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This article (part 3 of 3) was contributed by Shantel Susan-Haines, the founder of Shantel's Money Guidance.
Continuing on from Part 2 . . .
You may/may not know the tax authority (often referred to as CRA, IRS, etc.) may request to audit you at any time.
The need to communicate and deal with your tax authority is a situation that all entrepreneurs (even creative ones like you) will encounter, even as just part of your regular activities in your business. However, it is important not to underestimate them to make your dealings with them as comfortable and easy as possible.
Become aware of practical steps that will help you to take decisive action, to place your business in a better and prepared position in order to properly deal with your tax authority. Always remember the key here is not to give them a reason to contact or audit you.
In general, two points to keep in mind about your tax filings are:
Time is an elusive resource. Most of the time we don’t feel there is enough of it. In reality though, there are always 24 hours in a day and everyone has the same amount . . . but is time working against your creativity?
Liberate your creative time through consideration about what only artistic-creative people like you know - that you are so different from all other entrepreneurs. The demands on you both as an entrepreneur AND artist can make things so much more challenging with reference to your time. Your creative flow must have time to expose and release itself together with your need to feel as though you are using your time to its fullest. If you explore your time and its relation to your creativity you will help to avoid shortchanging yourself on this inspirationally important and irreplaceable resource.
Always think of your time as being divided between your ESSENTIAL ACTIVITIES – what you must do & OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES – what you like to do. Keep in mind that time is often wasted in the “Optional Activities” . . . but it should contribute/nourish: your heart, soul, mind, body, spirit and your CREATIVE-ARTISTIC SENSES.
To stay true to your entrepreneurial purpose as a creative-artistic entrepreneur, your mindset is so important to keeping your focus about how you think about your business money. It starts with your inner thinking.
Remember to always work towards having your best business money good in mind and in place. To achieve that, you need a continuing plan . . . so you are moving it forward into your reality.
Only you can take yourself out of where you have been and position yourself where you wish to be. Keep the momentum flowing and stay true to your business, your creativity and your purpose as a creative-artistic entrepreneur.
Would you be interested in learning more?
CLICK HERE to become part of our Free (for this select audience) Creative Entrepreneurs Business Money Enlightenment – Getting Started program
Shantel Susan-Haines, Founder
This article (part 2 of 3) was contributed by Shantel Susan-Haines, the founder of Shantel's Money Guidance.
Continuing on from Part 1 . . .
A simple, flexible plan for your creative business money will always help you to monitor what you plan vs. what actually occurs with your business money inflows and outflows.
What is a Flexible Business Money Plan?
Flexible business money plans are often used for companies that tend to have swings in their sales and hence cost of sales from period-to-period. As an artistic-creative company, you will notice wide variations, especially on the revenue side. Therefore, planning the cost of sales and the revenues the business expects to generate, along with the expenses the business will require is designed to be a bit more flexible than the standard “budget.” You will feel in control of your creative business money when you have this money plan in place.
Another part of using your income statement to its best effect is to know how to look at your creative money outflows and to monitor its flow out of your business. This is so important to your making some of the best determinations that you can about HOW you spend your money and turn it around to further develop your artistic work.
Don't let this become a problem for you - learn how to continue to financially support your creative expressions, through knowing how to monitor the money that flows out of your business every month and help yourself to make optimal pricing decisions.
This can also be helpful if you wish to project money outflows for a specific project using this same technique.
Managing cash, better known as cash flow management, is a challenge for many entrepreneurs.
If you can’t have the amount of ready cash available to pay your current expenses – you will go out-of-business and sadly, many businesses have.
There is much talk about this topic and while it is important, it doesn't need to be overdone. The "why" and "how" of managing/handling your cash flow really only involves a few simple actions that should be taken on a consistent basis to be their most effective and a few good practices and habits can make all the difference to your business.
Some of the common oversights about cash flow include:
1. If you have lots of sales – the cash will follow.
2. Suppliers will wait to be paid when I have the cash.
3. All clients pay on time and in full.
4. Billing clients can happen when I have a chance.
5. There is no need to negotiate payment terms with clients and vendors.
The above demonstrates some of the wrong assumptions that business owners often make when it comes to dealing with cash flow. However there are practices to make your cash flow easier to manage to relieve these burdens.
Next Time Part 3 . . .
Shantel Susan-Haines, Founder
CLICK HERE to become part of our Free (for this select audience) Creative Entrepreneurs Business Money Enlightenment – Getting Started program
This article was contributed by Shantel Susan-Haines, the founder of Shantel's Money Guidance.
As a Creative-Artistic Entrepreneur, you have likely heard that you should know your key business numbers and have business money systems in place.
Like many, are you a little bewildered as to what you need to know & do?
Knowing only the essentials, the "must-knows" about managing/handling the money and finances in your business AND being comfortable to do so are important to the survivorship of your creative-artistic enterprise.
Bring about your new connection with your business money through linking to your inner confidence and discover ways to arouse this. You can’t have a new beginning if you remain with your prior ways of thinking about your business money. It all starts with deeply finding your inner confidence and then securing it as a place of retreat when your confidence wavers.
Here are some key areas that you should consider in order to work into your creative business money best:
To start, know that bookkeeping is NOT the monster it is made out to be . . . it is there to serve you and your business as an artistic-creative entrepreneur.
Good business money handling and management starts with having a bookkeeping process in place. This often eludes many entrepreneurs as it seems so complicated, but it doesn't have to be.
Whether you plan to perform your own business bookkeeping or engage someone else - you need to ensure that it actually happens!
