In today’s Q & Cake (our own fancy version of Q & A) Elisabeth and Cami discuss several questions from listeners regarding outsourcing to other artists, tweaking your pricing structure, shifting your products/designs to a digital format, how you can use an ipad for your creative biz, and the direction we see our businesses going 10-15 years from now. These are questions from fellow artists, calligraphers, designers, stationers, etc. that will hopefully help you in your own biz journey as a creativepreneur!
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“What suggestions do you have for an invitation designer who is not particularly skilled with watercolor but wants to offer venue illustrations or pet portraits for customers. Are there vendors who I can outsource this to or would you advise me to learn the art myself. Thank you!”
– Elisabeth of @raiseyourwordslettering
I feel like I feel like a lot of us inherently think that watercolors are like the one or only thing you can do, but I will say because I’ve struggled with this personally before because I’ve been like my watercolor is not that great or it’s just not my thing as much. But that’s why I do a lot of my live venues and illustration stuff on the iPad. I don’t pull out a paint palette guys. Like the Salzburg Austria map, that was all done in procreate. But it was done in a way where it still looked like it was hand painted.
But if you are a stationary designer, who wants to offer these things and you just don’t feel super confident about it, there are definitely people you can outsource to and I know we have a bunch in our community online, right Cami?
Yes, we do. People post in there for referrals all the time. If you’re a stationer, and you’re like, Oh, I don’t know how to get this watercolor thing you can totally reach out to other artists and work with them. It’s all about just making those connections with other artists, you can begin that licensing process.
But yeah, that’s totally a thing and it’s totally okay to do that. I think as long as you’re you’re upfront with saying, Hey, I’m not going to paint this, but we’re going to hire someone to do it for us. You know, just make sure you’re giving the artists credit as well when you do show the suite, etc. But yeah, you can totally do that. You don’t have to create everything yourself for the suite. And if it’s something that’s more generic, you can always get watercolor stock art from somewhere like Creative Market.
“I’m not making what I need to make with my stationery business, but I feel my prices need to be lower in order to generate business at this point. Most of my clients are local and I struggle with raising my prices any higher. Any help? Can you direct me in the right way?”
– Morgan of @morganharrisdesign
Well, I think you guys probably know our philosophy on pricing and that most Stationers aren’t industry are not charging enough for their work to actually be making a profit. So this is going to come down to looking really hard at your numbers andmaking sure that your profit margin is more than, you know, most Stationers around 20% 30%. You want to be more like the 60 to 80% range for your profit margin.
So you might feel like locally, my clients are going to pay this or just no way that I can compete. But maybe it’s time to expand your market not just locally, but expanding it into brides who can afford your services. So just like thinking outside your local market, because as a stationer, you do have the privilege of being able to work with people all over the place, which is really nice. And It’s all about just looking for those clients who can afford those prices, and if you feel like your work isn’t quite at that market yet, then it’s time to start shifting your aesthetic and your the look you really want to portray for those high end clients and just making sure that you’re tailoring everything to that. Basically, elevate your style to elevate your value and understand that you do have an amazing talent and offering so you can raise those prices. Don’t get stuck thinking that those clients won’t pay it when you haven’t even tested the market yet.
“Do you have an iPad? If so, how do you utilize it for your business?”
– Nikke @lavenderandsea
The biggest thing on the iPad is Procreate for me and the ability to sketch things out and create artwork on there has been totally revolutionary for me, especially with like spot calligraphy and a couple things like that it can be done so much quicker.
So True Confessions of an apple addict though, I bought an iPad back in 2018 and by the end of 2019, I was like the iPad is not enough, so I bought a laptop as well. What I discovered was like a lot of my workflow and like email and using Dubsado and doing bookkeeping and using Illustrator and Photoshop and those types of programs, like if I wanted to be on the go, I needed to have a laptop that could do all of those things for me, because the iPad is so great for like art creation and being a part of my workflow, but it was not enough on its own. So I would say if you’re like interested in creating more art on the go, and doing some artwork, that’s not unlike traditional pen and paper and getting an iPad could be an awesome addition to your business and it’s hard because you like never know until you add it, but they have a return policy anyways, right?
