Tag Archives: etsy

New Year, New Goals for 2015

As 2014 comes to an end, I have to say that for the first time, I feel like I know exactly what I want to accomplish for the New Year. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve meandered in and out of the freelance/Illustration world for a few years. But part of the reason why I think I’ve never grown as much as I would like in the art business is because I’ve never had a solid business plan. Crazy, I know. The younger, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants me felt that it wasn’t really necessary to have a plan. I mean, real, TRUE artists just don’t need that type of structure. We’re REBELS. Turns out that we do. Real WORKING artists don’t just see art as their passion, but they have to see it as a business in order to make money. The biggest thing I learned from working in corporate America is that you have to have a plan for where you want grow, and what you have to do in order to grow. So with that said, here’s the basics of my business goals for 2015:

Market, Market, Market!

Any working artist will tell you they spend most of their time marketing themselves in order to get jobs. More than actually creating work. It makes sense, because really how else are you going to make money? My goal is to not only market myself digitally (via craigslist, freelance websites, etc), but go the grassroots route as well. Leaving my postcards and business cards in different venues, talking to other business owners, and doing face to face contact. I can’t always hide behind a computer screen or easel.

Create, Create, Create!

During the time I’m not marketing, I need to be creating. Not only to keep my passions up, but to continuously add to my Etsy store, which determines my place on the site (more on that in a minute). Selling my original artwork and prints is critical in order to make money. So I need to continue to pump out new material in order to have a large variety to sell.

Increase My Etsy Activity.

I love Etsy. I really, really do. I am all about the handmade, and I think is a wonderful marketplace for artisans, vintage sellers, and creative people to commune with each other while making money.    For me personally, it’s so much easier than selling on my website, which just serves at a portfolio and “where else to find me” hub. Etsy does all of the grunt work, all I do is price and list for a tiny fee. Great for a non-techie like myself. But clearly, there is a LOT of competition on Etsy. Tons of artists sell their work there, and where you land on the site’s search engine depends on how often you post listings. So in order for me to stay at the top of the list, I have to constantly list new work. It’s going to be time consuming, but totally worth the effort. Staying close to the top will drive in more sales, and will keep me on my toes creatively.

Establish Business on the Legal Level.

Learning how to protect myself and my work legally. Establishing an LLC. Getting a better understanding of accounting, invoicing and contracting. Tax forms and 1099s. These are all things I’ve never thought about in the past, but I need to do in order to establish myself as a true business, if it is something that I want to do on a full time basis.

Make a Daily Schedule and Stick to It.

People think working from home is easy. While it is convenient, it takes a LOT of discipline to actually GET work done. You can get distracted by other things, and before you know it, the whole day has slipped by (today has been one of those days). Add in a rambunctious three year old to the mix and priorities can get pretty jumbled. I enjoy making my own schedule, but one thing I need to improve on is sticking to something specific. It involves continuing to get up early, focusing on completing one task at a time to complete it, rather than multitasking and not finishing anything, and utilizing the time I have alone (AJ goes to daycare twice a week).  I also need to scale back on social media, which can be a huge time suck, and brings me to my next goal…

Scale Back on Social Media.

Social media is great in the sense that it allows clients a peek inside of my world, WIPs, and keep them updated on my journey. But while great with connecting with clients and fans, is surprisingly ineffective in actually gaining work. I’ve heard this from other artists as well. And like I said, it can be a time suck. The few minutes to scroll through timelines and feeds can add up quickly. So I’ve been stepping away from Instagram and Facebook and posting less. I’d never disconnect completely, but there are better, more productive ways to spend my time.

Monetizing and Writing More Often My Blog .

I don’t really considering blogging as a form of social media, but more as an outlet to explain and showcase what’s going on in my life, artistically and otherwise. I see it as a direct connect to clients and fans, and a way to express myself in words. I’m not much of a photographer, so places like Instagram are cool but not really conducive to what I want to express. I enjoy writing though, when I sit down and really focus on it. So I promise to write more often, at least once a week (I’ve done pretty good this month, if I do say so myself). I’ve also been looking into monetizing my blog, as in earn some money from it. I would never, EVER charge anyone to read my blog, but there are ways to earn small amounts of money from the readership. There are ad-clicks, sponsored posts, advertising, etc. These are some of the ways that full time bloggers make their money, and if you really work at it, it’s a very sweet deal. I am not looking for blogging to be my main moneymaker, but extra cash in order to pay seller’s fees, buy supplies, etc would be helpful.

Getting to Know My Art Community.

I am fortunate enough to live in an area that has a large creative community and a great appreciation of the arts. There are a lot of galleries, art centers, workshops and viewing spaces within 10 minutes of my home. I want to venture out and learn more about the local artists, put down some roots, and build a name for myself in my area.

