Are you Doing One thing a Day To Market your Craft?
If you are feeling overwhelmed by everything you hear you should be doing to market your craft, you aren’t alone. Most of us need a map before we start out on a journey we’ve never taken before.
So, take a deep breath and know that if you just start somewhere, take one simple step today, you’re on your way. Wait, don’t decide to start fresh Monday. I know that trick. I’ve done it. I’ve never thought of my workweek as Monday through Friday because being self employed, I don’t follow anyone’s scheduled. I work when it’s best for me and my family. But, even if you take the weekend off, you’ll be able to relax knowing you’ve taken that first step.
Today’s assignment: choose your very best piece. Something that hasn’t been out in the marketplace yet. Now, photograph it. OK. I know you might consider that two steps. If you’re really feeling ambitious, upload it to your photo program and save it. So, three easy steps. (if you really must be a stickler about the one step a day, choose the piece today, photograph it tomorrow and upload on Sunday. Those are very tiny steps.)
So, Monday morning you are ready to take a BIG baby step on your craft marketing plan.
I’m not calling this a BIG step because it’s difficult. It isn’t. It’s simple and just so obvious but is a big step because it will make a huge difference in getting your sales rolling again.
Send this digital image of your best piece to your list of past buyers or those who have visited your booth at shows, come to your home open studio or just expressed interest in your work. (You DO keep a list, don’t you?) If you don’t have a data base of past customers, send the image to all your friends and family. You aren’t selling anything. You are simply reminding them that you are a talented crafts person. If you have already made prints or reproductions of your work, mention it. If you are in an exhibition, mention it. If you haven’t ever taken your work out of your home studio-mention it. Be open and honest about your newness and people will want to support you. Ask them to share it with their friends. A great way to get people to notice your work and pass it on is to include a quote or some kind of meaningful sentiment or story. Nothing too long, just something to make them smile or stop and think. Something that makes them nod in agreement and want to pass on to friends.
So, by Monday you will have taken your four first steps. Simple steps that will get you rolling on the the next steps.
In any business, it is always easier to bring back existing customers than to attract new ones. Obviously, you want to do both but if you have an existing buyer/collector list, cherish them. They are your most valuable assets. Send them “love notes” of customer appreciation regularly. Your art is a piece of you. You aren’t selling hardware. This is a relationship and if your buyers feel you see them as friends, they’ll be loyal to you. They will show your art to their friends and your list of collectors will grow.
See how much you’ve accomplished even though you didn’t know where to start?
Assuming you’ve followed the baby steps so far, today you are going to make a vital move. If you don’t have a data base of your mailing list, or even have a mailing list, today you will start one. This is everyone you know. Everyone. Remember, you aren’t selling to your friends and family. You are sharing your art with them. (If your work is wearable or home decorative, see other blog entries for tips on getting your work seen and download the free tips in the upper right to give you more great ideas.) If you are like the rest of us, you probably have scraps of paper and business cards all over with names of people you’ve met. Most of us toss them because we have forgotten why we picked them up. But, each of those people might know someone who could become your best customer or the connection to many great collectors. Maybe someone’ sister has a gallery or uncle is a decorator to the very wealthy. You won’t be imposing by sending them a beautiful image with a brief greeting or sentiment online. Think of it as a gift. Because it is.
Even if your list has only twenty names right now, use a contact management program such as Constant Contact. You can start out with their free trial, it’s simple, user friendly and you will have your list automated to start.
This should be day six. Now you have a list, you have an image and you are going to order some postcards. Use a site like modernpostcards.com to order one thousand postcards of your favorite piece that you photographed on day one. You can have the same quote or sentiment that you used for your email printed on the postcards. These are very inexpensive marketing tools which you will use both as mailers and handouts. Include a special offer or invitation to a home exhibit or trunk show. (more on this in other blog posts and tips at right.) Also have your domain address (url) printed on them. YOU DON’T HAVE A DOMAIN NAME OR WEBSITE? NO PROBLEM. YOU WILL BY TOMORROW. At least you’ll have a domain name and landing page.
