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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Is your smartphone stealing your creativity?

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your smart phone? I know I do. I love how convenient it makes everything. Google is at your fingertips; so is Instagram, Facebook and Words With Friends. Your camera is always at the ready for the moment you see something inspiring or something you want to share.

The problem is that the constant readiness or attention to your phone could be affecting your creativity. Studies have shown that you need “boredom” to be creative. You need time to just be and let your mind wander. If you are always connected to your phone, this doesn’t happen.

Some of you remember before the days of cell phones when we didn’t have the distractions. Free time was spent playing outdoors or using your imaginations creating indoor games and stories. Here are a couple of ideas to limit use of your smartphone and instead recapture some of that lost creativity.

Read more…

Book Review: The Pumpkin Plan 

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

The Pumpkin Plan

The Pumpkin Plan
Mike Michalowicz
Penguin Books; $26.95

This week’s book isn’t directly about quilting, it is about building and sustaining your entrepreneurial business. The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field is an entertaining read that you can really learn from.

In the book, author Mike Michalowicz uses the growth of a freakishly large pumpkin – you know the kind you hear about at state fairs in the fall – as a metaphor for how an entrepreneur can successfully manage and grow a business. He addresses entrepreneurial burn-out, how to handle clients that sap your energy, how to staff your entrepreneurial business, and how to recognize when it is time to make a change in your offering. And throughout the chapters, he includes “Work the Plan” sections that will help you to create great success in your business.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to  Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Take Better Photos!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

In the current issue of The Professional Quilter, Gloria Hansen, our regular technology columnist, deals with the challenge of taking the best photos possible for gallery, print and show submissions. Here are five tips from her article:

1. If you are shopping for a new camera, look for one with the ability to shoot  RAW images. This allows you to alter the image after you’ve taken the picture.

2. Use the correct white balance setting on your camera. This removes unwanted color casts by considering the “color temperature” of the light source.

3. If you use additional lighting, add two lights, one from each side at a 45-degree angle to your work.

4. Use a tripod, center the camera lens on your work and keep it perpendicular to the work.

5. Read the manual and experiment. Remember the only way to get good is to practice.

Please share your experiences taking photos below.

If you want to know more about taking good photos, Gloria’s comprehensive article is available in the Winter 2012 issue of The Professional Quilter. This journal is a benefit of membership in the International Association of Professional Quilters. To learn more and join, click here.

Teaching Through Your Website

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Earlier this year in The Professional QuilterGloria Hansen focused on how you can teach online without dealing with the technical aspects of creating a website, marketing to get the word out about your class nor collecting class fees. It works for the person who wants to show up at the virtual classroom, teach, get paid and then move on. For those who want to teach but also run the complete show, another option is to teach through your own website. Here’s an excerpt from her article listing some teachers who take this approach:

Popular mixed media artist/author Judy Coates-Perez (www.judycoatesperez.com) teaches color theory on a password-protected website that she created. “I prefer having control over how the class is presented and taught without having to format things to someone else’s technology/website,” she says. “I can also control class sizes and when I want to teach them.” Judy’s website is clean and easy-to-navigate with links to each specific lesson. Each lesson includes instructions, color photos and links to further information on the topic. Judy also set up a private Yahoo group for students to post pictures and discuss their work.

Canadian teacher and quilt artist Pamela Allen (http://pamed.homestead.com/home.html) rose to the challenge of online teaching in part because of a change in border regulations that negatively impacts on her ability to teach in the United States. To continue offering her classes to all interested students, she developed five online classes. She offers her students downloadable lessons, “mini-lectures” on the principles of art and art history, and “one-on-one personal critiques.”  “I can teach my class how I want it, and I can immediately troubleshoot any problems,” she says.

Artist/author Sue Bleiweiss has been using the online world for years to share her vast knowledge and offer classes, such as for journal making. Her latest three-week class, Watercolor Exploration for the Fiber Artist, came about after hitting on a process that allowed her to work through ideas for creating new fiber artworks. “My goal is to make it as personal an experience as I can for my students, which is why I make it a point to be online constantly throughout the class checking my email so that no student has to wait too long for an answer to a question or feedback on a photo that they’ve posted,” she says.

