You have to shave your head to be creative!

Seriously, shaving your head will give you a whole new perspective on life. Back in the days going bald was a curse for most people; nobody wanted to lose his hair. Actually losing your hear can fuel your creative spirits; it’s all a matter of perspective. Transfer your weakness into strength

Shaving your head will save you time that you can invest into your projects.
Shaving your head will save you cost and is the uber green haircut you can get. Less water, shampoo and you don’t need a hairdryer. Being cost effective is very important for a freelancer.
Shaving your head will make you aerodynamic… you will be faster than your competition.
Shaving your head shows you have style. You don’t need to be fancy; you know the power of simplicity.
Shaving your head is a classic since Yul Brunner and Kojak.
Shaving your head will make you look sharper and edgier, everyone think that you have a lot more potential.

This post is not just for everybody who is losing his hair, it’s a simple example how you can learn to transform your weakness into strength! This is especially important for someone working in the creative industry. There will always be people who are different, can do stuff better, have a cooler style or whatever our wicked mind can make up to make us feel bad.

You don’t have to care about others! Just learn to accept your set of skills and as long as you make your weakness your strength the sky is the limit.

100 Things I did not earn a fortune with – Affiliate marketing

This is probably my fault; affiliate marketing is one of the highest paying jobs you can have online, besides creating your own multi million dollar empire with a social media platform or gadget blog. I can only blame me that I did not jump onto this wagon, but actually I think it is one of the worst jobs around in case you do this fulltime. At least from my point of view.

Personally I hate to endorse or sell products that I don’t believe in, and that’s where a lot of people make the money. Ringtones for kids, some fad diet pill or promoting some whack financial products. Loads of niches are saturated, and other niches are just not profitable.
There are a lot of other things to promote as well, but to be honest it’s pretty much like online poker, a numbers game and mundane. Besides you always have to ask yourself if you are making the right decision in promoting other items when you are a creative, at the end of the day there are the people who create and sell the product and make even more than the affiliate.

False Promises

I don’t get all the bloggers who want to jump on the affiliate wagon just right now. Somehow people were told that they can make money blogging, but now they understand that it takes more than a blog to earn a living. It seems like they just jump on another wagon where someone promises them the golden cash cow. Affiliate marketing is no easy road to take, neither is it the most fun way to earn money. Create a landing page, write a text that creates leads and try to get people to buy/sign up for something. I guess it can be fun, but more as an add on. You do something and have the opportunity to sell something that fits your business. Creating something around the products of someone else is nothing that I aspire to do.

The creative way to affiliate marketing

In case you want to be a real winner you should create your own affiliate products that sell like mad. Gomedia is a good example of creative and good ways to use affiliate marketing for their vector packs. They create useful items for designer and sell them, yes it is that simple. In case you promote these products you get a share of the sale. It’s a win-win situation for both sides.
There are dozens of ways to create your own affiliate product eBooks, membership systems, software… whatever, and use other people to promote it. That’s the power. Affiliate marketers think they are making a lot money, but actually it’s the company selling their product that saves a lot money. Back in the days you had to spend loads of cash on advertisement where you could not be sure that people buy your product. Now you have other people taking care of promoting your product for free AND you are lucky enough that those people ONLY get money when you actually sell something.

The advantages of affiliate marketing

  • It’s easy
  • You can make a lot money
  • Everyone can do it
  • You don’t need a lot of money for SEO marketing
  • You don’t need a lot of time for PPC marketing
  • There are so many affiliate networks you just have to pick one
  • There are a lot of resources about it for people who just start out
  • *irony on* All bloggers do it so it has to be cool *irony off*
  • You can create a blog about affiliate marketing and get people to sign up for affiliate networks even if you suck at affiliate marketing

The disadvantages of affiliate marketing

  • You need money to get traffic for PPC
  • You need time to get traffic through SEO
  • You can waste a lot of time with offers that don’t convert
  • You can be ripped off your leads
  • You might lose your credibility in case you promote “shady” products
  • You have to find affiliate networks where you have a) a good affiliate agent and b) who you can trust that they track your leads correctly
  • It’s boring if you do it fulltime (at least for me)

Money making potential

The sky is the limit. People can make a real good living with selling other people’s products. So this is one of the few money making opportunities where I give a money making potential of 10/10. If you do this right, it can be a lot fun, but you should not do it like everybody advertises these days.
Don’t be someone who sells other peoples stuff, be a big guys who creates his own products being sold by other people. In case you have a killer product you put time into that and when you are finished there will be a few hundred other people who will promote your product.
You might make a few thousand $ per month with affiliate marketing, but imagine you mange to get a few other people to sell your products for a few thousand $ winnings each month. Just for a share of your profit! Your goal is to make someone else a winner. Create a few hundred winners and you will be pretty well off.

