made once Birchthorn is done! I'm sure there are many people who didn't contribute to Kickstarter but would still be willing to pay $$ for a nice hardcover copy of Birchthorn. Good luck!

November 29, 2015 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Cat H said...

What about creating a kid's book that centers around a day on the farm? Something like A Day on the Farm with Gibson or The Animals of Cold Antler Farm? It could be something short (geared towards the 4 year old and up crowd) with your own illustrations? It's not an answer to your current financial woes but maybe something for the future?

November 29, 2015 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger becky said...

I don't think anyone here is trying to say what you're doing is not a real job, but like a lot of self employed ventures is not always a stable income. Please don't take our suggestions negatively, but when we worry about you losing the farm even a local non $15hr part time gig comes as a suggestion.

November 29, 2015 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

I second the birch thorn comment, once I can buy it hardcover on Amazon.

November 29, 2015 at 3:22 PM  
Blogger Goose Goose said...

OK, you might have to look at cutting back on beer (brewery). And a hawk, and maybe a horse. Cut where you can now; it makes a difference in the future. Can you sell something, like a lamb?

November 29, 2015 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Birchthorn is coming along, and can't ever promise a hardcover on amazon but an ebook for sure.

Goose, hawks are free and the gear and housing is already here. the food she eats she gets herself. Lambs are for sale as soon as they are born here, and might raise some up as half shares. Merlin will have to be sold if it comes down to a roof or a saddle. But I am not there yet. I am just asking for help drumming up business. If I get to the point where it is sell Merlin or lose the house, I will share that and hope the blog helps me find him a good home. I think I would sell everything I own on eBay first though before losing that horse.

November 29, 2015 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger A.N King said...

If you live on six acres of land, why don't you harvest your own firewood. Your acreage is not entirely pasture, as least from what we have seen from the video blogs. A tow behind hydraulic log splitter would have made a weekend's task of needed wood for the winter or at the very least, would have giving you a head start. Ask around your area, one of your neighbors might be able to loan you the use of one

November 29, 2015 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger PansWife said...

I think you can justify owning Merlin because he is so much a part of who you are and why people read your blog. It would be like the Lone Ranger selling Silver.

Maybe do a little tweaking of your main business model. You are offering logos but that means someone has to have a business to hire you. What about offering something for a wider audience like an individualized family crest? It would be similar to a logo, but someone would give you their family name, symbols they feel represent their "clan", and maybe a family motto. It's now easy to have original designs added to things like mugs and hats. People could also use the design for fun by adding it to their internet signature, actual stationary, a family flag, luggage tags, decals for all the cars in a family, etc. Maybe offer a logo/crest design to commemorate a family reunion or the joining of two families because of a wedding. Just a thought. Wishing you luck, whatever you decide.

November 29, 2015 at 9:35 PM  
Blogger sarah e blog said...

not a paid part time gig but making wreaths knitting cleaning anything that helps etsy..yada yada

November 29, 2015 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

I'll happily post your links on FB. Another idea: what about renting out a room, either for a regular tenant, or AirBnB? Farmstays are quite desirable these days, as I'm sure you know.

November 29, 2015 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

good luck.

November 29, 2015 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Sparkless said...

This is a regular way of life for someone who works freelance like you do. It's feast or famine and not always a fun way to live life but it definitely keeps you alert and humming along to life. You have so many talents and I'm sure you'll figure out a way to keep things going, you always have in the past. Necessity is the mother of invention they say, and I bet you invent a new fun way to keep your farm.
I shared your deals and hope they bring in some income for you.

November 30, 2015 at 3:58 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Is it possible to sell an off the peg logo on Etsy (say limited edition of ... ten? fifty? world wide for each one? ...) with a type in box for company name? Say sell at $50 with an optional top up of $50 for *you* to personalise it (with just a name)
So you could do a basic horse one, a basic chicken one, a basic sheep one - etc.
No, they wouldn't be unique but they'd be darned cheap, and they might sell while you're asleep?
I'm not familiar with the artistic, technical, and copyright challenges attached to this, but it's just kind of an idea. Like you can buy blog templates on Etsy, they are cheap, but the person can sell it as many times over as they like?

November 30, 2015 at 5:47 AM  
Blogger Dorothy M. said...

I hope you are able to drum up the business needed to keep the farm going. I enjoy your vlogs, blog, and books so much. I would hate to see them go away. Unfortunately, I don't know people in need of logos, and I'm too far away and not really interested in a fiddle camp, nor do I know of anyone who is. I realize these bring in more money than the smaller things, but you may reach a larger audience by adding other things to your portfolio and make up the difference that way.

