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Choices

What brought me here today:

Growing my small art-based business requires changes. We decided a year ago that I would need to move my website to another platform. I feel as though I’ve ourgrown my current platform. This feels like a natural evoution. Word Press and WooCommerce have allowed me to comfortably dip my toes into selling my artwork online. I’ve learned a lot. And discovered that there are things that I want/need to do that exceed Word Press and WooCommerce’s capabilities.

Research:

I remember as a child, my parents would consult Consumer Reports magazine when thinking about a large purchace. Cars and large applances were well-researched before a final decision was made. I don’t know if they still print a magazine. They do have a website though. I take some comfort in that. As a kid, the magazine wasn’t tremendously interesting to me. But knowing that my parents did research before laying out their hard-earned cash made an impression on me.

My own research into website platforms lead me to NerdWallet. They have several different posts comparing and contrasting web platforms. I’ve always found these kinds of visuals to be informative. And a little conforting. I’m a person who begins to get lost in the swirls of computery language. Most of which I do not have the best grasp of. Many times I have to write down questions that I then ask my husband. He has a much, much better grasp of all the website and computer lingo than I do.

Choices:

Man. There are a lot of website platforms out there! Some of which I’d not heard of before reading about them on NerdWallet. I thought that I would just look at some of the larger e-commerce platforms that I’ve seen some of my fellow artists use, like Big Cartel and Shopify. My intention was to compare them to Squarespace and WooCommerce to see what I have now. And what I want for a future online shop.

I kind of went down a rabbit hole. There’s part of me that just cannot just say “I will get that one.” without doing some research. These sites will cost me some hard-earned money. And I want to get the best individual fit for my specific needs. No one platform is going to be able to do that. I know that now. Especially after going through so many platforms!

Requirements:

Before saying committing to any platform, I needed to know what I wanted and needed. I like having my blog and my online shop on the same platform. My husband and I discussed several different alternatives. None of which I liked. Rather, none of which felt ‘right’ to me. I know that feelings shouldn’t matter in this kind of decision. But I’m going to be spending a lot of time with the new platform. And I want to make sure I’m comfortable with it. That I like it. Well, perhaps like is too strong a word. I should be able to use it with a certain level of comfort and ease, perhaps?

I also require a rather large chunk of storage space for my images. Most of the items that I put into my shop have between two and five images per item. At any given point, I have quite a few (read: “between 5 and 50”) items in my online shop. With more sold items that are taking up storage space as well. The more storage space the better for someone like me then!

A new platform is also needed so that I can have a more professional face online. I’ve felt for a while now that I’m kind of at the ‘kiddie table’ with my current online presence. A better fuctioning webite and online shop will go a long way in making me look and feel more professional.

Big Cartel is a no:

The first platform I decided to pass on is Big Cartel. Which is kind of a shame. It’s advertised as a great place for artist to sell their artwork. But I think I’m not the right kind of fit for Big Cartel as an artist. Many of the artists have things for sale like posters, clothing, pins, jewelry, stickers, etc. They have an item in stock that is easily (allowing for varying definitions of easy) replicated. Print more posters and stickers. Make more pairs of earrings. Etc.

There are a lot of artists I follow selling their work on Big Cartel. But it just doesn’t feel right to me. There’s limit on how many photos I can post with an item. And the limit on the numbers of items I can post. These were deal breakers enough for me. Not being able to have my blog and online shop on the same platform sealed my no.

There’s also the graphic designer in me. I just didn’t like any of the layouts. The idea I would think is that the artwork should be front and center. With the platform interface being low-key visually. If you know me, I’m anything BUT low-key from the visual standpoint.

Shopify is a no:

The prices alone made Shopify a no for me. Well, to be honest that wasn’t the only reason. I don’t move enough product to justify spending the money to have my online shop through Shopify. I did like that they had a ton of different payment methods available. Not to mention a ton of great tools to use. The storage offered is excellent as well. I’m just not selling enough artwork. I’d be in the red after my first month.

Wix, Duda and Weebly:

As of right now, Wix is still in the maybe category. As well as Weebly. Duda I eliminated because there are some extra fees on top of the regular plans that make it too expensive for me right now. Weebly is still in the running because I’ve used their Square reader to sell my work in person. It was extremely easy to set-up and use. I like the online tools that come with it as well. Their cut isn’t egregious either (2.6% plus 10 cents per swipe).

