6.17.2007

Color me green

...and call me Cupcake!

I read
this article a couple of weeks ago and have been lost in fantasies of quitting my job and doing something I could really love and lose myself in ever since. Not that I don't love litigation -- no, no, just the opposite: it's one of my many character flaws -- but cupcakes? They beat the ass off litigation, and don't even put them in the ring with records retention policy compliance, ok?

So here are some possibilities, each of which just has one little problem: how to make $100K/year doing them for a living....

  • card-making: you know I design and make my own collage-y cards and I love doing it and am always so gratified when people compliment them and remind me that similar cards sell for $5-$8 apiece at Papyrus and similar venues. I just can't figure out a way to do it such that I could more than break even, both time and money-wise. I mean, each card takes 10-15 minutes to complete, after I've figured out a prototype and been able to fashion a mini-assembly line out of the operation (conceptualizing is a little longer, but always fun, if I'm in the mood to do it!), and the materials for each probably put the cost at about $2 apiece. I haven't had the audacity to sell for more than $4 apiece, which is fine -- a 100% markup is probably significantly less than all the companies whose cards are now made by children in sweatshops in India and China, but at least the labor's honest and not exploited. I make sets of 4 cards which I sell for $15 (is that $3.75 a card? I'm so not mathy.) but would consider charging $20 for; they are French and Italian-themed but I've branched out to Japanese and have done specific themed ones for special runs using ephemera relevant to the occasion. I love making them, but can't see myself running a website or something, just because I go through these phases where I am more acutely lazy than usual and would hate to disappoint shoppers. Hmm... I did just discover Etsy, though, so maybe someday....
  • "weekday wife": obviously a working title, but basically an errand-running and home-during-the-week service where people could pay a monthly fee for a suite of services they could pick from a "menu": grocery-shopping, Target or Costco runs, making and freezing prepared meals, running errands about town, waiting for the cable guy/ delivery guy/ fumigator, and gift-shopping-to-specification. I figure since you could combine several people's errands into a day, you would only have to charge people $300-400/month -- if you got even 15 people to work for, you would be making a respectable sum ($4500-6K/month is damned good, considering a) you'd be working a lot less than 45 hours a week and b) you'd have no expenses beyond gas and auto maintenance, which you'd pay anyway to commute down the Peninsula or wherever). I do think this job depends, first, on connections, so you could get clients, at least initially, who were friends and friends of friends, and build your reputation that way; and second, on a real rebound in the economy, because it is a service (like all those old "organize your life" consultants) that depends on people having disposable income and more money than time. Still, I think it would be a cool gig.
  • free-lance paralegal: self-explanatory, working 1000 hours a year or so, charging $100/hour to firms or companies (the former would, of course, bill me out to their clients at $150-$200/hour, which is what "paralegal specialists" are showing up on bills for these days) to either be a trial paralegal or do a lot of the work firms give to baby lawyers (at billing rates beginning at $225 or so) with no experience currently. I could pick the cases I accepted, based on length of project, or location, or other factors, and not work when I didn't feel like it. The only thing this hinges on, at present, is taking a couple of courses in the newer technologies used in eDiscovery these days, but that's an eminently achievable hurdle. This is the option with the greatest financial upside potential, because the billing rate is set by the prevailing rates at litigation firms, who never hesitate to charge a lot. I'd always undercut them, I think, and would come with the expertise of 18 years' work at a big firm and a big publicly traded company, a nice balance.

Whew. Ok, back to my regularly-scheduled life....

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