Monday, 29 November 2010

Greeting Card Universe - one year on!

I can hardly believe it but this week it will be exactly a year since I joined Greeting Card Universe. So I’ve, inevitably, been looking back over the year and comparing what I expected to happen with what actually did!

The thing that stands out for me is that it’s involved a lot more work than I envisaged but that the gains have been greater too – though I’m not entirely convinced, as yet, that the financial rewards have equalled the amount of effort I’ve put in. Maybe it’ll all pay off later - jam tomorrow?

It’s been a year when I seem to have been constantly required to learn new things and sometimes my brain has felt as if it just couldn’t take in any more. But somehow it did and some of the things that seemed far too complicated for me a year ago, now seem dead simple!

There have been a string of computer-related things to find out about and ‘master’, some of them technical – like how to get the images in the right place in blogger! – many of them related to social networking and even more of them  pertaining to that all-important Search Engine Optimisation. I have a strong suspicion that I have still a great deal to learn and that next year will amount to ‘more of the same’. But one thing I’ve learnt this year is that most of the technical difficulties aren’t actually beyond me as long as I don’t panic and that there’s plenty of free information available to help with almost anything we might need to learn – as long as we are careful to distinguish between information and opinion!

But whereas all these things were of the ‘how-to’ type of learning, I realise that there has been another, less effortful type of learning going on since I took the plunge on Nov 30th 2009! In a sense a whole new world opened up to me, a huge and important new world but one that I was totally unaware of!

  • I’ve learnt that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people all over the world making art! This has surprised me because in my ‘offline’ life, I know very few artists. At one time I lived for years in a place where I didn’t know a single artist and felt like the proverbial round peg in a square hole. I’ve also learnt that the online community of artists is generally a warmly generous and helpful body of people, even in situations where we are competing with one another for sales, as we are at Greeting Card Universe.

  • I’ve learnt that digital art has grown hugely important while I wasn’t paying attention and that far more greeting cards are created digitally than by traditional methods.

  • I’ve learnt that some of my card designs are regarded  as ‘vintage’ by younger people – that came as a shock!!! – but that I have several ‘styles’ and that customers have been willing to buy cards in each of my styles. 

  • I’ve learnt that my ‘pen and wash’ style sells best through Greeting Card Universe and my Fine Art cards not at all; that nearly a quarter of the cards I’ve sold this year have been birthday cards, many of them for older people or children. With Christmas cards so far only accounting for about one-sixth of my sales, I’ve learnt that it makes sense for me to focus on creating more birthday cards in the future, in particular age-specific ones. 

  • And I've learnt that I'd probably sell more greeting cards if I could bring myself to put a verse inside as that seems to be important for the US market.

  • I’ve also learnt that ‘there’s no accounting for taste’ when customers have bought cards that I nearly didn’t offer for sale and I’ve heard other Greeting Card Universe artists say the same thing.

  • I’ve learnt that I’m not at all good at ‘selling’ and that patience and persistence are required to sell online where the competition is unimaginably vast and promoting one’s ‘store’ is vital! 
But, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised to find that, in spite of the competition, people have actually chosen to buy greeting cards that I have designed. This still comes as a bit of a shock to me! Of course there have been other influencing factors, such as Zazzle, which I signed up to a bit later, but it is without a shadow of doubt, Greeting Card Universe that has restored my slightly battered confidence and made me feel that I am at last on the way to achieving my long-held ambition to be a Greeting Card Designer!

As I write, someone just tweeted this quotation: 

'In the business world, everyone is paid in 2 coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later'. Harold Geneen

I really hope Harold Geneen is right!


Gothicmama Lori said...

I was always wondring if it was worth my while to join greeting card universe. Thanks so much for writing this. I just might. I wish you much luck and success.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Lori - thank you very much for your good wishes and I hope you are doing well too. I'm very glad that you found my blog post useful!

Country Mouse Studio said...

I love the quote. I've finally figured out how to quickly put my images up so I will be adding more cards. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

Jean said...

Judy, I have been sharing your "how to" artist post on my Facebook page and have gotten a few "thank-you" comments. Selling/marketing one's artwork irregardless of the medium is tauting. Not only are you a very talented artist but also a very talented teacher in helping artists to sell their work online. Thank-you for sharing your experience...with the world.
Oh...yes....this post will be shared to my artist friends.

Betsy Grant said...

Sounds like you've learned alot, and have the determination to learn more. These are key ingredients to success. Good for you!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Carole - I agree, that quote makes it slightly easier to wait and hope that the cash side of things improves once we've been paid in 'experience'!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Jean - thank you so much for your encouragement and support. I really do appreciate it! And thank you, too, for sharing my 'how-to' posts - I hope someone, somewhere might find reading about my experiences helpful!
Another thing has occurred to me since I wrote this post: many of the Christmas Cards I've sold through GCU this year have had their greetings in a foreign language (though nobody's bought a Welsh one yet!). That might be coincidence or maybe a tip to pass on?

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Betsy - good to hear from you. I love reading your blog posts - they always give me a lot to think about!
I do seem to have learnt a lot this year, but then I happen to believe that when we stop learning, we might as well stop breathing! (Though I must admit, it has sometimes seemed a bit much at times this year!)