Friday, 27 November 2009

Zur Designs

Our previous guest writer is from Zur Designs. Here's a little bit about her.

"I have always wanted to design jewelry, learn metal fabrication, and work with gems and semi precious stones. I started with beads and then went to wire sculpture and chain and now am learning how to work in silver and gold. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the country, the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. Nestled in these mountains through all the seasons of the year, inspires me to create pieces that I hope all of you can enjoy. I love, love, love Swarovski Crystals. They add a touch of elegance to any piece. I also like the rough natural stones, and nothing adds a touch a class more than some beautiful potato pearls in any color!"

Find Zur Design on Etsy and Facebook.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Enhancing the Value of Your Facebook Fan Page

Deb Hall of Zur Designs has written this extremely useful article about Facebook. (We met on Twitter - proving that, as a networking tool, Twitter works)!

"The overall goal of a Facebook Fan Page should be to provide added value to your fans. Not only will this ensure that existing fans are active and engaged, it also gives prospective fans a reason for joining your page at a good level of involvement. The level of fan interaction enhances the overall viral nature of your page and ultimately increases your validity as a Facebook user (sometimes defined as social proof). Facebook gives the handmade indie artisan/business owner a chance to be up close and personal to those people interested in their work and to attract new customers as well…it’s word of mouth at the speed of light!

"There are many ways to provide added value for your fans. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Offer discounts specifically for Facebook Fans only use the “Send An Update to Fans” feature to broadcast your specials
Set up questions under Discussion Tab for instance, I have places where people can post their Etsy shop URL, their blog web address, their Twitter Channel, and the Facebook Fan Page. It helps fans that are also handmade artisans gain fans and followers and it helps potential customers find a group of very fine merchants to buy quality handmade products
Post your blog entries to your Facebook Fan Page I do this automatically with an application within Facebook called
Networked Blogs. This application syncs with my blog and automatically posts to my Facebook Fan Page each time I write a blog post. It’s a real time-saver!
Cross-promote your Facebook Fans who are fellow artisans by either sharing something from your page to your Facebook Profile Wall or sending a favorite item from
Etsy to Facebook. Commenting on their posts and clicking the “like” link also helps and makes their fan pages more interactive as well
When you post a new item or make any kind of post to your fan page, try to put it in a form of a question such as “This is a new design I listed today on Etsy, how do you like the color or photo or name of the item?”

Facebook offers you an unparalleled opportunity to connect with your fans and
consumers. By maintaining a Facebook Fan Page and using all the available features, you can interact with consumers the same way they interact with friends and colleagues. Maybe some of your friends have already told a couple of their friends about your business but with Facebook they can tell all their friends instantaneously and those friends tell their friends…hence the phrase viral marketing.
"Keys to Successfully Using Your Facebook Fan Page
Personalize Your Business People ordinarily use Facebook to share personal information with friends. The more you accentuate the personal aspects of your business, your products or your designs and the person behind them, the stronger impact they will have on those who view it.
Update Your Fan Page Frequently Facebook is designed around providing new information and updates. So the more frequently you post fresh content, the more often people will return to your fan page.
Utilize the Dynamic Features of the Wall Tab The News Feed on the Wall notifies users what their friends are up to. When someone joins your fan page, News Feed informs their friends and invites them to become fans as well. This is key to spreading the message of your business virally. Additionally, there is a new flexibility on the Wall Tab to show a variety of information on your Wall. You can choose between News Feed and Live Feed Additionally, on the far left of the Wall there is a series of choices: News Feed, Status Updates, Pages, Photos, etc. By clicking the link “More” you can move any of these choices to the top and change the view of your Wall to view any one of these categories. This is a really neat feature!
Enhance Your Page With Applications There are thousands of applications designed by Facebook that you can add to your Page in order to tailor it to your business and industry. For instance if you have an Etsy Shop, you can add the
Etsy Shop application. Just click on the button that says “Go To Application”. For those people who use ArtFire, there is a Fan Page that leads you to the application in the same way. Once you become accustomed to Facebook and the applications available, you will find all sorts of fun things you can add to your page! If you have expertise as a developer, you can even create your own!
Consider Using Facebook Ads To Target Your Audience These ads can be targeted to reach the exact audience you want and can be socialized so that users interactions with what they see can be seen by their friends and become as viral as the rest of the elements of the Facebook page. The key to Facebook ads is that you need to be willing to experiment a bit and rely on a solid base of users to give you feedback to formulate your advertising strategy.

