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Crowd Funding for Artists – How To Crowd Fund Your Next Art Project

Crowd Funding is something we are getting asked about a lot here at Artonomy. It’s a new way of funding that can work brilliantly for the right project. In this post Janelle Pierce shares some tips on how to go about it…

As a writer you probably know how daunting and difficult it is to get published. As a photographer you probably know how tedious and time consuming it is to sell prints. As a musician you’ve probably had more than a dozen rejection letters from record labels who just didn’t hear the same potential for your music that you did. Well rest easy because the financial times are changing!

If you haven’t heard about crowd source funding it’s the new, hip way artists are getting the funds they need to produce the work they love, and the best part? They’re being funded by backers who love their work too! If you’ve ever wanted to professionally record and release an album, publish your first novel, or release a coffee table book of your favorite photographs then crowd funding might just be the way to go.

Taking the First Step

If you’re new to crowd funding then have no fear, there’s a first time for everything, and truth be told it’s not that difficult, but it will take some time so be prepared for that. Before you do anything you need to decide which crowd funding website you’re going to utilize. With more than 400+ sites available the decision to pick just one, may not be that easy. Instead of going with the big dog (kickstarter.com) just because it’s the big dog, do your research. Pick a crowd funding site that caters specifically to your niche. If you’re an artist who specializes in a certain pottery technique or who makes a specific kind of music, find a site that values that and has an audience who values it as well.

Impacting Your Backers

In order for your crowd funding campaign to be successful you need to make an impact. Since your ultimate goal is to entice and secure funding from other people it’s important to make a human connection. Tell your story and make it personal. People can easily discern whether or not you’re genuine and authentic so don’t fake it. Using a video is one of the best methods because it allows you to communicate not just information, but also emotion.

Duplicating Success

If this is your first crowd funding campaign then you’ll probably want to do a little investigating. Knowing what worked (and didn’t work) for others is a valuable piece of information you cannot afford to neglect. Spend some time searching for other projects that were (and weren’t) successful. Try duplicating the strong points of the successful campaigns while avoiding the weaknesses of the failed campaigns. This will improve your chance for success across the board!

Benefits to the Crowd Funding Model

There are a lot of benefits to the crowd funding model but two of the greatest are its ability to raise money while contributing to the marketing of your art. When a backer decides to support you with their money they make a connection with you that is personal. Their monetary investment is just the start, after that they’ll support you with their vocal support to family and friends. With a few high profile Twitter or Facebook users in your ranks you’ll be well on your way to success due to the word of mouth advertising they’ll provide.

In addition to the financial support and free advertising you’ll also receive constructive criticisms. You may have a good idea, but it can probably get better. If that’s the case the crowd will help you do it. Offering constructive criticism is one way crowd funding makes everything better not just for the backer, but also the artist. Many minds are better than just one and it’s true that there is strength in numbers.

No APR

The old method for funding projects, books, or inventions was a reliance on large corporate banks or wealthy relatives. While a wealthy relative may not charge interest they can add additional stress. Likewise a bank will charge interest and as a result you’ll end up paying more for your loan than the loan was worth.

Conclusion

Crowd source funding is a great alternative to the funding methods of the past. No longer do you have to borrow money only to repay it later. With crowd funding you’re able to sell your creations directly to your customers. Through the process you’ll learn more about your audience, the project you’re working on, and it will hopefully make you a more accomplished artist.

Janelle Pierce enjoys writing about crowd funding and answering various small business questions. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

For inspiration why not check out the kickstarter project of Joshua Harker Joshua’s beautiful sculpture Crania Anatomica Filigre was the 3rd most funded arts project ever raising over $77,000. You can also visit Joshua’s Etsy shop to buy this fabulous sculpture here.

 

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised | How Can Artists Survive & Thrive in the New Economy?

How can artists and creatives survive in the current whirlwind of economic meltdown?

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Readers’ Showcase | Carlos Thága | The Spirit of Brazil

Introducing Carlos Thága.

Brazilian artist Carlos Thága lives in the city of Rio de Janeiro. A self taught artist, Carlos spent many years visiting the art galleries in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where he learned to observe technical and artistic ideas.

