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Profile: Kristen Stein on Roots and Inspiration

What mediums have you worked in and which is your favorite?

I am a contemporary artist working primarily with acrylics on canvas.  I occasionally dabble in pastels and oils. I love working in mixed media and often add gritty, grainy textures to my paint. I’ve also created paintings using layers of newspaper, paper towels, tissues, string, dried flowers, leaves and more to add extra texture and dimension to the painting. I sometimes work on wood, but generally use stretched canvas.  I’m in the process of learning silk-screening and hope to ‘pull’ my own prints.  I have also worked in digital painting and creating images as scalable vector graphics.

 

How did you get started?

I have been creating art for friends and as gifts for several decades, but I started selling my artwork as a business about 10 years. It began as a part-time passion while I was working on my dissertation in Economics at the University of Virginia. I still use a lot of my economics background on the business side of my art career, but my creative side won out and I starting selling my artwork full-time in early 2000. I am not formally trained in art. I took one class in high-school and one elective class in college. I recall several of the projects that I made in these two classes and I know that they have fueled my passion to continue to learn and grow as an artist.

Who has influenced/inspired your art work?

Friends, family and other artists have all played an integral role in influencing my artistic visions and enthusiasm for ‘all things art’. My parents are both incredibly talented and I know that they have directly influenced my love for the arts.  More recently, I’ve met several new artists online through various social networks and I’m enjoying learning how to use the new venues to expand the reach of my art to new audiences. I’ve also recently approached other artists and photographers to work on collaborative projects. It’s a fun way for artists to share their talents and create an image that embodies their various interests or styles. That’s how the “Spirit of Autumn Fire” image (with Lyse Marion) came about.  As for master artists, I love the works of Picasso, Gris, Matisse, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rothko, Dali among many others.

 

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Profile: Kristen Stein on Marketing

Tell us about your marketing journey. How did you start?

My online marketing journey started in 1999 using a personal website and the auction site eBay.  I sold on eBay for several years and then started cross-listing items on alternative auction sites and various online venues. Most recently, I created online stores at Etsy and on 1000Markets . I have designs at Cafepress and I have images uploaded at ImageKind and ArtistRising that offer giclee and canvas prints of some of my work.

In addition to selling online, I also sell directly from my studio and at various local art/craft shows. I also have several pieces in local galleries, shops and restaurants. A few designs are sold at Art.com and AllPosters.com as well.

Do you use Social media online alone or do you combine it with off-line efforts?

I use Facebook and Twitter to keep connected with my buyers and new fans of my work. I tie these in with my online blog and current art listings. I love the quick access that Twitter and Facebook provides to individuals who share similar interests and passions.

What has been the reaction to your making your work available in non-traditional ways, like mugs, jewelry etc?

I have recently made my artwork available in more non-traditional forms like ceramic tiles and handcrafted jewelry.  I enjoy offering these smaller versions of the artwork, especially at local art/craft shows as they are easier for folks to purchase and carry with them.  I believe that having a wide-range of prices in your inventory allows buyers to work within their budget.  I’m not sure they these new items have directly affected the sales of my regular prints and originals, but I would imagine that it brings new buyers who might otherwise not see my work. Plus, I enjoy being able to offer more wearable and versatile ways to display my artwork.

Where do most of your sales come from?

The majority of my sales come from eBay, etsy and from local art/craft shows.  I would love to be able to branch out and create a wholesale business for my images. This is something that I am considering as a business expansion in 2009.

 

Kristen Stein tile tryptych

 

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Marketing Monday: Truth about Getting Real

 

marketing monday good stuff weekly

Last week I talked about how potential buyers can’t be buyers if they can’t find you and I showed you lots of different ways to make yourself visible. Visibility by itself is not going to guarantee sales you’ll have to do a bit more to get to that point. The “bit more” I’m talking about  is developing a relationship with your potential buyers so they can trust you enough to give you their hard earned Dinero.

Any discussion of the kind of relationships you may want to establish with your buyers needs  to first travel through the land of friendly selling. Two terms are bouncing around marketing circles now, each is being talked about a lot but not in any great depth. As a result most folks looking to learn how to connect to their buyers are not getting the best guidance. The terms I’m talking about are: Relationships and Authenticity.

As a result of all the buzz and misguidance business owners are either completely adapting behaviors that appear to reflect these terms or they are completely tossing them out the window and continuing on in their ignorance. The problem is that most folks who adapt and try to use these concepts are going way to far into left field with them and as a result are feeling exposed and vulnerable and their buyers are busy scratching their heads wondering WTF?

retro_adds2Not what you expected?

So when we talk about relationships we aren’t talking about becoming BFF with every buyer or for that matter any buyer, no, you don’t have to have an anxiety attack, thinking this means you have to invite them over for dinner or even have coffee with them. What we are talking about is genuine friendliness, and an understanding that it is important to get to know them on whatever level you feel comfortable, depending on the kind of relationship you want to have with your buyers. Now you won’t have the same kind of relationship with every buyer in fact you may end up having as many kinds of relationships as you have buyers …and that’s ok. What is important to understand here about relationships is a couple of things:

 

    Do you ever want to see that ( or any ) buyer again?

