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  • When is it Time to Raise Your Rates/Prices?

    This is a heads up to all clients and potential clients, not-so-cleverly disguised as an informative blog post. I am raising my rates at the beginning of April by about 10%. This is both a cost-of-living raise and reflects my improving skill-set and specializations. If you are a current client – don’t fret, I’m not going to raise the price halfway through a project. Rates for future projects may be slightly higher, or not, depending on several factors.

    If you are a new potential client and would like to lock in a project at the current rates, then contact me now – I’ll be quoting based on current rates till the end of the month.

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  • You Can’t Skip the Marketing: Or, how I ended up a certain creek without a certain paddling implement.

    This article is a friendly warning about the perils of neglecting your marketing. It’s one of those things, like brushing your teeth, you really should do every day. And yet, when we get busy and stressed and run off our feet, our marketing calendar is usually the first thing we drop. And that would seem to be perfect sense. After all, if your business is doing so well, why do you need to hunt for MORE business?

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  • Top 3 Reasons Why It’s Better to Freelance Your Skills

    Guest Post by Lamer Cook

    Working as a freelancer is a fantastic decision in our current era, and the value of freelance work seems to be on the rise. There’s a few clear reasons why freelancing skills can be better than many career options for millions of people, and many employers could even learn a thing or two from all this.

    Reason One: Build an Immaculate Portfolio or Start a Business

    Most employers these days are looking for individuals that already have experience. This creates a kind of “dead zone” for entry-level workers with marketable skills. They want to gain experience with the job, but they can’t get the job to gain experience. It’s an unfortunate catch-22, and contrary to popular belief, a college degree does not replace the desire for hands-on experience in the workplace. Businesses do not want to pay to train people any more than they have to, and this attitude is creating a shortage of trained individuals.

    Becoming a freelancer is an easy way to beat this system. Freelancing is an excellent transition into business ownership because it teaches many of the disciplines that it takes to succeed alone: budgeting, personal responsibility, relationships building, self-driven achievement, making sacrifices for the greater goal and being in charge of major decisions. Business ownership isn’t for everyone though, and some people will be more inclined to use their freelance skills as a catalyst for finding a job. This allows them to develop experience in their field while earning income.

    Reason Two: Take More Control Over Your Life

    Freelancing is called “free” for reason. As a freelancer, there’s no schedule, no time cards, no days on or off, no annoying managers and no secret maximum wages prior to promotions. In fact, there are no promotions. The only measurement of success and income as a freelancer are skills of the freelancer, the vitality of their profession’s market and their ability to find and earn clients.

    As a freelancer, there’s never a day where taking it easy due to illness is looked down upon or simply ignored by higher authorities. There’s never a day that’s ruined by a coworker calling out or walking out. Instead, there is only choice. Whatever you chooses to do and how hard you choose to work will ultimately determine how successful you will be. If you choose to put in 80 hours per week between learning, working and refining your processes, you won’t have to wait for a promotion to start seeing the benefits of your efforts. The benefits come based on their immediate and future value. Some skills are relatively useless in real-world scenarios, but that doesn’t stop people from requesting them on applications and in an educational curriculum.

    Freelancers choose their days off, their days on and their time spent away from work. Sometimes this isn’t true, as there may be long stretches of time where work is slow and money is stretched thin. The good news is that regardless of the circumstances, the freelancer is still developing skills, experience and knowledge about how to prepare themselves for the situation should it arise in the future.

    Reason Three: Develop Expertise at Your Own Pace

    The last reason is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of developing skills. People do not learn at the same pace, both compared with others and compared with themselves. It might take someone a week to learn a specific skill while another person might learn it in an hour. Similarly, a person might learn one skill quickly while struggling with another, regardless of how easy or difficult either skill is perceived to be. There’s countless factors that go in to how fast and thorough the learning process is, but many employers never consider this. Rather than understanding that everyone learns at a different pace, they have expectations and quotas. Freelancing allows a person to pick and choose their work as it matches their strengths and current ability instead of being expected to learn it in a day.

    Freelancing has many advantages, whether you’re doing it on the side to improve skills or increase income, are working for extra money and experience through college, or are freelancing full time to provide for your family. There are disadvantages too, of course – such as the peaks and troughs of irregular income, and the constant need to market your skills – but for the right person, freelancing in any industry will be a rewarding and worthwhile career.

