Now Open! "Podtastic"

Now Open! "Podtastic"
Painting, journaling, color mixing and more!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Art Biz Mondays: 5 Things I've Learned About Being In Control Of My Activities





Art Biz Mondays


It's become a habit for me over the last 6 months or so to sit down on Monday's and gather my business shizzle together.   Actually,I've been doing Art Biz Monday's for longer than that, 'electronically' it's been about 6 months. What I mean by that, is  previously all my planning and business numbers were done on paper, then 'sometimes' or at 'some point' , I would  transfer that information electronically to my computer.

The problem with that method is that I lost my planner once.  Total freak out.  Luckily my planner was returned in tact by a good Samaritan.  I also spilled a drink on my planner and had several pages  stuck together.  Bad, girl, I know.

Fast forward to last November and I decided to take charge and change the way I organized my business information,  moving from a paper system to an electronic system that encapsulated a monthly sales sheet,  weekly task list,  yearly goals and events, customer order sheet,  social media stats,  and a gallery spreadsheet that lists addresses, notes about the gallery, payments and shipping dates.  

The problem with this system is that you can also spill coffee on your computer and loose all the information.  yes. That happened to me last week.    LUCKILY  all was only temporarily lost.  The brilliant techie guy I found helped recover lost data with relative ease.  phew. PHEW!!!!!  So...lesson learned, I backed up everything on Drop box from my documents that should have been backed up  long ago.     I'm still working on my pictures, but that's another story.


Here are some things I've learned about myself and my art biz by being more focussed on my financials and activities.


1.  Overall,  I feel more in control of my business and activities.  I sat down before the end of the year and planned out what I was going to be doing (the bigger events and things I knew were coming up) each month. Overbooking and jamming up my schedule has been a constant hurdle that I have had to figure out a way to manage.  When I say this, it's not like I have events every week, but being a single parent and not having all the flexibility in the world to travel all the time, I have to really be realistic about what I can do and the time inbetween projects I need to do things well both personally and professionally. 

2.  My sales online have gone up dramatically over the last few months.   Perhaps part of the reason is that the work that has been put in place over the last few years is really starting to flow even more so than in the past, but I also think the reason my sales have increased is that I'm more aware of what's working and what's not working.   What's working is focusing on my online sales..haha.   I'm giggling because..ya...what a  brillian idea, if you focus on something, and give it some attention that it deserves, well what do you know, you see an uptick in activity generally!  I definitely want to delve into this more in another post, but for now...let's leave it at the fact that I've gone from having 40 or so items in my shop around Christmas time to steadily increasing that number to around 100 items currently, has helped sales tremendously.  

3.  Starting the week with a more specific plan outside of what my monthly plan has been extremely helpful in keeping myself accountable.  I like to check things off a list, and I get frustrated with myself if they aren't checked off.   Instead of 'physically' checking off that list, I highlight tasks that are completed. Those that are not completed get moved to the following week..and honestly, just like any list, sometimes certain things get moved up or down in priority, depending on what is going on.

4.   By tracking not just my sales, but my productivity, I can ensure that I'm putting the effort into producing enough inventory and the right inventory that will help me achieve my goals.   Now some of you may be saying, ya...but what about your inspiration, how can you track or force that to reach a particular number?  The answer is you can't force anything but at the same time, you simply must have either things into the pipeline later that will net a positive result, or create work that will eventually net what you need to make a living...scratch that...not just make a living, but be able to thrive like any business would want to. As an artist, you are no different.  You just have to change your mindset and merget the creativity with your business sense. 

5.   I've also learned, I'm far from perfect. I need help in certain areas.  I can't do it all myself.  I overcommit still despite my best efforts not to overcommit.  I get tired.  I get cranky. I procrastinate.  I get burned out.  I am messy and disorganized in my studio.  I am not as proactive as I want to be.  I am not where I want to be in my version of success.   And you know what, all of these things I've learned are totally okie-dokie. There is always something to learn and grow from.   The part of being more aware  and having a system in place is that you can keep yourself in check and keep re-evaluating the plan. The more I learn, the more I realize there is MORE to learn.   Does that make sense?  For point number 5 my key learning is that things are not always going to be perfect, I'm not going to always live up to my own expectations, and that even when I think I have a handle on it all, things change.   My reaction to those changes and those 'faults' of mine is what has changed (and still changing in a more positive way).  I'm still more in control than I used to be and that has made all the difference to my state of mind and my art biz.



How in control of your creative business are you?

What do you have in place that works for you?

What do you NEED to put in place to thrive in what you do?

