Monday, November 23, 2009

As Black Friday Approaches

With Black Friday soon approaching, I hope that many people re-think their Christmas buying this year. There are so many small businesses that are still struggling to make it in this economy. Sadly, many have gone out of business. I'm sure you've seen some of these places disappear in your own neighborhoods. Some have had to take on extra jobs to make ends meet, and a few very lucky and talented ones, have maintained their businesses.

As a fellow artist, I have been trying to support nothing but small businesses since the recession began. I understand first hand how difficult it can be to make ends meet. Most people don't even know that there are so many people that create many things that you buy in major department stores . . and the best part . . they are usually cheaper and have better customer service.

So I encourage you to make an effort to visit your local holiday art shows and craft boutiques, and other fairs and events that promote "the little guy." Also visit websites that promote small businesses, boutiques and sole proprietors, such as,,,, and the thousands of others on the web. Do it because we need the little guys as much as we need big business. Do it because you'll get great quality products. Do it because it'll make you feel better about spending your hard earned money this Friday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So I've started my holiday creating frenzy, in preparation for upcoming art shows. This is one of my first pieces, an Abstract Beaded Bracelet in fashionable fall colors. You can see all of my new additions if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook. I also post a photo a day image on Twitter & Facebook, a jewelry piece a week and an art piece once a month. So become a fan and see what I'm creating. Beads are from

Don't forget that from now through November 30th, if you become a fan of on FACEBOOK or a fan of this blog, you are automatically entered to win a FREE 8x10 limited edition signed print of your choice. I have over 700 photos on my website. So tell all your friends to join and thank you for your support. If you are a fellow artist & have a Facebook &/or Twitter page, please let me know & I will become your fan as well. It's all about supporting each other in our creative endeavors.

Here's the first of my 2009 Christmas creations. A whimsical Shabby Chic Christmas Tree in pink and green. It is wrapped in fuzzy soft yarn and has buttons, beads and a beaded garland, for which I also am selling at $5 per yard. Contact me for the beaded garland.

A funny thing about my last post of the latte/coffee snuggie . . . I was looking at a major home decorating catalog the other day and they are making these. So kudos to Blake for starting a new trend.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Halloween Cakes, Cookies, Cupcake Toppers, Decorations, Flowers FOR SALE.

I have created a Facebook photo album of all items I can create for your Halloween parties.

Cakes, Cookies, fondant cupcake toppers, crafts, decorating, flower arrangements and pumpkin carving.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Promoting Other Artists & Small Businesses

I have decided I am going to begin to feature other artists on my blog. I have been featured in several blogs and now I think it's time to give back. I have said before that I would buy from independent sellers any day over large chains. Since the economy has shut down many medium to small businesses, the concept of "helping the little guy" is even more important. We need to support our local businesses and people who work for themselves. This Esty seller BlakesWork creates heat resistant sleeves for coffee cups. I try to carry my plastic cup in my car, but most of the time, getting coffee is a last minute decision, based on where I am at. So if I am not in my car, then I don't have my own cup. So when I have to get the cup & sleeve from the coffee shop, I feel really bad. I always make sure to recycle the plastic top & sleeve . . but I still feel bad for having used the disposable cup & sleeve. I think this heat sleeve is a great idea and very elegant as well.

So I have networked with several great people who are trying to help themselves and others get ahead in this economy. Some of those contacts have come through meeting people or from a referral. The Backyard Boutique Party Network is one of them. This is a group of Independent Business Women in the L.A. area who network to promote their businesses. I have recently found other networking sites on newsletters. One of those being The Handmade Movement. They are a collaboration of Etsy sellers who try to promote new sellers or those that don't have any or very few sales. Twice a week they pick two of those sellers to feature and all members can buy something from those 2 stores, thus giving the seller more than a 1st sale . . . they are bom=barded with sales. Now, I would LOVE that surprise for my stores! Wouldn't you?