Consider that 3 of the best reasons to have a good, quality bookkeeping system in place will:
1. enable all of your business transactions to be recorded
2. it will empower you, the business owner with the ability to understand your business financials, and
3. it will allow you to properly file your taxes
Becoming enlightened about what you need from one of the more puzzling and time consuming aspects of your business money. Finally, making a decision about your bookkeeping really comes down to: hiring bookkeeping help or performing it yourself.
While it is acceptable to decide to perform your own bookkeeping, but even if you hire a bookkeeper for that work to be performed, you should look to a professional accountant particularly for year-end, tax filing and more specific queries that you may have.
There are significant cost savings in employing an accountant and taking their professional advice. As a business owner with little or no real business experience, it takes a professional with the training and experience that will translate into helping you make better, more informed decisions. The cost is well worth it.
You may or may not know it but your business income statement is by far your most important connection to better understanding your business money.
What is the Income Statement?
The Income Statement or Profit/Loss Statement provides fundamental financial information for you, the creative business owner. It shows you the revenue, cost of sales, gross profit (loss), expenses and net income (loss) for your business for a specific period.
It allows for financial performance comparisons to be made between different time frames.
The income statement shows if the business is profitable and if expenses are under control. It also shows if revenues are increasing at a rate that can sustain the cost of sales and expenses the business is incurring.
Also, you should know your Profitability Points. Consider that you may already know when you are making money with selling your artistic-creative products/services (items & talents), but do you know the exact numbers? If not, you need to be confident and aware of these essential numbers in order for you to be operating your business at its optimum.
If you work with your important Profitability Points, it becomes part of your savvy as a truly creative entrepreneur!
Next Time Part 2 . . .
Shantel Susan-Haines, Founder
CLICK HERE to become part of our Free (for this select audience) Creative Entrepreneurs Business Money Enlightenment – Getting Started program
Through the Crusade for Art blog, we are focused on educating photographers about best practices and sharing practical information to help move careers forward and connect audiences to photography. It is often helpful to hear from photographers who are right in the thick of things, and so we bring another installment of our series called Developing. This is a follow-up from Rachel Minn Lee's first Developing story in the middle of her crowd-funding effort for a photographic e-book. The campaign was successful, and I was curious how her projected costs for the project compared to her actual costs and what parts of the process were successful and which could have been handled differently.
I came up with the idea to make a collection of stories about the fragile moments of the everyday Marseille after visiting it the second time and falling in love all over again with the wild, windblown naturescapes. I photographed the scenes before me the best I could and started to work on this project early 2014. Because of the language barrier and lack of prior publishing experience, I decided to create an e-book of photographs to help build momentum for the written story project and help me reach those whose stories should be told. The crowdfunding effort for My Everyday Marseille: The Film Photographs, a charming little photobook accompanied with illustrations, an interactive, illustrated map, and voice descriptions in French/ English and French/Mandarin, was born.
I began making the e-book eight months ago. The targeted amount raised was SGD 1,500 (around USD 1200). I felt that this was the bare minimum needed to get the project started and I could self-fund the additional expenses.
So how much did I actually spend on making the e-book?
My projected vs. real expenses for the project were as follows:
Projected: $500 (US $400) to the e-book Designer, Illustrator and Graphic Artist
1. E-book design - several mobile-ready versions (android, iphone and kindle devices), found in two translations (English / French and French / Mandarin)
2. Interactive map, illustrated
3. Illustrations for every chapter openings and insertions of charming images descriptive of Marseille
4. Graphic design of logo and book cover
Actual spend: $1600 (US $1280)
Projected: $300 (US$240) for translation and related costs
1. Translator fees, professional translation from the original English descriptions + a short story into French.
2. Editing and basic proofreading
Actual spend: $650 (US $520)
1. Recording of sound for all sessions using 4 voice artists: 2 French, 1 English, 1 Mandarin.
2. Sound technician to cut all the audio into usable clips.
Actual spend: $485 (US $388)
LANDING PAGE or WEBSITE
Projected: $120 (US $96)
Actual spend: $120 (US $96)
Projected: $380 (US $304)
Actual spend: $248 (US $199)
Business license to self-publish $65 (US $52)
Total spend $3168 (US $2533), exceeded crowd-funding amount by more than 50%.
Was it easy to run a crowd-funding campaign for a creative project?
This was my first-ever time running a crowd-funding campaign, and I tried my best holding on to a day job and working on the campaign on weeknights. For two weeks prior to the campaign I tried to be a social media influencer, tweeting and sending many, many messages to my business and personal contacts. I also tried to reach people who were active in the topics of travel photography, travel bloggers, analogue photography and Marseille located platforms. I created a short video and made a website prior to the campaign. Being a non-techie person, I found this extremely challenging to do.
The total duration for the crowd-funding effort was 50 days and I reached the 100% target in 25 days, half of the time.
Potential challenges to the crowd-funding effort:
1. I was not already 'known' as a photographer/author, never having exhibited or made headlines, so I did not have advocates or supporters who already knew and loved my work.
2. Time constraints - working in the daytime meant that I had the short evening hours (between reaching home and heading to sleep) to make the campaign work. For a month I made the 7 pm to midnight hours priority for my campaign. This discipline meant that I would have to be hermit-like at least for the month of the campaign. Well, it worked!
Asking people to pledge just 1% worked really well. The minimum sum to pledge was $5 - the price of a cup of coffee here, and many business contacts felt they could part with this amount to support a creative project. From the time it hit 60%, many personal friends were on standby to help me to hit the target. There were many last minute supporters as well - when I posted on Facebook the day the effort reached 90%, many chipped in to help it cross the mark!
