That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles??

Shelley and I believe so strongly in our mantra of “no starving artists” that we take it literally when we speak publicly. We feed our audience cookies!

When we started down this path, we spoke with our good friend, Flo – an exceptional baker and home-chef.  She offered to create a prototype cookie for us that would not only taste great but could also operate as an edible business card.

After lots of experimentation, Flo shared her product with us.  We were thrilled with the taste and the look. These cookies screamed the professionalism we were after.

The next step was to figure out the cost to S2 Seminars for all this yummy goodness.  Flo agreed to let us walk her through our maker pricing process to arrive at what she should charge per cookie.

Here are the steps we used for Flo and the cookies.

Step One:  Figure out the material costs to produce a batch of cookies. 

How much were the ingredients and the packaging to produce a dozen final-product cookies?  Taking into account the cookie and icing ingredients, the plastic sleeves and the ribbon, and any spoilage, Flo used her receipts to calculate that 12 finished-product-worthy cookies could be produced for around $9.

Note 1: Flo defined spoilage as cookies where the royal icing surface was not level or flat, the edges were too brown, the bottoms too dark, the icing letters smudged, etc.  She felt roughly 9 in every 12 cookies she produced were acceptable to represent S2. This meant each batch had to contain a minimum of 16 cookies to make sure she got a full dozen of her final product.

Note 2: For those with an accounting bend reading this blog, please know we purposefully kept this story simple. If Flo were going to make and bake full time, then we would definitely need to expand our pricing process to include sunk and operating costs and possibly some amortization too.

Step Two: Figure out the cost of labour required to bake, ice and package a batch of cookies. 

Including shopping and cooking time, Flo estimated the labour was around two hours per dozen worthy cookies.  She did feel her labour estimate would become lower over time once she developed a production system  but for now, this was the number.

In Alberta where we live, minimum wage was $13.60 when she was producing the cookies.  Multiplying two hours times $13.60 gave us $27.20 for the cost of labour.

Step Three:  Figure out the price to charge per cookie.

Now we knew the ingredient and packaging costs and the labour costs.  It was time to do some more math and figure out the price per individual cookie.

Herein lay the crux of the problem.  S2 Seminars had a budget of $1.50 a cookie.  $3.02 per cookie was more than double!  To get the price per cookie to meet our budget, it meant the material costs, labour costs or both needed to shrink.

Flo looked at her material costs and decided that, with our mutual eye to a quality product, there was not much that could be done to get the cost lower.  Next, she determined that meeting the goal of $1.50 per cookie would mean she’d only be able to charge $4.50 per hour until her systems were in place.  This put a lot of pressure on those systems to become ultra efficient so her labour rate could reach the minimum wage per hour target. Her chances of success were extremely low.

We then came to the mutual conclusion.  Although we all loved the finished product, it was cost prohibitive for either of us to pursue further.  We sure had fun finishing up the prototype cookies though!

If you’re a maker and struggling with setting your price, write us and we’ll write back.

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

 

 

Because You’re Worth It

Have you been asked/expected to donate your art? Play for free? Speak at an event for no charge?

It’s often for a good cause.

Or my personal favourite… exposure!

When I’m asked to perform for exposure I say, “People die from exposure!”

Of course, as artists learn their trade, sometimes they have to do projects for experience, which differs from exposure. With experience, you get your mistakes out of the way so when the Big Show comes (whatever that may be for your art), you’re ready!

I read a Facebook post several years ago by a woman, a professional speaker, who was approached by Oprah’s team to present at their up-to-$1000-per-seat event.

For free.

The conversation went something like this:

The author of the post asked the producer on the phone, “Are you getting paid?”

Oprah’s producer replied, ” Yes.”

“What about the receptionist? Is she getting paid?”

Again, Oprah’s producer replied, “Yes.”

“The janitor?”

“Yes.”

Not surprised but disappointed, the author said, “Yet you expect me to work, after taking 16 years to get my education, practicing for years, becoming better with every performance — so much so that I’m considered an expert — for free?

To which the producer responded, “But it’s Oprah.”

(Hmmm… this reply has a bit of “exposure” odor to it, doesn’t it?)

Not shaken, the author queried again, “Is Oprah getting paid?”

I’d like to tell you the producer eventually saw the light and was able to negotiate an agreeable speaking fee for the author.  But, it was Oprah and things were done her way.

Being expected to work for free is common among my fellow musicians, poets and speakers and my numerous friends who are painters, dancers and other creatives.

Why should artists be paid? Here are 13 good reasons. I’d love to hear your reasons.

