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#21 LeeU

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Posted 12 March 2017 - 10:08 PM

WIX gave me a deal at $25 for 12 months for lee@leeuceramics.com, (same features as Google, which is what it's through anyway). So I did it. I'll lose a bit on the cards I got for the gmail acct., but at least I did not put any out there yet!  

 

Thx Chilly--the "angle type" is a great tip. I have a friend who is going to tweak my Excel to maximize it for my needs. What a blessing--so many people helping me and cheering me on! Lady...I am using the Excel for an inventory tracker, so I need to log those details. Ron-thx-I  will add the cone#. Plus I will have reference photos of each piece.

 

This is actually fun (doing the web stuff and inching closer to launching a hobby business. It is taking much longer than I had hoped, as far as taking pics (1-3 views, no less) of every piece and then the whole "store" has to be set up & the photos uploaded...another friend is going to do the initial batch for me. I have to bring 3 huge bags of "stuff" to my favorite charity in order to make the (former!) dining room functual to have the photo set up on a table in there. .


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#22 Chris Campbell

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Posted 13 March 2017 - 11:16 AM

Your target buyer for pottery is likely a woman, 35 - 45 years old.

What lures that person in and what does that person care about the most?

 

I doubt she cares that much about you having a gmail account since she likely has one too.

I would bet she cares about what the pottery says about her, if it gives her a good feeling about herself.

She cares about price point but not to the exclusion of taste or style ... look what she pays for coffee!

 

I think she wants to buy it easily and enjoy the experience.


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#23 Polydeuces

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 07:27 PM

Hey there, long-time lurker here that just made an account. I've got experience building a few websites (not pottery related) and I've tried a few different things (different wordpress themes & platforms) and if you're getting into it for the first time, here are a couple things I would share with you.

 

Wordpress is great in that it is very flexible and there are thousands of themes you can choose from (check out www.themeforest.net). Wordpress itself is free & open source if you have it hosted using GoDaddy or Bluehost or some other hosting provider, though you likely will have to purchase a theme to get a look you want. That's all well and fine, but the most challenging thing about wordpress is learning some of the coding basics to get around, and it can be difficult to change things around unless you really know what you're doing. 

 

I've actually been porting my existing website and redesigning using SquareSpace. In relativity to Wordpress, there is a somewhat "limited" selection of layouts, but they are far easier to customize. The builder itself is drag-and-drop, "What you see is what you get," style builder. The site comes out looking clean and automatically adjusts to whatever device it's being viewed on (PC, tablet, phone). They have a business package that doesn't seem too expensive for what they offer: inventory & invoicing, professional email, so on and so forth, which can be really awesome depending on your needs & desires. The whole thing is VERY easy to use, and if you have any trouble their website is packed full of how-to videos -- they even run a free weekly webinar on Wednesdays to help people get the ground running.

 

I would say if you've never designed a site before, look into SquareSpace. Their software is great, the system is really tight and the platform is very worry-free. Price-wise, I would say it's pretty comparable to any other web-hosting service. Wordpress can get insanely expensive pretty quickly, depending on your aesthetic. Many attractive site features & options come in the form of plug-ins, which are like tiny bits of code that you upload to your website -- things like image carousels, fancy contact forms, and so on -- many of these require a purchase or even a subscription to maintain! SquareSpace gives you pretty much all of that in the package. The basic is like $8, and I think the business is like $12 or $16 when you pay up front for the year. 

 

Best of luck!



#24 LeeU

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 03:19 PM

Thanks all--my first two self-designed sites were via Weebly and GoDaddy web builders. Now I am using WIX's and so far, am the happiest. Just never got into Wordpress or Square Space, though most comments about them are very positive. 

 

A friend worked wth me to kick-start my product ID and inventory system. I have many trays of "smalls" as in the pic, and have devised a coding system for 12 discreet categories and 25 subcategories (the other pic is 3 incense holders (type) cone (sub) as ID'd on the back. On my Excel, I add the number of the piece, and the detail notes, measurments etc. and use the product code as the base file name for the photos. I have 1 tray done---15 to go! 

