Choosing the Right CMS and E-commerce Platform for Your Online Creative Business

It all begins when a business owner decides they need an important online presence to tell their story, build a community or following, and feature their products and/or services. They know it’s time to accomplish this online but they are unsure how to begin this process.

If this is you, the BIG question you may ask is “How do I present myself and what type of website do I need?”

website under construction graphicHow do you decide which CMS to use?

I have built websites using WordPress, Concrete5, Joomla, Drupal and more… Some sites are even a combination of a few CMS’s. For example, I recently worked on a combination of Drupal and WordPress so we could add a blog to the site that had been build previously, while in another project we used, WordPress, aMember and aWeber to build a community membership site.

Basically what you need to know is that the plan and functionality drive a site and each CMS can manipulate the site’s functionality, therefore one may be better than another depending upon your needs. Your designer should recommend which CMS to use for your particular site, however, you should get to know a few of the difference platforms and their functionality, to determine which might be best for you.

Each business has a different set of goals and so their site is structured and designed in a different way.  Some businesses want to show off their amazing artwork, some want to sell products, some have a mission and are looking for a following. In each case, the site must be designed and structured to meet those goals.

Different E-commerce Systems

When it comes to e-commerce there are a few different routes.

The simplest is to have a business paypal account. Once created and linked to your business bank account, you can create simple transactions or create buttons, and the buttons can be added to your website to sell a product or service. You can even create your own button graphics to match your website “branding.”

The next step up would be to have a paypal shopping cart within your own site. Someone clicks on the same type of “add to cart” but instead of going straight to paypal it loads the purchase into your cart where they fill out their personal contact details and once they hit submit, it goes to paypal where they make the transaction. Many use this solution as it’s quite economical to set up as well as the ease of the transactions.

When you feel you are ready to accept credit cards on your own site, be prepared for longer development, costs, and having to secure a merchant account with your bank and you will need to pay monthly fees… An example might be Magento, which works well with WordPress.

Always Remember to Keep Your Website Fresh

You website is the Hub you want everyone flocking to. When you blog, it’s to draw traffic. When you write on twitter or facebook it’s to send them to your latest product or blog post. When you send out a press release it has a link back to your latest product or service.

Your website has to be built in a way that it can continue to expand.  It’s also important to NAME your website a name that will be recognizable and easy for the search engines to find.  As a creative, you’ll probably name your website your own name as your art is your own, but you can certainly come up with a clever tagline which you can add to your branding and pr.

Tips on Pricing Your Creative Work & Knowing Your Self-Worth

As a creative business owner we’re faced with a dilemma. Do we create what we want,  when we want to, or do we run our creative business based upon our brand image and mission? Most creatives will say they are only interested in the creative aspect and don’t focus on how they’re going to make a living. You may have a vision in the back of your mind of finding part or full time work outside of your studio which can pay the bills and allow you to continue to make your art when you have the time!

Andrea and I are here to tell you that this thinking is harmful and isn’t necessary! The fact that you have decided to make a living as an artist or creative doesn’t mean you cannot make money in that industry!

There are important steps you have to take and things you must realize about yourself and your work to be successful in business. There are ways to Broadcast Louder and wiser! It’s time to stand up and say, my creativity deserves to be noticed by the RIGHT buyers and purchased.

Broadcast Louder will teach you how to get the perfect client to take notice, be inspired by your art and purchase it! The beauty of being YOU and owning your own business is that you get to set your own rules. You can create what you want, choose your clientele and charge what you are worth, and the only person who determines your worth is YOU.

Artwork by Andrea Rosenfeld - Chrysocolla wood green amethyst pendant

Artwork by Andrea Rosenfeld - Chrysocolla wood green amethyst pendant

Pricing Your Creative Work & Knowing Your Self Worth

The way you feel about yourself, your self esteem and self-worth is tied to your valuation of your art and in today’s society, it’s difficult for a creative with a small business to feel as if they are worth MORE then the large companies mass producing overseas. Let’s take Pandora as an example. They have a HUGE following, their name is well known and they sell. Are they innovative?  Are they pushing the creative envelope? Not really. They are a mass market company selling charms and simple jewelry and they have found their niche customer. Their pieces can’t compare to a master goldsmith who painstakingly hand crafts one-of-a-kind jewelry into works of art. It’s two different worlds. But our mass market society who are into sound bites and apps, who are more consumed with following celebrity style and what’s given to them in magazines, are a large consumer and they are primarily looking for deals and sales.  Why do you think that Lanvin is in H&M and Fendi sells through Target?  Because the slow paced customer with disposable income, who is searching for quality, is dwindling.

