Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Organizing for Marketing

This image is from my time with adult coloring books last year – trying out colors, experimenting. I love symmetry, but then I also like something a little unusual….which is where I am right now as I approach a new project. I really need to develop  more sources for passive income. I’m taking a free class right now from Convertkit on Product Creation – great ideas, and after two weeks of reading the information (a daily lesson), I decided to start at the beginning and develop a series of products that are useful to others. Hence, Organizing for Marketing.

The title is going through some revisions – still not catchy enough for me. But I already have all this content – in an iBook that isn’t selling  – and yes, I really haven’t done much to market it in the three years it’s been available (or is it four? Funny how time stretches out when you’re not teaching….).

So this is my first brainstorming at trying to make sense of what I want in this ebook product. I am very good at marketing and creating and organizing, so it makes sense to focus right there. When I reviewed the book last night, there is enough information to make it into three or four smaller ebooks and develop a continuous stream of ideas and techniques for people.

The first key is targeting my market. I work in fiber and textiles – pretty much a niche market when looking at the art world, although we are slowly making progress into mainstream. Thus I want to focus this on those of us who do art that is generally out of the mainstream. What can we do to get our work looked at, sold, appreciated?

Here’s my accountability checklist for this coming week, ending Tuesday, May 16, with my initial thoughts:

  • Determine revised structure of the ebook. I need to break up the information in the original book into smaller segments for action, and increase the information included in each of the segments.
  • Determine my ideal customer for this book. Who is my audience…artists without a lot of money to spend on marketing, artists with unique products, artists who have issues getting organized and accomplishing tasks.
  • Write two additional blogs this week – what questions do you want answered in a marketing book for those of us working in a niche market, and how would this be different from all the other marketing books out there? I need to make sure I start getting feedback from folks to help direct my work.
  • Evaluate ebook publishing sources and ease of use. CreateSpace seems mostly for print; research it more fully. Kindle seems easy and quick to do. IBooks seems too limiting, although I do have experience with that platform.
  • Plan for a “bonus” for people who buy this ebook. Already thinking about many of the blog posts I’ve already done in my Top Ten series. I think these could be manipulated into a bonus, once links are checked, and focus determined. Happened to just think about expanding ideas for Top Ten for other Bonus offerings.
  • Keep playing with title ideas. Suggestions certainly welcome! Organize, marketing, niche products…….
  • Determine launch date for the ebook – probably beginning of August.

Feel free to give me ideas and help keep me accountable to this project! You can be in the book with your website and product for helping out.

ORIGINAL BOOK

Ready, set, go – give me feedback!

Photography and Packaging…Oh, My!

Vermont Open Studios, 2016

When we did Vermont Open Studios last May with artist Mary Hill, one of the great things about sharing the space was all the time we had to talk about our various art and marketing attempts. Mary had some GREAT ideas for us concerning packaging. We continue to process everything we thought about, with some definite changes in what we are doing. Thanks to Rachel of The Textile and Fiber Art List, we have also been improving photography – both how we shoot items and how we present the finished product.

First, the photography. Our pictures have a “muddy” cast to them, and we are basically rephotographing everything we have. The place we are living now doesn’t allow for much flexibility for setting up good lighting. Hubby experimented with a lot of options – including moving to a rolled fabric presentation rather than each piece in a haphazard manner. Give an overall idea as opposed to every thing about each piece. In this manner we can still send the packages flat and save customers money (on international orders – domestic shipping is free). Some “before and after” ideas –

Getting the overall set-up of the product looking good –

Lighting and color still issues….but against the white background looking better. Also, we discovered that we needed to save pictures at a larger size in order to get more detail in the pictures. Next is better with a good cropping and some adjustments in Photoshop to correct the lighting.

Definitely getting there –

Uh-Huh…..

Definitely brighter –

Close-up shot for the Twitter picture, which I am slowly getting back to using…..

This is just for our Charm Pack 2 – ten pieces of hand-marbled pima cotton, assorted patterns and colors, 10 x 10 inches each. Slowly working on others. The pieces need to be appealing, hence all the work on presentation in the pictures. The mailing is easier than a rolled item, which costs more to ship and doesn’t give customers a good look at the fabrics.

This looks better in person when displaying for a show – but not for online sales.

Much more ahead for us as we continue adding new items…let me know your thoughts and how you solved packaging problems.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Marketing – First of the Year!