  • Do you want repeat and referral business?

When you‚’re noodling over this, consider your perfect buyer profile and your Who and what statements. Why? Because depending who that who is you might like to see them come around more often and drag a few of their BFFs also.

When thinking about the two questions above, also keep in mind that your buyers are your most important resource. Let’s face it without them you’d probably be doing some crappy job punching widgets out on an assembly line. But here’s the kicker…like I said above you don’t have to be BFFs with any of them, you do have to be human and that especially goes for folks who really only want to see that customer’s face once! You never know who they might know…I’m just sayin’

One more thing…don’t fake it, don’t try to pretend that you want to have them for diner and a sleep over as you mumble to yourself you wish they’d just get their smelly body out of your space, they’re not as dumb as they may look..seriously!

There’s Authentic and then there’s authentic

How many times have you seen or heard someone trying to sell you something use the term authentic as if that word alone is supposed to ring your bell and get you to pull out your pen and ask  “where do I sign…?” What you were really doing was scanning for an escape route while thinking that guy was as deeply authentic as a mud puddle.

The problem is the way this term is being thrown around business owners are starting to feel like they have to bare all so buyers can ‚”really see who they are”. So they start talking about what they had for lunch and when they are going to the dentist. While that sort of thing may be really transparent you don’t have to go that far to ‚”authentically be you”. The authenticity that is important, is whatever is authentically you as an artist …your artistic persona. As an example: The way I write is my persona on my blog and in my newsletter, and, that persona is all together different than my persona as a photographer or for that matter in everyday life. As an artist your work may project a certain persona, a part of you that allows your creations to take form, and it is that persona that is your authenticity. It gives you and your stuff the meat you need to  attract buyers, because it reflects you and what you are trying to say with your art. Now that’s AUTHENTICITY! Think of  “Authentically Florida Oranges” just because they are grown in Florida doesn’t mean they have all things that make up Florida squeezed into their little orangie DNA…they are just grown in Florida!

OK…what you need to understand here is that if you want to keep selling your stuff you are going to have to figure this part out because it will play a major part in the direction you business goes or not. The ‚”or not” is because that’s where you’ll be if there is mismatch between where you want your business to go and how you treat those folks who keep showing up to buy your stuff. Selling stuff is about interacting with people.

Let’s get clear here…I’m not even coming close to suggesting that you go all bi-polar on yourself, if you are grumpy be grumpy and make it part of your mystique, your persona, then when people see that fun loving playful side guess what? They’ll be astounded that it is really you. See, this is important because none of us especially creatives are single dimensional, we have all kinds of sides, angles and quarks, you as an artsyfartsy biz person have to know which of those sides you want to show when and here’s the biggie…why.

In the end how you want to relate with your buyers and how much and what you want to show them of yourself will have an effect on your business success. If you see your buyers as the enemy and bark at them like a drill sergeant don‚Äôt start wondering why no one shows up to buy your stuff. On the other hand don,t go all Mary Poppins  and then chop the head off of the first buyer who dares ask you a question. Don,t worry about being ‚”authentic”, just be you.

 

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Marketing Monday: 6 must know things for pricing

 

marketing monday good stuff weekly

Know what your costs are

This is very simple and yet a lot of folks disregard it because they think it entails a lot of left brain machinations. I’m here to tell ya if that was the case I’d never ever address it…because while I grew up as the tail end of the slide rule generation I’m lucky to add 2+2 and get four if I have to do it in my head. Thankfully, I don’t have to any more due to the advent of those funky things we called Goesintas ( as two goes into four or calculators).

While it may seem obvious that your prices must at the very least cover your costs and if you intend to support yourself with your work the price must also include something extra to help you move out of your van. This process is called knowing your “Cost of Doing Business”. In its smallest form it amounts to adding up all the things you need to spend money on that

  • Cover the costs of the stuff you need to have to make your stuff… in other words supplies, expenses like costs associated with firing a kiln load of pots.
  • Let you move out of your van, like PROFIT.

    To do it the short way, just add up your studio related expenses to get a base number that will show you the least amount you need to make to keep your credit card bill down and your studio working. That’s your Cost of Doing Business.

    If you then subtract that from the income you receive you will have the minimum you need to at least break even.

    However, I would suggest an easier way that would give a good idea as to what you need to make to cover all your costs while factoring in a desired profit (for moving out of the van). There are a couple of tools available that I have used in my photography business.

    • NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) Cost of doing business calculator which is an online tool.
    • ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) Cost of doing business calculator which does the same thing as the NPPA one only in more detail and as an Excel file. It is also designed to let you determine your annual income
      You can download it here: cdb_calc_06
    • Art Worth Calculator

    Know what you need to keep you in your studio

    Ok…now you know how much it costs to make your stuff and to at least keep you from either living in your studio or out of your van. It is probably safe to say that you’d really like to have living arrangements that at least gave you a kitchen and your own bathroom, so now you have to figure out what you need to make to get those tow important things. It is called profit and amounts to income that isn’t eaten up by other costs.

