Fifteen years ago when I picked up a paintbrush for the first time since college, I never dreamed I could earn a living by painting.
Oh, I painted murals and charged some random, ballpark figure that amounted to less than $2/hour if I had kept track of my time.
Not what you’d call a ‘living’.
Eventually I learned how to charge profitably for wall murals. And, I even got much faster at painting them. Finally, making a living as an artist seemed feasible.
Feasible until 2007 – when the economy took a nosedive.
I had been intrigued by licensing artwork since the late 90’s. I loved the idea of my paintings on cards, stationery, shower curtains, rugs, mugs . . . you get the idea. So I researched how to get my artwork licensed.
Not so easy. It’s up there with winning American Idol. Or the lottery. Or both.
Last year I found Zazzle where anyone can upload pictures, drawings, graphics or whatever and create their own products for sale.
At the time, I didn’t realize it was self-licensing. I just liked being able to upload my artwork onto a variety of products.
I also didn’t realize that you have to market your online items, just like any other business or service. And I’m not particularly good at marketing myself or my artwork.
But I put this little angel on Zazzle, along with a couple other paintings and thought maybe, just maybe, someone would want a painting of an african-american angel.
And, AND, they’d be able to find my african-american angel among the tens of thousands of items on Zazzle.
Uh . . . no. No one found this little gal in my little Zazzle store.
Hello!?! What was I thinking?
That’s just it – I wasn’t thinking. I wasn’t thinking like a store-owner or an entrepreneur.
But then I had one of Oprah’s “ah-ha” moments a few months ago. (Did you see her show today? I mean, how incredible is that?!? A sister! If you missed it, it was a fantastic show. I don’t know if I was happier for Oprah or her ‘new’ sister.)
Anyhoo, a few months ago everything started to make sense. Twitter, using keywords in your blog, tags for pictures, etc., etc. My blog numbers started going up, then doubling.
But it didn’t really hit me until today.
I got an email from Zazzle that I had sold 5 angel cards. Five!!! To different buyers too! Not just one person who bought five.
I was dancing and singing like I had just won American Idol, I was so excited.
Now, will the profits from five greeting cards pay my rent? Hell, no! It won’t even buy me a latte at Starbuck’s.
But do I care? Not now. Not today. You know why?
Because I am now a licensed artist and someone paid their cold hard cash for my baby angel painting on a greeting card!
Watch out World!