Mixed media artist/author Alisa Burke (www.alisaburke.com/onlineworkshops.html) began offering online classes about three years ago. To make the experience more personal, Alisa includes video instruction. “Much of the class content is photos and video that I film in my studio of me working and demonstrating techniques,” she says. “I film and edit everything myself (camera on a tripod). I use iMovie and Final Cut Pro to edit my videos and then upload them to Vimeo (a video service), password protecting them, and then embedding each into a private  blog.”

Artist/author Carla Sonheim (http://carlasonheim.wordpress.com) has a series of online classes with all of the right ingredients. Her popular The Art of Silliness class features one downloadable “activity sheet” per day for thirty days. Her goal is getting her students to “play” for ten minutes a day with pen and paper. Carla offers a dedicated blog and a Flickr site for her students to share, and to keep things fun she offers prizes. She also considers the comments and feedback extremely important to the overall success of the class, and she blocks out an hour per day for the month the class is in session to be available to her students.

Artist/author Diana Trout (http://dianatrout.typepad.com/blog/) teaches an online class called Inner Circle Journal with lessons and videos. “Since the format of online classes is so different from an in-person class, I will be offering different subjects that will allow students to go into more depth than in-studio or retreat classes would,” she says. “There is more time for thinking, playing and allowing time for paint and glue to dry. These are huge benefits! Also, the blog is interactive so that students can post their artwork and get feedback and questions answered.”

Each class is unique to the instructor. While these teachers have successful online classes, others do not. I’ve spoken with several students who were unhappy with the experience. Just as your reputation as a teacher spreads when teaching in-person classes, so does it spread when teaching online classes.

When contemplating whether teaching through your own website is right for you, Sue stresses that you do your homework. Whether you are comfortable with creating the class yourself or if you only want to focus on teaching and leave the technical work of the site to someone else, online teaching can offer the opportunity to reach a broader range of students while earning additional income. Before you have students start their homework, however, be sure to first do your own.

Please share your experiences with online classes, either as the teacher or the student, below.

If you would like to read more of Gloria’s article on teaching online, it’s included in the Fall 2011 issue of The Professional Quilter and available to IAPQ members. The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.

Do you use your iPad for business on the road?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The following by Gloria Hansen is excerpted from the Spring 2011 issue of The Professional Quilter.

In the past, any time I traveled my laptop, various cables and power cords, an external drive, card reader and other gadgets came along with me. If a year ago someone suggested that I could use an iPad – the tablet computer by Apple announced in January 2010 – instead of a laptop, I’d have immediately dismissed it. I have an iPhone and an iPad seemed just a larger version and something I didn’t need. Then I tried it. I was immediately hooked and realized its potential. In nearly no time, the iPad has quickly evolved from the hip gadget for reading, playing games, watching videos, keeping up with social media and such, to being a serious tool for accomplishing many business functions while on the road or even away from one’s desk. Now when I travel, I often only take it and a couple lightweight add-ons. With planning, and depending on what you need to accomplish during your travels, you, too, may be able to leave your laptop and related gadgets behind.

The first step is configuring your iPad with the “apps” (the trendy abbreviation for an application or program) needed to accomplish your goals. Here are some apps you might consider.

  1. e-Mail and web browsing. These are handled nicely with the included Mail and Safari apps.Working with photos,
  2.  I use the iPad Camera Connection Kit, which comes with two small gadgets that plug directly into your iPad. One allows you to insert your SD card directly and the other provides a USB slot for importing photos from your camera’s or video’s USB cable.
  3.  Working with photos, I use PhotoGene. The $1.99 app works with RAW files. It has exposure controls, levels, crop tools, resizing options and more.
  4. Presentations. The app of choice for presentations is Keynote ($9.99). With it, you can import a PowerPoint or Keynote slide show or create one directly on your iPad.
  5. Credit card processing. Take a look at Square (free). With it you can accept credit card payments. You need a card reader that plugs into the iPad or you can key in the card numbers. While the app is free, you are charged a percentage for each transaction.
  6. Package tracking. Delivery Status Touch ($4.99) tracks package deliveries no matter which carrier was used to ship.

