Five December Resources for Your Creative Business

Online Creative Resources

Five December resources to give you a little help right before the holidays. A blog post with grants and show applications with December deadlines. Two video courses to help you with your online store. A blog post to get your Etsy shop up and running and a chance to sell online today with us. 

Here are your five December resources to help your creative business this week:

Use Anytime
December Monthly Art Opportunities 

Artwork Archive rounds up grants, competitions, and other art opportunities each month. The December listing is filled with opportunities for you to apply for. Take a look to see if there is one that will help you.

Quick Steps to Getting Started on Etsy Today

If you still don’t have an online store set up and don’t know where to start, this article will help you start today. Selling with Etsy is quick and relatively easy to get going. There will always be more to learn, but this will get your store setup today.

VIRTUAL MARKET:

The Art Fair Gallery started a virtual store, linking every product back to the artist’s website. We would love to have you join the market. It runs through December 15th and should take very little of your time to set up your products for sale. Email us to participate at catherine@theartfairgallery.com

December 6

optimize your creative store

Creative Live is running a class on optimizing your creative store. This class goes through setting up your home page, about page, SEO information, and more. It is free on December 6 and then available to watch when you have time for a fee.

December 10

simple email marketing for makers

Megan Auman’s class on CreativeLive will get you ready to hit send on emails to your customers. This course walks through all the steps to create an email that will get opened and clicked on. This course is free to stream on December 10 and available to watch when you have time for a fee.

Which of these December creative resources were most useful to you?

Here is a link to last week’s resources, with inspiration to get you through the holidays.  

Join us to get the newsletter? 

 

Creative Holiday Resources

Holiday Shopping Bag

Holiday creative resources – a few quick resources to help you get ready for holiday sales. Since we are rolling into the holidays, with black Friday, small business Saturday and Cyber Monday right around the corner.  

With this in mind, our resources are quick hits of information so you can continue getting ready for the holidays. Two of these items are repeats from last week, simply because they are timely, and I wanted you to see the grant opportunities for the month one more time.

Below are the creative holiday resources for this week:  Continue reading “Creative Holiday Resources”

Five More Creative Resources

Orange Mug with colored pencils from above

We are back with five more creative resources for this week and beyond. A few of this week’s learning resources you can use at any time. Some are time-bound, meaning do it soon.

Below are five more creative resources for this week: 

Use Anytime

November Monthly Art Opportunities brought to you by Artwork Archive. Artwork Archive rounds up grants, competitions, and other art opportunities each month. The November listing is filled with opportunities for you to apply for. Some of these are location-specific, some are medium-specific. Take a look to see if something interests you this month.

PREPARING FOR BLACK FRIDAY CYBER MONDAY: 3 EXPERTS WEIGH IN

Shopify has a post with experts giving advice on things you should be doing now to get your business and website ready for holiday shopping. It’s a quick read and will provide you with something to think about as you prepare for increased sales on your website.

TO BECOME HAPPIER, ASK YOURSELF THESE TWO QUESTIONS EVERY NIGHT

This article by Alexander Combstrong on Medium is a quick read. The two questions you ask could be about your personal happiness, but it could also apply to your business. It is all about taking small steps towards creating a better life/business. 

WHICH OF THESE 6 TRAPS IS EATING ALL YOUR TIME

This article by Ashley Whillans discusses six things that are consuming our time, which we don’t really think about. As we roll into one of the busiest seasons for creative businesses, who couldn’t use a little bit more time. Take a look at her list of time traps and see if you can’t come up with a few things to give you an hour or more or real-time to create!

INSTAGRAM TIPS FOR CREATIVES: OPTIMIZING YOUR INSTAGRAM PORTFOLIO

This article by Elaine Rystead on Later gives a deep dive into your Instagram Portfolio. This small bit of space on your profile shows your customers a chance to get to know, trust, and like you. Read the article, look at her examples of profiles she believes work well, and then spend some time upgrading your own profile. Your profile doesn’t need to be perfect today but upgrade it today. And I will state this again, include a place for your customers to buy from you!

Which of these five more creative resources were most useful to you?

Would you like access to the weekly resource guide? Join us to get the newsletter? Last week’s resources were about creating jewelry. Would you like to review last week’s list of jewelry resources?

 

If you are an artist or maker who sells through in-person events, we would appreciate you taking a brief survey. We want to be responsive to your needs and are wondering how best to help you.