I think this is a great idea . . better than the sample boxes that I participated in before. Another person has just started a concept of shop, swap & blog. You feature someone else's business in your website or blog. Her blog is called Structured Chaos. The concept of her idea is to send a sample of your work to another participant seller and in return, you get a sample back from them. Then you write about their product on your website or in your blog. I think that's a great concept for gaining exposure and building your network. I will participate in some of these and let you know how it goes.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Facebook Fan Page & Twitter Page

I just created a Facebook fan page for my website, to further promote my art & photography. I also created a Twitter account to further promote my work. The Facebook fan page automatically posts to the Twitter page, so that makes it much easier. I hope to gain a new fan base from the Twitter page.

I am gearing up for an art show at the California Beer Festival, on September 26th in Ventura, CA. I have a whole new wine/beer/liquor category to add to my image collection. I already had a good collection of wine photos, but only 3 beer photos & no liquor photos. This photo is one of the beer photos. It was taken at the Cantillon Brewery in Brussels, Belgium. This is bottler that was used many many years ago. They still keep it in their showroom.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A New Camera

So we went to Cabo last week and saw the hurricane 1st hand, which was pretty exciting. But this is the 1st time where I really wish I had another camera with me. Like I said, I love my camera. It is a great camera, but there were so many shots I just couldn't get with all the surfers and boogie boarders on the 3 break waves. I guess I was less regretful of having another camera because they closed the town early, so I only had shots from the day before the real "weather" started. I also have to consider that there was so much wind and water in the air, that I guess any camera would have not done very well. I had to hide my camera in a towel in between shots, and like I said, that was the day before it got really bad.

I think about being in the right place at the right time, in terms of catching great wave, surfer shots, and I've been in the right place at the right time . . twice now! The 1st was in Oahu in Dec. 2004 when the waves were record breaking. We didn't make it to the North Shore, so I didn't see what I was missing, but heard about it. Now, being in a hurricane area in Cabo, I have a few decent shots, but none that wow. There was no real damage to the town, so I have no good shots of the aftermath either. But I had thought I'd get at least enough great shots to add to my collection at art shows . . . but no such luck. So a new camera is coming sooner, rather than later, because I need to offer surf/surfer shots at my art shows.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Researching Cameras & Flash Photo Software

So I've been researching new cameras, as I need another. The Canon 5D Mark II is looking oh so fine, but the weight is my problem for most cameras. Most of my photographs are taken while traveling and to have a heavy camera and lens to carry around is not an option for me. With my fibromyalgia, I can't carry a purse around any more, without being in pain. A standard SLR camera and lens far outweighs a purse. Canon is also coming out with the more compact PowerShots (with built in lenses) with more features, but I still love my old Powershot Pro. It has been an amazing camera and I can capture great images on the go. I just can't get that quick shutter action I want. The ability to create amazing bokeh effects has been equally rewarding, as my photos are all about depth and dimension.

The next thing I've been researching is Flash software programs and websites that have flash built in, like SmugMug and Shutterfly Pro. I love every feature in SmugMug, but I don't like paying an extra 15% commission for reports, credit card processing, etc. I already print through Shutterfly and have been really happy with the photos, but their 15% commission fee also applies. Call me crazy, but I want to keep the money I earn for the photos I take. Then, for the best Flash based software programs I've found, there is always a feature missing that I like. So I am still undecided on what I want to use, but I know I need to make a decision, so I can re-vamp my website.

Decisions, decisions . . .

Monday, June 22, 2009

Social Media Marketing Update

Here's an update on my social media marketing marathon. I am gaining momentum. For DenisesDelectables, I have received a great deal of interest, a few orders and now a large 4th of July party order. I need to track where the orders were generated from, so I can keep a log of the marketing source. I have also had a great deal of exposure on Like I said before, their different marketing tools within their website make it easier for any seller to be seen. I have had 5 people add me to their Treasury list, which is a 12 item page that a user creates of their favorite, or themed items. Some of these treasury pages are very well thought out and aesthetically beautiful. Etsy has featured me on their front page twice, and I've had 3 people feature me on their blog with links. I still have not had a bid accepted from my MiNeeds profile for event photography, but it is another way to get all of my businesses seen. I created another MiNeeds account for my fine art.  

