Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Social Network(ing)

Photo courtesy of Google

If there is one important piece of information I chose to take away from my time at the seminar on Saturday, it is that in order to be successful in business, you have to have a presence online.  I consider myself to be a fairly tech savvy person when it comes to following the online trends although I resisted Facebook for a while.  (Eventually I gave into peer pressure because it must be a sign that you are behind the times when Mom is sending invitations to your email!)  Nonetheless, when I heard about the many ways a business can dominate the competition, I decided to catch that train without looking back.  I'm not sure I knew what I was in getting myself into.

My entire day was spent online yesterday.  No, I'm not exaggerating.  It really was.  It started innocently enough with reactivating my long lost Etsy account.  I abandoned Etsy less than a year ago when Facebook launched my sales and then left it to its own devices when my website got up and running.  It made me a little sad to see my empty store shop when I googled my company name so adding some new spice to Etsy worked for me just fine.  I have to say I am pretty impressed with the new social features they've added to Etsy.  Treasury lists, social circles...dare I say Etsy has stepped up their game?  (Go check out the treasury list of local items I'm creating.  There are some seriously talented people in this town!!)

The next stop after I left Etsy land was Facebook marketplace, a free service for Facebook users.  Marketplace resembles Craig's List without the creepiness.  I've even seen houses listed on Facebook marketplace.  Why not put a couple items of jewelry on there?  A little extra publicity can't hurt.

Twitter was my last stop after a couple registrations with business listing sites.  I'm not a big fan of Twitter.  I guess I just don't get the whole point of tweeting.  Sometimes you can't sum up how you feel in 140 characters or less which is probably why I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon.  Plus with Facebook, I feel more connected to the people I'm friends with.  That being said, imagine my surprise when I logged into my personal Twitter account and found pornography reels in my timeline.  I'm talking hard core, thumbnail size pornography videos!!!  Yuck!  At that point, I "blew up" my personal Twitter account and decided to open a more tame business Twitter account.  Twitter is still silly to me, but I've joined the social network like it or not.

By this time in the day, I had spent more hours in front of the computer than is healthy.  You know it's bad when your dog tries to stage an intervention.  Sophie, my sweet adorable lab mix, actually put her head on my keyboard in an effort to stop me from typing and pay some attention to her.  Her cute puppy dog look was enough to make me shut the computer and rejoin the flesh and blood social network.

Monday, March 21, 2011

To Market, To Market: A Day at Kentucky Crafted

Kentucky Crafted:  The Market was this past weekend.  Even though it was a Saturday and I dislike getting up early, I made myself rise that morning to attend a seminar about Successful Business Practices and check out the Kentucky Crafted Market.  Fueled with iced mocha coffee from McDonald's, my friend and I headed to Louisville.

For my readers not apart of the art community, which is probably almost all of you, Kentucky Crafted is an organization sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council.  It's designed to support emerging and established artists as well as promote the arts in Kentucky.  They have a number of grants artists can apply for and of course, it's a juried program.

The main reason I had to get up early was for the very a.m. seminar about running a successful business in today's economy.  I won't go into full detail about everything I learned, but here are some conclusions I've come to:
1) I'm on the right track when it comes to social media.  I have a Facebook fan page, blog, website with e-commerce, Etsy account (which will have some new items posted) and Twitter.  

2) A small business can never advertise too much!!

3) Like it or not, if I want to succeed in this business, I have to play the game and that game is joining art organizations and jurying into shows.

Number three is probably the hardest conclusion for me.  For one, the business started out as a hobby and turned into a business only after Sean put a moratorium on buying more beads without making a profit.  (I'm halfway kidding on that one.)  Secondly, I feel like I walk the line between jewelry designer and artist.  At what point does a love of beautiful jewelry become art?  I can't exactly remember at what point people started calling my jewelry art, but apparently it has morphed into art over the years or it has to be in order for me to join said organizations.  No one likes to be judged or rejected so I'm going to have to work on building a tougher skin if I'm going to go the route of artist rather than jewelry designer.

After the seminar, the fun really began!!  I actually got to attend a festival without working!  Granted I didn't buy anything, it was still fun to look at what everyone creates.  The Kentucky Crafted Market is a privilege for any juried artist in the organization.  At Kentucky Crafted you'll see up and comers in the art world as well as sample some Kentucky Proud food products (yum!!).  I have to say, it's an intimidating situation for an outsider, but what I'm learning is if you don't try, you won't succeed.  Hopefully, I will be a chosen one some day.  Until then, I can keep bouncing between the title "jewelry designer" and "artist." 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Alot to Celebrate!!

AmandaMade has been noticeably absent from the blog scene for a few weeks.  I don't really have an excuse for that other than there has not been a whole lot going on in my world.  I would hate to be one of those bloggers that writes just for the sake of writing and bore the heck out of my (4) readers.  Today there are a couple reasons to celebrate and therefore worthwhile stuff to write about.

1) Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone of Irish and non-Irish descent!  My maiden name is Doyle as anyone on Facebook can tell you.  It's one of those very Irish sounding last names that even got a few shout outs in the movie Billy Madison however it was O'Doyle.  Don't think I didn't go through high school without that reference a time or two, most notably on St. Patty's Day.  If you'd like to know what the heck I'm talking about, here's a montage:

2) Back in January, I posted a blog about the jurying process of art shows and festivals.  Well, the jury is no longer out and the result is I am in!!  I'll be at Art in the Arbor in Louisville on May 14 and 15.  Cue in Sally Field from the Academy Awards, "You like me, you really like me!"  Man I have a lot of work to do!  In a matter of weeks, I'll be in the midst of festival season.

3) Number three is something I've kept under wraps for a bit until I was sure it was going to come through.  Sean and I spent Christmas in Jamaica...it was kind of one of those bucket list items for both of us and it was glorious!  Warm, sunny days on Christmas is amazing for a girl that's lived in Kentucky all her life!  The sunsets were gorgeous, the food was delicious, and New Year's was out of this world.  Picture Panama City Beach on a Saturday night during Spring Break!  THAT was Negril on New Year's Eve.  Our beloved sleepy fishing village came alive and there were jerk chicken carts everywhere.

But that's not the reason I mentioned Christmas.  Traditionally, Sean and I go completely  overboard on gifts for Christmas, but this past year our gift to each other was the trip.  So we decided we would give each other just one gift each.  In the spirit of sharing the same brain, we both gave each other experiences instead of "things."  Mine to him is the gift of relaxation...a couple sessions of massage since he's always so stressed out.  His to me is the gift of education.  I will be attending the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts for a week of my choosing to learn whatever jewelry technique I choose.  At this point, I think I'll be choosing the class Wire I.  Until now, I've been able to teach myself the skills I need to be successful in the jewelry business.  I'm starting to find that I need to go outside the comfort zone to become the best artist I can be.  The date isn't determined yet, but I'm hoping I'll be heading to William Holland next month.  I cannot wait to expand my skills!  : )

So as you can see, I really do have a lot to celebrate right now.  Before I go overboard and write too much, I'll leave you with a fun, spirited picture this St. Patrick's Day!  Be responsible, don't drink and drive!!