Join in the conversation.  I'd love to hear from you through the comments here or via email:

jodiohl@hotmail.com


Artfully yours,

Jodi Ohl

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Be sure to stop by my shop today for a GREAT special on this featured Giclee print,  limited to 50 prints with only 5 offered at this great price of 1/2 off the regular retail price.

Size:  24 x 36
Medium: Giclee print on Somerset Velvet Paper  (similar to water color paper)
Edition:  Limited Edition of 50 prints
*all prints are made to order at a professional photo lab.  Shipment arrives normally around 10-14 days after you order.   It will come signed, dated and numbered.

Down By The River   24 x 36  Giclee


To see this item or more new work and 'articrafts', please visit my shop by clicking HERE.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Burning Question: So You Want to Teach...How Do I Prepare for a Class Proposal?




Did everyone survive "Tax Day" ?  Phew..I'm glad it has come to pass and I can continue moving forward in 2015!  For today's post, I wanted to talk about a few  things.  First off, I am having a fun 'Tax Relief' sale over at Creative Workshops (or in my online shop) featuring all of my Creative Workshops online classes. I do offer classes in other venues so not to confuse anyone but the sale is for the CW classes only.  Save up to 25% off all of my classes including my Podtastic class (featured at 20% off the regular price).  If you are looking for some inspiration using mixed media painting applications, techniques galore, abstract, collage, faces and more--stop by HERE or click the image to be taken to the shop.




Perhaps online classes aren't your thing...I have a couple of spots open in my Funky Little City Scapes this Satruday, April 18th at Jerry's Artarama, in Raleigh, NC.  The class is a full day mini city painting extravaganza, full of great techniques and of course, tons of fun!

For registration and more information, click HERE to be taken to the class page.

Grunge Ink coming to the Art More Place in Melbourne, Florida this June!
Okay...On to the topic of the day:

How Do I Create a Class Proposal

Speaking of classes,  recently I was asked by a past student of mine about sending in class proposals to teach at a small shop. What was involved? How do I price my classes and how do I ensure I make a profit in doing so?  I  thought that if one person had this question, perhaps a few others of you may have this same question, so today I'm going to share a few tips to help you gather your thoughts and wrap your arms around what you need to do get started teaching what you love.

Disclaimer-this list is in no way all inclusive nor does it mean that this is the only way to do this, it merely is a sharing of my own experiences. I've been teaching online for over 7 years and I have taught at large national retreats, mid size galleries and shops, and local and small shops/venues, so while not all inclusive, it is well rounded. 


First Things First


Make sure you are ready to teach your processes. When you embark on a teaching career as an artist, you are inspiring and guiding others to go down a creative path as well. You in a sense, have to be willing to let go of what you do and not hold back the information the students need to be successful. There is a high  likelihood that your designs will be replicated by many and you have to be okay with that as it is the way students learn until they find their own way. If you are not at peace with that thought, than don't teach that what is still too close to you.


1 1 /2 day extended version of Funky Little Beach Scapes at the Art More Place in Melbourne, Florida this June. 

How Do I Price My Classes?

Similar to pricing your work, your creative class offerings evolve based on your experience, your credibility, the demand for your services,  and the uniqueness of your class/you in the field you are teaching. One of the best things you can do is to research on your own, artists/instructors that you feel are on the same peer level as you and see what they are charging for their classes.  Be mindful of the length of class, location (is travel or overnight stays required),  size of venue, and what supplies the teacher is expected to provide (if any) to the students.   

All of these factors can effect your prices slightly, however once you have a class outline in place-be very careful of not changing the prices of your class by the venue unless there is a significant reason why you would do so.   

Remember when pricing your classes, to include the prep time it takes to create the class, the samples, travel if needed, the uniqueness of your workshop, and of course profit.    Be very careful when agreeing to do a class that pays by the hour or is asking for multiple days of instruction over a period of weeks.  There's not only a time commitment on your part,  you need to know how many students you will be teaching  and if there are any guarantees for you as an instructor.    I personally do not teach by the hour for a one time event.   The reason is that financially it doesn't make sense to do that nor is it competitive with other classes that I offer both in person and online. 

Twinks on Yupo, an online class over at icreatflix.com


Know What Is Included and Is Expected

Is travel required?  Who pays for any food and lodging that you will incur as an expense?  Is the cost of airfare your responsibility or the venue?  What marketing will you both need to do? Who covers the expense? Do they have a marketing plan in place to promote your event?  You also have to have a marketing plan to be successful.   Will you be providing the supplies? Will the students be bringing their own supplies? Or will the venue be providing the supplies for a cut of your overall class fee? Is there an exclusivity agreement that is required (can you teach your class elsewhere in the area or for a period of time)?  Are you able to charge a fee for supplies you are asked to bring (remember, your supplies used are not free!  Even if you get a sponsor,  and get free supplies, or some samples...there ALWAYS is an expectation for you to do something for those supplies in return which takes time (like sample projects, videos, blog posts, social media promotions).   Be sure to take this into account when pricing your classes at least as an underlying cost of doing business.