    This article was submitted by Lamar Cook, a blogger for alabamainternetproviders.com. He enjoys writing about entrepreneurship, marketing and social media.

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  • I’m talking about Guest Blogging in the Wedding Business Evolution Summit!

    Hi everyone! So, it’s been far too long since I updated this here blog. I know, I know, do as I say, not as I do. Trust me, it has been in my mind for weeks, and I’ve even got a couple or articles half-drafted, but between working away at client work, building a house, and starting a new business enterprise (I know, because who needs sleep, right?) the idea of adding any updates here has made my brain turn to jelly. Lime-flavoured jelly – that’s the best flavour.

    But I thought I’d break radio silence to let you know about this exciting venture I’ve been involved in. Heidi Thompson is the awesome lady in charge of Evolve Your Wedding Business, an haven of advice for those marketing products and services to brides and grooms. She’s been an events and wedding professional in the UK and US for several years, most recently running The Alternative Wedding Fair events – which is just my kind of wedding show! Now she’s working on her own wedding marketing firm. Her first big undertaking is the Wedding Business Evolution Summit, which is essentially an online marketing conference for wedding professionals. It’s completely free to sign up an listen along to the seven informational webinars, and there is a truckload of useful tips and ideas for growing your wedding business within – including a webinar on guest blogging by yours truly!

    purple-haired-tattoo-bride

    The lineup includes:

    Tuesday 26th February at 3pm
    “Effortless PR: How to Generate a Promotional Buzz Without Working Your Tail Off”
    Presenter: Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting

    Tuesday 26th February at 7pm
    “The Price Shopper Bride: 3 Easy Strategies to Prove Your Value Immediately”
    Presenters: Stephanie & Jeff Padovani of Book More Brides

    Wednesday 27th February at 3pm
    “Guest to Impress: Strategic Guest Blogging For Wedding Businesses”
    Presenter: Steff Green of Grymm & Epic

    Wednesday 27th February at 7pm
    “Max the Fair: Be an Awesome Wedding Fair Exhibitor”
    Presenter: Cate Conway of Quirky Weddings

    Thursday 28th February at 3pm
    “Banish Overwhelm & Grow Your Business With Systems”
    Presenter: Michelle Nickolaisen of Bombchelle

    Thursday 28th February at 7pm
    “How To Get Your Hand Up Google’s Wedding Dress”
    Presenter: Steve Hooper of UK Wedding SEO

    Friday 1st March at 3pm
    “Why Your Website Is Keeping You From Making Money & What To Do About It”
    Presenter: Heidi Thompson of Evolve Your Wedding Business

    In order to get the free recordings, you’ve got to head over to the Wedding Business Evolution Summit page and RSVP. Then, you just tune in when each seminar goes live to hear all the info.

    If you can’t spare the time to listen now, or you want a record of all the useful tips and info, you can purchase the recordings of all the webinars from the Wedding Business Evolution Summit page. When you purchase these, you also get a HUGE stack of free bonuses, informational videos, productivity workbooks and a 30 minute coaching session. The first 15 people who get all the recordings will get a free guest post edit from me – I’ll look over your post before you send it out and tell you what’s working and what isn’t.

    If you’re in the wedding business, the information in these webinars will be extremely useful, so check them out!

    Have a Merry week! Steff

    Does your blog need a little rock-star attitude? If you’re looking for a professional ghost-blogger, check out my work in my blogging portfolio, and contact me on steff@grymmandepic.com to discuss your needs. Or you could join the Grymm & Epic Gazette for a monthly dose of business tips, special deals on writing services, and general silliness.

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  • Pirates, irate customers and post-blogging tips: A few of my most recent client blogs and guest posts

    I like to share some of my work with you, in case you feel you don’t get enough of me on my own sites. I’ve been busy writing my way across the web, with often humorous results! I had a lot of fun writing this post – Writing Tips from Blackbeard the Pirate – for […]

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  • The Short and Sweet Guide to Setting 2013 Goals

    2012 is no more. The Mayans were wrong, and thousands of conspiracy theorists the world over are scratching their heads in confusion. We were blown off our campsite (winds up to 160kmph – we were literally blown away!) so had a New Years party in the city this year, and now I have a fridge filled with camping food that desperately needs to get eaten!