One of the greatest reasons to have a Facebook Fan Page is that it is searchable by Facebook and non-Facebook users, much like a traditional website. Personal profiles are not (mainly for your own privacy). Other great reasons are: you can have an unlimited number of fans, it can increase your visibility, and help with branding your business. And let’s face it…in the end it’s all about getting your work seen and your page will be an integral part of your strategy to drive traffic to your site to see your handmade products.

If you are still unsure of how to get started created a fan page, here is a list of some resources that may help you in the process:
Rants and Raves of a New Age Chick
Etsy Storque
Tutorial Blog
Web Upd8
My Facebook Fan Page is:
Zur Designs…when yours is up and running and personalized in your own very special way…stop by my page and tell me about it! Good luck! "

Thursday, 19 November 2009

THe AIB Newsletter

After a lot of faffing about and a steep learning curve (hey, who said we were good at everything)? Artists in Business has launched our Newsletter.

What's in it then? Well, we're glad you asked. There will be articles about arts business (naturally), features on different artists, updates and useful links AND if you sign up before December 1 2009 you will be entered into a free draw.

What's the prize? A selection of fused glass christmas decorations courtesy of Glassprimitif will be sent out to one lucky winner.

What's the catch? There is none. We will not send you spam or sell your details onto a third party. You can unsubscribe at any time (but we hope you won't.

How do I sign up? Just type your email address into the box on the right hand side of the page here and wait for the confirmation email. We will send you regular emails (but not too regular - we don't want to be a pest)!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

In The Studio (Part 5)

Each month we feature artists' studios on the blog to inspire others to create their own creative space. What makes a studio? It can be a kitchen table, a spare room or a purpose built space. Sheds, garages and attics make wonderful studios.

Kerry of Penny Dog Jewellery
"I moved into a listed farmhouse in May this year and this room was designated as a craft room because it was big enough to use as a room for teaching workshops too. It's all fair though because my partner has a den which has its own staircase leading up to it where he keeps his guitars and guns! He is still jealous of my fireplace though.
I plan to open it up to allow other people to learn different crafts under the name Rothley Craft Farm on 1st November. It's ideal as if you enter the house through the front door it opens into a gallery/shop space and then into this room, which is separate from the main house. For now it is my retreat for making my resin jewellery and homewares. I love being able to print, photograph, cast, sand and store everything in one room, in our last house we had to move as I'd taken over every room except the bathroom."

Penny Dog website
Penny Dog Blog
Penny Dog Folksy
Penny Dog Etsy
Penny Dog Flickr

Illustrator and Textile artist Soozie Bee
"My workspace/studio, up until last summer was the oil shed, wood store and general home for everything we couldn’t fit in the house. Originally a pigsty, it was renovated by a good friend of ours in 2008 and was utterly transformed, from a dark damp space full of a lot of junk, into a light, airy and inspiring space where I now do my art work two days a week.

"My favourite things about my workspace are my Paul Klee Print: Two Dromedaries and a Donkey: This print was bought from IKEA and it has travelled with me from my last two houses. I love the autumnal shades and colours and the striking use of bold shapes. I just LOVE this picture. They are just ‘my colours’. My three inspiraton/mood boards: I got the idea for these from my sister, and I generally use them for current projects, ideas development and just storing bits of things I find interesting and useful for my work. My chocolate brown sofa bed: I know this sounds a bit of a contradiction for a workspace but this piece of furniture was a must for me, being a bit of a comfort loving girl. We bought this so I had somewhere comfortable to sit and sketch, because sometimes sitting at a desk can be a bit too regimented and stuffy! You can find me, more often than not, curled up here with my fleecy blanket and my dog, enjoying the tranquility of my workspace. Plus we have the added benefit that it also doubles up as an extra bed so we can use this room as a functional space when we have guests to stay.
My HUGE storage cupboard: We bought this on ebay last year from a guy in Leicester. We live in an 200 year old cottage so have a love of antique/old furniture that has a bit of history about it. Stupidly when we bought the cupboard, I didn’t think about measurements, (I just fell in love with it and assumed it would fit!!) and when we eventually got it home it was just a little too tall for the studio! So, we had to make a few modifications and it now fits in rather snugly into the studio. It houses all of my materials, paints, inks, crayons, threads, buttons etc, my art and craft books and my ever increasing array of sketchbooks.
My I-pod docking station and radio: I love listening to music when I am working so I had to make sure that this was top priority, whatever mood I’m in, there’s always something good to listen or sing along to.
The light: When the studio was just the plain old shed at the top of the garden it was really dark due to the solid wooden doors. When we had the renovations done we decided to go for light oak French doors so, even though it is north facing, the light pours in, making it a great place to work.

