How Does One Connect with Customers in the Online World?

How Does One Connect with Customers in the Online World?

I spent most of the day painting yesterday. I was working on more Spring cards and I started a larger painting as well. The nice thing about watercolor, at least for me, is that you have lots of time between layers to get other things done. It’s not like acrylic where you can just pile color after color on top of each other. Watercolor has to dry or the colors mix and you get that color called mud. So I did feel like I had a very productive day.

I will have a booth at our local farmers market on Saturday and I will take these new cards to sell. Right now it is my only outlet to connect with my customers. This is one of the things I miss most about not having a gallery or being part of a cooperative gallery. We don’t have these things here. I would love to start one but I am not a director type person, I have figured that much out about myself. So I go to the farmers market fairly often and I get to greet and chat with the people who stop by my booth. To me, this is the best way to build long lasting relationships with my customers. We become friends, and they look forward to seeing all the new things I am up to.

Facebook is sort of like that. If I post regularly I build relationships with those who comment on my work and sometimes people who are on Facebook come to my booth and I get to meet them in person.

I am wondering how one builds those relationships on a website or like my Etsy shop, is it being pushy to reach out and thank the people who have come and liked my shop or items? I don’t know.

How do you build relationships when your main outlet is online? Would love to hear your techniques.

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Here are some of the new cards I made this week, they are $12 each and they are not on my website. If you’re interested let me know before Saturday and we will make a plan to get it to you. I may put them on Etsy, and if these sell I can do one that is similar. Because they are hand painted, each one will be different.

Thanks for reading and have a happy day!

We will figure it out

We will figure it out

It’s Saturday, it has been an illuminating week. It’s also been earth-shattering in the “now what?” category. The jobs I have been getting consistently the last couple of years are fading from existence which seems to be another sign that my renewed path to make art seems to be right. I don’t make as much per job in art yet, but I do make sales regularly. I am not depending on Etsy yet, but I do see the potential. And if I count it all up it is a decent wage, so even though losing a bigger job is scary on the outset, it also gives me the time and money I would have spent in preparation for it to use on other things. When transitions in my life happen, it always seems to take me a little time to think things through and to not panic. I have gotten all my chores done today and I plan to spend the rest of the day in the studio. And that is one sure way to make me happy.

It seems that many people are going through big life transitions these days. Finding our way through these times of economic, political, and planetary uncertainty really affects us all. We are all in this together and we will create a new world experience because we are adaptable and filled with creative energy.

I hope you have a happy day. I am planning on it.

Cheryl

 

Creating a Personal Style is an Important Tool in Getting Noticed.

Creating a Personal Style is an Important Tool in Getting Noticed.

One of the tenets of marketing 101 is the importance of creating your own personal style to build a connection with your clients. You want them to remember you above all the others they might come across in your field.

For instance, are you a real estate agent in a sea of many? Being part of a big firm can give you credibility, however, it can also get you lost among all the other agents in the same firm. Your client may easily remember the name of the firm and forget yours. Not on purpose, but because big agencies do lot’s of advertising to drum their name into everyone’s consciousness so that when people are looking for an agent they might remember a particular firm.

So how can you get noticed and remembered? Personal touches, personal style, and graphics that reflect your warmth and professionalism. One of the ideas I came up with years ago and am now revisiting is creating custom thank you notes for agents. One way I am doing this is by creating multiple architectural illustrations of various style homes and then adding a sold sign with your name on it on front and your information on the back. It is a unique and personal way to thank your prospects and clients for choosing you to work with them in this very important life decision. Over the years I have painted 6 different style homes and I also offer the service of painting one just for you from a personal photograph so that it is unique to only you. 

I have done this for other professions as well like Mary Kay Sales Reps and even a refrigerator repairman once. It’s fun and personal and it becomes something recognizable as unique to you and your personal style of doing business. 

I have just re-designed these cards and made them available on Etsy so that you can order from anywhere in the country and get a beautiful personal product that you can be proud to send. You can order in quantities of 25, 50, or 100 for very reasonable costs for less than $2 a card including shipping (tax depends on where you live). 

I am also open to creating other kinds of illustrations or graphics that are built just for you as well. You can email me your idea and we can make something just for you. 

If you are interested in seeing more information about this product, here is the link to the listing.

Thank you for reading and have a happy day!

Cheryl

 

What Makes You the Best?

What Makes You the Best?

And how do you measure that? And how do you only do that and nothing else?