With Wix or Weebly I would still have to link to a separate platform for my blog. Part of the reason I’m not discounting these two platforms is because having a separate online shop and blog may be the best option for me. Shopify doesn’t have a blog and online shop combo, but the prices were enough to eliminate it from the possible choices for me.

Zyro and Strikingly:

Zyro is still in the maybe pile. I need to look a little closer at what the platform has to offer. The prices are in my range. And unlimited storage and 70+ payment methods is something I like. I can also have an imperial crap-tonne of items on my website. They’re running a promotion right now with some excellent price cuts. Sometimes things like that make me skeptical. I’m going to do some more research on the platform anyway.

Strikingly is platform that I’ve never heard of before. They have some text on their font page about building a brand and conquering the world. I’m not sure I’m down for that. I want to sell my artwork. Make some money. And be left alone. ANYWAY. I need to take a closer look at how the individual websites go together. Strikingly makes some promises about it being super-easy to create a website. This always makes me suspicious.

Squarespace:

Before I started doing any research on a new platform, Squarespace had already been planted in my head. They advertise everywhere. I was hearing about Squarespace while still living in Finland. The ads popped-up all the time when I was listening to podcasts and music. I suppose that’s good advertising. It got inside of my head without my even knowing it.

Squarespace seems to be the 800 lb. gorilla in this arena. They’re well established and rather beefy. I’m not super-crazy about some of the designs. But I can get over it. I will have a little finessing here and there. The plan I want is within my budget. There’s unlimited storage too.

Squarespace is the only platform that gives me an option to have my online shop and my blog together. That’s checking off one of the things I really, really, really wanted. My husband thinks I’m a little nutty I’m sure. We had a discussion about this need/want of mine. He’s very much a man who wants to streamline processes. I just like having all the processes I control in one place. That could be two processes or twenty.

When I explained to him why I wanted my blog and online shop in the same place, he understood. It’s not how he would do things. But he gets it.

So, now what?

Well…I have some more research to do. And I need to sit down and discuss things with Berin. I’m not saying that I can’t do this myself. I want his opinions and suggestions. Bouncing ideas and plans around is what he and I do well. I’m not trying to play stupid or anything. I’m not requiring my husband to mansplain all the hard computer things to me. I’ve been working on computers for over 30 years. I’m just no expert.

And with that said, I’m going to go make some artwork with my hands.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.

*NerdWallet has a lot of advice and comparisons to offer. They compare and contrast things like insurace, student loans, travel, banking, credit cards, mortgages, etc. Everyone needs to research and find the best products and services for their own unique situation. This site has some good info to help you make good decisions for your own individual needs.

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Holiday

What brought me here today:

This blog post is the last of my regularly scheduled blog posts for this year. I honestly did not realise how close Christmas was getting until the last in-person holiday pop-up sale on the 18th. The on-going pandemic, and my working alone and from home, makes the days just fly by. Once I’m at work, there isn’t a whole lot that distracts me from my work. I wouldn’t eat on a regular schedule if I didn’t have a husband who did all the cooking telling me to come and eat something.

Holiday break:

I had intended to continue writing regular blog posts until the end of the year. But that’s just not going to happen. No one is going to want to read a blog post of mine on Christmas Eve! And I can tell you, I need some time away from certain parts of my work load. There is so much that is coming in the new year. I want to be rested and ready to devote all my time and energies to my two big projects.

I mentioned in last Friday’s blog post that I will be taking a holiday from regular blog posting for the remainder of the year. The first of the new once weekly blog posts will begin on 6 January 2022. This new schedule will go a long way in streamlining my overall work load. The first few months of 2022 are going to be packed with so much work that needs to be done. I want to make sure I’m up to the challenge.

Other bits and bobs:

I’m not only taking a holiday from regular blog posting, but from my regular social media postings as well. Long-time readers know that I post every day on Instagram. Posts are created for my personal account, and for the Go Marielle account. Insta-Stories are also created and posted. There are also Twitter accounts for myself and for Marielle that need to be tended to daily. And then there are my Pinterest and Imgur accounts that require my attentions.

