Yahoo Groups – changing moderators

Do you need to change a Yahoo Group moderator or owner? Here are step-by-step instructions.

I’ve started around 20 (or more?) Yahoo Groups, including AJmarketing, wildartdolls, and ArtistsJournals2 (AJ2, now WAJ2).  When they become too popular for me to manage, I generally turn them over to new owners and moderators.

So, when people need to change Yahoo Groups moderators or ownership, they often ask me how to do this.  Here’s my reply:

Here’s how to switch moderators/owners at any Yahoo group:

1. The current moderator/owner goes into the list of members.  That’s accessed by clicking “Members” in the left column at the Yahoo Groups page.  See the long, tall graphic at right.

2. Click on “Edit membership” under the name of the person who will be the new moderator/owner.  (See the second illustration, below.)

3. Click on “Change to owner” … or “Change to moderator” if that’s more appropriate.

4. If the person is simply being appointed as a moderator, the owner will assign privileges in the next screen… how much the new moderator is allowed to do, that affects the entire group.  (For example, unless the moderator is trusted, the owner might not want to give him or her permission to delete the entire group.)

5. Click “Make moderator” or “Make owner” at the foot of the page.  At the next screen, if you’re back at the individual’s membership screen, click “Save changes”. (That’s important.)

6. The new moderator/owner will receive notice of the change, and may have to reply that it’s okay.

7. If the old moderator/owner is leaving, he or she will go to his (or her) own membership page in that group, and select “Make member.”  Be sure to save the changes similarly to what you did in step 5, above.

8. If the old moderator/owner is leaving the group, he or she will then choose “Leave  group” at the group’s homepage. (There may be a similar option at the membership page.  Either one will work.)

That should do it!

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The importance of leverage

Today, I was reading a blog entry by Rick Sheffren, Leverage: Maximize your income in minimum time.

It reminded me of the potential leverage of past accomplishments.

As artists, we don’t always pause to update our resumes (CVs).  We participate in swaps, group shows, and see our works published in zines and magazines… and all we do is tell our friends.

Everything that you do as an artist holds the potential to move your career forward.

No matter how small the project, or how many other artists were involved, your participation is still news.

It doesn’t matter if you were part of the project because it was open to the public and you simply signed up for it.  Frankly, art collectors don’t always know which are invitational projects and which aren’t… and many don’t care.

It’s the quality of your work that matters, as well as the audience that see it.

Sign up for every project that you can, if you can participate with quality work.

Then, be sure to add your participation — and a photo or scan of the art — to your website and your CV.

Some of your most powerful leverage is what you create for fun.  That’s where the best energy can be, and it’s the energy — not necessarily the technical expertise — that separates mediocre art from art that soars!

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Beginners, unite! Consign your way to success.

Every year, new art galleries and crafts shops open. Often, they’re launched on a shoestring. They need consigned items to sell.

Every year, new artists and crafters decide that this is the year they’re going to launch their careers. They need places to show their artwork.

New shops and new artists can help each other. But, since both parties are beginners, it’s important to consider a few important points.

First, can you afford to consign your work? If you need income this week, you’ll do better if you can find a shop to buy your work, outright.

On the other hand, it can be brilliant business strategy to consign your art in a shop that becomes a local (or tourist) favorite.

Consignment works like this: You provide artwork for the gallery or shop. When it sells, you get part of the selling price, and the shop gets the rest. It’s not unusual to see a 30-70 split (the shop keeps 30%) or a 70-30 split (the shop keeps 70%).  The latter should probably be avoided.

In a perfect world, the split is about 50/50. After all, you’ve put time, materials, skill, and originality into your work. The shop is showcasing your work, providing valuable wall, floor or counter space for it.

Consignment can be great, ho-hum, or a nightmare. There are many factors.

QUALITY and QUANTITY

Are the shop’s standards high enough? Your art can shine in a setting with a good mix. However, if visitors take one look at most of the art and say, “Ick,” they may never even see your work.

