Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Five years of Sniffing and Wagging

Five years in business as Sniff and Wag - Frogtastic! What an eventful, exciting, and exhausting five years it has been. But it's only when reminded by family that I really look back at our various adventures. I tend to be so focussed on making the present into a successful future that it's easy to overlook just how far we have come.
When I started, I just wanted to be one of the 20% of small businesses in the UK that make it through the first year, and that did feel like a real achievement.

We had a quiet spell in the middle when we had to decide how to go forward with printing the books - full colour printing in the UK is expensive, and I wanted to be sure that we could justify the print run. Five years on I am in the process of deciding on how soon we will need a print run ten times the size.

We have met so many amazing people, and made such good friends along the way. We have learnt more than we could ever imagine that we would need to know! And yet, it feels like the beginning.
Because now I have set my sights at achieving much larger goals, and starting to supply into one of the UK's top four supermarkets is the beginning of that strategy coming together.

Not everything we try falls into place - I worked hard to put myself forward to be the author of choice to promote the Lancashire Library big summer read, but without sucess. I worked with two other companies to put in a bid to the BBC children's tv for a pilot programme for under fives, and Frog Ted was our ambassador at the New York Licensing Show back in June, to showcase Frog the Dog to international licensing companies. There has been some interest from the far east, but this is a process that takes time, so we have put it to the back of our minds for now. None of these ventures would have seemed remotely possible five years ago, or even 18 months ago, but now, we tuck them away and see what else might be possible.

It's hard to listen to the news being so negative about the economy; but I am told over and again that it's those of us who keep going through the bad times that will make it through the other side. I CAN see the light and it's very bright - I'm going to be here in another five years. What's going to happen next?
Have fun!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Pressing press releases

I am a woman in need of staff, preferably a PR team.
Please apply here, with a full tin of biscuits and an unflappable disposition. A willingness to pet the celebrity dog whilst preparing copy is appreciated.
Please excuse me now, I have a pressing appointment with the

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Get out of your comfort zones!

When I started out writing those simple stories for young children, I could not have envisaged where Frog would take me and what an adventure it would be.
The learning curve has been almost vertical!

I am constantly out of my comfort zone; learning new skills, meeting new people, getting into new areas of expertise. This week I have gritted my teeth and launched Frog into Myspace. Youchers!

A year ago I researched a bit and decided it wasnt for us. I visited Terry Pratchett's page (and others) and saw all the illiterate txt speak messages left by the dubious searchers of internet fame and thought that this was not for us.
But now I feel I understand so much more about how the viral marketing works that I can see how I can make Myspace work for me.

Yes, I will have to cut my way through the sloss - but that happens everywhere.
On Myspace I can create for Frog and the cats a place where they can be free of the constraints of the books, where they can interact with each other and with other people, where they can develop new aspects of their personalities that are currently limited by being created within a book for very young children.

It also means that I can create something new for our readers to grow up with so that when they leave picture books behind, they can still have fun and interact with Frog and his friends in quite a real way as peers. The characters can have more depth, the readers get new content and background. So although I cannot give the time to creating a whole new story book right now, I can create small vignettes that add to our content for readers whilst giving me the space to keep a creative toe in the warm water.

It always seems odd and a shame to me that the general public seem to assume that one must either love books OR computers. I really believe that the future is in both - a shared world that moves seamlessly with whatever platform you want to use at that time, and in whatever format.
I especially enjoy writing the Frogblogdoglog - and it's a great adddition to the main wagsite that is safe and easy for the kids to navigate by themselves. The blog introduces youngsters to another format that I hope they will become familiar with for when they want to step out a little themselves. Blogging community blogcatalog is within my comfort zone, it's my networking place of choice, and Ive made some good friends here. but I have to be elsewhere too, and how to choose? It has been trial and error for the last year or so, but now i feel it is comng together, I'm finding the platforms that i enjoy using, and that give us what we need to build a complete world for Frog and his friends.

A recent addition to our collection is Flickr - having paid a small fee to upgrade to "pro" status, I can now arrange Frog pics in neat collections and sets that make sense to view and to follow. Now that we have blog friends sending us in their pics of Frog adventures, I can add them to the overall collection, so you can see photos of the original and real Frog, the dog that inspired the stories, a selection of cartoon Frog pics, and now an amazing assortment of photos of Frog Ted getting upto mischief around the world.

Now that Facebook have introduced "pages" Frog is allowed a page that he could not have before, and we are slowly picking up a fan base there. It's interesting to see who turns up in these various places - some people are everywhere! Others of course stay with a select few places they feel most comfortable with, so Frog needs to be prolific in his networking to catch all these places.

The reality is that I can only service so many outlets within the limited time I have available, so although I have recently had a very enjoyable time discovering Plurk, I shall have to give it up, as it really geared up for daily, indeed multi-daily input, and I just cannot give it that amount of attention. I find it easier to be in places on a more sporadic basis - and that wont harm if I am out of the office for a few days. Sorry Plurk! You're great, but not for us just now.

So, wherever it is you like to be, come and find us too. The weak link in this is my appalling memory and the possibility that I will forget to link everything up so it is all the seamless eperience it ought to be, but hey, I'm learning a lot of new stuff, I have to forget the old stuff to make room for the new!

On facebook, put "frog the dog" into the search facility

Where will I find you?

Watch this (my)space!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Frog the Dog in ASDA UK - FROGTASTIC!!

Friends, there is a time and a place to be cool and professional - this isnt one of them.
We have, after several months of talks, just been given the go ahead to start supplying into ASDA UK!
We will be a local supplier into seven stores, Barrow, Kendal, Lancaster, Fleetwood, Blackpool, Preston and Chorley, with the intention of growing to regional then national sales.
This is fantastic news for us, and a fantastic opportunity to establish ourselves.
So with much to do that couldn't be done until now, I'm going to rush off and run around in cirles for a while with Frog, and we trust that normal blogging will resume as soon as possible!
Frog the Dog - so cool he should be in the chiller cabinet:)