FestivalNet, Asheville, NC
by Carolyn Edlund for Artsy Shark
Our industry has changed forever, and there is no going back to the old ways of doing business. Even traditional selling models will have to develop virtual components—or fail. Luckily, creative thinking is squarely in the wheelhouse of every artist and crafter. Are you using any of the following strategies?
Polish Your Artist Website
Your art website is the best place to showcase what you do, since you control content and presentation. Design it to display your art beautifully with stunning images and plenty of them. If your website isn’t ready for prime time, your sales will suffer. Does your About page share a compelling story? Do you provide information for shoppers about your art and how to purchase it, including terms and policies? Do you have prices listed and a shopping cart? If your answer to any of those questions is no, it is likely there is “friction” on your site that is preventing sales rather than encouraging them.
Get Comfortable with Video
Anyone with a smartphone or computer can make videos. Present a collection of your work and tell your story authentically to reach your audience most effectively. Online tools like Lumen 5 are useful for this purpose.
Then, place your video content in multiple places, such as your website and social media profiles. YouTube is a massive platform filled with videos of all types—and as the second-biggest search engine in the world, it’s an excellent place to start. Many artists who teach have switched over from live workshops to video lessons on YouTube with very positive results. Videos are perfect vehicles for Instagram Stories and are also the format for Facebook Live. Sales can literally be made directly on these platforms.
If you’re camera shy, or fear that you don’t take a good photo, it could be slowing you down. Resolve to get past that hesitation. Start now by making a video about yourself and your work, then share and gauge the results. It gets easier over time, and you will most likely be glad you took the first step.
8 No Cost Marketing Tools For Your Food Truck
Leveraging your skill sets when you can't play live music
1. Get neat, tidy and organized! We all have to report to the IRS sooner or later. What's that saying about death and taxes? Well international laws may differ but where I live I have to report to my tax office once a year. And they want to know a lot! So you better have your receipts, bills and paperwork organized and neat. Nothing is worse than having a taxes deadline, and angry IRS guy breathing down your neck, and only a huge box with bits of paper to save you. You don't need to be OCD about it either, but you should know your organizational system. And remember, it is your freaking office so go and buy the pink paper or the Hello Kitty filing folder. Decorate your boring files with scrapbook paper, stickers, and sparkle-y lettering. I think there is no need to tell you that you should get organized with storing your products, that should be a given. Maybe just one more tip regarding that matter: Don't smoke where you work or keep your supplies. So many times I opened a package from a seller and it reeked of smoke. Disgusting! I wouldn't buy from these sellers again.
2. Get legal! Don't hesitate to ask questions! Before you start your business, get to know your country's laws regarding that matter. It is super important to have a business that is legit and registered by the official authorities. Otherwise you might get in trouble with said authorities and you don't want that! Don't be afraid to ask people who already run a business. Some of them are more than willing to help you, you just need to ask. And don't be afraid of the authorities. I, for instance, was always super intimidated by the IRS people. At one point they asked me to send in my first bills to check if I'm doing everything right. I was super scared and thought "OMG I AM DOOMED!" But guess what, they just wanted to help me so I won't get into trouble later on. They called me the next day to tell me that I'm doing everything right and they were so very nice! Okay you can't say everyone will love you at the IRS and some people just aren't nice but hey, no one is out to get you!
3. Take some time to do your product pictures! And make a million at once, it is great when you can choose from many great pictures. I have made quick shots of my products and always regretted it afterwards. When I was feeling sick, stressed or had only little time to take photos I was always disappointed with the outcome and I often ended up with taking them again, re-listing everything. I also think little props and a nice background make a picture so much more interesting. Scrapbook paper make great backgrounds. Take a look around the marketplace and get inspired by what other sellers use as a background props. Then look around your house, your craft table, the garden, etc for things you can use.
4. Get ready for Christmas! I was totally overwhelmed by Christmas shoppers. I never spent so much money on Christmas presents myself, I rather make them myself or buy small things only for my closest friends and family. So the whole Christmas capitalismpalooza came as a little surprise to me. I made a big deal of my year's income on Christmas. It was a very busy time and I wasn't ready for it.. That is not going to happen to me again. So you better stock up, work on wrapping in advance, order more business cards etc so it's less stress and more fun. Other holidays like Valentines Day and Easter are also quite busy.
