Archive for the ‘BlogMasters Club’ Category

Who’s My Customer?

Well, it has certainly been an interesting day – lockdown at 8:20, a few minutes into the start of the day, seems to be a false alarm, but 30 minutes later we are evacuating the school…to the stadium – 3000 kids, mind you – and then trying to get kids to leave with parents only, moving every one to the university’s older gym, angry aprents not understanding why we can’t just let them take “friends,” and finally back to school for the end of the day….I would much rather teach than have to do this.

That said, I have some time to kill right now while I await my ride, and as I am exhausted, I probably won’t write too much tonight. I need to think about Bob and Jane, my potential art customers. They are both middle class (for those of us left in this economy…) with some disposable income. They like nice things, especially since now they are settled, almost empty-nesters, and can look at exploring the possibilities of buying/owning art.

Bob isn’t sure what to buy. He knows what he likes, he’s interested in the back story of the item, and he’s willing to pay the price if he really likes the item. He knows art can be collected, and sometimes its value increases, but he isn’t sure he wants to collect art as an investment. He is of the belief that “I know what I like when I see it.” He walks galleries for the enjoyment and likes when an owner takes the time to talk to him about the various artists. He’s not a really fashionable dresser – he likes to be comfortable, so it upsets him when gallery owners make an assumption about whether or not he can afford to buy the art and consequently ignores him. He looks at art books, not really sure about all the fanciful jargon. If he sees something he likes, he feels he is now in a position to buy it. He would really like some guidance on where to find good galleries that have interesting and unusual artists. He doesn’t just want “regional” work, like only Southwest because he lives in the Southwest. He will buy “big” in size if he loves the work.

Jane is similar. She has been a “crafter” all her life, from crochet to knitting to needlework. She loves small pieces of art and, like Bob, enjoys knowing the story behind the piece – who made it and how. She collects primarily smaller pieces, the more unusual the better. She feels uneducated about art as she had no training or art courses, so she is easily put off in galleries. She needs to be reassured that if you love the art, it’s perfectly okay to own it. She prowls craft shows, not knowing how to make the leap into other more “art” venues. She would like guidance on buying art for enjoyment, not investment. She’d love to give small piece of art to close friends.

Whoa, so I’m selling to me…..and maybe this was the whole purpose of this exercise….I want to reach out to those potential customers like me who want to know where to go for good art, unusual art, and great customer service. Hmmm….more to ponder….

Goals, and My Ideal Day Redux….

It’s a glorious day here – 63 and sunny, and great walking weather. I’ve been extremely productive with my blogging class, as well as planning our monthly arts meeting tomorrow. It’s a good thing I have found more time in my days by cutting out the television and generally having more energy to not crash at night at 7:30.

I had an interesting comment from Anne at El Milagro Studio concerning my ideal day:

Sometimes our dreams from younger ages are not our dreams at our current place in life.
I have found it is learning to separate myself from the ones from years ago and realistically look at myself and what I do now. That gives me a better idea of where I really want to head: how much can I do physically, what is involved both time and money-wise, am I truly pursuing *my* path, and—most importantly—am I enjoying this?
Because the last I don’t know how many years? I have done a lot of work that I have NOT enjoyed the process though it was good work and resulted in some income.
But the tradeoff (selling the soul for cash) was not worth it.
I’m at a deciding point….giving it time to all settle in and see what happens.
And for once, I’m in no hurry, and I’m okay with that. 🙂

So this makes sense to me, for right now, and I know that I will be valuating this “ideal day” at least once more this year, and then regularly each year.

I did work on goals and plans, so I have a HUGE list for this week, and I have to be careful to keep things reasonable! One of the things I do REALLY well is take a idea from concept to fruition, with all steps in between, so I see this working for me. I just need to be realistic about what I can get done each week in the evenings, and still have time for hubby.

1. Make a minimum income $1000 per month, with my first mini-goal of $500 a month by November 2010.
2. Plan time to create fiber and digital art.
3. Build an online community for both business and personal satisfaction.
4. Complete weight loss blog which leads to a book at the end of the year (in case you’re interested, it’s here).
5. Build the on-line art business.
6. Purchase a new laptop and software for traveling and business (first $1500 income goes to this).
7. Dedicate time to write.
8. Manage a balance between teaching, art, and the art business.
9. Create products to sell on line (already have a list of two sorta ready to go).
10. Build Mixed Media Arts Tucson into a viable entity.

I have done this kind of planning when it came to directing a theater production. I would start with opening night and then work backwards, what I called “back-planning.” By the time you get to the current day, everything seems very do-able.

My policies to make this happen:
* Write each week, a minimum of three times a week.
* Respond to comments and customers every time, within 48 hours
* Stay focused – no excuses!.
* Keep school in perspective.
* If it legitimately doesn’t get done, LET IT GO and don’t obsess!

And most importantly, BELIEVE.

My Ideal Day…

I have been busy this week with an online course on landscape quilts through Joggles, with Judy Alexander. I also am working on a marketing class that I hope will lead to some new work and some additional income as I approach retirement. I’ve done loads of reading on marketing, and when I had my non-profit learning center, I was very good at what I call “shoe leather marketing” – what you do when there’s no money for marketing. But I am getting very serious about my art, and I want to be able to sell it in the next few years. So this is one avenue I am pursuing.

Now most courses always have exercises for you to do, and I tend to read them and then move on to the next bit of information and not do the exercise. Not this time. I am going to do this full-bore and see what happens. So, one of the first exercises is to look at your ideal day. No barriers, just imagination. I can see the value to doing this already, as it will begin to help me focus on who and what I want to be in the coming years. I also can see myself doing this exercise again in three and a half years when I officially retire. But it seems practical to do it for now, as I am committed to teaching for the next three-plus years – unless I REALLY do well with all of this, and who knows!!!

I see a day where I get up refreshed and not exhausted and have a light breakfast. I’m off to a job I really like and enjoy. I usually head out early so I can get some things done before kids start coming in for conferences. I want to try and get out and walk at lunch to continue my plan of increasing exercise during the day. I would like to take the bus in to work at least once a week to save on gas and the environment. I hope to have a bit more time during the school day to get papers corrected and lesson plans done. Next year I will be going back to a regular contract of five classes, instead of my current schedule of six classes. It means losing a considerable amount of additional income, but I need to consider my health, my physical abilities, and my growing art interests.

I leave school with minimal work for the evening, preferably nothing, so I am free to pursue my art and my writing and marketing. I walk to the bus stop, adding to my exercise plan. This is really important for me to continue, as I need to monitor my body for its health. Once I get home, I want my time for my blog and my art. This is where I see myself developing the ideal afternoon/evening….

I see several paths. One is licensing my art designs, so I will plan at least an hour each day for reviewing emails concerning prospective sales, bookwork tracking existing and new contracts, and some Photoshop work as I prepare new samples and designs.

A second path is my fiber art, so I will always have handwork available for downtime in front of the television with hubby. I will take three hours each day of the weekend to do sewing, design, cutting, planning patterns so that on the weekdays I have small projects.

A third path is my art group, Mixed Media Arts – soon to have its own Word Press site. I will spend an hour on this, marketing, writing, getting interviews and connections. This is where I see the BlogMasters coming into play. A last path, but certainly not the least, is my marbling. At least twice a week I want to marble paper and fabric for the small quarterly orders that we have established.

Mostly I want my late afternoon and evenings to be art-related. I want to relax with my husband, talk about art, read about art, go to galleries and add to our own art collections, small though they may be. Money is not an issue, and neither is health care. We are together, we enjoy a small circle of friends, and if we want to go out to dinner, buy some books or art, go to the movies, or be spontaneous and get out of town suddenly, we can do that.

I do see some of this changing in three years – primarily with planning for our travels and seeing how to make the new art business fit a new schedule. It might seem as though I’m “settling” for the immediate future, but I don’t think so. I think it’s more realistic than anything else. I have been more productive over these last few months, and I see this continuing. Last year’s goals were to enter and be accepted to two shows, and that happened. This year I have a show to prepare for in March, and several licensing opportunities to explore. Plus I am doing more writing, which I really love.

I look at this and wonder where the dreaming went. Have the last few years (well, two decades, actually) been so tough that the dreams of the 20s and 30s are totally gone? Is it realistic or is it what I really want? I think I’m going to have to really ponder this one….

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