Expanding My Creative Brand.

There are so many creative things, beyond painting and drawing, I want to try out. Knitting, crocheting, repurposing furniture, sewing, soap making, floral arrangement, gourmet cooking,  jewelry making…the list goes on and on. I also want to write and illustrate at least one children’s book, graphic novel, and webcomic series, license my artwork, and teach arts and crafts workshops to kids and adults. My ultimate goal is to build a creative brand. I want Mama Craftista to be an umbrella company for many ventures. Not quite a lifestyle brand, but not just an art brand. I’d like to fall somewhere in the middle.

Always Make Time for Family.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my goal, above all, is to be there for my son, particularly during these oh-so-fleeting child years. It’s the reason why succeeding in this career path is so important to me. To stay out of a stuffy, rectangular office, make my own schedule, and why I am working so hard to make it happen. Because of that, when I am not working, I need to be present. That means not checking emails, sneaking in sketching or writing, etc. What’s the point of spending the majority of my time with him if I’m constantly distracted while I’m with him? I don’t want to fall into the “workaholic” trap and constantly sacrifice my family time for my career. I truly believe that a balance is possible, and if I am controlling the reigns, I fully believe that I can achieve it.

There are several small things I want to accomplish as well, but this is the jist of the larger things. I plan on revisiting this post a year from now and check off what I have accomplished. Here’s to a great holiday, a productive rest of the month, and progressive new year!

The Business of Duality: Day Job vs Career Work, Plus a Peek at New Art

I don’t know if I mentioned this here, but I have a “regular” job. When I say regular, I mean a plain old 9 to 5, doing office work at a company in midtown Manhattan. It’s a nice place to work at, but nothing special, and it’s a steady paycheck. The creation of Mama Craftista is a combination of the experience I’ve gained while working freelance part time, a solid business plan of what I want to accomplish in the next five years, and an overwhelming need to make a living by my art, completely. But my business isn’t yet where it needs to be in order for me to support myself financially. I have my goals and a timeline set, but in the meantime, office work pays the bills.

I had a conversation with a friend and co-worker the other day that got me to thinking about the duality of pursuing your desired career while working a not-so-desired job to pay the bills. She is currently studying to get her real estate license, which requires a lot of hours. Like me, she is the mother of a toddler and has a fiancé, and is constantly working to find some sort of balance between work life, personal life, and career. She said her biggest motivation is to be able to be financially independent, while making her own schedule so that she can be able to spend more time with her family. To not have to answer to anyone but herself. I can totally relate to that, and is definitely one of my motivational factors to get where I want to be with my business.

1099

 

According to the Freelancer’s Union, 40% of the American workforce are independent contractors. Working independently also seems to be the preferred career path of millennials. They are less concerned with making massive amounts of money at a job they hate. Instead, more are drawn to making just enough to be comfortable, while still having happiness and personal freedom.  I don’t feel like I covet the “millennial” title; I think that’s more reserved for recent college grads just entering the workforce. But I completely relate to that mentality. When I left college in 2003, I walked right into an economy that was just beginning to crumble. Although I am proud of my degree, it really hasn’t done much to land me a job in the art field. It had been a few years before I realized that creating my own opportunities made more sense for what I wanted to do. But by then, I had already had several years of administrative experience. As I mentioned in a previous post, I appreciate the things I’ve learned from the small business owners that I have worked for. But I’ve always known that I wanted more than to be just an assistant.

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Fast forward to now, with years of working freelance part time, and formulating a solid business plan, I have spent many late nights and early mornings, working on new pieces to add to my store, marketing myself to get freelance work, investing any extra money I have back into my business. This is all while trying to make sure my son and my son’s father are taken care of and my house isn’t falling apart. It is an exercise in exhaustion, but I manage. My friend and I both agree that focusing on your big goal is key to get you through those 14+ hour days. I also like to see it as practice for when you are working your career full time, because although you are making your own schedule, business owners often work more hours than the people they employ. Working a day job should also be seen as a tool, not a crutch. Although it may not be what we want to do permanently, it is a providing a means to take care of yourself, and to get to your end goal of working for yourself. We also both agreed that our kids are our motivators. I want my boy to see that hard work and focus will get you where you want to be in life. I want to be able to have a flexible enough schedule to where I can spend quality time with my family.  More than anything, I want to fulfill a lifelong dream. I don’t want to look back on my life a regret that I didn’t take a chance and venture out on my own, focusing less on money and more on happiness. As long as I have enough to take care of my family and myself, that’s what really matters. So as I get closer to my goal to becoming a full time artist, I will take the duality in stride. After all, that’s what life is about…finding the balance.