    This year is going to be one of the biggest and craziest of my life, both in terms of my business and my personal life. This year I make the transition from city girl to country lass. This year I embark on an exciting new publishing challenge (more about that later), and this year I grow my business bigger and brighter than I ever thought possible.

    The New Year is a time to reflect on the last year, and to plan for the year ahead. But with family overstaying their welcome at your house, kids home for the holidays, and a gazillion other demands on your time, it can be hard to find a few minutes to sit down and think strategically about business. Before you know it, it will be the end of February and you haven’t started anything for the year yet.

    Here’s my solution – a short and very sweet guide to 2013 goal-setting.

    Chocolate Sweets-steffmetal

    Step 1: Buy a block of your favourite chocolate.

    You want a block with the little lumps in it that you can break apart easily. See, I told you this was going to be sweet! I recommend Whittakers Peanut Butter blocks, but if you can’t get Whitakkers, any type of chocolate will do.

    (If you can’t get Whitakkers, you need to come to New Zealand. RIGHT NOW. You MUST try it.

    Step 2: Creating your goals

    Break off five squares of chocolate, and lay them on the table in front of you. Get a wall calendar, and spread this out on the table. This exercise works best if you’ve already added in all your important business dates for the year.

    Step 3: Place the chocolate squares on the wall calendar in a completely artibrary manner.

    Spread them out across the year, so none of them are too close together. Don’t eat any – just yet.

    Step 4: Think about the kind of things you’d buy yourself a block of chocolate to celebrate.

    “Yay, I finished that website update!” “Woo! We landed our biggest client!” “Omigod, we’ve had our best Christmas season ever!” What kind of business events do you celebrate? At the end of a project – especially one you’ve worked your ass off for – you probably do something to acknowledge all that work you’ve put in. You might buy chocolate, or take a few days off, or whatever feels like a celebration to you. These are what your chocolate blocks represent.

    On your calendar, or a separate paper, write down celebratory events to coincide with your chocolate blocks.

    You may need to move some of your chocolate blocks to appear AFTER your goals for the year. For example, if you know you’re going to want to celebrate after giving that talk at the conference in October, then move one of your blocks to a date after the conference.

    Step 5: write down your goals

    Under your chocolate squares, on your calendar, write down the goals that correspond to them. Give them big stars and party hats, or write them in a different colour, so they’re easy to see. Now you’ve got a daily reminder of just what you’re going to achieve this year, as well as incentive to strive toward those goals. You know, once you hit those squares, it’s time for chocolate.

    Step 6: eat the squares.

    Hell, eat the rest of the chocolate block, too. You could share it with your family if you wanted. I’m not that crazy.

    Other Goal Setting Tips

    • Look to the past. When I set goals for the new year, I have all my financial records, my website stats, and my work log in front of me. I can track year to year the progress of my business. This helps me to see where I need to improve. I look at the types of projects I’ve been involved in, and think about what I want to do more of, and less of.
    • Look at your marketing. The beginning of the year is a great time to re-jig your marketing strategy. Look at all your different strategies over the last year and figure out what has worked, and what hasn’t. For example, in 2011 and 2012 I experimented with a lot of paid advertising. It didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, even with extremely targeted advertising. In 2013, my marketing strategy will have a much greater focus on guest-blogging and face-to-face networking.
    • Look at your time. Are there activities that take up a lot of your time for very little reward? Are you actually being paid for all the hours you work on your projects? As a freelancer, this is extremely important for me, because I need to maintain a certain hourly rate, and taking too long on certain projects means I earn less overall.
    • Look to your income. Are you earning enough? Is it time to raise your prices, to cut out product lines, or revamp the way you do business? Setting income goals for the year should be an integral part of your goal-setting progress.
    • Look to your dreams. Where do you want to be? What types of projects get you excited? What clients do you want to do more work for? Do you want to try something different? Never forget to incorporate personal projects into your schedule – these are the projects you do simply because you love them – maybe running a charity campaign or pitching a non-fiction book based on your business. For me, this has been my biggest struggle in 2012. I didn’t finish a novel last year, which I’ve done nearly every other year since I was 22. I did complete a children’s book and two non-fiction book proposals, but in 2013 one of my biggest goals is to finish one of my novel projects.