“Partly Sunny, Chance of Storms”

I have a list………….

Don’t we all? I start one every year – but this year seems to be somehow different. I have a small composition book (like we used to use in elementary school, back in the day, and I got myself organized very differently. I have a page for yearly goals, then a page for monthly goals. I have separate pages for each of the weeks of the month. Right now the notebook is set up though March.

I can at a glance see what I’ve accomplished, and I have a way of listing items ahead in the month they’re due, and I can backtrack to begin working on them. This helps me see the bigger picture much better…..and I love crossing things off my lists.

I think the thing that is also different is that I am feeling so much better than probably the last five years. The weight is slowly rearranging itself, clothes are fitting, the knee doesn’t hurt, I’m getting stuff accomplished (more than I thought), and I feel calm, centered, and productive. A great way to start the New Year!

We are concentrating on our Etsy shop,(small listing on the right side of the blog…) in preparation for moving to the market on Artizan Made.

Lots of new pictures, revising items, getting ready to do a “retirement sale” of older items that have been around the country one or two times. We’ve lived in places where we could have better photography set-ups, but we are making do. Lots of great suggestions and tips from Rachel Biel of The Fiber and Textile List – she is amazing when it comes to set-up, marketing, and all-round general encouragement.

I am looking for a royalty-free piece of music for our second marbling video, finishing up pieces that have languished for years, taking apart a major piece from 2003 and modernizing it with my new skills, keeping up with blogging (I WILL hit 1000 blog posts this year…….) and constantly looking for new venues and ideas.

Here’s to 2017! What are you doing to start your year out right?

Lessons Learned…Goals Identified

Unexpected colors – from my coloring book experiments

A load of lessons this year – big, small, in-between – physical, emotional, business, art, political. It’s always interesting to me to reflect on what I’ve learned in times of turmoil.

  1. I will stand up against hate.
  2. Knee surgery is a pain, literally, but necessary. Physical therapy is necessary. I am blessed with a great doctor, fabulous physical therapist, and a hospital that helps with financial assistance.
  3. Losing weight over 60 (…over 40…) is tough, but thanks to The Gabriel Method I might just be able to do it this year. No chocolate in over two weeks, n0 hunger pangs, no snacking – all because of visualization.
  4. Vermont pushes too many pills – finally found an integrative health doctor, rather than getting a prescription for anything that ails me without even looking at symptoms.
  5. Survived major surgery with hubby on his aneurysm repair last winter. Great doctor, learned a huge amount – he’s good to go.
  6. Walking still is my best form of exercise. So glad I can do more walking, much more comfortably, with the new knee.
  7. I like myself a lot more. Been years in the making, learning to deal with what I can’t change in the past.
  8. Still madly in love with hubby of 40 years. We always find something new to talk about.
  9. My mother was a full-blown narcissist, and I lived in fear of her most of my life. I have forgiven her and have moved on. She appears every now and then in dreams, and I find I can tell her off when she shows up – something I couldn’t do in real life. I’m moving on.
  10. I need to plan for art business this year. We had a great year last year, and my goal for this year is to sell a lot more art and make some good money.
  11. Newsletter each month for the marbling, more teaching opportunities, retirement sale of older works.
  12. Continue taking online classes for the pure enjoyment/learning something new. Work on color sense.
  13. I wrote a teaching manual – all 35,000 words – essentially in five months. It’s a template for teacher manuals, as it works with standards and ways of integrating new curriculum ideas for teachers. Thinking about a mathematics manual for algebra.
  14. I WILL publish my political novel this year. I am planning a Kickstarter campaign – or something similar. I have to do it in the light of current politics, and I need to get back to book 2.
  15. Made a lot of art last year. I want to make even more art this year, including a couple of large pieces. I’m keeping track of the process of taking my Pele piece apart and modernizing it with my new skills in free motion quilting.
  16. Three years ago I realized I only had 200 more b;og posts to do to hit 1000. Then I seemed to take long breaks from blogging. I’m still trying to hit 1000 – 920 and counting…I should be able to get 80 posts done this year……(PS – 921…)
  17. Politically it’s been a very difficult year for me. As a history/political science major I see trends before they are trends. I’ve been worried the last two years. It is time this year to write, speak out, demonstrate, listen, reach out.
  18. Be kind and listen, regardless of your own opinion. All of us need kindness and understanding.
  19. I will be out in nature more, travel more, worry less about finances.
  20. I will stand up against hate.

