Friday, June 25, 2010

Social Networking makes Cents

Back in the day . . . being a "tithe" guy I was brought to my knees 
having to rethink the "Rule of Return". 

As a visual artist the rule of return is 80/20.  Eighty percent of time marketing and a meager 20 percent left (if you don't sleep) to be creative.  One can certainly use their own discretion and spend more time in the studio . . . but unless you make contacts that results in sales  an abundance of inventory and unread books accumulate very quick.

So where do we spend the 80% of our time, that takes us away from our gift of self expression.  

The list is exhaustive,  but social networking plays a significant role. Social networking can be either face to face or via the internet.  Internet networking is critical in finding contacts that meets your needs.  

Yesterday, I was browsing the Internet using keywords, that I discovered while in Pennsylvania, to make new connections.  My goal was to find Meetup Groups back in the California Delta area that shared the same interests of me. My purpose was not limited to finding others who had an interest in visual arts . . . but to connect with artists that were higher up the learning curve to help me to navigate in calm waters . . . with a following sea  that had the wind at my back.

In my search for Meetup Groups in my home port area, I came across one that was founded by Beth Barany.  Beth is an author, she has also made a commitment to help struggling writers to get their works published. Some advise is free and more consultation comes at a cost.  Remember folks, it is usual and customary to pay for services when rendered.  

I will provide more information in my companion blog about her contributions that benefit the wannabe publisher, so please visit my other blog.  For those who want to discover Beth on their own "Google" Beth Barany and enjoy her contributions and talents.

Networking makes "cents"  . . . but remember the tithe.  Join meetup groups in your area and those that geographically make sense for your intended  audience.  When you are networking via the Internet . . . you have to define who is your customer and present yourself on their doorstep with your creation in hand. But make sure that you leave with a check in your hand. There are more options than Pay Pal. More to follow. . . not always free.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Business Marketing Plan - Website Creation Strategy

A key component to your Business Plan will be the marketing of yourself.  Internet visibility is critical, not only for big businesses . . . but essential for self-published authors and artists. In retrospect, I had the cart in front of my pony before I established my own website which resulted in many self-inflicted mistakes.

There are basically three tracks one can take.  Have it done by someone else, do it yourself or a combination of both.  In either case you need to have a strategy.  I provided a link to Microsoft's website that has a user friendly template to assist you in developing your own website creation strategy.  I sure wish I googled "website creation strategy" before I started my own website.  Please note that the completion of this template goes hand-in-hand with your business plan.  So do your biz plan  first.

The track that I chose was to develop my own via a google account. My up-front cost was only $10.00 for the registering my domain name.  The back-door cost was a lot of time at the keyboard getting it to the point that it now exists.  Please note, that I'm still on the upside of the learning curve but I have developed more confidence.  So would I do create a website on my own, again?  Yes, but only after I developed a website creation strategy. 

A key part of a website creation strategy is Web Hosting.  A do-it-yourself website owner does not always host their own site.  There are great benefits for professional web hosting services and I am researching them now.  Once you create your site the next challenge is getting the traffic to your site.

The learning curve, if you are not experienced in this area is steeper that that of getting your site on the web.  Word of mouth is still alive and well so run your website creation plan by folks that you know that have their own site and find out who and how their sites are hosted before you spend any hard earned dollars.  Balance the dollar investment versus your sweat equity in doing it yourself.  The downside for a do-it-all-yourself(er) is that it takes you away from doing your creative art stuff.

Commit to Success - Make a Business Plan

Now that you have decided to make that leap to establishing yourself as a professional writer or visual artist as opposed to being a hobbyist . . . its now appropriate that you develop a business plan.  There are many "How to" resources readily available for you to tackle this critical task.  Therefore, I won't spend time to describe the steps.  However, please note that many PC software programs such as Microsoft Office has templates that are user friendly to write a business plan.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


The most difficult mental leap for me was to re-invent how I viewed my visual art.   Was my artistic interest a casual past-time activity for my own pleasure or did my interest transcend to a level to make a lifestyle change and become a self-supporting artist?  Self-supporting can be defined in many ways, but at a bear minimum its definition needs to include making a profit over break-even costs.  Whether its a part-time or full-time enterprise, we have to make a commitment not to give our product/services away (especially to family and friends).  Please know that it is easier said than done, I still make gifts of my work and most likely will continue to do so.  However, I have taught myself to apply the same value to my art as  non-artist services do who customarily get paid for time/materials & profit.  Therefore as a business enterprise, we need to determine what the market will bear for our work.  In this assessment we need to make sure that we are comparing apples with apples.  Its relatively easy to make that determination, but in practice many of us are reluctant to insist on being paid a fair-market price.  In part because we have not completely made that mental leap that we are providing a professional service/product.  Selling your work to someone you don't know is far easier than getting paid by family and friends.  When your friends and family pay a fair price for your work and insist not to take it as a gift (unless its a special occasion) you have taken that important leap from viewing yourself as a hobbyist to establishing yourself as in the business of art.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


 I will be sharing my successes and challenges in self-publishing my own work and welcome your questions, suggestions & experiences in getting your own work published so that we all can increase our visibility to promote and sell our creations.