Dec 29, 2008


In business it's important to know when the best time and place to reach your customers is, whether it's for advertising purposes or for actual sales. Artists for the most part are pretty good at this in my experience. Most artists gear up for December, for Mother's Day, etc. But I think it's also just as important to know the most important times NOT to reach your customers.

I had a great example of when not to. On Christmas Eve as I was getting the dinner cleaned up and pumpkin pie served when my phone rang. It was a telemarketer. Not only that, but a very rude one too. When I asked him to call back at a more appropriate time (I should of just hung up really, but my marketing background obliges me to be nice), he said no and wouldn't let me ask questions either. I finally handed the phone to my husband who after a huge argument hung up the phone. Not only would I not listen to this caller, I will NEVER do business with them: 1. for having the gull to call at the time and 2. for allowing such rude people to put me in a foul mood for Christmas Eve.

They are not the only intruders over the holidays, (and that's how I think of them as intruders when they do it at such inappropriate times), but my unsolicited email went through the roof too! Which is really sad for them since there will be so much of it, I'll just delete it as a block and not read any of it.

So when you're thinking of sending your customers a note, a newsletter, or anything, make sure it is when they are wanting to hear from you. You don't simply want to be 'deleted'.

Dec 18, 2008

Not Now I'm Busy

When opportunity comes knocking it's sometimes hard to say no, but sometimes it's exactly what you have to do. In the world of beach glass reds, yellows and oranges are very very hard to come by; and therefore very valuable and in demand. So it would seem the easy answer is to create these colours. And yes, some artists do just that, however, it's not beach or sea glass then, it's tumbled glass. And there is a market for that out there (there's a market for almost everything isn't there?) but it's not my market, or rather, my interest.

This is where I say no. I could make it, but I won't. The reason I work in beach glass is I like the hunt. I love the sound of the waves, the feel of the sand and rocks as I dig and the magical moment when I find a really cool piece. I would loose that if I simply used a tumbler.

In your business, if an opportunity knocks but it doesn't feel right what do you do? Do you answer the door or simply say "Not now, I'm busy doing what I love to do?"

Dec 15, 2008

More to show than sales

Well, now that my shows are done for 2008 I can reflect on how successful they were. Most artists simple look at sales and revenue. And to be fair, we do have to pay our bills so this justifiably the most important aspect of any show. However, it is not the only measure of success or importance.

Shows are a form of advertising. In fact, when I post my expenses I put the show registration fees under advertising. Even if my sales are low during the show, I usually get 3-5 custom orders following the show. And it's important to track these, which can be tricky as it may be a few months down the road. I also usually see increased enrollment in my Bead 'n' Bitch sessions or other workshops.

At the Gift Giving Show two weekends a go, another bonus to shows came to the surface that other vendors experienced and shared with me. Friendship and peer support. Many of the artists there were meeting for the first time, since them I have seen them become friends on Facebook, heard that they have gone for coffee and I'm sure many will keep in touch at future shows.

So when you're measuring the success of your shows - don't just look in your wallet.

Dec 4, 2008

What can you do?

Ok this entry maybe a little biased, but my last entry got me thinking more about the economy. And then our artist roundtable group talked about the impact (or not) the economy crisis is having on them personally. My answer? Buy local this Christmas. If we all decide together that we want our local economy to thrive and not dive (cute rhyme eh?) then we need to spend our money here and not over the Internet (I can't believe I'm saying that) and not over the border (unless you live there and that is your local economy). As artists we should always be promoting that we are the local option, but we also have to live it ourselves. So encourage your customers to buy from you because by doing so they are helping the local economy, but also this Christmas, do it yourself too.

And on that note, I'm off to start setting up the Fort for the Gift Giving Show. Hope to see you there - shopping locally...

Dec 1, 2008

Be an elf this christmas!

Since the economic turmoil began I've been thinking about what to write about it. Yes it's having an impact on everyone (and I'm sure even you), but do we really have to spend all of our energy in the doom and gloom that the media is highlighting for us?