What could have worked:
I did not manage to have enough time to reach the 4000 contacts I had on my business contact network, on LinkedIn. I wished to know if the vast network on LinkedIn could help, or if it was not useful at all. Out of the 360 personal notes I sent, there were hardly any replies. However, I had entrepreneurs and startup founders who wanted to help, did, and networked and met me, these types of connections in my network were more useful. For the social media efforts, I created a google+ account and started being active on Twitter only in the weeks leading up to the campaign. I only managed to skim the surface of this usage, but I also discovered many great sites and online supporters who are film photography lovers.
At the end, I was motivated to make my creative project a reality and to publish it by the end of 2014. I'm glad that I could accomplish this, and hope to find a creative project for 2015.
Rachel Minn Lee is a native of Singapore who loves the savage beauty of mountains and seas. Using the medium of 35 mm film, this film photography enthusiast aims to capture the human intersections in known and unknown places, arousing a sense of nostalgia for the fragile moments of everyday life.
Rachel Minn Lee's first book, My Everyday Marseille: The Film Photographs is available at leading e-bookstores. Read the background story on www.myeverydaymarseille.com
On October 27, we posted Justin Cook's first-person account of a case of image misuse by the University of North Carolina. The back and forth between Justin and UNC has been ongoing, and the correspondence he shared was nothing short of shocking. A post that was positioned as a cautionary tale to photographers went viral and put pressure on UNC to step up and right this wrong.
Today, Justin announced this update:
Yesterday The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I came to a resolution. They agreed to pay my fee for their use of my image, and I agreed to drop my copyright claim on the condition that the Department of Psychology collaborates with me, the UNC School of Law, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Media Law Center and others to hold an interdisciplinary public forum about the importance of creative rights.
This resolution is a win for everyone that is more meaningful than what any lawsuit could have afforded us, and it’s consistent with UNC's core values. A community of impassioned friends and strangers united and pushed us to this huge victory that will further build community and foster conversation. That’s The Carolina Way!
Thank you to everyone who has assisted in this matter.
UNC Class of 2006
Congrats to Justin and everyone who played a part changing this outcome. This is a victory for all photographers.
At Crusade for Art, we are focused on educating photographers about best practices and sharing practical information to help move careers forward and connect audiences to photography. It is often helpful to hear from photographers who are right in the thick of things, and so we bring you the second installment of a new series called Developing, this time featuring photographer Justin Cook.
About Justin Cook:
I am a photographer because I believe that relationships are the only real currency in this world. Relationships foster a deliberate life. Relationships create change. A photographic life is one of relationships. My work focuses on triumph over adversity through subjects such as marriage equality, inner city violence and veterans returning from war. From 2007-2010 I was a photojournalist at the The Roanoke Times in rural southwest Virginia. I have been honored by Pictures of the Year International, The Best of Photojournalism, The North Carolina Press Association, The Society of Professional Journalists, and other organizations. I live in Durham, North Carolina, accept commissions worldwide and photograph part-time for The INDY Week.
So you find out that someone has used your photography without your permission. What to do?
First step: Calm down. Take a breath. It’s easy to get furious, but it won’t help. A level-headed approach goes far.
A lot of this happens out of innocent ignorance - maybe an inexperienced intern at an organization pulls your image off of Google and uses it without your permission. This can make you feel like the bad guy when enforcing your copyright. But it’s important to take copyright seriously. If you charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for commissions, you have to justify those fees by defending your copyright when your work (that you would normally charge for) is used without your permission. Get into the habit of registering your work with the U.S. Copyright office. It’s easy to make it part of your workflow. I do this to all of my work - well most of it, as you’ll see.
I deal with image misuse case by case. I have to decide if it is worth time, energy and possibly money tangling antlers with an infringer. In the past my images have been misused by photography fan sites, and I usually just email them and gently remind them that images aren’t for their use. But constant back and forth emails distract me from my work. It’s easier to find their internet service provider and send them a DCMA takedown notice and they remove the content. Other times it’s appropriate to send an invoice for payment.
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY. ALWAYS SEEK ADVICE FROM ONE.
What about when things get more complicated, say a major company or university uses your work without your permission? I didn’t register my images from one shoot I did with my wife last year, and of course Murphy’s Law dictates that one of those images would be used without my permission. Since I didn’t register the image in a timely manner, I was ineligible for statutory damages in a federal infringement lawsuit, and was only eligible for actual damages. I was actually ineligible to even file a federal lawsuit. Copyright lawsuits are expensive, exhausting and must be followed through to the very end. What I might recover in court could be pennies compared to what I would spend in legal fees. This is how current copyright laws hardly deter infringement. I use my experience to illustrate how frustrating copyright issues can be, how important it is to fight for your work and for better copyright laws.
Each year my wife and I have a college intern, typically from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It’s our way of giving back and mentoring a new generation of photographers. Our last intern was one of our favorites, and she was the first in her family to graduate college, so we photographed her graduation as a gift. I discovered that an image from this shoot was lifted by someone at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, my alma matter, and used for over a month on their Department of Psychology Facebook page without my permission. Do not let anyone tell you differently: Companies, universities and nonprofits lean heavily on social media photography for advertising, recruitment and outreach. Thus, social media use of photography, like any web use, has a market value.
First I waited for a few days. I simmered down. I called some friends who had been in similar situations for some advice.