 

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#25 Roberta12

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 09:48 AM

Lee, that is very organized!!!!!   Nice job!  Will that be manageable at a show or sale?  That is always the problem I have, things happen so quickly at a sale that I don't know how I would keep track of individual items.  Usually I have a list, 20 dinner plates,  20 salad plates, 40 mugs.....and so on.  But if you are running it through your square reader or whatever, then maybe you would know??

 

Roberta



#26 LeeU

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Posted 20 March 2017 - 05:10 PM

I am a low volume, low energy sort of gal and have no plans to do any shows or fairs if I can manage to not get enticed (since it is enticing, and up here in rural NH, local events are fairly easy to access). But...too much work LOL--and too physical for me without help, so I am planning my little enterprise to be mostly online.  


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#27 LeeU

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 08:30 PM

Progress report (feedback always welcome): I've made a decent start on a couple of web site pages with finished content, a Lee U Ceramics Facebook page, and a Pinterest page  https://www.pinteres...m/leeuceramics/  That has only a few boards at the moment. It has a nice collection of Clay People (pins from Pinterest, some of you are in there), one for Kilns and Firing, and one for Tech, Tips, and Tools, just getting started. The boards that will feature my work are "secret" until I can get the daggone photos done and have a working sales mechanism on my website--it will be a while, which I am resigned to. I want to do it right, not half-baked. I identified my color theme, primary key words, and core values. I wrote a mission statement per a recommended structure (who you are, what you do, what values do you stand behind, and why -what is your purpose). 

 

Mission statement:

Lee U Ceramics (LUC) is the working studio of NH clay artist, Lee Ustinich.  Our handmade ceramic pieces are designed to be sculpturally functional, for home and office use.  The items offered by LUC are distinctive, creative, and authentic.  The mission of Lee U Ceramics is to share the art, for the pleasure of others who appreciate the beauty of clay.

 

I am finding the worksheets, webinars, and little assignments from SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) to be very helpful. 

 

Here are pics of my new card--black on front, white on back, sitting in one of my Desk Top items, a business card holder. Hope it's OK to post the pics--I'm not trying to promote, just sharing my journey for anyone interested in the early stages of building an online hobby business and all that entails, from scratch, learning as I go. It is amazing how much work is involved! Every little thing requires a thoughtful decision, after researching and sifting through many variables! 

 

 

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#28 Joseph F

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 09:05 PM

Lee,

 

While I understand all the thoughts going through all this, I just want to say as a person who has started many businesses, you can spend so much time starting up you never get started. Just be aware of that. The first few businesses I tried to start, I spent so much time on getting everything ready I never got going. 

 

Just had to put that out there, so you don't fall into the same traps I have in the past.

 

Other than that. Looking good on the statements and the business cards. 

 

-- you ask for feedback, I hope this doesn't sound negative or anything, just a life experience i went through several times.



#29 RonSa

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 08:34 AM

While I understand all the thoughts going through all this, I just want to say as a person who has started many businesses, you can spend so much time starting up you never get started. Just be aware of that. .

 

Ditto on that.

As the cliche goes "Rome wasn't built in a day", neither does your web presence need to be built all at once.

 

Focus on selling your product and build things (website, business forms, tutorials/info,promoting other artists) as you need them or when you have spare time in your new 80 hour week job.

 

(I did take a peek at your Instagram and website - good start and your BC look great)


Ron


#30 LeeU

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 08:44 PM

Oh yeah, I am well aware of the plan-to-plan thing. I have given myself permission to take the time needed, and as my sales will be online and I want to have a decent looking presentation of "self & site".  I do not want to start selling online yet -- actually, I can't until enough photos are done that I can have some for each item category.  I'm still working on labeling inventory so I can find stuff and track it. I am amazed to find I have 24 drawers, including 4 deep ones, full of my humble efforts! 

 

I do love my new card!  Changing the e-address was the right move ...thanks! 