I say no. Right now, more than ever, we are seeing the true Experience Economy. This phrase is borrowed from a book I'm reading called The Experiece Economy by B. Joseph Pine II. The basic jist of the book is that people will scrimp in some areas of their lives so they can buy luxury items in other areas. In a financial crisis this means that typically people will buy their consumables and what they can cheaply so they can make themselves feel better when they indulge in

But what does an elf have to do with this (the title of this entry is what I'm referring to)? Well, when people want luxury and pampering, they want luxury and pampering. Santa's elfs would never give a gift unwrapped or without a perfect ribbon and gift tag. And at the same time, those low cost consumbables would never come wrapped or with a fancy tag. So if you don't want to be considered a cheap alternative, make sure to think like an elf and make your art gifts a true indulgence. Let your customers solve their need to feel good by buying one of your one-of-kind, well-worth the cost pieces of art.

Nov 27, 2008

Merry Christmas to me!

Merry Christmas to me! Yesterday, a much anticipated book arrived in the mail for me: Pure Sea Glass by Richard LaMotte. I have wanted this book for over 2 years. I'm already half way through it. Many people have this book as a coffee table book, but for me it's much more than that, it's a reference book. It helps me identify the dates and origins of the beach glass I have found. Some of the pieces I have in my collection that I thought were only a few years old could actually be from the early 1800's! That's so cool. The bottle topper for instance that I showed in an earlier blog (, according to the book was made between 1860 and 1920! It also said that finding an orange piece is so rare that even avid collectors will only find 1 in every 100,000 pieces of glass they find. It's rare because to make orange glass they often use real gold to achieve the right color. I was lucky enough to find one and then sold it. Congrats Erin on your lucky piece.

Nov 24, 2008

Meet the Meanie

Entrepreneurs are often afraid of their competition. They go out of their way to stay away from each other; but I go to the other extreme. I think you should get to know your competitors really well and find ways to work together. I think the synergies you get from one other, the power to grow the entire pie instead of just your slice and the camaraderie you get from it far out weigh the risks associated with it.

Artists do this better than anyone I think. This past Sunday I was part of the NGB Studio Open House (I've including some pictures if you missed it). The artists that have their studios there invited outside artists to share their space for the day and sell their products as well. In our studio (Jane Thelwell's pottery studio) had 4 great women (OK I'm a little biased as one of those four was me, but there was also Annie Clifford, Marie-Claude Delcourt and Jane Thelwell). We worked really well together. We crossed our products over into each others areas, sold for each other while we took art walks ourselves, shared food, helped set up and tear down and were each other's cheerleaders. We also found that selling it each other was easy than selling ourselves so it was a great way work together.

So next time you're wondering if you should meet your competition - go for it - meet the meanie!

Nov 18, 2008

Blogging for Blogging

I looked back and I can't believe I haven't written about this already... blogging as an artist. I was doing two presentations today at the college and the main focus of discussion was on blogging. Is it important for business? Why is it important for business? ETC.

The answer is yes it is important for any business but especially for artists. It comes down to people buy from people; especially in the art world. If customers just needed a picture for the wall they would go to a superstore, but if they're buying art, they want the story. Your blog is a perfect place to tell your story. It's a way for customers to connect with you and feel they have a personal relationship with you.

Another important purpose of blogs is authenticity. In Trendwatch's report for 2008, authenticity was rated as the number #2 influencer in buyer trends. People want to know who you are and they want it to be believable, so traditional, biased information like brochures and websites just won't cut it anymore.

So if you don't have a blog - get one! Then let me know and we can connect in the blogsphere! Happy Blogging!

Nov 10, 2008

Custom lines is that an oxymoron?

I've been thinking a lot about my jewellery and what makes my beach glass pieces stand out when compared to other beach glass work. I also have been thinking about the responses I got over the summer as I'm preparing for my two upcoming shows(NGB Studio Tour and the Gift Giving show - . So the combined question at hand? It's actually two questions: how do I stand out and be remembered (which leads to repeat customers and custom orders) and how to make it simpler to do so?