Yes, some of these apps are available for smart phones. Many have been rewritten to take advantage of the iPad’s larger screen and other features. The adaptation helps in making the iPad function as a decent laptop replacement, especially during short trips. Is it for all travelers all of the time? No. For example, if you need to do intensive work with any of the Adobe Suite products, you’ll need your laptop. For complex MS Office documents, you may also be better off with a laptop. Otherwise, with some planning, you can pretty much do whatever you need with an iPad. Besides it being very easy to carry around, it immediately starts up and the battery life is excellent. With the 3G model, you also have Internet access and don’t need to worry about being in a WiFi area.

It’s been more than a year since the iPad was announced, and it has certainly changed the way I work. With its continually growing possibilities, it may change the way you work, too.

Please share your iPad app suggestions and experiences on our blog.

Try my 6 C’s for Better Results From Your e-Zine

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

I’ve been sending out an online newsletter, or e-zine, for more than six years. It’s a terrific way to keep in touch with our IAPQ members as well as other professional quilt, fiber or mixed-media artists, and creative entrepreneurs who use our resources. Here are six tips to make your e-zine work for you.

1. Clarity. Be clear about your goals and your audience for your ezine. Why are you creating this e-zine and who are your writing it for? If you start with that in mind, you’ll find that it’s easier to write your articles and include relevant materials. You can even keep a specific person in mind (someone in your target market) and write directly to that person.

2. Content. People read your e-zine for the content you deliver. The more relevant it is to their lives and/or business, the more likely they are to continue to follow you. Readers resonate with how-to’s, lists, problem solving. It’s OK to promote yourself or your products, just don’t let that be the focus.

3. Consistency. Be sure your e-zine has a consistent look issue to issue. You also want it to go out the same day of each week. Your readers look forward to its arrival and notice if it doesn’t come as expected. This one currently goes out on Wednesdays. The best days for delivery are said to be mid-week. That may not be true of your audience. How do you find out? Survey them. And, how often should you send your e-zine? Weekly gets the best results, then bi-weekly.

4. Call to Action. Every e-zine should include a call to action (CTA). What do you went someone to do after reading your e-zine? It could be to apply a tip you give them or it could be to look at your art or it could be to take you up on your special offer on quilting.

5. Connection. We all like to connect with like-minded people. After all, we buy from people, not an invisible company. Start your e-zine with a brief story about yourself to connect to your readers. Don’t just connect on a personal level, connect also to the issues of your target market. And, speaking of connection, look for ways to make more connections. This could be by using a “forward to a friend” method or including a signup form on the home page of your website.

6. Compelling title. Your e-zine title should make the topic clear and compel the reader to open it. Spend some time looking at the titles of e-zines you get. Which ones were you curious to open and which ones did you ignore? Just as with the content, people like how-to’s, numbers, benefit statements.

Please share your thoughts on e-zine success on our blog. And, if you don’t have an e-zine yet, be sure to check out our upcoming Internet & Social Medial Marketing Teleseminar. We start with getting your e-zine in place. In case you missed it, that was my CTA.

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
Please do! Just be sure to include the blurb below.

Morna McEver Golletz is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Professional Quilters, an association to help quilters, fiber artists and other creative arts entrepreneurs build business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a F.R.E.E. subscription at http://www.professionalquilter.com.

 

6 Tips for Promoting Your Business With Your Blog

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Do you have a blog? Blogging can be fun and creative. It can add to your business growth and lets you connect with your tribe. I think that’s the primary reason for blogging: building your community.  Blogging lets you create lasting relationships, and when people know, like and trust you, they are more likely to become your customers. Here are six tips for using your blog:

1. Take your customers on a tour of your studio or shop. I admit that I love to tour other quilters’ studios. In fact, I enjoy it so much, I created a lecture to share the studios I like and feature a studio in each issue of The Professional Quilter for the same reason. And, I love to see the shops I want to visit ahead of time, or maybe just put them on my wish list.