"Location, Location, Location: yes, its at the top of the garden, so not far to travel, and the view down the garden and across the fields in the distance makes it a great place to work. I just wish I got to spend more time in there! Under floor heating: A last minute, and rather luxurious addition to the studio, but I’m so pleased that we did it. Its comfortable all year round, and the feeling of warm tiles under your feet… mmmmm!

"I’m very lucky to have this space at the top of my garden and I just love spending as much time in there as I can".

Soozie Bee Folksy
Soozie Bee Etsy
Soozie Bee Blog

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Making Twitter Work for You

Twitter is pointless - or so it seems. Thousands of people typing 140 character messages about everything and anything. And who WANTS to read about someone-you-have-never-met's allergies, what their cute pet did today or how much they hate (insert politician's name here)? BUT like all social networking tools you CAN make Twitter work for you. The secret to using Twitter to promote your art is Quality not Quantity.

Firstly, are you following a gazillion people but, in comparison, only being followed by a fraction of that number?
Secondly, do you ever get a direct response to anything you say on Twitter or does your message get lost in the river of everyone else's tweets?
Thirdly, are you reading other people's tweets and thinking "well why do I care?"

It's time to organise your Twitter.
Firstly, you need to do some weeding out and stop following people who are not following you. Personally, I only follow four famous people - they are never going to read my tweets anyway. Unfollow all those people whose tweets you are reading but are not reading yours. They probably won't notice anyway.
Secondly, remove all those people who are following you that you probably wouldn't really want a relationship with such as people who bombard you with links with every tweet, people who make political statements that you don't agree with (block those) and people who offer to increase your followers if you sign up to their sites.*

*Once you sign up with this type of site you will be unwittingly displaying their promotional tweets too.

How do you do sort through all these people quickly and efficiently? Friend or Type in your Twitter name and go to Following. Click on each avatar and start unfollowing.

Thirdly, sort through your Fans on the Friend or Follow site. These are people who are following you but you are not following them. Click on each avatar and decide "Do I want to follow this person"? If not you have a choice - ignore them or block them. If you DO want to follow them click Follow (duh) and send them a Direct Message.

Now you have given your Twitter account a spring clean it's time to start afresh. Direct Messaging (DM) is your opportunity to send a personal message to your followers and begin a personal relationship with potential customers or like-minded people. for every new person who follows you send them a Thankyou and Welcome to... message. If they send you a similar kind of message respond with a simple message back.

Your Twitter Homepage Have you added your own personal background? Does it reflect you or what you do? If you make art then set your images as wallpaper or create a logo or a cartoon. Update your Bio with a direct profile about what you do and add a link to your website, blog or shop.

Sorting out your Followers It would be very short sighted of you to only accept followers who are artists. Everyone is a potential customer/friend/collaborator unless they are "hard sell" merchants (people who bombard you with links but don't actually interact on Twitter). But let's say you have something of interest that only a proportion of your followers would be interested in, for example - a local event? Well clever Twitter has now added a new tool for you to use - the List. Sort your followers into lists and use your list to DM them (after all, if you have 22,330 followers, like
Green Day * has, you can't physically DM all of them at once).

*I'm not jealous...

Tweeting Think about the types of tweets you are posting - are you just continually sending out links (look at me! look at me!) or do your tweets have a more human aspect to them? Nobody wants to click on a link and see EVERY piece of art you have ever made - although they will look from time to time - but they do enjoy a humorous tweet. Keep your tweets friendly and imagine you are talking personally to a real person. Each message is only 140 characters long but don't let that limit you in what you want to say. You can post several tweets in a row to keep the story going and say exactly what you want to say. If your website address take up too much space in your tweet then go to and reduce the size of the URL.

Links to your Twitter So, in conclusion, there is only one purpose to Twitter which, like all social networking, is to drive traffic to your website, blog or shop. This means you should add a link to your Twitter on your Facebook page, Facebook Group, blog, website, on-line shop and anywhere else you can think of.

If you have found this blog post useful please follow me on Twitter and tweet about it too!