Up until now, not only have I always created one-of-kind pieces but only one-offs too. Well. The solution to my questions: lines (beachshuk, perfect pendants, whispy - I have created a few lines of work (although each piece will always be unique because each piece of glass is unique), so that people can order something and have an idea of what they are getting, they can compare items in my booth and most of all, when showcasing my work to other artists I have a line that will stand out.

I'm not sure if this is the best strategy, but here's to trying. I'll keep you posted. Let me know what you think about it.

Oct 31, 2008

Successfully Sneaky Slogans

Yesterday I presented a workshop for artists in the Cornwall area on Successful Selling Strategies. The group was great; a lot of great energy in the room that I could feed off. I also met a fellow found object artist - Candice Nixon ( Anyway, back to the story... when I cleaned out my briefcase this morning I found an old napkin tucked in a corner that I kept from our trip to North Carolina earlier this month. The napkin is from the Detroit airport ( a great airport by the way ). I kept it because I loved the slogan on it. It's short, memorable, cheeky, and most of all gives you a mental picture of exactly who they're talking about without saying it out loud. In the workshop yesterday we talked about knowing who your target market is, what your competition is doing and what needs you are filling. This slogan sums it all up in one cheeky statement - doesn't it? It's a very successful sneaky slogan!

Oct 27, 2008

A trip down memory lane

My son the other day laughed when I told him about when I was in kindergarten. He didn't believe that I had ever been in school. So I dug through my memories box and found the Ziploc bag labelled 'kindergarten' (I used to think it was crazy how organized my mom was, now I'm so glad she was). The two of us had a good laugh going through it. Everything from the 75 cents it cost to go see a puppet show for a field trip (25 for the bus, 50 for the show) to the photo of me with pig tails.

I also noticed the artwork. I'm surprised I didn't become a fibre artist, it seems 90% of my art was done with wool that year. My son pointed out that I spelled my name using both capital letters and lowercase letters and he thought that was funny. Until this fall when he started school we had always written his name using all capitals, but in school he is told to use lowercase. The first month, he kept correcting the teacher and telling her how to properly spell his name. I started getting worried, maybe we had taught him wrong, or maybe we should have started with lowercase letters earlier... maybe he'll always be confused! Oh no! Seeing that I was a confused little 5 year old and I eventually figured it all out and turned out OK (for the most part), I realized that I have nothing to worry about. James will turn out at least as OK as I am.

The next thing we noticed was a ribbon for 1st place. James asked what it was for. I couldn't remember. Every piece of the artwork brought back a vivid memory, a smell, voices, what table it was created at, but that ribbon... no idea. We strive all our lives to get 1st place, and when we do we don't even remember what it was for. Now that's a lesson we should always remember.

Oct 8, 2008

A true treasure

This posting is going to be a little different then my usual business oriented ones; but it is a good little story so I have to share it.

As many of you know I've been collecting beach glass since I was in the womb I think. My husband on the other hand, only started collecting last spring during his trip to Bermuda as far as I knew.... but....

My mother-in-law brought me a present last week, a jar full of beach glass. She said she had found it in her storage locker and just found it. I asked her where it was from. This is the cool part. Matt (the hubby) had given it to her for mother's day when he was 8 or 9 years old! He's been a closet collector his whole life! On days like this I'm not sure what the greater treasurer is - the beach glass or Matt. I'm think I'm lucky to have found (or been given in this case) both.

Oct 3, 2008

Design by Oops!

I just finished a ring that is nothing like I originally intended it to be. I'm sure you've all been there, you know, the design by oops situation?! In the class I'm taking, the other students get frustrated when it doesn't turn out how they intended it to, and one of them even starts from scratch every time it's not perfect. Me, on the other hand, love to work with it until the very end to see how different (or similar if I'm lucky) it turns out. Remember, someone will love your discards as we talked about in an earlier post. They don't know what you actually intended it to look like, unless you tell them.

