Paint Schoodic

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Just one bullet per customer, please

Mixing bullet points is a simple marketing error. How many more mistakes am I making in my one-man band?

Apple tree with swing, Carol L. Douglas, available through the Kelpie Gallery.
I spent the last two days doing 2018 planning with Bobbi Heath. While I normally hate business meetings, this one was done in stocking feet, with a woodstove and good food.

A good confab with a peer can net you as much or more than a conference does. Ask yourself these questions first:
  • Are our goals and experiences similar enough to be useful to each other?
  • Are our values the same?
  • Can this person be trusted?
  • Will he or she stay on task?
  • Is he or she able to contribute knowledge, experience or process?
  • Is he or she a creative thinker?

Flood tide, by Carol L. Douglas, sold at Castine Plein Air 2017
I’ve had enough experience with art support groups to know that they often devolve into long-winded stories, pissing matches, emotional support groups, or ego-stroking. They have their place in life, but they won’t advance your career.

The person best qualified as your informal business coach might have no experience in the art world at all. If you have enough knowledge yourself, that can work well, but it won’t help if you’re a newbie in the art world. Someone has to understand the nuts and bolts of how paintings are sold. Having said that, my move to Maine was coached by a business consultant with no art-sector experience.

Bath time, by Carol L. Douglas. I don't focus on online sales, but this sold on Facebook, and netted me a friend in the bargain.
In her former life, Bobbi was a tech start-up project manager. She knows how to move a small business from concept to reality. I have a different but equally valuable background, which comes from years of slogging in the art market. Most importantly, we trust each other.

The question you and your partner are going to ask is, “Where are we now, and where do we want to be in five years?” The answer should not be, “rich and famous,” but it might include something like “looking more like an artist,” which is, in fact, brand management. You want to be concrete, but not limited.

Setting blocks, by Carol L. Douglas, available through Camden Falls Gallery.
Bobbi’s and my business models are a mix (in different ratios) of the same activities. I need to reset the mix. My mix of galleries/teaching/workshops and plein air events ought to be more grounded in my own geographical location, at least from June through September.

Tracking your own hours can reveal a gap between where you're spending your time and how you're making your money.
There is no real planning without data. I have some, but it’s all estimated. Better data might tell me that I’m investing time and energy into the wrong things. The above pie charts are fictitious, but they’re an example of how our work might not be going into the most financially productive things. In some cases, that is by choice. For example, right now I choose not to monetize this blog by selling advertising.

My New Year’s Resolution is to start logging my time just as my programmer husband does. I want to know how I’m piddling my time away.

Most of working your way into a better business model is simple trial and error. I’m especially good at the error part. That's good for success, in fact, but you can't be stretched so thin financially or timewise that experimentation sinks you.

Bobbi told me about a recent mailing she did, where she learned never to have more than one offer (bullet point) in an ad. She had two, and they got conflated in her readers’ minds. I realize I’m doing the same thing with my workshop ads. I need to fix this.

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