Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One Path to Being Published in a National Beading Magazine

My original reason for trying to get published.
Since I have a web site, I wanted to entice folks to stop by, look around and, more importantly, shop. I felt getting some of my jewelry designs published in a national bead magazine would be a excellent way to interest readers and get them to make that leap and check out my web site. I have a background in graphic design and with any two dimensional art form, and to a degree, three dimensional, you need to have a portfolio to sell yourself. Of course, all of that is digital these days. In 2006 when I was on my way to the Tucson Gem Show that happens every February, I decided I would put together a small photo album with shots of my jewelry designs. I had never been to the Tucson show so I had no idea what to expect, but I was going to be ready when or if the opportunity should arise to talk to one of the national bead magazine editors. Well, that little album turned out to be an excellent tool.

Off to the Tucson Gem Show.
Not only had I not been to this event before, I had a booth at one of the many shows that make up the greater event that is the Tucson Gem Show. Overwhelmed does not describe what I was experiencing. There was: getting all of the product there, setting up the booth, manning the booth, barely eating, talking non-stop, crawling off to sleep a while and doing it all over again the next day for six days. Of course, you always survive these marathon events, even though you go home exhausted. The crazy thing is we do this sort of thing again and again. As the days passed at the show, I discovered that a buzz would travel through the building that would let you know that magazine editors had arrived. Well, everyone there wanted to talk to editors to interest them in their product; who knows, it might get featured on the "something new" page in their magazine. The editors are at the show looking for anything that is new an different that can be featured in their magazine so it does work out. I wasn't going to trip anyone on their way by my booth, but they were going to see my friendly face and I was going to be ready to sell myself. Don't be shy. Shy doesn't get you anywhere.

The chain of events.

The first editor came by my booth the second day of the show. They were polite, yet reserved. Sort of looked at my album and even bought some of my etched charms and pendants. I gave them my business card and thought I'd send a follow up e-mail when I got home to refresh their memory about my awesome jewelry designs. Then a second editors came by as a group. They were very friendly and interested and I thought, "oh this is looking better, a good vibe". I would definitely be sending them a little reminder of my designs after the show. I was feeling encouraged by then. There would just be a little leg work after the show and I would get an article. In the mean time I was just trying to survive the rigors of the show, and the next morning as I'm riding the elevator up to my room after breakfast to brush my teeth and get on my way, this gal starts asking me about the jewelry I had on. She missed her floor, got off on mine to go back down, and talked a minute. She was a magazine editor. Oh, my goodness, the magazine article Gods were smiling down on me. We had actually made a verbal agreement and I knew I was on my way. About noon that same day another magazine editor came by my booth and we hit it off. We talked for an hour. Using my little photo album, she said we will use this design for the spring issue, this one for the summer issue and so on and I had agreed to four articles by the time she left my booth. Well, needless to say, I was floating by the time I got home from that trip.

The Little Black Book

Let's talk a little about the actual album/portfolio. This part is a lot about my opinion and you don't have to agree with me. I believe that the editors are looking for good work and don't care about gimmicks. An understated album in a neutral color that makes not statements is in my opinion the best choice. I chose a black 8" X 6" album with black interior pages. I positioned one photo on the right of each page so the viewer will see one jewelry design at a time. I did take my own photos, but really took my time with the shots, and selected twenty of what I thought were my best designs at the time. I felt that number would tell the full distance of my work. I included only jewelry design and nothing about my personal life; pets, kids, or my last birthday party. Yes, they are human and might be a little interested, but I wanted the focus on jewelry.

This is just one way to be published.

In August I will have my twelfth article published in a national magazine. Go to my "About" page in my web site to see what the project was and when, 1beadweaver. It is a considerable amount of work to get an article put together. You must start by making the piece, and then write about it, take photos of the process of making the piece so the reader can see the steps (I also illustrate parts of it that I think might be clearer in a drawing), and mark all of the parts to ship off to the publisher. All of the national magazines have a submission process in place on their web sites. I recommend you read through all of that. You may not be able to go to any of the big bead shows so my in your face method of getting published may not work for you I'm sure the submission processes work, but I would make sure you have stellar work and photos, follow the process described to a "T" and really sell yourself. I would definitely go through that process if need be had things not gone the way they have. I have gone at getting published by forming a business relationship with the person that will make the decision about what is published and I've been ready to show what I do both physically by wearing my designs and with great photos.

  • Make a photo album of your designs.
  • Wear your jewelry. (This is important all of the time anyway!)
  • Have business cards ready to hand out.
  • Be ready to sell yourself. (no being shy)

The Little Black Book goes everywhere.

