Special Combo

Special Combo

Business

I love making sets of prints. It makes a lot of sense to get the buyer to want to complete the collection, but I’ve found that this doesn’t quite go down the way that I intended. I might have to change up my tactics a little.

My art is on the cheap side of the print world. Rock poster gods typically do larger prints for twice as much money – on the low end. So my pricing undercuts them by a lot, but I’m also not quite at the thirty to one hundred dollar class yet. My street cred is low and my talent needs shoring up in a few small places, but I figure in another five thousand hours I’ll start catching up.

In the meantime I’m hoping to build enough stock to bring in a steady stream of online sales and that might be purely volume based. That is to say: the more prints I offer the better sales will be. Right now it’s a small collection and the more popular earners on Etsy just have bigger collections.

In my head I think, “You can make up the difference by promoting sets”. Sell two or three at a time and it’s just as good as the higher end sales. Then I can keep building stock and have the previous prints pay for the new prints. Problem is, customers are only buying one at a time.

I’m not entirely sure why that is. Maybe they are only in love with a single print and not so much the rest. Or with shipping prices maybe they’re doing the math and thinking “I have to buy a frame too,” which adds to the overall costs of a single print. In any case people are not buying the sets so clearly my strategy needs some tweaking.

One problem is my inconsistent marketing. I’m still trying to get a feel for pushing product online and being socially awkward I’m not sure what to do or say other than be myself, which I think sometimes pushes people away. Nevertheless I need to a) take some social media dietary fiber and get more regular on my posting. People respond really well when I’m consistent. And b) be a little less advertisey. Recently I ran a bunch of posts that were heavy on the marketing lingo and I got ZERO reaction. Not that I’m surprised really, because I hate advertising myself. Lesson learned. Chill with that shit.

However, I don’t do a good job of showing the sets together and I need to start promoting the sets and not just the individual pieces.

Another issue could be that people are not quite impressed with my style yet – or maybe I haven’t fully fleshed out a style and people smell weakness. This will take care of itself in time, but I’ve seen worse things go out so I kind of think the problem lies somewhere else. Besides, I’m getting likes on my work, just not – what’s the word – conversions. Which tells me people like it plenty, just not enough to fork over cash-money.

One customer hinted that if there were framing options they might be more inclined to make the buy and that has been ringing in my ears ever since. I like to build crap with wood so if I can find a way to quickly and cheaply manufacture my own frames then I can sell the prints + frames as a package deal. I really want to believe that this will help sales, but part of me thinks it’s only marginal at best.

Ultimately I think it comes down promoting effectively. I loath advice that tells you need to chase down keywords and like and follow your way to the top. It feels sticky like car salesmen tactics and I get that it works, and if you want to make money… blah, blah, blah. It’s clear to me that going too heavy on advertising doesn’t work because people get turned off by it. You need to have a plain message that appeals to customers (which is still advertising) without sounding and looking like advertising.

One last thought: the stuff I’m making is pretty niche. I’m not sure how many people really like Cats with geometric shapes or 666 posters (which at this time has 1 view in the past 30 days – my worst performing poster to date – compared to my highest performer which has 43 views), so maybe I need to mix it up with a couple of prints with broader appeal.

Be more consistent. Spell it out for people. Don’t be a car salesman.

Hey thanks for listening. Sometimes I just have to work it out.

Copyright © 2016 Robert C. Olson

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Artist Highlight: Seanwes

Business, Graphic Design

Sean McCabe is a typographist, a word I just made up, and the man behind Seanwes where Sean’s hand lettering inspires us to just give up on typography. By accident I came across McCabe while searching “how to give myself eye surgery with a Micron pen” and saw that he had some really fantastic work. So I’m sharing this here, not just because he make letters cool, but because I am always fascinated by how people got their start.

Design Douches

Graphic Design

As graphic designers go we tend to over think things and the new school of thought seems to be a bit highfalutin: design for social good; create the best possible design; push for creativity and quality; don’t settle for less; the customer doesn’t know good design if it sat on his face… and much more. Sometimes we carried away – guilty as charged – and we need to remember that not everyone cares about what we do. It’s our job to care about what we do, yes, but everyone else has their place in society and their own set of troubles.

Two Things To Consider For The Perfect Freelance Match

Business, Graphic Design
Freelancer

Photo by Carsten Knoch

With the world flooded with freelance graphic designers it’s easy to go through several bad breakups. Save the heartache by looking for two important factors.

Surviving the Death of Retail

Feature

Being in business means that you have to worry about the business around you and The Atlantic’s recent article about retail’s struggle to stay afloat could have big implications for freelancers. The basic gist of the story is that a combination of factors are knocking the knees out from under big box retailers such as J.C. Penny’s, Walmart, Kmart, Best Buy, in addition to the already deceased Circuit City and Borders bookstore. What Derek Thompson, in his article titled with a nod to the play, “Death of a Salesman”, says about current trends is right on the mark: online sales are pushing out brick-and-mortar stores while low-cost wars are taking a bite out of middle class wages.

Big retail plays a huge role in providing work for creatives and if the big boys are struggling, we have to pay attention. Yet, from my lowly view I can see a rich world of local-vore style activism. Farmer’s markets, swap meets, and craft fairs are all apart of a renaissance of crafty-boutiquey, home-spun businesses catering to people who are enjoying fine handmade wares. And it looks like a growing business.

While the temperature is cooling for the old style retailer, I think what we are witnessing is a turning point and I for one am behind it all the way. Buy local campaigns and crafty hipsters are generating a lot of influence for smaller markets where people can add a personal touch to customer service. A skill that larger retailers consistently struggle with. That’s one thing Thompson doesn’t have chance to address in his article, but what should be a key element of strategy for weathering the tough times.

As big retailers decline it will surely have an impact on the economy as a whole. The middle class, under siege since the start of the recession, will face more stress as jobs and wages shrink. For the services who rely on retailers for work the pressure is going to increase, but there will be an outlet for people who can adjust to fit the times. Focusing on craft businesses and boutiques may become the future of the industry simply because it can attune itself directly to the needs of its client which brings me to my final point: people’s styles are fracturing.

Perhaps not so much fracturing as finding room for special interests, but the point is that consumers are becoming more nuanced in their choices. Their subcultural likes and dislikes are gaining more importance as the economy turns a la carte, thanks partly to the Internet. People have so many choices and to make it easier to find their way through the plethora of goods they break down into narrowly focused social identities. In order to survive in this climate it’s better to be small and mobile, homing in on a small batch of customers that you can relate to.

So while the name brands are shrinking and the impacts will be felt throughout the economy, smart people can stay on top of their game by shifting with the trends. The future, for now, is in small business. That’s in some ways the essential American dream. Opportunity and entrepreneurial spirit.

You can see the original article here, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on what these changes mean for you.

Finish Your Business Plan Before Your Coffee

Feature

There are several intimidating things about starting your own business, but making a plan should not be one of them. Roblotter loves plans and believes that planning is an essential step to creating success. So if you want to be successful, but don’t have a lot of time or are intimidated by writing your own plan, then here is a simple, one-page format that you can complete in the time it takes you to finish your morning coffee.

America’s Hidden Economic Force

Feature

Economic reports continue to be bleak and colorless in this political year where businesses are venting their frustration against candidates and their parties. Job numbers continue to move at a snail’s pace, but there is one sector that is finding a stable and happy outcome in the midst of the economic downturn: the freelance industry.