  1. Art education costs money. Lessons, classes, degrees and certificates all have their price.
  2. Art costs money to produce: paint, canvas, instruments, costumes, demo CDs, studios, props… the list goes on.
  3. Art takes time. Think of the hours you invested getting good at your art — playing an instrument, perfecting that move, capturing the curve of a face, getting your speech timing just right.
  4. Artists need to eat.
  5. Artists have marketing costs like any business: business cards, website, travel, supplies, instruments, technology, etc.
  6. Artists cope with criticism, pain, pressures, self-doubt and rejection, perhaps more than others because of their vulnerability when exposing their art to the world. (Maybe they deserve hazard pay!)
  7. Artists must create and cultivate a fan base to be successful. There are many ways to do this, but they all cost money and time.
  8. Being an artist carries greater risk than other professions. There’s no safety net of a weekly paycheque here. Gigs and sales are often sporadic and unpredictable.
  9. Art is vital to our culture, our education and indeed, our happiness. Why do we not attach higher value to it?
  10. Few artists get filthy rich, but shouldn’t all artists be able to make a living using their gifts?
  11. It’s a myth that getting paid demeans the art. The greatest art in the world has monetary value.
  12. Everybody needs money. Artists are part of the everybody.
  13. It’s not a sin to be paid for doing what you love. Many people do it and haven’t been struck down by lightning!

Your art is a valuable contribution to society.

Your being PAID allows you to make that contribution. Otherwise, you’re relying on  others for sustenance or earning a paycheque with busywork that doesn’t scream who you are like your art can.  Why should you have to let these distractions stifle your creativity and productivity when others are “allowed” to do what they love and earn a living doing it?

Today I challenge you.

Change your beliefs about artists and money.

Artists deserve to be paid.

Shelley Goldbeck, 
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

Playground for Creativity, Community and Collaboration

cSPACE bills itself as a Playground for Creativity, Community and Collaboration.

That is a bold promise.

And very exciting!

As part of our participation in the arts community, the S2 Seminars partners, Susan and Shelley recently visited cSPACE, an incredible building born from the sandstone carcass of the old King Edward School in southwest Calgary.

cSpace is an arts hub, innovative venue and coworking space for Calgary artists to experiment, explore and spark change.

Their mission is to provide the conditions that diverse communities of creatives need to remain vital, sustainable and innovative while generating dividends for Calgarians across the city.

They do that by providing affordable, flexible and inspiring spaces that are responsive to the evolving needs of new artistic practices, missions and enterprises while delivering unique gathering places for all Calgarians.

They provide opportunities for artists to engage with peers and collaborators, amplified through greater connectivity to surrounding neighbourhoods.

They share knowledge by providing specialized workshops, services and peer-to-peer mentorship.

cSPACE King Edward has meeting facilities, a rooftop deck, on-site cafe, and a shared workspace called the Sandbox. This space allows artists to “go to work” which can be vital for artists.  Doing their art is often a solitary activity but coming to the Sandbox alleviates encroaching “hermit-ism”.

Shelley and Susan from S2 Seminars hide in a mural at cSPACE

The day we visited, a market was being held in one of the generously wide hallways of the old school. Artisans offered their lovingly created pieces, from paintings and sculpture to jewelry and soap.

The vision for cSPACE King Edward is to ignite the intersection of art and everyday life. A cool example is the old boilers used to heat the school are mounted in the floor of a hallway, covered with thick glass and turned into a museum piece: art meets life.

Everywhere you go art is in progress or finished art is displayed. It’s tremendously inspiring, knowing this torch has been carried to here and that as a city we have access to this innovative initiative.

We were impressed and amazed. We look forward to conducting some of our training sessions at cSPACE.

If you’re an artist, looking for workspace or a community, check out cSPACE.

Check out upcoming cSPACE events.

Read the cSPACE blog.

Consider becoming a cSPACE member.

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer,
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

S2 Seminars partners, Shelley and Susan wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

We’ll be spending time with family, eating copious amounts of delicious food and contemplating the New Year.

Our wish for you is that you’ll recharge your batteries during this traditional and much-needed winter break.

As you reflect on the past year and look towards 2018, a good resolution is getting serious about your business.

We’re serious about our goal of eradicating poverty in artists.

If you’re serious about eradicating YOUR poverty, consider enrolling in our first class of 2018, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoestring Budget.

Procrastination is the enemy of New Year’s resolutions so we suggest you jump right in.

We’re covering the basics: business cards, Facebook, and web sites. When the workshop is done you’ll have three tools that will make an immediate difference in your business.

What a way to start the New Year!

S2 Partners,

Shelley and Susan

S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget.

Does Sending Christmas Cards to Customers Really Work?

Yes, it does… but the rewards (aka bookings and sales!) only come when you do it right.

Why bother?

Repeat business comes faster when you have relationships with your customers. One of the easiest ways to reinforce or renew relationships is by doing something personal that shows you care about them. Sending a personalized seasonal greeting can do just that. My husband has sent an annual holiday card to his 360+ customers for more than 10 years now. We track how much business results from that effort. Because he’s a renovator and his projects differ in size, the numbers vary but it’s usually 10-20 customers in the $10,000-$60,000 range. Not a bad return for a day of effort and a few hundred dollars.