5. Craft fairs are amazing! If you only sell your things online because you can't afford your own local shop (who can? *sigh*) or selling in a boutique or something, craft fairs are an amazing opportunity for you. They have them nearly everywhere now. It is great to see your customers react to your goods, to get complimented on your work and see happy faces buying your product. Some people may ask questions about your products that you have never thought about before and you can later use it for making it better or writing more detailed product information in your online store. Others might tell you what they don't like about an item and you can learn from that, too. It is also a good way to network more, to give out your business cards, to meet new people and other sellers. I always love getting to know new crafty people. In my experience, I have never met a seller on a craft fair who wasn't nice and polite. And you're all in the same boat (or fair ;) ) so finding topics to talk about is easy. FestivalNet.com is of course what I would recommend for craft fair research in North America.
6. Find your community! I follow many many steampunk and sewing blogs. I communicate with people who like and make the same crafts as I do through so many networks. It's fun! You should try it. Whatever item you make there is a community for it. There are message boards and flickr groups and twitter chats and online classes and communities to the bazzoo! You should find your niche and its community. It is very helpful to exchange opinions, tips and tricks with like-minded people. It gives you also the great feeling of being part of a team rather than working alone everyday at your craft table.
7. Wrapping is super important! I have gotten so many compliments about my wrappings. I really put a lot of effort in how my products look when they arrive in their new home. It takes me about 20-30 minutes to wrap one item. That's not very good on time management but I don't mind. I like doing what I do and I like sewing or paper crafting each item its own little bag/box, put a nice bow on it and write a thank you note etc. I think it is also a nice way to wrap your things in a green way. A fabric pouch is so much better than a plastic bag!
8. Don't share too many secrets! You know how to make something rad that is a bestselling item on etsy and no one else does it? Don't write a tutorial about it in your blog! Come on, you have to stay a little mysterious. People will copy you sooner or later anyways, no way around it. And you don't want to make it too easy for them, right? Speaking of copycats, don't be insulted or mad when you see an item that looks suspiciously like yours. It might be unintentional, it might be just inspired by yours. Don't get into a fight with these people. All we can do is being flattered, swallow the anger, call your best friend, say mean stuff about your copycat to get it out of your system and move on.
9. People love extras and German Gummibarchen. Little extras are always appreciated. Each one of my order comes with mini gummibear bags. I think it is not only nice to send some local sweets (especially when you sell mostly overseas) it also works great as additional bubble wrap! I get so many nice comments and "thanks for the sweets" remarks from my customers. You can also send little extra items with your order, like a pin, a brooch or a hair bow. It is also a nice way to say thank you to your customer and make sure they'll remember you. That way they often come back. I mean, be honest, who doesn't like free stuff.
10. A thank you goes a long way! Be nice. Try to always be there for your customers and always answer emails/ marketplace convos, etc. Always be polite and say thank you! Say thank you when someone orders something, when someone leaves you a nice comment, when someone retweets your shop tweets. And when someone is being a sweetheart and helps you with whatever it is (tips, tricks, link) say thank you! Sometimes I want to scream at people for taking such things for granted. Once a girl who was new in Germany asked me where she could buy fabric here via etsy. So I went on the net and sent her a million links and, guess what? I never heard from her again. See, people remember you when you're being rude. And that is not the impression you want to leave!
Why do you own a food truck or why are you planning to start one? Is it merely to make money or do your employees and customers factor into the decision making process? Do your plans include staff and customer loyalty?
If you want a successful food business you must prioritize loyalty to your employees, customers and the community, no matter what the bottom line is saying.
image: Tuur Tisseghem
Develop Long-term Relationships
No matter what position a staff member is hired for, you need to think about and share your vision for their future within your food truck business. Promoting from your existing staff builds trust and gives employees goals to shoot for.
These long-term employee relationships will also boost morale and productivity within the truck. This helps the business out by providing lower turnover and keeps overhead as low as possible. The lack of turnover will also cut down on the costs of training.
By the time someone reaches a leadership position they will have a thorough understanding of all of the systems and intricacies of your food truck business. This means that they can operate more efficiently.
Buy In Bulk
This one may sound odd at first, but much like successful restaurants, you need to take advantage of your food truck community/organization to negotiate volume discounts with local suppliers. This will also add to building a long-term relationship with suppliers to assure they will provide you with low prices.
