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Business Plan Basics Every Art Business Owner Should Know

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Courtesy of Neil McKenzie from Creatives and Business LLC-----Why do I need a business plan?Just like an architect needs a plan to turn an idea into reality you need a plan for success in your art business. The main and best reason to develop a business plan is so that you have a blueprint to run and grow your business. Imagine trying to build a house without plan. If you are starting a new art business, a plan will help you organize your thoughts and help you tackle the challenges faced by startup businesses. If your art business is established a plan will help you in building a great team and allow you to focus on your most pressing problems, opportunities and initiatives.A business plan will also be required if you are seeking some type of financing either from a bank or investors. Your plan will show what you intend to accomplish, how you will do it and how much money will be required. More often than not a business will prepare a plan with the sole purpose of getting financing. Your plan is an important tool in the success of your business and should be much more than a document just to raise money.One of the most often overlooked benefits of a business plan is that it forces you to think about your business in new ways! The skills you develop in creating a business plan are universal and transferable to businesses of any kind or size. Perhaps one of the most important benefits of preparing a business plan is that you will start to think strategically, look at the big picture and develop a critical way of thinking about your business.What is a business plan?A business plan is a road map formal (formal in the sense that you should write it down) document where you state the goals, objectives and expected results for your art business. You plan can be very long and detailed or it can be just a few pages – it is really up to you to decide what your art business requires. Developing your business plan will make you think about all of the things that affect your art business and what you intend to do to make your art business a success.Your business plan can be created an internal audience such as yourself and your team and for external audiences such as your bank or investors. You should seriously consider including both audiences in developing the plan for your art business.The basic questions of business planningThe overall idea behind business planning is really very simple if you consider the following four questions:Where are we now?This part of your plan is called a Situation Analysis in that you are trying to get a feel of where you are today and to identify the internal and external factors that affect your business. In answering this question you will be looking at your own strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the marketplace and analyzing your competition.Where are we going?The answer to this question will be wrapped up in your overall mission or vision for your art business as well as the goals and objectives you have developed. You should develop goals for the various business functions such as marketing, finance, creative direction, production and operations, management and organization and your studio and facilities.How are we going to get there?Once your overall goals and objectives have been defined it’s time to develop strategies and the steps required to achieve them. Strategies are generally broad and need to be further broken down into the day to day activities or steps that are needed to accomplish a particular strategy. These steps are commonly called tactics, action plans or action steps. No matter what you call them these are the things that you will do to make your overall mission and goals a reality.How will we know when we have arrived?An important part of the planning process is to track and measure your progress and take corrective action as needed as you move towards accomplishing your goals. This is an ongoing activity that ranges from analyzing your monthly financial statements to reviewing detailed project plans. How do you measure success?Reasons to create a business plan:. . . continue reading at creativesandbusiness.com
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Business Plan Basics For Artists – Goals and Objectives

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Courtesy of Neil McKenzie from Creatives and Business LLC-----The first few steps in developing a business plan for your art or creative enterprise are to identify your overall direction after careful consideration of you external and internal business environments and capabilities. Before you develop your Goals and Objectives you should have a good feel for your:Mission / VisionValues/ BeliefsInternal Strengths and WeaknessesExternal Opportunities and ThreatsCompetitionYour Products, Customers, and MarketsThe next step in the planning process is to create a framework to accomplish your mission. The process is actually quite simple.Goals  –>  Objectives  –>  Strategies  –>  Action PlansWhat Is A Goal?A goal is a broad term for the things you want to accomplish in your art business. Notice the emphasis on the word “broad”. At this point in developing your plan we are talking generalities. Some of the areas which you will need to develop goals for include:Your art, creative products and servicesExample: My goal is to produce original modern art paintings and begin a line of prints and posters.Your marketsExample: My goal is to start with my local market and then expand to national and international markets.Your brand and reputationExample: My goal is to build a national and then international brand as a top modern art painter.Your financial situation, compensation, and life styleExample: My goal is make a good living with my art and fund my retirement while living the artist lifestyle.Your studio, workshop and facilitiesExample: My goal is to move out of the coop studio and have a studio/gallery of my own in an artist’s section of a major metropolitan areaYour organization, assistants, employeesExample: My goal is to have assistants to help in the studio, run the day to day operations in the gallery and take care of my accounting.What Is An Objective?. . . continue reading at creativesandbusiness.com
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How to Build a Website – It Doesn’t Have To Be Hard (from Website Builder Expert)

