It has been a while since I posted to my blog and I really need to make it a regular activity. There is so much to talk about and I think this outlet is getting left behind for social media. There's such a push for social media; sell your work there, talk about your work there, build your following, build your following, BUILD YOUR FOLLOWING! Yeesh. I've gotten bound up in that trap a little too much lately.
The truth that I'm coming to realize is that real strength lies in connection, one-on-one and to the community at large; personal, honest, authentic connection. That has real power, longevity and support, much more than social media ever will. Social media is fleeting, interactions are clipped and chunked and then forgotten for the next fleeting connection. It's time for me to get back HERE and talk to YOU, directly. Here's what I've been up to lately.
GOING FULL TIME ON RED FRACTURE
In November, I quit my job as a welder to pursue Red Fracture full time. I knew that, in order to make Red Fracture work as a business I had to commit to it full time. 2019 was supposed to be the year that I made Red Fracture successful and right out of the gate, my day job got very busy, I started losing almost 70 hours a week to it and Red Fracture got sidelined. It's amazing how fast that can happen.
I completely lost track of my goals and then, buried myself under a weight of exhaustion and lethargy. I was lucky to find an afternoon's worth of free time on a weekend to work and even luckier if I had the energy and drive to bother.
The only option left available to me was pretty clear; either shit or get off the pot. I decided to move my artistic bowels, figuratively speaking, and jumped into being a self made entrepreneur full time. It's been a busy and wild ride so far! but I wouldn't change it for the world; best decision I could have made. It's allowing me to type this for you at 10:45 am rather than sticking stainless steel together. Not too shabby!
What's happened since I took control of my artistic future?
RED FRACTURE.COM GETS AN OVERHAUL
First and formost, Red Fracture the website needed an overhaul. Shopify hosts my online shop and they're a pretty powerful resource to have in your corner. Was I taking advantage of that? Nope. When I put down Red Fracture, I put down Shopify too. All their techniques for website optimization, SEO, social media use and support from the Shopify team in Waterloo all fell to the wayside. Gross. No wonder I sold next to nothing off of my site in a year. It was shit.
Now? I've reconfigured the entire site:
1. I used Coolors.co to standardize a colour palette for my website.
2. I picked 2 fonts that I thought worked well to represent the Red Fracture brand that were still easy to read online and standardized them across the site. One looks like hand writing. It gives the site a "personal touch" look which I really like.
3. I created new banners with an artistic flair that better represent me, Sean Chappell the artist.
4. I took some kick ass photos of my products with the help of my lady love, Kit Daven and used them to promote my products and create my banner images.
5. I created a fun landing page with an personal hello from yours truly and an FAQ where people can get quick info about me and my services
6. Last but not least, I updated my menu, a bunch of my navigation on the site and uploaded a whole host of new products, not the least of which is a new line of originally painted, sketch cover comic books.
A zombie cat with a six shooter in a post apocalyptic western. Morris #1 by Shane Heron. Art by Red Fracture.
Basically, I rebuilt the damn thing from the ground up. It took two months. Yeesh.
Is it better? You betcha! So far, I've been able to make sales of originals off the site and I've had a lot of nibbles on prints and sketch covers. I'm going to keep honing the site, making it a better customer experience, offering more products and services and giving more of myself to the community. I'm really enjoying the experience of opening up myself and my studio. I've been hidden in the work-a-day world for far too long!
RED FRACTURE APPLIES FOR A SMALL BUSINESS GRANT
Before I left my day job I was planning, planning, planning. About six weeks before my exit date, I received an email from the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre about a business grant I could apply for. It was called "Company Starter Plus" and Red Fracture fit it's criteria to a tee: open for less than three years, sole proprietorship, needed help in acquiring tools and marketing assistance etc. I'm pretty sure the Cosmic Universe put this in front of me and said, "Here!" I couldn't pass up the opportunity.
The program started at the end of November with a two day boot camp that crammed so much info into my head that I couldn't think about business for a week afterward! Discovering your true customers; branding your business; planning and budgeting; social media presence; the works. We got it all.
After that, it was time to get to work on a full business plan. Since the boot camp I've been researching the Fine Arts market in Canada and abroad, talking to other self employed artists to get feedback on how to make it work, putting together marketing strategies, researching my customers and figuring out a speculative, two year budget so I can get a feel for the numbers Red Fracture has to pull down in order to be financially successful. Yikes!
I busted ass on this through December and the first week of January and IT WAS A TON OF WORK let me tell you! If you're thinking of applying for a grant, don't enter into it lightly! Not only have I had to put together a full business plan but I've had boot camp and mentoring sessions to attend AND I will be doing a final pitch presentation to a grant review committee with a slide presentation to boot!
Was it a wise decision to pick this up right when I needed all my time to revamp Red Fracture.com AND get new products together for Black Friday and Christmas? Probably not. BUT. It has gotten me thinking about my business, how it is going to function, where the money is going to come from and where I expect to go in one, two and even five years. This whole process has put me in the right head space to make Red Fracture a success, and it will be!
The pitch presentation is in February. I won't know about the awarding of a grant until after that but I expect to receive $5000. I have a small niggling of fear that I won't be successful which I suppose is healthy. It pushes me to excel. When the money comes in, I plan to pick up some more airbrushing equipment, get an ipad air so i can start exploring the realms of digital art, and pay for some convention opportunities for later in the year, namely Fan Expo in Toronto.
RED FRACTURE ON YOUTUBE
I've been chronicling my journey in video format since I left my day job. They're not as specific as a blog post BUT they are a fun and entertaining format to receive info about my journey. If you prefer the medium of video over the printed word, come by my Youtube channel and check out my weekly update vids. And don't forget to subscribe! Once I reach 100 subscribers, I can get a personalized Red Fracture channel address. That'll be slick!
So, now that my website just needs tweaks and the rough draft of my business plan is being assessed by the Small Business Centre, I'm going to start focusing (finally!) on creating new T-shirt designs. After all, Red Fracture is supposed to be an e-commerce site where the bulk of my sales are in Tees, prints and other products which are automated and produced by a third party manufacturer. That is where I need to be. Writing the business plan has brought that into sharp focus.
Stay tuned for more updates!
For now, that is all.