I started a new wine consulting business last week, of which I also found in the social media marketplace. To promote my wine consulting business, I created a web page that was used like a newsletter, letting friends know of my new wine consultant business. I also started, through, a Central Coast Wine & Foodies group, where people can meet to learn about wine and food pairings. We meet bi-weekly and we will have a dinner at a restaurant along the Central Coast once a month. It's a good way to continue to network and build future business relationships. If you are on the Central CA Coast, join us and attend the 1st meeting in Ventura, on June 28th. More details are at the Central Coast Wine & Foodies website.  I also started the same group on Facebook to garner more exposure.

I am gearing up to start my fondant creations and cupcakes for DenisesDelectables. I am debating whether to start a new blog for that business, as I want to start creating custom design fondant cakes too. For the 4th of July, I am creating fondant cake and cupcake toppers in the shapes of hot dogs, flags, pies, stars and stripes and I am going to try a fireworks design too. I will list these fondant creations at DenisesDelectables tomorrow.

So things are moving along. The social media marketing experience has been beneficial so far.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The BIG Conversion Project

So I have put off this large project of converting my website from dark ages, FrontPage, to Dreamweaver. I have had many ideas of how I want to redesign my website, and have finally zeroed in on a final design. I always cringe when I open the site because it is not compatible with Safari or Firefox, so the thumbnail preview doesn't look good. And I don't want to tell people they should open Explorer in order to view my photos. 

I have also found a problem in that the photos are missing metadata. I've only had Aperture for 2 yrs. and over 1/2 of the 500+ photos I posted were before that. I think I will have to copy those images back to Aperture and add the metadata. All I do know is that this conversion is going to take a long time to finish. But I'm tired of looking at a mediocre website.

I did have another marketing idea for when I do finish the conversion. So stay tuned, as you could win a very nice prize.

P.S. For those hard to shop for guys, I have a great Father's Day gift. See my DenisesDelectables listing below with the photo of the Grand Marnier bottle titled "The Ultimate Father..."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Marathon continues

So I told you that I began my marketing marathon a little while ago. I have now joined Facebook and haven't decided yet if I'm going to join Twitter. I watched a Social Media Marketing webcast 2 weeks ago and it was beneficial, but in the end, they wanted people to buy their service of updating all your social media sites for you. Now I have a problem with that, because they obviously are not you, so they may write something that is not representative of you.

Another problem that I have with the idea that people actually do use their service, is that, unless you are a super duper busy business person, you should have time to post a quick blurb on what you are working on, or have someone that works for you, to do that. I just see it as a big waste of money to pay someone else to post your status for you. Their costs were $395 per month to manage 5 or 6 social media sites and a whopping $195 for managing one. Spending that kind of money on something like that is totally ridiculous to me. Anyway, I'm glad they offered their knowledge on social media marketing to people, for free. I did learn some things.

I took notes on the webcast to share, but I haven't made time to format them for viewing - so stay tuned. In the marketing update, I have added a couple of new web business listings on yellow page like websites. I am getting ready to post my fine art photos on my social media sites. I have joined photography groups on LinkedIn, so I am more up to date with current trends and events, as well as contests, which is another important marketing component that I have not talked about. Over the last few years I have been entering many photo contests, especially for National Geographic and their affiliates. I have entered some others and had my work chosen for a contest at an online gallery called Caladan Gallery. I am getting ready to enter a few more with pending deadlines. I have also recently added a MiNeeds profile to gain more exposure. I definitely have noticed my web standings have gone up. I am on the front page of all searches for my name, and sometimes, I am first, which was not the case 6 months ago. I'll keep you posted, as the marathon continues.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Everlasting Marketing Marathon

So I've been on this marketing marathon for the past 2 months, trying to get more exposure for all of my businesses. When I worked full time in the banking industry, I didn't have much time to promote my artistic endeavors. Now that I have more time, I have really begun the sprint towards getting my name out there in every way possible. I have done so in small spurts over the years, but I have gone full force recently.