Art in 2016 – Part 4 Review – Classes and Shows…and a Book!

This was a big year for showing our work – many more options and acceptances than most of our time in Arizona. We taught a beginning marbling class at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, NY, and in the process of chatting, we became part of their arts curriculum grant project. I’m really looking forward to this activity; I miss the days of working with The Kennedy Center to bring integrated arts into the classrooms in the Chittenden East School District in Vermont.A lot of great memories from the conferences, and then great memories from arts work within the district (need to do a blog post and reflect on the work we did….)

A couple of pictures from our Saranac Lake class, followed by an individual machine quilting class I did for a fellow artist who wanted to expand her techniques. Mary Hill is a mixed media artist, with vibrant work.

We spent Vermont Open Studios sharing space with Mary over Memorial Day Weekend. LOTSSof great discussions on marketing!!

It was a challenge to plan for what could take Mary’s already wonderful art to the next level.

Mary Hill’s “experimenting as a result of our machine quilting class:

Plus, since May I have been working on an interactive teaching manual for the ebook Interactive Edge of the Sea. This takes all I have worked on in curriculum in 40 years of teaching and brings it together for teachers, with a modern update on using all forms of new assessment and social media within the classroom. My hope is that this manual becomes a template for other disciplines, as there are a lot of useful interactive teaching techniques – and everything is correlated to current educational standards. A labor of love with my second mom, Betty Hupp. Here’s the cover:

A snippet of the lesson plan section….

We are just about done with final edits, and after the first of the year it heads off to coding. I have a lot of links to check to be sure they all work!

Bunches of shows…..here are pictures of our small pieces at Sweet Grass Gallery in Williston, VT for the month of November.

There’s still more…..stay tuned!

Monday Marketing – BUSY!!!

Coexist

What a beautiful Monday morning! It’s 10 AM and I’ve already accomplished photography of baskets, cutting fabric for the next project, and done all the Christmas cards. Plus – lots of great stuff accomplished over the last two weeks!

So….finally updated the Facebook business page with our gift baskets for sale – sold two, and I have another ready to go up. It’s been a lot of fun making the baskets and choosing some of the “ugly” fabric in the stash, as that turns out pretty darn cool. The Etsy store is up and running again, as well as Ebay, so check them out.

Etsy Shop

Etsy Shop

Ebay

Ebay

I’m contemplating a new online platform – just need to do the research. One of the biggies was the first newsletter in just over a year. No sales or offers, just a welcome, we’re still here, and it’s good to be making art again. I have plans for the first of the year to get back to a regular newsletter. Redid framing on a small 9 x 12 piece ready to go on Etsy, and another piece that needs new serging and mounting. Have another show set for three months with two other artists, starting in April – law firm, so will probably do some fiber, and we’ll save the digital work for the solo show in August. Had a great time at the Essex Art League holiday party this past week. We’ll be doing a  demo for them, as well as a class or two, and we’re looking at a couple of open studios within our new apartment complex. We are back to seriously looking at video, so who knows where or when….or who?

The big thing for me has been the decision to self-publish my novel, so Monday Marketing will also include my work there – need to set myself some deadlines. I’ve given agents and publishers seven months – time to move on and get this out there!

Let’s see what the rest of today brings for momentum!

Monday Marketing – fer real…..

AQ3

Marketing is taking on a different feel, what with the big move coming up the end of April. We are planning a large tray marbling session the end of February, for specific orders and also to load the Etsy shop for a bit. So I need to get a newsletter done and out. I am beginning to research guilds and shops in New England and the mid-Atlantic for marbled presentations – would love to work out one a quarter. That said, I need to look at marketing materials. I have a couple of places I’ve used, but I like to have a wide variety, especially since many of the online resources do good sales.