Then I sent this friendly email with this letter attached:
Then I waited some more. I got this response back almost a month later:
UNC’s 501c3 status is irrelevant. Like most major universities, UNC purchases photography all the time. I know because they’ve hired me a lot. They also have several university photographers and a pool of stock images for their departments to use. I did appreciate Dr. Lysle’s apology and that they took my image down, but using an image without payment is the same as stealing. I sent them this letter reminding them to remit payment, and offering my services or collaboration to license the image to them:
UNC’s attorney responded and indicated that UNC refused to pay. He also explained further that there was no notice of copyright with the image. He’s correct, but there also wasn’t a notice that the image was free for use or under creative commons license. His point is a red herring:
If you are not a lawyer then you should never respond directly to a lawyer. So this is when I enlisted the help of Mickey Osterreicher, a lawyer for the National Press Photographers Association. I’m an NPPA member, and he’s known for interceding on the behalf of photographers arrested while covering the crisis in Ferguson, among other exploits. He was frustrated by my experience and drafted this letter to UNC’s counsel:
We waited for his response. UNC’s counsel wouldn’t budge:
Mickey’s letter speaks for itself. I felt like their counsel’s comments were a backhanded way of saying to me: “you shouldn’t have put your work on the internet if you didn’t want it used.”
An analogous situation would be if I took some Twinkies from a 7-11 without paying for them, got caught walking out the door, returned them, but said to the manager “well you shouldn’t have put them on the shelf if you didn’t want me to take them without paying.” I would certainly have to pay or even face punishment.
What’s the take away from my experience? On the internet, you must assume that photographs, like Twinkies, are not just up for grabs. Registering your work can be expensive, but please do it. Build the cost into your fees if you have to. It's also smart and professional to include a copyright notice on your website, and consider watermarking your images. Join ASMP or NPPA and advocate for your work and your rights as a creative. It’s our duty as photographers to work together to preserve our livelihood.
What to do if you are infringed? Start here at the U.S. Copyright website. Above all else register your work here. It can be daunting at first, but Photoshelter has an excellent copyright guide as does ASMP. For a price, Carolyn Wright, an experienced photographer and copyright attorney, can represent you if you need counsel or want to file a federal copyright infringement lawsuit. Also, Image Rights can help you negotiate payment. There are a ton of more resources at the end of this blog post, which is a good read about image misappropriation.
But the real burden must be on organizations like UNC to educate their employees about copyright law and image use.
UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications taught me a strict sense of ethics that I carry with me in my photographic life. With it, I have gone on to represent the school well in my career. But as I reflect on this experience, I think of UNC’s University Charter. The act establishing the university reads:
“WHEREAS in all well-regulated governments it is the indispensable duty of every Legislature to consult the happiness of a rising generation, and endeavor to fit them for an honorable discharge of the social duties of life, by paying the strictest attention to their education: And whereas an university supported by permanent funds, and well endowed, would have the most direct tendency to answer the above purpose…”
I am still scratching my head, searching for the “honorable discharge” in UNC’s refusal to pay me after using my work. I wish we could have a real conversation and work something out. At the least I hope that my experience can be instructional and cautionary to others.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be in Chicago to participate in one of the best photography festivals and portfolio reviews around - Filter. This festival keeps getting better and better, and with a new location, an awe-inspiring keynote by Carrie Mae Weems, a roster of rockstar reviewers, and tons of talented photographers, Filter is knocking it out of the park.
Coming home, I was sorting through all of the leave behinds I received from photographers during the portfolio reviews. Leave behinds are marketing materials to leave with each reviewer at the end of your session. I was blown away by some and underwhelmed by others, and I thought it would be helpful to share the good, the better and the exceptional.
A great leave behind has an image that will jog the reviewer’s memory and your contact information and website. It should look professional and preferably be memorable or distinctive in some way, but should not be large, bulky, or otherwise difficult to bring home. Reviewers may see dozens of photographers and will most likely not want to bring back CDs, printed packets of information, or other cumbersome items. Your website should have the images you have shown, and if the reviewer wants more information, he or she can contact you after the event. You can always make discs of your images and print detailed information about your work in case someone asks for it, but a simple postcard or small work sample with your contact information should more than suffice for a solid leave behind.
A couple of weeks ago we posted a piece about the things to consider if you are thinking about selling your photography online. Our guest contributor, Sarah Brown, has done a bang-up job highlighting some available options should you decided to go down that road.
By Sarah Brown
If you have decided selling your work online is something you want to do, you should know there is a range of ecommerce marketplaces for artists. Seize this moment to write down some of your (realistic) sales goals and budget, which will influence which marketplace is best suited for you. Ask yourself what you want to earn from the sale? How many print sales a month? Will you commit time to marketing yourself? Is your audience large enough to bring in traffic, or do you need to rely on the traffic from a host platform?
With the myriad of marketplaces for online sales, the number of choices can be overwhelming. Most of the sites have trials to give you time to try the storefront and see if it works for you, so it may be helpful to sign up for multiple sites and give yourself time to play around and compare them. That said, let’s look at three types of marketplaces, each of which offer different services for selling your work.
Zatista.com is great example of sales with support. For both wholesale and retail buyers, Zatista sells the gamut of mediums, including photography. The support services and promotion allow you to focus on just selling your work. You can register and set up at no cost, but when you sell be ready to share a 45% commission with Zatista. Zatista really caters to the buyer, including a newsletter, guest curators that design rooms with art, and objects viewable in a virtual room, which allows buyers to visualize the piece on a wall. They also guarantee a hassle-free return. Be sure to be aware of these types of guarantees and how they may effect your sales.
Once you register, you can set up shop with your artist statement and PayPal account info. If you have a CV, pull it out to fill in your profile information. Shoppers can search for styles and mediums they like, and they can connect to your work at all hours of the day or night. The site also promotes their sales to corporate buyers, which gives you the potential for a heavier volume of sales. You are required to give them non-exclusive rights until the end of time to your content and images. This is great for exposure, which may outweigh the usage clause that gives them rights for media yet to be invented. Again, be sure to read over the policy agreement before clicking agree. Once you set up your site and start selling work, you receive an email with the buyer’s information. You are responsible for shipping, which must include an approved shipper like UPS or FedEx. Zatista requires a tracking number in order to process the order. Again, be sure to know your responsibilities and shipping details. Take shipping into consideration when setting your pricing.