So, just for fun, here's my latest design by oops. And the story...

You can really tell by the photo, but the band is twisted slightly, it kind of spirals up the finger. It was supposed to be flat, but it adds an neat touch. The beach glass was supposed to sit straight up and down on the finger, but because of the twist it actually sits on a slight angle, again a neat touch.

Sep 26, 2008

Inspriation from the Strangest Places

Last week I was at a Junior Chamber conference in Kelowna (where I bought a great piece of local art from a neat little store called Funktional). During the conference there was an Effective Public Speaking competition and the topic was 'getting inspiration from the strangest places'. During some of the speeches my mind wandered (says a lot for the speakers doesn't it? that's a whole other blog entry!) and started to think about where I get my inspiration from.

At my core, my most basic level of inspiration comes directly from my family. I have an over-active need to make them proud. I remember when I was in college out west and stumbling across a really old hand carved tomb stone that said his name, years and in quotes "..and he was a damn good Irishman." I think that sums it up, he made people proud of who he was. Now I may not want mine to read the same thing (since I'm not Irish) but I hope it will have the same impact.

When I moved passed my core I thought about my art. Why do I create? Why do I choose beach glass? I started jotting notes down and then I realized I was basically re-writing my artist statement. I remember when I first wrote my artist statement it seemed so daunting and difficult, but putting it in the context of inspiration it was all of a sudden easy.

So the next time you're asked to submit an artist statement, start with the question 'where does my inspiration come from?' You may even be surprised with your answer!

Sep 16, 2008

It's orientation time!

On Saturday, we had a new exchange student from Japan move in with us. Shizuka is here studying english for 4 months. The last few days not only has she had an orientation at Queen's but at our house as well. Everything from how to do laundry here, that we have a funny hot water tank in our house, what life with a 4 year old is like, the type of food we eat, etc. It's been fun for all of us, but it did make me relate it to my customers a bit.

When my customers buy a piece of jewellery from me, it is often their very first piece of beach glass jewellery. Which means they don't know how to take care of it; how to wash it, how often it can be worn, what if it tarnishes, etc. So I need to make sure to give them some sort of an orientation. Do you do this for your customers? Maybe with an FAQ page on your website, a little tip sheet given with each sale, or just by showing them during the sale?

The second thing it reminded me about was language barriers. In most cases, the challenge may not be as significant as Japanese to English; but often I hear artists (and other business owners for that matter) getting too technical when they talk to clients. Remember, you know the intricate details and 'lingo' associated with your industry but your customers may not, they may not know what those acronyms mean. You may just get the same crossed-eyed, squished up nose look I got from Shizuka when I said it was 'muggy out on the weekend'. So make sure you are speaking the same language as your customers, they'll appreciate it, Shizuka does.

Sep 5, 2008

First Day Jitters

Yesterday was my son's first day of school, JK. All summer both of us were looking forward to it so much. He was so excited about it until....the night before. That's when the nerves set in. "What if they make me play games I don't know?" What if no one wants to play with me?" "What if I can't reach the toilet paper?" (I know who knew he had so many worries?) So we talked them all through and other scenarios that might pop up too. We read the letter from the school and packed his backpack with everything on the list. We made up his lunch and labelled it all.

In the morning we went over the letter again, reviewed what was for snack and what was for lunch. We walked to school early so that it was less intimidating when we arrived and we could get the lay of the land first. He made friends instantly and all seemed to be good...until the bell rang and then the tears started. So we re-introduced in him to the teacher, went over his backpack and food again. Talked about what the day would be like and told him he could ask the teacher to call me at lunch if the day was still horrible. I never got the phone call, in fact when I picked him up at 330 he said he had a great day. It was harder than daycare because he had to learn more and play more, but he liked it.

This whole process reminds me of preparing for a new show. I am all excited leading up to and the night before I get nervous. "Do I have everything packed?" "Do I have enough stock?" "Do I have the right products for this show?" So I do the same things as I did with my son, review the confirmation letter, review what I packed and try and get a goodnight sleep.