Just some thoughts, take them or leave them, of course: What I, personally, *would* buy from you would be things like homemade goat milk soaps, jams, yarn, and other odds and ends like that. Market the crap out of this stuff via facebook, blog, vlog, local sources, etc. I bet small things you make would sell like crazy with the right marketing. These things can be made from home in between farm chores--no travel or gas required.

Another thing I think of is expanding your youtube channel to include instructional videos of various parts of farm and homesteading tasks. I know there are many instructional videos out there, but you are interesting to watch and listen to--not everyone doing this is. People will be drawn to your channel because of that alone. I know I'm like that. I have a couple of youtube instruction-type channels I follow loyally because I like the person doing the videos better than others who do the same things but are boring, hard to follow, or the like.

You are so clever, talented, and have *so* many skills--more than just logos and camps. Maybe the answer is expanding your revenue streams? A little here and there can really add up.

November 30, 2015 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Daniel MacNeal said...

Fiddle Day shared.

November 30, 2015 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Viviane said...

Hi Jenna,

My husband and I just signed up for your full content blog subscription - it's not much, but I hope it helps. Thank you for always providing me with good advice, warmth & laughter.

November 30, 2015 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Roxanne said...

How about selling dressed out chickens and rabbits? I would buy those, and anything else organic that you could sell from your farm.

November 30, 2015 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger pjo2179 said...

OK....addressing the huge elephant in the room.....why not sell the house? CAF was in Idaho, Vermont and now NY. It is not the house, it's you and your dream. Buy a cheap piece of land in cash and start fresh. I'd buy a book about the trials and tribulations of that.
Best wishes!

November 30, 2015 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger Nerissa said...

Jenna, you be you. I don't know what it is about the Internet that makes everyone have such loud opinions. I'm looking forward to the ebook & future creative endevors.

November 30, 2015 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

Wow. I am always amazed to see how many ideas can come out of a single thread when like minded, intelligent, caring people put their heads together. Good luck Jenna, will do what I can. Don't give up.

November 30, 2015 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Betty said...

Both links under Gifts board in my Pinterest account. Good luck!

November 30, 2015 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Why is making suggestions "loud opinions"?
All I see is people trying to help. All the suggestions might not be practical but it's just what folks do over a cup of tea surely?
Maybe in ten duff ideas there will be one gem?
I don't know what it is about the Internet that makes people so sensitive?

December 1, 2015 at 2:44 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

I shared both on twitter and pinterest....positive thoughts for positive results....you inspire so many, myself included I hope you get many more positive comments and shares...today is giving Tuesday, I hope one of your fans choose you to give to.

December 1, 2015 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

A number of people have suggested you find part time employment and I second that idea. I think you are seeing the reality of your farm not being able to sustain itself and that doesn't make you less successful. Every time you blog about being short of money and potentially losing your dream, you are also losing credibility. Every time you offer discounts on upcoming workshops you decrease the amount of working capital you'll have at that time which makes you over extended. You really need to find a way to increase your cash flow without looking to your followers. It is one thing to need help in a crisis but another when it is for day to day existence.

December 1, 2015 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Doglady I think you are misreading what was being asked. I am not asking anyone to do anything but help promote what I am offering with my business through social media. I am not asking for any sort of donation, and frankly, any sales or discounts I want to offer is literally - my business.

I addressed the part time job idea in great detail in a comment above. It is the number one fastest way to lose this farm. I'd make a lot more money selling 3 half priced logos in one morning than I would working at Stewarts 32 hours a week.

I can't control what you or anyone thinks of me or my credibility, and it is none of my business either. But I need to wake up every day and respect and love the person in the mirror. So I live a way that makes me feel like that, and part of it is understanding all the input (good and bad) I am given by strangers.

I appreciate everyone's comments and words. All I am asking for is some help spreading the word. I am not ashamed to share when things are hard here, not at all. It is my choice to share this part of my homesteading/small business/freelance life.

December 1, 2015 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Goose Goose said...

"If I get to the point where it is sell Merlin or lose the house, I will share that and hope the blog helps me find him a good home. I think I would sell everything I own on eBay first though before losing that horse."

You might start to consider selling some stuff now before it gets to that.

I personally am selling some livestock water containers and some luggage. (odd combo-but it is necessary) (*selling separately)

When I was a child my uncle bought and sold everything, taking it to the flea markets, just to get by. There is always a way.

December 1, 2015 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger crashdown said...