Another site that offers similar services is UGallery, a site that started up in 2006 and represents 450 artists. Like Zatista they ask for an initial application before becoming part of their team, which also carries a reasonable $5 fee. A few details to note: you live in North America and use archival printing methods. UGallery takes a 50% commission on the sale, but they also cover the packaging and shipping cost. Once you receive notification of a sale, you will receive a custom art box and prepaid FedEx shipping label.
The work you choose to sell through UGallery cannot be sold elsewhere. Although you retain the copyright, UGallery has exclusive rights for the listed works’ sales. Their return policy includes a 7 days money back guarantee and includes the shipping to return the piece. Two drawbacks of exhibiting with UGallery are waiting the 14 day period to receive a payment check and not being able to link your website from your UGallery page. On the flip side, waiting for a check may be a prudent means to saving the money, and with all the social media these days, you have a myriad of ways to link your webpage into your marketing.
Uncomfortable sharing a chunk of your sales with the marketplace? The next websites offer a different way to sell online. Etsy and Big Cartel do have fees, but reasonable rates that won’t break your budget. These virtual storefronts require a little more work on your part. You will have to wear a marketing and PR hat to drive traffic to your storefront page. Both Etsy and Big Cartel offer a similar platform, but there are some significant differences that can influence your decision of how to sell online. You should verse yourself with the best keywords for your photography and understand how buyers are looking for the type of work you choose to sell.
Etsy is a global marketplace and well-known for business activism and environmental consciousness as a certified B corporation. They had $1.35 billion total merchandise sales in 2013. Yes, I said billion, and they have only been operating since 2005. There is no fee to sign up and no monthly fee. You do pay $.20 per item (or photograph) for 4 months or until it sells, and Etsy takes a 3.5% transaction fee when you sell. They do offer customer support and are easy to navigate both during your set up and maintenance. You can build an in-depth profile or keep it short. Etsy is a great general marketplace and seems to only be growing. This is the site for you if you enjoy the marketing and promotion to drive buyers to your storefront, and it also has the advantage of having a large and loyal customer base and a “search” option.
Big Cartel may be a smaller e-commerce site compared to Etsy, but don’t let that fool you. Big Cartel has carved a niche by providing templates to help you design your page and the technical opportunity to refine it with code,as well as the ability to integrate the shop into your own website (with certain hosts like Squarespace). They offer promotional help as well as domain name purchasing for a URL. This all goes for a monthly fee plan that corresponds with number of products, webpage customizations, iPhone orders, discount codes, and URL names you require. No percentage of sales is taken; you keep the money except for any PayPal fees. They do have a limit to the number of items you can sell (300), but listing five items is free, which is a great way to test the waters. The monthly fee plans top out at $29.99. You will likely have to do more work promoting for shoppers to find your storefront than on Etsy, but both of these platforms offer a professional-looking and consumer-trusted way to sell your own work online.
Then, there is Saatchiart.com. They offer great benefits to their artists, including support and promotional assistance. Opening in 2006, the Saatchi Gallery started a website for contemporary artists to sell their work. This step into the virtual ecommerce market has been successful for both artists and collectors. Saatchi has a genuine interest in contributing to the greater cultural community and supporting artists to find success in selling their work. To begin, it is free to register and set up your profile. You have the option to connect your profile with your Facebook page. For those that have a following on Facebook, this is a great way to connect your followers and potential collectors to a space to buy your work, as well as to update them on upcoming exhibits, new work and news. You can add social media badges to your personal webpage.
But how much does this all cost you? 30% of your sale price. You also have the option to have Saatchi provide the print fulfillment. They do ask that you make clear if you are selling original work or reproductions. By agreeing to Saatchi’s terms and policies when you enroll, you give the website non-exclusive rights. Saatchi Art does have the right to use your image for both promotion, discount, and a royalty free usage with rights to sublicense your image. You are allowed to sell the work elsewhere, they just ask you to be sure of your contractual obligation to the gallery and be sure you are in compliance.
If you are making your our own prints for Saatchi, you are responsible for shipping within 7 days of the purchase or the transaction is voided. Be sure to follow their recommended parameters for packaging and shipping. You are only reimbursed if you use a preferred shipper account with a preferred shipper. You are paid into your Saatchi Art account that is termed Artist Revenue Share visible on your sales dashboard, which can take 14 days to pay out. They will send a check or transfer funds to bank accounts or through PayPal. When it comes to taxes (the ones we pay in April), they offer a W9 right on their site. Saatchi is well-organized and supportive while maintaining high standards. This site takes some more time to explore the ins and outs. Be sure you are ready to interact with other artists and build a network. This is a supportive site that does require some work on your part to be presentable and some self-promotion. Art Advisory, a service to help collectors buy, and the Showdown, Saatchi’s online competition judged by other artists and curators, are two program examples that set them apart from other sites.
These are only a few of the available choices for artists to sell online. Look around and find which best suits your goals. Remember to treat your work and your virtual storefront like you would any business. Keep records, stay organized, and connect with your potential buyers. After all, you are investing in yourself and your photography.
With the ease of setting up a shop on a website or using a service like Big Cartel, many photographers are choosing to sell their photography through their websites. If you have a significant audience online (people who follow you and are fans of your work), selling your work online may be very profitable. However, many galleries do not like their artists to sell work online. This may be because they feel it will compete with the gallery’s sales of your work, and/or because they feel it looks unprofessional and may “cheapen” the work. Either way, if you are represented by a gallery, checking the gallery’s temperature on the topic before you begin selling online is imperative.