    Steff’s Goals for 2013

    I’ll add them here, so you can see some of the things I’m going to be getting up to this year.

    • Finish one of my novel projects. This is a year-long project. I’ve got one novel at 12000 words, and another at 4000, but the novel I finish may be neither of these.
    • Complete one children’s dummy book for new detective series. I’ve got the concept and the characters, now I just need to write the story.
    • Submit my children’s picture book, Charcoal Drives a Locomotive, to at least 20 publishers.
    • Have artwork appear in Lord of the Rings exhibition. I’ve got the application on my computer, I just need to find the time to start the painting.
    • Write 500 words of non-income producing projects every day (whether that’s novel, proposal, blog, ebook)
    • Update website with new ebook. The ebook is about 1500 words away from being finished. If only I could find the time!
    • Blog on Steff Metal AT LEAST 3 times a week, Gothic Wedding Planner 2 times a week, and Grymm & Epic at least once a week. I’ve been blogging less regularly over the past year, but no longer! It’s time to get back to being a serious blogger with serious blogs.
    • Grymm & Epic Gazette going out every fortnight.
    • Corpsepaint Kitty comics resuming with a new comic every fortnight.
    • Increase my year-end income by $10k. Because … well, who COULDN’T use another $10k?
    • Finish exciting publishing project. This is top secret, but trust me, it’s awesome.
    • Be a solid contributing member of my networking group. I want to give my all to the other members, because they’re all amazing, and I want to be a small part of helping them succeed.
    • Pull off alternative wedding expo. This is scheduled for May – let’s see if we can do it.
    That’s quite a lot of goals, but I’ve got quite a lot of days in which to achieve them. I’m getting close to one or two already. When I achieve each one, you better believe you’ll be hearing me shouting for joy on my blog.

    Plus, lots of goals means lots of blocks of chocolate.

    What are your goals for the year?

    PS. Does your blog need a bit of rockstar attitude? Contact me at steff@grymmandepic.com, and I’ll happily talk to you about your project. Or join the Grymm & Epic Gazette and get fortnightly updates and business advice.

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  • Post-Apocalypse Christmas Holiday Plan For Your Business

    Christmas is Coming, if the Mayan Apocalypse doesn’t get us first.

    What did you do on December 21, the day the Mayan calendar supposedly stopped? I officiated a gothic Victorian wedding – I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the end of the world!

    Although, I don’t really understand why everyone was so worried. I read recently on the Atlantic Wire that archaeologists found new astronomical tables in the city of Xultun. These new tables pre-date the previous codex, which mysteriously stopped on Dec 21, 2012, and span over 7,000 years into the future. So it seems we’re not doomed yet. It’s just that the Mayan writing down the codex got a sore hand and went down to the pub for a drink instead.

    What Does The Mayan Apcoalypse Have to Do With MY Business?

    Not much, actually, come to think of it. Except for the fact that since it didn’t happen, chances are high you’ll get to enjoy your Christmas turkey, go to the beach (or the ice skating rink) and sip vodka through a straw or whatever it is you get up to on New Years.

    You’re out-of-commission. On Holiday. And that means your business is going to have to tick along without you.

    Is YOUR business prepared for that responsibility?

    What is your business doing over the Christmas holidays?

    In New Zealand and Australia, businesses shut down for between 2-4 weeks over the Christmas period, and most people take their summer holidays during this time, eschewing the office for the beach bach or the pub floor. Many shops stay shut or offer reduced hours, and the country’s industry basically grinds to a halt.

    In other countries, it’s much the same, although the shut-down period is shorter, as people aren’t so keen on reading magazines on the beach when the deck chairs are covered in three inches of snow. If that’s your thing, then I hope you enjoy yourself and remain frostbite free, but otherwise, I hope you’re keeping warm and cosy inside.

    But what is your BUSINESS doing on this downtime? Everybody needs a holiday from time to time, especially if you work in a creative industry and need time to recharge your crazy brain. But most businesses could do without the loss of momentum created by shutting down for several weeks.