Posting and attending to these platforms usually takes about two hours of my morning every day of the week. That’s on a good day. If there are posts that have to be built it can take longer. I try to work one week out for the Go Marielle daily posts. The same can be said of Insta-Story posts regarding online shop updates and other announcements. Sometimes a file becomes corrupted and I have to recreate it. These are the days when just making my regular daily posts can take three or four hours.

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’:

Regular posting to social media and my blog posts are just a small part of my working day. I try hard to keep my social media presence regular. We all know how much the Algorithm likes that! That all being said, doing the computer-based portion of my daily work is not my favourite. I’d much rather be physically creating artwork. Or planning and designing new pieces that I would like to create.

My holiday break from daily posting will give me some much desired, uninterrupted time to work. Even though I sell some of my artwork, the creating of it is still my daily therapy. The current pieces that I’m working on I would like to finish during this short break between today and the 6th of January.

Sporatic is the correct term:

That all being said, I will be posting here and there on social media. I also know that I will be writing one more blog post before the end of the month as well. Whatever I post will be done because I want to. Not because I’m sticking to my usual daily work schedule.

So now what?

After I post this blog post, I will return to working on the three newest dolls (in pinks and greens) I started yesterday. I need to get their faces embroidered. Then their arms and legs put together. OH! And their hair sewn on too! These three newest dolls will be receiving plastic bottle domes and stands like Eugenie, Phyllis, and Sondra.

I also have some things I want to do in my studio. Organising and decorating mostly. These tasks aren’t exciting, but they need doing. And I’m strangely looking forward to them.

Thank you for reading! Happy Holidays, and I will see you again soon!

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Changes: Pt. 2

What brought me here today?

The end of the year is quickly approaching. If you read my blog post earlier in the week, you know that I have two big projects planned for 2022. Moving my website and shop is one of them. There are some changes that I plan on making to my website, shop, and twice weekly blog at the start of 2022. I need to make these changes, even before moving the website and blog to another platform.

Some changes are so that my work flow is streamlined. Other changes are so that I can hit one bird with two stones, entrepreneurially speaking. My overall workload is going to increase next year. I want to make sure that I don’t burn-out. Then I won’t be able to do anything creatively or entrepreneurally!

Blog posting:

Starting 6 January 2022, I will be posting a single weekly blog post on my website. The blog will be posted at a specific time as well. I’ve grown to enjoy writing my twice weekly blog posts. Writing is not something that I would consider one of my talents. As much as I’ve come to enjoy it, there are times that writing is incredibly difficult for me. Sometimes the words are like a river. Other times the words are underneath a meter of granite.

Most of the difficulty stems from the time-crunch of writing two separate blog posts per week. If the words are tumbling out of my fingers onto the keyboard, fabulous! One blog post each week is usually like that. The other blog post then seems lack-luster to me. Or perhaps rushed. The end result is that I don’t feel like it’s good enough writing for people to spend their time reading.

Blog content:

The Patreon is the biggest amount of new work I’m creating for myself. It will also be subject specific. Go Marielle and the world I’m creating around her are the subject. The content of my weekly blog will be slightly altered starting in January. My blog content is kind of all over the map right now. And I’m not happy about it.

Because the Patreon is Marielle-centric, I want my weekly blog post here to center more of the other artwork I’m creating. Other topics that I want to continue writing about are creativity, art, materials usage, tools, techniques, etc. Some of the etcetera will be topics like showing and selling my original artwork.

New website:

The arrangement of the next version of my website will be organized differently as well. I’ve out-grown the format and layout that I have here on this platform. It just does not feel right to me anymore. I want to grow my business. The website needs to change to fit the image that I need it to portray. I may be a one-horse operation, but I want to look like I at least kind of know what I’m doing!

Photos:

I’m so not looking forward to having to work with photos. Photography is another talent/task that just gives me fits. I know that my photos are passible at best. New photos need to be taken of my artwork. In particular, the larger, paper mache pieces. A new camera and decent lighting will help me to get some (hopefully) good pictures that I can add to an online portfolio on the new website.

So, now what?

I have two large projects. And within them, the matryshka dolls of seemingly infite additional tasks. If I think about every single task at once, my just freezes-up. Writing a blog post about what needs to happen. And the when and why of it all does make me feel a bit better.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday.