graphic design · graphics for shirts · Heat Press · Onesies · Small Business · Toledo, OH

Meeting with Our SCORE Mentor 10-4-17

Wednesday night we met with our SCORE mentor. A marketing expert joined us and it was encouraging to get a new perspective.

I had assumed to make my business successful I would have to branch out and offer lots of different services, but the marketing expert suggested I concentrate on one thing and become really good at it. I’m going to focus on graphics for children’s clothing, newborn to 5T. We are going to brainstorm new design ideas and create a strong portfolio of super cute graphics.

We are also going to make a list of businesses and organizations involved with children and reach out to them. The marketing expert said it is important to have a “leave behind” item when approaching these organizations, and he made some suggestions to improve our tri-fold brochure.

I took lots of notes during the meeting and I’m ready to get to work. I’m nervous about approaching local organizations but excited to work on new designs. I’m willing to give all these new suggestions a fair shot.

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graphic design · mental health

Mental Health Advocacy in My Life

I’ve been writing for HealthyPlace since July, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I’m co-author of the Recovering From Mental Illness blog. This week I posted a video about employment and mental illness as well as an article on how antipsychotic medication has affected my life. Please check them out. For October I am working on articles about volunteering and anxiety. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Mental health advocacy has been an important part of my life since starting my recovery ten years ago. Here’s a poster I created when I was a student at Owens Community College.

rise-above

graphic design · graphics for shirts · Heat Press · Onesies · SCORE · Small Business

Rahm Designs, LLC August 2017 Update

I was not feeling well this past weekend, and didn’t get anything done for a couple days. I’m juggling several different projects right now, so it was discouraging to fall behind schedule. However, I’m feeling better now. I’m back at work and slowly tackling projects one-by-one. Here’s an update on Rahm Designs, LLC.

For the past 12 months the Rahm Designs, LLC Etsy shop has seen a 279 percent increase in revenue. From month-to-month it doesn’t usually feel like there’s that big of a change, so it was nice to see the stats over a larger period of time. Most of our orders come from Etsy and I feel it’s the best fit for our items as far as ecommerce sites go, but we still get frustrated with Etsy’s seller’s fees. We also get sales from eBay, but no where near the traffic and sales we get on Etsy.

We will meet with our SCORE mentor as well as the marketing mentor on the 23rd. I have been gathering all of our marketing materials and I’m eager to hear their feedback. It’s been several weeks since we’ve seen our mentor and a lot has happened in the mean time, so we’ll have a lot of catching up to do.

I’m still thinking about the organization of the business. I have many different interests, and I’m not sure what to focus on. Can Rahm Designs, LLC cover several different areas?

I’m excited to be working on some new designs, all of which were ideas from my family. My drawing skills feel a little rusty, but I’m antsy to put out a finished product. It’s been a while since I’ve put out new designs, and I’m excited to show everyone.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in my life right now. My husband has a new job, and my job at the mental health agency might be coming to an end in a few months. While it’s a little nerve wracking at the moment, I believe these changes will ultimately be better for my career and my life. Let’s see what the next chapter holds.

art · graphic design · Small Business

My New Favorite Series on Netflix – Abstract: The Art of Design

Abstract: The Art of Design is a series that came out earlier this year on Netflix, and I was instantly drawn to it. This inspiring program profiles the beautiful and innovative work of 8 designers at the top of their game as they reveal their processes and motivation. This is a must-see for anyone pursuing a creative career. I found their stories fascinating as well as an incredible learning opportunity.

Episode 1

Christoph Niemann talks about his illustrations as he works on a ground breaking cover for New Yorker. He explains the importance of abstraction and shares exercises that help him with the creative process. I have enjoyed trying these exercises myself. He says on a trip to the museum, “The gateway drug is not creating art, it’s experiencing art.”

Episode 2

This episode follows iconic shoe designer and creator of Air Jordans, Tinker Hatfield. Tinker discusses the problem-solving element of design and the importance of creating something meaningful – something that tells a story. He says, “Get out and experience life. Then you will have a library in your head.”

Episode 3

Es Devlin opens up about her successful career as a stage designer. She’s designed for small theaters as well as sets of today’s most famous pop stars and everything in between. She discusses 5 ingredients she uses in her design work, and what it means to fill a void with art. She explains, “Everything’s only going to exist in the memories of people.”

