My Cafe Press Store

Make Custom Gifts at CafePress

Monday, March 3, 2014

Being a new internet Small Business Owner


My Journey to Success

this lens' photo
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 entry. I hope you like the changes.

Update 5/8/2012: I finally sold something on a site other than Cafe Press and Zazzle! I made two different sales for my "Baby Book of Opposites" one in English and one in Hebrew from Spoonflower!

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 learned to render (draw/paint) jewelry designs. I created quite a few designs with paints on a semi-slick gray paper that was available at art supply stores. But it took a long time. I had to do an initial shape in my sketch pad, trace it on tracing paper, pencil up the back for a makeshift carbon paper and retrace it onto the gray paper. If the design was a multiple of one shape, I had to repeat this process. Then I would use a special water color set to paint it to look like gold. This was a tedious process and only a small percentage of my ideas ended up on paper, particularly since it took me about 2 days to complete one design. (Years later, when I updated my first Mac computer to system 7.2 and could then use the Power Point that came with my Microsoft bundle, I developed a way to create the designs on Power Point. This took me a lot less time -- about a 1/2 hour per design -- so many more of my designs have actually been created on paper and some of them were even created in silver, brass or plastic)

I also started drawing clothing 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 sixty 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. One of the places I did graphic design work was 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). 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". For this I use Squidoo (which isn't quite as helpful as in the past, but I digress), Facebook and these blogs.

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 over 8 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.......

Compugraph Designs Printfection Store

Veggies on Parade Cutting BoardCompugraph Designs has 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:

Compugraph Designs Printfection site

(Click on the picture to go directly to this product's page)

No comments: