Business reflections from Japan 🇯🇵

Of Pokémon, Harry Potter and making more $$$

Pokémon Worlds 2023 video game championship finals

I’m back from my holiday in the Land of the Rising Sun!

I had such a great time sightseeing and eating all that oishii (delicious) Japanese food. (I’m already craving to eat Jap food again now…!)

Unexpectedly, I also picked up some business inspiration, which I should totally use as a reason to claim business travel expenses just kidding I wanted to share.

So even though I know I said in my previous newsletter that I’ll cover advice for people who want to be a freelancer, I’m gonna push that back to the next edition.

Here goes.

1. Building a business where demand far, far outstrips supply

I was in Japan (Yokohama, specifically) to spectate at the Pokémon World Championships. It was amazing, but it was also nuts.

Pokémon Worlds 2023 video game championship finals

You had to join a ballot to get a spectator pass or take part in many of the side events because just too many people wanted to do the same. (I did not get any of the things I balloted for.)

The Worlds venue itself and surrounding areas were also packed. I kid you not that I ended up queuing an hour just to buy a 180-yen Spicy Bacon Potato Pie from McDonald’s. (It wasn’t too bad! Hope they bring it to Singapore)

At the Worlds pop-up merch store, people were grabbing everything off the shelves. Many items were out of stock.

People carrying 5 shopping bags mostly filled with Pokémon trading card game playmats
Look at these people carting away playmats—probably to resell 🙃—as if they’re free!

I also spent an hour just paying for my stuff. At least 20 minutes of that was spent standing on the spot near the store entrance, and nowhere near the checkout lines, as the staff let the crowd in front dissipate first.

As I said, it was nuts.

Being on the receiving end of such supply shortfalls wasn’t exactly the most pleasant experience. But it was also inspiring in a way.

Just imagine you had a business where tons of people are eager to work with you. Or buy your stuff. With no qualms about paying the price you ask (or even more).

Your business would thrive for a long time.

2. Generating multiple revenue streams from one highly successful intellectual property

Now, we switch fandoms!

After Worlds ended, and feeling quite Pokémon-ed out, I headed to Tokyo. It was relatively quieter compared to the previous craziness, lol.

I visited the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo: The Making of Harry Potter, which showcases sets and props from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies.

There was a lot to see. I spent the whole day there and still couldn’t view everything in detail because I had to leave for a dinner reservation.

Ministry of Magic set at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo: The Making of Harry Potter
I gasped when I entered the recreated Ministry of Magic set

If J.K. Rowling hadn’t dreamed up boy wizard Harry Potter on the train, I wouldn’t have been at that studio tour.

But because she did, and it took the world by storm, she ultimately created a huge Wizarding World media franchise that doesn’t just stop at her original 7 books, but also includes things like:

  • Merch (hats, robes, wands, Hogwarts invitation letters, plushies, keychains, etc, etc)
  • Movies
  • Food (from edible, if sadly non-magical, Chocolate Frogs to outrageously expensive Butterbeer to Harry Potter Café dishes)
  • Theme park rides
  • Studio tours, like the one I went to.

I don’t know how J.K. Rowling’s royalties are structured, but I’m amazed at how every sale and every visit from the above will likely send money her way, long after she published her last Harry Potter book in 2007.

Now, she just has to keep the interest in Harry Potter going with more films, attractions, maybe even new books, so her Wizarding World empire continues to bring in the moolah for her.

And again, imagine if you came up with a brilliant idea or intellectual property that does the same for yourself!

It would be like magic.

More freelancer news

Preventing freelance burnout

This Yahoo! article covers tips from 4 freelancers on preventing burnout, such as:

  1. Reflecting on why you decided to get into your line of work
  2. Intentionally scheduling rest periods and days off
  3. Not overcommitting yourself
  4. Having a community or support system to see you through challenges

Apart from these, I find diversifying your client base and work also helps.

Clients generally want their work done a certain way and I think I’d get tired and burnt out if I were writing in the exact same style too frequently.

So even though I could earn more from each client by doing more work for them, sometimes I like to cap the number of projects I take on for them every month.

This way, I can change up the work I do, and keep things fresh and interesting for myself.

Measures in place to support freelance adult educators

In my previous newsletter, I spotlighted a forum letter where the writer thought the Institute of Adult Learning (IAL) should “champion” the welfare of freelance trainers (or adult educators).

Two organisations then replied to his letter:

  1. IAL itself replied to say it runs programmes for freelance adult educators to upskill, such as programmes for leveraging AI. It also provides platforms for adult educators to chart their career, network and get work.
  2. The Education Services Union (which represents adult educators) also replied to share the things it has done to help adult educators. For example, its members can tap into the Union Training Assistance Programme to offset their training costs.

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 31 Aug 2023. If you liked it, you can sign up for my newsletter here:

Tan Siew Ann
I’m a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let’s forge your freedom. 💪

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