I’ve been creating over on my Zazzle store and finally passed the 68,000 products mark. Now, if I can figure out how to get enough traffic that the sales will reflect some success – it could be great. But, I don’t how to do that exactly.
There have been a lot of things I’ve been doing lately. It was nice to go to a church fellowship here in Staten Island for Thanksgiving on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. And, we did make the little talk show at the Community Television Station (we, as in my class learning how to make shows there.) And, I did get to go shooting at the rifle range – even managed to hit the paperclip holding the target, not once but twice – on the day before Thanksgiving.
I also went to a workshop on Entrepreneurial Blocks at the Staten Island Maker Space that was put on by the local arts council group. Turned out that was not on Entrepreneurial blocks as it was titled, but instead they had a psychologist who helps artists, musicians and performers to get beyond creative blocks. That is about ridiculous – they were in a room with people, none of which had creative blocks or they wouldn’t have been there.
Yes, just about ridiculous, but I did learn a lot by applying the worksheet to my entrepreneurial blocks. I discovered that my business model could be changed just a little to accommodate something that had been holding me back – so that is good. One thing that always seems to happen when I start painting or decorating people’s homes for the holidays or doing something for stores to help their businesses is that there is suddenly a lot of people I meet who want some things done too. Then, I say yes to all of them because I can do those things, but maybe I didn’t want to do any of them. And, it isn’t just not saying no either. That is an easy answer that most therapists and others in those trades cling to – but it isn’t that.
First, I didn’t know any other option was on the menu – now I can take all the names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and what they want done along with when – put it on a paper or 3×5 card – take it home and let them know that I’ll see if I have the time to do it. Then I can call them back after I’ve had time to think about it and about how it needs to be done, how long it will take, what materials and everything else that I’m doing that it needs to fit in with and around. See, that makes sense. I didn’t know to do that or that it was even an option to do it that way. I was simply saying yes and writing it down and then doing all of them whether I liked the project or had time to do it or could afford to spare the time and effort to do it or anything.
As a practical matter, I have a reasonable fear of being expected to do something for money just because I’m taking money to do some things. It’s as if because I opened that Pandora’s box and starting taking commissions for my work or my time or helping with Christmas decorating for instance and taking money for it that suddenly everybody around me or that meets me believes that I’m Wal-Mart and am legally responsible to work for them too for their money. And, I can’t do it all – and I don’t want to either. Most of the time, these same people can do just as good at beautiful holiday decorations as I can do – or in the case of stores, realtors, restaurants, bars, organizations and other businesses – they’ll pay more to a printer to get something done than they want to pay me anyway for twice as much time and work they want me to put into it. And, they are annoying on top of it perceiving that I’m not using my time specifically for their project unless they are constantly calling to see about it – and honestly, they wouldn’t do that to another business working for them or a printer doing the job for them. It isn’t even worth it.
Then, today I realized that there is another part to it too. Most people don’t know that I can’t and won’t do a painting of someone else’s painting or poster or style that they like. It is against the rules so to speak. So, although I can do it – I’m going to pass on that. When I was learning how to do art – yeah maybe I did some of that for my own house occasionally – but it was great, master artists – not some illustrator trying to make a living at it that created an amazing golf great poster or something. And, that is the kind of thing people want to have me repeat for them doing an end run around paying the actual artist who is probably selling prints of it for some reasonable amount anyway.
The first painting I sold was when I was seven years old but both my sister sold one of hers and I sold one at an art show where my mother’s paintings were showing. So, they probably bought them because they thought we were so cute to be putting some of our artwork in the show too along with our mother’s. However, the first floor plans I sold was before that and they were actually used to guide the architect on planning the actual floor plan for their house and for an office with small retail store in it that I also did. I got $5 for those two floor plans drawn on notebook paper and I learned that it felt really good to know someone used them to plan the house where they would live. It felt really cool. And, to know they planned their office space and store that way too – it was way cool. I liked it.
So, over the years I kept creating crafts, designs, inventions and drawings – but most of my drawings were not as fun as painting. And, when my mother would learn in a class, I would go with her and soak it all up like a sponge – even though I really was not that interested in art like that. I loved the Greek statues at the museums and the beautiful paintings done on Grecian urns. AND I loved to get lost away from my family at the LA Museum of Art to go look at the diamonds sparkling in the most amazing settings and the history of fashion displays and the beautiful paintings made by Van Eyck and Vermeer. They were dimensional and amazing. I loved the way they looked as if I could put my hand into a space where there had to be a surface actually there that was just painted. But it looked like the volume of space in that illusionary environment of the painting actually existed dimensionally. I loved that. I could stand for hours and study on that and how the shadows were recreated in the painting and volume and light as if it existed still even though it isn’t there. Amazing.
There are so many things to tell that I don’t even want to worry with it. When I’ve been meeting new people and often I did that in Georgia too before coming to New York – it is impossible to tell them all those things. First of all, they’re probably not that interested in hearing it or knowing about it. And, second of all – even more so, I usually only have a short amount of their time they can spare to me, being busy with so many things – and I don’t want to waste it with what I already know about myself. I want to know what they know and take it with me when I leave them to go do other things. There seems to be no sense in trying to create a ten words or less elevator pitch anymore – I had a great one and nobody liked it. I thought it was perfect – took me years to come up with it – literally. And, yet, nobody that has heard it thought it describes who I am or what I do with any meat to it. That means I don’t know what – but here is the one I thought was so great –
I just create feel happy stuff.
It is so perfect and it is true. Plus it is actually the truth of it – as far as what I’m putting on my Zazzle store and many of the artworks that form the basis of those products which I’ve been creating for years before putting them on coffee mugs. That does describe it, but apparently that sentence doesn’t have enough meat in it to suit an elevator pitch or quick description for someone who wants to know what I do and who I am. Well, damn. Maybe I should just say – I’m working to be a genius and apply that in every way I can to everything I can while I’m still alive to do it. That probably describes it better and more accurately presents who I am and what I’m trying to do all the time. And, it is actually the truth.
That kind of elevator pitch statement still wouldn’t describe the what I do in terms that most business people would be used to hearing. It’s not the same as saying, “I’m in the business of selling firewood for people to stay warm in the winter.” And, it isn’t in the neighborhood of being a consultant, although I suppose that might be a possibility as a business model. Wonder if I could stand being a consultant using what I know and what I can do to help as a business. Wonder if I could stand it a day? My daughter says she has two price structures for what she does when helping small businesses with their invoicing – one is called the regular price and the other is the headache price based on how likely she is to get headaches dealing with something or someone or some particular snafu. That is consultant stuff right there, but I’m not sure any amount of money could help me get over those kinds of headaches and still be functional as a consultant. I might consult them to go do it themselves as my final analysis. That probably wouldn’t be a good business model. But it would be easier to say as an elevator pitch. I could say, “I’m a consultant with two pricing models. Let me know which one you would like and I’ll help you out.” NO – that is wrong.
I’ll try again. Maybe they’ll have another workshop and actually tell something about budding business stuff. At least I’m not entrepreneurially blocked anymore – And there are some concrete solutions to elements of accepting money for my work where I have a chance to not be quickly overwhelmed with the demands of people wanting it yesterday, now, tomorrow or two days from now even though it is six months worth of work to do it.