Character Business: How to Visualize Progress
I started a character business and I still don’t know how I’m doing.
It’s been three weeks since I came back to Korea, brimming with ideas for my own character business — the Snooze Trio. Following my artistic instinct without much thought, I whipped up 6 drawings and illustrations to post on the official Instagram account. I used hashtags (#illustration, #character, etc.) to reach out to the potential audience while diligently liking and commenting on other Instagram posts. Ever since, I gained some followers. Not a lot, but around 40 or more so. The average likes per post also increased by 20. Okay good, but am I making progress?
This thought came out of nowhere while I was lying on my bed, getting ready for a good night’s sleep. But it’s been bothering me every night since (notice the eye bags?). How fast is my Instagram account growing? Is this slow or fast? Am I doing a good job, or do I need to work harder?
I realized how unaware I was of the fact that this is “character business” that I am working on, not an art project solely dedicated to aesthetics and pleasure. Its a project that involves marketing with strategy and careful planning of content. And this ignorance caused several problems:
Problems of Not Measuring Progress
- Uncertainty and Lack of Motivation
I got 10 more followers from this Instagram post, so I must be doing real good! Maybe I will award myself with a break tomorrow!
I found myself becoming more and more lenient with myself as time passed. It’s great that more followers and more likes got me to think optimistically about this project, but one dangerous perception encouraged me to slack off — the thought that I was working enough. What if I set milestones for every Monday and Thursday for a change? Will that keep me constantly motivated and alert? Will this also bring me the satisfaction of reaching goals?
- No Retrospection or Improvement
Which posts were most popular and which were the least? Why were they popular? Could it be the time of the day I posted them on Instagram? Could it be the content? Is there a certain style that the Instagram audience likes? Or is it that the more frequently I upload illustrations, the more likely that they are discovered? If I figure out the magic behind Instagram success, I would be able to advertise my characters more effectively.
- Power of Documentation
Look, I didn’t just draw and take pictures during my precious summer. I did much more than that.
I want to be able to show others what I have done, of the measures I have taken to unravel the mysterious journey of starting a character business. The journey may end up a complete failure. But even so, there will always be growth and I want to be able to prove that growth.
Alright, now that I reflected on how problematic my character business is, it’s time to pick myself up from this deadlock. Here are the steps I took to devise up a solution for the problem:
Steps for Solution
- Status Quo
- Available Options
- Designing My Solution
- Building the Solution
I. Status Quo
All the data keeping and weekly reflections are done in the good old fashioned way. I update the numbers on my diary every time and jot down comments whenever I feel like it.
There is no punctuality. It lacks visual data representation. It has no audience but myself. The notebook itself containing all data can get damaged or lost.
Considering all these drawbacks, it would be nice to have a single data keeping online platform that I, as well as anyone who may concern, can access from anywhere and whenever. On top of that, I will need to think of a set of milestones for this character business project.
Sudden Idea: I also have a personal website (ekyoon.me) created as a portfolio. Why not I create a page for the Snooze Trio to show how its progress to whoever may be interested in? 유레카~ (eureka)
II. Available Options
After some research about available options, I came to the conclusion that a combination of the Instagram Insights with the Instagram Graph API would be the best for representing my Instagram statistics. The Instagram data will be shown on my personal website realtime without me having to manually update the backend. But then…
Although I have boldly stated this project as “Character Business,” it is yet to be strictly called a business as it’s still on the stage of earning publicity instead of gaining income. Sadly, business verification here means uploading either a business license, certificate of formation, incorporation document, etc., which I do not have. Perhaps I might leave Instagram Graph API for later…
Then what about my backend?
I decided to use a simple data backend that I am most confident of using: Google Sheets! First, it meets all the basic requirements except for the realtime part. I will need to be updating the data manually. Second, I have experience pulling data from Google Sheets to represent on a web application! Easy! Lastly, I have all of my works on Google Drive so why not use Google again?
III. Designing My Solution
Most Valuable Data in Main Page
- All Medium Publications
- Total Reach/Impressions per Week
- Followers per Day
- Average Post Likes per Week
- Top 3 Instagram Posts
To begin explaining my rough design for the Snooze Trio page, it puts data visualization of number one importance. I want to show myself as well as others how much progress I am making and the decisions I have made throughout. The graphs and numbers, having the highest hierarchy in the page, are naturally put on the very top and on a single page so that the viewer does not need to scroll down to see more. The different graphs are toggle-able, and the lines follow the color scheme of the Snooze Trio logo. Instagram posts and Medium publications are listed below. There will only be three top Instagram posts by likes while, on the other hand, I will list all Medium publications because they all represent important decisions and reflections.
IV. Building My Solution
To see how I built the Google Sheets backend and linked it with my personal website using JSON, see this article.
To be frank, this is not the finalized version of the Snooze Trio Page. I am planning to constantly update the page according to my needs and according to the feedback I receive from friends and colleagues.
Great feedback from fellow friends and designers:
- Add an introduction of the Snooze Trio on the page before showing the analytics! Because people who do not know the Snooze Trio will be confused when they see the graphs and numbers. Even if I am planning to introduce them in a separate Medium article, introduce them one more time on the top portion of the page!
- Think of a stronger phrase than “My Personal Character Branding Project.” Perhaps a catch phrase of the Snooze Trio?
- Design is inconsistent throughout Snooze Trio page, About page, Projects page. Besides the navigation bar, the content blocks’ widths are different as well as the overall structures. It might look more professional to unify the style!
- Explain words like “Reach” and “Impressions,” as they are Instagram specific jargons! Perhaps a little glossary?
If you have other suggestions on how to improve my website, please do not hesitate to comment! I am also looking forward to advice and thoughts about the Snooze Trio :) Thank you for reading!