Likewise, if the shop can’t find enough good artists and it’s obviously half-empty, that drives away customers. At the very least, they want a shop or gallery that provides a wonderful browsing experience.

However, if the shop owner does business with a collection of great artists, you can be in fabulous company… and build your reputation while you increase your income.

Visit your markets regularly and be sure that your work is shown in the best possible light.

PAYDAYS and PRICING

How soon will you be paid? If you aren’t paid within 30 days after the work sells, you may want to look for better opportunities.

Who is setting the prices, and are they in the correct range? If you’re new and the shop owner is as well, consider getting a second opinion about the prices. Items won’t sell if they’re priced too high or too low. (From my experience, items are generally underpriced. If your art isn’t selling, try a higher price for two weeks and see if that helps.)

SUPPLY and DEMAND

In the past, I’ve worked with multiple consignment shops and galleries each summer. Some of them will succeed and some will fail. However, a few will sell my work so rapidly, I may have to phase out the less successful shops, just to meet demand.

Even though I’ve supplied galleries and shops for many years, I still can’t predict which items and which shops will be successful.

It’s important to be on good terms with the shops you deal with.  Open communications — and flexibility — are vital.

INSURANCE

Discuss risks with the shop owner.

If there’s a fire, or the sprinkler system dumps water on everything in the shop, or if your work is stolen, what happens? Either you or the shop owner (or both) should have insurance, or be willing to cover the risks.

The shop owner may want you to carry insurance, as well. For example, if you’re making children’s toys, be sure you have liability coverage. It could be a shock — and a huge expense — if you have to recall 200 wibbly-wobbly toys because the manufacturer recalled the plastic eyes that you used.

(That said, those kinds of disasters are rare. Insurance can turn disasters into speed bumps instead of career stoppers.)

FLEXIBILITY

Although I wholesale some of my crafts to shops, I like to work with at least 50% consignment galleries each summer. (That’s my favorite tourist season in New England.)

The reason is simple: I love the flexibility of working on consignment.

If I get tired of making a particular item, I can simply discuss alternative products with the shop owner.

If a line of products doesn’t sell, I can take it back and place it in another market where it will sell. And, I can put different items in the shop where they collected dust. Everyone wins!

If I’ve committed to a shop and delivering the art is more trouble (or expense) than I expected, I can renegotiate terms.

A LITTLE OF THIS, A LITTLE OF THAT

Generally, I wholesale enough crafts to cover my basic expenses. After that, I focus on consignment shops and galleries. I negotiate good commissions, I work closely with new shop owners, and we all have fun.

I work primarily with seasonal shops and galleries… stores that open in June and close when the tourists go home. I work all winter, building my inventory, and then I can take most of the summer off. Most of my ‘work’ in the summer involves visiting my favorite tourist areas, checking on shops, and delivering products. Then, I go to the beach. Or the mountains.

CONTRACTS ARE THE KEY

Consignment shops and galleries can be a great way to launch your arts and crafts career. You can reduce the stress on both sides, by having a clear agreement with each shop owner.

Start with a standard contract, and modify it to suit your needs.

Here are some sample contracts, online:

Sample Artist-Gallery Consignment Agreement, from Michael Dunn

Sample Consignment Agreement for Artists, from Mark Henson

Consignment Agreement Contract – free sample

Some “worst case” advice, from attorney Richard Stim: Consigning Your Arts and Crafts

RECOMMENDED READING

It’s smart to consult books about consignment art sales and artist-gallery consignment contracts. The following are two of the best.

Business and Legal Forms for Crafts

The Artist-Gallery Partnership

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Recommended: Annual meetings

Party balloonsIf you want to meet other artists and talk with them about local resources and outlets for your own art, here’s one great approach:  Join art associations and clubs, and — here’s the important part — go to their annual meetings.

Unlike some corporate annual meetings, art associations’ meetings can be very sociable and fun.  Frequently, the associations’ important issues are discussed and voted on, board members are elected, and then everyone stays to chat.