The day of the show I try and go early to get the lay of the land. Introduce myself to the organizer. Give myself a time that I'm allowed to leave if I want (if this is possible with this kind of show).

The morale of the story is whether it's the first day of school or preparing for a show, preparation is key, but most important is to make sure you've packed some good snacks!

Aug 21, 2008

The rarity of what I do

Every artist can take pride and promote the uniqueness of what they do. Every piece is unique. Well, I'm going to take a moment to talk about what makes my work so unique. Yes, some of that is the way in which I use the beach glass, but what really makes it special is what I start with. The beach glass itself is unique and now a days becoming increasingly rare. At the Women's Art Festival I had many customers come up and talk about all the recent publicity about the the trouble in finding beach glass now.

When I was a little girl I used to be able to walk on my home beach in Port Stanley Ontario on Lake Erie and find buckets full of wonderful treasurers, now I can barely find 5 pieces. It's true in the spring that I can find lots, but each year it is less and less. Between plastic products and the responsible behaviour of recycling (which is a good thing) finding glass is rare now.

Here's an article that someone from the Art Festival pointed me to from the National Geographic early this summer. the article is written by Margaret G. Zackowitz. A short but worth while read.

Aug 18, 2008

Photo Time

Since my blog about Adversity... everyone wants to know what the earrings look like (for those that didn't come to the festival yesterday to see them, shame on you). So here is a picture of them.

For those that didn't visit the festival, it was a great day. Beautiful weather, fun music, creative vendors. As a vendor, I found the show to be a good ROI, but I did hear others saying they may have done better at the market. Interesting how somethings work differently for different people, even when you're comparing apples to apples. I actually heard this from another jewellery designer; however, maybe it was because it's like granny smiths to macintoshes not two apple the exact same. It would be interesting to do a real study on this. Julie Davidson Smith, a friend and fellow artist, sent me a pic of my booth in action. Thanks Julie.
And the last picture was sent to me by Carolyn Barnett. It's the necklace she made at the last Bead 'n' Bitch. I absolutely love the button she used! She also included an old piece of wire wrapped beach glass I had done and wasn't happy with the wrapping so I threw it back in the discard pile to redo later. Goes to show, that your disgards are someone else's treasure (just like I talked about in an earlier blog entry)!

The next Bead 'n' Bitch is tomorrow night.

Aug 15, 2008

Adversity inspires creativity

This week I've been busy preparing for the Women's Art Festival for this Sunday (on top of having a cold, camping with the family, writing a few proposals, hosting a get the idea I'm sure). In the midst of creating some earrings I ran out of jump rings. I had two solutions (well 3 but giving up just isn't my style) 1. try to order some but not sure if they would arrive in time and the shipping would cost more than the order or 2. be creative and try something different. So I went with number 2.

I started using my tiger wire and some crimps, some silver wire and voila... a new beautiful, little bit whimsical, style earring was born. In fact I love this new design so much that I made several pairs with the same concept. I can't wait to show them off this weekend at the festival! (that's why I didn't include a picture, come to the festival to get a peak!).

So what I learned from what started out as a frustrating situation is that sometimes it's good to shake things up a bit, put yourself in an adverse conditions and you'll be surprised with what you come up with...I sure was pleasantly surprised!

Aug 6, 2008

A bitchin' good time!

Last night was our first Bead 'n' Bitch. The ladies had a great time and produced beautiful twisted wire necklaces. I think everyone learned something, even me. Thanks Carolyn, Julie, Diane and Kelly. See you all on the 19th!

Jul 31, 2008

Don't leave home without it

I went to a great show opening last night at Sandra Whitton's gallery. It showcased 2 of my favorite local artists -- Carolyn Barnett and Andrea Graham. The other 2 participating artists were fabulous as well.