I recently read an article on marketing your art in The Artist Magazine (sorry I couldn't find a link to article on their website or the writer's) Anyway, he says there are 8 things you should be doing to promote your art. Those basics components to marketing success in art are: 1. A website, 2. Link exchanges on your website, 3. ebaY auctions, 4. Participation in online art communities, 5. A blog (which is new to my arsenal of marketing tactics), 6. YouTube posts (this I have yet to post to), 7. Print advertising and finally, 8. A monthly newsletter (this I have not done either). You can view the article in the current magazine (I couldn't find it on their website).

So I have done 6 of 8 of those recommendations and the success has not been equal to the effort or money spent on the effort. I have had wedding gigs and event planning gigs and have sold some art and photography. I've also had my work shown in magazines such as Santa Barbara Magazine, Coastal Woman Magazine and more, so I have had exposure and some success, but I still kept the full time job because #1, it paid very well and #2, I didn't have full time art/photography work.

So this post is to all the people who have struggled and keep on dreaming of being independent in their creative work. And it is also posted for those that are just starting out, to show that you should never give up your dreams. I've had my website since 2000, with availability to buy directly from the website. I need to seriously re-vamp it, but have not had time for that big task of converting from FrontPage to Dreamweaver. I have items on ebaY and have since 2005. I have done art shows from Palm Springs to Goleta, California and have shown on a weekly basis in Santa Barbara & Goleta for 1.5 years ( a few years ago) and had print ads in a few major art magazines, on Craigslist and other local free online websites. I did all this with a full time job in Business Administration. Did I mention I have Fibromyalgia. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen.

I have had many admirers of my photography, for which I show at art shows. When I am at an art show, I am my happiest. Even when I don't have sales, it is great to hear what people say about my work and it is even better to tell them the stories about the photos and share the World with people who may never see that particular place in person. So even though I was lacking in monetary sales, I still was paid in other ways - happiness, contentment, pride, connecting with other art lovers, etc.

In the past year I have joined art networking sites including LinkedIn, Spraygraphics, ArtFaceOff, The Whole 9, Without A Box, and a few more I don't remember at this late hour. Then I opened my two Etsy shops for baking and art, photography, floral design, jewelry, glass and everything else I like to create. In the past week, I have had small success in my marketing efforts. I seem to get those short little spurts of something coming from my efforts. I have had 2 inquiries on products and many e-mails of fellow artisans. I even had two days in a row of front page listings on Etsy - which is UNBELIEVABLE! That was pretty exciting, as there are hundreds of thousands of listings on their site.

I also recently added a front page listing in the WEDDING section of, offering a wedding photography special for Southern California couples, of which there is a link to on this blog. That add generated 120 views in 5 days. On Tuesday I received a request to submit my baked goods to a well known marketing company. They provide free marketing and in return you provide samples of your product, to be added to a box of other samples from other vendors. Today I added SuperPages listings for my businesses. On Thursday I had a woman call asking for a prom corsage/boutonniere for her daughter. Then on Saturday, we had a community garage sale, for which we only have one per year. Our HOA doesn't allow them otherwise.

So I took full advantage of the opportunity to market all of my businesses. The day before, I made Bailey's and Coffee Brownies and Butter Cookies. They were both dipped or topped with Bailey's and Coffee Chocolate. I made Jalapeno Brownies and Guinness Brownies with a Butter Cream Frosting, and I made Espresso Martini Brownies, also with Espresso Martini Chocolate on top. I created labels and glued them onto paper lunch bags. I was up until 12:30 A.M. finishing everything. I woke up at 6:00 A.M. and prepared the garage sale like it was an art show. I put up the canopy and covered the tables and put up grids to hang the photography. I put out the art, photos, prints, baked goods, jewelry, and a floral arrangement with cards. I drove to the front of the development and put up a sign that art & photos were at the end of the block, so people would come down. I got some "Wow, great set up" comments, "Wonderful" or Amazing" comments on the photos and art and one sale of a baked goods bag. But there just weren't enough people. The HOA didn't market well.