As a side note – I finished my NOVEL! Now it’s time to activate the site for the novel and all things related to it. So this becomes a priority, as well as  my digital work initially for art, and to that end I am looking at some new ways to market. What’s nice is I am planning that whatever print materials I need, I will need them for both the book and the artwork. So I’ve been searching the web looking for sites that offer printing. I stumbled on this one today, and I want to put it out there for you to check out. Sometimes it just helps to have back-ups and new sites to use. Printing Peach(http://printingpeach.ca/flyer-printing/) is both in the US and Canada, so that is nice, given we will be two hours from the Canadian border! Check it out and let me know what you think, especially if you’ve used them! Here’s a sample of what they’ll do:Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 2.19.38 PM

Concerning the digital work, one of the “must-do’s” before we completely pack up is get a new external hard drive to back up this computer, especially since the hard drive program I had for the old computer (3 years ago….) won’t work with this one. So along with have the Apple Store wipe the hard drive tomorrow, I’m picking up 1 terabyte of memory….who knew? I/m going that large because of all the digital work I’ve done so far, and all the photos, and all the many layers of work – you get the idea. The digital piece is going to become important, so I don’t want to lose anything.

It is a glorious day today in the desert Southwest, much like June in Vermont. We are prepared for the snow and cold of January, but there are so many advantages to moving back to a more rational state. The politics of Arizona – and the dwindling water supplies – do not make this a sustainable state. Plus, we’re both New Englanders at heart, and I really want to walk the Atlantic coast again. So let the packing begin!!

Monday Marketing…….Not Really…..

Stones 2

Stones 2

It is Monday, and I sure haven’t been doing much marketing these last few months. Part of it has been illness, part has been writing, part has been making art, and part has been not really caring. I have realized that when I get in the mood for serious marketing, no art gets done. I find that unacceptable these days. There are more art pieces than I will ever have time for. Marketing needs to fit in as it can.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. During our trip we did a lot of talking to artists, sold some fabric, and made some really nice connections. We came home ready to start a new series, Preservation. Both of us are excited about this, and now we need to do some serious planning. But I am still left with a conundrum over marketing. In between being sick and getting physically exhausted (which according to the doctors will continue until maybe the end of September), I finished a seven-piece commission, nearly the rest of my seasons grouping (pattern is next on the list), free-motion quilted a lap quilt for a friend, cleaned the studio (which really was pointless….), and tried to be ambitious. I did write close to 15,000 words on my novel, but I am feeling the need to have art-making take over for a while.

I did partially complete a gallery marketing class, and now I am awaiting to see if I made the first cut to a year’s mentorship with a gallery in Scottsdale. It would require a lot more art-making, and I think we would be good candidates for selection. But what I think and what happens usually are two different things. I am still being positive, and men tally I am feeling good. I still have my lists, and they have every kind of loose end I can think of, including doing some apartment applications for next spring when we move, and organizing all our photos. But each day I look at any “must-do’s” and “want to do’s” and work from there.

And….there’s the marketing book which I haven’t marketed, plus a number of other things I haven’t done. So I need to get off my case, make art, and let other stuff happen when it does.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it………….

 

 

 

Get Organized – Day 2!

Balboa Park

Balboa Park – c. Linda Moran

Here we are at Day 2 of Getting Organized. Did you congratulate yourself on what you accomplished this past year? I always do, because even though we may think we haven’t done much, and then we are amazed at what we actually did do. Here’s a link to my year-end review from last year – which happens in May for me, because it marks the start of what I accomplished during my retirement year. Here’s a sample of one from Celestine Chua, who runs the Personal Excellence blog – she’s got some cool things she does.

Now for Day 2.

Step 2 is identifying what you DIDN’T get done. This is hard, and sometimes it can leave us with a sense of failure. Not so. Get it out on paper, have the pity party, get over it, and you don’t have to think about it as much. There were reasons why these didn’t get done: not a priority, not enough time, too much money, family and/or job commitments. Identify them and let them go. It’s okay if you are working full time and don’t have a lot of creative time or space. Part of what will follow in later steps will be adding realistic planning into your goals. WE’LL LOOK AT THIS SHORTLY. Recognize what you didn’t get accomplished for the year – I never did get my seasons patterns finished, and that is such a big loose end. Think about them, and then LET IT GO!!!! A perfect activity for letting go is New Year’s Eve!

One key piece here is to not beat yourself up about what didn’t get accomplished. Even though I slowed down this year, I still made deadlines I set for myself. There just weren’t as many of them. What was a priority for me DID get done, so you are on your way to prioritizing tasks, even if you didn’t realize it.