Episode 4

This episode follows Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. He created an inclusive approach to architecture and his work focuses on sustainability and problem-solving. He explains, “The way you realize your dreams is one step at a time.” You won’t believe the clean power plant with a ski slope on top of it.

Episode 5

Episode 5 profiles Ralph Gilles, automotive designer for Chrysler. He says, “Everything should be art.” His designs are beautiful and functional. He calls designers “taste makers” and as he explains, “Taste making takes time.”

Episode 6

Graphic designer Paula Scher is featured in episode 6. She describes design as “existing beyond screens” because “it affects real life.” She’s a big fan of typography. As she explains, “Making stuff is the heart of everything. That drive never goes away.”

Episode 7

This episode follows photographer and cultural provocateur Platon. He still shoots with film and has an amazing way of connecting with people. He always asks himself, “What can I learn from this person?” He has photographed numerous world leaders and everyday people alike.

Episode 8

Ilse Crawford, the successful interior designer, is the focus of episode 8. She considers all the senses in her work, because “we are our bodies”. She explains, “Design is a thought process, a skill, and a tool to enhance our humanity.”

I loved this series and I am grateful to the designers for sharing their work and stories. It was truly inspiring. I am more motivated than ever to learn and discover as much as I can about my own discipline. Time to get to work!

art · graphic design · graphics for shirts · Heat Press · Onesies · Small Business

Branching Out: Comparing Etsy, eBay, ArtYah, and Zibbet

I have been selling products online for nearly 2 years now, and I fear I am putting all my eggs in one basket. I spend most of my time working on my Etsy shop. I also sell on eBay, ArtYah, and Zibbet, but I often ignore these sites. I want to learn more about these other shops. The vast majority of my sales come from Etsy, so that’s why I spend all my time there. It’s time for me to branch out. As I’ve painfully learned, online sales can be unpredictable, so now I would like to develop multiple sources of income. It took a lot of work to get where I am today on Etsy, so it probably takes just as much work on the other sites. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Etsy

Let me start with what I know about being an Etsy seller. Etsy is a very popular site for handmade and vintage items, and your customers are very targeted. Customers come there looking for items that are one-of-a-kind. There are over a million active sellers on Etsy, so competition is fierce. Some of the things I like about Etsy are that it’s easy to create custom orders, the site is very user friendly, and you can always find help in the forums. Listings cost only 20 cents, and it’s very easy to get a shop up and running. Now what I don’t like: the fees! Every month I get slammed with transaction, processing, and promoted listing fees. For every item purchased there are separate transaction and processing fees. I do get sales from promoted listings, but man those fees really add up!

eBay

I also sell on eBay, which is also a very popular site, but the customers aren’t as targeted. You can find just about anything on eBay, not just handmade and vintage. I find eBay to be more difficult than Etsy. It’s definitely not as user friendly, especially when adding listings. The fees are a mystery to me. Sometimes my listings are free, but if I post to multiple categories, it’s 30 cents. I do like the bulk listings feature, though. One thing that’s disappointing is that the traffic stats lag a few days behind. I keep a record of my stats on Etsy and eBay so I can track trends. Etsy is usually just a few hours behind. I also read on the Etsy forums that many sellers think “bigger stores” overrun eBay.

ArtYah

I opened a shop on ArtYah maybe a year ago, but have mostly ignored it. I am checking it out again because ArtYah is gaining popularity among Etsy sellers. ArtYah lets you import your listings from Etsy, which makes adding items to your shop a lot easier. ArtYah specializes in handmade and vintage similar to Etsy, and the listing fees are only 10 cents. However, ArtYah also charges a 3.5% transaction fee plus a percentage commission, so in some ways it’s like Etsy.

Zibbet

Zibbet is a little different. You can try it out and list 10 items for free. This is what I’ve done. Instead of charging listing fees, transaction fees, processing fees, etc., Zibbet just has a monthly subscription where you get your own domain. The starter plan is only $4/month. Zibbet also lets you import your Etsy listings similar to ArtYah. Zibbet specializes in art, handmade, vintage, and craft supplies, however is not as widely known as the other sites.

So that’s basically what I know. I have a lot more to learn! I plan on looking into these other sites and spending time finding other sources of income. I’ll keep you posted!

ArtYah ListingEtsy ListingZibbet Listing