2. Provide information. This can be “how to” or just sharing the latest information on an upcoming show or exhibit. It should provide value for the readers. This helps to establishes you as an expert, the “go to” person on a topic. You can also make offers on your products or provice coupons, etc., but the primary goal should be to provide information.

3. Share yourself, your staff, other professionals. People want to know who they are doing business with. This is your chance to share something about yourself. Let your personality shine. Customers or potential customers also want to know the people that work with you. And, if you have friends who blog, take a turn blogging on each others’ pages. It will help each of you increase your audience.

4. Take advantage of technology to further readership of your ideas. You can connect your blog to Facebook and tweet about your blog. Many of our blog posts originate in this weekly e-zine. They then post to our blog and then to Facebook. I found it interesting that I often get comments on the blog or on Facebook from artists who originally read the material in the ezine.

5. Participate in blog events. Here are just two ideas. Sponsor a blog contest. It could be as simple as asking for input on your latest quilt design, perhaps helping you name it. For a prize, you can offer a copy of the pattern. If you are a book author, create a blog hop. In this case, you find several other bloggers and ask them to review your book. They in turn ask for comments on the post and offer a copy of your book to a random commenter. Each blogger advertises the blogs where your book will be reviewed, so more people learn about other blogs.

6. Be consistent. Bloggers are more successful who keep a constant schedule about blogging. Readers start to rely on you for specific information and will return to your blog for that type of information. Along with consistency comes frequent postings. The more often you post, the more your readership, and in turn your business, will grow. Of course, you have to figure out what works for you. In general, two to three times a week is a minimum.

7. Remember that blogging is one part of a social media strategy for your business. Look for other ways you can connect with your customers, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and your e-zine (online newsletter).

Please share your tips on blogging here on our blog.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business.  Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.    

Is Your Data in the “Clouds?”

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

How do you back up your computer data? I’ve always used an external drive.  Luckily, the time I did have problems, the tech guys at my local Apple retailer were able to save my data. In the Winter issue of The Professional Quilter, tech columnist Gloria Hansen wrote about “cloud” backup services. Here’s an excerpt from that column.

In a 2008 column, “Preparing for the Hard Drive Crash,” I wrote how it’s not a question of if a hard drive will cash, but when. Hardware failure continues to be the number one reason that data is lost; human error comes next. Even having an external drive is no longer enough. We have all learned that the worst does happen – fire, flood, hurricane, burglary. In in that situation, your external backups may also be gone. Enter online backup.

The vast majority of today’s computer users use the Internet on a regular basis. Higher speed connections and the regularity of web use make online storage an excellent way to supplement your external backup, and in some cases replace it entirely. You may have heard “backing up to your cloud” or “accessing your cloud” or similar. This simply means putting information on a remote server via the Internet. Using online storage offers advantages. The facilities are secure, the data is encrypted and password protected, and many services continually monitor data to ensure that there is no corruption or loss. Many services are cross-platform, meaning you can transfer data from a Windows OS to another, such as a Mac OS. Some also offer mobile access such as apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

All online backup services generally work in the same way. You sign up for a service, pay for rental space on the company’s server, select a password,  download the needed software from the service, select what you want to back up, and run the program. After the initial upload, incremental backups of new and changed data are automatically done on a regular basis. This eliminates the fear that you forgot to backup.

Services to consider include Carbonite, SugarSync and Mozy. You might also consider a bootable external backup of your data using SuperDuper on a Mac or Acronis True Image Home on a PC.

While many people will be happy with only using an online backup service, keep in mind that it is possible that you will not have an Internet connection when you need your data. Another drawback is that most services only backup data, so be sure to have a backup of your operating system and program, including serial numbers.

Using an online backup service will give you some peace of mind. Keeping your data both in the clouds and on the ground in some kind of external drive will add another layer of security and convenience. Either way, if the worst happens, you’ll be ready and running.