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Courtesy of Jeremy Wong from Website Builder Expert-----If you’re wondering about how to build a website (even for free), then this article will be helpful for you. Have no idea where to start?  That’s perfectly normal to be honest.  You’re not alone as for most people, building a website online is still a bit of a mystery.For most people (including us a few years ago), creating a website is something that only IT geeks are capable of doing. These coder lock themselves in the basement, has no friends, and wears glasses. Right? Right?? Well, that was the old school stereotype that most people had for coders (including us a few years ago when we strugged to get started – we confess!) I’m not sure if it’s because of the media, movies, whatever. But that’s definitely not how a lot of websites are actually built nowadays, and that’s definitely not how coders behave!You don’t need to be an IT geek to learn how to build a website from scratch today. You don’t even need to know code (a bit will help, but not a necessity and it won’t hold you back), you don’t need to manage hosts / servers, and you don’t need to have a lot of money.Keep reading and we’ll show you how to you can create a website in less than a day, and almost for free.HOW A LOT OF WEBSITES ARE BUILT NOWADAYSTechnology has really advanced over the past few years. The internet has grown faster than ever before. Facebook has taken over, Google is king, and normal folks like yourself can build your own website for free. More and more people are creating websites online as a way to express themselves and get in touch with others. Businesses cannot afford not to have websites as a way of reaching more potential customers.If you want to build a business, or if you already have a business but haven’t built your website yet, you’re falling further and further behind.But is building websites easy?  What is a good website builder?  How much does it cost to build a website? In the past? Very challenging. Today? Not challenging or super expensive at all. Think about it. Facebook made it easy for you to connect with hundreds, if not thousands of people. Smartphones make it easy for you to surf the web on a tiny device. It’s not that hard to believe that building websites can also be easy, right?There are a lot of website creators that have emerged over the past few years that enable you to build websites without knowing code. They programmed the website building software so now you literally just have to use your mouse and drag a slideshow, a block of text, images, videos, into the website. You can then insert your own text, upload your own pictures, insert your own videos (such as YouTube), and click publish. That’s it.I know it sounds ridiculously easy. After all, we’ve been taught that if something is too good to be true, it’s probably not, right? Well, that’s a good rule of thumb, but not always the case. In terms learning how to build a website from scratch, this is definitely not the case.For sure you will have to invest time into creating your own content and setting things up, but being a super freak in technology or codes is no longer a barrier to entry if you want to create a website all by yourself.ARE ALL WEBSITE BUILDERS GOOD & EASY TO USE?All website builders are built differently – each has it’s pros and cons. Some are easier, some are more challenging. I think the general guideline is that the more sophisticated and powerful the builder is, the higher the learning curve. That makes sense, right?So for instance, WordPress is a very powerful website builder. It is flexible, advanced, and can almost be programmed to do almost anything you want as a website.However, the learning curve to become proficient with using WordPress is rather steep. You will most likely have to invest quite a bit of time to learn how to use it well, and perhaps you will have to pay some freelancer or WordPress expert to help you set up your website.Then there are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), drag and drop website builders. These are the ones that do not need you to know any code to get a website up and running in a little amount of time. These builders are ideal for people who don’t have the time to learn code (life is busy, right?), or don’t have the budget to hire someone to help build a website. It’s great for people who enjoy DIY (Do-It-Yourself). WHAT ABOUT WEBSITE DESIGN AND TEMPLATES?  MY SITE HAS TO LOOK GOOD!Website builders nowadays give you a really good selection of design templates to choose from. Let’s face it, the majority of us don’t know how to design well, let alone coding up our own web design! So what do website builders do?  They create design templates so you can use them for your website, allowing your site to look good.Think about them as “clothes” for your website.  If you don’t like one set of clothes, just change to another one to give your website a completely different feel.Almost all website builders give you these templates for free, and hands down, using these design templates will give your website the biggest visual impact in the least amount of time. You don’t need to touch any codes whatsoever! In fact, if you are just starting a new business, we HIGHLY recommend that you don’t bother with hiring a website designer – for good reasons (see our arguments here).Drag & drop website builders (see our recommendations below) give you really good looking design templates to give you a head start already. There are more important things to focus on while your business is still young, than hiring a professional (and potentially expensive) designer.POPULAR DRAG & DROP WEBSITE BUILDERSIf you don’t want to learn code, or have a budget to hire freelancers to help you build a website from scratch, there are a few good website builders that you may want to test out to see if they can help you out, and if you like using them.Here are a few that we recommend you taking a look at:WixSquarespaceWeeblyJimdoAll of them have their own pros and cons, and some of them are better at certain things. When we started building websites ourselves, we researched for days as it was hard to figure out which one best fit our needs. There was so much information out there that it overloaded us, and pretty much paralyzed us in terms of choosing which website builder to use. So we decided to test a lot of them. After investing hundreds of hours in using many different website builders ourselves (gosh those days were painful!), we’ve compiled a few different comparison resources so to help make your research (and life) a bit easier:1) Website Builder Comparison Chart2) Pros and Cons of Popular Website Builders3) 9 Questions To Choosing the Right Website Builder4) 3 Best Web Design Software to Help You Build Professional Looking WebsitesAt the end of the day, there really isn’t a “one website builder fits all” type of solution.We recommend that you narrow down your search to 2 or 3 website builders, and just invest a day to try them out. It’s almost like shopping for a car (except MUCH cheaper). It makes a lot of sense to test drive a few of them just to see if they work out for you.All of the website builders that we recommend are free to sign up, or at least they have a free trial period where you can give it a test drive.WHAT ABOUT E-COMMERCE WEBSITE BUILDERS?. . . continue reading the full article and linked resources here at Website Builder Expert
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What is the difference between domains vs hosting vs website? (HostGator)

