Merchandise your Art for Free.

Magenta Dawn, Watercolour.
Magenta Dawn, Watercolour.

As I mentioned yesterday, selling art shouldn’t stop with just your original art work. Putting it on various kinds of merchandise is a great advertisement and means someone who may not be able to afford an original just now, may be able to buy something more affordable, even if it’s only a card.

Doing it yourself will earn you the most per item but that means laying out money up front and you may be left with stock you can’t sell.

Zazzle are one of a number of printers who offer a free option for getting your work out there. You can have your design put on almost anything from cards to bags, t-shirts to phone cases.

I have set up a shop myself today. It’s very easy and gives you complete control over what your image is used on. All you have to do is upload your image and create your item from the huge selection. I have used my images on cards and canvas prints so far. The wizards will tell you if your image is not right, for instance if you try and make a small image much bigger on a product. Options on cards include adding text to the back which can include your contact details or website address.

You also set the amount of royalties you earn. This will of course affect the overall price. For my cards I have chosen a 20% royalty which earns me 49p of a sale cost of £2.60. Zazzle deal with all the customer service side of things so it’s money for almost nothing.

The copyright remains with the artist and the license is non-exclusive to Zazzle, meaning you can sell that image anywhere else you like.

You can see the card I designed using the above image here

Happy Creating,

Janice 🙂

 

Get paid while marketing your artwork.

 

 

Oil painting, Safe passage
Safe passage, Oil painting by Jan Gill

It is easy as an artist to create a work, put it up for sale and that is the end of the story. Move on to the next work.

If you are a bit more savvy you can actually earn more than just the selling price of your work and you may even increase it’s value. On top of that, your work will be marketing itself.

The secret is to put your work on merchandise for free. Well this is the site that aims to get you selling with the minimum of outlay.

One such opportunity is with Zazzle. You upload your work to their site, choose what merchandise you want it displayed on and set your royalty rate. Zazzle do all the printing, customer service and payment details and send you your royalties. Of course, you will want to promote your works, but you can do that at the same time as you promote your e-shop, exhibitions and shows.

Each of the items that sell is marketing your original works. A customer may buy a printed tote, for instance, then their friend may love it so much they want the original.

Why not give it a look – all it will cost you is a little bit of time 🙂

Happy Creating,

Janice 🙂

 

How to make a Cheap as Chips Light box.

Pristine Snow, Watercolour.
Pristine Snow, Watercolour.

Cheap as Chips Light box.

This is a post I wrote some years ago with some additions.
I was reading a forum today where someone asked about making a cheap lightbox for photographing small items in. Funnily enough I have just made one 🙂 I needed to stop reflections on my glass tile jewellery and this worked amazingly well. I will now be going back to some of my glassware listings and putting up better photos!
In  this picture the top is the third tissue covered window – the light in the room made it look brown
Here is how it’s done. Take a cardboard box roughly cube shaped. Mine is about 18″ on all sides. Cut out a square window in 3 of the sides, not the bottom of the box. Cover these in white tracing or tissue paper. Cover the inside bottom of the box in white card. Also cover the third side and that  will be the base. You can add whatever color you want to stand your item on each time you set up. You can also create an infinity back drop by taking a piece of unfolded card, taping it to the top of the back panel and to the front of the base panel, bending the card but not folding.

Mine looks very crude but does the job 🙂
You can now set up lamps pointing into the box through the tissue windows. Daylight bulbs are best if you have them.
When using your camera, turn off the flash – this is what causes the really harsh reflections and unflattering shadows. I usually over expose by one stop to make the light areas nearer to white. You can check your histogram on your camera to make sure the big peak is close to the right hand side. If it isn’t,  you need to increase the exposure. It is worth taking some time over this as the less you have to adjust on your computer the better. If you have no control over your exposure, take a few pictures on different settings and see which gives you the brightest result.
If you are photographing something much larger, such as paintings, you can create something similar. I hang a white bed sheet (any white fabric will do) from my mantelpiece as the backdrop and use four panels made from very large boxes and lightweight white voile. They are hinged together with duct tape so they fold flat and store away. Set your painting up against the backdrop and place your “light box” in front. Use strong lamps to light from the sides and above.
If you have a conservatory this is one of the best places to photograph. You can set up the same system in there or if you have translucent blinds, use those instead.
One important thing to remember with photographing paintings is to make sure your camera is level with the centre and both painting and camera are vertically upright.
If you have some cash to spend there are some good light tents on the market. I have one that pops up then folds back into a small bag. It’s a bit like this one.
Have you got an idea for a make your own light box? Leave a comment if you’d like to share.
Happy Creating,
Janice 🙂

Free E-Commerce for Creatives

 

On Reflection Abstract Watercolour Painting
On Reflection Abstract Watercolour Painting in shades of Blue and Emerald

Before I start on this follow up to yesterday’s post and before you start building a site in the following way, there are 2 really important differences you need to think about before taking this route.