If you are actively seeking gallery representation, it may hurt your chances of success in that area if you sell your work privately through your website. If you are in talks with a gallery that does not support its artists selling their own work online, you may want to be cautious when considering this. In general, you should weigh the likely financial success of selling your work on your website (having an actual shopping cart feature) versus just having contact information listed for sales inquiries (either your own if you are unrepresented or your gallery’s if you are). Posting contact information for sales inquiries is not considered a conflict for galleries looking to add artists.
*excerpted from the book, Crusade For Your Art: Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers
I have social media on the brain a lot lately, with both the buzz about Google+ potentially falling by the wayside (I say good riddance), and also being included on on Feature Shoot's list of 101 photo industry professionals to follow on twitter. You can spend a lot of time and energy building something up, like your Google+ profile and contacts or your business page on Facebook (which these days only shows up on news feeds if you pay for it), only to have it become obsolete. So is social media worth the trouble?
The benefits can be huge. Just having your name floating around in the photography stratosphere is significant. There have been countless times when someone mentions a photographer, and the name sounds familiar (most likely just from Facebook activity), which makes me feel a bit more affinity for that person. I've also had several opportunities where Facebook friends became real-life friends and collaborators. Social media can be an incredible resource if used correctly.
Social media is an extension of your brand and should be used thoughtfully and strategically. With so many platforms to engage with, jumping into a social media practice can feel very overwhelming. And then once you do, it is easy to get sucked into a black hole of posts and links and shares, to the point where you feel trapped inside a news feed instead of out in the world making pictures.
Start small and be strategic. Take a close look at the major platforms and decide which one or two make the most sense for you. Try to find a balance where you can have fun with it, but it does not become all-consuming. Each social media platform has distinctive qualities and features that can help you expand your audience. But it is easy to get overwhelmed and to spend so much time “connecting” that you have no time left for your art practice, or your life.
Just do what feels comfortable for you, and don't worry about the platforms you're not using or the days (or weeks) you don't log in. Show your personality, show your work, and be kind and gracious. It's supposed to be fun.
For more on social media and a detailed explanation of twitter and how to use it, check out our book - Crusade For Your Art: Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers.
Yesterday I co-hosted the One Hour Photo Show with Anderson Smith, which I LOVED, since my not-so-secret dream job is to be a talk radio host. We had a great time, and spent a lot of the hour talking about the Crusade Engagement Grant and what we are looking for in a project proposal. We also discussed the best practices book, Crusade For Your Art, that will be coming out in a couple of weeks, and some of the gems of info you will find inside. So take a listen here!
We’ve had a few questions over here at Crusade for Art regarding the grant and what exactly it’s for. We want you guys to feel clear on why we designed this particular grant, so you can let your ideas solidify and get in the game for this cash!
First, let’s address the subject of marketing in general. Marketing can oftentimes be viewed as a dirty word in the art world. All too frequently an artist can be so eager to express their creative ideas and put it out for the public to see, they forget that not everyone in the public shares their same enthusiasm for their chosen subject, or even understands it. This can breed resentment, on both sides of the artist and the public. This is what we over here at Crusade for Art are trying to combat. We want the artist to feel valued for the creative work they are producing, but we also want the public to understand and value the work they are seeing. Marketing comes into play here. It’s not just about shoving products into consumer’s faces. Marketing goes deeper into the psychology and motivations behind people and their actions. It addresses how people connect to products and what entices them to buy. As an artist, it’s not enough to just put your work out there and hope people flock to it (though we wish it were). It’s not that the work isn’t deserving, it’s that the public doesn’t understand and isn’t engaged. This grant isn’t designed to manipulate the public into buying art or turn the artist into a marketing professional. It is designed to educate and engage the public in a new way that fosters appreciation, knowledge, and yes, hopefully motivation to purchase works of art they treasure and value in a way that feels authentic to the artist.
Second, why should the artist have to spend time working on the marketing when they already struggle to find time to make their work? The mission behind Crusade for Art boils down to creating demand so the arts can continue to flourish and artists can be supported not just through grants and initiatives, but through public acquisitions as well. This grant was created so that new ideas can be put forth to attract more demand for art. We all know the economics behind supply and demand. If the public isn’t educated or doesn’t have access to art, it doesn’t matter how much art you make, your business won’t be sustainable. With any business or vocation, there is a balance between the practical and creative elements – both are vital. This grant aims to bring together groundbreaking ideas and methods to champion the arts, so that artists don’t have to constantly worry about how they are going to sell the next piece. It’s about getting creative with how to engage with the public, getting creative with how to put your message out there, not just being creative in your particular medium. No one knows your art better than you, and today’s world appreciates connection and feedback. The market today is moving toward a desire to support a person, a vision, not just a filler piece they bought at Target. We believe the connections between artist and viewer are invaluable, and we aim to bring together ways to forge stronger connections through this grant.
Third, why can’t I use this money to make a body of work? This is where we think you can have some fun. There are plenty of residencies, programs, schools, and projects aimed toward supporting artists to make a specific body of work. We are encouraging you to approach this grant in the same creative way you would any body of work, except with a restrictive purpose. How can you connect an audience to your work in a way that hasn’t been employed? How can you promote the arts in a meaningful way that is aligned with your ideals and provokes the public to invest in your work? The opportunity to engage with the marketplace, introduce your work, and cultivate relationships with the public is wide open. We believe art and the message of art is vital to the world. We also believe art in general is severely underappreciated, and largely due to miscommunication and misinformation. The aim of this grant is to bridge the gap between misunderstanding and appreciation, perception and reality, and a general underlying belief that true art is inaccessible to the public.
