Thursday, February 28, 2013

Add This

The week has been full of information, information, soooo much information.  I actually had to stop and get out of my head this week and so something physical, which did really help.

Preparation for Artisan and Craft Show:
As part of my daughter's art business  we had her design above, along with another design, made into greeting cards through Vistaprint, for her to sell at the craft show in April. They look really good.  (I also received my business cards, but I'm not happy with how I designed them, so I'm going to try again.)

Add This:
I just put the "Add This" button on my site and I think it looks great.  It's that little bar on the bottom that I had always admired and used on other people's sites, but had no idea how to get it on my own. 

Turns out it's pretty easy.  Go to: Add This and sign yourself up.  Like everything I've used to develop my page, it's FREE!  It also will send you fun analytics like how many people pinned something or liked your post.

I also checked out Weebly for developing a free website.  So far I like what I see.  I would want to make sure I can move this blog over, so that will be something to sift around. I've heard some positive feedback you can't beat free design and hosting (unless the quality is poor or the data transfer is slow and in that case you will lose people and that's no good.)
I really like is that it has a market place (that might not be the right term, but a place to sell your art online!) and it seems really easy to use.  They claim you can set it up in 10 minutes or something wild like that.  Free+user friendly+marketplace=why not give it a shot?

If you're using Weebly and have any feedback, please let me know in the comments.  Sweet smelling or bad breath, I'd love to know what you really think of it.

Learning Sponge:
Just wanted to share some updates from my online education this week.  I'm participating in the free webinar "The Right Brainer's 2013 Video Summit."  So far, lot's of helpful tips.  I particularly loved Kelly Rae Roberts and Beth Nicholls talk yesterday.  The videos are available for 48 hours after the broadcast so you may be able to still catch Kelly and Beth.  Here's the lineup for the rest of it:  2013 schedule

I also came across articles posted from two  amazing women in my "Bloom True" group, Candace N'Diaye and Megan Auman.  Their work is very timely and helpful and I'm grateful to have a glimpse of  their greatness:

Candace was a guest blogger on one of my all-time-favorite sites, Kind Over Matter.  Candace shares the shift from being "Corporate" to being a Creative.   If you have a minute and haven't seen it, check it out!  Here's the link: Candace on Kind Over Matter

Megan has a great site that helps Creative's get savvy in business: Designing an MBA
Megan describes the importance of creating a brand that is in line with your product price points.  Megan also has TONS of other helpful information on her site for business minded artists.

It feels like there is much, much more to share, but as I'm suffering from information overload, I will stop there. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Creative Vacation

I've been on vacation from my full-time job and instead I'm in full-time creative mode.
This morning I finished the painting above.  I began this over the summer and never really had it just right. 
I'm liking it now.  (My daughter added the tiny little "x" marks that you can see faintly dividing the canvas.)

Then I went snowshoeing with husband....

Being outside in the crisp cool air walking in the tall pines put a lil' rosy glow in my cheeks.  It also reinvigorates me and I want to come home and make something....

Like new earrings...

I'm also playing with Pinterest, but that is a vortex I can get sucked into way too easily....must set timer...

I added the "Pin It" button to my tool bar so that I can pin stuff that I like to my Boards quickly and easily.  You can too!  Go to any Pinterest Page, click the "Goodies" Page and then if you scroll down, you will see a "pin it" button that you can drag to your toolbar.  Then, you can use it to pin stuff you see as you surf...(like those earrings above that I will be adding to my jewelry board!)

I'll be working on adding the "Pin It" button to my site this weekend too.  I was just getting started but snowshoeing has made husband hungry, so we're off to dinner.  Pinning will have to wait...

Monday, February 18, 2013

What's Stopping You?

"The thing that is stopping you from investing in yourself (time, energy, money, etc.) is the thing that is stopping you from having what you desire."
-Joanna Rothman

So much in progress

What feels like it's stopping me is time.  I'm working on taking back my time. I'm on vacation this week and I'm acting as if this is what my life looks like.  I'm trying it on to see how it feels. I'm loving the more natural flow of my days.  I've made a huge quantum leap in this direction that I can't share quite yet, but for me, it's unprecedented. 

I've accomplished a good chunk of my list over the past few days.  I added Mailchimp to my website.  I set up my Facebook page and invited people to like it.  I've started moving forward on a series of interviews that I will be posting here very soon.  This is the kind of work, in addition to painting and creating, that I want to do-even though it's insanely frustrating at times, because I know that it's taking me in the direction I want to go.

