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Musical Score
The Logistics of Running a Profile Shop
As most people know, I closed my profile shop back at the end of 2017 due to various reasons. It's been almost 6 months now... I've made a few profiles for friends and auctions, but recently I've been considering whether or not I can handle re-opening my permanent shop.

When it comes down to it, there's a lot of logistics which go into running a profile shop:

1. Coding Knowledge
You can learn the majority of CSS and HTML within about 3 ~ 6 months (as I did). After that, it's mostly just practice in order to retain this knowledge and then maybe staying on top of new advances in CSS3/4/5/etc. However, coding on Gaia adds a unique twist to this since you also have to familiarize yourself with Gaia's default CSS and their unique selectors.

2. Bug Knowledge
Going along with the coding knowledge, information about bugs/hacks/problems/etc. which exist with Gaia profiles is another important part of being a profile coder. For example, one of the major ongoing problems is that the Current (v2) editor is not friendly towards chromium browsers (Chrome, Opera, Edge, Safari, etc.). Moving panels around is extremely tricky, and this interferes with coding various complex v2 layouts. You may be able to create something awesome, but if the customer can't rearrange their panels in order to make the code work, then the whole layout is essentially worthless.

3. Graphics & Image Permissions
With the availability of free graphics programs like GIMP and Pixlr, you don't have to spend a pretty penny to be able to do decent graphics. However, as with all programs, there is a bit of a learning curve you have to undergo. With that, you also face the dilemma of copyright: Technically, even though it is pixel coins, we are still earning a profit through profile commissions. Therefore, according to copyright law, all images/fonts/brushes/etc. we use must be marked as "Free for Commercial Use" if we wish to use it (unless you go about asking permission from the creator or purchasing a license to use such assets commercially). Unfortunately, this is an ongoing problem in the Personalized Graphics community and many shops ignore these legal restrictions.

4. Image Hosting
Going along with the point above, image hosting is another terrible thing to deal with. A single layout can use anywhere from 0 to 20+ images... and this can quickly add up for someone who runs a profile shop. (Looking back through my own galleries, I uploaded over 500 images in 2017. I wasn't even open for the entire year!) To run a successful long-term shop, you need an image host which is reliable and supports pretty much unlimited uploads. Of course, the alternative to this is requiring customers to save their own images and upload them to their own host... but realistically, only about 20% of people actually do this when instructed to do so.

5. Pricing Appropriately
Prices are actually extremely hard to figure out for profiles since every layout is different. One person may only want 3 panels and a simple background, while another person wants 8 panels and 10 buttons plus fancy graphics and animations. How do you price each one of these? Have a flat rate for all layouts? Charge per panel? Have people post their ideas and then you give an estimate cost? What if they change their mind and want to add/remove things partway through?

6. Time
Of course, time is going to be part of any logistics list. Personally, layouts took anywhere from 1 ~ 6+ hours for me to make. Coding could typically be done in 1-2 hours, but graphics could take a whole lot longer depending on detail and inspiration. You can shorten your coding time by using pre-written templates which you just tweak for every layout, but this can get boring and actually make you forget how to code.

- - - - - - - - - - -

There's probably a lot more that goes into the logistics of running a shop, but these are the major ones which I remember. Personally, #2 and #4 are the biggest turnoffs for me: In the past, I've had two very stressful instances of image hosts shutting down and me having to restore hundreds of layouts, and I have no desire to deal with that again. Along with that, I also have no desire to help walk people through bugged out v2 layouts. I'm sick of the lack of attention profiles have gotten. I've been bugging the staff about this for literal years and their response is the same: it's on the back-burner. At this point, it would be better to just scrap both templates and create an entirely new one, but that would take even more time to create... so that's why I'm just stuck sitting in limbo at the moment: kind of wanting to code, but also kind of not wanting to touch anything having to deal with profiles.

Lady Saxophone
Community Member
Lady Saxophone
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