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Courtesy of HostGator-----When you have a site visitor, they use your domain name to view your website. As simple as it seems, there is a process that occurs from the time that the site visitor types in your domain and presses enter.When a site visitor enters your domain name into a browser, the domain is then translated into your server IP address,  then the server sends that user your site files, which their browser represents to them as a typical web-page.You can see that, without each of these 3 elements, you won't really have a web-site.The three basic parts that make up any current day website are:Domain NamesComputers communicate by using numbers, called IP addresses, to contact each other, much like you use a phone number to dial a specific person's phone. Domain names on the internet are much like entries in a phone book. The phone book tells people looking for a business what the entries are just as a domain tells people (i.e. their computers) that a domain is hosted on the server.Without a domain, you would have to tell your customers that your site is located at a temporary url such as 123.456.789.123/~mysite instead of using a domain name such as mysite.com, making your site appear unprofessional and impractical.Web-Hosting ServersThe web-hosting or server is much like the space that you rent out to have your business in. It's merely the space itself. It does not include furnishings like shelves for your products, just as the web-hosting account doesn't include a site for you to sell your products.Luckily, in the web-hosting world, it's very easy to furnish the space provided by your host, because you can install many framework applications through the QuickInstall icon within your cPanel.Without the hosting services, you won't have a place for your files to reside, so your domain would then become like a disconnected phone number in the phone directory, and your site files would have nowhere to stay.Site FilesThe site files are what your visitors and potential customers actually see when going to site such as your products and services. The site files are the same as any other file you normally use, like a .jpg photograph, or .mp3 music file. Though, website files are also .php files or .html files, which are PHP scripts or html pages respectively.The web-hosting server knows how to read these files, which explain how the webpage looks or instruct the server to do a series of computations. These computations are things like figuring out what blog article it's supposed to send back to the viewer, or what forum post it's supposed to send back.. . . continue reading on HostGator
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What is a Domain Name? See our ABC Guide to Domain Names for Beginners (Website Builder Expert)

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Courtesy of Jeremy Wong from Website Builder Expert-----What is a domain name? This seems to be such a basic thing, but it’s not always THAT easy especially if you’re a beginner.  When we decided to build our first website a few years ago, we had no idea what a domain name was, and what issues we needed consider so we can set things up properly.We were concerned about privacy, how to connect / disconnect a domain name from a website, if a .com or .net is better, costs, etc.Are these some concerns you share as well?Sure, it all sounds very basic to people who have experiences with building websites. But for a beginner, it all can feel a bit uneasy. There are plenty of resources out there telling you in technical terms, what a domain name is. But that’s the problem, it’s a bit more technical and may not always be in plain English that normal people can easily understand. You’re probably not too interested in the technical ins and outs of how a domain name actually works. You’re probably more interested in how to practically manage the domain name, and what potential issues you should be aware of.This short guide is written to go over the basics of what you need to know about domain names – in plain English.Let’s get going!Top 10 Questions About Domain NamesClick on the Questions to the Answer:1. What is a domain name?2. Are domain names and websites separate things?3. Free vs paid domain names.4. Where can I buy a domain name?5. How much does it cost to register a domain name?6. Can I purchase a domain name directly from a website builder?7. Can I transfer my domain name if I change website builders?8. Should I purchase a domain name through a registrar or a website builder?9. Are domain names with .com always preferable?10. Should I protect my personal information with private registration?11. Other Useful Resources. . . Continue reading the full article on Website Builder Expert 
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Text Based Portfolios (Columbia College)