Here are some basics for you, my artist friends.  Technology may not be your specialty, but it's a necessary part of doing business right now.   I know it can feel overwhelming to get these things going when you really want to be creating but remember the world needs your light and technology helps you shine it as far and as wide as you can!

Creating an e-mail list: (The word "creating" is in there so it must be good right?) 
You may want to build an e-mail list so that you can send out things like newsletters or your class listings to a targeted group.  I recommend a mail site like "Mailchimp."  It's free and it was probably one of the easiest things I've set up so far.  

You design the page you want people to see when they sign up to receive your e-mail and then link it to your website.  I'm still working on making the "opt-in" part of my site look better but the basics are there.  I chose this because this is what Tara Gentile, an artist/business woman that I admire recommended and it's pretty widely used.  Plus, my goal is to use only free products on my site-so far, so good.

Setting up a professional Facebook Page-You can add a "page" to your personal facebook account that can be used for your business-again it's free to set it up.  I wanted to create a professional page focused on art and creating a business where I can post quick updates that aren't long enough to be blog posts plus have another outlet to get the word out about what I'm doing.   You can go to "create page" on your facebook page and it will walk you through how to set it up.  Artist Regina Jessup recently shared in a facebook group that Udemy gives step-by-step instructional videos if you're looking for more information on how to get it going: Creating Facebook Pages.

After you create the page, add a couple of items to it before you invite people to like it. The business page will give you the option of inviting friends to "like" your page so you can send out the request to many people at once

Making a video:  I just made my first video this week.  I used iMovie to record and edit it and then sent it to Facebook because I had trouble uploading it to Vimeo.  At first I was very perplexed by iMovie and did not like it, but here is a helpful video to show you how to use it: How to use imovie
Artists in my Ignite Group have recommended Windows Movie Maker and ReelDirector for video editing but I have not tried them yet.

Painting:  Yes! Make sure you're still taking time to do what makes you come alive most.  Plan it into your day.  Make it non-negotiable.  I've been making time to paint-had a good 2 hour stretch in the studio working on the painting above.  Painting and creating gives me fuel to continue with the less desirable stuff. 
These are little steps you can take to invest in yourself and move toward what you desire.

Let me know if you have questions that I might be able to help with!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Square vs. Paypal

My brain is on overdrive lately.  In fact, last night I had to take some time and just sit and do nothing.  Really, nothing.  I needed some time to just deeply relax.

 I did sneak in a few chapters of Danielle LaPorte's Firestarter Sessions.

This morning I woke up feeling great and ready to share about my Square.

My Square

My "Square" arrived, which is a mobile credit card reader.  I had already downloaded the app. on my Iphone and was very excited to get started until I set up my online Paypal account (jewelry page) and noticed that they also have jumped on the mobile card reader bandwagon and are in fierce competition with Square.  

So, I did a little comparison and found...

Both work with iphone or android.  Both allow point-of-sale swiping of the 4 major credit cards and link right to your account.  Both send you free readers in the mail.  Here are the sites to review for yourself:

Square: Square Site

Paypal: Paypal site
(Paypal has a comparison breakdown of 3 mobile reader applications)

After the bit of research, I've decided to go with Paypal, even though I just ordered my Square, and here's why:
It's cheaper:  Paypal is  2.7% per transaction vs. Square's 2.75%
Square charges more (3.5%=.15 cents per transaction) if you have to manually enter the card too-I couldn't find info. on Paypal's policy on manual entries.  
Square does have the option of a flat $275.00 per month fee if you have a lot of transactions.
It's faster: Deposits are made on the same day of sale.  
It accepts more forms of payment: You can accept paypal and checks in addition to the 4 major credit cards
It helps with billing and tracking: You can send invoices and track cash payments with the Paypal app. 
More than one person can use it: You can have multiple user accounts so if you have more than one person selling for you, each person can link to the account at the same time.  
Loyalty: I have a history of using paypal and I like them

So, now I need to add "Order Paypal reader" to my list of things to do this week.  I'm on vacation and intend to get things really rolling so stop back and see!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Marisa had her first sale!

And started her bookkeeping! Note the lifesavers!?!

The past few days have been busy for the mother/daughter Artist Gurls!  Lots of research and creating products for our April "launch".

Here's what we are currently exploring:  

Mailchimp Signed up to build an e-mail list so we can consistently keep people updated on all the happenings and info. I will install that here first, then show Marisa how to do it on her site.  