Please comment and let us know your feedback and opinions! We are always open to hearing new ideas.
This past weekend I saw the movie American Hustle. It was a great movie, but one small detail got me thinking about photography and the artists I've been working with lately.
The crazy wife character is kind of addicted to the smell of a particular type of Polish nail polish and talks about how she can't get enough of the scent. She describes it as being pleasant but with a hint of something rotten. In the movie, she claims that all of the signature perfumes have that same combination of beauty with a bit of disgusting. It's what hooks you.
The day after I saw this movie, I had a consulting session over Skype with a photographer who makes really beautiful images. And it was interesting, because I found myself having a conversation with her that I have been having a lot lately. I asked her to try to push past making an image that was all about beauty and get something in the photograph that feels more raw/vulnerable/awkward/uncomfortable/(insert emotion-evoking adjective here) or that has a harder edge. Give the viewer something to hold onto. Something that will make the image stick.
I told her to try to "make less pretty photographs". Not ugly photographs or images that were not her style or visual aesthetic, just less pretty ones. Give us something a little rotten.
This article is reprinted by permission from bmore<art>. Original article was published on January 22, 2014.
I recently attended an art opening for a terrific painter, a friend and colleague I have known close to a decade. The exhibit was in a Baltimore warehouse gallery in a not-completely-safe part of town and you had to climb several sets of dark and smelly stairs, full of spiders and cigarette butts, to get there. Once you entered the gallery, the exhibit was gorgeous! The space was professionally curated and well-lit and the artist’s new work was outstanding, but you would never have known this gallery existed unless you had visited before or came with a friend.
As I photographed some of the artwork and the surging crowds, I noticed something: everyone at the opening was wearing black or gray. There was barely a smack of beige or tan. Then, I watched as a blonde, middle-aged couple, obviously non-artists, entered the space. How could I tell? She was wearing a brightly colored floral dress and heels and he wore a melon colored polo shirt with the collar turned up. Both had haircuts that looked like they were professionally done, unlike anyone else at the reception.
The couple looked around nervously and then picked up a price list. I watched as they scanned the paper and shielded themselves from the rest of the room, where no one acknowledged them. It was obvious that they didn’t belong there and their presence wasn’t welcome at the event. In an attempt to save face, they furtively looked around at a few pieces of art in the room and then, within a few minutes, were gone. At which point the crowd became a homogenous mix of black and gray clothing, messy hair, and zero art sales.
Why am I telling this story? For one, because it’s true. But mainly, I am sharing it because I am tired of hearing Baltimore artists whine about the absence of an art market. I am tired of hearing Baltimore artists complain that local collectors purchase work in New York instead of here, that opportunities for sales are few and far between. We live in the richest state in the country. Money is not the problem.
While I will admit there is no actual connection between preppies at art openings and sales, there IS an obvious connection between art shows attended exclusively by artists and NO sales. Although I am a proponent of artists buying local, affordable works, we all know this is not going to keep galleries afloat or grow art careers. The most ambitious works of art are beyond the price range of other artists, and this is how it should be.
Baltimore’s plethora of DIY warehouse spaces are terrific and brilliant. We are lucky to have them. They offer large and excellent gallery spaces to artists for high-caliber exhibits, but they are not reaching the market. They are not reaching any market. If artists and galleries are to survive, sustain, and grow, we need to do a much better job at reaching out to those who can actually afford to buy our products.
As artists, we tend to focus on other artists, and not those who might want to own our work. Baltimore’s art community is an incredibly warm, supportive, and almost familial group, but, as a gallerist friend from out of town noted that night, with distain, “It’s just artists at these shows. Who buys anything?” It was an obnoxious statement, and he earned a punch in the arm from me, but it made me consider the event from the perspective of someone who regularly sends checks to artists. What is this point?
Maybe not all of us make work intended to sell, and that’s okay. Regardless, we can all do a better job as ambassadors for our cause, which is generating support and enthusiasm for the arts within the general public. In an age when even art language has evolved to be exclusive and make people feel stupid, artists need to be conscious of the message we are sending to those outside of our community because we won’t survive without them.
Think of it this way. Do we want people to care about what we do? Yes. Do we believe that non-artists can benefit from experiencing our work? Yes. Do we want the general public to support arts funding? Yes. Currently what we are communicating is NO, because we are more interested in our own comfort and individual ambition than reaching out.
If you want art sales to improve, even a little bit in this town, the next time you go to an art opening, scan the crowd for new faces. See if there’s anyone at the event you don’t already know. Take a minute to say hello and make them feel welcome. It’s terrifying to attend a party where everyone knows everyone and you know no one, so put yourself in their (possibly expensive) shoes. Does this make you feel like an Evangelist? I’m sorry, but this is the field you have chosen for yourself. You have amazing ideas, but you make a product that can’t be eaten, worn, or lived in. As a community, we will all benefit from a dose of friendly public relations.
Art openings are social events. They are parties, but there’s a reason I rarely drink the free booze at them. It’s because I’m working. Whether it’s my show or someone else’s, an art reception is a professional opportunity to make new connections and, hopefully, garner support for my cause, which is all you people reading.
Let’s try this, shall we? Let’s make our community a little bit bigger and see what happens! Here’s a proposal: the next time you hear about an interesting art exhibit, invite a few non-artists to attend, especially those who might consider purchasing works of art. And, when you see an individual in a peach polo shirt at an opening looking uncomfortable, don’t do what everyone else does and hide – start a conversation.
You never know what you might learn from someone from the other side of the trenches. At very least, the conversation is an opportunity for you to explain how great the exhibition is and convert this Philistine to our cause.