    That doesn’t mean you should be busting your ass working through the holidays. I know I won’t stand for it!

    I’m going offline for at least five days, and I plan on doing a lot of beaching, a lot of eating, and a lot of losing to my friends at board games. But I have to make sure that while I’m having my ass handed to me in Settlers of Catan that I’m not losing clients and valuable contacts.

    There is plenty you can do to minimise the stress of shutting down of the holidays, as well as ensuring you’ve got a full-plate of work to come back to.

    Have you:

    1. Let your clients know about your business hours over the holidays? If not, maybe it’s time you sent out an email or tweet.
    2. Realigned your deadlines to fit around your holiday plans? The last thing you want is to be sitting on the beach, getting sand in your iPad, while you frantically put the finishing details on an urgent project. Most people are happy to accommodate an extended deadline, as long as you let them know in advance.
    3. Put in place maintenance measures for business functions that can’t be shut off? For example, do you have staff in place to manage calls, answer emails and send off online orders? There are plenty of students out there glad for summer work, so contact a student job search agency with your needs.
    4. Quashed new projects till you have the headspace to deal with them? Choose a date after your return where you’ll pick up these projects again, but don’t spend your final business days trying to build momentum, or you’ll stress yourself out WAY more than necessary.
    5. Queued up blog posts and social media? Did you know you could schedule these things in advance? I always write posts in advance and schedule them, especially if I know I’m going to be busy or AWOL one week. I have two words for you: DO IT.
    6. Set Up Your Email Notification? Out of Office, Gone Fishing, Relocated to the Bottom of the Sea. Whatever it says, make sure it’s set up to inform your clients where you are, when you’re returning, and how they can contact you in an emergency.
    7. Tidied Your Desk or Workspace? This makes returning to work 100 times nicer and more pleasant.

    I’m not quite all the way through this list, but I’m nearly there.

    Copywriting and Blogging Clients

    I am pretty much shutting down work until the 4th of January, because I will be camping up on my newly-acquired lifestyle block, waking up to glorious sunrises and building fences to house our first herd of sheep.

    However, I will have my iPad with me and will be answering email the whole way through, so if you have a question about some work I’ve sent you, or you want to talk to me about a new job, please do shoot through an email to steff@grymmandepic.com

    Illustration Clients

    I’m not taking on new jobs until late January. I am working on getting a series of business-related cartoons up on my site, as well as a piece or art for a Lord of the Rings exhibition. These will be free to use on blogs and websites, as long as you provide a link back.

    In the New Year

    2013 is already looking like an exciting year for me and Grymm & Epic. Look forward to a new, free ebook on content marketing for businesses, the aforementioned business-cartoons gallery, an improved blog and newsletter, and another year of exciting projects and collaborations.

    To Everyone who reads my site, hires me, helps me, drinks my mead, writes to me and spreads the word about Grymm & Epic Copywriting and Illustration!

    I totally love ya, and thank you SO much! All the best over the holidays – take care, enjoy time with friends and family, and stay safe. I look forward to hearing about the mischief you get up to in the New Year!

    Merry Metal Christmas and a Head-banging new year!

    Steff

    PS. Do you want a New Years newsletter for your business? Or does your blog need a bit of rockstar attitude? Contact me at steff@grymmandepic.com, and I’ll happily take time out from trying to talk my husband into giving me two bricks for an ore, to talk to you about your project. Or join the Grymm & Epic Gazette and hear from me as soon as I return from the wilderness!

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  • Pricing Artwork – Why You’re Eating Cold Noodles for Dinner Again (plus, a recipe!)

    For any new business, pricing work can be a total guessing game. On the one hand, you want to undercut the competition, beucase you know everyone wants a bargain and you want to get your product out there. On the other hand, you want to eat. How to solve this quandary?

    The pricing problem becomes further compounded with creative businesses, because the product you’re selling isn’t something people can easily place value on. Artwork doesn’t immediately solve a pressing problem, or offer some kind of stable market for which you can compare models and prices. The price a person pays for artwork is whatever they feel it is worth. If they don’t feel it’s worth the price asked, they won’t pay for it.