Tips to Pricing Your Creative Work

1- How many years have you been creating your art or products and what is your skill set?  Are you constantly learning and increasing your technique or are you staying stagnant?  If you’ve been working with your materials for a long time and increasing your techniques then your prices will be higher than someone who has just started out, regardless if it were the same type of item, because your creation would be higher in quality and you’re worth more as an artist.

2- Based upon your answer to the first point, determine your manufacturing costs, which are your WORTH as a creative, times the hours and minutes you took to make and finish the particular piece. THIS is the important part – remember what we have told you about your self-worth and selling/pricing.

3- The cost of materials and packaging materials, including the costs associated with shipping them to your workshop. Some people add a certain percentage or amount to cover their studio costs or incidentals.  If you do, we’ve seen people multiply by four but you can play with that number.  Another standard method is to multiply that total by ten percent for overhead costs.  After you add all of these numbers up, you’ll have your cost, or the amount you PAID to create this piece.  This is your reimbursement number.

Something we’ve learned from Julie Steelman

When pricing assignments or products, don’t just think about how much you want to make, but how much you want to keep. Don’t price down your products to make the “sale” because then you’re just covering your costs, if that. If you’re in business to make money, then you must make a profit on each product or service you sell.

Giving Back is Good Branding Business and Softly Broadcasting Louder

buiilding a creative communityYou started your art business to speak through your work, to express yourself, explore your craft and do what you love while making money.  All of those things are honorable and important but there is one characteristic of good branding and good business that some people don’t know about, and that’s “giving.”  Giving to others without expectations of receiving.  You can give samples of your product to a charity, you can give back your time by teaching for free at a school or local community center or hospital, or online with your own teleclass.  You can bring students or interns into your workshop and mentor them for school credit and more.

Andrea and I are committed to not only philanthropy but also to giving back to others within our businesses.  My Branding You Better tutorials both written and video, are PACKED with content about WordPress, using social media sites like LinkedIn and other areas of branding and marketing that people use to build their online presence. They take time for me to write and film but they are FREE to anyone who needs them. I also have an exciting brand interview series where I interview artists, creatives and entrepreneurs on their branding identity and success.  Business owners can submit the written interview, answering questions, or it can be recorded through skype.  I don’t charge for the publicity, I am THRILLED to offer this to anyone who would like to participate. These interviews help people who come to my site looking for branding or business marketing guidance and introduce them to companies and people from every area of business. In addition because of my SEO capabilities, I can draw traffic to the business owner.  In fact, if you’d like to be one of my next interviews, reach out to me!

On my Frogs Are Green, environmental website, we blog about the fact that frogs are threatened with extinction and building awareness around the world on this issue. To connect with visitors, we run art contests for children, and photo contests, that offer people the ability to create and have it placed online in the galleries, and continue to raise awareness.  Frogs Are Green also donates a portion of our product sales to environmental organizations.

To support the arts, I have proudly donated my posters and website design and development to the Hudson Theatre Ensemble since 2004.

 

For Andrea’s part, from her Hot Rox and Andrea Rosenfeld art jewelry collection sales, she donates a percentage each month to a different charity, either something her friends are working towards or a charity a retailer tells her about.

Personally, she is an active volunteer and Chairperson for the Susan G. Komen Foundation in her County and her mission is to pair the local Arts Community with Komen to raise funds and awareness for both.

In her Art Coaching Company, Open Studio ~ Creative Mentoring, she hosts Visiting Creative Experts.  These special people write articles based upon their area of expertise that are geared towards guiding artists in their business.  These experts get their own Bio page with their image, contact info and their favorite charity listed.  Open Studio exposes these experts to a brand new audience they may never have had access to and her Creative Community has the benefit of learning from experts in all areas of  business; PR, Life Coaching,  WordPress Design, Art Marketing, Wholesaling, Feng Shui, Diamond Wholesale and more!  She’s constantly finding creative experts in exciting and unusual but important areas of business to write for Open Studio. She loves connecting and networking and being able to give more to her community of artists. She started a group on LinkedIn which she manages to connect Creatives and offer advice.

 

When you’re building the brand of your own business, find an area where you can give-solely.  Set the tone of giving freely, without expecting anything in return and not only will you FEEL amazing, but it will open your company up to new opportunities, people the sheer act of giving will uplift you.

When you give of yourself people notice, trust and respect what you’re doing. Fans turn into advocates, advocates turn into customers.

 

You can help us to give back, so we can reach a wider audience and help more creatives by Tweeting or Facebook (ing), or LinkedIn (ing) this statement:

I’m learning to @broadcastlouder, extend my #brand #visibility and increase #sales for #creatives #entrepreneurs #artists – http://bit.ly/rchnod

and when you post it 7 times, you win a FREE Class! (That’s Broadcast Louder giving back too!)