“I got into calligraphy as I loved making physical, homemade items in such a digital world. But it seems like the best way to make “passive” product income is by digitizing. How did digitizing items to print onto products impact your company? And where did you learn how to digitize your work?”
– Afshawn of @acletterscalligraphy
I guess we should note that products are normally not considered to be passive. However, you could start to sell something more than once if you digitize it. This will literally be a game changer for your business. If you’re someone who’s literally just doing everything by hand and every single order you take is brand new and you have to start from scratch and you never resell it again and you are losing money in your business. And you are setting yourself up for failure in the long run. Because you never have a way to scale. Or what if you’re not there and you’re one of your hands gets broken or something, what happens then? So, when you’re able to actually scan and and reproduce your work, you can easily scale and start selling that artwork piece many, many times hundreds of times so you can like keep making more and more money.
It’s not that hard to digitize. I learned by taking a modern calligraphy summit. I literally watched Ashley buzzy’s section on digitizing, like 50 times before I finally figured it out.. But like I was just saying, I took that YouTube course this weekend just about InDesign. You can find courses on there on how to digitize your lettering your artwork, and begin that process and just kind of teach yourself that’s the best way to do it. That’s the way I learned. And once you do that, then you need to join the A-Z directory and we will tell you where to print all your stuff and how to actually get it on things. But I truly think to be successful as an artist you need to learn how to scan your artwork.
“Can you describe how you moved from doing mostly wood signs to doing custom invitation suites? Also, how do balance the two audiences you have of serving creative entrepreneurs and serving brides? Which do you feel like is your true focus when you think about where you want your business to go in the next 10 or 15 years?”
– Sierra of @studiodelalma
So much of my time was being spent doing wood signs that I didn’t even have room in my business to like discover where I wanted to go in terms of like direction for custom wedding invitations. So I really made an announcement on Instagram. And it’s still one of my favorite posts because I talked about like, hey, I’ve loved my three years of doing wood signs. And it’s an art form that I’ll always of course, like value and appreciate. But you know, my time doing this has come to a close is I want to focus on doing custom invitation sweets. So at that point, it just came about putting the boundary up, which is still hard to do, because I will have like family friends even to this day that asked about what signs for their weddings, and I’m like, I’m so sorry. Like, at the end of 2018. I stopped doing those completely ,I have other names for you.
Okay. So balancing the two audiences. Well, I think now we have the businesses so separated out like, it’s very clear. My business is Cami Monet. The education business is Biz Birthday Bash. Like there are two businesses. I think having that distinction is very important in terms of balancing. And if you’re someone who is thinking about doing a little bit of both, I do think at some point it might be helpful to like split those. However that being said, I do think you can also keep it under the same name if it’s like, like, if I’m doing watercolor classes like that, that falls into the creative side, so I’d keep that under my business Cami Monet if that makes sense.
But in terms of like balancing the business like with my brain, oh my gosh, like my brain gets so crazy, trying to think of things but it really is it’s like compartmentalizing things and I’m very much like I have to be like, Okay, I’m 100% Cami Monet today and I’m doing all creative artwork and only wedding invitations today. Then tomorrow, I might say okay, it’s Biz Birthday Bash/Podcast day and I’m switching gears completely. So it’s definitely a matter of like switching gears and giving yourself the space to do that.
It’s hard to think about this [10-15 years from now] but when it comes to my true focus in the future, time will tell. Right now, I feel super invested in both Biz Birthday Bash and ElisaAnne Calligraphy. I mean, I hopefully I’m not alone in saying that because I think there’s something that’s so fun about being able to do both like because it gives your mind like a break from the other.