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Courtesy of Colombia College Chicago-----Journalists, arts/entertainment/media managers and marketing/PR reps should not represent themselves with papers and press releases stuffed into a manila folder.  Potential clients and employers expect a professional, organized, and visually appealing representation of your best work.  The following guide will sketch out the elements and organization for a text-based print book.  Samples are provided to demonstrate that text heavy content can be displayed in a visually appealing and accessible way A text based print book should be:ProfessionalOrganizedEasy to navigateEasy to reproduce . . . View entire article with diagrams on Columbia College Portfolio Center website
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Image Based Portfolios (Columbia College)

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Courtesy of Columbia College Chicago ----- To build an effective, professional portfolio, consider the following:Selection: Your portfolio should reflect your very best projects and the needs and interests of the people you plan to approach for work. Find out what they need to see from you and select work samples that are as close a match as possible. Create new work for your book if you need to. Make it easy for clients to imagine working with you.  Sequence:The common wisdom “start strong- finish strong” plays to the idea that people best remember the first and last images in any given series. You would be wise to be attentive to that strategy but you should also work carefully to create a flow from picture to picture and project to project, beginning to end. The “flow” should take into account the subject matter of an image but also its visual form (line, shape, color). The sequence may seek to weave the images together in a seamless way or might, if appropriate, emphasize differences for a more active and assertive feel . . . view full list with images on the Columbia College Portfolio Center website
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13 Easy Ways Businesses Are Using Social Media to Connect with Customers

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Courtesy of Linda Childers from Biz Ahead, powered by The Hartford-----Are you among the many small business owners who are using Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, but don’t have a social media strategy? Are you wondering what to post and how to reach your customers?You’re not alone.A survey released in June 2014 from Endurance International Group found that while although 90% of respondents had a social media presence, 71% acknowledged they didn’t have a plan, and were interested in learning more about increasing social media followers, sharing promotional ideas, and sharing relevant content with their customers.There’s a big difference between simply having a business presence on social media, and strategically using social networks to engage customers and grow your business. When used correctly, social media can be a powerful marketing tool. Here are examples of how a few small businesses are successfully maximizing their online presence:. . . continue reading on BizAhead 
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How to Write an Artist Statement (Agora Gallery)

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Courtesy of the Agora Experts from agora-gallery.com-----As a professional artist, you need to have more than your work to get around in the art world. Along with your portfolio, you should have an artist statement available at a moment’s notice. An artist statement should be considered just as important as your works.WHY DO YOU NEED AN ARTIST STATEMENT?An artist statement is most often the front line of communication between an artist and the public. It will be used when you submit your portfolio to competitions, galleries, and museums. It may sometimes be displayed when people are viewing your works in person or on your website. If it’s online, your artist statement will be read by people from all over the world.There are many paths to becoming an artist, through school or an apprenticeship, or through inspiration and self-teaching but no matter how you got there, being a professional artist means that you have to have an artist statement. If you have never written a statement before, or aren’t sure that your current statement is up to art world standards, it can be a quite daunting task to compose one.Luckily, Agora Experts are here to help. Compiling years of experience in the art world, they are more than happy to share what they’ve learned.Here are some valuable tips for writing an artist’s statement: -----...Continue reading on agora-gallery.comImage Credit: Fred Tieken, Artist Statement, 2013 ; Acrylic on Cardboard ; 20" x 20"
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The Delightfully Short Guide to Social Media ROI (BufferSocial)

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If the concept of social media ROI feels rather enormous, you’re not alone. I am amazed—and sometimes astounded—at the breadth of the topic.So that’s made the exercise of writing a “delightfully short” guide to social media ROI all the more fun and challenging. I’ve given myself under 1,000 words to provide an overview of social media ROI and how to apply it to your social media marketing efforts. What Does Social Media ROI Look Like?ROI has its roots in business finance. Businesses use ROI to calculate the dollars-and-cents return on a dollars-and-cents investment.Social media ROI is what you get back from all the time, effort, and resources you commit to social. And it’s best calculated with dollar amounts.Of course, there are no dollar signs dangling from retweets or likes. Twitter, Facebook, and others are no-cost marketing channels to join, potentially a zero-dollar investment (which makes any return exponentially fantastic, right!). So in order to track ROI, the key elements would be:Identifying your monetary investment in social mediaAttaching a dollar amount to your social media goals.Difficult? Possibly.Possible? Definitely.View full article 
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