Five Years of PixxiBook!

22 Jan 2024   by tim  web   business

Thank you, Charlotte!

Yes - just over five years ago the courageous Charlotte of Baffin Island clicked “Pay” and made history with the first ever PixxiBook blog book order from someone we didn’t already know. Thank you, Charlotte for your vote of confidence that had us dancing around the kitchen table!

We are a real business, but a small one

Over the five years post-Charlotte, PixxiBook has progressed from experiment, to hobby, to side activity and finally on to small family business, to the point where it is now sustaining this small family.

It turns out that a small part of a large pie is sufficient - you don’t have to be a big business to be sustainable when there is only one employee. See this chart below. The axes and legend have been cunningly removed but you can still see that the trend is in the right direction and if you integrate under the line the numbers are good.

A Pixxi's Progress - with peaks for every Christmas and Pandemic
A Pixxi's Progress - with peaks for every Christmas and Pandemic

Checking up on our Principles

In our First Post we outlined our five principles of blog book making, that it should be Simple, Quick, Beautiful, Economical, and Secure. I am proud to be able to reflect on that and say that we have held true to those principles.

In particular, we have found that keeping it simple and quick has been a great advantage, helping many customers to get their book actually done, completed! In fact, some customers told us how they had been working for years trying to make a book (record: 11 years) before finally getting it done in 15 minutes with PixxiBook.

Getting books from start to done is a big problem for most photo book printers. The amount of work required of the customer to actually get a book completed is too great and across the industry, up to 90% of photobooks are never finished. That is why most printers have a rotating set of coupons to apply pressure for the customer to get the job done. PixxiBook tacks a different tack - we make the process simpler and quicker so there is less effort overall and no need for pressure tactics.

Expansion, Improvements and Augmentation

So what have we been doing the last five years? Given that we don’t do any marketing, work is mostly a mix of customer support and software developmemt.

Customer support is generally replying to emails, reprinting books that were damaged or lost, and hand holding customers through the book making process (even if it is simple and quick). Perhaps the best part of customer support is receiving all of the feedback. We actually love to hear about our customers in tears because they are invariably tears of joy.

Software development is fixing bugs, but also adding features. Usually it’s hidden features, not something you might see directly which might be contrary to our Simple and Quick philosophy. So most of our work is in expanding the range of blogs we support (and Instagram!). Always improving the layout. Making everything faster. And integrating new print centres so we can print closer to where you live.

Finally, we have also had to at last increase our prices. You will have noticed over the last five years that everything has gotten markedly more expensive, except your blog books! But we too are afflicted by rising prices which are mostly paper, print and shipping costs which are hard to avoid. We have eaten the increases on our side for years but in the end we too have had to pass on some more of the costs. A ten percent rise in five years is still much lower than inflation.

Where Next?

So where do we head from here? What will change in the next five years? There’s the obvious:

  • Make more books! A pretty obvious business goal.

  • Less customer support! A less obvious business goal. We still want to provide top-notch personal customer support but in order to handle more customers, we need to make things even easier to use so we can concentrate on the harder issues. Don’t get us wrong - we love discussions with customers and getting the raw feedback right from the horse’s mouth - but we appreciate that support needs to be timely and we can’t guarantee that if we have a full inbox.

And maybe some new markets:

  • Photobooks! I (personally) would love to have a way to make pure photobooks in the same quick and easy manner as we do blog books. I don’t have the will to dedicate hours to making a photobook with existing services but I am willing to commit days, months, maybe years to making the service that can do it for me. Imagine being able to make your trip or annual or event photobook from your Google Photos or iCloud photo collection in just a few minutes, automagically filtering and sorting through 5000 photos to find the best ones and group and place them on 200 pages - Awesome!

  • Book Store. Let others buy copies of your books.

  • Other Formats. Cloth covers, box sets, larger/smaller/squarer books.

Print the Book of your Blog!