Step 3 is starting a list of all that you actually accomplish this year. Add to it throughout the year. Then when you reflect next year, you’ve already got your list. Get a blank sheet of paper, title it “Accomplishments of 2014,” and keep it where you work – desk, studio, whatever is easy access for you. Then as you finish something, WRITE IT ON THE LIST! A small thing to do, but oh, will you feel good about yourself this time next year!! If you look at the blog post I linked to here, all of those were taken from the list I kept. Real easy to write about it when the time comes.

That naturally leads us to Step 4.

Step 4 is sharing what you accomplished, on a blog, your website, a newsletter….or in the comments here. Let us celebrate with you. Working in isolation is tough, and since we have a cyber community, let’s take advantage of it! Leave a comment about what you’ve done, send me a link to your blog of accomplishments, and let’s celebrate in the next couple of days what we’ve done. I’ll share responses on this blog.

PS – this series is going to become part of my new marketing book, a large expansion on the one I’ve just published, Niche Marketing – Planning, Marketing, and Selling Your Unique Items. The new book will be on a platform for all ebooks, not just iPads. This is your chance to get into print bu the end of next year (a great marketing credit, by the way). I’ll be looking for individual stories and ideas to illustrate the various points I make, so you have a chance just by making comments on the organizing posts. So write to me!!

In Retrospect – Year 2 of Retirement

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve been retired now for two years. Last year on the one-year anniversary I took a look at what I accomplished for the year. I was afraid of looking back on retirement and not seeing anything to show for it. So I tracked everything this year. The last four months have been pretty fallow, as I struggled with some personal issues, but I feel like I am finally reclaiming myself. All in all, I had a pretty productive year.

SAQA quilt submitted to major show

SAQA auction quilt submission

continued blogging

Tried out Tophatter, gave it up after some really obnoxious feedback from an a-hole, who actually burned my quilt

Newsletters for 10 out of 12 months

Wrote a dozen blogs for Handmadeology

Remade hubby’s blue quilt

Participated in the free motion quilting challenge through the end of the year

Yoga instruction throughout the year, including pretty regular daily practice

Completed two more table runners for Momma BettyTableRunner4

Completed Stepping Stones table runner

Completed “Clammin’,” a small art quilt up on Etsy

Completed pattern and two samples for the table runner pattern

Sold “DesertScapes”

Machine-quilted the Forest quilt

Machine-quilted two bed-stand table-toppers and one dresser scarf

Worked at stocking and marketing the Etsy store

Took a Quilt University class with Elizabeth Barton

Finished Spring Wall Hanging

Guest post on Craft Gossip

Finished makeover of small Christmas quilt

Pictures in Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring issueMSWeddings

Quilted Ali’s green picture

Participated in three challenges for Art Quilts Around the World

Took two Craftsy classes

Joined Galleribba online gallery

Potentialgallery  representation starting fall 2013 in Tubac

Participated in StashFest again this year for the La Conner Quilt Museum

Submissions for three books, one accepted, the other as an ebook

Green and purple whole cloth quilts completed

Started commission of 7 quilted chakras, finished Root chakra

Completed two bed-stand table toppers and one long dresses scarf

Accepted into the juried Faculty/Staff art show for The Art Institute of Tucson

ArtShowAI

There are probably a couple more, but the mind has been kind of blank. It’s nice to have this list, so I know I accomplished a lot! Now I have to start the new one for year three.

Making Vs. Marketing

Aside from being under the weather…and seriously behind on the February newsletter….I am confronted with the dilemma most artists face at one time or another: time for making and time for marketing. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time either at the machine or at the marbling tray. When I do that for any length of time, I begin to worry about other aspects of the business. But when I spend too much time on marketing, I worry about not being at the machine. Right now I have three pieces basted, two commissions to design, and about four other ideas begging to get started, and about 50 fat quarters that need to be marbled for StashFest. And…a new machine to learn, so I can expand some of my ideas, as well as finish some Craftsy classes to begin dyeing and wax resist. These are not just for me to play around; I really want to see how I can take the marbling in some totally different directions.

But then I also want to finish the two e-books and three patterns I have started in order to build up the passive income for the business. I haven’t felt the need to do a brain dump…I know exactly what needs to be done and what the deadlines are.  And I’ve had requests for an online digital marbling set of sessions, so I want to pursue that.

