The Color of Money


Here is proof  that the color of money can be fun.  Our self publishing course “Self Fulfilled – How to be a Self Publisher” focuses on how to turn passions into profit.  One lesson in the course tells how my mom’s passion was always antique dolls.  Since she attended many doll exhibitions, I suggested she publish a coloring book on antique dolls.  She could sell the books at the doll exhibitions which not only defrayed her costs but turned her doll activities into tax deductible events.

sandra strait

The color of money. Image from my sister’s website that helps reduce tension through art.

Stupid idea right? Who can make money from coloring books?

The Daily Mail article entitled “The colour of money: British author sells more than a million copies around the world of her colouring-in books for grown-ups”(1) shows that coloring books can be very profitable. The article tells how  Johanna Basford’s coloring book for adults, “Secret Garden”, sold over a million copies (at about $10 per book).  The book has been translated into 14 different languages.  In Paris it outsold France’s best-selling cookery books.

The International Business Times article “Secret Garden’ Coloring Book Outsells Harper Lee As Adults Seek ‘Digital Detox” (2) tells how here the second book has sold 1.4 million copies and has been translated into 22 languages.  The article says:  “With all the hype surrounding Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman,” it might be a surprise that the book that is outselling it on Amazon is an adult coloring book: Johanna Basford’s “Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book.”

Major name brands including Absolut Vodka, Sony, Nike, Smart Car and Tate Modern have licensed many of her illustrations. Plus she has developed a website (3) and blog features intricate and whimsical illustrations for adults to color.

A basic behind her success is that Ms. Basford started drawing as a way to relax!

There is a real demand for things that give adults some creativity without required training or perceived skill, and that take them back to their childhood.  This demand can create opportunity for writers and self publishers.

My sister, Sandra, has tapped into this market as well. She created a website and blog based around an art form used for relaxation.

Part of our Self Publishing Course “SP 303, Lesson 6” started a series on social networking and looked at her success.

The lesson starts:  “Social networking in self publishing is a socially acceptable way to create wealth, make friends and have fun.”

life imitates doodles

(From my sister’s website

This site had 755 followers, 1,460,549 views (and rising) when this lesson was written.

My sister, Sandra Kay Strait, (Babsis to me) is a genius and a remarkable artist.  While I love writing every day, Babsis loves to create art.  When she quit her day job, she turned her hand to creating a website that she has expanded only through social networking.

She has done really well and uses her blog above, plus Life Imitates Doodles WordPress with 218 followers and 163,097 views  (this blog is for people on older PCs who have trouble with Blogger).  She posts exactly the same content on both blogs, except for giveaways, which are only on Blogger.

She uses Flickr, has 1,406 contacts and has had over 4 million views…to be exact 4,613,672.

Her Life Imitates Doodles Google+ account has 55 followers and has had 41,138 views.  (She set up this page just to reserve the Life Imitates Doodles name.)

On Twitter she has 1,981 followers.

Her personal Facebook page has 547 friends. Her Life Imitates Doodles Facebook page has 475 Likes.

At Tumblr she has 147 followers.  At Pinterest she has 1,139 followers.

At her main Google+ page “Rooibas Google+”  she has 863 followers and has had an incredible 7 million view (actually 7,421,032)!

In other words. over 11 million visits so far, all created through social networking.

To begin a social networking series of lessons, I asked her this question:  “What is the center of your system?”

Here is her reply:  “The center of my system would be my blogs.  I can post there in great detail, placing decent sized photos of my artwork and going into detail about my artistic choices and processes.  I write reviews on paper and drawing products, hold giveaways–ones where I supply the prize, and also ones that I host for companies such as Exaclair, Inc. or Jetpens, and I share my artwork, often with a tutorial that will help others who want to try my techniques.  I also regularly post links to posts on other sites that are similar, so people can come to my site and find resources for tutorials and giveaways and reviews on subjects we all have in common.

“With every blog post, I also post a link on several media sites–Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, Flickr, and Twitter  On the media sites, people can see a thumbnail of my artwork, the title on the post and, depending on the site, some of the text.  As people scan the media sites of their choice, they see enough of my post to tell if my blog entry will be of interest.  Obviously, a photo or drawing helps catch attention, and the title is very important.  If it doesn’t catch interest, then I don’t get engagement–people won’t click through and read my blog entry.

“While there is engagement on many of the sites–people commenting in response on Facebook or Flickr, etc., I hope to bring them to my blog, where they will get the most from what I am posting.

“To do this I’m relying on two ways to draw people.  My art, as it appears in thumbnail form on the media, and regularity.  I never have drawings or photos on my resource link lists, but I post those on a regular basis.  It was daily for quite some time, but I now only post the list three days a week.  I try to have the lists post at exactly the same time each day, and on the same three days.  My artwork posts are more likely to pull in new viewers who see the thumbnails, but my regular posts will keep people coming back.  I have followers who visit my blog each day, looking for interesting articles.  I get views, and I’m helping other people get traffic to their blogs.”

This is a continuing and interactive course, so be sure to send me your questions as they’ll help Sandra and me shape the next lessons.


(1) Daily Mail – British author sells million copies of colouring book

(2) International Business Times – Secret garden coloring book outsells Harper Lee as adults seek digital detox

(3) Johanna Basford Website

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