 

Jewelry Designing Classes – How To’s

Jewelry - Silver necklace with purple sunburst

If you are interested in jewelry making or designing but are not sure where to start, CreativeLive has a series of classes this week you can watch for free! The classes take you through a couple of the art forms to create handmade jewelry.  

One is more fundamental, and the other assumes you have had experience in the art form. 

You can choose to watch just the one which interests you the most or binge-watch all of them. This week the courses are free! After this week in November, you will need to purchase them. 

The dates we have listed here are based on US time frames, you can go into CreativeLive to set up your own time zone, so you don’t miss them.

A suggestion – bookmark this page as a resource to the classes if you don’t have time this week to watch. 

Here is the listing of classes for jewelry making –

beginning wirework for jewelry making  

This course is By Raissa Bump. It is an hour-long series of videos to get you started in the art of metal jewelry making. The course description is: “Raïssa will take you through the ring, bangle, and earring making process, from start to finish, and teach techniques you can use for your future jewelry work.” There is also a guide for the tools you will need. The list is inclusive of everything required to complete the projects she shows. This class is free on November 9, and then you can purchase it for a fee.  

wireworking with beads for jewelry 

This is the second video in the series with Raissa Bump. She continues on from the first video, Beginner Wireworking for Jewelry, and shows how to add beads to your jewelry. This series takes approximately 45 minutes; she will walk you through creating chain links, adding beads, shaping and joining links, and finally adding clasps. Again, she gives a complete guide to everything you will need to complete the project she is showing. 

This class is streaming for free on November 10 and available for purchase at any time.

beginning stamping for jewelry –

In this short video series, Raissa Bump will walk you through the techniques to complete a stamped ring. Raissa will walk you through the stamping process from start to finish. You will also receive templates to create your own rings. 

This class is streaming for free on November 11, 2020, and available for purchase at any time.

foundations in metalsmithing bracelets

Megan Auman is a jewelry designer and has created this series of videos to introduce you to metalsmithing. This 5-hour series will walk you through the process of creating bracelets. This class comes with the assumption you have done metalsmithing before and know the basics of it. It also assumes you have the necessary tools needed to do it.

The class streams for free on November 12, 2020, and is available for a fee at other times. 

If you are brand new to this form of jewelry making, you may want to find someone in your area who does this kind of work and take a class from them. In the Detroit area, the Smith Shop runs workshops.

Explorations in metalsmithing – hollow fabrication – 

Megan Auman continues teaching metalsmithing in this almost six-hour video series. Again, this class assumes you have the correct tools and have some experience in this art form. But even if you don’t, it is a fascinating class to watch. The course will provide you with a list of tools and supplies you need.

The class streams for free on November 13, 2020, and is available for a fee at other times. 

EXPLORATIONS IN METALSMITHING – CREATIVE CHAIN MAKING – 

Megan Auman continues teaching metalsmithing in this five and a half-hour video series. This class builds your metalsmithing skills and, again, assumes you have the tools and some experience in this art form.

The class streams for free on November 14, 2020, and is available for a fee at other times. 

To review our list of jewelry making videos –

We have listed six different video series to watch and build your jewelry making skills. The first series is geared for the beginner looking to create jewelry for the first time. The metalsmithing series assumes knowledge of this media. Both types require an investment of tools and supplies to get into the art of jewelry making.

To avoid the initial fees, we would suggest finding a local art center or organization that runs these classes. This way, you can learn and discover if this is something you would like to pursue before spending your money on the tools. 

If you know of organizations that run classes, please feel free to leave their information in the comments. We would love to continue building resources for our community.

If you are interested in other types of resources, we have started a weekly series to give you creative resources for your business. You can check out last week’s resources here or scroll through other posts to see what else we have covered.

 

 

If you would like to become a part of our growing community, you can join here.

 

Learn Something Fun Today

Kayak on Dock - seeing from a different lens

Sometimes we need to learn something new and fun. Today’s recommendations are all about learning something new, which could also be different and fun from what you are currently doing. Creativity is always sparked by new and different ways of seeing.

This week’s opportunities to learn something fun include; a few video series on CreativeLive, a short blog post, and just taking yourself outside with your camera or phone!

Here are this week’s learn something fun today opportunities: Continue reading “Learn Something Fun Today”

Why Are You on Instagram?

Instagram Logo

Why are you on Instagram? We are all on Instagram for different reasons. Some of us use this space to be inspired by other people’s photographs. Others are here to look at travel pictures. Still others may be here to see their family and friends lives through their photos.