I compare it to taking breaks for reading. Sometimes I just need to slow down, so I engage in a lot of reading, until I am drawn to something at the machine that tells me it’s time to change gears. I’ve been reading Patricia Cornwell’s series, and it’s getting kind of grim, so it is time to move on to other book genres. Plus, I just want to feel healthy again….after a series of multiple sneeze fits today, I’m not sure I’m totally out of the woods in terms of being sick. Frustrating, but I will persevere.

I finished the instruction book and dvd on my new machine, so now I’m going to splurge and make a stitch sampler as I try out the new baby. Good way to spend a Friday night!

Part 2: Getting Organized – Start Dreaming!

Here comes Part 2 in my Getting Organized Series. You can follow along on the blog and get a head start before the posts appear on the Handmadeology blog. Share comments about your dreaming at the bottom of this post.

 Part 2: Dreaming the New Year

Now it’s time to think about this coming new year, regardless of when you consider your year to begin. When I was teaching, September was always the beginning of the year, not January. With retirement, my new year is the end of May. So you can do this at any time of the year, for however long a time period you want. Start with a month or two, or go for the whole year. If the process works for you, then consider doing a five-year plan. I promise you that this whole process really works!

First, though, you need to DREAM. If you need help in dreaming your goals, check out Dale Anne Potter’s website. She offers a lot of positive ideas for getting goals accomplished, and she has great resources. So does Alyson Stanfield, author of “I’d Rather Be in the Studio!”

I’m asking you to do away with limits on your thinking. No worrying about how much money you need, whether you think it’s actually possible to accomplish, or any other roadblocks you might place in your path. This is dream time. A year from now, what would you like to have accomplished? Just DREAM. Don’t limit yourself! And…don’t make it just about your business.

Here’s what I’ve come up with in my brainstorming, in no particular order.

  • a second online gallery carrying my artwork;
  • publication of the book by Linda Seward with my art quilts in it;
  • a line of stencils for mixed media;
  • two ebooks on marketing;
  • an ebook on quilting marbled fabrics;
  • finish the ebook for a friend;
  • licensing some of my digital designs;
  • at least four new patterns developed and available;
  • at least three teaching gigs around the country;
  • visiting Paducah to tour Quilt City;
  • a trip to Kauai in the fall;
  • visiting the Maritimes this summer;
  • entry into at least two fiber/art shows;
  • increase by 25% each the income from Ebay, the website, Etsy, and Cafe Press;
  • another connection to the Martha Stewart folks for another article;
  • additional writing and work done on my website;
  • a visit with my foster son;
  • visiting the old homestead in New Jersey;
  • seeing my college buddy again;
  • staying healthy;
  • blog posts at least four times a week;
  • articles in two art/quilt-related magazines;
  • monthly lunches with my second mom;
  • weekly Friday night dinners with my sister-friend;
  • at least once a month something art/music-related to see;
  • outdoor cactus garden established;
  • and….a trip to Vienna to visit a friend.

Your list can be as long or as short as you wish. Please do not try and limit yourself, even subconsciously. I have found the key in planning is to shoot for the moon. You’ll get a lot farther into the atmosphere than if you try to keep yourself grounded on earth.

Also, DO NOT FEEL OVERWHELMED with this list! In the next installment, I’ll be sharing the idea of backplanning – something that I have used throughout teaching, especially when I was doing theater. Backplanning makes everything seem absolutely do-able – I promise.

Feel free to share your dreaming with us. Some of us might get inspired by something you mention and decide to include it on our list. You’ll head in to the New Year feeling very positive about what you’d like to accomplish!

Next: The Concept of Backplanning

Reflecting on the Past Year…aka Starting Your Marketing Early

I’m starting a new series over on Handmadeology, with organization and planning steps to help you plan this coming year. I’m also taking all my own advice along the way, so if you are interested, you can follow along on my planning and perhaps pick up some ideas of your own.

It’s the end of the year: fiscal, calendar, it doesn’t really matter. Most of us are already thinking ahead. Lots of ideas, plans, and probably a sense of “how can I ever make this all happen?” If that’s your mind frame right now, then this series is for you. Step by step, let’s help you plan out the coming year so that it seems both manageable and practical. The best part? You can do this planning whenever you want; you don’t have to wait for an official beginning. You just start, whether it be an individual project, a month, or the whole calendar year.