Os Arcos

Os Arcos

He participated in several painting competitions in Rio de Janeiro, where he received several awards. He also participated in exhibitions in various places in Rio de Janeiro, such as Urca Yacht Club, Alliance Francaise (Ipanema), Hoton Palace Hotel, Brazilian Academy of Letters, the Bank of Brazil and many others.

Cores Entre Listas

Cores Entre Listas

He also participated in the state of Minas Gerais some collective and individual exhibitions also being awarded. Literary released album “500 anos the Discovery of the Americas” with writer Joaquim Branco.

Currently working on his abstractionist language canvases which have given him much pleasure.

Abstração 12

Abstração 12

He now lives with his family in the state of Minas Gerais where he creates his paintings and teaches art to groups of seniors as occupational therapy.

Find out more about Carlos on his website.

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Naughty domain names {and how not to get stuck with one}

When you are thinking about starting to sell art online through your own artists website, one of the first things you need to consider is your domain name.

It is one of the elements of your artists website which requires the most careful thought and unfortunately somewhere that you can easily shoot yourself in the foot if you are not careful, often only discovering the problem further down the line when nobody can find you.

But don’t worry. Sticking to a few simple rules will ensure that you get the most out of your domain and website. Lets have a quick look at what it entails.

What is it?

Your domain name is the address you type into the address bar of your browser to call up your website. You can think of it as a signpost that points visitors to where your website is hosted. It will look something like www .johnsmithsculpture.com. It is an important part of your web presence and has implications for search engine optimisation. You can register your domain name before you have a website set up in order to secure it.

Why is it crucial to get it right?

Your domain name is a very important part of your personal brand. Pick the right one and it can enhance your professional appearance. Pick the wrong one and it can let down the side {see point 6 below ;-)}.

It also has a direct bearing on your e-mail address so picking the right domain enables you to set up a professional email address along the lines of enquiries@myname.com. This looks SO much better and more professional than  email addresses like sexybex75@yahoo2h5f.com,  again tying in with your personal brand and giving the right impression. I see a surprisingly large amount of artists undermining their hard work on marketing by giving out business cards with addresses like this. It is an important element of your whole professional package so well worth sorting out properly.

Careful choice of domain is also really important from a search engine point of view as a domain name containing your name and possibly a keyword about what you do can really help your site to appear well in search engine results. You want people to be able to find your work when they type in your name.

How to choose a good domain name

When you come to buying your own domain name there are quite a few things to consider before you lay down your money. Many domain names have already been registered so it can take a bit of trial and error to find a good combination that hasn’t already gone.

Google views domain names as being one of the most important elements of a website when deciding whereabouts in the search pages to rank it so its well worth spending a bit of time on getting a good combination. Spend time doing a bit of brainstorming to come up with different combinations that may work.

Some good points to bear in mind are:

1 Include your name in the domain.
Creating a domain including at least your last name and probably your first name too will help people find you more easily. I.e. www.johnsmith.com

2 Include a keyword relating to your work.
Even better, using a descriptive keyword in your domain, helps with searches for this subject. I.e.www.johnsmithsculpture.com

3 Don’t use hyphens.
It’s tempting to hyphenate your domain name as sometimes all combinations of words seem to have been already registered. If at all possible do try and avoid the use of hyphens though as it makes it well nigh impossible to tell anyone your domain name orally.

Imagine trying to tell someone your web address over the phone. “John hyphen smith hyphen sculpture dot com” just sounds really confusing. Use hyphens as a last resort only.

4 Keep it memorable.
Try and register a domain name that people can remember easily. To this end try to keep it short and to the point. www.pamalaspotterypigemporiumandartbarn.com probably wont work so well.

Also, if there are any common misspellings of your name it can be worth registering both variations in case people forget how to spell it.

5 Try and secure a dot com
If you can, try and secure the .com version of your domain name. You may want to register a few different variations of your domain name with different “Top Level Domain”s {Top Level Domains or TLD’s are the ending part of the domain address ie .com or .org etc} If possible avoid domains ending in the more obscure .info .tv and similar for your main domain name.

You may also want to register the TLD relevant to where you live {ie .co.uk if you live in the UK. .fr for France etc} You can use the .com as your main domain and point the others to your site too.