    This part is more art than science and subject more to your own preferences than anything else. I generally, list out the things I need… like paying myself, upgrading computer etc. And then prioritize them by their order of importance and NOT by their cost because cost can lead me down a rabbit hole. Once I’ve done that, I add what I call contingency which can be anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent to get the profit I need to make. The details of pricing individual products will be covered later.

    retro_buyersKnow your market and its buying habits

    Before you attempt to set pricing strategies you gotta know they have a chance of working with your market. So spend some time now reviewing your perfect buyer profile and both your market demographic and psychographic descriptions. What causes them to buy? What type of stuff do they buy? How do you really fit into their buying habits?

    Know what you are really selling

    Instead of describing what we make in a way that would put even the most ADD among us to sleep in seconds, we are going to look at how to REALLY describe what we make and when to use that description. For now just starting thinking of your stuff the way a chef might describe a sensuously luxurious meal.

    Know which three types of buyers you attract

    There are generally three types of buyers and it is important to know where yours fall. Knowing where your buyers fall will be key to your ability to price and sell without discounting. The three types are:

    • Those who willingly pay full price for your stuff because they know and trust and they know the value of your work.
    • Those who shop for cheap stuff because they really can’t afford much let alone your premium prices but they do recognize your value.
    • Those who are hunters, always pursuing the lost price possible as a trophy without regard to quality. These folks proudly brag about how they “saved” five cents on a whatzit despite using up $10.00 of gas hunting and bagging the prey.

      Knowing this information can help you with your pricing strategies by helping you understand what triggers their desire for your stuff.

      Know your market position

      Go back again and check your business model as well as your USP and make sure you are clear on how you are positioned in the market. Does pricing play a major role in your market position. So if you are positioning yourself as a true artiste aiming at the luxury market low pricing may hurt you. Your pricing must be consistent with your position.

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      Jane Campbell on roots and influences

       

      JC_featured_artist

      il_430xN_1First, tell me about your work?

      My work is full of color, fun, it’s folky but with a modern/contemporary edge. 90% of the time I sit down to a blank canvas, nothing drawn out or preconcieved, and I paint until I’m happy. My angels come to life on their own. Their eyes usually follow you, have a different expression on each side of their face, & uneven whimsical features which I feel gives them a special character & it makes me love painting them. They are my favorite. My folk art crabs, mermaids, & florals are inspired by my Carolina roots.
      I love painting on an imperfect canvas. Especially wood that is destined for the dumps or canvas that has been covered in fine sand. It’s the organic quality & rough texture that draws me to it and the feeling it gives me to turn waste into something wonderful.

      What mediums have you worked in and which is your favorite?

      I work with oils & acrylics. Working with oils is truly my favorite, however, most of my work is done with acrylics for the easeil_430xN of drying time.
      I also enjoy photography, altering photographs, clay work, sewing, knitting, crochet, & hand embroidery.

      How did you get started?

      I started painting when I was 13. Let’s just say that was a long time ago and leave it at that. I have always painted for myself, family, friends or just because my spirit needed me to. I dreamed of being able to paint for a living nearly all my life. It was when I found myself unemployed November 2007 that I decided to go for it. When my paintings started selling online I was amazed, flattered & compelled to keep painting. I am now living my dream. I have never worked as long and hard but never have been this happy either.

      il_430xN_2Who has influenced/inspired your art work?

      Walt Sorenson, a retired Art Director at Disney was a huge influence. His portrait classes instilled my love and appreciation of the human face. I no longer follow all of his rules as I once did. I like the freedom of being quirky instead of realistic.
      It would be impossible for me to chose a favorite artist but these are some of my favorites, not necessarily in order: Edward Hopper, Jack Vettriano, Winslow Homer, Maxfield Parrish, Michael Parks, Alphonse Mucha, Claude Monet, Henry Matisse, Diego Rivera, Raphael and of course Piccasso.

      jane campbell on influences

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      Marketing Monday: Getting Focused

      The Problem

      Most people identify themselves by a label when they are asked what they do or even when they think of themselves in terms of their work. So you might identify yourself as an artist or, I might think of myself as a photographer, well as you see, sticking a label on us doesn’t really help us attract qualified buyers. It also doesn’t help us develop and use a finely focused vision of who we really serve and what we really do. We just continue skipping around in la-la land whistling a happy tune, unaware that we are going in circles.

      What we really need is another tool in our kit that we can pull out when we need it. Well, that tool is the Who and What or the Who and Do What. The tool is not an elevator speech, YUK, nor is it a sales pitch. Instead, it is a way of  knowing who really wants our work what they look like etc. and what it is about our stuff that makes them want it or what problem  we solve. Basically, it tightens down the focus of our Perfect customer profile and our offer so we can know it instantly and more importantly have it become part of the core of our business. Knowing these two important things helps us:

      • Stay focused on our intents and in turn helps the right prospects find us.
      • Know how better market and merchandise our work.

        And there’s the label problem…

        So what’s the big deal with calling yourself an artist or me calling myself a photographer? Isn’t that what we are? Well yes and no. There are three major problems with labels.