Good luck getting published. The editors at the magazines are always looking for new and different work. Why can't this be your work? Having my work published has driven traffic to my web site and I've gotten paid for the articles. With each article the magazines include all of your contact information so the readers will write you an e-mail if they wish and as I've experienced more traffic to my site when an article comes out. Just got an e-mail off my site today from someone reading and getting ready to make one of my designs that was published a year ago. So the traffic isn't just immediate, but it keeps on coming. Oh and that album of my work, it goes with me everywhere. I've sold to boutiques and galleries with it and it's great to have laying around your booth at an art fair. People love looking at pictures.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Why build your own web site?

Why oh why?
Some times I question myself; why am I spending so much time and effort on a web site? I hope people enjoy what I put up, but who knows really. I get a good amount of traffic considering I don't spend any $$ to drive people in. The traffic I have brought in has been a lot more subtle. Signing up show-visitors for my newsletter, I tweet, Facebook and now blog to interest people in visiting the site. Answering the question "why?" is tough.It started long ago.
Let's go to the beginning. My first real job, believe it or not, was in the computer department at the Great Western Sugar Company in the late 60s. The computer took up a room of about 30' x 40' and that room was temperature controlled. I moved on to see the world, but embraced the computer from the beginning of the personal computer--buying one early and making it do as much as it was capable of doing. Now my laptop lives on my lap and I love all that one can do on a computer and especially on the Internet.
Where do you start?I'm a graphic artist so it is natural, I guess, to become involved in the building of web sites. I'm not sure that has been my reason. I have simply just been interested! I took an "html" class (one of the languages that runs a site) about fifteen years ago because I wanted to know how a site worked. I managed to get a site up and working, but from that class, decided I needed to find an easier way for me. All of that code was just too intense for me, but now I understood how things worked. Dreamweaver, a software produce by Macromedia, was my solution when I started working on the site that was going to show the world my handmade jewelry.
Thoughts on building your own site.
Before I started building my site, or for that matter even bought the software, I did a lot of research about getting a site built. I also knew a couple of guys that were building sites, asked questions, and listened to them talk about their clients. I knew I had limited site dollars and in the larger scheme of things had a feeling I would not be afforded a lot of time from a service that would be catering to the client that had the larger budget. So I bought my Dreamweaver software and spent the next three months absorbed in learning it. The result was a much less sophisticated version of my current site not quite five years ago. I've continued to learn the Dreamweaver software and am aware I don't know it completely yet.No Fear.
Now there is a fabulous array of hosting services that provide an easy route to getting a site up with limited knowledge and very little financial outlay. I'm not aware of any of this existing even four years ago. In fact, Blog Spot is one of them. It's free and there is an amazing amount of functionality with their system and with others. All I have learned while building my own site helps be me be able to alter Blog Spot, Facebook, Twitter and otheres with out fear. I have used all of these various venues to increase my branding. I continue a common look from one to the next. I have no fear of going into the html pages and changing the thing that will get the look I am after. You may not touch the code that makes your blog or site work, but you are now able to do so much with an ever-expanding group of possibilities.Am I glad?
You bet I'm glad. I have complete control over what goes on with my web site. There is no waiting around for someone else to make changes or add product. Of course, I get to enjoy all of the problems. It is an incredibly complex collection of parts that must function and cooperate in an exact way. I recently went through what I am calling "Paypal Purgatory." I still don't know what really happened that caused my Paypal connection to stop working properly. Now I know how to keep it working and hopefully I won't be having these particular problems again. I made a lot of cosmetic changes and enhancements to the site starting in November of 2009 and somewhere along the way caused the functions of the site to get whacked out. It took two weeks, off and on, to get it all figured out and working again. Now 1 Bead Weaver is pretty and works!
You must want to do it.
I don't think building your own site is for the faint of heart. You must be pretty dedicated to following through to get a site up and then maintain it. There is no doubt that I am a full-fledged geek. Actually, I'm proud of that. It is really time-consuming, so you need to feel what you are doing. I enjoy the challenges. Who knows--if there were all of the web-hosting services available when I was starting out a few years ago, I would have blindly gone with one of them and never known all I know about how a site works. I will never know everything. I absolutely don't even know a fraction of what there is to know about the Internet, but I know enough to make
http://www.1beadweaver.com/ work.
Are you up to building your own?
Should you build your own site? That will really come down to how much time you have, how intense you are with details, and to a great extent, how patient you are. If computers on a regular basis make you crazy, don't build your own web site. You will save money by doing your own, you will have complete control over content, look, feel, etc. and things will get done more to your time frame. It's all about personal preference and temperament. I say, go for it!