Day seven, if you haven’t purchased your domain name, do that now. Go to a site like bluehost.com and buy your own name. Even if you have a business name and already have a web site, for ten dollars a year, buy your own name. If you already have a site under a different name, you needn’t change that, just re-direct the url with your own name to the site. This takes three minutes and is important because people are more likely to remember and search for you under your own name than a business name.
In the first week, with one small step a day, you have a great start on your art marketing program. If you need help implementing any of the above steps, be sure to email me at the contact above and I will point you in the direction of someone who can get you on your way to a successful craft marketing campaign. Keep checking back for lots more tips on where to go from here and remember to go up to the right hand of this site and get your free gift of “13 Quick, Easy, Low-cost or NO-cost Ways to Turn your Craft into Cash NOW!”
See how much you’ve accomplished in one week with just baby steps? And to think you didn’t know where to begin.
If you’ve ever grown a multi-location enterprise, you probably depended on employees to expand and keep the plates spinning. For many years, I had a payroll to make your head spin, never mind the plates.
From the title of this article, you probably thought I was going to site the expense of a large staff, right? It’s true that payroll taxes, worker’s compensation insurance, paid vacations, bonuses and benefits do eat away at the bottom line, but I’m a firm believer in incentive programs and found that awarding cash bonuses and trips to a tropical paradise does pay off in increased sales and production.
NO, my reasons for never again hiring employees has nothing to do with the massive book keeping involved in being an employer. If you are successful, you don’t have to do your own books anyway. My reason has more to do with my friends.
You read that right. My friends, not employees. You see, I always had loyal employees who became my friends but because I was also their boss, I didn’t see the “other side”.
Now I have friends who are other people’s employees and I know what they do at work. Because I am their friend, not their employer, I see the other side.
The other side looks like this. On any given weekday, my inbox is filled with links to articles, jokes and petitions. Most are from my employed friends. I always wonder, if I don’t have time to read these and I don’t even have a job, how do these people who are full time employees have time to spend online with personal email? I’ll tell you how. They’re doing it on their employer’s dime.
In almost every discussion with clients who are working toward corporate escape, the topic comes up of how they’ll make time to work on their own business. If I give an assignment for them to take steps toward self employment, they manage to get it done with out all nighters. How do they do that? I’ll tell you how. On their employer’s dime.
I’ll probably make some enemies, maybe lose some friends, even alienate potential clients when they read this article. But guess where they’re reading this? At work, on someone else’s dime.
When one of my friends who is a civil servant, a public employee sends me jokes from work, I do speak up. As a self employed person, I pay my share of taxes and I resent paying for someone to sit at work on MY tax dollars and shop online or forward jokes. While I love to help my corporate friends and clients build a business that will buy them freedom from the job world, I am sure happy they aren’t my employees. Or worse, government employees. Then I’d be paying them to hire me to help them escape. Confused?
In my opinion, the greatest benefit of the worldwide web, even greater than being able to download books or music and have them instantly, even better than being able to reach customers all over the globe, even better than connecting with you best friend from kindergarden is the ability to have assistants who you don’t have to make office space for, pay worker’s comp and payroll taxes on, purchase health insurance or fund a matching 401K. The absolutely very best benefit is that you aren’t paying them to shop online and forward email jokes. And, as was the case with a VA I interviewed recently, if they are doing their independent client work at their day job. at least it isn’t on your dime. Unless, of course, it’s a government job.
Today’s guest blogger is Barbara Winter of http://www.joyfullyjobless.com
Today my sister Margaret is headed to the garment district in Los Angeles on a field trip for her business. I know she’ll return with all sorts of treasures that will take on a new life in one of her hair ornaments.
Yesterday she participated in a bridal show, introducing brides to her <’);”http://overthetopfascinators.com/”>Over the Top Fascinators. Since starting her business earlier this year, Margaret has acquired feathers, jewels, fabrics and combs of all shapes and sizes. She’s also acquired two rescue dogs that need a lot of attention. Happily, she can combine both in her living room.