I'll be honest, this is an area I am trying to do better in and be more realistic myself.  My inclination in the past is to say YES to everything and figure out the details later, which has left me in a not so great position in some cases.    I've even gone in the 'hole' teaching at certain venues because of not truly figuring out all the expenses before hand.   With that said, there can be reasons why you choose to take a chance on teaching in a location that may not be financially lucrative (long term opportunities, to build your resume, to break into a new market,  to build a student following, to view it as a marketing opportunity, to test out a class process in a small market that you will take and bring to a larger market with additional opportunities).

One of the things I feel I can do better at is having clear expectations on my travel engagements especially and to have an outline on my minimums, expenses, and other variables that I can just send to prospective venues when I am asked to teach.   Some places have very standard contracts in place and they already have those factors outlined, that's not to say you can't negotiate those items if you are called to do so, and other venues sit quietly and let you make the first move  when discussing the financials.  The standards  aren't necessarily even or the same across the board per instructor.  I don't feel this is a bad thing, after all everyone is looking to make a living, but I am saying, that the more prepared YOU are and the more YOU know what you can and can't do...and why, the better off everyone will be and the likelihood everyone will be happy with the arrangement.

Extreme Portraits, an online workshop over at Colourarte.com



Lastly

There are many times when you are called upon to teach what you love that may fall out of the realm of all these guidelines.  For example,  volunteer projects,  demonstrations,  blog post tutorials,  lectures, interviews,  donations, etc.  Many,  if not most, of these opportunities are very worthy of your time, but remember before you say yes to everything, choose your projects wisely and go with what your heart tells you to do. You can get very burnt out by saying yes to it all because as creatives, our hearts are so big and empathetic to all causes and requests for our time and talent, we forget how much energy (time and money) is expended going in a different direction that is not aligned with our goals and aspirations.  Don't make the mistake of undervaluing what you do and come to your agreement to doing something for 'exposure' or for a cause out of fear....make the decision out of love, love for others as much as a love for yourself and your family.  

Teaching other artists to do what you do should also come from a place of love and true desire to share.  Yes...I've talked a lot about the financials and expenditures because I think that artists need to understand & take into consideration all of  these things just as any small business should.  Beyond the financials is the underlying core of your calling. Are you compelled to pass on the torch of creativity?  If so, then proceed on with all that you have within you!   It doesn't make you any less or anymore of an artist if you teach or not teach, it just puts you on a different career path-one that I hope you proceed on with open eyes, an open heart, and a passion that fuels not just you..but all of your students.


Podtastic-one of my newest online classes on sale over at Creative Workshops



Free Worksheet For You To Use:


If you would like additional guidance on how to compile a basic teaching proposal, please check out my PDF worksheet created for you below.  It has tips and suggestions for you that you can amend based on your situation or the request of a particular venue.    

Click here

I hope you found this article insightful. Asking the right questions and knowing what is expected or needed is truly an art in itself!

Do you have a 'Burning Question' around art, the art business, living the creative life?  Drop me a line here in the comments or send me an email at :   jodiohl@hotmail.com

I'd love to hear from you and will be featuring as many questions as I can in upcoming posts, articles, and down the road, classes!


Artfully Yours,

Jodi Ohl


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New in the shop:  Family Matters!

Family Matters 11 x 14 original painting

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Burning Question: What Do I Have to Do to Get Business?

"Grace and Love"  18 x 36  

The other day I had a conversation with someone who was seeking out business advice around her art/craft business and one thing that became apparent within seconds of our conversation starting was how unhappy she was. Frustration, despair, anger, and negativity oozed from her lips as we talked about ideas around running a creative business.  

What was lacking anywhere in the conversation was passion.



I'm not saying she wasn't passionate about what she did, I'm sure she probably was, but it was buried so deep within, she was not conveying it.

All I could hear was how there were roadblocks everywhere.

Nothing was going well.

Business was horrible.

No traffic.

She didn't have money.

She wasn't going to sell online either.  

She didn't have a computer and wasn't about to get one, she couldn't afford it.

Collect emails and send a newsletter?  No way, I don't even have an email address, why would I do that?