Who do you send them to?

Ideally, send them to everyone who has ever been a customer. When your customer list is too large and this is unrealistic, then subset your list to just those you feel have the potential to do business with you again or can refer you to a new customer.

Electronic, hand deliver, or traditional mail?

Hand delivery can be very effective. It allows you to guarantee your message is received (you’re face to face with your customer after all!) The size of your customer list, the type of business you are in, and how much time you have will dictate if this option is feasible for you or not. My personal favourite is traditional mail. It’s so rare these days to receive a piece of mail that isn’t a bill to pay or advertising to recycle. Sending a card this way is sure to make you stand out when it’s done right.  Electronic is definitely quick and fast but chances are it’s also the easiest to overlook, delete or ignore.  It can also lack that personal touch that shows you spent time thinking  about this person – especially when it’s a mass email, post, tweet, or other message that the receiver knows went to a pile of people at the same time.

What do you say?

Start by hand signing the card. Having your printer do it takes away from the personal touch we’re after here. (It’s okay to use your computer to help print the envelope labels though.) Add a one-page letter describing something of interest to your customer. For example:

  • Major accomplishments over the last year (wrote  book, cut a new CD, created 3 new works of art – make sure you include a description of where they can buy this new item)
  • New things you tried last year that worked well (changed mediums from canvas to clay, adapted my novel to a screenplay)
  • Trend’s your seeing in your field – especially ones that will result in revenue for you (decreased size of for-business books to 3-4 hour reads, more artists moving to self-sale of their products and services via the Internet)
  • Introduce new people to your team or give a quick update on those already supporting you (“I hired a bookkeeper this past year so I can focus more on my craft.  His name is John Smith and I’m so glad he’s now part of my team.”)
  • What you have planned for the coming year – try to tie it back into the trends you said were coming in the New Year (“I am embracing the trend to sell more of my own art.  Watch for the next release of my website in March-April where you’ll be able to buy my art online at your convenience 24×7, 365 days a year.”)
  • End your letter with an ask to help you find more customers – the worst they can do is ignore your ask!  Let them know you’ve included a business card for them to share with people they know who might be interested in you.  Also include a link for where you want people to contact you online.

Before you seal the envelope, don’t forget to include the business card to go along with your ask!

When do you send them?

Right now!  We’re just a week and a bit away from Christmas.  If you want the card in the hand of your customer before the big day, you’re almost out of time.  For next year, we recommend sending the cards in the first week of December close to the 1st of the month.  This will give your customer time to not only recommend you but also buy something as a gift for someone else they know.

Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your opinion, especially if this has worked for you in past too.


Susan Cramer is a partner in S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills. To learn more about running your small business, attend our next workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget

Registration is Open!

Registration for 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoestring Budget on February 13, 2018 is officially live.  If you’ve been waiting to register, now is the time to act while early bird pricing is still in effect.

We had lots of fun (seriously!) using a tool called Ticketor to provide the online registration.  It was relatively easy to set up although it did take a little longer to do than advertised.  The biggest challenge was rewriting some of the “fine print” content they provided with the default site.  Ticketor wrote it as though their site is the only one S2 Seminars has, which is not our case.  On the upside, their videos, FAQs, emails and chat support service were really helpful.

Long story short, it’s now possible to register 24×7 using a credit card.

If you’ve been wondering what to get the artist in your life for Christmas, maybe this is it.  As any thriving artist will tell you, there’s nothing like the gift of independence that comes from controlling how, when,  where and for how much your art is sold.

 

Why Don’t Artists Make Money?

Vice News produced Why Artists Don’t Make Money in May 2015 as part of their “The Business of Life” series. The panelists in this show share a ton of statistics about the value of creativity to society.  They also explore why we’re in this position today, how we need to rethink monetization of art  and suggest the average artist (not the top 1%) needs to take control of marketing and selling their own art.  Originally published for a US-based audience, it transcends our borders and applies equally as well here in Canada.  It’s also still relevant today.

You can check it out in our For Artists playlist on our BRAND NEW  You Tube channel.  (Yes, we’re pretty excited about having a You Tube channel.  We’ll be publishing more content there over the next few weeks and months.)

At S2 Seminars, we believe choosing a career in art does not require a vow of poverty. Yet we notice our artist friends chronically struggling financially.

The solution seems simple to us because we both have business experience.

But right-brained artists may have had little interest in or opportunity to learn business skills. Sadly, they pay (literally and figuratively) for that inexperience.

If you’d like to make money from your art ask us about  Three Must-Have Tools To Market Yourself on a Shoestring Budget.

In this five-hour workshop we lead artists who are neophytes at business through three basic steps so they can begin valuing themselves and their art, and making money immediately. We feed them too!