Please share your experiences with cloud storage on our blog.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business.  Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Are you looking for a new printer?

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

The Professional Quilter’s High Tech columnist Gloria Hansen is often asked for recommendations when someone’s printer dies. Questions range from what printer to buy to print on fabric sheets to how much to spend to whether or not third party inks are OK. For most people her recommendation is to purchase an inkjet printer. Here’s an excerpt from her recent article in The Professional Quilter:

Today’s inkjet printers are used for everything from everyday text to gallery quality photographs and artwork. Companies such as Hewlett Packard, Epson, Canon, Kodak and others have a variety of printer models available for you to select from. To narrow down your search, the three key questions to answer are how much money you want to spend, how wide you want to print and what type of ink you want to use.

The price of the printer will depend on the size it is capable of printing, the functions it has and the type of ink it uses. Important to know is that if a printer is using one type of ink set and another model from the same manufacturer is using the same ink set but is more expensive, the print should be identical. The difference in price is generally due to printer capabilities, such as the print speed and inclusion of other “multi-functions” (also called all-in-ones), like scanning or faxing, and wi-fi or bluetooth options, which give you the ability to print wirelessly. Some printers allow you to print on CDs or DVDs, include built-in media card readers and provide options for borderless printing. Thus, if your budget is limited, you can get the print quality you want by focusing on the ink set the printer uses rather than the extras it has. Be sure to check out the manufacturer’s website. Often you can find excellent prices on refurbished printers or models that are about to be discontinued. Other options are checking out Craig’s List and eBay for used models.

If you need a printer capable of printing a wider format, models range from 13 to 44 inches (some higher still); some can print at a length as long as your computer can handle by way of the operating system and memory. The wider the printer width, the more expensive the printer. Again, there are good deals to be found in the refurbished or used category. When buying a used wide-format printer, ask to see a printout of the “printer status and parts life.” Instructions for this can be found in the user’s manual. If your seller no longer has the manual, you can find one online. Then make your decision based on how used the printer is. The more worn down the parts, the more likely you’ll need to pay for replacement parts and the less you should pay for the printer.

Another important factor is the type of ink the printer is designed to use. There are two types of inkjet ink: dye-based and pigment-based. Some printers use a combination of both – generally a pigment black and color dye-based color. At one time, dye-based inks were preferred for printing photographs because of the broader range of colors available. This is no longer the case.

Understanding what you’re looking for by way of price, print size and ink will give you the information you need to narrow your search and find a printer that’s right for you.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. This article was excerpted from The Professional Quilter, the IAPQ membership journal. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Etsy: Marketing Your Handmade Work

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

In the current issue of The Professional Quilter, Gloria Hansen writes about marketing your handmade work through Etsy. Etsy’s mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Etsy sellers number hundreds of thousands, and, yes, some make a full-time living selling through Etsy.

Here are just five tips that you learn from Gloria’s article:

1. Consider buying something. Doing so will allow you to get firsthand knowledge of how the sale is handled and how the item is packaged and shipped.

2. Visit Etsy’s blog, “The Storque,” which has an ever-growing range of informative articles. I found lots of articles that had to do with quilting, ranging from an article on a pillowcase challenge to instructions for a mini-quilt.

3. Read The Etsy Seller Handbook, which you can find on “The Storque.” It is a one-stop help area covering topics such as making a shop banner, writing text, photography tips, shipping how-to’s, customer care, tagging and much more.

4. Take good photos of your work. The photos need to be clear, clean and interesting. Use a neutral background and try a macro setting on your camera for close-ups.

5. Exchange links with others, offer a giveway on your blog, and notice what others are doing to draw attention to their shops. Remember that your website or blog can drive people to your Etsy shop and vice versa.

Please share your experiences with Etsy here on the blog.

To learn more about marketing your work through Etsy, you can read Issue 112 of The Professional Quilter. The Professional Quilter is one of benefits of IAPQ membership. If you are not a member, you can join here.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

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