My mother-in-law and I went together and got talking. Earlier in the day she was meeting some of her friends and trying to describe the type of jewellery I make and what beach glass is. (I've found either people are avid collectors themselves or have no idea whatsoever what beach glass is). They told her that she should wear a piece or at least have a sample in her purse. Good idea... I'll get back to this comment in a moment, but back to the show last night.

So I looked around the gallery and noticed that none of the artists in attendance, including the goldsmiths were wearing their own work. Carolyn was at least carrying a sweater and given the heat it made sense that she wasn't wearing it.

We spend so much money and effort on promoting our work that I think sometimes we often overlook the simple ideas. Your new mantra should be 'don't leave home without it'. Whether it's a small business card size portfolio in your pocket, a piece on (if you're a jeweller) or a sample in your purse (if you carry one). And take that step further, like in my mother-in-laws case, make sure your family and close friends that are willing do the same. Talk about cheap labour! So remember, next time I see you, you better not have left it at home!

Jul 21, 2008

Upcoming workshops

Hi everyone. I've had a request to let you know when my upcoming workshops are going to be so here are a few of my local sessions:

Bead 'n' Bitch
July 22, 2008
Come once or sign up for all 4 nights. Each night complete a new jewellery project or bring your own projects in progress and get help completing it. Time to hang out with fabulously fun women, share some drinks and create beautiful ( or at least unique :-) ) jewellery!$15 per night or $50 for all 4 (Aug 5, 19, Sept 9, 23). Includes beverages, most project materials and coaching.

The Art of Being Social - Web Marketing for Artists
July 30, 2008
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Social networking and marketing online are key to any successful business in today's competitive world especially for artists! These two hours will be spent going over the basics of online marketing for artists including: Facebook, YouTube, Blogging and yes even Second Life. Come learn how you can profit from the web instead of just spending on the web.

Bookkeeping Basics for Artists
August 27, 2008
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Entrepreneurs dig right into the production and sale of their product, because that's the fun part. For most, however, bookkeeping is the necessary evil. This is particularly true for artists. This workshop will show the importance of records and suggest and show simple methods specifically applicable to artists.

I have also have some kids camps listed on my website:

Jul 9, 2008

What should I be called?

The big question has been posed and I need your thoughts on it. What should I call myself? As discussed in previous posts, I am venturing out in the world as a goulash, a mixed bag of activities, services and products, somehow or other all connected though to the world of art. Should I brand myself and my art as simply 'Lindsey Fair' as my parents named me? Or should I try and find something catchy and unique as a business name that captures it all?

There's definitely an argument for both sides. Seth Godin (one of my favorite business authors) discusses the value of his brand being "Seth Godin", and that he's lucky his parent's didn't name him Mike instead.

As much as I believe I have established a modest brand in my name, I'm pretty sure it's not as strong as Seth's (maybe some day). However, I'm a big believer in being memorable and unique, and I'm not quite sure if Lindsey will cut it.

So what are your thoughts? Should I simply be a piece of white beach glass called Lindsey Fair or a unique bottle topper called..........

Jul 7, 2008

Just say 'NO'

Here I am, full-time artist (with a little goulash in there of course). And day 1 I am already being reminded about the importance of saying no. Not in the same context that my parents taught me when I was a little girl, but for when you get overwhelmed and swamped.

My task list is bigger now than last week in the corporate world! And new opportunities keep presenting themselves and I'm a sucker for peer pressure I guess because I keep saying yes. It's a hard gamble sometimes to say no, because what if you're turning down a good, really good thing? Leo Babauta talks about how to get out of this dilemma in his blog - The Gentle Art of Saying No, which when I came across it was a good reminder to me that I have the 'right' to say NO.

Practice saying this before sitting down at your bench, easel, desk or studio "My time is valuable and I've figured out my priorities (and sticking to them)".

Jun 24, 2008

When goulash is better than meat and potatoes

The last 2 weeks I have worked with a few clients trying to simplify their work or develop a disciplined focus for what they do. Someone, somewhere along the line has told them that they need to find one focus and go with that; that their business can't be so scattered. And at times I would agree with this statement. At times, however, I think it's exactly the wrong thing to do.