6 Consider your choice of words carefully.
Some combinations of words, when put together, create an unforseen comedy domain name. Consider the humorous joys of the following real domain names and carefully check any domain name combinations you come up with.

www.powergenitalia.com {Italian Power Company}
www.penisland.net {Pen company}
www.speedofart.com {Designers}

Yes, they are all real! 😉

Checking if your chosen domain is available

Once you have some ideas, you need to check if they are available to register. Go to a domain registration site such as www.names.co.uk or 123-reg.co.uk and enter your desired domain name in their website checker box to see what is available. You don’t have to register your domain there if you don’t want but you will be able to find out of the domain is available for purchase.

Registering your domain

There are an almost infinite number of companies on the internet offering domain registration. It makes life easier to have your domain registered at the same place as your hosting so take a look at the domain registration services offered by your hosting company if you have one.

If you want to register the domain separately {for example, if you want to secure it before hosting or your website is set up} try www.lcn.com or www.names.co.uk

If you are using an artists website building service they will generally be able to look after the registration for you and ensure it is set up correctly to point to your website. This again is a good option as it keeps everything in the same place and allows someone else to deal with the technical side of things. Just make sure you can keep the domain name should you ever want to move to a different service.

All done

Sorting out your domain name can look like a daunting process but the steps above should enable you to choose and register a domain with reasonably little pain. Go and make sure you have secured your personal domain name as soon as you can. You don’t want to discover that someone else has registered www.yourname.com when you come to set up your artists website.

Please share any problems you have had with registering domains in the comments. Have you secured your personal name domain yet?

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Best of the web | January 2011 | Don’t miss these

Creative Entrepreneurs month

Hugh Macleod’s Ignore Everybody

I love Hugh MacLeod’s take on creativity. {see image above} 

Check out Hugh’s tips for creativity in Art and Business

Make sure you scroll down. These are so true.

Freedom, money, time and the key to creative success

Mark McGuiness of Lateral Action has created a FREE E-book detailing his struggles to find a balance between freedom, money, time and his creativity. Its an interesting and inspiring read and you don’t have to register to download. Read it here

I thoroughly recommend having a look round LateralAction.com too. It’s packed full of great info on creative entrepreneurship

John T Ungers Art Heroes Radio

John T Unger is a great example of an artist doing well on his own terms by using the power of the internet to reach a global audience. He creates stunningly beautiful firebowls out of metal and sells them all over the world. Art Heroes radio is his project whereby we can all learn from his great interviews with artists who are living and working successfully in the arts.

Check out his own site too for a good example of a great artists website in action

And finally… Should I work for free?

In short… NO

In long… well, see what ShouldIWorkForFree.com has to say. 😉

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How to find the ideal buyer for your art : Don’t fish for trout when you want killer whales.

I received a question from a reader the other day and it made me stop and think. She wrote:

I am trying to learn how to sell my art online and not having any success. The advice I read says, “find your target market” and “offer a solution”.

It might as well be Greek because I have no idea what they mean by those phrases.

I don’t have a “target market”. I am willing to sell my art to whomever is willing to buy it. As I’ve only sold a couple of things, I can’t come up with a “type” of person who buys my art. And it would be arrogant of me to decide I only want to sell to a certain kind of person, wouldn’t it?
As for “offer a solution”, my first reaction is “for what?” What is the problem to which I’m supposed to offer a solution? In my mind, I’m the one with the problem.

It’s easy to give out glib advice about working out your “target market”, “solutions” and “niches” but what does this actually mean in the cold hard light of the real world outside the rarefied atmosphere of a marketing agency, especially if you are new to selling your art? How do you find your ideal buyer, especially if you haven’t sold much yet? Well basically, ignore all the “target market”, “niche” buzzwords. A lot of it is down to common sense.

And so, as is my way… a story…

The gnarly fishermans tale…

A gnarly fisherman {with a beard} sets out bright and early for a days catch. He would dearly love to catch a killer whale. {I don’t even know if its possible to catch a killer whale and it’s technically not a fish but just bear with me on this one}. However, instead of heading to the ocean where killer whales abide, he heads for his local trout pond and casts his line, carefully baited with a lovely killer whale treat. He spends 12 hours in the freezing cold waiting to catch a killer whale but is sorely disappointed with only catching one solitary trout {the only strange trout in the pond with a taste for killer whale bait}. He heads home dejected and pretty much empty handed.