Keep Prices Low
This one ties into the previous point. By getting volume discounts from suppliers, you will be able to keep your prices as low as possible while providing consistently high quality menu items. Not only will this keep customers coming back (and drawing new ones), but they'll do so as long as they see the perceived value in the quality of the food you serve them.
Don't Carry Debt
Food truck owners need to try and stay away from long term debt. This may not be the easiest point to follow through with, however, it will help you from having to make monthly debt payments. In turn, it allows you room to earn a profit while still charging your low prices.
Make It A Family Affair
Treat each of your employees and customers as if they are a member of your family. If you take anything away from this article it should be that the best investment to make in your food truck business is to create and sustain the loyalty of employees and customers.
The Bottom Line
It's not always easy to earn staff and customer loyalty, but employing these few tips should go a long way to getting you started!
Visit https://mobile-cuisine.com/ for more food truck tips and resources!
Upon landing in your online shop, your photos are the first thing that speaks to your customers about your work. If the photos are out of focus, pixelated, confusing, or poorly lit, you've lost a potential customer. If you don't take the time to share excellent photos of your items, don't wonder why you aren't making any sales. It is the most important thing about online selling; good photos of your work pay off.Fortunately, you don't need to be a professional photographer to take decent photos of your items.
If you are using your phone to take photos, it is a good idea to research online camera guides or tutorials that match your phone type and camera program. For example, many smart phones offer 'professional' settings to give you some control over lighting settings or white balance... Some do not. A little research can go a long way in presenting your items as they deserve.
Get a tripod.
Whether you are shooting with a camera or smartphone, an inexpensive small table top tripod will ensure a steady shot.
Natural lighting won't let you down...
...but using the flash always will. Flash photography will change the colors of your items, create glare, or otherwise misrepresent your craft, period. Using the flash also creates unwanted darker shadows. So, set up your display near a window, or if you go outside, take your photos in the morning or afternoon when the sun is not directly overhead.
Open your camera's manual and learn about the white balance setting.
It's easier than you think, will only take a second, and you will be glad you did when your pictures are brighter and cleaner. If you use plain white for your background, make sure it is truly WHITE by white balancing your camera. I often see grey-white, underlit backgrounds and it looks terrible. (Another great solution to giving your stuff great lighting: try googling "creating your own at-home lightbox" for photographing small items. It's easy and cheap to make your own mini photography studio!)
Place your items on non-distracting and complimentary backgrounds.
You don't want to use colors or textures too similar to your item that will cause it to blend in. Contrasting elements will make your item stand out, but choose wisely and make sure the placement of your artwork "makes sense". Being consistent with your backgrounds will help brand your shop. Time after time I see people's household items in the background and it looks completely unprofessional and draws the eye away from the item being photographed.
Take photos at various angles.
You will want to include a close up (using your macro setting on your camera will help you achieve clear close ups) when you list an item to sell. Take advantage of uploading as many pictures as allowed per item! Let your buyer see your item completely so they know what they're getting. I see so many people just uploading one photo of their item. Those people shouldn't wonder why they aren't making any sales either.
Bonus Tip For Framed Art Pieces.
You will want to check out this blog post: 5 Online Tips to Show Your Art in a Room
Good photos = more online sales. Bad photos won't get you anywhere.
Pictured Above: Jewelry by Gerina Shop
I have seen a variety of virtual festivals come and go since Covid & a few have stood out as works of art themselves; when the creative intention behind the activities and offerings are a true testament to the festival's love of art and community.
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ~ Maya Angelou
Such is the quote on the "Active Imaginations" page on the Bayou City Art Festival's website. Here young artists can watch and learn very cool art projects. A couple of the videos were taught by an art educator at the The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Kids can download color sheets and score the recipe for colossal bubbles.
Enjoy performances from the festival's musicians and consider giving via their virtual tip jars! Get to know artists on the Happy Hour page while learning new mixology tips. The Art Crawl page gives you artist studio tours and art project clips. Of course you can peruse all the festival artists and click to visit their websites and until October 11, you can participate in the Art Auction!
Many of the Bayou City Virtual Art Festival's happenings will still be available on their web site the rest of this year. Take some time to appreciate the hard work and dedication to keeping art alive this trying year!
When and Where
Now! Auction Closes October 11th.
|Next Page »|