After much soul-searching and serious consideration I’ve made the heart-wrenching decision to close or more accurately shut down (since it’s an internet based entity), my ‘business’ 3 Days in London.
3 Days in London came about through my passion for sharing the many beautiful places and amazing secrets I had discovered in London during my many walkabouts. Born out of that passion the first few years were a labour of love, a joy that lifted my heart whenever I go into the city, and while that joy is still there, the business of 3DiL has become a weight on my heart.
I’ve invested years, months, days and many thousands of hours on my twitter account, sharing articles and snippets of information ….for FREE. Likewise the website and my facebook page. I get very very little interest or activity on either despite spending money on facebook ads. I’m disheartened when I look at the analytics and discover that although I spend up to 8 hours creating a website article to make it as interesting as possible and adding relevant images, people spend maybe 22 seconds on the site….evidently the content is not of sufficient interest for them to stay longer. And according to the ‘experts; those gurus of social media’ we’re meant to post at least three times a week!!!
Facebook changes it’s algorithyms more often than I change my knickers, and Google do the same!! How the heck do you keep up!
During 2010-2012 I created 3 one-day itineraries of London, full days guaranteed to give visitors a full-on experience of London. Trying to find a suitable site to upload them to for ease of use and ensure I get paid something without most of the money going to the relevant site has been…what shall I say? Difficult!. Self-publishing sites charge a fortune and I don’t have the necessary skills to set the itineraries up by myself…as well as which the cost of installing a shopping basket is mind-numbingly expensive. And by the time the publishing site and paypal have deducted their commission, I’d need to sell hundreds to have anything resembling an income and thousands to cover the initial costs.
In 2013 I designed and set up the 3Dil app. The developer was meant to give me statistics and reports were discussed at the initial meeting. It took nearly two years just to get anything set up on-line, but to date I am still unable to get anything that resembles a decent format, certainly nothing that I’m able to access unless I have my computer with me, something that I can use, so that I can approach relevant businesses for a mutual arrangement so that I can start earning some money. Unless I sit down every day and obtain the information manually……but that was not the original agreement. Can you imagine if I approach a Boutique Hotel or Restaurant to set up a business deal for renting space on the app….. ”How many downloads do you have on a daily and monthly basis?” Uhmmmm. “Oh a lot”. “How many active users?” “Gee well, I’d have to look every day and add it up manually”. How many uninstalls do you have on a monthly basis?” Uh gosh, actually my developer says that she is unable to give me that information”. “Oh well, sorry but we can’t do business on a wing and a fcking prayer”. The App has cost me well over £3500.00 to date. The app itself is free for users to download. It doesn’t make any sense at ALL to continue if it can’t pay for itself.
Besides being unable to get the information I need, most of my emails, phone calls and text message are ignored. When I follow up, I’m told ‘oh I didn’t get the email’ or ‘ oh my phone wasn’t working’. Yeah right.
Lesson #1 don’t do business with a friend.
In 2014 I redesigned my website, to make it more user friendly and useful; provide a resource for visitors to London. Gave it to a website developer, someone who should have been trustworthy. After fiddle faddling for months with excuses and delays, bearing in mind I had already paid her a substantial sum of money to get started, I put a bit of pressure on to get the first draft – that alone it took nearly 6 months!!!, and the total cock-up she sent through sent me into meltdown. I fired her immediately. I didn’t get my money back.
In 2014 investing a whole lot of time, I created a calendar for 2015 showing annual and traditional events in London. That met with some success with some of my friends and family buying their copies….it was so thrilling! I didn’t make much profit on them, but I so enjoyed making them and when someone actually bought them!! Wow 🙂
so, inspired by this, I spent weeks compiling the 2016 calendar, sorting through photos, sourcing quotes to suit the images, and researching the dozens of annual and traditional events in London over the year….a few of my facebook friends bought some and an ‘Angel’ saved the day and bought 4 copies.
The rest lie on a shelf at home; I made a loss due to the total lack of interest… I put some money into Facebook ads, promoted it on Twitter, on my website, on instagram, but sadly there was no real interest.