The next day he heads out bright and early and decides to head for the ocean instead. He has his tasty killer whale bait and extra strong rod. Within minutes he is hauling killer whale after killer whale into his boat. He’s in the right place with the right bait. Catching them is easy… He heads for home after a few hours happily laden down with 500 tonnes of Orca for his freezer.

Fish in the right place…

So basically, when selling your art, its the same thing. You have to fish in the right place with the right bait to be successful.

So, for example. If you specialise in delicate watercolours of Cornwall there is no point in spending a lot of time promoting them on a site like Deviant Art which specialises in gritty urban contemporary graphic based work.

Much better to seek out more relevant opportunities with an audience that more closely matches your work and concentrate your efforts there. You may find a bricks and mortar gallery that specialises in Cornish watercolours and caters to the tourists who come to Cornwall and want to buy a piece of art to remind them of the journey, or you may find a site online promoting Cornwall which you could advertise your work with. You would be reaching your target market.

Conversely, If your art is portraits of Death Metal stars painted in your own blood you may have a very limited audience in the Cornish Gallery. Sales will be slow.

And bait your hook right…

So what about the “offering a solution” bit? Is it possible for an artist to do this? Well yes. The artist who paints death metal stars in blood is the perfect solution for a death metal fan with a love of art, a bare wall and a desire for something to fill it.

The Cornish artist who paints the sea is a perfect solution for the holidaying couple who want to capture the magical essence of the Cornish coast back in their landlocked inner city flat.

If you place the right art in front of the right people you have the right bait on your hook and you are highly likely to make a sale.

So do I have to change my art to fit?

No. This is the great thing about the internet. Your potential audience is so large that it’s highly likely that whatever you create there is a group of people who will love it. Its just a case of finding the right outlet.

Think like a fish…

So how do you find the right outlet for your work? With a bit of market research that’s how… You need to THINK like your quarry.

So to sell Cornish art put yourself in the shoes of the couple heading there on holiday. If you were heading to Cornwall and liked art what kind of sites would you look at? What galleries would you visit? Where would you stay? What would you do? Where would you search online?

Thinking like this will help you outline a marketing strategy of which galleries to approach, what to include on your website and which marketing methods to employ.

Your online marketing mix may include

  • E-mail newsletters
  • Pages on your site of relevance to your target audience
  • Relevant Blog articles
  • Discussions on forums of relevance to the target audience
  • Posting your work on relevant showcase sites.
  • Interaction through Social Media sites popular with your target audience

You offline marketing mix may include

  • Contact with galleries which deal in the right kind of work
  • Coverage in local media
  • Attendance at art and craft events in the relevant area

Basically, now you have identified your target audience you know where to fish.

If you haven’t sold any of your own work yet, look at what other artists are doing and what sells. Research research research is the key.

Line up all your ducks…

If you get this right, making sales will be much easier. If you get it wrong you will waste a horrible amount of energy on something that is never going to fly so it’s really important to do your homework.

With selling art, online and off, you need to line up all your ducks in a row to make sales easier.

Do you have a question about selling art? Mail me here and it could make it into a post, probably involving an obtuse story about animals.

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There is ALWAYS a sodding cat hair!

I hate framing my work. I know it’s an essential part of being an artists and a skill I need to hone but boy does it suck. I would rather do anything, ANYTHING other than frame. Everything looks alluring, cleaning the loo, scraping those grim bits of food out of the crack in the table, going to a parents evening, anything. I have become just a little pathalogical about avoiding it. And because I hate it so much I always leave it till the last minute before an exhibition thus putting even more pressure on myself.

24 hours to go. There is finally no escape

It comes to the final day before the hand in deadline. Grumpy and stressed I have no alternative but to just get down to it and do it.

So I get all my equipment out and start to enforce “The Framing Zone”. This is an area in the tradition of a NASA “Clean Room”- allegedly free from all traces of jam, cat sick, dust bunnies, half eaten sweets, kid detritus, unidentified gooey things and the general mess of which my house seems to be primarily constructed. My long suffering husband and kids know that they enter “The Framing Zone” at their peril.

The crucial importance of wine in the framing process

The final part of preparation is to ensure I have a LARGE glass of wine for moral support.

