Light at the end of at least one tunnel

Light at the end of at least one tunnel

So yesterday I was ranting about software companies. My rant was brought on by built-up experiences over time with a few different companies but came to a head when the software I had and wanted to use for my art organizing plan needed multiple upgrades because of Apple’s incessant need to update and change things.

Well, yesterday there was positive news and a person to person exchange working out a plan to not only get my software where it needs to be, but also a plan for me to learn a little more of how to use it. This company is not a faceless corporation, it is dedicated to helping artist succeed. The company is called GYST which actually stands for Getting Your Sh*t Together. It is a project started by an artist named Karen Atkinson and this is the About statement straight from the website

“GYST-Ink is an artist-run company/art project by Karen Atkinson, providing resources, technology, and solutions created by artists for artists. Our mission is to support arts professionals, educational institutions, and arts organizations with an integrated program of software, services, and information in order to keep artists working. GYST–Ink is dedicated to empowering and educating artists so that they can develop sustainable and successful careers on their own terms.”

It is unfortunate I let my past dealings with software companies color my view and make me think that there was no hope and I would just have to do it all myself in some half-*ssed manner to get my sh*t done. I still have a lot to learn and I am hoping that not only will I learn to use the database, but I just might learn how to be a more professional and successful artist. You see the whole point for most of us artsy-fartsy people is to create something that matters to you the un-artsy-fartsy. We know the value of creativity in the world and the change that can come when we are all open to see and experience something unique. The more we succeed, the more humanity does also. (Yes art is important.)

So based on my experiences here I want to say that if you are an artist and you need to get your SH*T together, here is a good place to start, gyst-ink.com

Thank you for reading,

Have a happy day!

Cheryl

 

Cheryl McDonald is a full-time artist living in the high desert at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to see more of her work click here!

More Spring Artwork to share

More Spring Artwork to share

Good Morning All,

My goodness, I have been having fun, painting fresh Spring flowers, iconic Easter images like bunnies, baby ducks and chicks. Creating mini art pieces that others can share is becoming a habit. I love the fact that they are mailable and hangable. My new tag line is “I make usable art”. As I’ve said before art is everywhere we turn so why not surround ourselves with art we love and art that makes us happy, and spreads a good feeling. We need more of that in our lives. The crazier the world seems, the more we need to spread the love.

Yesterday and today I put several of these new items on my CherylMcDonald-art and I even started a business page called Cheryl McDonald Creative! on Pinterest. This is the next step in becoming savvier about selling online.

I am learning that taking this task of online sales on in steps, sometimes even micro steps, makes it seem less daunting and much more manageable. Taking breaks to work in the garden or make art helps as well. It is exciting to see progress, in the form of sales and happy customers that I might never have met without this shop. Spreading the love as far as I can! One of the next steps will be figuring out global sales, not just United States sales.

Hope you are having a productive week, and I hope you are giving yourself time to recharge as well. Easy to forget to do when the world keeps throwing more and more at us.

Have a happy day!

Cheryl

Art Requires Evolutions and Revelations

Art Requires Evolutions and Revelations

I can’t believe it has been 10 days since my last post. The time has flown and it has been a challenge to keep up.

On the 5th I was given the opportunity to be part of a festival which was one of the few in this area that is actually made up of really creative people. It was coming up on the weekend of the 8-9th and was one I had wanted to get in on earlier. But I got the information on it too late and all the slots were filled. This event was the biannual High Desert Quilt Show and although it seems questionable that this would be a good fit for a painter, I have other artist friends in various mediums, sculptors, jewelry artists, and ceramic artists, who have sold there in the past and done fairly well. I had the money and I had the desire to give it a try.  I had 4 days to prepare. My head was spinning. I needed to paint cards and I really wanted to get my newest painting done and framed as it is an important evolution in the direction I am moving. I wanted to share it and I also wanted to do well.

I painted note cards with spools of thread and quilt patches and lot’s of spring flowers and I did finish my painting. I was excited. about the show and about the art. My style and my focus are evolving and I am actually thinking about who my audience is and what they would like. These are 2 different aspects of being a creator. Because considering your audience is not important to make good art, but it is important to make art that sells. Anyway, I was accomplishing 2 objectives and I could see that all this marketing education is finally paying off as is the acceptance that I as a creator need to make art that comes from my soul. And somehow it is possible for those two to come together if you find the right niche.

Well, the weekend came, I set up a beautiful booth and I did have a very successful weekend. And even though I came down with a nasty cold in the process, from which I will recover, I made headway, and I discovered more about my direction as an artist as well as more about being a more successful artist and finding that niche that narrows my marketing strategy. I don’t have to try to sell to everyone! Got it! Finally!

So where do I go from here? My mind is in the process of envisioning my next painting, as I work on deadline projects that I must finish. I am also thinking about what I need to create for the next show, next weekend. Mentally describing the audience I will be connecting with and figuring out how the things I make can bring them joy and entice them to want to own.  This is really the essence, I think, of being a selling artist.

So the evolution continues as do the revelations, there is always more to learn and more life to live. As the story unfolds is not just a title for my blog, it is my life and yours as well.

Have a Happy Day.

Cheryl

P.S. I did sell the painting to one of my favorite collectors and I did do well with all of the art cards I created. More evidence that I am going in the right direction!

 

 

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!

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