        First

        A label puts the attention on you and what you do and takes it away from your buyers, because you aren’t just an artist and I’m not just a photographer. As a result we are left with describing ourselves in terms of our process which more often than not leaves whoever is trying to follow us with a blank glassy eyed stare.  You in turn are left wondering what just happened to you message. What did just happen was you lost that potential buyer because she could tell you were more engrossed in describing your process than you were in getting to know her.

        The other thing that tends to happen more often than not is the label gets misinterpreted. So suddenly you find you’re self being asked if you do caricatures causing to delve into a major discourse about how you are a painter not an entertainer for birthday parties, all this just leads you further down the rabbit hole of talking about yourself.

        Second

        A label can get you all tongue tied because you know you are more than just that label and yet when you are asked what you do go off on a litany of process descriptions. Even worse, you can suffer from a severe onset of brain fart and start talking in tongues which is not helpful to either you or her. So again, she walks way, not knowing what exactly you do and more importantly if you are the secret to solving her problems.

        Third

        This one is pretty important in that it can really  limit you and your business in being able to respond quickly to market changes…like now. If you are known as an artist or as a painter it will be harder for you to reposition yourself, because, you are known only that way. So if I were to describe myself as a wedding photographer I would have to pretty much re-invent myself in order to move into another market or style.

        Now, it is important to understand that you are not the only one having difficulty with this and, changing it will not necessarily happen over night. That is were the knowing how to use the Who and What comes in handy because, when successfully used it will not only cure a headache, upset stomach,  etc. It will also help you increase sales, know better how to display your work and in general make your life a lot more enjoyable.

        Who is the Who?

        Guess what, unless you’re a some kind of super hero, you can’t help everyone and even more if you try to bethe_who_add everything to all, you’ll end up being a little bit to a few…that’s not real satisfying for anybody. And it really doesn’t help the right people find you or you to know how to let them know you’re available. So you need to FOCUS and that is what knowing who your market is does for you. It is basically breaking down all those characteristics of your perfect buyer and applying them to a group of people.

        So…your Who is made up of:

        • demographic or statistical info like age,gender etc.
        • psychographic info like the values and opinions that cause them to self identify.

          Basically  your who is the  folks who would walk blocks to buy your work through snow,sleet, rain or heat.

          Other things you need to know about identifying your Who folks, is that people globally,  tend to be attracted to things, causes,, issues etc. based primarily on how much they identify with those things, causes or issues. This is generally not a problem, because you are also likely to be drawn to those folks who closely identify with the things important to you. You may not have a complete match and, there will likely be some overlap, which will go along way to building trust. Additionally, you build trust by sharing terminology and language characteristics that help you hear what the folks making up your Who are saying.

          Finally, the very act of naming the group of folks who identify most with you and your stuff makes a bazillion times easier for them to identify with you because they see that you authentically represent them.

          Then there’s the What

          sunburn3Now you know and can name the group of folks who most identify with your work and what it represents. Now you  need to take a look at exactly what the what is!!!!  Contrary to popular wisdom you don’t just make orange pots, or purty paintings…somewhere in the zapping neurons of your brain you have a fundamental driving concept, or thing you want those orange pots or purty paintings to do. Unbeknownst to you consciously you are making those things in response to some problem you see, some issue that is important to you.

          The what is all about getting down and defining that problem or issue your work is aimed at resolving. This is important, because, as we have learned earlier, people care most about finding solutions. So knowing the problems and issues faced by those who want your work helps you make your solution more visible. And it goes even further, because when you recognize their problems you are also telling them they and their needs are important.

          The problem is more important than the solution because potential buyers will pretty much always see you in relation to their problems and how close you come to being the one who solves their problem. Because only when they see that you are the answer to solving their problem will they stop window shopping and move into buying mode.

          The Lesson and the point

          Let’s look at both now in terms of how they help you and your business.

          The most important thing to take from this is that when folks are out hunting for solutions to their problem of the day, the only thing they are focused on is the problem and its solution. Everything they see is, seen in relation to that problem. So they don’t have time or patience to translate your wood fired technique into their solution nor can they translate your solution, as in “I make the best wood fired pots in the universe”, unless that solution obviously solves their particular problem.

          On the other hand  you will stand out to them because you know their problem intimately, and they know you can easily solve their problem because you understand it.

          The other point of learning here, is that your Who and What helps folks who are already true believers in your ability to solve their problems have a way to let others with similar problems know you are The One who can successfully solve their problem. So unless someone is expressly looking for the best wood fired pots in the universe they won’t see you as a solution. However, if that person is looking for unique table ware and particularly cream & sugar serving pieces and you offer just such items, which happen to be wood fired, you will be far more visible to her.

          In the end your Who and What may be like one of these:

          • I help young couples who want unique locally handmade tableware that will help make their entertaining and dining experience fun.
          • I help people who want unique locally handmade tableware that will help make their entertaining and dining experience fun.

           

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          Profile: Kristen Stein, artist

          Kristen Stein is a Contemporary Artist living in the Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania. Kristen’s works are currently available on a variety of online venues, or through her websites StudioArtworks.com and KristensCreations.com. Kristen’s paintings are in public and private collections within Australia, Canada, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Japan, the United Kingdom, and throughout the continental United States.