And then it begins. I measure, mark, cut, tape, clean, screw and swear a lot. {This is why the kids need to be kept out of the area}.

Then finally, my framing completed I take the finished masterpiece out into the kitchen under the strong light. And you know what?

THERE IS ALWAYS A
SODDING CAT HAIR!

It drives me wild! No matter how careful and sterile I am and no matter how hard I check before finally screwing the back on the picture, a errant cat hair will always have sneaked under the glass and be compressed on a really obvious bit of the picture. This necessitates a return back to square one, taking the whole thing apart and trying to find the culprit {which often disappears as soon as the glass is moved due to some evil static power, only to reappear again when everything is put back together}

At this point I have twice managed to smash the glass on a frame as I fumble angrily to reassemble everything. Do you see why the wine is so important now?

Which brings me neatly to my “gigantic cat hair of life” theory

Seriously… The “gigantic cat hair of life” theory is really IMPORTANT for artists.

This theory states that whenever you are trying to achieve something, be it opening an exhibition, changing your career, selling your art, starting your creative business, however meticulously you plan, however careful you are there will always be one or two massive great “cat hairs” that turn up and complicate things, mess things up for a while and make things even harder than they need to be.

This will make you want to give up, shout and swear and chuck your work out of the window.

The key thing is not necessarily to avoid the cat hairs, as that is, as we know, impossible, there will always be one or two. The key is to deal with them well when they arrive. Don’t let them derail you or stop you from achieving your goal and getting where you want to be. Just remove them calmly by whatever means necessary, take a big swig of wine and carry on.

Creative survivors have “cat hair” removal down to a fine art

The people who do well with their creative careers and survive still get the cat hairs to deal with but they just pluck em off and carry on, dealing calmly with whatever adversity throws at them. The ones who sink let the first cat hair they find turn them into a nervous wreck and stop what they are doing, often justifying it with excuses about “not having the right hoover” or cat hair removal tool.

Just remember there will always be a sodding cat hair. That’s life. It’s how you deal with it that counts.

Have you had “cat hairs” to deal with in your creative career? How did you sort them out? Tell us in the comments.

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Start selling art, crafts or photos online {quickly & without going nuts} Part 2

In Part 1 of this series on how to start selling art, crafts & photos online,  we looked at setting up a website to get your artwork online and start to sell it.

In this post we are going to run through how to market and promote your work and new website:

So… You have your new website set up with your work on it and ways that people can buy it…but… I hear you say, what now?

Get your work on other gallery & market sites

In addition to your main hub site, there are loads of other great places to sell your art work online too. Depending on what you do some will be more suitable than others. Some sell your creative items direct and some {print-on-demand sites} offer reproductions of your work in a variety of interesting formats.

“Print-on-demand” sites can be a great way of creating another income stream around your art. For example, if you have an original oil painting you may wish to sell copies of it as greetings cards or posters. This gives you additional sales and an additional income stream from your original image.

One drawback of using some of these sites, especially the handmade & craft markets, is that competition tends to make prices very low and of course if you price low on one site you have to match that across any other site where you sell your art too. If you work is high cost you may want to only sell it through your own site.

Having said that, many of these sites have great community spirit and are a great way to showcase your work. You can also use them as a shopping cart by linking your gallery directly to the items you have on them if you don’t want to accept payment on your main site itself {although they will take a commission}

A great way to work is to place your work on maybe 3 of these sites and then link from your hub website to them. That way you can drive traffic to all your satellite sites from your main site.

Check out these great places to sell your creativity online and see which ones might suit your work.

  • Redbubble – Print on Demand. Also offers framing – great for photographers
  • Imagekind – Print on demand. Also offers framing. Great for photographers as well
  • Society 6 – Print-on-demand site where you can offer your work in some interesting formats, such as iPhone or Laptop skins
  • Etsy – Wonderful cornucopia of crafters work. Downside is that it’s massive so you have to work hard to promote your work.
  • Folksy – A market for crafters work that is smaller and more UK focussed.
  • ArtFire – Great place for selling handmade craft items
  • 1000markets – Market for unique and handcrafted gifts

Remember to link to these sites from your main hub website to drive traffic as its easy for your work to get lost in amongst everyone else’s. Its easier to promote your own site and then send the visitors to your other shop sites via links.

