One of the things I feel is important for children in their financial development is to understand from an early age the way things work in the real world. A lot of parents shield their children from basic financial experiences in the belief that they are somehow doing them a favor.
I believe that the earlier a child learns how much things cost, the earlier they will develop both a sense of responsibility about spending money and a strong appreciation for earning money.
Toward that end, I think it would be only fitting if I discussed with you here how much money I spent in creating the Moneyology 1 book and the Moneyology website. And by the way, this type of information is not just useful for children, it can be helpful as well for adults who are considering becoming entrepreneurs and hungry for information about how to start their own businesses.
Here's a chart which shows everything I spent in creating Moneyology; let's take a look at the numbers first, then I'll discuss them below:
As you can see from the above chart, I invested a total of $18,315 to create both the Moneyology 1 book and the Moneyology.com website. Now, keep in mind that this cost does not include the time and energy which I spent in creating everything; I don't get to charge myself for that, I have to do it for free in the hope that it will one day pay off.
Let's discuss some of the highlights from the above chart:
Designing the book:
DENNIS: I met Dennis Sucgang through the website Elance. One of the advantages of using Elance to find a designer is that it connects you with people all over the world. And many of these people are able to work less expensively than people working in the United States because the cost of living is cheaper in many other countries than it is here.
So I met Dennis who is living and working in The Phillipines. He is not only an excellent designer; he is also a terribly nice guy who is a true pleasure to work with. As an added bonus, he speaks perfect English, so communicating with him was always easy. We spoke live through Skype and we emailed and chatted real time using Gmail chat. I wrote the book using Google Documents and he was able to see my updates at any time.It may amaze people to learn that we created a book together and we have never met in person. In fact, I still don't even know what he looks like other than this illustration of himself which he created for the inside front cover of the book!
Dennis charged me $200 for the front and back cover of the book and $40 for each page, the book has 66 pages in total. The total came to $2,760.
All of the photos you see in the book are what is called "Stock Photography". Stock photos are photos which already exist in a catalog of literally millions of photos. I simply pay a fee to the company which owns the photos and they let me use the photo in my book. This fee is usually only $4 per photo. Of course, the very same photo might be used in many other books or in magazine ads, but that's ok with me because I'm getting such a good deal. If I wanted to take each photo myself or hire a photographer to take them for me, it would probably cost me a few hundred dollars for each photo, instead of only $4. So you can see that stock photography is a wonderful thing. I used two companies for all the photos: Fotolia and iStockPhoto. Above is an example of a stock photo we used in the book.
Bills and Coins:
The bills and coins you see in Moneyology were obtained as follows: I couldn't find good stock photography of money on the stock photo websites so I did the following: I got brand new bills from a neighborhood bank, then brought them to a company which does hi-resolution scanning. The company I found charged me $150 to scan all 6 bills. They were a little nervous at first about doing these scans because they thought I might be some kind of a counterfeiter who was planning on trying to print his own money, but after showing them the outline for the book, they realized I was just your ordinary, everyday Moneyologist.
got really lucky with the coins: there are hi-quality photos of all of
the coins available to download for free at the US Mint's website: This was lucky because since coins are not flat like bills, they're not
so easy to scan. They must be photographed instead and, as we know,
photography is not cheap.
Printing the Book:
In looking for a printer to print Moneyology 1, I investigated both book printing companies here in America and also companies in China, and I found out that the cost of printing Moneyology 1 in China was substantially less than the cost of printing it in America, even if I add the expense of shipping the books by boat from China to New Jersey.
The reason for this is that China is still what they call a "developing country" which basically means that it used to be poor and is working hard to get rich. The people in China work for salaries which are lower than what the people in America are able to work for. Therefore it's cheaper to have things manufactured in China than in America. Now, the machines used to print the books are the same in both countries, and the people are equally talented and hardworking. It's just that the Chinese workers are paid less for working on my book, so they are able to charge me less for the whole job.
Using Google, I found Asia Pacific Offset. I worked with a terrific guy there named Tim there who helped me through the entire process.
Tim and I discussed the various ways we could print Moneyology: the
kind of paper we could use, the type of cover the book would have, the
types of colors which are available and other details. I really wanted
this book to be a high quality product and I wanted it to have a solid
cover which felt soft and puffy to the touch so that kids would feel
comfortable holding it in their hands and reading it often. When I
finally decided exactly how I would like the book to look and feel, Tim
gave me the following price chart:
You can see from these prices a common principle in printing anything: the more you print of one thing, the cheaper it gets per item. That's because it costs the same amount of time and materials to set up the machines to print a book, whether you are printing 1,000 copies of that book or 1,000,000 copies. And just leaving the machine running longer to print more books is cheaper than setting it up for a new book.
After considering my options I decided to print 3,000 books at $1.55 each. Of course, after I sell the first 3,000 copies, I will print more!