A few days ago, she and I were having one of our frequent Skype chats (where she often shows me the latest creations she’s working on) and for some reason the conversation turned to the subject of resumes and cover letters. Margaret suddenly looked thoughtful and said, “I’d be working on my resume right now if I hadn’t found the feather.”
“If I Hadn’t Found the Feather could be the title of your autobiography,” I joked. She laughed, too, but is quite aware that this happy enterprise has made a huge difference in her life. Her perpetual enthusiasm is downright contagious.
Like many wonderful enterprises, this one seemed almost accidental. Last fall, Margaret’s daughter had a friend who was getting married. Alexis, the bride, asked Margaret to make a fascinator for her to wear at the wedding. I’m not sure if Margaret knew much about fascinators at the time (I was oblivious until she introduced me), but she found the experience so delightful that she bought a few feathers, some veiling and began creating a few more. Then she had some new ideas and turned those into hair ornaments. Suddenly, she was headed in a new direction.
Margaret’s daughter Gretchen shared her enthusiasm and offered to build a Web site for her. Gretchen rounded up some friends and a photographer and scheduled a photo shoot. In its brief lifetime, Over the Top Fascinators has had disappointments and detours, but Margaret’s passion has moved it right past those interruptions.
Watching my youngest sister evolve as an entrepreneur got me thinking about tiny Bhutan, a small country in the Himalayas. Bhutan is an unlikely place for the birth of an international trend, yet its policy of determining success based on Gross National Happiness has gotten the attention of leaders from around the world. The term was coined by Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, when he ascended the throne in 1972. GNH defines prosperity based on spiritual well-being and environmental responsibility rather than consumption.
Imagine that…building prosperity that takes into account personal happiness and well-being. And to think it could start with finding the feather.
Barbara shares ideas and inspiration with other creative entrepreneurs through her blog Buon Viaggio, her long-running print newsletter Winning Ways and Joyfully Jobless News ezine. In addition, Barbara conducts seminars and retreats across the country and internationally. Since it first appeared in 1993, her book Making a Living Without a Jobhas been a handbook for thousands of people. An updated edition makes its appearance on September 1, 2009.
Margaret Winter’s stunning designs may be viewed at http://overthetopfascinators.com
According to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown: “the great project of our generation is to build out of a global ethic and our global ability to communicate and organize together, a global society and we are the first generation to have the power to do this.” Prime Minister Brown sites bogging in particular as a vehicle for creating a global society of change agents. “We can use today’s interconnectedness to develop our shared global ethic — and work together to confront the challenges of poverty, security, climate change and the economy”.
How is YOUR business connecting universally and how can YOU reach out globally through your blog to make a difference? Some BIG changes can start right in your own neighborhood. If you consciously blog about them, “talk” about them to a world wide audience, your readers, through the power of world wide e-conversations, your message, your mission, WILL have an impact on the world.
There’s a lot of media buzz recently about huge organizations driving social change. Almost every career change seeker I have spoken with has a strong desire to not just make money but to make a difference in their community or the world.
For most, this is still a dream, so I began looking at what’s holding them back? It appears that while the drive is authentic and strong, the fear factor kicks in and the aspiring change agent is frozen by overwhelm. They’re intimidated by what they see as impossible. They don’t believe that they as an individual can make a difference.
What all these aspiring entrepreneurs are missing is that no one starts big. Even the most high powered global entrepreneurs had to start right where they were when the idea became an unstoppable drive to make a difference.
Not all social change has to be global. Is there something in your own community that just tugs at your heart or feels terribly unjust? You can have a huge impact right in your own back yard whether your interest is environmental, educational or social. You may do something in your neighborhood that makes such an impact on one life, one group or one community that it is duplicated throughout the world. Remember, every huge movement started with a single step. Stay tuned for BIG news on a small event where you can make enormous change.
