[vc_row][vc_column][vc_message bb_tab_container=””]Niche : Personalized Design
Shop link : https://www.etsy.com/shop/RileyWaiteArt
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/rileywaiteart[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I am a fine artist and Illustrator working in traditional oil paint. It’s a struggle to make it as a fine artist anywhere, so I had this idea to work off commissions through customers online. It allows me to make a living doing what I love to do: paint all day!
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I’m a one-man show, as most artists are. I take care of marketing and advertising to get my name out there and try to make connections with clients. I’m still a small business, which I like because it lets me have more quality time with each client. I tailor each painting for the individual client and paint it in my style. After which, I pack and ship each painting carefully and include a personalized thank you card based on the client.
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
My custom oil portraits are my best selling product. I paint each painting with high-quality oil paints on cotton canvas. I work with the client to make the painting specific to them. I create their image in Photoshop for them to approve, after which I start the painting process. I’m always surprised after each painting I finish, it keeps me excited to come to work every day. I think my standard and quality of work are quite high compared to similar products or services found online.
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What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
Making the move to work from home as an Entrepreneur as been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. It’s still hard work, of course, but It fits into my lifestyle and personality. I like to have control over every aspect of the business to make sure it’s perfect and that there are no mistakes. The hardest part about it is trial by error. Since I’m doing this all by myself, If I make a mistake, it’s my responsibility to make it right, but I like the independence of it all.
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
Right now I’m selling most of my products through advertising through Etsy. I try to promote my work on my instagram as much as I can as well. At the moment I’m getting a steady stream of customers through Etsy and am satisfied with the amount.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
perseverance is probably the most important to me. There are a lot of factors you may not be able to control like the current market or just luck, but what you can do is not give up when things get hard. It’s a numbers game, the longer you persevere, the higher your odds are of ‘succeeding’ is, whatever that may mean to you.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
COVID-19 impacted my business, among most of the country. Art is not a commodity that people buy when the economy is bad, it’s a superfluous item, So that affected my overall sales. But during the slow period, I just worked on things that I had control over, like update my shop status, add new listings, etc. Art sales can be a roller-coaster, you have to plan for the low seasons.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
I sometimes look at similar artists who I admire. I look at their work and it motivates me to get in the studio and produce more work. I look on pinterest and Instagram for motivation and inspiration as well.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
95% of my business comes within the US, but when I do get an international order, that customer at that stage is usually very willing to pay the extra shipping cost because they like my work so much. Shipping through USPS tends to be the cheapest and reliable in my opinion and can take around a week for delivery.
I ship free domestically because that’s what you have to do to stay competitive nowadays. I try to make my shipments as light and secure as possible so that postage is cheaper. I Bubble wrap paintings and suspend them with paper or foam in corrugated boxes. None have arrived damaged.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
I think it’s helpful to look at your competition. You should start from a jumping-off point and what better place than your competitors. Maybe look at the format of their listing and copy and tailor it to be specific to you. It can quickly become overwhelming starting from a blank slate, so it’s good to have a place to start. After this, it’s good to keep your head up and not worry if you’re not getting sales. Sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error before you find a product that sells well.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
I first started out by listening to podcasts about Etsy’s success. It got me motivated to try it myself. I didn’t make a sale for years, not until I was spending 30-40 hours a week in my online shop. You really have to treat it like a full-time business. Keep a strict schedule, stick with it. As long as you persevere, success will follow.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I strongly believe enjoying what you do is a success. Right now I’m in a situation where I’m making enough to cover the bills and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’m making my own hours and not dependent on any one thing. I have the freedom and to me, that is all I could ask for. it’s been said before, but at the end of the day, Money can only do so much, it doesn’t provide long term happiness and fulfillment.
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Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I get up, have coffee, and immediately get to work. I check my emails and make a mental note of my upcoming day. I ship out any order that needs to go out that day. I have breakfast and then start painting commissions. I usually paint around 4-6 hours a day, responding to emails throughout the day and taking lots of breaks! My workday usually ends at 4-5 pm but I’m always working.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
Because each painting usually takes so long to finish, it would be a mistake to increase the volume of sales, because I couldn’t fulfill all the orders on time. How I’m aiming to grow the business is to increase product prices gradually. That comes naturally with how long your painting. An artist just starting out will charge much less than an Artist who has been painting for 30+ years.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
It doesn’t happen overnight. That’s the lesson. It took me years to make any money on Etsy. It wasn’t until I started treating it as a full-time job did I make any sales. I got discouraged after the first few months, but if I didn’t keep at it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Keep posting listings and see what works and what doesn’t.