Shipping the Book from China to the U.S.
In order to ship the book from China to my warehouse in New Jersey, I had to hire a company which specializes in shipping all kinds of things by boat from one country to another. Once again, by doing research on Google, I found a number of companies which do just this and I asked each company for a quote on how much they would charge me for shipping 3,000 books from China to New Jersey.
I compared all the quotes and found that one of them was cheaper than
all the others, plus the person I was dealing with at that company was
pleasant and professional, so I decided to hire his company to ship
Moneyology for me. His name is Dave and his company is DF Young.
Buying the Domain Moneyology.com
Have you ever wondered how you can get your own internet address for your business?
Just go to GoDADDY and type in the address you would like to have and if no one else already owns it, you can buy it from GoDADDY for about $10 a year. That's all there is to it.
Now, the hard part is finding a good internet address (also called a domain name) which is not already owned by someone.
There are many other companies besides GoDADDY which sell internet addresses, but I use GoDADDY because they're cheap, friendly and easy to use. Here's as photo of Bob Parson's, the entrepreneur who founded GoDADDY. Thanks Bob! When I was trying to decide what to call my book on financial education for children, I came up with lots of possible names and for each name I thought of, I checked to see if that internet address was still available. When I tried Moneyology.com, it was still available, so of course I grabbed it right away!
Creating the Website Moneyology.com
Finding someone to design the Moneyology.com website wasn't as easy as buying the internet address was. There are thousands of thousands of people who say they can design a website for you and it is very hard to decide who to work with. Some are basic and very cheap, some are really beautiful, complex and very expensive, but the majority are someone in the middle. The trick is to find someone in the middle who offers both quality and a reasonable price.
Here's how I found Authorbytes: I went to the websites of a bunch of authors I like and evaluated their design and functionality to see if I thought it was good. One website I liked is from Timothy Ferriss called The Four Hour Workweek, so I went to his site and saw that the site had been designed by Authorbytes. I called them, met Steve Bennett the owner on the phone and we hit it off right away because he's a terrific guy who also knows a lot about books because his company only designs websites for authors like me. Here's Steve...
I drew up a Flowchart showing exactly what I want the site to be able to do and he came
back to me with the price of approximately $4,500 for designing the site. Click image to the left to see the flowchart we worked off.
After comparing other companies offers I decided to go with Steve because his price was in the middle of the range of offers I had gotten and because I felt that he was a person I could work with in the long run. Remember, a website is not just a one time job, it's an ongoing project that will last for years and years and so you want to work with people who you really get along with.
If you compare the actual Moneyology.com website design with this initial flowchart, you will see that the final result is pretty close to what I had envisioned at the beginning. As they say, "if you know where you're going, it's a lot easier to get there."
I needed a photographer to take a picture of the Moneyology 1 book for the homepage of the website. I posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a "Still life photographer to shoot a book" and I got about 20 responses. The cheapest offer came in at $40 from from a local New York City Photographer who also emailed me samples of his work and it was quite good. The next cheapest offer was $100 so Manix and I ran right over to his studio with the book.
I didn't want the book to be the only way I spoke to children about money, there had to be another way that made it fun and easy for them to learn basic financial concepts. Even though I don't consider myself much of an actor, I knew that videos were the obvious solution.
Now, finding someone who could help me make a bunch of videos was even harder than finding someone to design the website. Why, because it's much harder to evaluate people's video work than it is to evaluate their graphic design.
So once again, I posted an ad on Craigslist looking for "Videographer for Children's Book Website". This time I got about 100 responses, so there must be a lot of videographers looking for work! I looked at dozens of online reels to see the videos people had already shot and edited.
I contacted about 12 videographers, then met with 4 of them. One team I really liked when meeting was a husband and wife team. They were very enthusiastic videographers who showed me samples of a video they had shot in which they interviewed children. Perfect fit!
They gave me a price of $1,500 per video, which was too high for me. I
negotiated with them and they agreed to come down to about $1,000. One week
later we were in the park shooting videos!
If you've already watched the videos, you will see Manix and I wearing
Piggy and Ziggy Banks T-Shirts. We made only 2 of those just for the
video shoot by printing out the graphics onto iron on decals and
ironing them onto blank American Apparel T-Shirts ($15 each). I found a
very sweet guy in Queens (I can't remember his name) at a company called New York Screen Printing to
print the decals and iron them onto the shirts for me; he charged me
$20 for both shirts. I've tried that at home myself before and it's not
as easy at it looks. You need a really high temperature iron for it to
come out well and they have these special flat presses that work great. Total cost: $30 for the blank shirts + $20 to iron on the
graphics = $50.
So there you have it, a fairly exact accounting of all the money I spent producing the book Moneyology 1 and creating this website Moneyology.com. It's always an adventure starting a new business and I I think by sharing with you the stories behind the numbers, you can share a little in that excitement as well.