PROMOTE, promote, promote. Shout it from the rooftops & tell the world

If there is a secret to successful art sales on the web it’s MARKETING YOUR WORK & WEBSITE. Unfortunately many people make the mistake of sitting back and thinking the website will do all the work and then wonder why they don’t sell anything. Like a real life gallery with no visitors you won’t sell anything if no one sees your work. A website alone won’t do the job of getting people to visit and look at your creations. The truth is that for your website to work for you, you have to TELL THE WORLD ABOUT IT…

You need to drive traffic to your main site and and through links from that to your other shop sites too. Promotion and marketing are the lifeblood of your website and will get the visitors flowing through. Thankfully its easy and fun to do on the web by making the most of Social Media.

Social Media for artists

Social Media networks are very useful for this. Social Media is defined by the use of sites and networks whose main purpose is social interaction, communication and the creation and exchange of user generated content. Ie they allow you to have a sit down and chat with people all over the world.

There are many many different social media networks that you might want to explore but he two main ones that its worth looking at for starters are Twitter & Facebook.

The key with both sites {and all social media} is RELATIONSHIPS. Nobody likes anyone who just goes on about themselves all the time and its the same in Social Media. Its no use just talking about your self in a steady stream of links to your work for sale. People will soon get bored of that and unfollow, block or ignore you.

Make sure you share interesting and useful information, links to other sites that you like, other artists work, posts relating to the kind of work that you do. The rule is create about 12 links to other interesting things to every one that you link to your own work. Be generous, share and meet people.

Start building relationships on these networks with links back to your main site and you will soon have a steady stream of traffic.

Blogging

Start blogging on your main website. Write posts about your work and other related themes that people who like your work might find interesting. Blogging is one of the main ways you can get people interested in what you do and attract visitors so it’s definitely worth investing some time in.

Blog about

  • Your methods
  • Your inspiration
  • Your upcoming shows and exhibitions
  • Your loves and passions
  • Your future plans and ideas

You will attract like minded people who will probably like what you do.

Cosy up with Google

It’s important that Google and other search engines can find and index your work easily. This is often made to sound really complicated but in reality is a lot easier than it sounds. With a FolioTwist website a lot of this is taken care of for you, but it pays to understand the process and what you can do to increase your visibility.

You might like to read this post about simple Search Engine Optimisation {SEO} for artists which can really help you get visitors by making your site more google friendly.

Collect emails and start building an email mailing list

After all this hard work in building and promoting a website you don’t want to miss the visitors who come to your site and leave after a quick look. Chances are you will never see them again so you want to get their details if possible. Collect their emails and start building your mailing list of people who are interested in your work. That way, when you have some new work to show you can alert your army of potential buyers and you have a market ready and waiting. It’s crucial to start collecting emails right from the start.

  • Make sure you have a means of collecting emails on your site. A simple contact form can be used to begin with.
  • Don’t use your Outlook or Hotmail account to send out emails. It looks unprofessional and is untrackable and often undeliverable too. MailChimp offer a free email service which is a great starting point. You may want to progress on to a product like Aweber when you are a little more established.
  • Make sure you make it clear that you won’t abuse the details and sell them on
  • Keep any signup forms simple. Ask for the minimum of information. People will be more likely to sign up
  • Offer visitors to your site something nice to persuade them to sign up. Perhaps a downloadable copy of a piece of your work or entry into a draw for a painting.
  • You can collect details for your mailing list at your real world gallery shows and exhibitions too.
  • This post gives you some simple ideas about how to get more sign ups at gallery exhibitions and craft fairs.
  • Read this post about the power of mailing lists to artists.

Be patient

Don’t worry that you don’t see instant results. Selling art on the internet takes time. Don’t get disheartened if nothing much seems to happen at first. Just keep soldiering on and you WILL notice things start to work. Make sure you give yourself at least 6 months to start to see some results from all your hard work.

Above all, have fun telling people about your work and you will start see an improvement in your sales.


If you found this post useful why not Get Updates By Email

Get my FREE Course “5 Days to More Art Sales” which points you in the right direction with inspiration and a plan for starting to sell your artwork online.

