Online sales help your bottom line

I’ve been involved in online sales for many years. First, with Ebay and other auction websites, mainly selling militaria items and antiques. Then, I started a website that specialized in East European (mainly Finnish) history and have a “Gear For Sale” page on the website where I sell books, dvds, and militaria items like hats and belts. Sales have really been good over the years and I maintain my own inventory and do my own shipping.

When Connie and I started our pottery studio, I already had some experience at setting up online sales and putting together a shopping cart. We agreed early on that, before we opened a brick and mortar store, we would achieve a minimum income each month from online sales and from shows and this income would pay the rent and overhead costs for our brick and mortar shop. In this manner, we would lessen our start-up costs and have an established clientele that were ready to do business with us.

Today, while reading the news, I ran across a very good article on Ways to Make Cash Online and I’d like to share it with my friends. Here is the link: http://yhoo.it/aUFc8j
The concepts in the article are excellent and include information for artists.
There is no reason that an artist can’t establish an online sales program that would continue to bring funds even after retiring from the business. As easy as it is to make money online, I don’t think I will ever really “retire”. As long as I check my orders each morning and ship a couple of times / week, I think I could do this for a long, long time.

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Lots of bright colored pots

I had to take a quick peek into the kiln (as it was cooling) and got this picture of the top layer of pots. These pots were made by potter Fred Sweet at our studio. He used some new slip colors that we tested and plan to make in large containers for studio use. The beautiful brown pot in the background was actually painted with a deep black slip that reacts to the zinc in the clear glaze to cause this brown effect. We now use this slip/glaze combination to make our browns because the color is so rich!

The bowl in the foreground was made by Connie Kregel and has a Rutile glaze with a pie-shaped area stained in iron oxide and covered with clear slip.

Instant portable wedging table for different clays

In our studio, we use a couple of different clays depending on the product we are making. Normally we would wedge on a canvas covered table but we needed additional clay working areas that would not get contaminated by other clays. Voila! An instant portable wedging and working surface in the form of a 2×2 foot piece of Hardibacker board.
Hardibacker board is a fiber cement board that was invented as an alternative to traditional drywall. (visit this link to see how it is used in a home http://www.onlinetips.org/hardibacker-board-installation ) You can buy this at just about any lumber or hardware store. Ours came from Lowe’s.

We cut a large piece of Hardibacker board into individual 2×2 foot squares and attached a small piece of wood to one end as a lip that would hold the board in place when used on a table. We also tend to put a piece of canvas down under the board to prevent it from rubbing into the underlying table surface. Each of our boards is marked (on both sides with a black felt-tip marker) with the clay type that will be used on it.

To prepare your portable wedging surface, coat the board with a fine layer of clay slip and allow this to dry. Then, scrape the surface with a painters trowel (plastic or metal), dust it off, and you are ready to go! The board is easy to clean and also helps dry-out wet clay.

The new Art Tour in Denton on First Friday of each month

Folks,
A growing art tour is taking place in Denton, Texas, the first Friday of each month. More artists join this artwalk or art tour each time. If you are in North Texas, please come see us this coming Friday night, May 7th, from 4:30pm to 9pm. Lots of fun, music, food, and great art! http://firstfridaydenton.com/

Kregel Pottery will be setting up with Cimarrona hats and Accessories, http://www.cimarrona.com, at 721 Locust St. (just barely north of Eagle Ave, not far from the Morrison Milling Towers). Come take a look at some great artwork! -m

Check out Welcome, mkregel » Artists for Artists

Check out Welcome, mkregel » Artists for Artists

This looks like a great website to support artists. Am still looking through all the neat components of this website, but they offer a place to sell your artwork, set up your own website, and post blogs.

Adding Shopping Carts to Websites

I think I have spent a hundred hours investigating shopping carts, credit card authorization software, and credit card machines. The prices are expensive and tough on a small business that does a few credit card transactions but normally relies on cash or check payments. But I wanted to add a shopping cart to our website and investigated dozens of companies that offer shopping carts.
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The biggest list of shopping cart companies that work with Paypal can be found on the PayPal website. In the end, I installed the basic PayPal cart because it offered a cost effective solution for my small website. The code was easy to generate and plug in to the website. You don’t need to know html (it helps to know a little) and I had all the buttons installed in about 2 hours.
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For “onsite” sales, at shows for instance, I can take my credit card swipe machine and make a paper copy of the credit card transaction and run it through the paypal Virtual Terminal at night. This will be fine for the foreseeable future but I can see where doing many dozens of transactions will squish this program. In order to have the Virtual Terminal, you must sign up for a business acct with Paypal and that is 30.00 / month. I expect to do at least a few hundred dollars / month in credit card sales so this fee is nominal for me.
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As the website grows, and as sales grow, I may have to reconsider the shopping cart and onsite sales tools. Have purchased a copy of the Coffee Cup shopping cart and am playing around with that. Will post results of that effort later on. In the meantime, we are now set up to take credit cards online and in person, and I’m hoping that will increase our sales.

Differences using colored slips vs. glazes

These 2 pictures show some of the colors using slips rather than glazes. The covered dishes are purple, blue, white and green and will be much brighter once they have been glazed with clear glaze and fired to high temperatures. They are “painted” with colored slips while still leather-hard which is more time consuming than just dipping them in glazes after they have been bisque fired. The difference is, we can play around with the slips and make color changes that we couldn’t do if we just glazed the pieces.
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The candlesticks have already been hi-fired and the “Flag” candlesticks were colored with clay slips and then clear-glazed. The rutile-blue candlesticks were glazed that color from bisque, and the white candlesticks have a white gloss glaze coving them.
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Using colored slips in a studio adds flexibility to the pottery designs but adds some difficulty too. Colored slips get onto everything and can contaminate the working area so it is imperative that all tools, bats, ware-boards and working surfaces are constantly cleaned. Otherwise, you find yourself trying to make solid white pieces that end up having smears of other colors rubbed into the surface. Frustrating. I find myself spending an hour or 2 each day cleaning the studio. Eventually, I’ll have to weigh the value that colored slips add to the clay pieces vs. the labor hours I spend trying to keep everything spotless. If the studio was large enough, we could have a “green” area, “blue” area, etc. But we’re working in a rather cramped environment that is full of shelving and tables with little room to spread out.
Marshall