Take for instance what my life as an artist is going to be in a few weeks:
  • running a kids camp
  • teaching at the college
  • grant writing for artists / organizations
  • selling my own art
  • facilitating workshops and presentations
  • writing blogs
  • online marketing consulting

A quick look at this list and some may say it is unfocused. But when you look at it closely, they are all inter-related and all within themselves focused on the work I want to do and can do. They all generate revenue and none of them conflict with the image I want to create for myself. To me if I were just the meat and potatoes with the same outcome every time, that was predictable and somewhat bland, I would lose focus and ambition. By taking that same meat and potatoes and making goulash, I get a different flavour every time - that's what will keep me focused on results and my passions.

Jun 10, 2008

It takes a family to raise an entrepreneur

Yesterday I took the plunge - I submitted my letter of resignation from the corporate world. It's funny to watch everyone's face when I tell them I'm not leaving for another job, I'm leaving to be an artist. It was almost surreal, I had planned the day for a while but it felt so neat to actually be at this point in the journey.

As I embark down this new path, I realize that as much as I'm an independent artist and an independent business consultant, I'm not in this alone. My friends and family have played a very important role: my cheerleader. My husband, who is not a risk taker, is really going out of his comfort zone to support me and that gives me confidence and a level head to bounce my ideas off of. My friends have offered me solid advice on everything from timing, to process to financial ideas.

So, I've learned that even if you're in business by yourself, you're never in it alone. It really does take a family to raise an entrepreneur!

Jun 4, 2008

The second Rule of 7!.

Sorry, I got trigger happy and posted before I was finished.

So, the first rule of 7 is about time management. The 2nd rule of 7 came across my plate (well, actually my Facebook) today. A 'friend' asked if a ring that I had posted in my photo album a while a go was still for sale. I posted that picture over a month a go. So what does 7 have to do with it? Well, it takes a customer 7 times to see your product, name or alike before they buy from you. Which means that it also takes time. It's important to remember this when you're remembering your promotional activities, you may not see direct sales right away, but down the road when you least expect it the connection will be made.
Now here's to hoping there's a 3rd rule of 7 - all sales happen in groups of 7 :-).

The Rule of 7

Last night at the TIA workshop on Social Networking for business there was a general concern that between Facebook, youTube, mySpace, Blogging and your own website that you wouldn't have anytime to spend in your studio. That's when I mentioned my first rule of 7. I allow myself 7 minutes per day on Facebook because I know it could suck me in and never spit me out. The artists wondered why 7 minutes? Well, 5 is too little and therefore not effective, and 10 is too much and can easily be rounded up to 15 and then 20 and so on. I think I stole this concept from either Eat that Frog or The 4-hr Work Week. One of them states that by setting random times for tasks it forces you to pay attention to the clock and not allow 'creep' to happen. It's a really good concept in planning meetings, set them for 10 minutes after the hour instead of on the hour and you'll be amazed at how much you can get down in that first ten minutes.

May 25, 2008

People love your Imperfections

I was at the Odessa Art & Craft Show yesterday, which overall was a very quite show to say the least thanks to the first sunny weekend of the year! And at the very last minute of the show a customer reminded me of a fault that all us artists have -- we critique our own art too much.

I have a good friend who is an amazing DJ and spin artist. For years we have been begging him to make us a CD. Finally after 7 years of begging we finally got one and do you know what he said? "It's not perfect so please don't share it with anyone else." So we listened and do you know what? To us it was perfect, it was fantastic!

So back to the Odessa Show, the customer wanted to buy an Inushuk that I had made out of beach glass (of course). The only thing is that in my mind it wasn't for sale because it was really just a prototype and not perfect. You could see some of the glue, the legs were too close together, etc. So when he asked to buy it I was shocked and do you know what I said? "Well it really wasn't for sale, you can see the glue." He said, he didn't care or notice and loved it anyway. He didn't pay full-pop for it, but probably would have if I asked him to.