SoI only sold the bag of baked goods, but I did get two inquiries on doing family portraits, which is a good lead. So although I didn't win the marathon, I finished it and that is what counts. So for those that struggle, don't give up. Life is too short to give up on your dreams. Working for the Dream Foundation and the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara really put that long time self motto into a whole new perspective. I'll let you know how the sample box marketing thing goes, of which the results will come in about a month.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Marketing through other websites

So I have spent a great deal of time creating an shop - well actually 2 shops. One is for the art, photography, jewelry and everything else I make, called Denise's Creations. The other shop is is a bakery that I have created with my mom, called Denise's Delectables. I really wanted to name it after my mom, as her amazing baking experience far exceeds mine, but I couldn't think of anything edible that rhymed with Laura. Sorry mom!

You know, has gotten a great deal of buzz, and for good reason. Personally, I will pick handmade goods over store bought anytime. I am the kind of person who doesn't go to a chain store, unless necessary. Being an artist, I want to be working full time in my own business, so supporting others like me just makes sense.

I'll give another kudos to Etsy for being so visual in their marketing of their seller's items. There are dozens of ways to instantly see thousands of items. So sellers have a better chance at getting their products shown. It really is a great site and I hope all that sell on it, find it a rewarding experience.

For me, it is one more way to "live the dream" and do artistic and creative things as a living. For my mom, it is a way to get back to what she used to love doing, create really good, UNIQUE baked goods. Here's to a great start in our selling on mom.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I worked in the Banking industry and did art shows part time, on weekends. But my desire has always been to do art, photography and wedding events on a full time basis. I have always been so busy with the full time job, to actually create art and have the time to market myself to galleries. I showed photography in Southern CA art shows in the beginning of the downturn several years ago and lost a great deal of money. But I had the full time job, so it wasn't a big deal. But it was never about the money. It was about meeting people and having people love my work and see places they've never seen before. It was about the endurance of working 45 hrs. per week and then spending 8 hours in the sun for a weekend art show, or event, which is exhausting, as you fellow art show artists and event photographers know. It was always about the love of art.

It's only just this recently, that I have been focusing on joining art networking sites and starting an shop, which has gotten the ball rolling to make me start creating art. I have a big project of updating my website from FrontPage to Dreamweaver, but I am so busy that I don't foresee that happening anytime soon. One more thing to add to the "things to do list" right?

So I have started this blog to showcase what I am currently working on and hope that this avenue gains me some more work, as I have many talents. I create acrylic, watercolor and pastel paintings, I have over 500 images from different places throughout the World, and probably 500 more I haven't added to my website yet, because I am planning on converting. I create mosaics, stained glass pieces, jewelry, cards, invitations, unique floral arrangements and anything that comes from inspiration. I do event and wedding photography and my photos have been in major publications, such as Santa Barbara Magazine and Coastal Woman Magazine (sorry to see it go with economic downturn). My photos have also been in the Santa Barbara Independent, CASA Magazine, The Montecito Journal and a few more I can't remember right now.

There is just so much I want to accomplish and I need to look at different ways to accomplish all of them. Art and helping people are my biggest passions and I want to be able to make a living out of one or the other - well actually both, but that's another story for later. I was a Dream Captain for the Dream Foundation and a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Santa Barbara County. I had to end those commitments to keep up with finding another job. I still volunteer for the Breast Cancer Resource Center of Santa Barbara, as I can't just not help people during my own trying times. Helping people also helps me cope with these trying times. This blog is one avenue to help me live my dreams and I hope you enjoy my posts.

Celebrity Collage by MyHeritage

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