Often, refreshments are served. (Volunteer to help the refreshment committee, for extra networking opportunities.)

Invariably, everyone discusses his or her art career.  Here’s the most important thing that you can do: Listen!

You’re there to learn from others, and — given a chance — they will tell share valuable information.  They’ll talk about where they’re showing their art.  They’ll talk about the gallery or shop or fair that was a bad experience.  They may say where they found a great deal on frames, canvases, bulk orders for batting or fabric… and so on.

Oh, it’s fine to ask questions about how you can get into a specific gallery or shop.  You can inquire about a store or show that you’re not sure about.

Start by listening to everything others say.  Don’t interrupt with your questions or comments.  Let them talk.  Agree when your experiences have been similar.

Then, when they’ve said everything that they wanted to, ask a few — just a few — of your own questions.

You can form many wonderful, genuine friendships at these kinds of meetings.

In conversations like these, I’ve learned about other, useful groups.  I’ve connected with other artists working with similar media to mine, and we’ve put together orders to buy our supplies in wholesale volume.  That cut my production expenses by nearly 50%.  I’ve met members who were opening their own shops or galleries, and were looking for consigned artwork to sell.

Attending meetings has been incredibly beneficial.

Many art associations and groups hold their big, annual meeting around May or June.  Others schedule them near the end of the calendar year.

Those meetings are one way to meet a large number of active artists, and find ways that you can help each other.

And, in some groups, the annual meeting is when members sign up for major upcoming shows or other opportunities.

Join local art groups, no matter how humble or lofty.  Go to their meetings, especially the annual meeting.

You’ll learn a lot and share what you know with others.  Meetings are usually a wonderful, relaxed opportunity to meet other artists and network with them.

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Choosing an unjuried show

Potter at a wheelHow do you choose a ‘good’ art show or crafts fair when you’re a beginner?  A few simple cues can help you, plus one reliable source.

The first cue is the quality of promotion.  Does this fair have an online presence, and does their site look professional.  (If not, tell them about my book, Sites that Soar!)

Do they advertise in local newspapers and magazines, or even in national ones?

If it’s a small show–perhaps a fund-raiser for a school or church–many crafters ask if they’ll have a food concession.  If the show is professionally catered, it generally marks a well-run show.

Another cue is the sponsorship.  If it’s an annual show put on by a town, there may be tremendous pride in how well the show is run.  That’s a plus.  If it’s a first-time effort by a youth group, it may be great, or it may be a lesson for everyone involved.

Check the show’s policy about vendors leaving early.  Empty tables discourage shoppers.  If the show lets vendors leave early without a penalty, the show can deteriorate pretty quickly.  Many top shows declare that any vendor who leaves early will not be accepted for future shows.  That sounds harsh, but it can be necessary.

If the show or fair is an annual event, the most reliable sources of information are other artists and crafters.  Ask them.  Online forums are useful, but–even better–ask people at other shows.

Ask your customers.  “What other shows and fairs do you like?” can be a conversation-starter, and provide insights into what shoppers are looking for… as well as a list of worthwhile shows.

When the day is winding down, ask other vendors, too.  Sometimes, your direct competition won’t chat with you, but crafters in other fields will.  Ask them which shows they really like.

If you’re considering one show in particular, ask about it.  Talk with several people so you hear a variety of opinions.

While you’re asking, get tips about preparing for that show.  For example, are extension cords vital?  Is there a parking area near the door for vendors to unload their cars and vans?  Do the sponsors provide chairs or should you bring your own?  (Is a pillow a good idea if their chairs are plain metal folding chairs?)  Will most booths be merchandise on a tablecloth, or will some vendors set up impressive, professional-looking displays?

Take notes.  After a show, you’re likely to be tired and forget at least some of what you learned.

Also, jot down notes from the show you were just at.  What worked and what didn’t?

When you plan your schedule next year, your notes–about past shows and prospective ones–can help you make better decisions.

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