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#31 LeeU

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 02:26 PM

Here are a few pics of the organizational supports I use to keep my studio--and my own thought process--managable as I build infrastructure for my online operation. My white board is essential for keeping my priorities and "to do's" where I can't miss 'em; my storage cart holds inventory; the spreadsheet is my tracker and the first 3 columns on the left make up the Product Code. 

 

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#32 RonSa

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 04:26 PM

Boy, this is exciting. I love it when people are in this process.


Ron


#33 oldlady

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 07:23 PM

lee, love your labels.  there are cabinets in a nearby studio that is shared with other classes.  i stopped in shock when i read that one of them held "stained students only".

 

(one of the other classes is for glass work.)


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#34 Joseph F

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 08:23 PM

Looking good. Fancy system. I feel like caveman with my pots sitting on a table for sale in my spare bedroom.

#35 LeeU

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 09:17 PM

New question re: pricing to sell. Between my low volume of production and the heavy set-up expense to install the studio, I do not have an expectation of turning a profit anytime soon. I do intend to get the materials to pay for themselves, at a minimum, as soon as possible. 

 

Some of the usual formulas for pricing don't quite work in my situation.For now I am focusing on a bit of a niche market (for example, I do specialty cone incense holders for groups, using stamps/colors/designs relevant/unique to the group's purpose, and a line of "dragon hide" items targeted to young men ). 

 

I've been winging it on prices and I try to go as high as I think the market will bear--no complaints or negative feedback so far. My incense holders, for example, range from $10 for smaller/plainer to around $30 for larger/more unique. I also do catchalls, usually under 5", desk top business card holders, spoons, tea light holders, spoon rests, jewelry (pendants). My style is not smooth/shiny/pretty-it's more unique/rustic/rough, many in porcelain, and there is nothing much online that I can find to compare with, price-wise.

 

Long story long, what I am seeking is comments on "How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer? 

 

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#36 RonSa

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 07:26 AM

Long story long, what I am seeking is comments on "How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer?

 

There are tomes written on this subject that fills libraries. I could give you a formula that I have had published and worked for me as well. But the bottom line is this, you need to test the waters, or as you said "trial and error."

 

I'll leave you with these bits of advice.

 

1) Always sell for a profit.

      That's why you are in business.

2) Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price.

      If you don't hear that your price is to high by at least a small portion of your customers you may be selling too low.

            Its time to raise your prices

      If you hear that your price is to high by a large portion of your customers you may be selling too high.

            If your sells are suffering because of a price it its time to lower your price.

            If your sales are not suffering you found the magic spot.
3) Never try to undersell your competitors.

      Leave that to the giants of the industry.


Ron


#37 Joseph F

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 09:41 AM

I prefer the day method. Think about how much you want to make a day money wise. Say its 100$ just to make it easy. You sell your pots for 25 dollars each. You need to make 4 pots a day to meet your daily goal. If you can't sell pots for 25, and you can sell them for say 20. Then you need to make 5 a day. 

 

It is simple and easy and helps you find the price and get the brain going on how much work is required to make and sell each month. It is simple and effective.



#38 GEP

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 10:12 AM

"How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer? 

 

The good news is, yes there is a value for this. The bad news is, you don't get to decide what the value is. The market decides. Your job is to pay close attention to feedback and sales, and over time the creativity value of your work will become known to you. There is never a time when the answer is final and you can stop thinking about it. It's an ever ongoing process. 

 