          Her art was featured in a special 2002 calendar in tribute to September 11th. Her cubist work appeared in promotional logos for the Ferndale Fine Art Show and appeared on the cover of the Allied Social Science Association’s annual meetings. Her whimsical art appeared on the cover of the Bulldog Club of Greater Seattle’s 2002 Specialty Show.

          Her painting “The Birth of Venus 2002″ won first place in a themed contest held by the emerging artists group “ESR@”.

          Her painting “The Jazz Club” appeared on the American Economic Associations Annual Meetings in January 2008.

          Kristen is the author/illustrator of the “The Vegetarian Lion” and the author of “Kristen Stein Contemporary Paintings”. She is also the illustrator of “Stacey McDuver’s House”. Kristen’s work will appear at the Straube Art Center during the Winter Fine Art Show in January – February 2009.

          stein1Kristen Stein featured artist the artistscenter

          Online

          Etsy Online Shop
          Blog
          Twitter
          Facebook
          Artist Website

          Current Exhibitions in Pennsylvania:

          etc1-copy
          Comcast Center, Philadelphia
          Square Peg Artery, Philadelphia
          Mew Gallery, Philadelphia
          Curiousity Shoppe, Philadelphia
          Moderne Life Interiors, Jenkintown
          Catcha Break Café, Abington
          Zero Gravity Dance Studios, Elkins Park
          Picasso Restaurant, Media

          Upcoming :

          Heritage Art Gallery, June 2009(Ohio)
          Island Time Gallery, June 2009 (Ohio)
          Bambi Gallery , June 2009 (PA)
          Arts in the Park June 2009 (PA)
          Mendez Homes September 2009 (PA)

           
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          Christy DeKoning on vision, sales and advice

           

          Featured interview artist logo

          tryptichWhat is your vision for your art?

          To create something uniquely beautiful that captures a moment in a person’s life.

          What do you see your working doing for those who buy it?

          It makes the buyers very happy to see their loved ones presented in a way that is entirely different than what they might expect from an oil artist or a photographer. To keep it simple, it makes people smile.

          What has been the reaction to  making your work available in non-traditional ways, like mugs, jewelry etc?

          I haven’t committed a lot of time to novelty items, but the feedback I’ve received about my glass tile pendants has been very positive.

          Where do most of your sales come from?

          Etsy, followed by ArtFire and Boundless Gallery, then local (I’m a member of an Artist cooperative gallery called ARTspace in Chatham)

          What are the most important lessons you have learned about being an artist and selling your work?

          Be confident in yourself and your work, and don’t underestimate the value of your time, effort, specific skillset and knowledge.

          dyptich

          What advice would you give to other artists?

          Never stop learning, and never miss an opportunity. If an opportunity is presented to you, take it, learn from it, and use it to grow. Then try to “give back” whenever possible – join user groups, forums, share your work through demonstrations, critique other’s work if you have the knowledge to be helpful, and above all, try to remain open to rejection. It happens to all of us, and we learn from it. That’s the hardest part – don’t give up if someone says no.

          dyptych2

           

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          Marketing Monday: The Artsyfatsy biz model

           

          marketing monday banner

          What exactly is a business model and why is it important? In a nutshell your business model is how intend to do business, note the emphasis is on the DO as opposed to PLAN. Most small bizes don’t really need a written business plan, since a well developed model is much more pragmatic. Once you graduate to a bazillion employees and offices all over the universe then you might want to think about a Biz model, but for now…not so much. Generally a business model goes like this:

          The Vanilla Biz Model

          • The offer…what kind of stuff do you have to sell
          • Who are you trying to sell that stuff to
          • How do you let folks know you have the stuff they want and how do they get it
          • What kind of relationship do you want to have with folks who buy and or have your stuff
          • What do you need to do pull all of this off
          • Where’s the money going to come from and how is it going to get to your sweaty hands
          • How much is all this going to cost to pull off so you can move out your Aunt Martha’s basement.

          The ArtsyFartsy Biz needs

          Realistically the model needs to be customized for artsyfartsy bizs just a little to take our funkiness into account. So a funkified artsyfartsy biz model will likely need to take things like this into account:

          You sell in a lot of different places,

          Generally, artists sell at art fairs, galleries, on-line or wholesale through wholesale shows. So you don’t really have the advantage of those using the retail/wholesale models…always being in the same place. This means your market research may be more or less challenging.

          You make the stuff you sell

          This may seem obvious the fact that you make the stuff you sell makes a difference because YOU are directly involved, the work not only comes out of you it takes your time as well. You can’t outsource it and truly be able to say it is yours, at least right now.

          What you make is a small line of products

          You may make one off stuff or you may design a line of things all made from the same material or in the same way. For example ceramic tableware, or jewelry similarly designed but with different functions, or a series of prints that can be hung separately but would be better together.

          You carry a small inventory of one type of thing or several similar things

          The inventory you are able to carry is limited by space in your studio garage or storage unit and the amount of schlepping you are able to do. It is also limited by the time it actually takes to make because even tho you would like to always be making it you have to sell it to keep making space for new stuff. You walk a fine line between maintaining your inventory and keeping up with sales.