Paypal: I did some research and asked some people about potential shopping carts.  Paypal is the most popular choice, it's free and people seem satisfied with it.  I know I use it A LOT as a buyer and I've always been happy with the service they provide, so we'll be installing this too for selling our products.

Square I ordered us a "square" that should be arriving at the house shortly.  This plugs into your iphone or android and allows you to swipe credit cards and have the money deposited into your bank account.  They charge 2.75% per transaction with next day deposits to your account.  They claim there are no additional fees.  Again, other artists I've heard from also use and like this.  Can't wait to get it-the unit itself is free and you only pay per transaction.

Tax ID#:  Checked into NY State Tax laws and it seems that you must register for a tax ID# and collect sales tax even if you only do one craft show per year.  So, we'll be filling out the application for that as well as registering the business.  We have some things to decide here, such as the name of the business (Artist Gurl?  Have All This? and then attach the tax number to it.)

Setting Up a Separate Bank Account:  Once we register the business name, we will also set up a business bank account to keep things from getting co-mingled. I want to make this as easy on our accountant as I can (I will also be notifying him of our plans and asking for advice on what records to retain, filing and such)

Establishing Business Structure:  We need to decide if we will be a sole proprietorship or an LLC.  Those are the only choices I will entertain.  I like the protection the LLC offers and I like the ease of the sole proprietorship.  I will explain the pros and cons of each to Marisa and reason it out with her, as I think these are important things for her to start to grasp although they may at the moment seem foreign to her.

So that's where we are business, start-up wise.  Much still to be done to get going.

On the creative side....

I'm loving this style!

Churning out lots of new designs! I want a variety of styles to appeal to different tastes.  However, everything I've made so far is stuff I would love to wear, so I'm hoping they appeal to someone other than me!

Monday, February 4, 2013


My Daughter Marisa's Duct Tape Rose

Marisa's Earrings


Some of my new earring designs

Last Night of Cake Decorating

We've had another busy week.  In addition to making stuff we are also launching Marisa's Webpage and first business venture, Artistgurl.

Building Creative Kids

Artist Girl

My 11-year-old daughter has been involved in almost everything I create.  I've always called her "artist girl" because she has an artistic streak (she even gets purple highlights in her hair!) 

And now, as I do my mind mapping and pull plans together, I can't imagine not involving her.  To help her evolve her own thriving business that intertwines with mine.  We create together and we will now be putting it out into the world together.  I teach her basic skills and she puts her own artist girl spin on it.

I'm thinking what better way to develop real life skills like teaching, marketing and website design?  She's a hands on learner and launching this business will use her talents and strengths while also emphasizing commitment, craftsmanship, dedication and excellent customer service.

Helping my daughter create a business will also show her that making money, working together and building a business can be FUN.  

So, this weekend we put together plans to participate in a craft fair at a local elementary school.  She will be selling earrings that she made, note cards from her artwork, duct tape rose pens (which are really fabulous!) and possibly art kits.  We're working out the details of what her "product line" is and we're also focusing on professional quality.

Here are some of the steps we've taken so far:  

Developed product line:  Handmade earrings, note card artwork prints, duct tape rose pens, art kits and whatever else we come up with between now and then.

Made products:  We had a creative weekend and she made prototypes of some of what she'll be selling at the fair, as did I for my own booth.  

Registered for craft fair:  I went into our local Craigslist and looked for events and saw that a local elementary school is having a craft fair in April.  This gives us time to plan and produce!  I requested an application and am signing us up.

Registered Domain Name:  My daughter selected a name for her site and we registered it using  She chose "" which as it turns out, is a premium domain name and cost $1,500.00. So, I asked if she wanted to use "artistgirls" or "artistgurl"  She went with the latter cause she's independent like that.  is born! We signed up for 1 year of web hosting on using Website Builder.  It was about $37.00 to launch it as they're having a $1.00 per month sale.

Designed Web Page: My daughter chose a template, uploaded photos of her artwork and I showed her how to place them in the page.  She also wrote some text. The photo above is actually her that she decided to use as her banner.

Planned for Content:  We've been talking about what she would like to include on her site.  So far, it's video tutorials, information for other kids on cool art stuff, and selling her products.

Planned her first video tutorial:  She's going to make a video on how she makes her duct-tape roses.

Practiced making videos using I-Movie:  We made a goofy little homevideo to practice our editing skills.  We danced with puppets and the puppy, quoted lines from "The Princess Bride" and sang Teletubbies songs.  It was pretty wild, but hey! that's how I encourage creativity to begin with, by doing wacky, spontaneous stuff.

