[414] How much does it cost to launch your own planner?

With sales of planners and organisers topping $386 million last year, we're clearly a generation obsessed with planning. 

And since I launched my Social Media Diary & Planner, back in 2017, I get asked tons of questions from people who want to launch their own. 

So in this podcast episode, I answer your burning questions, including the number 1 question I get asked: how much does it cost to launch a planner?

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode.}

1.How much does it cost to launch your own planner?

The rather unsatisfactory answer to this is: it depends. On a number of things, including: 

  •  How many pages you want
  •  The size (e.g. A4, A1) 
  •  Type of printing 
  •  Weight and type of paper 
  •  Finish (e.g. gloss/matt) 
  •  Type of binding e.g. spiral or perfect bound 

If you don’t have all of this information to hand, you won’t even be able to get a quote from a printer.

So if you want to launch your own planner, one of the first things you need to do is sit down and plan out exactly what you will include on every page of your planner - even down to how many pages you want for each month of the year. This is generally known as a flatplan. I include flatplan templates in my online masterclass: how to launch your own planner.

This is important because you can only print a perfect bound book (and, essentially, your planner is a book)  in multiples of four pages. This means that if you decide to add or take away content at a later stage, it could have a big impact on your project (and your budget). If you go for spiral bound, you can add or take away pages in multiples of two, but if you don’t plan out your content thoroughly beforehand, you could still create problems for yourself further down the line. 

it’s difficult to estimate how many pages you will need without knowing how your planner will be laid out.  Sites like Canva and Creative Market have planner templates you can browse for inspiration. Pinterest is also a great resource for ideas.  

At this stage, you also need to do some research on the correct paper weight for your planner and best method of binding. If you want to create a product people can use (and possibly carry around with them) for a full year, it needs to be hardy. The last thing you want is people complaining/asking for refunds because your planner is not high quality. 

So the best thing you can do at this stage - is to create a flatplan of your planner, then contact a number of printers for a quotation. 

Most printers will be happy to advise you and/or send through paper samples. It’s important to touch/feel the paper yourself before you get anything printed. I’d also suggest buying some different planners so you can compare size, binding and layout plus how easy they are to use. 

While it may be tempting to outsource your printing overseas, this may not be the best practical solution. Although it can be cheaper, if there is a problem with the printing, it’s much more difficult to fix if your printer is overseas. This is definitely something to bear in mind if you want to launch a seasonal planner i.e. one that runs from January to January.  Not only will you need to allow additional time for the initial print and delivery, if you are unhappy with any aspect of the printing, it could take weeks (or even months) to fix. This is not to say it is a bad idea, but for your first planner, it may be best to stay local.

There are instructions on how to create a flatplan for your planner (and flatplan templates), a checklist of information you need to supply a printer with in order to get a quote and a list of all the printing terminology you need to know in my online masterclass on how to launch your own planner.

2. How do I price my planner? 

Once you have some printing quotes (I'd suggest getting three) you can estimate how much it will cost you to produce each copy of your planner. Then, based on how much profit you want to make (and research on similar products on the market) you can decide on the price of your planner.  

When costing out your planner, remember you also need to include things like:

  • Packaging (and postage, although you may want to add this on to each order)
  • Fulfilment i.e. getting the planner packaged up and sent out 
  • Stripe/PayPal fees
  • Design 
  • Proofreading and editing 
  • Marketing 
  • Your own time 

There is a checklist of all the costs you need to consider in my online masterclass on how to launch your own planner. 

If you don’t want the hassle of organising your own printing, there is the option of using a print-on-demand service like Createspace, Lulu or Ingram Spark. With this option, you upload your artwork file for your planner to their website and, every time someone orders a copy, it is printed and sent to them. This cuts down on packaging and fulfilment costs, but you will still need to pay for design, editing and proofreading. 

While print-on-demand is often less expensive per copy, you also have less control over the process.  So if something goes wrong, it can be much more difficult to fix. Many people mistakenly think that using a large, established platform means you have a ready-made audience to buy their planner. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You will still need to work really hard to market your planner. 

There is a detailed comparison of DIY printing versus print-on-demand in my online masterclass on how to launch a planner for your industry.

3. Do I need to build an audience before I launch my planner?

Ideally yes...otherwise who are you going to sell your planner to?

Most online sales convert at just 1-2%, so if you’re hoping to sell hundreds or thousands of copies of your planner, you will need a large enough audience to sell to. You can use my audience calculator to see if you have enough people in your audience right now to make your target sales. 

If you don’t have a big enough audience, you have two choices. You can either focus on building your online audience to the size you need to launch a planner. This may take at least a year but could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Learn how to build an online audience. 