          You are limited (or at least have been) to ways of talking to your buyers

          You may still feel limited in the ways you can talk to and court buyers. Even though the internet has created many new ways to find, connect with and develop buyers you still have limitations that other businesses don’t have.

          You are subject to random acts of one time sales

          If you haven’t adapted to the opportunities available through the internet and other avenues you will continue to be limited in terms of predictable income. And even if you do understand the opportunities, unpredictable sales will still be a factor in your business. The only way to reduce the effect of random sales is to both diversity your sales channels and step up your marketing efforts to create a loyal following of ready buyers.

          Next week we will take a detailed look at the first part of your art business model… the offer to help you understand just what it is you are selling. The following weeks we’ll cover each of the elements of the business model paying special attention to the needs of the artsyfartsy biz.

           

          Related posts:

          1. Marketing Monday: The Holy Grail Just so you can understand how this approach to sales…
          2. Marketing Monday: The Offer The real buyers, the ones who will come back again…
          3. Marketing Monday: getting and using intelligence Now that you have taken the leap into the world…

           


           

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          Marketing Monday: The Holy Grail

           

          Over the past few weeks I’ve talked about the customer courtship part of marketing, how knowing your perfect buyer can help them find you, how knowing that your stuffs solves important issues for them and finally how they can become your evangelists. What we didn’t talk about is the meat, the holy grail of all this effort…THE SALE.

          WARNING:

          We aren’t talking about the sleaze bag process we all have expereinced that left us ready to lose it in the nearest waste basket.

          Just because I want your stuff doesn’t make you better

          We are talking about an altogether new way of looking the process…a way that builds on what we know of that perfect someone, and leapfrogs over the old and assumed way of doing things. This way when added to what we already know helps us create an even stronger following of people ready to buy our stuff because it is based on connection, trust and equality.

          Just so you can  understand how this approach to sales is different we as artisyfartsy types have to understand what makes our artsyfartsyness so important that we are so special from other biznesses. Especially those kind that sell stuff in real buildings with things like shelves and even music. Just because we sell stuff, we could easily say we’re like those guys who have buildings so let’s just copy them and bam be on our way. Well…hold on. I’ll be brief just because you sell stuff, doesn’t mean you can use the “retail model” there are many differences… here is a quickie list, summary….whatever of what makes you Ms artsyfartsy so special:

            • You sell in a lot of different places, like a tent in a street or like in some artsyfartsy gallery;
            • You make the stuff you sell and you put a lot of blood sweat and tears into making it all ust right;
            • You make is a small line of products which may or may not be different each time you make whatever it is you make.
            • You carry a small inventory, sometimes all different but all mostly made do one or two things special
            • You are limited (or at least have been) to ways of talking to your buyers
            • You are subject to random acts of one time sales

          And this is important why? Well without knowing this you’l most likely keep doin’ what you’ve  been doing and getting the same results. It is also important because you need to know how different you are so you can develop a sales process that really fits your business and those folks who want your stuff. Finally it is important because it is the culmination of all your marketing going’s on…everything builds on everything else to get here.

          There is a process

          The form of this process is the outcome of how you did or did not design your business to work or in MBAese your business model. The model is not something you build from a kit it represents how all the cogs and wheels in that thing called a business work, what they need, how often they need it etc. Here is an abreviated one that fits most artist’s businesses.. It is made up of:

            • The offer…what kind of stuff do you have to sell
            • Who are you trying to sell that stuff to
            • How do you let folks know you have the stuff they want and how do they get it
            • What kind of relationship do you want to have with folks who buy and or have your stuff
            • What do you need to do pull all of this off
            • Where’s the money going to come from and how is it going to get to your sweaty hands
            • How much is all this going to cost to pull off so you can move out your Aunt Martha’s basement.

          OK…you already kinda know this stuff, but at this stage we need to go a little deeper and take a look at some of the things within the sales phase you as an artist need to pay attention to.

          They aren’t the enemy

          Before we go any further though let’s clarify or better yet debunk a myth we artists have tended to hold near a dear, actually, other ittybizes  problably also feel the same way. When we make a sale we tend to look at it as a victory…yayyyy somebody bought our stuff!!! They actually gave me real money for something I made! Ya know what that’s really not what happened…what really happened was that superific most wonderful person didn’t take pity on you nor did she engage in battle with you. What did happen was she had a need (remember we talked about this awhile ago) and you were there with the right thing that would meet that need. So there was no victory, no need to cheer…she had a problem and you were there with your stuff to solve it for her. That sounds  more equal to me.

          This sale thing couldn’t happen like this without all that sweat leading up to this very moment. Because by doing the work we as artists are acknowledging our needs as well…we do need to buy more supplies, food and oh there is that little thing called  a place to sleep also. Unfortunately, there is often an ugly,nasty thing that gets in the way…it’s called by any number of names…but we’ll call it guilt for now. We feel guilty about needing to make a living wage by making our stuff. Well…I have three words for that right now…Get Over It!!! Until you do, you will always have an unbalanced interaction with your buyers and in the process you’ll likely be seen as someone who you are not and in the process not really be taken seriously as someone who makes wonderful stuff that comes magically out of his heart.