    And that leads to the problem of underpricing artwork. Artists try to compete in the same way big box stores compete – by undercutting their fellow artists. I see this all too often when I talk to artist friends of mine. They cut prices and cut prices so that they can sell their work, so that they can be seen as producing high quality art for a lower price.

    This is bad for everyone – it’s bad for the public, who learn to place a low value on artwork. It’s bad for the artist, who isn’t making a profit, and it’s bad for other artists, because they begin to question their own prices and might be tempted to lower them just to compete.

    The thing is, art cannot compete against other art on price. It just can’t. What a collector is willing to pay for one painting won’t be the same as what he or she would pay for another. Your goal should never be to undercut your competition, or, worse still, sell work that has greater emotional meaning to you at an inflated price. Your prices should be realistic, consistent, and sustaining.

    The same goes for all creative endeavors – music, writing, modelling. To price any art realistically, you must take a step back and assess how collectors purchase. You should focus on offering your work at the price the market has determined it is willing to pay.

    We artists have a tendancy to place high prices on works that mean a lot to us emotionally or spiritually, and low prices on works that don’t. We also compare our work to others and price on a scale of where we think we stand on the subjective scales of “good vs bad art”.

    Pricing art is one of those areas of creative business where you want to take a fact-based approach, rather than follow your instincts.

    The Beginner Artist: Price as an Equation

    Most fledgling artists should arrive at their prices based on a simple mathematical equation: materials + labour + profit = price. But you first need to figure out how to work out those three variables.

    Materials:

    How much did your materials cost? You need to take into account canvas, inks, paints, pencils, pens, clay, metal, sculpture tools … The list is endless. Create a list of exactly what you use for one piece, what each item cost, and a percentage of that item you’ve used.

    Many artists charge a certain amount per inch for paint / ink, then work out the size of the finished piece and calculate a materials cost accordingly.

    But this method doesn’t always work. What if you create art from found objects? Then, your materials cost nothing. Ah, but I bet you spent time sourcing those materials. How much time? Add this on. Perhaps you incorporate some kind of rare and valuable find you happened to come across for nothing. In which case, you should assess the value of that object and incorporate that.

    Labour:

    How many hours did it take to bring your piece to completion? This includes time for research, sourcing materials, creating and finishing the piece.

    What rate should you charge per hour? Set this according to your skill level. Beginning artists might charge between $10-20 per hour, those with more experience and followers will charge more. Multiply one by the other and you have a labour cost.

    Profit:

    Now that you’ve got a labour and material cost, you should add profit on top. Most profit margins end up being 0.5x to 2x the cost of labour and materials. Some artists raise their profit margin even higher, but they’re usually established artists who can command a higher price.

    Pricing can be further complicated by the production of prints, which increase the value of a single artwork. Many artists don’t make a huge profit on their original pieces, but their money comes from selling prints. Others price their originals on the high end of the scale, in order to market their prints as “bargains”, no matter the cost of the print itself. Saying to a collector, “the original work is $45,000, but you can get a signed, limited edition print for only $200″, makes those prints instantly collectable.

    As a bare minimum, the price of your artwork needs to cover your material and labour costs. For whatever reason, you may decide to take little or no profit on your piece – perhaps you’re just starting out and you want to create the momentum of sales. Perhaps you’re attending a craft fair and know a piece won’t sell at your higher rate (I say, not harm in trying, but you might not have that luxury).

    Thinking About Your Art Market

    After you’ve worked out your basic price for an artwork, you’ll need to do a bit of market research. First, determine the venues through which you plan to sell your art. Are you going to exhibit in a local gallery, sell through a gift show, sell at craft fairs and markets, or in hotel lobbys and cafes?

    Visit these venues and study the market. What are similar sized artworks selling for? What do people get for their money? You will find vastly different experiences depending on the venues you’re aiming for, becuase the markets are different and the buyers are paying for different things.

    In my experience, galleries command the highest prices, and attract the buyers willing to pay these prices. However, some smaller galleries are more like gift shops for artwork and have lower price points. These are usually looking for a certain style of artwork focused on regional subjects. Art can be popular at craft fairs, as long as the price point is fairly low, or the artist has plenty of prints for sale.

    Focus your attention on that art that is selling. If the market is buying paintings for $350-700, and ignoring those in the $3000-5000 range, this tells you the market is not willing to fork over that kind of cash.

