Social Media Strategy

I just wanted to share this graphic with you today. Enjoy.

 

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Free Advertising: Bring Traffic to Your Doorstep at No Cost

Starting a business is expensive! Developing your product, producing your product, finding a professional way to showcase your product, packaging your product. Not to mention even trying to pay yourself a wage you can live on and paying for any mistakes you make along the way. Even taking a moment to think about the crazy costs of advertising is enough to make you want to jump ship all together. Maybe a little anyway. Not everyone has the capital to pay for all these things at the beginning. The great news is that the internet has given rise to even the tiniest of voices out there. That means your voice can be heard. It means, you can get some free advertising! Advertising often times equals more sales. You get the idea. So where do you go to get the message about your product out to others? Let thee count the ways. :)

Social Media

When it comes to “free advertising” social media reigns supreme right now. The key to successful social media marketing is not to simply spam the heck out of the other people, but to create a conversation with the other people around in the online community. You can plug your own product but make sure to ask a follow up question. You can inform people about research pertaining to your product. You can offer a tutorial. There are lots of ways to interact with others in an online community that isn’t your typical hard sell advertising. Albeit, this sort of advertising can be time consuming but it’s worth it in the end to create a relationship with your customers. Loyal customers are the best customer base you can have!

Recommended sites: Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pintrest, StumbleUpon

Donations

Donating items for benefit auctions in your home town or surrounding area is an excellent way to get your name out there allow it to bask in a positive light. Not only are you acting charitably as a business (which people love) but you are also strategically putting yourself in front of people that are likely to actually have money to spend. I once donated some hand painted wine glasses to an auction and found out afterwards that the buyer of my wine glasses was a winery owner. Around here, our wineries sell retail. This wonderful stroke of luck landed my glasses in to a retail space with demand for more. See what charities you can find to donate to!

Door to Door

If you do not have your own retail space, you can certainly remedy that for a fairly low overhead price. Find stores in your area that sell items that are similar to your items. Bring a few things with you to show off and a book of pictures to allow others to see your full line. Approach owners and management of stores with a pitch to allow them to sell your products in their store on consignment. Basically this means you would like to rent some shelf space in their store. They put your product on their shelf and then when the item sells, you are notified and then paid for the item. The store will take their percentage off the top as payment for allowing your product to take up shelf space.

Consignment, like donating to charities, has benefits for everyone. When you allow stores to put your items on their shelves, it is an immediate increase in your traffic. If you have chosen the store well, the folks that see your products will already be in the correct target audience. That means they are much more likely to buy. For the store, adding new products to their shelves automatically adds value to their other products and they didn’t have to pay for the item up front. It’s a win-win!

BYOB: Be Your Own Billboard

I have found that people who make their own products almost always are using their products. It’s a good sign that you have a product you believe in. Since we already know that you very likely stand behind your product, go out there and promote the heck out of it. Be a loud mouth! If you can wear your product, do so often. Make sure to carry business cards that have your websites address so folks can go straight to the business of buying things from you as soon as possible. If someone mentions something similar to your product, bring your product up. Be sure to point out the benefits of your product to your potential consumers.

Now get out there and show everyone what you can do!

 

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5 Ways to Find Inspiration

As an artist finding creativity and inspiration can sometimes prove to be the hardest battle I fight. When I am inspired, no small obstacle gets in the way of my finishing a project. I am motivated, excited, and thinking clearly. It’s like a light comes on inside of me. When I am uninspired, I feel like I am meandering like a lost puppy through my free time. So how does a girl keep her creative juices charged? Here are 5 strategies I use to keep myself going. Maybe you can use them too. :)

1) Experience other people’s work

Find other people whose work makes you feel something. Anything. Find something that you think is brilliant, ugly, dark, gives you chills, or is transcending. Then pick apart why these things  have such an effect. What is it about this one piece that is so darn effective? Once you can answer that, you can borrow this tool from the artist. Artists do it everyday. Often times I find myself looking at other art forms as well and then finding a way to incorporate similar effects in to the medium I am choosing to work in. Sometimes I find that the subject matter really speaks to me. Armed with ideas that excite me, I am able to put them together in a way that I think would be best.

Now, I have to say there is a distinct difference between plagiarism and finding inspiration in another artists work. Simply creating a replica of another work would be plagiarizing. Using your own hand to re-create the image is not. Consider this:

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”  - Henry Ward Beecher

The truth of the matter is that you could attempt to copy another artists work but that moment  that you mess up ever so slightly is what makes that work yours. Embrace your imperfections.