          Now that we have all of this clear, over the next several weeks we’re going to look a little more closely at this so called  “artsyfartsy business model” outlined above and how it plays into this act of the play. Next week we’ll talk more about why you as an artist are so special to have a different business model and we’ll look at what the first part of that is and how fits into your offer, and a secret method for finding out just how to price your stuff. We’ll also talk about some other secrets that have to do with being smart about raising prices and how fries are very important.
          Until then look over the bizmodel framework above and see if you can fit your biz to it.

           

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          Christy DeKoning on Marketing Art

           

          Featured interview artist logo

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          Tell us about your marketing journey… How did you start? When did you discover that you needed to market?

          It’s funny, but marketing seems to have come naturally to me. I used to work in offices as a marketing/creative assistant, so when I decided that I was ready to work at portraits on a full-time basis, it seemed logical to start talking to people online about it. I joined Etsy and that really got the ball rolling. My work tends to market itself, because people love to show off paintings of their family members to their friends, which in turn leads to more business for me – marketing is almost secondary to “word-of-mouth” advertising, which is my number one source of commissions.

          Do you have a marketing plan,strategy if so please summarize?

          No. I just wake up in the morning and decide if I’m going to paint first, blog first, or “twitter” away my morning.

          Do you use Social media online alone or do you combine it with off-line efforts?

          I have very little off-line marketing – 90% of my clients are international, which all comes from online marketing. I try to stay involved with my community as much as possible, so a certain amount of time is spent at local art shows, but I rely on social media for most of my connections.

          collection

          One of the things Christy has in common with the other artists to be featured here is her willingness to offer non-traditional ways for her clients to enjoy her work. She tastefully incorporates her work into post cards, jewelry, greeting cards and other accessories.  In doing so she and the other artists show an understanding of the client/customer courtship process I have talked about. These low cost alternatives give her buyers a chance to experience how she treats buyers and in the process increase their trust which in the end may lead to larger purchases. Additionally, she can offer the accesserories as upsells or as complimentary gift to big ticket buyers or collectors.

          Another example of both trust building and understanding the client courtship model is Christy’s willingness to share her process. Scattered through out her blog are numerous examples of mini-tutorials demonstrating her creative process. Some may worry that doing such a thing is tantamount to giving away state secrets but research has shown just the opposite. Artists, like Christy know the difference between style and technique, they know that no amount of “secrets” can give another person the ability to copy her style, her work will always be identifiable. More than sharing techniques her tutorials ofer a window into her creative journey and in the process build trust and adds another layer of uniqueness for her potential clients.

          tutorialTo see the marketing styles mentioned above check out Christy’s Blog, Artfire store and Etsy Store just click the links below:

          etsylogo

          Accessories

          Original Paintings

          Main Shop

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          Blog

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          Marketing Monday: 8 Ways to Turn Fans Into Missionaries

           

          So people have said they luv your work and they know a lot of folks who would luv it also but your studio doors aren’t coming unhinged by hoards of adoring fans from “what’s her name”. What’s that all about? “What’s her name” said she was going to send her neighbor your way but that was last year and nobody showed up saying “what’s her name” sent them.

          143_ask_show071208-copy1You have now arrived at your goal of gathering raving fans, buyers all gaga over your work and leave happy as clams after they bought something from you. The truth is times are tough now and you need more raving fans. That ’s what this level is all about basically, getting and keeping raving fans. But you know what? Not all of those folks dancing away with your stuff are really going to remember saying “I’ve gotta tell my neighbor to get over here”. That’s the part no one tells you, because the sales process really doesn’t stop here, this stage is all about helping those folks bring some more folks like them who will being more and more.

          Remember

          Everything you have done so far not only counts, but also is what got you to this point in the first place, so you can use it to help your buyers help you.

          If we go back to the studio doors not coming unhinged, there are some key things you need to look at to determine why and to help you make sure those doors do come unhinged. You set yourself up by getting your Who & What down pat ( at least for now) so that when you do see that special potential raving fan buyer, you can recognize her and you know what you need to do to court her on the way to this point. So here are some key things help you:

          1. But they said they would they would send some of their kindred spirits my way.

          Well take it easy, take a deep breath before you get all panicy. Here’s the deal… Life happens, people today have a lot on their plate we all have places to go and things to do and the list just keeps getting longer by the day, so cut them some slack.

          Besides just life happening these days they may also be a little dazed and confused, see you might not be making it very clear as to the who, what, where and how to send their neighbors your way. The whole process is clear as mud to them so they throw up their hands and give up or…

          They don’t know you as well as you think and your customer courtship process was not really all that clear so they  feel just a little reluctant  to send their BFF (best friend foreverrr)  your way. What if you bombard that BFF with e-mails, pitches and all the other yuk things that she thinks you might do? If that happens her BFF won’t be so BFF and her BFF is more important to her than you.