Step 1 is reflecting on what you FINISHED. What did you get accomplished this past year? Let’s start here. Make a list of what you actually completed this past calendar year (since that’s what most of us work with). Consider everything: sales, new customers, teaching gigs, social media, newsletters, art shows, gallery entries, website development, blog writing, travel, new art work (definitely do not leave out the actual creativity!). WHAT DID YOU DO FOR THE YEAR? Now celebrate each and every accomplishment. You made progress.

This has been a productive year for us, with sales up about 10 percent. About a third of the income was from our participation in StashFest, a fundraiser for the La Conner Quilt Museum. Etsy is hitting its stride. Ebay was surprisingly quiet, especially during the summer. I entered shows for which I created very specific work (and didn’t get in), joined SAQA and Visions Art Museum. I did a newsletter each month starting with April. I created a tutorial for the SewCalGal free motion quilting challenge, got our work accepted in a book, and corralled a feature in the Martha Stewart Weddings issue for this coming March. I completed a pattern and had it reviewed and samples made. I have three out of four of my small seasons quilts completed. I revamped the website with some major changes, and I took apart five old quilts and requilted them. I also took a few classes. There’s more, but this is a good start.

Step 2 is identifying what you DIDN’T get done. This is hard, and sometimes it can leave us with a sense of failure. Not so. Get it out or paper, have the pity party, get over it, and you don’t have to think about it as much. There were reasons why these didn’t get done: not a priority, not enough time, too much money, family and/or job commitments. Identify them and let them go. It’s okay if you are working full time and don’t have a lot of creative time or space. Part of what will follow in later steps will be adding realistic planning into your goals.

As I am half way through my second year of retirement, I am getting used to working furiously for three or four weeks, and then taking at least a week or two to just relax. It is such a nice change from trying to make art during a crazy school year and then getting really productive in the summer, usually the few weeks before school is due to start again. I did have loose ends: a few art quilts that didn’t get completed, so they are still UFOs; the seasons pattern for autumn STILL isn’t done; a brochure for guilds with potential classes still not done; a collector’s newsletter still waiting. But I am learning to let it go. The important things are getting done, especially before deadlines, manufactured or actual, so I have to stop worrying about things.

Step 3 is starting a list of all that you actually accomplish this year. Add to it throughout the year. Then when you reflect next year, you’ve already got your list.

I actually started my list in May. I wanted to be sure I didn’t waste my retirement, so I started keeping close track of all projects I completed, deadlines I made, and business progress. It helps to read it over each time I add something newly completed to it. I can see on a regular basis exactly how I am doing.

Step 4 is sharing what you accomplished, on a blog, your website, a newsletter….or in the comments here. Let me celebrate with you. Working in isolation is tough, and since we have a cyber community, let’s take advantage of it!

 

It’s Monday…….

So it’s Monday, and I am slowly recovering from a bad couple of weeks. It’s been busy with family stuff, none of it pleasant, and a lot of creativity and art-making has been non-existent. I have been sleeping a lot, and unfortunately my appetite is seriously out of whack. I’ve done a lot of reading, because there is no effort involved there.

But as of today I think I might be surfacing. When we were marbling last week, I had some new ideas for marketing fabric for the start of the new year, so at least I started thinking in the right direction. I also have a new commission for the spring, work for StashFest at La Conner in April, and – our big news – marbled ribbon that will be featured in Martha Stewart Weddings in the March issue. I delayed saying anything until we knew it was absolutely definite, and today we confirmed all the final details for the magazine. We marbled lots of ribbon that will evidently be used for boutineers (and a few other things) in their issue. So that is really exciting. There will be a link on the front page of the website in February  with all the details.

There are a few loose ends in finishing up the website, the patterns….so I am slowly getting back into lists and accomplishing items. At the same time I signed up for two Craftsy classes. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Cindy Needham class, and I have been trying a lot of ideas on the one dresser scarf I am working on. I also signed up for Jane Dunnewold’s dyeing class, and hopefully I will start some of that in January. It is so hard to believe that December is more than half over. Since September, the days just have seemed to fly away.

On a final note, I am glad I wasn’t teaching today and having to answer questions about the shootings at Sandy Hook. I don’t think the majority of the population realizes just how much of a “first responder” teachers are. We have to answer the questions sometimes way before the parents….and sometimes when the parents won’t. September 11 was horrible all around. January 8 in Tucson – that Monday morning was draining, and then when the Westboro Baptist folk said they were coming….well, trying to deal with teenage brains that aren’t ready to make rationale decisions, it was a week that took way too long to recover any type of normalcy of operating. We have to have this discussion about guns. I am not saying ban the guns. That’s unrealistic. But stricter regulation would go along way, much like we do with automobiles, licensing, driver’s tests. I just can’t stand seeing anyone else die needlessly, especially little children.

