So, I've been having some thoughts today as I was bombarded by e-mails trying to tempt me with Black Friday deals. I've always known that marketing is my weak area. I love designing my pictures, talking to people about the design they want, coming up with new ideas, mucking about with my website, and so on. I'm not great at marketing / selling (and I hate doing the accounts!).
I can happily post stuff on Facebook and put pictures on Instagram, but that isn't quite the same as trawling round shops trying to get them to stock my pictures or talking people into buying pictures when I'm on a stall or coming up with exciting Black Friday deals. I guess it basically comes down to the fact that I really want people to want the picture they buy and not be drawn in by some fake deal or marketing ploy.
I posted on my Facebook page today that I would give 10% of all sales receipts from the next week to Asthma UK and Help for Heroes. This seemed like a good antidote to Black Friday, but even in doing that I thought perhaps people would think I was trying to use my support for these charities to sell pictures! And I really don't want people to think that but I guess some will. I genuinely do support these charities for reasons very close to my heart.
I am ex-military and know the great work done by Help for Heroes. Asthma UK supports people with asthma and is working hard trying to find new ways to lessen the impact of this disease. I have asthma and it has caused me a lot of grief. I have only had it for three years and I have lost count of the number of ambulances I have needed and the number of nights I have spent in hospital in that time.
So, in the grand scheme of things, creating pictures seems pretty unimportant! Sure, it makes me some money which is nice and I enjoy it. I also hope that the people who buy my pictures get pleasure from them. I am not, however, going to hassle anyone into buying one! If you want a picture, my website is always open!
My eldest son, Owen, shows quite a lot of interest in Gillian Jones Designs. He keeps asking to help with the pictures. Now I love my son to bits, but the thought of teaching an 8 year old the intricacies of Adobe Creative Suite (which although brilliant is not the most intuitive set of software) makes be shiver slightly. We've had the odd play, but I think I'll wait a couple of years before using him as my chief designer!
I don't, however, want to discourage his enthusiasm, so together we had a good think about what he could do to help with Gillian Jones Designs and learn a bit more about business. We came up with flags! We found a wholesaler, decided on the designs we would like to stock, worked out profit margins and ordered flags (initial capital investment courtesy of Mum!).
So far, he has sold flags at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and at a school fete (all profits to the PTA - he's a good lad!).
The next step was to add them to the website, so I taught Owen how to add products. And he did! I showed him once, and he added the others by himself. The joys of teaching the technologically savvy.
We haven't quite come to an agreement on how much he earns each time a flag is sold, but we'll have more discussions about that no doubt! At the moment he is happy to reinvest the earnings into more stock. We've just bought some hand waving flags which Owen is sure will prove popular with children. We shall have to test out his theory at our next event, which is a Love Southsea Market in Palmerston Road on November 8th.
We are also having a go at social media marketing and are running a competition on the Gillian Jones Designs Facebook page to win a flag. All you have to is like the post before 23rd October!
It's great fun working with Owen and hopefully he is learning something. Perhaps this is something I should package up and sell to schools as a learning tool!
I am often asked how I create my picture and what type of paint I use. Well, I don't use any paint at all - just printer ink! All my pictures are created using the Adobe Creative Suite which is a set of software tools that includes the famous Photoshop (although I don't actually use Photoshop that much).
Last week I was invited to visit HMS Excellent, a shore base in Portsmouth, to take some photos of Navy Command HQ with a view to creating a picture for them. I used these photos a starting point for my design and using Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign I can go from this.....
Or even this...
Oh the fun you can have with a computer....