But many of us are also here to sell something.  And maybe sell without coming across as too salesy. Is that a word? 

So how do you use Instagram to Sell?

Continue reading “Why Are You on Instagram?”

Product Photography Tips – The How To’s

Fall Coffee Mug - Product Photography

This week is all about product photography tips – the how to’s to up your photos’ quality. Why only product photography? Because this is how you show up in a virtual world.  

When you sell online, photos are the first time your customers see your work. Applying to fairs, it is also the first time the judges will see your work. Creating high-quality images is essential. It is your first chance to make a great first impression in a crowded world.  

A suggestion – bookmark this page and return when you have time or want to learn a few tips on product photography.

Continue reading “Product Photography Tips – The How To’s”

Getting Started on Shopify

Open Sign

Getting started on Shopify is a bit more complicated than setting up an Etsy shop, but many of the steps are the same.  They all involve choosing a name and or URL for your shop and listing your items to sell.

Getting started with Shopify is more involved because you are creating your website and not only a store on another platform. 

We will break down some of the necessary steps you will need to take to get started. But just like Etsy and Amazon, there is always more than just the basics.

A little bit about Shopify before we get into how to set up your storefront. Shopify currently powers over 1,000,000 businesses. Over $61 billion in sales in 2019 have been made using their platform.  This is a large platform with good support surrounding it.

But as we mentioned it is more complicated than setting up an Etsy shop. Shopify gives you a platform and lots of themes you can use to get going. But it is more complicated to get up and running than other platforms. Not harder, just more involved. 

But we are dealing with the basics so you can get your shop up and running. You need to be able to sell online.  You need a place customers can buy from you when you aren’t selling at live events.

Here are the steps you will need to follow for getting started on Shopify.

Step one – Start!

When you log into shopify.com, you will have an opportunity to chose what type of plan you would like to use. We suggest using the 14-day free trial to get yourself started. You will be able to upgrade your plan once you have it up and running.

Or conversely, you may get started with this and decide this is more work than you want to invest in right now. In which case, close the shop, and you are not out any money, just your time. The plans currently run $29, $79, and $299 per month. Again, go with the trial plan for right now.

When you chose your plan, you will be required to select a store name. If you do not choose to buy a custom domain name, this will be your URL for the store. So, chose wisely. If you already have a name, check to see if this is available.

Your URL will then be yourstorename.myshopify.com. (or the URL you chose from the custom options.) They have a name generator, so see if your ideal name is available. If it isn’t, the auto generator will come up with some which are similar.

But before you take something with a similar name, take a peek at the shops with the name you wanted. Are they similar enough to what you do that you may lose business to someone else because of the store name?

Step two – Start adding your products to the store.

List your products

Like other platforms, you will add pictures, product names, and descriptions when you upload items. If you already have these saved in a file, this will speed up the time needed to complete this step. You can always change, delete, or add additional products to your store.

And like other platforms, the SEO (search engine optimization )of your written descriptions will determine your ranking with Google, Bing, and other search engines. 

If you are changing platforms and have this written out in a form you like, copy and paste. Which is a good idea anyway. You should have your pictures and product descriptions in your own folders. Having this information written down someplace other than your website will make your life easier. You can then copy and paste this information into social media posts or have it available if you choose to switch platforms in the future. 

Again, this can be changed to optimize search later. Get your products uploaded!

Pictures

I will continue to beat a dead horse here; use the highest quality pictures you can. If your images aren’t straight, clear, and focused, you may lose sales.

With each product, you will need to add in the items’ pricing and inventory on hand. Shopify will keep track of the stock you have sold on their site, and when it is sold, it will show the product in your shop as sold out.

Shipping

There is an opportunity here to set up your shipping. This is related to weight. Shopify will request you choose how you ship later in the process. I would read more on their site to see what works best for you. There are some price advantages to using their shipping, but do what works for your business.

Variations of Products

You can set variants of the same item, so you can select sizes and colors if you sell t-shirts for example.

In this step, you can also set up what this will look like on google. Important, as you can set up products directly in google products if this interests you. But you can always come back to this area to optimize this.

We do not want to get too caught up in the weeds here; get your products listed and ready to sell. There will always be more to do, but for now, get things listed.

Step three – add other pages.

So, yes, your product page is the most crucial. On Shopify, this is also your home page. But there are a few other pages you will want to have included.

