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  1. For those of you who don't know, I have running my own art based business since 2011. This has been a voyage of discovery full of highs and lows, confusion and clarity, feast and famine. A word of warning before I start. I am not an expert on anything, except perhaps eating, breathing and toileting. Take what I say with a technical pinch of salt. This is my take on a very confusing and frusrating area that you have to take seriously if you want to sell online successfully.

    I am forever being contacted by "experts" telling me that with their help, they will make my business fly. I like to do things for myself though, so email offers get deleted. My paintings evolve and grow, which is something I've always wanted from my business. That's probably why I'm still a small scale seller, struggling with seasonality and not fulfiling my potential online.

    So I'm not one to lecture. I will say this though. If you want to increase visibility and thus increase sales potential, then you need to know about SEO and use it to your best advantage.

    I'm currently wrestling with SEO on my sales platforms; website, Etsy, Folksy, Google and the like. You need to understand that each one is different. The requirements confuse and until you understand each platforms individual requirements, you'll continually be eating bread and jam.

    I have learned more from looking at what other people do, searching out similar businesses to mine that are clearly performing better than mine and learning. Not copying, because that's cheating. I look at pages on Google, using a variety of different search terms for my own products, look where and how they turn up, if at all. I look at how others present themselves to the world. I try and absorb information, so I can speed up the SEO process and spend more time doing the good things I see for my business, rather than the continuous torture and struggle caused by not properly understanding and acting on this understanding.

    I have failed so many times, it's unreal. I have wasted so much time and missed so many opportunities because I've ben blind to the serious, albeit tedious needs of good, consistent SEO. I'm looking for consistency to create strength and increase my engagement and sales.

    Everything needs re-reading and rejigging. I know I'm doing something right because my listings and posts turn up through my very targetted searches. But there's room for improvement.

    And this time I'm going to get it right...or better at least, as there's always room for improvement!

  2. It's now August 2021. So much has happened since this time last year. 2020 was a year to forget for most of us, me included.

    Last summer I was working driving buses, enjoying the highs and lows of being a key worker. It was all a bit rubbish. I was also not able to get out and about to meet people and sell my work at the numerous events and festivals we had planned to atend. This too was rubbish.

    I left my job driving the chariots of love in March this year. I believed that we would have to be released from the grim grasp of the Covid 19 pandemic this year. This is a different area for discussion as it has so many obvious and as many hidden implications, most of which are not for this arena. That has proven to be the case. I have been double vaccinated and will await my booster when and if it is decided that we need them. Hmm.

    Since March, I have worked hard on my online presence. Lockdown online sales were good and I was hoping to build on that. However, it seems that everytime I did some online work my presence was somewhat diluted. Competition is fierce and the mystery of SEO and search engine requirements creates confusion. Frustrating for someone waiting to be told it is safe to go out and play. And then we were told.

    I was ready. New images created and new cards and prints made up. When the time came that events started peering over the parapets, they were very different to what we had come to expect.

    The first was in Ilminster, Somerset; a small community event that we have always enjoyed. It makes it better when we receive an invite, rather than joining in the free for all, first come first served application process. It was okay. It reminded us of what we had been missing. It highlighted how much we had forgotten. It allowed us to iron out a few wrinkles and realise how rusty we were in almost every aspect.

    And then the one we had been waiting for happened. Sidmouth Folk Week, where we have become an established fixture over the past six or seven years. Council managed pitches on the seafront had been reduced from 75ish to a mere 20. We were lucky enough to successfully come through the application process. It was weird that other successful stall holders were all familiar to us.

    I will add some pictures later, probably in a proper newletter. I have video too which I need to upload and create links to. All part of visibility and running a successful, modern small business.

    It was a real mix. The proper Folk Festival had been mothballed, hopefully to return next year. The weather was hot, chilly, dry, wet, windy, still, so typical British summer. We set up differently being about 10 metres away from our nearest neighbouring stall holders. It was successful and heartening. New images sold well, new products sold better than I anticipated.

    Most importantly, many of our customers expected us to be there and were really happy to see us!

    We loved being back. It is what we want to do.  It is our way of selling more and cementing our self-employed status. It brings us into contact with people, many of whom we learn from. We can tell our story, explain why we do what we do and take feedback of all types.

    And we have more to come before escaping to France for a couple of weeks in September. We have a local show at Uffculme and a weekend Folk Festival at Swanage. Then we'll be gearing up for Christmas, working hard to continue our path towards a new horizon in 2022. There will be more on this when some of plans actually come to fruition.

    Hopefully see you soon. My next blog posts will be shorter. Promise!

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