Signs that a free service is not running good

With smashill I am researching different ways to test out the waters of the creative money making ocean. One thing is pretty obvious, don’t buy into a service that offers a pro and an amateur version. In case you are creating stuff and sell it through a site they service usually charges a fee for each product you sell with them. You can decide how big your winnings for each piece are, but after all you give them a share. This is a good model. Every gallery owner takes a piece of the pie, even in real life, fair is fair, after all they are giving you a space to showcase your work.

Nevertheless don’t trust people who want to sell you an additional service. After all they are already making money with your stuff. There are galleries where you can upload a certain number of works with a specified amount of webspace. Let’s say 100 pictures and 500MB. Sounds reasonable? Well… high quality prints could use larger files… but ok, let’s forget about this part. Now this service offers a pro version for an additional fee per year giving you more space and a few more features.

Why do they do this? Easy, their gallery does not make enough money itlself! SO…they have to get money from the artists. You are already paying them with a commission(!), so there should be no reason to charge more money from you. After all you either make them money or you don’t. There are better systems that would reward real artists. For example after a certain amount of sales you can upload another set of images. Let’s say you have an initial amount of 50 images. You upload those and can’t upload more… until you have sold maybe 200 or 300 files. Then you can upload 50 more. Something like that. Amateur artists have to work harder to get their art sold, while the others are rewarded for stuff that sells.

Or they leave this system completely and it’s up to you how much you invest, which is the best way to go. Why is this the best way? Pretty easy, you give the website content for free and they get money from your sales. It’s a win-win situation. Don’t trust people who want money from you. In case you are that famous you are probably better off with your own web-shop or selling at another place.

Wacom Intuos3 A3 arrived

My new tablet just arrived! 😀
Well this little thing… little? Did I really write little? Actually it’s huge. Anyways the Wacom Intuos3 is a great tablet. It may be a bit more expensive than the no-name counter parts, but to be honest, it rocks and is worth every cent. I really love it. I just have it for a few hours and I can’t wait to be able to use it to the fullest. It always takes time to get adjusted, especially since my old intuos, back in the days when they did not even have a number as they were the first… was already nice, but it did not work with my new computer anymore. It’s such a pity.
So far I am more than amazed what this little baby can do. The pressure sensitivity is just about right, the drawing area is perfect and I can’t think of a better equipment for my creatives ventures than my camera. And maybe a piece of paper and a pen, but I can use my wacom for that now 🙂 I will write an in depth review probably in about two weeks. It will just take some time to check it out to be able to write an honest review and not such an “I am so happy that I got it” article.
Off to the drawing board 😀

100 Things I did not earn a fortune with – Squidoo

Ever heard of squidoo? It’s a service to create 1 site internet pages for free. It’s plastered with advertisement, but strangely the sites you create there can rank extremely well in search engines. However my earnings there render to about 5$, probably I did not pick the right products to promote or rather write the right things people would like to know more about.

The advantages of Squidoo

First of all, it’s free. It’s the brainchild of Seth Godin, who is pretty good at marketing. It’s pretty much a cash cow for google’s adsense, the winnings are split between squidoo and it’s members, the higher your lens ranks the more money you get from this. Otherwise you can add “modules” to your site very easy and link to products or services to make extra bucks. That’s what Squidoo is intended to be. A place for people to make money with squidoo and share it with the owners. Content pretty much for free. There are some people making a killing with it, that’s for sure.
The real advantage is the link juice. In case you build a lens, add 1-4 backlinks to it from an article directory, social bookmarking or whatever comes to your mind with relevance towards your lense and you create a pagerank of 1-3 pretty fast. Squidoo is good from a SEO point of view, just like article marketing. You write something and just want to get those backlinks to your site so it can rank better for certain search terms.

Besides this there is a pretty friendly community surrounding Squidoo, even though there are quite a lot of people just pitching their stuff. Most of them are very friendly and will help you out when you ask them to.