If we wait until it's perfect, we'll never leave the studio. The point of the story is, you don't need to spend all your time making it perfect from your point of view, just perfect enough from the customers view - they love your imperfections, it's what makes it one-of-a-kind.

May 17, 2008

When Supply is Good

For beach glass artists May is the month to celebrate. It is prime time for finding unique and large quantities of beach glass. So today when I was out collecting it made me thinking about supply and demand.

Most artists that I know, including myself for everything other then my glass, buy supplies as they need them. In fact, I can often be found at the local bead store buying 10 specific beads to finish a project in the works. The problem with this method is that it doesn't always make the most financial sense.

If there are times in your industry where supplies are plentiful (like May for me) it may be a time to buy in bulk and stock up for later, as often that's when store owners apply discounts. Not only will you save by buying in bulk but also by taking advantage of buying during a sale. The same reason people buy holiday wrapping paper in January!

It also made me think about what happens when your product isn't available anymore... but we'll save that for another day.

May 9, 2008

Name Your Price

I went to the Arts Council Juried Art Salon last night and was amazed (not surprised though) at the diversity of price of the art in the show. For what seemed to be similar pieces to me (an untrained eye, but definitely a consumer of art) prices ranged from $210-$4,000. Wow!

Pricing is one of the most common questions I get asked by artists (next to where do I get money :-) ). And pricing your art is a challenge for sure. Here are somethings to consider when trying to price your art:
  1. Cost of materials
  2. Cost of running the business (advertising, rent, website)
  3. Time into the piece
  4. Time on training this far to be able to create this piece
  5. And yes, personal attachment does come into play (I had a good example of this the other day. I had a very rare piece of orange beach glass with a star etched in it, I sold it within 48hrs of posting it to my website, but felt remorse right after).

Now that you've taken all that into consideration you piece is probably worth $50,000 right? Well, you have at least 2 other things to consider:

  1. Competitors price
  2. Market demand (what are consumers willing to pay for this)

The last thing to consider is the concept of premium pricing. When I first started selling my jewellery I priced things very low because for the 4 considerations where very low so I didn't think I could price them higher. As time went on I started to integrate higher pricing based on the last two consideration and WOW what a difference, sales increased by 40% and I made more profit on each piece. If premium pricing didn't work, Starbucks wouldn't still be in business!

May 6, 2008

The Art of Being Social Workshop

I am presenting a workshop for TIA (Thousand Islands Arts) on June 3rd from 7-9pm. Here's an overview of the session. If you want to attend contact TIA, if you can't attend but wish you could, let me know and I'll let you know when the next one is.

Social networking and marketing online are key to any successful business in today's competitive world, especially for artists! These two hours will be spent going over the basics of online marketing including Facebook, Youtube, Blogging, your own website and yes even Second Life. Come learn how you can profit from the web instead of spending money on it!

May 5, 2008

Duct Tape Doesn't Hold Everything!

I'm sure I'm not the only one to experience the limits of duct tape and I probably not the only one to experience a problem with an art show. Well, this goof up would make Red Green think twice about his endorsement of the sticky product.

Last Thursday, while having an already very hectic week, I was rushed to hang my work at the local Starbucks for a show I have on this month. When I got there I realized that I didn't have the proper hangers for their wall mount system. I thought no worries, I have duct tape and it holds anything! Now my work isn't heavy, but just in case I put lots of tape on it and made loops on the back of the canvases that would work with their hooks (or so I thought). A few hours later I got a call from Starbucks, I was hoping someone wanted to buy a piece, but no...

A piece fittingly called 'A Good De-ed' had fallen off the wall and hit a poor customer on the head. So I retrieved my work, attached the right hooks and rehung everything the following day. The morale of the story, well there's two:

1. Taking short cuts doesn't really save you anytime.
2. Duct tape doesn't hold everything, especially when you're counting on it!