About You page – a picture of you and information about what you do and who you are. This is a place to tell about how long you have been creating your art, your processes, and anything else you think may help someone decide to purchase from you.

Your Contact page – Shopify makes this simple with a template, so click a template and format it to look like your branding. This shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes to complete, but it is essential. It gives your customers a chance to ask questions of you before they spend their money.

FAQ – If you can think of things customers may want to ask, you may want to have this written out for them. It will save you from needing to answer the same questions multiple times. Information regarding shipping and returns could be answered here.

Step four – setting up how your store will look

This involves choosing a theme, store banner, menus, colors, and typography. 

Themes can be free, you can buy one, or you can pay someone to set one up for you. 

For today, look at the free ones and see if they work for you. You can always change a theme, pay someone to make some changes to the way yours is set up, or ultimately have yours redone.

Choose your store banner.  

This will be what displays on the top of your store. Use a product, logo, or anything else which gives a good first impression of your store. (Make sure this is a high-quality photo.)

You can customize the colors on any theme. If you know CSS, you can change colors using the colors. If you don’t, here is a way to find some of the color names.

Change the fonts to ones that fit your brand.  

Be careful with the fonts, a rule of thumb is to not use more than two on a page. Make sure they are readable as well. A flowing font may look nice, but it isn’t helpful if people can’t read it.

Step four involves a lot of the imaging of your site. You could spend days or weeks playing with this. Don’t. Get it to where you like it a lot and move forward. You are trying to launch right now, not win awards with the beauty of your website.

Yes, it should look nice. You are an artist, and your website should reflect this, but your job today is getting your art out so people can buy it. Play with this, but don’t play for too long. Get it “good enough” to launch, and then come back at some time to play around more with it.

Step five – shipping

Yes, we already set up the weights and costs for shipping; now, we choose the shipping vendor.  We won’t discuss who to pick; Shopify has pages about this for you to learn more. Just know, this is the next step.

Step six – taxes

Depending on what you sell and where you are selling it, you will be responsible for collecting and paying sales tax. (Shopify does not pay your sales tax for you.)  If you are already selling, you are aware of this requirement. (We won’t advise on this; contact a local accountant to get advice on what your liability is.)

You will always have a sales tax liability in a state where you physically are. This would be your home state and any other state where you sell at a fair. Beyond this, other things come into play, depending on the number of transactions and the total revenue. 

Sales taxes are complicated; get professional advice. But for now, at least make sure you have set up your home state.

Set seven – setup your merchant provider

As we mentioned before, Shopify has its own way of collecting payments. It will also let you use your own merchant provider. There are different fees for each, I would look here for the latest fees. There is a lot involved in the costs, so look here and decide which works best for you.

Step eight – launch!

Once you have everything the way you want it, make sure you set your shop to the public so people can find you and choose which kind of monthly payment you think works for you. Shopify provides you with 14 days for free, which should give you more than enough time to get your shop setup, but you need to choose what will happen after the 14 days. 

You can always change your mind on your plan. You may want to go with the cheapest plan to begin and see how this goes.

Now, for the fees.  

Unlike Etsy or Amazon, this is your own space, and you need to pay a monthly fee to have a shop. The monthly costs are $29, $79, and $299 per month. Each has different accesses and advantages. If you are just starting out, the lowest priced fan maybe your best option. You can see all of the differences in plans here.

If you decide while setting your store up that this won’t work for you, you can always cancel and close it down before finishing the setup.

As stated, Shopify has a monthly fee, which is not something Amazon Handmade or Etsy currently charges you. Which means if you don’t sell anything for a few months, you are still paying to have your store open. This also happens with any other sort of website you will build on your own.  Just something you should think about when you are decided between platforms.

Why pay the fee?

Although paying this fee may bother you, it does come with some advantages Etsy and Amazon do not have. The customers who come to your site, they are your customers! You can collect emails, send them your newsletter, and send out sales information directly to them. 

This is not something either Etsy or Amazon allows. On both of these platforms, the customers belong to them. 

Of course, what Etsy and Amazon bring to the table are millions of customers looking for something you may be selling. On your own website, you need to drive the customers to your site. There are advantages of each platform and you will need to decide what is most important to you as you decide where to sell.  

Of course, today’s post was just to help you get started selling on Shopify.  Once your shop is up and running, lets get back to the SEO so we can drive more customers to your shop.