I went to a networking meeting last night, and the question of the evening was What are you the best at? We were talking about skills and talents and how to promote yourself. Choosing one thing that you do that you do better than other people that you can promote about yourself and your business. I was the focus of the conversation because I could not choose one thing. I said it depends on the day… Now in my head I know this is the wrong answer, how do you promote that? It’s impossible and yet that is the way I have lived my life as an artist. Whatever you need, I can do it and I make it my business to be very good at doing it. I learned years ago that the way to stay afloat was to just say yes and then figure it out.

However, I must say this is not the optimum way to live because I am always buying new equipment, learning new skills and never getting paid as much as I’m worth because I am “learning”. You can’t earn a living that way.

What I also learned last night was that if you ask 3 people what you are the best at, the answers you get are going to be based on not only their own focus but also their perceptions of what they know about you. I was a little surprised at the answers because I would not have thought that those skills were what I was best at.

Personally, I would have to say that I am very good at adapting, that is probably one of my strongest skills. Is that a skill to base a business on? I don’t think so. Yes, it is an important skill to have, however, it is not the skill you list on your business card or use in your elevator speech: ” Hi, I’m Cheryl and I am very good at adapting.”  I just have to laugh at myself here.

So now I need to think about this question and even though I have thought about it before and think I have an answer and start promoting that answer, it always changes, because the work that comes is something else and rent and food are real and important, and so I do that for a while. I have often read that this is not the way to do business and I would love to focus on one profession, but how does one do that in a small town? I think this is what has led me to really put some energy into my online store. So that I can then focus on what I really am the best at and not what feeds the moment. I may have to tighten my belt for a while and not take jobs willy nilly. I guess I need to trust my best and what the gurus say ” Do the work and the money will come”

Do you know what you’re the best at?  And how did you figure that out? Asking for a friend…

Have a happy day!

Cheryl

Cheryl McDonald is an artist living in the high desert in California. You can purchase many of her cards, prints and originals  at cheryl mcdonald-art.com

If You Want Different Results, Guess What You Have to Do.

If You Want Different Results, Guess What You Have to Do.

I confess I am a serial entrepreneur. Not the kind that goes from one successful business to the next, but the kind that knows what I would like to do but just not being able to find the right combination of components to make it happen.

I am an artist and creator, and I have taught myself design, marketing and many other aspects of being in business either through taking classes, online webinars, coaches or just trial and error. I have had a brick and mortar stores/galleries, websites, been part of cooperatives and consignment stores and yet, finding the right combination has eluded me. One would think I should give up, but not me! I know my product is good I have just not found the perfect way to get it to enough people to make a living on it. Don’t get me wrong, I make sales, and over the years I have made lot’s of them, enough to stay afloat, just not enough to call myself a success.

This last year I decided that my missing pieces might be not having a big enough audience and also not having a product that was useful and renewable.  I have done a lot of thinking and observation about how and why people shop these days, and I realized that even though I have been on the right track, there are things I can do to change it up to get different results. Some of the changes I am making are creative and some of them are operational and even though it’s only February, I can see that these changes are making a difference.

First I expanded my greeting card lines. I have sold cards for many years created from my art and love the idea that my art gets sent across the world from one to another. It’s a way to share the love and each small sale spreads my work to audiences I could never reach on my own. I started noticing that cards were becoming more and more popular and that this trend was on the rise. This article I found in December backed up my observation. “Greeting Cards Aren’t Going Anywhere”

The second thing was that I needed an online store. We all do more and more of our shopping online and I decided I needed to take Etsy.com seriously. To learn to use it and to make my presence there a viable online art and stationery shop. So even though I have had a page there since 2014, I did not take the time to learn what works and to figure out how customers find me there. Let me tell you it is just as much work to have an online store as it is to have a shop in town!

The third thing I am doing is finding the right ways to reach the customers who will want what I make.

All of this takes a lot of research, trial, and error, and making tweaks here and there until suddenly it works. And I am seeing progress which makes me happy. It is important to have a mix of personal connection and digital connection, giving people options, finding ways to meet their needs. And making art that not only expresses me but art that inspires and is appreciated by my customers. I don’t have to please everyone and that makes expanding sales across the web makes it easier to find your tribe and build a broader base.

So my advice to you is, if you have a dream that just won’t let you go, please don’t give up. Keep searching. What’s right for one entrepreneur is not always right for everyone else. Follow your heart and your gut and never give up. The world needs what you do, just as I know the world needs what I do as well. So watch Youtube, read blogs, take classes and webinars, and talk to people who work in similar areas of practice. Most entrepreneurs are open to sharing. But the biggest thing is to keep working at it. You will get it and it will be a fulfilling and rewarding journey.