The disadvantages of Squidoo

Shared revenue, all the integrated modules share the money you make with squidoo. This is ok as Squidoo offers a cool community and free dummy simple website creation. Far worse is that you are creating something with pretty little value in terms of long term value. In case you are really creating a squidoo site for the content and not the backlinks, you have to fear that most people will visit your lense just once and then be gone. In case you have your own website there is always the chance that people bookmark or subscribe to the things you are writing and come back to your site.
A free service is ok, but the best way to go is create your own website as a headquater and maybe have some outposts on free services that will supply your HQ with some additional support.

Money Making Potential for Creatives?

Well, you can make money, but the money making potential for squidoo itself is around 2 out of 10 for creatives. You have to pick the right topics, hope that others don’t write about it and try to get in the rankings or get people to buy stuff, but the money is not in squidoo itself, it’s in other services that you have to combine with them such as affiliate marketing or selling your own products.

However it is great to create backlinks or reviews for your own sites and products, as search engines like squidoo, just as they like article marketing. Your site is ranking poorly or receives almost no search engine traffic? Consider building links to it with Squidoo. It’s fast and easy, and best of all does not cost a dime besides your time.

Places to sell your analog Art

Artists are the big winners of the internet. Back in the days it took ages to find a gallery or dealer to sell your art. Nowadays there are plenty of different sites that you can use to sell your own stuff. Here are four of the biggest players in the online art market.
I didn’t test them out myself, as most of them are based in the US market and I don’t feel the need to ship my art over the big ocean…

Artbreak Seems to be a monster. It looks big, there is plenty of art, ranging from 10$ to a few hundreds.
Etsy Your stop for everything handmade. Not so much art, more hand crafted beautiful things for your home.
Boundless Gallery Another gallery to sell your art. I didn’t test this one out either.
dawanda This place is a bit like etsy, but for an European Customer base, which is far more my taste and I am sure that I will use this within the next 2 months and tell you how it works out. They take a commision for each sale, but that’s ok, you don’t have to pay upfront fees. And there is the possibilty to order some cheap advertisement spots on their site.

Those four are pretty big at the time I am writing this article, so in case you create art and don’t sell it yet, check those out. At least if you want to sell… if not feel free to decorate your own walls 😉

Stock vs. Art Prints

When it comes down to creating things for other most designers don’t have a chance to fully live out their creative souls. Somehow we all have to make ends meet, but besides doing stuff for bread and butter, what should you do in between jobs? As a creative you always have choices, you can create stuff for yourself, paint pictures, take photos or design t-shirts to name a few things.

Two of the easiest things an artist can do are Photo or Vector Stock, or selling Art as art prints. But what is better? What gives the better revenues?

The fun of Stock Art

When you are creating stock art you have some very nice and interesting challenges! One way to approach Stock is to sell leftovers of others jobs that were paying your rent. For example you created a set of icons that are left over now and can sell them at a stock site. Or, which is one of my favorites, you can actually approach stock art with a scientific approach, research and look what people buy, or create your own killer art for niches where you think the potential is high. The best part is that you can create whatever you want, at least if it is on a high technical level. You can do what you want and test if there are people buying it. The more you have, the more you can potentially sell. As with everything else stock can be a numbers game, but it must not be. You can upload 20 pieces that you love, but no one downloads and then the next piece is making a killing. You never know what you will make. Some people might call this a risk, but no risk, no fun 😉

The love for Art Prints

Art Prints are even better than Stock Art when it comes to do what you love. You can simply create your art and upload it to some site that offers art prints of your work. Zazzle for example. You can promote those pieces on your site and get a share of the revenue. You don’t have to get files approved, can do whatever you want to do, you just have to find people that dig your style and buy your art. Simple as that. You can make a lot, get a name, whatever. You weed out a lot of people in between when you self publish your art. The problem is that you have to take care of marketing and presentation. If you rock at this you can make a killing with art prints, and if you already have a name, you can probably get some better deals, or use this as an additional source of income.

Passive income for the Win

No matter which way you choose, or if you do it both, passive income should be what every artist strives for. Corporate art like stock art is a great way. Especially in financial crises when people don’t have much money to spend you can make a good living from a lot of people with a little money. It’s no substitution for your real art, photo’s or whatever you do. It’s something you can easily do in between, or use leftovers or you specialise in it. There are people with 400-500 files being downloaded 60.000 times +, each download worth a couple of bucks. Especially generic vector stock sells very well considering the amount of time spend on the files. Try to create a few income streams that might grow into real rivers, but even a few raindrops are a nice addition for the notoriously underfunded artists that are out there.