Just catching up on the comments here (I normally read on an RSS feed, which doesn't give me access to comments--I have to seek out the web site to do that). Jenna, I think it's clear that everyone here wishes you well; I certainly do myself. But what people are reacting to is the "my farm is in danger!" rather than the "logos cheap!". Nobody tells people at a farmer's market to get an outside job when they're offering two-for-the-price-of-one potatoes because that's simply a dispassionate sale, not a seeming cry for help. If that farmer had a sign up that he or she might lose his or her farm, I'm sure there would be plenty of comments and suggestions about how to save it. The fact that you're making your living as a blogger is not why people suggest that you get a job--they're suggesting it because you often say that what you're doing isn't working for you financially.

You're also presenting a false dichotomy about outside work: it's not the case that the only work available for you s at $15 an hour, and it's also not the case that you'd necessarily have to drive somewhere to do it. For instance, I happily telecommute at a fairly highly-paid professional job. I have a satisfying, creative career, and the time I save on commuting is time I can devote to my dogs and sheep. There are jobs like that out there, more every day as telecommuting becomes more acceptable for corporations needing to save office space.

Since other people are annoying you with their bits of advice, here are mine: (1) farm logos are never going to be a sustainable business model, because the pool of those needing logos is relatively small and contained. Move into custom mugs and T-shirts, or caricatures, or something else more likely to appeal to a broader market; and (2) get rid of your accountant. The only people I know who need accountants are making half a million dollars a year or more, or who have complicated trusts to manage. If you're in either position, you're better off than the majority of your readership! But if you're stealing sugar from a gas station, you can't afford an accountant.

December 1, 2015 at 2:24 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I have learned from this post to no longer discuss anything financial. Some comments are helpful. Others are not.

I don't have an accountant on retainer. I use a professional for filing my taxes, yikes, Heather. You seem to enjoy leaving comments that bite. It isn't kind.

December 1, 2015 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger crashdown said...

You said something about how your accountant takes care of your finances, which is why I thought you had an accountant. I apologize if I misunderstood. I'm not intending to leave hurtful comments--I'm intending to leave comments that might help you rethink some stuff that might not be working well. (I realize that reading that sort of thing might hurt, but that goes with the territory--sometimes the kindest, best-intentioned comments hurt.) I'm older than you are, I've made more mistakes than you have, and I know that it's often the case that it's difficult to see problems from the inside in the same way that it's possible to see them from the outside. I support and admire what your overall goals--I've put my money where my mouth is on that several times over--but that doesn't mean that I think everything you're doing makes sense. On occasion, I'm going to say that. Not always, not every time I think it, but once in awhile. It's just how I roll.

December 1, 2015 at 4:03 PM  
Blogger TEd said...

Absolutely more options for work than some minimum wage gig you have to commute too --especially these days. Your goal and heart is the homestead. A steady job does nothing but enable it. Especially if the steady gig comes from working from the home office with healthcare. It would let you pay off the mortgage and sleep sound at night and not have to scramble-- and give more psychic energy to feed your creativity. (It's hard to craft great writing when you're worried about paying the rent --I know, I've lived it). A main, steady gig would make your life and love sustainable and truly possible. It's just an honest thought. I've followed your posts for years...Hope it gets easier and maybe a different mix of financial foundation pieces comes together for you. I want the woodshed full, mortgage paid, and emergency fund for you for your new year. Here's to ColdAntler and a Good Christmas ahead.

December 2, 2015 at 12:20 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

There are some really suggestions here, especially from Crashdown, GooseGoose, Doglady, pjo, Dorothy, PansWife, so I won't repeat them. But I do have some questions that the others have not addressed.

With a heavily wooded lot, why don't you harvest your own wood rather than buy it? If you are short on hay, why add another goat?

December 3, 2015 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

I do have a wooded lot, and do harvest some of my own firewood from it, every year at Antlerstock. But I don't own a chainsaw and don't feel comfortable with them. You also need to be working a year ahead so it can season, and so far I have not had that time. Also, my property is all hillside and mostly wetland/marshy. The actual wooded/forest area is only about an acre and I don't want it all gone. It is what is left of an old sugar bush I would like to tap into some day. The goat isn't an addition, he is just here to breed the others and then will be either sold or butchered.

December 3, 2015 at 3:24 PM  
Blogger House Crazy in Michigan! said...

I just passed along your video and website along to three homesteading/gardening sites I belong to. Hopefully some of those folks will buy/read/enjoy your books, and workshops. Hope this help you a little. Namaste!! Donna at the Small House Big Sky Homestead in SW Michigan.

December 6, 2015 at 7:49 AM  

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