          2. But I gave her your name and info…

          Ok…let’s turn things upside down and look at it from the BFF’s point of view, because it’s pretty much the same as your fan’s. The full plate syndrome still applies here so that BFF may just never get around to showing up.

          Then there’s the totally confused state of figuring out whether she (the BFF) really will like your stuff, and she doesn’t have a chance of finding out, because her friend (your fan) didn’t have anything to give her to help her find you.  Your fan had no cards, no brochure, nothing to help remember you and she wasn’t asked for her info either…so her BFF is left to hope she’ll run across you sometime somewhere and we know how likely that is….right?

          Finally there’s the same scary part of what you might do if she decides to hunt you down and actually buy something. She really only wants to buy one thing right now if at all until she sees if you are going to stalk her like that car sales person did…you  never know! So what to do????? When in doubt don’t panic just….

          3. Go back to your W&W

          319_ask_show071208-copyNeedless to say, if you have done all the work needed in the earlier levels you’d be sitting pretty good right now. You’ll have a really good picture in your mind as to who that perfect raving fan is and what makes them tick. You’ll also know what you have that can not only make their lives better and easier but you’ll also have a really, really good idea as to what it is about your stuff that can help them live happy as clams.

          If you haven’t done this or only done it partly, spend some time here its important and it will help keep you from changing your address to a card board box…yes its that important!!

          4. Keep fillin’ the holes

          Well…sorta. Not all of your raving fans are going to be interested in raving about you for the reasons  mentioned above and many more. The good news is, those who do hang on, are doing so because they really, really like you and your stuff so much they want to be your missionaries. Oh…there is a catch, some of those wanna be missionaries may not have ever bought anything from you, they may have seen it, or heard about it from one of their friends and they just knew and your challenge is to find them!!!

          After everything shakes out you’ll have a bunch of tightly knit raving fans who own and know how your stuff makes their lives run oh so smoothly. But they aren’t enough… you’ll need to go back and take a look at that group of folks you think might go nuts over your stuff (your target market) and look again at where theyhang out and who they hang out with, along with what they do and the problems they might have. Then, you need to start letting these folks know you’ve got stuff that will make their lives better than they ever imagined…you need to keep filling the holes so you can make up for those folks who luv your stuff but may only buy something once a decade.

          6. Focus and sharpen

          Remember earlier, when we talked about confusion and uncertainty and systems and processes that weren’t exactly clear? Well now is when you get to make the necessary adjustments, so those folks you’ve been losing stop falling through the cracks. Again, if you have really dialed in your Who and What, this stage will be a lot easier, because you freed “what’s her name” to tell her BFF all about you without worrying about you being a jerk or forgetting who exactly you were and what exactly you did that she luved so much. See, “what’s her name” knows how you work, and she knew all along the way what the next step was, that is after all why she is now your missionary. She also is on your list and gets regular e-mails, which seem like you are talking directly to her. She also has the cool card you gave her, that had all your info on it and purty pitchure of your stuff.

          Wait a minute, remember,  you’ll need to keep developing new fans if you want to keep making your stuff. So you need to make sure that the path you took “what’s her name” along is out there for all those other potential fans to see. So go ahead and describe it on your web site, put it on a brochure, turn it into a tag line and put it on you biz card, and talk to the folks hovering over your work, about it. Also, as you are bring folks along keep them informed as to what to expect. Focusing should include:

          • Describing how you work with customers,
          • How they can find you
          • The steps they will experience along the way to buying your stuff.

          Now, its not necessary to give everyone a step by step, blow by blow description of what and how they just want to know you won’t be a jerk.

          7. Make it easypeasy

          If you want to keep making your stuff and not have to move into your parent’s  basement, your potential fans need to know how important it is to you that they tell their neighbors, friends, and family just how great your stuff is. And they have to know HOW to tell them to. There are a couple of very important things to keep in mind when doing this:

          • Don’t spring it on them 2 years after they bought something and well before you learned all this important stuff. They just might not like that… since you never mentioned it before.
          • Set up a good and easy system to help them help you. Think of it as a guide to helping them see through your eyes, so they can very easily recognize your perfect buyers. Make this “guide” reflect you, so if you’re really creative dream up a format that they will really enjoy and maybe give to folks they think would like your stuff. Above all…don’t be dull and boring! Include the guide in your newsletter, put it on your web site, include it with all your sales, most importantly make it easy to use and make your perfect buyer profile really, really, really clear. Eliminate all the worry and confusion that would be there without it.

          129_ask_show071208-copy8. Knock their socks off

          Most people have learned to have very low expectations of most businesses since the ’50s, when everything was made smooth and efficient and impersonal. And most businesses live up to those expectations. So besides all the other stuff suggested one of the best and easiest ways to get raving fans is to impress the $#@* out of them with your thoughtfulness. We’re not talking about giving the farm away here, just the little things that show you appreciate them. So you can knock their socks off by:

          • Sending them a hand written thank you card
          • Remembering their birthday ( you’ll obviously have to ask them first);
          • Featuring them in one of your newsletter or blog posts;
          • Holding their hand as you guide them along the path to buying your stuff;
          • Remembering that they are there and they want to know you care about them, keep up with you;

           

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