    Think like a real estate agent, who sets prices based on comparable houses that have sold in the neighborhood. You’re setting a price for your work based on the prices of other artists work. Collectors these days are savvier than ever – they often compare works and prices in many galleries before choosing what to buy. You need to be priced on the same level as your contemporaries to avoid being ignored.

    When to Raise Your Prices:

    So now that you’ve determined a fair cost for your work, you might be wondering when it is appropriate to raise your prices.

    Commanding a higher price for your work will only work if people are willing to pay it. If you develop a dedicated following and an impressive sales history, then you can think about raising your prices. Developing this reputation for quality only comes through networking, building an audience and selling consistently through your chosen venues.

    It’s not uncommon for established artists to raise their rates by 10-15% in a year.

    Consistent Pricing for Artists

    Some artists prefer to keep their pricing consistant across all their selling venues (and you should probably have more than one selling venue). Their argument is if someone buys a painting from a gallery and then sees a similar painting for sale on your website for a reduced cost, they’re going to be annoyed.

    I think that if they saw the painting (or sculpture, or print, or collage of kitchen utensils) and wanted it, and paid the gallery’s asking price for it, than what’s the problem? They obviously felt it was of sufficient value to warrant that price sticker. If they find your website after the fact and realise the prices are cheaper without gallery commission, than they’ll be more inclined to purchase directly from you, which isn’t a bad thing.

    (Except, some people think it is. Because they view this as artists taking money away from galleries. I also disagree with this view, because galleries aren’t charity cases – they are businesses.)

    However you price your artwork, you should continually evaluate your market and reassess your rates. Would your buyers be willing to pay more? Do you need to lower prices to attract an audience? Don’t undertake pricing decisions lightly – have solid research to back up any choice you make, especially if you intend to lower prices.

    And, for those of you stuck with instant noodles again for tea tonight, here’s my husband’s favourite recipe:

    CHD’s Honey Soy Noodles

    Ingredients:

    • 200gms diced meat (usually chicken)
    • 2 cups stir fry vegetables
    • 2 Tbsp honey
    • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 packed Udon noodles

    In a wok or frying pan, brown your meat (if you’re having meat). Once the meat is halfway there, add a tablespoon of honey and swirl it around so everything gets covered in honey goodness.

    Add your veges and cook for a few more minutes. Than add your noodles (we don’t microwave them first or anything, just throw ‘em straight in) and cook until they’re ready, about 1-2 minutes.

    Take off the heat and add a good dash of soy sauce. Swirl it through and serve.

    If you want more articles about creative marketing for ass-kicking small businesses, as well as my FREE ebook, “Unleash the Beast: Releasing Your Inner Creative Monster”, hop over and get the Grymm & Epic Gazette.

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  • New Work – The Great Victorian Food Fight

    And you thought tea parties were harmless fun … I recently finished a new piece that appeared in the Part Time Artist, Full Time Friend show, held at the Classic Comedy Club on Sunday 18 November. The show was a great local arts initiative combining a one-day art show, 14 bands and musicians and comedy […]

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  • Finding the “Voice” of Your Business

    If you’ve spent any length of time around writers, discussions of “voice” will inevitably arise. “I’m writing in the first person, but I’m finding the voice a little tough,” or “I really admire the richness of Margaret Atwood’s voice” or even, “I’m trying to fit my voice into a male character, and it’s just not working …”

    But if you try to corner one of us to ask exactly what we mean by “voice”, you’ll find we stammer some half-arsed answer, cry “look, a man wearing an enormous novelty mustache!” and scamper away when you back is turned. “Voice” is a concept writers understand innately, but we struggle to describe.

    But “voice” is a concept that’s vital for any business owner to grasp, as it’s an integral part of your brand. And since I’m a writer who works predominantly with small business owners, I thought I’d do my part to demistify the concept of voice and why it’s important for your business.

    What IS Your Business “Voice”?

    It’s the words, the tone, the inflections behind your products and services. Your business voice – alongside your logo, your images, your products – is what clues your customers in to what you do and who you do it for. Your voice doesn’t just tell your customers WHAT you sell – it shows them your whole branding concept: your target customer, your business principles, your customer service policies. It’s all there, wrapped up in your voice.