If you are looking for unique cards, custom stationery (soon to be added) or beautiful art in photography and watercolor, visit my shop on cherylmcdonald-art.com

Thanks for Reading

Cheryl

A Valentine Memory

A Valentine Memory

It’s Valentines Day 2019

I remember in elementary school, many, many years ago, we would have a class party for Valentines Day. The week before the teacher would set up a post office and each student created their own mailbox and decorated it. Our teacher chose a new person every day that week to be the Post Master and each day as children brought in their valentines (we had to have one for each person in the class), the Post Master would distribute them in the mailboxes.  On Valentine’s day, we had the party and after all the handmade cupcakes and party favors were handed out, we would retrieve our mailboxes to take home with us.

It was so much fun going through the cards. They were mostly the store-bought kind. Little cut-out characters with a happy greeting. Once in awhile, there were handmade ones but they were rare. Some of them were signed and some weren’t. Did you get any ‘Be Mine’ cards? Was it from that cute boy you had a crush on? It was kind of amazing that even though we lived in a small town it was rare that you got lots of the same ones. It was fun to get Mail.

It is a fond memory, I still love getting cards and letters, and honestly, I need to be better at personally sending them as well. Lot’s of people are better at this than I because I have been making cards out of my art and selling them for many years! First, it was prints of watercolors I had done, then photographs I had taken and now I am also making hand-painted cards. People love them and share them or gift them so that others can share them.

Sending a card from one of your favorite artists is so much more than just a greeting. It is sharing a gift created by one and passed on to another. It adds a real human connection to the process of communication. In a world of immediate digital, I think a personal hand-written note may be more important than it has ever been. It makes us stop and pay attention, and it reminds us that we are not alone, that someone cares for us. I often save them and every time I see it, it reminds me of the person who sent it.  Again it makes me stop and think. It often sparks me to connect with that person again in some way, even if just sending positive thoughts their way.

And so on this valentines day 2019, I just want to say, cards are one way to connect with those you care about, either near or far. It doesn’t have to be on a special day and actually, I think it might be more important on those days when time gets lost. And yes there are lots of ways to connect, this is just one. If you are looking for artists who make cards for all your special needs, I invite you to look at Etsy.com. Here there are many unique artists that create custom and customized cards. This is where I have set up shop as CherylMcdonaldArt and you can find my cards there as well.

Happy Valentine’s Day, may you feel loved and may you give love to those you care about. And be sure to give the post person some love as well. Even though the costs keep going up and the expectations get higher, the post office still delivers 6 days a week everywhere in the country. And is in and of itself a miracle!

All the best, ❤️

Cheryl

The Captivating Magic of Making Art

The Captivating Magic of Making Art

I am wound up in the tendrils of a vine called Art.

I do not actually believe I am making art at this time with all my dot making, I am mastering a new technique and getting comfortable with the process. The art-making is coming, the imagination and the visualizations are once more starting to flow.

I like to make tedious art, I always have. I enjoy abstracts and flowing paint, however value, and light, and detail are the art that I am constantly drawn to, whether it is drawing, painting, or photography, or even digital for that matter. To me the story comes through in the minute details, layers of dots, lines, color, it all comes together to create the story.

Getting my mind to move in the direction of marketing, selling, accounting and all the rest of the details of running a business is like trying to extract myself from a Venus Flytrap. The struggle is futile. (Insert a laugh comment here). And yet, because I love the other aspects of the work that I do, I must. I must think about that marketing campaign for the new client, I must think about how best to show my work and market myself, I must think about the community activism I am involved in to create art awareness and community. I must because I love all these aspects of the skills and talents I have been given. I have read dozens of books on how to organize your day, I have tried dozens of calendars to try to reign myself into a schedule and yet I am constantly fighting the battle. I envy artists who have a partner that handles the sales, the galleries, the websites, and the workshop details. I would love to do nothing but make art, think about art, teach art. Maybe someday that will be my life, but for now, I just keep moving, I just keep learning and sharing and building connections and living the life I have been given. Giving gratitude for all the good that comes to me every day. I am a lucky woman and I know it.

Art, for me, is magic, it flows through my fingers like music flows from the hands of a musician, like motion flows from the body of a dancer. There are no good explanations of Why or How it only happens and that is what magic is all about.

🙂