“The man who moved a mountain is the one who began carrying away small stones.” Chinese proverb
A theme seems to have emerged among my entrepreneurial “peeps” recently about creativity, creative blocks and self expression. Some of my favorite bloggers, Sandy Dempsey (thedreamingcafe.com) and Ken Robert (Mildlycreative.com) have posted on the topic recently. This got me thinking about the art classes I’ve taught and attended over the years, the “creative” writing instruction our children are exposed to and how so much of it stifles our expressive flow.
As a fine arts and art education major, I was immersed in theory and technique. While developing those skills was necessary in order to implement the images dancing around in my head, a focus on “getting it right” got in the way of getting the feeling down. As my work moved towards precision, it moved away from expression, became stiff and too cerebral. In other words, I spent too much studio time in my head instead of my heart. For me, the process of painting became joyless when I began judging my work on outcome.
I realize that classic elements and theory in visual art, music, dance or writing are vital aspects of a solid education in the arts. I cringe when I read grammatical errors in literature. But how do we balance the mastery of the details with letting the creative light flow from our inner source?
I recall a conflict with the director of the preschool where I first “taught art” in my early twenties. I used my alloted art instruction time to expose the children to elements of design, showing them how a squiggly line gives a different feel than a straight line and how muddy colors put them in a different mood than bright or pastel colors. I helped them observe how objects further away were less vibrant and smaller than those in the foreground. Pretty complex concepts for a preschooler, yet they appeared to grasp the basics because we made it fun. I showed them the color wheel and then let them “play” with mixing colors. Some of the exercises were eatable. Ketchup and mustard make orange. Add mayonnaise and you get peach or what we in those days so socially inappropriately referred to as “skin tone.”
When introducing the kids to the works of different masters, I tried to make it fun and relevant for them. We had a Jackson Pollack morning when the kids squirted different colored icing all over white sheet cakes and then got to eat their “paintings.”
None of this went over well with the director who said she understood the purpose but wanted to please the parents who didn’t understand why their kids weren’t coming home with identical turkey crafts at Thanksgiving or gingerbread men at Christmas. We butted heads, I stuck to my guns and knew I needed to be self employed soon.
Fast forward three decades and I missed the creative process. I’d let it go, I believed, in the interest of earning a living selling other artists work. The truth was, I had stopped creating because when I tried to “do it right” it lost it’s joy for me. I enrolled in creative workshops with descriptions like “Intuitive Water Color” and “Painting from the Soul”. The first day or so in these classes, I was able to get out of my head and connect more with my heart. the expression flowed and it was joyful. Imagines were forming on the paper, bypassing my head. I swear some of them emerged from deep in my bones, almost as if my DNA knew things I couldn’t possibly know.
Then came the “sharing” and suddenly I was judging my art. In one workshop, the facilitator, a psychologist, had us “act out” our paintings. When I returned to the act of painting after that, the flow was blocked. I knew I’d have to dramatize what I painted and again became attached to outcome. Once I knew what came out of my hand would be analyzed, I froze.
When my son, Todd, was young, he loved to write. His work had a fresh, open tone. Then an adult in his life began correcting his grammar and punctuation mid stream and he gradually stopped writing for pleasure. He also loved to go to the piano and just “play” as opposed to reading music. Then, lessons meant practice and correction and while he played well once he understood theory, he no longer “composed.”
We’ve all known kids who after their first ballet lessons were discouraged from continuing because they lacked grace and poise. I think about how different the experience would have been if the same child had been put in a room without mirrors and encouraged to just “feel” the music and move freely without attachment to appearance.
I recognize that if someone is planning a career in the arts, it’s vital to master technique but what about all of us who were either discouraged because we weren’t “naturals” or eliminated ourselves from the creative game because we judged our outward appearance?
Looking back over my teaching and learning experiences, I am convinced we should all spend more time finger painting, drumming on pots and pans and dancing blindfolded.
