Due to the boom in entrepreneurial businesses, many "consultants" have hung their shingle up on the internet advertising their consulting services to the small business creative. As an artist, graphic designer, and gag writer seeking to build my two Etsy businesses, I find there are a lot of consultants to wade through before finding the true gems out there. Some seem to be re-hashing a lot of information already offered in Etsy forums, some sound like infomercials - all hype, no content, and some might be quite good, but his or her fee is too daunting for someone on a limited budget to take the plunge. Here within is a list of blogs (and one vlog) that I highly recommend to the overwhelmed entrepreneur:
Author/Interviewer: Monica Lee
Licensed illustrator and talented designer Monica Lee’s vlog covers the essentials for creative small business women. Her spirited humor, and “we’re in this together” attitude, plus recounts of her own experiences in the design/licensing field, make her vlog interviews a must-see. Monica can ask the guest interviewee difficult questions, and her subjects are many of the industries brightest: Mary Englebreit, Drew Brophy- famed surf artist, and Penolope Dullaghan - who started up Illustration Friday, are just a few. Also on her list of guests are creative directors, art directors, licensing agents, fabric designers, copyright lawyers, magazine/ezine/book publishers, and more. Most importantly, she never shies away from pinpointing how her creative artist guests funded their business so they could move forward to sustaining a successful enterprise. Monica also offers up a newsletter with upbeat advice, and sells consulting packages to the fledgling entrepreneur and those seeking help to grow – what better person to turn to considering her extensive reach and experience? I’ve visited other vlogs and this one covers it all for me. Monica is the real deal.
Author: Carolyn Edlund
Also an artist, Carolyn Edlund ran her own successful production ceramic studio. So successful, she participated in over 200 retail fairs and trade shows and sold her line of art products to over 1000 museum shops, galleries, stores and catalogs. Carolyn’s experience also extends to working as an outside rep for major art publishing companies, selling art prints, posters, greeting cards, gift and paper lines. So successful in this role, she achieved “Rep of the Year” status by opening a record number of retail accounts.
Carolyn’s focus on the nitty-gritty of running an art business (i.e. - how to sell wholesale, how to hire a rep, how to build a mailing list) has been invaluable to me. She easily spells out the inner business workings without leaving the reader, especially this creative, right-brained reader, in a confused daze. She's also the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, a nonprofit organization that presents business workshops for artists. She partners with her faculty staff of nationally known experts to create a positive and a transformative workshop experience for the participants. Her blog includes more goods as well and is a welcome weekly email in my box.
Author: Kimberly Layton
Author and homeschool mom, Kimberly Layton, and husband Tim, sell felt, felt related patterns and canvas bag totes in their popular Etsy shop. Although their blog isn’t associated with Etsy, it is all about Etsy and creating products for Etsy. As successful entrepreneurs, Kimberly and Tim recommend all the tools they personally use to run their Etsy shop. Such recommendations come in handy in this era of internet services-overload. They have tried and tested, so you don’t have to. In addition to recommended tools (i.e. - best blogging platforms, best email marketing apps and more), Kim regularly posts a list of 100 projects to create usually centered around a holiday or popular theme. So, for those experimenting in the craft studio, or looking to build their Etsy business this blog is an excellent resource to turn to.
Joan Beiriger's Blog on Art Licensing
Artist Joan Beiriger is another accomplished artist whose work has been licensed on a variety of product throughout the years. Joan's blog offers the creative entrepreneur a one-stop area to find generous lists of licensing agents, information on the famed Surtex show, royalty rates, trend resources and more. Despite her all-encompassing blog, Joan found time to email me once when I had a pressing licensing question. Her sound advice was greatly appreciated and put me at ease. Joan is that sage, blogger-spokeswoman to turn to when approaching the licensing field. She has done it all and leaves no stone unturned in her blog-posts.
Andreea Ayers' Launch Grow Joy
Designer Andreea Ayers knows her stuff, as the saying goes. I took her How to Get into Holiday Gift Guides workshop and, yes, it worked. I got into a national magazine this year! What I like about Andreea is all her information is based on her own trial and error when it comes to PR. She used to pay a PR firm an exorbitant fee to promote her t-shirts to the media. After a few bites here and there, she let go of the PR firm and busied herself trying to find how to be her own PR firm, finding out what works and what doesn't. Her efforts paid off when she received a order for 10,000 of her tees the first year she embarked on promoting her product all by herself. And now she's here to tell you how she accomplished this phenomenal goal. Andreea has a lot to share, every sentence she speaks is full of information.
So there you have it, one vlog and four blogs I recommend to the creative soul seeking to build their online and off-line business. Do you have some recommendations? Feel free to share some of your favorite online resources in the comments below!
Written by Suzanne Urban owner of Smirking Goddess and Suzanne Urban Etsy shops. Suzanne is an illustrator, gag writer, and graphic designer. She resides in an antique home in Windsor, CT with her husband- whose Etsy shop RetroUrban debuted this Spring– and her maltipoo, Pieper, and house rabbit, Puma.