2) Make a mind map

Mind maps are one of my favorite ways to find inspiration. They can lead you to unexpected corners of your own mind. Start with one key idea. It can be a quote, a word, a picture, or a philosophy. Put your key idea in the middle of a piece of paper, then draw a line connecting it to your next idea. Your next idea should be a thought you associate with your key idea. Then you can draw a line off of your new idea to a third thought. You can take this as far you want to. In the end you should have a spider web of thought bubbles. Somewhere in this mess a gleaming jewel of an idea will stand out. Maybe even a few ideas. Then I take them to my work space and turn my ideas in to tangible works.

3) Stay balanced

Keeping your life balanced and healthy is really important. Sometimes while I am immersed in a project I start neglecting day-to-day activities that are good for me. forcing yourself to step away from your work and do other things to take care of yourself and your family is a good thing. Making sure I go for a walk, take a shower, and eat well are essential to making sure my brain and body are in top condition for continuing the creative process. Aside from keeping me healthy, it also keeps me from burning out. Further more, taking time away from what I am working on can sometimes allow me to find new insights. Taking a step back and a breath of fresh air can be an excellent ticket to inspiration city!

4) Learn a new technique

Learning a new technique is always enough to get me pumped up about a project. The great news is that there are a ton ways to learn too! You can sign up for a class no matter what your skill level is. There is always something new to learn. You could look up an online video on your craft to watch how someone else does it. You could find a “How-To” article. Maybe you could find a group within your community that focuses on art or similar crafts as you. The possibilities are endless. Once armed with your new skill, go out and practice and apply it to as many things as you can think of!

5) Use symbolism

When I am having trouble finding an image that inspires me, I make one of my own up. I do this by finding a concept or philosophy that I really love. For example, the concept of fate. This is when you really need to nail down your view on the subject. Figure out how you would explain this concept to someone. Figure out what images represent this explanation the best. When I am doing this, I try to think about how I would explain something to another person who doesn’t speak the same language as me. Next, figure out how these images and bits of your concept fit together and arrange them visually. The imagery becomes a literal translation of what you have to say on a certain subject.  Some very interesting ideas can come out of such an exercise!

Hopefully you find one or more of these helpful when you are stuck. Feel free to post your own ideas for getting motivated!

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Starting My Etsy Store

I never really planned on opening an online store. It just so happened that during the holiday season 2011, I was feeling incredibly broke. I decided to make gifts to give my family and close friends because I knew that way I could give a thoughtful gift for less money. I chose to paint glassware with enamel paint because almost everyone I know either likes interesting wine glasses or likes hand painted pottery. My gifts were a huge hit! That was when I decided to see if I could supplement my income with a little extra cash.

My first item was a glass vase with an Avant-Garde style tree painted on the front. It took a little bit of cash for materials and about 4 hours to paint. With an item to sell, I went to Esty.com because I knew they had a reputation for selling hand-made and vintage items. I had no idea getting everything started was going to be so overwhelming!

Once I was signed up for Etsy, I realized that I needed to find a way to stand out. Etsy is a big venue with a lot of talented people offering a lot of merchandise! Aside from the lovely vase I was selling, I needed an entire image as a company to go with it. In the end, branding is what consumers will identify with. Without consistent branding, merchandise gets lost in the shuffle with the rest of the no-names outs there.

I went to work playing with store names, logo ideas, and figuring out how I wanted my listing photos to look. I had several store names and header images inside of a few days on my Etsy store. If anyone had noticed all this going on, they would have been confused to say the least. My ideas for my store’s image evolved through my understanding of and refining of what products I wanted to offer and who I wanted my target audience to be. I finally settled on Artisan Geekery. Though my image will always be an evolving, I feel that Artisan Geekery’s image reflects what we do and who we are in a polished and interesting way.

With a store front that I was satisfied with, I needed more merchandise. I went to work on that. I researched new techniques, found new lines of items to offer, and started looking for inspiration for my current projects. I was having a ton of fun! My boyfriend, Mikael, got in on it too. We started using most of our free time to work on new projects that were for our new Etsy store.

Once we had a few more items posted, it was time to get started promoting. Promoting is a huge deal. You could have the coolest item ever known to man with the best possible branding but if nobody knows about it, it’s worthless. While Etsy is an excellent place to be found, it’s not enough all by itself. I started promoting through social media. I posted links to our store and our new listing to all sorts of websites. Some sites did better than others. After some experimenting with what sites got the best results, we finally figured out our target audience and how to best reach them. I knew we had finally struck a chord because that was when our first sales came in. Oh what an exciting moment that was!

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