Being a new internet Small Business Owner
My Journey to Success
I'm still on that journey and I'd like to chronicle my experiences so far. If you are a success, please leave me your advice. I'm all ears so to speak.
Update 6/4/2011: I found another site to sell my art work. I still haven't sold anything there (or at Printfection) but you can see some of my designs in an RSS feed at the bottom of this lens. I also added a business blog and removed some modules that weren't generating any content. I hope you like the changes.
Diving into the unknown
Into the scary world of internet marketing
If you are looking for advice in this lens, I don't think you're going to get much. This is just about my experiences as a budding internet entrepreneur.
Since I was a teenager, I've wanted to be a fashion designer. I used to supplement my babysitting money by knitting and crocheting doll clothes (which I designed myself) and I would sell them through a concession store in a nearby town.
When I was college age, I decided to pursue this interest. I started taking classes at a well respected fashion school. I tried to learn how to take my ideas and make them into clothes. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past either of the beginning level courses (flat pattern design, which I tried twice, and draping). So I tried jewelry designing.
What I thought was going to be a class on stringing beads turned out to be a class on how to make silver and gold jewelry. I did a number of designs using wax models (which I created) and sent them to the caster and then polished them up. I really enjoyed it and started selling some of my designs to co-workers of mine and my mother's. I did sell a number of pieces, but not enough to support myself.
I also started drawing designs. Since I didn't know how to draw figures, I would trace figures from comic books and fashion ads without the clothing they were wearing and draw clothes on them. Over the years, I have collected quite a number of pages of designs. Some of them I even have up on my web site.
I took some time away from all this to get a college degree (BA in TV/Radio), get credits toward a second degree (in computer art), work as an office manager, a programmer, a tech writer and probably six or seventy other things.
Along the way, I got into graphic design (took an adult education course in it) and computer graphics. I began "doing" computer graphics on an Apple II series computer.
I did some graphic design work, mostly freelance. I did some graphic design work for a tee shirt design company and I did a design of what I later called "Strong Jewish Women".
Fast forward several years. I got tee shirts printed with this original design (I still have quite a number of them left). I was trying to sell those when a friend of mine told me about cafe press. So I started designing things on cafe press (I still do). Then another friend told me about Etsy (to put up my hand done things). Then, through squidoo, I found out about shop-it and put some of my "stuff" up there. Another friend of mine told me about Zazzle.
So, now that I have so much of my artwork up on different products, I needed a way to "get the word out". That's where squidoo comes in. I've been using squidoo as one of my marketing tools for 3 years. As you can see (by looking down) it gives me a lot of flexibility.
I also use my blogs to promote my sites. I have links (like the ones below in this module) to my blogs (and my squidoo lenses).
Off the net, I pass out business cards and do pre-holiday boutiques where I show off my growing inventory of products. I'm not selling tons this way, but it does seem to get better each time.
But I'm still, after almost 4 years, in that limbo state. I'm still trying to get a foothold with my internet business. I hope it's just a matter of time, but sometimes I wonder.......
Changes to my Business Since I wrote this lens
Well, since I first wrote this lens a friend of mine who has helped me along the way (she helped me find Cafe Press, for example) is now in the process of becoming my business partner. She will be the business end and I'll be able to concentrate on the artistic end. I love the artistic end!
Update 7/26/2013: The abovementioned friend never did officially become a partner. She became ill and we never got it back together. So I'm still struggling to get the business end of my business going.
Hanukka is coming!!!
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Compugraph Designs Printfection Store
In addition to our Cafe Press and Zazzle sites (see modules above), we also have a store on "Printfection" which includes cutting boards (good wedding or housewarming gifts), mugs and cups, tees, etc.
This cutting board is only one of the many items at our store:
(Click on the picture to go directly to this product's page)