In 2015 I spent months compiling the ‘While You Are There…53 Places to visit in London’ book, painstaking hours of finding interesting information and photos to fit, designing and rearranging the pages, the formatting is sheer murder; if you change one sentence you could end up having to reformat dozens of pages…after all that I sold 3 copies and made £13.46 in profit after deductions and tax. Self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted!!! Thanks to my one facebook friend for his support )Peter B, you know who you are 😉 )and to my lovely instagram friend for her support (Jaeden, you know who you are 😉 ). On the plus side, I sent one to The Queen last year in September and apparently she liked it 😉 I even got a letter of thanks from her Lady-in-Waiting. – what a cool title.
Besides all of this, the website keeps crashing. I’ve got all the correct security in place, the spam blockers…et etc. But each time it crashes I have to phone the hosting company to fix it. They now won’t help unless I pay them £40 a time! It’s just getting too much. It sends me into a spiral of frustration and depression when I try to log on and a message tells me ” Bandwidth has been exceeded”. wtf??? Seriously. grrr
I can’t compete with the likes of Visit London, Londonist and Time Out. Clearly whatever it is I’m doing, is not working.
Over the last 6 years the business has cost me well over £8,000. I have maybe made £150 turnover from the sale of products. There is clearly a discrepancy here and I won’t be retiring any time soon on the proceeds! I wasn’t even looking to retire on the proceeds, I was however hoping to generate enough income to allow me to spend more time in London and have a life besides working.
They say you can’t flog a dead horse…..well at the moment that’s what it feels like…..I’m flogging a dead horse. I reached breaking-point in September 2014 at which stage I nearly shut the whole thing down out of sheer frustration. After I recovered my equilibrium I decided to give it one more go….but nothing’s changed, I still can’t get what I need from the app, the website keeps crashing, I’m not prepared to spend another £900 on having a new site designed and what’s the point of having products if no-one buys them…..clearly it’s not what people are looking for. …..I’m fed up. If I look at the reality, then it’s time to say goodbye and move on.
So after almost 6 years of working at the business every spare minute, starting early in the morning and finishing late at night when at home, seldom even getting up from my chair even to eat, and snatching every spare minute while working away from home.
Am I sad? Yes, I’m devastated, having the dream has kept me sane the last 6 years. I adore London, I love to share information, I love to attend the events and explore her many streets and alleyways, but I can no longer support what is not serving me. London will always have a very special place in my heart and I certainly won’t stop exploring and enjoying.
An ‘Angel’ said to me a few weeks ago…..”What would happen if you closed this door?” And so on the premise that when one door closes another one opens, as of 31/03/2016, just 38 days short of the 6th anniversary, 3 Days in London will cease to exist.
On the plus side I have met some wonderful people, many of whom have become really good friends. I have through one of those friends been able to participate in some fantastic events; The Green Man in 2013, The Tudor Pull in 2013 & 2014 and the Magna Carta River Relay in 2015….thanks Joe (and Malcolm) 🙂 I’m forever grateful for those opportunities.
I’ve been invited to a number of previews with Historic Royal Palaces…I remember receiving my first invitation…..thrilling just doesn’t describe it. I’ve also been invited to previews of exhibitions in the City of London, mostly notably through the wonderful people at Guildhall, and invited to do a few reviews at restaurants…again, what a thrill to receive the invitation. I hope I did them justice.
But now I can go to events and exhibitions to just enjoy the moment – without worrying about an angle to follow, without feeling like I have to share as much information about said event so that folks don’t miss out, and without feeling like I have to do anything more than just enjoy myself.
As well as which, I can now start travelling – there is so much of the UK and Europe I still want to see before leaving this earthly coil, and time is running out. Am I tired of London? No…..In the words of Samuel Johnson “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
I love London and it will always be my most favourite place on the planet, and I have no doubt I will return again and again.
So for now it’s au revoir 3 Days in London, and c’est la vie