The truth of the matter is, there's not one person out there that goes into business for their self, that doesn't come up on a roadblock or an obstacle to overcome, at one time or another or quite frankly, frequently in what they do.  

If you are lacking passion or drive to do what you want to do that is bigger and stronger than a monetary reward, than you probably aren't going to be successful.  Those roadblocks will trip you up every time if you are lacking drive and passion.

It's that drive to create and to put your ideas out into the world anyway you can that keeps you fueled on a day to day basis. You have to keep seeking out opportunities. You have to continue to hone your skills and improve what you do all the time.  Will you need to refuel from time to time and take breaks? Of course.  No one's well is at full capacity 100% of the time.  Ever.  Bigger than drive perhaps is  a compulsion  to do this more than anything else in the world.

When things aren't happening, you have to take a good look at yourself and  consider that part of the reason may be external factors, but also take ownership for what you are doing or not doing to the best of your ability. What needs to be changed? What can you do differently?  It's easy to get discouraged during down times. I've been there and done that too...but the important thing is to know that there are MANY things within your control that you can do to be better or more successful (whatever your definition of success is).

If there is a roadblock that you refuse to cross for whatever reason, then know that maybe that is just the thing that is keeping you from being successful.  Be open to change, because change happens whether you want it to or not. Perhaps that roadblock was put in your way by the 'universe' to force you to change directions. It could be a little bit of both, too.  Something you need to cross over, or something you need to turn and go a different way.  Thank about that for a minute.


As the conversation continued,   she fought me tooth and nail on any suggestion that I had for her.  I don't have all the answers for sure, but the lack of consideration even for a minute of anything that I mentioned showed me that she wasn't asking out of a sincere place of trying to improve her business, it was coming from a place of desperation and need to just survive.   


The passion wasn't apparent. 

Also lacking was an entrepreneurial spirit.  The fact she was in a creative business was more or less because she couldn't find a job elsewhere and this is what she knew and what she enjoyed doing.

It's very difficult to make a hobby a business if you lack drive or are working from a place of despair.  Honestly, there are a lot of creatives that aren't great business people...but you either have to roll up your sleeves and learn how to be a business or surround yourself with those that are. Hire out. Trade services. Join clubs or organizations that can provide mentorship.  




I never want to discourage anyone from creating or doing art because I think it is life changing  for not just yourself, but for those around you as well as the world at large.    My point for this post is that if you are in business or looking to be in business for yourself, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and be willing to do whatever it takes to make it work.   But most of all, never loose the passion that drove you to do what you love. If your attitude is in the toilet,  chances are your business isn't going to be far behind. 

  The person I was speaking to that inspired this post is a good person and the interaction was a teachable moment for both of us.  I think  she knew most of the answers but was unwilling to hear them, for me..having the courage to tell someone something they didn't necessarily want to hear was hard honestly.   If someone is struggling and wanting to find a way out, if you say everything is rainbow and unicorns, and wonderful--well, that isn't helping anyone either, right?


Find your way to shine and let the world see all the good that you have to offer!  "Positivity" and belief that you can do something is 1/2 the battle...figuring out the steps to take to make it work and running after them as if there is a lion chasing you is probably the next step ;)  


Remember:  let your passion shine for everyone to see.  If it's buried so deep within your soul,   the world is going to pass by without noticing your gifts and that would be a shame. 

I've said this before and I'll say this again,  think long and hard before turning a hobby into a business...even if the start up cost is lower than say buying a software company or restaurant chain, it doesn't mean that there are no costs or no investment necessary.  Time and energy being the biggest investment of all..but of course there are other things you just have to have or do to make a creative business get off the ground.

Lastly,  remember...no one has all the answers you are seeking.  The questions are always changing. The answers are always evolving. The path is winding and the starting points are all slightly different.

Make YOURSELF be the authority on what you do by never stop learning and discovering around your chosen business/art/craft.   The art of discovery is a great fuel to keep your passion going, which is at the core of how to generate business...if that is indeed what you want to do. 




Thank you for stopping by today!

Artfully yours,

Jodi 


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HUGE HUGE HUGE milestone hit this week (more about that later) in my Etsy shop!

Before the New Year, I had about 40 items in my shop
Art by Jodi Ohl...today, I topped over 100 items. I've been slowly adding on items, extending lines and just overall doing a better job at listing my work and keeping the shop updated.  I had a goal to hit a 100 items and I was going to try to keep it around that  number of offerings but I think I'm going to continue on and up that goal to 150 items before the end of the year.   I have a blog post or two about some 'aha' moments as to what has happened this year and why that hopefully can helps some of you. Stay tuned for that!



To see other items in my Etsy Shop, please click HERE. :)