Today I’m answering a question someone asked me after I posted another planner review. ‘But don’t you make your own printables? So can’t you turn that into a planner? Why do you keep buying and reviewing planners made by other people?’
Well, there are a few reasons:
1. Different styles
Colors, fonts and overall aesthetics. I tend to stick to the same colors, style, fonts, layouts and overall design. I like that style but that doesn’t mean I want to only use one style (my style) all the time. By using planners made by other people I get a fresh perspective.
2. I like using different layouts
Plum Paper’s notes and days layout introduced me to a layout I hadn’t really considered using before. I now use different variations of this layout most weeks. Because I’ve reviewed and tested out so many planners I now have a very clear idea of what I do and don’t like in a planner. Yes I could get that from looking at other people’s reviews but I like buying copies of other people’s planners and doing my own reviews.
That’s why I post very thorough planner reviews that try and address everything someone might need to know – all the things I want to know that aren’t usually mentioned on the sales page (like line spacing, split boxes on the monthly calendar, and a pen test and the page order).
If I want to make my own planner, I could make it, from start in finish in one day. Design the layout, print some copies, punch with the ARC discbound punch, add some discs and a cover. Done.
If I were to make a paper planner I’d probably be making it at least 6 months in advance before the final version arrived (by the time the design was proofed, I’ve ordered paper samples, tested different binding styles if I wasn’t going to use disc binding etc.)
3. No time & not something I would enjoy doing if I did have the time
I work full time in addition to this blog, my online shop and well, having a life. I don’t have the time to be conversing back and forth with manufacturer’s about pricing, creating a sample, proofing, ordering, packaging planners, getting them to the post office and shipping all of them. When I think of all of the steps involved in creating a paper planner I think of how long that would take to bring it to fruition.
I’ve noticed more and more smaller planner companies struggling to stay relevant against larger, well known brands that have teams of people behind them (Plum Paper, Happy Planner, Erin Condren etc.) Those large planner companies are popular for a reason and I definitely don’t have the resources to complete with those planner companies. I also don’t want to compete with them, I enjoy using products from so many of these planner companies!
The reason I like digital products is that I can stop and start working on them whenever I have the time, there’s no set ‘deadline’ that the product has to be completed by. I can also work on them from anywhere as long as I have my laptop with me.
I can also go on long holidays or take a break whenever I want and my shop stays open humming along with my digital products delivered via instant download. I only need to answer customer queries in the hotel room at night. I couldn’t do long holidays if I sold physical products unless I temporarily closed the store.
4. I don’t use just one weekly layout
I switch up my weekly spread sometimes every week, every other week or month. I like to use different layouts that cater to what I have going on that week. I can’t commit to just one layout and use that for an entire year, so I can’t see myself trying to convince people to buy a planner when I can’t even commit to using it for a full year myself!
I’m also a perfectionist and if I tried to choose just one layout I’d agonise over the decision and the little details for so long that it may not come to fruition or if it did, it would take far longer than it should. Then I fear that partway through the year I would change my mind about the layout again.
I also think it would be very difficult to come up with a layout that is feasible. I like all of the other pages in my planner to be very specific / customised to me. E.g. I don’t use the box layout style monthly calendar than almost every planner company offers. The way I set up my planner is too specific to my needs.
5. Don’t have the space to store inventory
I live in an apartment. I like where I live and I don’t want to move to a house or lease a storage space for inventory. I use one of the bedrooms in the apartment as my office and it already has 2 bookcases with all of the planners I’ve accumulated over the years.
6. Shipping + Logistics
I’m at my day job when mail arrives so wouldn’t be able to receive the delivery. Some companies won’t ship to apartment building addresses, it needs to be a freestanding house or commercial premises. Parcel deliveries would only be to the front gate, you then have to get the item into the building, hope the lift is working and get it to your front door. That’s quite a distance to be lifting heavy boxes on my own.
Items shipped from Australia can take 5 – 8 weeks to arrive in the USA or Europe. I don’t have the time to be answering customer emails asking where their order is. Australia Post charges ridiculous shipping costs and tracking / insurance is an additional cost on top. They seem to increase their postage rates every 6 months too! Just because we have planes, doesn’t mean all parcels are sent via plane. Some are still bought into and sent out of Australia via sea mail.
Australia’s land size is comparable to the USA’s however our population is 26 million versus USA’s 332 million. In regional areas, there aren’t daily flights and even shipping something from Brisbane to Perth (on the other side of the country) can take weeks to arrive. Most of my blog readers are in the USA, I can’t compete with the USA planner companies pricing and free domestic freight over a certain order value which some of them offer. There are also far more people to sell a planner to in the USA (and Europe), than there is in Australia, hence why most Australian planner company’s struggle to gain market share.
Whistle and Birch – one of the planners Made in Australia
Years ago when I did the sums, I calculated there would be maybe $10 profit per planner by the time I added up all the costs, at a sale price of $60 – $70 AUD, with shipping charged on top of that. I would think twice about paying that for a planner so I expect other people would too.
Most manufacturers have a minimum order quantity. If you’re lucky, you can find one that has an M.O.Q of 100 but most of them back when I explored doing this years ago, required a M.O.Q. of 1,000! I don’t have the space to store 1,000 planners and that’s a lot of money to shell out upfront.
Thanks to covid, most companies don’t offer free international (or even domestic) freight anymore. It’s expensive enough to get things into the country, and if you’re ordering in commercial quantities there are duties, customs, taxes, GST etc. to be paid which can add another 30 – 40% on top of the wholesale cost of the item. Then you need to pass that onto the customer.
Shipping is expensive when I buy planners from the USA to Australia and feel like the USA has more postal company options and better freight rates. Australia really only has Australia Post. There’s DHL if you’re shipping is larger quantities, but you need to be at home when DHL comes to pick up the parcels which wouldn’t work as I’d be at my day job. My job doesn’t have the flexibility of work from home days.
I don’t like sewn bound planners and I would struggle to find a company that could meet my specific requirements within Australia (and if so, it’d be very expensive). I don’t want to buy expensive, commercial size binding machines, or spend hours punching disc holes by hand, finding machines to cut the paper down to a specific size, re-printing if the machine slips, spend time assembling the planners by hand etc. – my time is much better spent elsewhere. These types of things are not something I would enjoy or want to spend my time doing, even if I had the time to do so.
As you’ve probably noticed from many planner reviews, I’m very picky about paper type, color and quality. I always do a pen test to see if there’s ghosting or bleed through, I prefer bright white paper that’s smooth to write on and no ghosting or bleed through. I would struggle to find a local print company that could make a planner for me, and one that would even talk to someone who only wanted a small quantity as a trial run.
Related post: Bullet Journal notebooks with the best paper (my top 7)
I hope this post clarified this question! And no, I won’t be stopping the planner reviews anytime soon 🙂
More reader FAQ’s answered in these posts:
Some of my favorite local (Australian) planner companies
- Whistle and Birch Weekly Planner Review (All layouts + pen testing)
- Planners Made in Australia (roundup)
- Mi Goals Planners Haul & Review
Some of my favorite international planner companies
- Plum Paper Planners Haul & Review (better than the Erin Condren?)
- MAMBI Happy Planner Discbound Punch versus the ARC (are they compatible?)
- Agendio Planners Haul (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Project Planner & Bullet Journals)
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