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

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.

🙂

It’s Fall Already!

It’s Fall Already!

The calendar doesn’t actually say that yet, but we all know it is anyway. Schools are back in session, pumpkin spice is everywhere, even the weather here in the desert is acting like Fall.

Business is gearing up for the holidays and art markets are advertising their events and we are back to work.

In the summertime, my business is slow and in the heat of the day I hibernate. I have started drawing again and that has been occupying my time. I sit in front of the air conditioner and make art.

It all started with an exhibit by a local artist who was doing wildlife drawings in pointillism or stippling. It inspired me to get out my pens and art paper and make dots. I have done about 14 I think, so far, and I see no sign that I will be quitting soon. I have always loved pen & ink it is a simple medium that gives you lots of ways to build complexity. In other words, I take this very simple technique and make it complicated.

FBMooilynbanner2

I am taking these new drawings and scanning them into Adobe Illustrator where I can translate them into a vector image. What that means is that they are then flexible and can be blown up or used in various ways without losing any resolution. Another thing I can do with these black and white images is to colorize them and turn them into Pop Art!  It is a whole new style of art making for me, combining all my skills both on and off the computer. The images above are one of these drawings translated into primary colors. I have named this wild cow Moo-ilyn Moo-nroe. Because she is very much a stylish diva. 

I am now making prints of them and have them for sale in my Etsy shop online and I am selling them locally as well. I am once more back in the art business.

I am also exploring print on demand websites that I can incorporate into my website where I can offer these images on useful things that people use every day like mugs, shopping bags, even clothes and more. I can layout the images within their parameters and then they do the printing and the shipping. Nice!

I am ordering samples of things to make sure I like their process before I sign up. There are so many and I have tried some and not been happy. I am a bit picky about these things!

So I am happy to be making art again and having the ability to create illustrations also makes my design work that much more unique. So it is a win-win for everyone.

If you would like to see more of these images here is a link to my Etsy Shop which is called simply CherylMcDonaldArt.

The featured image in the header is a fall photo from the Napa Sonoma Wine Country. One of my favorites, to see more from my wine country series here is a link to my website.

 

So You Want to Start A Business

So You Want to Start A Business

You are tired of working for somebody else, Not happy with your job, thinking you could make a difference doing something else, or just wanting to stop building someone else’s equity. All good reasons to think about starting a business.

If you are really thinking about starting your dream business, you have lots to think about, and many decisions to make before you rent that space.

Trust me I have done it wrong before…

So many people daydream about how wonderful it would be to work for themselves! “I can set my own hours, work when I want. I have a perfect idea! Everyone is going to come running to use my new service or buy my wares.” Not likely to happen that way. You are mostly invisible (except to your friends) and I am here to tell you that there is a whole lot more to running any kind of business than just thinking of an idea, choosing a name and a location and getting a business card.

Every year many many people go in and out of business before people even know about them!

It is true that it is easier to find an audience these days because technology gives us so many more people to connect with, however, it is a whole different set of rules and techniques for advertising than just putting an ad in the paper and waiting for people to show up.

There are now lots of channels to connect people instead of just a couple and more are being created every day. If you are not “tech savvy” it can be a challenge.

If you’re in business today or want to go into business unless you have a very big bucket of money, it is important to have knowledge in social media, websites, accounting, and human resources, plus product or service knowledge.

We business owners here in Ridgecrest think we are an isolated community and everyone should just know about us! Wrong… Most people (even in Ridgecrest)  today use the internet on their phones for everything! If you are not available online, very few will ever find you. You also want to show up in other locations as well. With tourism growing, China Lake growing, and a huge influx of world visitors, you want your business out there where EVERYONE who would love what you do can find you. So at the very least, you need a website, a social media page and a plan for posting what and when.

Starting a business requires research and planning as well. What does your community need? Who is your idea going to benefit? Who do you need to connect with and how will you do that?

What does your business look like? How are you going to brand it so it attracts the right group of customers? Just who are these people and what do you know about them? These are questions that help you build the right products as well as the right way to advertise it.

There are numerous resources to help you figure it all out. Here are a few to contact for free or low-cost training or counseling.

SBDC is short for the Small Business Development Center at CSU Bakersfield and here is a link to the SBDC website. I have learned a lot from their coaches, and their webinars and workshops.

Indian Wells Valley Economic Development Center is a fairly new organization in Ridgecrest that is also here to help you with your business, Here is the IWVEDC Website

The Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce is also another great resource as well as an important partner in your business. Connect with them, use them and help them make Ridgecrest a more vibrant business community. Here is a link to the Ridgecrest Chamber Website.

You can even call me for a free consult on branding your new business, and ways to get your marketing organized. Happy to help!

So before you start a business and get in over your head, think, research, talk to others.

Our Community needs you to succeed! Let us help you do it.

The pencil drawing in the header is by Cheryl McDonald, 1995

 

Promoting Yourself is Not a Crime

Promoting Yourself is Not a Crime

Are you afraid to promote yourself?

It’s not considered cool for some reason.

That whole thing about being humble is a virtue.

Well, I am here to tell you as so many others have probably already done, that if you don’t promote yourself no one will find you. You don’t have to do it blatantly and boastfully, however, you do have to put yourself out there and be proud of who you are and what you do.

The myth of instant success goes something like this. You build this fantastic product, sculpture, tool, the art that you create, and someone of “value” sees it and delights in it and suddenly everyone is delighting in it and you become rich and famous…

Wouldn’t that be nice? You will more likely find a million dollars in your mailbox before this happens.

So what do you do? Today in this global economy where your audience is now millions of people around the globe rather than the few thousand who live in your town, you become acquainted with technology. It is your friend. Don’t get me wrong one on one connection is still my favorite, getting to know, in person, your audience is the best way to make friends, fans, customers. However, if the people you know are not the people who are likely to use your product or love your style of art, it doesn’t mean that you have to move. Your audience is just a few clicks away across the web.

It can be daunting to figure out how to connect with your audience, especially for people who did not grow up with a computer at their fingertips from the day they were born, but I am here to tell you that it can be done. I can also tell you that you don’t have to be on every single social media channel and you don’t have to spend all your time on the computer. Remember learning how to walk? Baby steps are the key. There are many online resources as well as community resources to help you find your way. There are also services, consultants, agents, that are happy to do a good deal of it for you.

However, you have to understand that if your goal is to put your art in other people’s hands, you have to make the effort to get it out there.

If you think it’s impossible, I am here to tell you that it is not.

When I first started trying to sell my art, I was so terribly sure that I would fail and of course, I did. I would get myself all dressed up, pack up my samples and drive to a gift shop or gallery I hoped would buy. Often I would just sit in the car in front of the store trying to syke myself up to go in. Sometimes I would just leave, never making it in the door and sometimes I would make it in and I would say something like “ Any chance you want to buy some of these pictures to put in your store?” The owners, of course, would say “no thanks” because there was no connection, no reason to buy, they didn’t even know what I had!

It took me awhile to figure it out, one of the things I did was start selling in farmers markets, The more I sold, the more it built up my confidence and I realized that not everyone was my customer and the more I connected with those who were, the less I felt the need to try to sell to everyone.

The internet is like that, sort of. You need to do some research to find the people who will love what you do and then you connect with them, and there are enough of those out there to keep you busy producing your product.

So the moral of this story is, marketing is almost as important and creating. The success of the one does not happen without the other. It is up to you to find your marketing style just as you found your creating style.

You can do it, I know you can.