 

Thinking about the Shopping Surge….

CYBER MONDAY – 50% off all fabrics, 20% off all artwork in our Etsy shop.

Cyber Monday is tomorrow, and I think I am ready…Etsy is loaded with fabrics, and I have a few more art pieces to get listed this evening. In the meantime, my mind is going to the last couple of days and what I am learning about trying to take advantage of this gift-buying weekend. I did a blog post for Handmadeology about getting ready, but it never made it up in time, so here’s what I was thinking about preparing for Black Friday and ensuing Madness:

Get Ready –

1. Send a newsletter, even if you haven’t sent one at all, or it’s early for your next newsletter. Ours is going out a week early, several days before Thanksgiving with the holiday specials. We did this – haven’t checked stats yet because I’m waiting for the end of Cyber Monday. The sales pitch for all three sales was at the bottom of a pretty newsy newsletter….maybe it needs to be on the top, but I feel uncomfortable with that.

2. Decide on your specials. Internet marketing shows folks love deep discounts and/or free shipping. This latter is usually the easiest for us, but be sure to specify if it is continental US or some other limited range. Black Friday was 20% off anything on the website, plus spend $40 and receive a free pattern. Saturday was free domestic shipping off the website. Nothing Sunday, but I will change that for next year, as that’s what I saw a lot of retailers doing. Sunday will be 50% off any fabrics on Etsy, and 20% off artwork on Etsy. Have not seen a spike in visits.

3. Have products ready for shipping. Check for : care codes, package supplies, postage scale (we finally bought ours today), custom slips, tracking slips, padded envelopes – anything you can think of that you will need for shipping. Think about various combinations of items you could sell and be prepared. All of this is set. We do carry-over from other events, and we pretty much have this down.

4. Check website, blog, Etsy store, Redbubble – any place you have product to sell. Are the sites ready? Prices set? Postage listed? Pictures up? Any descriptions need to be changed? Discounts added? Interesting comment from a website visitor – why no pictures by the samplers? I added a rationale about two years ago, but now I think I need to come up with something that closes the sale.

Get Set –

1.  Make sure your Friday and Monday are available for taking online orders. Printer ink? Paper? Not a problem – ready to go for tomorrow.

2. Consider sending a brief reminder newsletter on Friday morning reminding your subscribers about the sales. Consider doing the same reminder for Monday. Been using Promotesy to send out reminders on Sunday for Monday. Need to think about “how much is too much.”

3. Have blog posts ready to go announcing your sales Run one on Thursday evening, and then run one Sunday night for Cyber Monday. Did this for Thursday and Friday, and this is the one for Sunday night. Cyber Monday is already to go.

4. Have something on your website announcing your sales. Have a link directly to your products to make shopping easier. Did this (for the first time) on the front page of the website, with links.

Go –

1. Send confirmations of orders and give customers an estimated shipping time. Done.

2. Send out a brief email when you ship to let buyers know their package is on the way. Thank them again. Done.

3. Wrap carefully. Check Paypal for confirmed addresses, and if not confirmed, email to be sure the address is correct. Done.

4. Consider giving a small percentage of your profits to a nonprofit for the holiday. eQuilter has done that successfully – over one million dollars donated. We’ll be way under that, but it’s a very good feeling. Once we know a total, the check is going to Tucson’s Ben’s Bells, a nonprofit representing kindness.

CYBER MONDAY – 50% off all fabrics, 20% off all artwork in our Etsy shop.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
A Chance to Win Free Fabric!

Subscribe to our Newsletter - a chance to win free fabric!

* indicates required
Email Format
NANOWRIMO!

Marble-T Design Etsy Store
The Textile and Fiber Art List
Art From the Heart
Follow ArtsyLindaMoran on Twitter
FTC Regulations – Affiliates
Disclaimer: Please be aware according to FTC regulations I need to let you know I am an affiliate of some of the companies listed here and will receive compensation if you order from them.
Interesting in Licensing?

Archives
Post Categories
ANALYTICS
Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.