Now before you roll your eyes, this isn't going to be about what you think it is. It has nothing to do with artistic ability or the scores of villains who take our work and give it away for free. No this is about something that hit me smack dab in the face these past few weeks as I decided to change my designing name and blog. It's a process that you would think was simple enough right? WRONG, wrong & WRONG. I don't think that any designer truly realizes how much they do or how much they have probably learned since delving into the world of digi-scrap. Firstly, if you are just jumping in and didn't have the benefit of some sort of formal graphics training, you need to know that all Scrapbooking kits are created at 300 dpi and that elements are png and papers are jpg - MOST of the time. If you don't know what the 3 letter abbreviations mean you will have to learn that too. Learn graphics programs from Photoshop or PSP and maybe some texture programs, plugins, 3D programs, maybe you draw or sketch which is cool but do you have your tablet to draw with or are you drawing/scanning/extracting? Do you know how to use - nay - do you know what styles, actions, gradients or scripts etc are? Do you know how to install and use them? Do you know what the differences between copyrighted - share-alike - donation - open source and a ton of other terms are? There is a lot more to know but I am going to forego all of that because - for my needs - I have already given you a good enough idea of the scope for the designing part.
Now let's move onto the fun things. It is a business, plain & simple. I don't care how many people tell you that it isn't a job - it's a hobby they have NO CLUE what they are talking about. I had someone tell me that once and I started throwing the terminology at them and even went as far as to give them a pen & paper and said - here draw something. I want you to get 5 designs from your head to the paper - for the papers then draw 5 different objects/elements that you could use with those papers - from your head to the paper. Then I want you to do the preview, label each individual file, zip it up and upload it to your boutique. then you can take that same file and place it into your boutique with the correct meta tags, a name, price and - oh yes - a description. Because not only do you have to come up with a unique name - something catchy - but you have to give a description that will make people want to look at it again. OK wow that's great you have your kit in the store (this person's eyes had already started to glaze over by this time lol) now how do you let people know it's there? Well heck, they aren't going to just sit up one day and say to themselves "Gee I think there is a designer out there whose name is ----- and I want to see their new designs!" So now let's go ahead and advertise our little kit. Well we will just switch gears now from Designer, to Web Programmer to being a Marketer. We need to come up with a pitch for our wonderful little kit and an ad (more designing) OK let's say we breeze through the ad where do we put it? How many places are there for you to advertise. Even if the marketing fairy comes along and gives you a list of all the best places to post your ad there is still a ton of stuff for you to find out (I had a lot of help from my good friends Shannon Fahrnback & Carla Ware LOVE YOU GALS!) What is the largest image you can post? Do you have to pay to be able to post at these sites? Are some groups better to post at than others? And whoops - back to IT - what is html and how do I write it? Is using a href the same as img src? If I can't upload my image directly to the site where I am posting my ad then where do I upload it to? How do I get the image to show up where I want the ad to be? Are there only certain days when ads are allowed to be placed? How often should I place an ad? Whoops did I forget about my prospective customers on the other side of the world.... will they see my ad or will it get buried under all the others coming in after mine? Once again I will give you a free pass and say that this has all been worked out. Now what?
Do you have blinkies? Those little squirming, molding, folding minuscule demons from Hades that look oh so cute but will make their creator lose their minds trying to make them. FREE PASS you have paid someone to make one for you - but you don't want them deciding what your style is like so you still need to come up with some sort of an idea as to how you want it done. But ehh ok I gave you the free pass - blinkie done. How does your blog look? What's a Blog? Ha! Now you are right back to the beginning Designer/Web Programmer/Marketer. Design your Blog, Code your Blog and Market your blog. You want people to come to your blog to see all of your wonderful creativity, to keep in touch with your fans/followers, and because it will show people what beauties you are offering them this week! It is your home.
After all is said & done what do we have?
We know how to design and package our creations in the proper dimensions
We know how to massage our design files & use an ftp program to put our designs onto the great wide web
We know how to use the appropriate program/shopping cart system for EACH of our Boutiques
We handle the previews, descriptions & other marketing for our designs
We handle the appropriate coding for putting our designs out there for the public to see (and hopefully purchase)
We handle the marketing of ourselves via blogs, blinkies, freebies, chats etc.
Of course I didn't even touch on the topic of chats/freebies, nor did I get into the whole Paypal process, contract process, whether or not you should be exclusive or spread yourself out to more than one site. Researching & keeping up on the latest trends and trying to stay one step ahead. I also didn't even get into the numerous designers who are WAHMs We juggle all of this plus our family.
So, the next time someone looks at you and scoffs at your career choice do what I did. Look them in the eye, raise one eyebrow and challenge them to even know half of what you are talking about (My favorite quote from Live Free or Die Hard - If that guy knew half of what I know his fuzzy little head would explode) Then remember that home based business are multiplying exponentially and soon enough we will be the ones scoffing at those who leave their homes to go to work ;)