What are your creative blocks? What puts you in the flow? When was the last time you made mud pies or painted with your toes?
Who is your Twitter Community? Are you a Good Friend?
Are you indiscriminately following as many people as you can just to build your list? What criteria do you use to “follow” on Twitter or to “friend” on Facebook?
Friends and clients are repeatedly complaining that they have a huge list, thousands of friends and followers but not making any money. They are social networking like crazy, feeling frazzled and time crunched but not seeing results in their income.
Let’s take a look at what exactly social networking is all about. Building relationships, right? So, you don’t want to “sell” constantly or you turn people off. It isn’t a pitch fest but neither is it a cooking class or weather station. Unless you are in the culinary industry, have a clientele or make rainwear, don’t spend all your time tweeting about domestic bliss or complaints. Yes, this is “relationship” building, but when you go to a social event, is it your goal to get the phone number of every person in the room? Just like in real life, virtual socializing shouldn’t be a numbers game. Who has time to be best friends with everyone in town? And do you have anything to contribute to all those people or gain from their companionship? Is this someone you would like in your community? How do you fit into their community?
A solid relationship involves give and take, not “using” friends. If you are following 20,000 people but only know what 200 of them do for a living or what matters in their lives, are they really your peeps? What value is your “friendship” to each other’s business or personal life?
Ask yourself some questions about everyone you choose to follow.
What value can I offer this person in the way of friendship, inspiration or information?
Does this person have something of interest to my life or my business?
Am I curious about this person’s life or business?
Do I enjoy reading what this person has to say?
Make a quick list of criteria for people you follow and begin following strategically, with intention and purpose.
Your business and life will be more gratifying. You’ll save time. And you’ll be a good friend.
Non-Profit, Not-for-Profit, Corporation or Sole Proprietorship: Don’t let the details keep you from Getting Started Now
In the past ten days, I’ve received three inquiries from readers and clients seeking advise about the form their business should take. It surprised me to learn that this was actually a significant stumbling block for many aspiring entrepreneurs.
Most of my clients are looking for more meaning in their livelihoods. They want to make a difference in someone’s life, their communities or the world. And, they need to make a living. I didn’t realize that to many self-employment seekers, social entrepreneurship means “non-profit” or “not-for-profit”. It doesn’t have to. In fact, while as a director of a not-for-profit, you can and should draw a salary, establishing a NP is not a prerequisite for making a difference with your business. Many of us whose mission is social change do legitimately operate our businesses as sole proprietorships or corporations with the intention of making a living and a difference. We file all the appropriate taxes, secure business licenses and draw a salary.
Don’t let confusion over the ”form” your business should take keep you from getting started. Establishing yourself as a NP can take time and money better spent just starting simply. You can always change the business form at a later date but just start now, build your following, refine your purpose and get some experience and profit coming in.
This suggestion is in no way meant to substitute for legal or professional accounting advise. You will need that eventually. It’s my intention to share with you in simple laymen’s terms what I have learned over more than three decades of self employment and from entrepreneurial friends and colleagues who make a living while driving change. My general rule is that if your business has a physical location and there could be personal financial risk to you or your family, it may pay to incorporate. If you have significant personal assets and you have customers coming into your work space, you can’t afford to risk someone getting injured, for example and suing you. You may find that business insurance would cover any risk and if you have customers touring your hot glass workshop, or are teaching classes at home using power tools, do consult an attorney. There are lots of other reasons to establish asset protection but when I hear clients who are running a low risk business from home, my advise is: just get started. Make a few phone calls or online inquiries to learn if you need a business license, and just get started. In most states, if you are selling a physical product, (rather than an electronic download) you will need a sales tax permit which can usually be obtained online, by fax or over the phone. Some states require a “fictitious name statement” in order to open a bank account in a business name other than your own. Again, this is a simple, inexpensive procedure.