Purchasing Supplies:  We're figuring out what we need to have.  We're working on ordering prints from Vistaprint but having some issues with the pricing totals and I'll need to call them on that. I'm also plan to order business cards from them as well if I can work out the kinks.  We're thinking and will be making lists when we decide on more of what we want to include.

Next Steps:
Ordering a "Square" to collect credit card payments (We're planning for big purchases :)

Piloting Quickbooks to track our expenses and income (yes she'll be learning about how money works and budgeting it as well.)

Look at online shopping cart possibilities (if you know of any good ones, please share!)

Figuring out the Vistaprint debacle (if you know a better place to get card prints made, please share that too!)

Registering with Paypal to collect online payments

Shooting and Editing the first video tutorial
Doing what we most love-making art!!!

The process of starting a business is the same for a kid as it is for an adult. Follow our progress and see what we're learning, building and creating together.  It might just help you with what you're creating too.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Photo Editing

Dream Balloons

I have been searching for how to improve the look of my photos after suffering through the editing software that my computer came with 7 years ago and dabbling with Photoshop (the free version doesn't seem to have many features unless I'm missing something.)

A while back, I started asking several artists what kind of cameras they use and many said they use the Canon Rebel.  I looked into purchasing one and if I recall correctly it was $500.00+ for the cheaper models without any extra good stuff (I'm a fan of extra good stuff!)  I started saving up to make the investment so that I could post some decent pictures.

Then, I asked  Tracie Hanson, who's photos I really admire, how she makes her photos look so great.  She said she has a fancy camera, but lately she's just been using her I-phone to take the pictures along with I-photo to do some basic editing.  At the time, I had a dumb phone and secretly hoped my husband would get me a camera for Christmas.  He didn't... but he did get me an i-phone which has proven to be even more perfect.  I can't envision myself hauling a big camera around when I have a decent little camera in my pocket.

So, now I'm using i-phone and i-photo for all of my online photos. I downloaded i-photo through the app store for $4.99.  I know  Instagram (free app) is very popular (even with 11 year old kids!) and makes sharing your photos really easy.    I'm going to set that up along with the free app "Instaframe" that lets you create photo collages.

Thought I'd share in case you're looking to improve your online photos. Please post a comment if you have other tools that work great too.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mind Mapping

Mind Map

I'm a planner.  It's part of what I most love about beginning any project.  Mapping it out, figuring out what needs to happen.  This is where I'm in my glory. Dreaming, imagining possibilities, figuring out new ways to do things.

My usual pattern is to get stuck right here.  In the dreaming and collecting of ideas.  After I spend scads of time planning, I tend to spend an equal amount of time and energy ripping the ideas apart for various reasons, most of which boil down to fear of moving forward.

This is a pattern that has come up in my painting too, and we've stared each other down.  The place  I resist in my life and in my painting is in getting started. What I'm realizing and seeing very clearly in creating is that once I begin, I couldn't be happier.  I just need to push past the resistance.  Painting is showing me the rewards of going forward instead of turning back in defeat, pen in hand, waiting to scribe the next BIG IDEA.

So here we are.  If I'm going to be a thriving artist, I have to keep moving.  I'm starting with a mind map.   A visual depiction of my plans.  I love this format because it's non-linear. It's an all-over the place free flow of ideas with one idea leading to the next.  It has questions, it has potential answers, and then more questions.  But, it's a map.  A guide.  Something to return to when the voices of doubt begin their clamour and I think I should turn back. 

Turning back does not a thriving artist make...

It's really easy to do.  You start with your idea in the middle.  You can see here that mine is "Thriving Artist".  You can do this with anything.  A dream that you have, how to redecorate your living room, your grocery list.  It doesn't have to be fancy or have paint on it.  I just do that because it's an excuse to paint. 

From the center, I begin to branch out and ask questions like, How do I become a thriving artist? Who can help me? What's my first step? What can I do TODAY?

Then, I branch off from those questions with potential answers, thoughts, whatever comes to mind.  Sometimes it's just more questions and that's ok too.  There is no doing this wrong and it's going to constantly evolve as you learn to do things.

A solid, sustainable business needs a plan right?  This isn't that boring business-stuff that you would need if you're going to apply for a business loan.

It's a place to start.  A direction to head.  And for me, it's going to keep me moving forward, just like I am right now.  

I would love to hear from you if you've done any mind mapping or have other ideas that might help others get moving and keep moving toward their dreams as well.