Or you can explore the idea of doing a short print run to test your idea. This will almost certainly reduce your profit, as shorter print runs are generally more expensive. But it will also reduce the risk of you making a loss on your planner (and ending up with a stack of planners gathering dust in your loft/garage).

At this stage, you should also ask yourself some tough questions about whether you have the authority to launch a planner on your chosen topic. For example, if you want to launch a planner for yoga teachers, but you’re currently working in banking, you may find you don’t have the credibility to make enough sales. In this case, it would be better to spend some time building your audience before launching a planner.

4.Can I presell my planner before I launch it?

Absolutely yes. In fact, if you don’t want a stack of planners you can’t sell (and a hefty printing bill) I would absolutely recommend it. 

The reality is, you can carry out tons of research, but won’t know for sure if anyone wants to buy your planner until you ask people to pay you money for it. 

This is why I believe you shouldn’t print your planner until you have made enough sales to at least break even. 

This is why I recommend creating a test offer. This is where you get a designer to create an image of your diary, create a simple landing page (a web page where people can only do one thing i.e. order your diary) and invite people to pre-order their planner at a reduced cost on the understanding that they may need to wait a bit longer for their planner. 

I share my test offer strategy (including a checklist of the steps you need to take and the resources you need) in my how to launch a planner masterclass.

5.Do I need to hire a designer? Or can I do it myself? 

Unless you are a designer yourself, I really wouldn’t recommend it doing it yourself. 

If you want your planner to look professional, I believe you need to use a professional - ideally someone who has a background in book/magazine publishing. 

Not only will this ensure your planner has a professional look and feel, but they should also be able to advise you on any potential problems with the design. For example, a professional designer will be able to advise on font size/type, what type of content is best on the right and left-hand pages, potential problems with user experiences (e.g. left-handers). You only know that stuff if you’ve worked in publishing.

Sites like Canva and Creative Market have planner templates you can browse for inspiration. Pinterest is also great for inspiration. But, unless you are a designer, I would use it just for that - inspiration.

6. How do you decide on a topic for your planner? 

This isn’t actually on my list of frequently asked questions, but I’ve included it because it’s something people generally don’t give enough thought i.e. they create a planner they want to create - rather than something people actually want to buy. 

Remember, nice-looking stationery is all very well, but if your planner doesn’t solve a problem for people, you’ll struggle to sell it. 

Let’s take my Social Media Diary & Planner as an example. It’s an A4 desk diary that features key dates and awareness days that can help you plan out your content for the coming year. It also has planning templates that help you create annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily content plans. So the media diary solves two key problems for the people who buy it: not being able to think of any/enough content ideas and not having a clear content plan to follow. Not publishing regular content can decrease your visibility, authority and credibility - which can have an impact on the bottom line of your business. 

Remember that your planner doesn’t necessarily have to solve a practical problem e.g. not being able to think of ideas. It can also solve an emotional problem/need, such as wanting to look stylish around your peers. 

But it does need to solve a problem...otherwise it won’t sell. 

I have a planner viability test in my how to launch a planner masterclass.

Want more advice and support on how to launch your own planner? Check out my online masterclass: how to launch your own planner. 

Podcast shownotes

  • The top questions I get asked about launching a planner (01:37)
  • About my new masterclass how to launch your own planner (02:55)
  • Why I’m recording my podcast during my ‘Get it Done’ session (04:27)
  • Why I can’t tell you exactly how much it will cost to print your planner (6:09)
  • What you need to know before going to the printers for a quote (06:45)
  • Why you need to know what you want before you go to the printers  (10:20)
  • What costs you need to consider when pricing out your planner  (11:45)
  • Why you should have your diary printed locally (and not in China) (12:38)
  • Other costs you need to work out before pricing your diary (14:08)
  • Why you should do some market research before pricing your planner (17:10)
  • Why you need to build an audience if you want to sell a lot of copies (17:23)
  • How to launch a planner even if you don't have a large audience (19:49)
  • Why you need to have authority in your space if you want to sell (20:04)
  • Why you should presell your planner before you print (21:49)
  • What you should do if people don’t buy your planner on your presale (23:39)
  • Why you should use a professional designer to design your planner (25:22)
  • How to decide on a topic for your planner (27:13)
  • Why your planner has to solve a problem for someone (30:20)

Resources

Buy my 2021 Social Media Diary & Planner 

Audience Calculator: Work out the audience size you need that you need with my audience calculator  (this link will take you through to my bot)

How to create and launch a planner for your industry (podcast)

Graphic design with Canva

Self publish with Amazon Create Space

Self publish with Lulu 

Self publish with IngramSpark

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