Don’t let concerns over form keep you from getting started. Many new entrepreneurs will simply open a separate bank account, even in their own name, put up a blog or sales page and get started. If your mission is clear, you have defined what impact you wish to make, and how you will make that impact and make a profit, you can operate for quite some time as a sole proprietorship. Even if your social contribution involves donating a portion of your income to a cause, this can be simply and legitimately accomplished through careful record keeping without the time and cost of formally establishing your venture as a non profit.
Remember, the important thing is to GET STARTED. You can only make an impact if you do something.
What two steps can you take today to begin now?
Because a longtime dream of mine has been to develop a program to encourage and educate young people’s interest in small business startup, I am always interested in new leadership and entrepreneurial programs for youth.
There’s a current trend that makes absolutely no sense to me, particularly in the present economy. Most of the “entrepreneurship” programs I read about for young people are preparing then for a successful college “career” and to be leaders in the corporate world. These classes, seminars and workshops are marketed as preparing a student to give her the competitive edge on college applications and a strong resume for job searches.
Why would we want our future leaders to be well prepared for a life of employment? Doesn’t it make more sense for the brightest young people to be encouraged and prepared to create their own ventures, to be business leaders and employers rather than ideal employees?
Another trend I find interesting is the push to “think big”. While it’s promising that the future leaders of our country are being encouraged to think globally, and have empathy for and interest in other cultures, I hope that this one-world vision isn’t intimidating or discouraging for the young people who are more comfortable with local or regional goals. We need for them to know that their community involvement and contributions to local economy and causes is of equal importance and value. And let’s not forget how many big things start with baby steps.
I’m a huge proponent of starting small and I know that often that’s the secret to making big things happen. If all our future leaders are encouraged to conquer the world and immediately seek “positions” with huge international firms, who is going to be the community advocate? What about the bright young people who are all fired up about a local situation. Don’t we want to encourage these kids to drive change at the community level rather than making them feel that only huge global efforts will have any impact?
Many school districts around the country have a community service requirement and high school students frequently will find their calling coincidentally through this experience. I’d love to see it taken a step further and rather than all of these kids being steered toward careers as corporate executives, a follow up course offered on true social entrepreneurship. It’s time to get these young people thinking about how they can create their own livelihood and make a difference in their communities.
Do you know of any programs in your local area that is encouraging youth to drive change through small business? Is this something you would support in your community?
It’s my intention to bring such a program to different areas around the US and I would love to hear what is already being done and where the need is greatest. As always, please feel free to post your comments.
Recently, I’ve had several inquiries about what exactly “Social Entrepreneurship” means, so it’s time to look at the new paradigm of meaningful livelihood.
People frequently equate social entrepreneurship with non profits or charitable organizations but the new model is more focused on the desire to drive change.
“Cause marketing”, a trend in the 90s, has been replaced by green marketing in the past decade of environmental consciousness. Unlike today’s social change driven entrepreneur, those earlier models were often charitable as an afterthought or a show of goodwill. Rather than the idea of amassing a fortune before a business begins making contributions, today’s altruistic change agents are designing businesses as a vehicle for making social change.
A broad definition of social entrepreneurship would be creating a business venture for the purpose of facilitating common good.
The most frequent criteria that I hear from private clients is that their new career must have more meaning. They want to not only do work they enjoy and make a nice living but feel good about the impact they can make.
What do you feel so strongly about that you feel driven to make an impact on? What pulls at your heartstrings or feels to you like a terrible injustice? Is there something you wish you could do to help others, a purpose that nags at you to address? Most of us have at least one social issue that we feel particularly drawn to work toward improving. What’s yours? What do you believe it is your purpose to try to make a difference in?
If you are like most aspiring entrepreneurs searching for meaning, rather than asking yourself how what you love to do can make a difference in the world, try turning the question around. Ask yourself what it is you want to make a difference in and then look at how you can use your interests, skills and talents to develop a business that helps facilitate that change. As always your ideas and comments are welcome and appreciated and maybe we can all come up with suggestions for how you can be an agent for the change you wish to see in your community or the world.