    Your voice is HOW you say the things you need to say to your customers. It helps them understand your products and services, and it helps them feel comfortable using your company. Your voice is what separates your copy from something written by a robot.

    Your voice should always be friendly and courteous, but it can also be elegant, glamourous, down-to-earth, humorous, straight-to-the-point, poetic, dramatic or downright silly. Your voice will vary, depending on the clients you’re trying to attract and the particular aspects of your personality or business you want to emphasize.

    It flows from you, as the owner and the creative force behind your branding and focus. But your voice also has to address the needs of your customers. You have to make your business relevant to them.

    Why is Your Business Voice so Important?

    The voice of your business helps your clients and customers to trust you. It’s friendly, it’s informative, but it also has a personality that resonates with them. It says, “I understand your problems. Let me fix them for you.”

    The tone, the words you use, the way you convey your message are vital to forming that trust. They make your customer feel comfortable, and establish your brand as friendly – as someone who speaks their language. All communications involves is the ability to speak to customers the way they want to be spoken to.

    As an example, say two businesses offer the same product – bespoke furniture designs for the high-end of the interior design market. Company One have a very “bare-bones” approach to their catalogue and website copy. They talk about materials, function and very little else. Company Two have crafted a brand based on elegance, and their copy reflects this, with products descriptions that emphasize how a piece can function in a room as a whole. They have a section of their site dedicated to explaining their design concept, and another talking about their sustainable building materials. They aren’t flowery or over the top, but you key sentences and words to explain how a piece of bespoke design can enhance their customer’s life.

    Both “voices” are equally valid, but I know which company I’d be drawn to. However, in another market segment, or in another industry, the “elegant prose” of Company Two would seem out-of-place and ostentatious.

    In my line of work, getting the voice right is vital to successful copy. Clients and customers expect a certain tone for specific industries, they need to see and hear certain words before they’ll commit to an order. Sometimes you can play with this to great effect, by inverting their expectations to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. The voice of Grymm & Epic is very unique for example: a little bit odd, a little unusual. This is part of what makes me stand out to potential clients. But I have to back that up with solid results and seriously good writing. I have to show potential clients that I can step out of my own voice and into theirs.

    Your voice needs to be something definable, so that you can help others understand it. If you hire employees who offer customer service for your business, edit your website or perform any other function that involves your written or verbal communications, they need to understand the company’s voice, so they can use it/ What can and can’t they say? What should their tone be? How do they deal with this or that problem?

    How do You Find Your Business “Voice”?

    You need to look carefully at two things – the personality behind your communications, and the needs of your target customer.

    Your business voice will, naturally, be your own. You’ll put in jokes you think are funny, use the sentence structure you’re familiar with, express things in a way that resonates with you. It can take practice to get your words to reflect your personality, especially if writing doesn’t come naturally to you. I suggest you try journalling – documenting your life for a week or a month. Don’t try to laundry-list every single event, but pick up those situations that struck you as humorous or sad or troubling or fun – and write about those. Write the details. Work on conveying a sense of those moments. This is how you find your voice.

    Or, you might have a product that really creates it’s own voice. You find this a lot with things like kids toys, board games, and sexy lingerie. In which case, you might want to do the same journalling exercise, just from the point-of-view of your toy or underwear. Have fun with that!

    The next thing you need to look at is your customer’s needs. You can do this a number of ways, but I like to do it through profiling. I create a profile of the ideal customer: give him or her a name, an age, a family life, hobbies, interest, an income, worries, fears, hopes and dreams. Then, read through your website or catelogue as if you were that customer. Try to answer these questions:

    • Why do I need this?
    • What is in this for me?
    • Does this answer my questions?
    • Why should I care?
    • Does this get me closer to my goal?
    • Will this excite me? Surprise me? Give me an experience I’ll never forget?
    • Will I regret buying this?

    Your business voice is where your voice and your customer’s needs intersect. Does your business “voice” reflect what YOU want your business to be?

    If you want more articles about creative marketing for ass-kicking small businesses, as well as my FREE ebook, “Unleash the Beast: Releasing Your Inner Creative Monster”, hop over and get the Grymm & Epic Gazette.

    Read More
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