Monday, June 21, 2021

An Update on YouTube and other video content


It’s been a real struggle for us to keep current on video content largely due to outside influences. We went through a period without a viable studio to record in. Then when we had the studio, we had equipment stolen. Then we lost our videographer. This has impacted our YouTube content which we really enjoy using as a way to show off our products and explain different processes that are difficult to do in written form.

We believe we’re on the cusp of being able to relaunch our YouTube video content. We plan on starting with a few videos tackling the Retraktable mechanical pencils, an in-depth look and a shorter spot that focuses on functionality. We’ll move from that to updating all of our old content specifically pen overview videos, refill videos, and compare & contrast videos. The plan is to get a fresh look on a lot of the older content in our new studio with current versions.

Hopefully, we can keep up on YouTube content going forward. We really want to have fresh ideas while resurrecting old content. Shop Shorts is a series we want to revive, plus we’d like to flesh out another series of shorter videos that accompany some of the “What’s In My” newsletter segments. It would be nice to offer some short content that corresponded with many of our newsletter segments. Maybe even move some to completely video related rather than written content.

Staying in the video content, we’re looking at doing a series of Facebook Live events. Initially, these would be done via the Karas Pen Club Facebook group so we could test the process with a smaller number of viewers. We’d likely do 2-4 via the club, and if those ran smoothly, we’d plan and execute the first Facebook Live event on our Facebook business page.

We know a lot of people don’t use Facebook, but it’s an easy way for us to do live content geared toward a group of individuals that already interact with our company on a more frequent basis. The plan is to cover a one or two topics, then we’d open the event to a short question and answer portion. Then down the road, our Facebook Live events would be something we did on a monthly basis, and revolve around a scripted portion that we’d plan followed by a brief open forum style that could be question and answer or a live video shop tour or even a “meet a Karas Team Member” event.

Lastly, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback on our audio quality of the last videos we posted. We’ve addressed this with some better technology and hopefully when we come back the audio quality won’t be an issue. The Facebook Live events will be a work in progress, at least initially, so we may tweak the audio process as we go so we can dial that in as well. We haven’t done a live video event in over four years, so you’ll have to bear with us. We’re working on getting all of this up and running, and we appreciate your patience. If you don’t already subscribe to our YouTube channel, please consider subscribing now. That will keep you up-to-date when we publish a new video or eventually do a YouTube live event. You can find our Facebook page HERE. If you’re interested in more information on the Karas Pen Club, you can find that HERE.

Monday, June 7, 2021

You’re Thinking About Your First Pen Show…


Things are starting to open back up, and around the United States many of the pen show organizers are sending out notices that they’re planning on hosting shows this year. Maybe you’ve thought about attending one in the past, and you’ve made the decision that this might be a good year to do so. Travel is still a bit cheap, you’ve got some extra money, you’re able to easily work remotely, and you need a break from the same four walls. While Karas Pen Co won’t be attending shows this year, we’ve got some tips and tricks we’d like to pass along to aid your pen-venture.

First off, make a budget because if you don’t you may end up spending WAY more than you’d planned on. Pen shows are one of those places where there’s bound to be something that catches your eye on EVERY SINGLE TABLE. There will be a lot of the same thing on multiple tables, but there are also a lot of unique items especially if you’re considering vintage fountain pens. In line with this budget thing, unless you’re looking for something VERY specific, don’t buy the first time you see something. Most vendors get set up early, peruse the other tables, then kind of price stuff close to each other. But there are numerous stories of someone buying a pen the first time they saw it, only to find a similar or better example of the pen for considerably cheaper at another table.

To go along with this, pen shows are meant for bargaining. This isn’t a true blanket statement. Some sellers simply won’t shift from their prices. Most of those are the larger stores, manufacturers, and some hardnosed sellers. But many, if not most, of the other tables will be set up by someone who understands there is going to be a lot of “wheeling and dealing” going on. So don’t be afraid to try to talk the price down a bit, it works in a LOT of cases.

One piece of advice you’ll hear tossed around is the “ask before you touch” statement. This is good advice for the most part, but I think it is becoming less of something vendors are really vehement about. There are some hardline vendors that will get bent out of shape if you touch their wares, but a lot of vendors are really trying hard to sell things. They understand people are there to touch the pens. Be respectful and careful with their product, and if you feel like asking first that’s nice but I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as it used to be.

Spend as much time in the hotel common areas with the pen nerds as possible. There are often classes and meet ups at scheduled times during the shows, but after the show closes there are also planned and spontaneous gatherings. Pen nerds are an amazingly kind group of people for the most part. They’re all in one place to geek out about pens, paper, and ink. They’re pretty much a jolly bunch and tend to take over the bar, restaurant, and patio area for long sessions of eating, drinking, talking, and sharing pens with other people. This is your chance to write with almost any pen imaginable. You’ll likely see every pen you’ve ever considered as a “grail” pen, and you’ll be gladly given the opportunity to write with them. That’s how much pen nerds want to show off their stuff. If you’re staying for the entire show, this evening gathering will likely evolve into a dinner somewhere, drinks and cigars, and all kinds of other cool stuff. It’s just a really fun time.

But if you’ve travelled far to a show, then also consider taking some time to see the sights. There isn’t anything wrong with taking a detour to spend a little time doing non-pen related things. There are always other opportunities in almost every city that hosts a pen show. Taking a break to head to a museum, see a baseball game, or walk through some of the tourist attractions, makes the entire trip that much more memorable.

Hopefully, this list is helpful. We can’t wait to spend some time with those of you that do attend shows in the future. We’ve paused shows for the time being, but we do intend to go to several as soon as we wrap up some major production, prototyping, and new designs. Due to our shift in plans to manufacturing and our need to plan that out through 2021, we didn’t think we could pull off a good show presence this year, but we’ll be back soon enough.