* Author Cara Ober is the Editor in Chief at Bmoreart and teaches Professional Development Classes at MICA.
One of the things that absolutely makes me crazy is when photographers do not regularly check in with their collectors and advocates. These people like your work and support you. Make them feel special and appreciated. It does not take more than a postcard or personal email twice a year to build a relationship that will pay dividends your entire career.
I first wrote about it in this post, but goodness knows if you have ever heard me lecture, attended a workshop, or just sat with me for more than ten minutes, you've heard this speech before. So it came as no surprise to get this bit of awesomeness in the mail today from Heather Evans Smith.
To be fair, Heather has heard my rantings many times over, but it sunk in! The top is a hand-written note wishing me happy holidays, and the bottom is an envelope stamped with her logo (seen here) on one side, and then when you open it up, it says Happy Holidays and includes two small prints (brand new images). #nailed it
The holidays are a great time to reach out to your collectors and all of the other people who have been advocates for your work (whether they own a piece or not). And by "collectors", I mean each and every person who owns a piece of your work. Say hello. Tell them you appreciate their support.
I am thrilled to be one of the "industry experts" participating in the Thriving Artist Summit. Artists and creatives are invited to signup for this free educational summit, where you will have access to interviews, lectures, and resource materials.
The two days of portfolio reviews were pretty laid back and a great way for photographers new to the portfolio review circuit to ease in. The reviewers came from all over the country and were a very well-rounded group of curators, gallerists, and publishers. I enjoyed seeing a wide range of talent and experience, as well as having many opportunities to speak with photographers outside the official twenty minute review slot.
What definitely sets this festival apart is the stellar line-up of guest lecturers. From the kickoff keynote lecture by Abelardo Morell to two full days of talks by leading contemporary photographers, there was no shortage of inspiration. And in my opinion, the best-kept secret of the festival is the Second Sight program where a participant at the festival is chosen to guest lecture the following year. This is a great opportunity for photographers participating in the portfolio review and such a perfect tie-in for the festival, which has a huge focus on photographers sharing their work and process with each other. Since last year was the first festival, this year was the first Second Sight lecture. David Emitt Adams was chosen out of all of the reviewees last year to present at the 2013 festival, and it was obvious why. His work is truly unique and exceptionally smart.
Congrats to Scott B. Davis and all of the other wonderful people behind the Medium Photography Festival. I was honored to be included and hope to come back next year!
Mark my words - these photographers are going to set the world on fire.
A year and a half ago, David Bram and I had an idea. What if we invited a few photographers we felt had a lot of potential to a five day, four night retreat and worked with them to take their work to the next level? We would all stay together in the same house, and everyone would bring their photographic project. By the end, they would each have a solid edit, sequence, artist statement, a 12-month plan, and the knowledge to make it happen. They would also have the two of us, as well as the rest of the group, as a resource going forward. It was a big idea, but then again, I love those.
So we created Flash Powder Projects, and we haven't looked back. Seven retreats in three different locations and 33 photographers later, we are constantly hearing from our retreaters with amazing news and successes. This is one of the best and more rewarding things I do, and the relationships I've made with these photographers have added so much to my life. And luckily, they all seem to feel the same way about the value of this experience.
A week ago we finished our seventh retreat, this one in New Mexico. Even after all this time, David and I still get nervous about the group. We are really selective about the photographers we invite, because so much of the experience hinges on collaboration and each person bringing a unique and informed perspective. The photographers need to be at similar levels and have a similar drive to move forward in their photographic careers. And then the personalities need to mesh, which is the truly stressful part, because that is impossible to predict. Luckily we have nailed it each time, and the bonding that happens is insane.
This group was no exception. The retreat was at a ranch in southern New Mexico, 90 miles from the nearest grocery store. These four! When the photos come out and we dig deep, the barriers just naturally come down. We all left not only inspired, but closer than I thought was possible.
But enough of the sappy stuff, and let's get down to their incredible work:
Atlanta Celebrates Photography's annual portfolio review was October 12, and although I am biased, ACP runs a kick-ass event. The vibe among participants and reviewers was so positive, and I felt like I was able to have really quality interactions with the photographers. (It also helps that ACP gives a few minutes' break between reviews. Review events that make reviewers sit through six reviews in a row without time for a bathroom break. . . well, let's just say it's difficult to concentrate.)
I saw some really interesting work both at the portfolio review and at the portfolio walk, and I was also excited to meet some really talented reviewers.
But since I'm all about innovation and empowering photographers to create opportunities for themselves, two meetings really stood out for me. In the first, I met with local photographer Shannon Davis. Shannon attended a workshop David Bram and I led last year at ACP, and she said it really inspired her to think about different ways to present and promote her work (yeah!). She is currently working on a project about how people present themselves to the world - by what they wear, the expressions they make, the way they want to be viewed - and she wants to present the images on t-shirts. I love this idea. She says she is not interested in taking this work to the wall and thought putting the photographs on t-shirts added an extra layer of meaning to the project.
The second super creative idea to build an audience was a book put together by photographer Forrest Aguar. Forrest participated in my workshop the day after the reviews - Create Demand for Your Art. At the end he showed me this beautiful publication called Ikigai, where he collaborated with ten different writers to put text to his images. According to Forrest, "Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means 'a reason for being'. Everyone is considered to have one, but it is only through a deep and lengthy search of self that it can be found."
Collaboration with other artists, especially ones who work in other mediums, is a great way to grow your audience. By inviting ten writers to participate, the book will automatically be of interest to each of those artists' fans, thereby exposing his photography to new people he would not automatically have access to. It also helps that the book is lovely, well-executed, and limited to 60 copies. This project has a lot of potential to go in many different directions, and I hope Forrest keeps moving forward with it.