Firstly, this is not as elegant a solution as WordPress with WooCommerce. It doesn’t have the automatic checkout – your customers will have to contact you directly. There is a contact form to do that though and you can have full instructions in a side bar widget that will follow your customers round the site.

Secondly, the WordPress terms and conditions state that you can only sell things you have made yourself. As an artist/designer that suits me down to the ground as everything I sell I have created myself. There is no point going under the radar and trying to sell other items as you will get spotted, your site removed and all that time and effort gone to waste.

So here goes –

  1. Your first step is to pop along to wordpress.com. If you click on the your site icon in the corner it will say you don’t have one and ask if you want to create one. Follow the link and you can choose what style you want for your site. Don’t worry too much about which to choose as you can always change it later.
  2. You will now be asked to choose a name for your site. Type in your chosen name followed by .com and wordpress will show the free option plus several others. The free one will look like yourtitle.wordpress.com
  3. Click on the free one and a variety of styles will be shown. Choose one that you like and click on it. A couple of minutes later and your site is there. There are pre-prepared pages to get you started – just click the edit icon to alter their contents. There are often instructions in the box on what to do and ideas for content.

Replace the photos with your own and off you go. As there is not a free option to add an e-commerce facility, you will have to tell your customers how to buy from you. This could be as simple as getting them to send you an e-mail detailing the items they want and sending an invoice out to them.

And there you have it. The totally free option.

And if everything takes off you have options to upgrade to paid business solutions.

At the moment I am in the process of building a free site to see how it works for my photography. I only started it today – it’s at jangillphotos.wordpress.com – why not pay a visit over the next few weeks to watch how it progresses?

Have you tried selling this way? How did you find it?

I would love to hear from anyone who has found a great online selling solution. Maybe you could guest on this blog and share it with us?

2 Very Easy Steps to Selling Your Art on WordPress

Scottish Coast Island View
Scottish Coast Island View

Would you like to take complete control of selling your own work online? Are you an Etsy seller and have to keep relisting your products to get them seen? Or do you spend hours favouriting and sharing with other sellers so you get on the top pages of trending? Is your work lost in the hundreds of thousands of works on Artfinder so most of your views are from people you drive to the site yourself. All the hard work is yours and you have to pay commission.

Are you ready for something different?

I am. And I’m going to share with you what I have done and the results this brings.

Just a few days ago I set up my own shop using WordPress. I have never worked with wordpress before and I am a self confessed technophobe. I didn’t expect to get so far so fast but it really is very straightforward.

There are 2 options. The first option costs a small amount, the second is completely free. I chose the first as it gives me more flexibility but the second option works well too and you can upgrade if you wish.

Today I will talk about the option I have chosen, the next post will be about the free option.

Step One Choose your name and buy your domain.

Choose your shop name carefully. For the purposes of getting people to your site, I recommend the title includes what you are selling eg Art, Craft, Photography etc. I include my name because it is short. Try and make it easy to remember. Now go to a Domain name checking site and see if it is available. If it isn’t the site will often show alternatives that you might like to choose.

Once you have chosen your name, register it with a webhost such as Blue Host. Make sure it can support WordPress – pop along to WordPress.org for a list of their recomended hosts. I registered with Blacknight simply because I already had an account with them. My domain cost me less than £10 for the year. You will also want the site to be hosted so that you can build your shop. This can cost as little as $1 per month. In comparison, that amount of money would get me just 15 items listed on Etsy for 3 months and commission would be taken on any sales.

Once you have your Hosted Domain, you can move on to the next step.

Step 2 Add wordpress and a commerce plugin.

Go back to WordPress.org and download wordpress. The wizard will take you through the 5 minute process. once that is completed you will have a dashboard and some ideas of what to do next.

To get the shop part, go to plugins on the dashboard and search for e-commerce. I chose woocommerce because it had a good rating, lots of users and it was free :-). Woo Commerce now appears as an option in the dashboard along with a product icon. Click on it to add new products and away you go. You get a number of options for payment, I chose to allow only Paypal which takes a small transaction fee and payment by BACS straight into my own bank account.

There you have it, the bare bones of your new shop. You can now take as much time as you like to get it looking beautiful knowing that everything will work.

Let me know if you have a go and share your site with us.

Happy Creating,

Janice

PS thanks to Paul for the terminology correction 🙂