RonSa said "Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price." This is true for anything you make that is one-of-a-kind, for which there will only be one customer. No harm is starting with a high asking price, and lowering it the longer it sits around. However, if you are making series of pieces all in the same scope (like incense burners and catchall dishes, for example), you need to be more careful about price drops, because you have more than one customer buying the same item. If you start high, find sales to be lagging, then lower the price, you have suddenly cheated everyone who bought at the higher price. If they notice the price drop, their buying experience becomes a bad one. Doesn't mean this isn't allowed, just that you need to consider it very carefully. Don't you hate how cell phone and cable tv providers treat their existing customers much worse than their new customers? Do you want your customers to feel that way about you? A pottery business's customer base is very small, and personal to some extent. You won't survive if all of your customers only buy your work once. Repeat business is essential. You can't get away with disregarding past customers. A cell phone company can get away with it, they know we have become dependent on their services, which is not the same for a potter. When I became serious about my pottery business, I decided that my existing customers would always get more privileges and better treatment than new customers. Part of this philosophy is that when I introduce new items, they always start with a low introductory price. Those who buy into the design first get rewarded with the low price. If the item is successful and the price goes up, their buying experience suddenly got better. That builds loyalty. Customers will be happy for your success and will gladly pay more when they want to purchase again. This has served me well over the years, so I recommend the same to you. For items that you make regularly in the same scope, start with low prices and feel your way up to the right price points. 


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#39 LeeU

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 01:58 PM

Thanks... I definately will start with more modest prices and raise over time, if the market permits, rather than start high and then have to lower--that certainly makes sense, especially regarding customer satisfaction, customer relations, and hopefully nurturing repeat customers.  

 

Even for a small hobby business with low risk if it doesn't gel, the business of business-building is quite complex and daunting. But challenging in a good way, looking at the various aspects from various angles and making decisions. The tips, the cautions, the encouragement, and the freely given input--especially from CAD forums--is invaluable and much appreciated. The feeling of community is as important to me as any future sale! 


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#40 RonSa

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 02:16 PM

 

"How do you factor in a dollar value for the unique/creative aspect of your work?"  Is it a matter of trial and error? Is there a secret? Maybe a special prayer? 

 

The good news is, yes there is a value for this. The bad news is, you don't get to decide what the value is. The market decides. Your job is to pay close attention to feedback and sales, and over time the creativity value of your work will become known to you. There is never a time when the answer is final and you can stop thinking about it. It's an ever ongoing process. 

 

RonSa said "Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price." This is true for anything you make that is one-of-a-kind, for which there will only be one customer. No harm is starting with a high asking price, and lowering it the longer it sits around. However, if you are making series of pieces all in the same scope (like incense burners and catchall dishes, for example), you need to be more careful about price drops, because you have more than one customer buying the same item. If you start high, find sales to be lagging, then lower the price, you have suddenly cheated everyone who bought at the higher price. If they notice the price drop, their buying experience becomes a bad one. Doesn't mean this isn't allowed, just that you need to consider it very carefully. Don't you hate how cell phone and cable tv providers treat their existing customers much worse than their new customers? Do you want your customers to feel that way about you? A pottery business's customer base is very small, and personal to some extent. You won't survive if all of your customers only buy your work once. Repeat business is essential. You can't get away with disregarding past customers. A cell phone company can get away with it, they know we have become dependent on their services, which is not the same for a potter. When I became serious about my pottery business, I decided that my existing customers would always get more privileges and better treatment than new customers. Part of this philosophy is that when I introduce new items, they always start with a low introductory price. Those who buy into the design first get rewarded with the low price. If the item is successful and the price goes up, their buying experience suddenly got better. That builds loyalty. Customers will be happy for your success and will gladly pay more when they want to purchase again. This has served me well over the years, so I recommend the same to you. For items that you make regularly in the same scope, start with low prices and feel your way up to the right price points. 

 

 

So your customer buys an item and tells all her friends how much she loves it and how much she paid. A month later she and her friends visit you and find that you now raised your prices. You think no one will feel cheated that they now have t\o pay a higher price? Or do you let them talk you down to your original lower price? Or maybe you never raise your prices, ever. There is a name for this but I hesitate to spell it out.

 

What happens if those friends visit you and see a lower price? Is it possible they will all be happy campers and isn't also possible the the original buyer might buy another one to get in on the deal?

 

Bottom line is you have to test the waters because at the start you really don't know if your price is to high or to low.

 

I stand by my comment based on 30+ years of selling: Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price.

Truth be told,  I never meet a repeat customer that felt cheated when they find they could now buy something for less.


Ron





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