This is by necessity of space a very quick look at getting your work online. I have made a large part of the content of my ebook “How to sell your art craft and photos online” [previously for sale} available online for free. View the content here

 

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How to start selling art, crafts or photos online {quickly & without going nuts} Part 1

A crashcourse in starting to sell your art online without getting your fingers burnt or wasting valuable creative time. Simple steps include | setting up a website | taking payment | blogging | social media | the best gallery, print-on-demand & market sites | Google tips | Using a mailing list

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Why redundancy might be the start of something beautiful

Now I want to say right from the start that I’m not making light of the horrible trauma of getting laid off. I’ve been there more than once and its not pleasant.

I know first hand the gut wrenching feeling of getting called into the bosses office at an odd time in the morning when you just know something is wrong because he won’t look you in the eye and all the things that you need to pay for, house, car, kids flash before your eyes and you think “What the hell am I going to do?” I’ve been in that position and it is truly horrible. Then you go home with your little box of stuff from your desk and cry into your wine and wonder why they didn’t like you enough to keep you on. It’s a stressful and confidence sapping experience.

But having said that, being made redundant CAN be one of the best things to ever happen to a creative person because it shakes you out of your comfort zone.

When you work in a nice place it can be like a comfy pair of slippers. You know what you need to do workwise. You go in, you get it done, you chat to your colleague about the last episode of Lost and flirt with the guy in the IT department and at the end of the month a nice secure dollop of money appears in your bank account. Excellent.

When you get bored around 3pm you will probably start to think about selling a bit of work on Etsy or how great it would be if you could make a living selling your paintings, but the comfort of your situation means you won’t do much about it, and its frighteningly easy to coast along like this for years. You don’t really need to try to do anything about your creative dream because nothing bad will happen if you don’t. That dollop of money will still appear and the bills will get paid. You are missing one of the major ingredients that can help you set up a successful creative business. Positive Fear.

Positive Fear comes when you step outside your comfort zone. Positive fear is not the energy sapping, panicky sweaty 3am kind of fear. It is the kind of fear that sharpens your brain and focusses your goals and makes you think “Right. I need to get this working or no one will be paying the mortgage. Lets do it!.” Fear is not your enemy. It can be your friend and an extremely useful motivator towards your creative goals.

Nothing of any great importance usually happens within your comfort zone. To achieve stuff you generally need to be outside it and sometimes your boss rudely shoving you out can be the first step on the path to great and exciting new things.

So if redundancy looms it might just be the time to become a full time artist, sell your crafts at fairs or on the internet, or work on developing your sculpture business. You have the time and the motivation and focus to make it work.

If you think there’s a good chance of redundancy looming on the horizon, start preparing now.

  • Start to formulate a plan for if it happens. Think about your options, what you love doing and if any of it would make a viable business.
  • Make stock. Start to prepare by getting a body of work together ready for sale.
  • Start researching into where you could sell your work. Could you sell at local craft fairs? Through shops, on the internet. Do you need to start setting up a website now?
  • Start networking and meeting people that might be able to help you and your creative business. Use online social networking as well as making contacts in your creative community.
  • Start creating a name and brand for your business
  • On the more mundane side, check all your financial out goings and see what you could downscale for now. If you can get by on a little less for a few months it will take the pressure off as your business may take a while to start generating money.
    Martin Lews, Money saving expert has a great online budget calculator here

If you have just been made redundant.

  • Remember that it’s not personal, it’s just economics Don’t let it upset you or knock your confidence.
  • Take a day off to let yourself recover and watch some rubbish daytime TV.
  • Then pick yourself up and focus on what you really want to do with your life from now on. Do you want another job or do you want to do something different?
  • Check if you have redundancy cover included in any of your insurance policies [say to cover your mortgage]
  • Find out what grants or training might be available to you. You should be eligible for help and advice which will make the journey of setting up on your own a lot smoother.
    In the UK, Business link have a great selection of useful information about starting up in business here
  • Take stock of your creative talents and what you love doing.
  • Start planning your creative dream business

So when the boss calls you in to the office at that odd time of the morning its not the end, its the beginning of something new and exciting. Embrace the fear and jump. You might look back in 5 years and realise that this was a wonderful pivotal moment in your life.

Ps I was last made redundant in the Dot Com crash in 2001, have worked for myself ever since and would never ever go back. Plus I’m still friends with my old boss too. Result

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