Making Your Purpose Your Business
Step #3: Organizing Your Resources & Collections
By Meilena Hauslendale
In the previous step, Step 2, you were challenged to get active and network with other professionals in your field. By now you should have an abundant source of resources to reference and help you mold your personal aspirations. You should have a collection of bookmarks of peer's and organization's websites.
You can really gather a lot of information in a short amount of time when you are dealing with the internet. So I recommend keeping organized with your information right from the start. If you are keeping track of your information in a notebook, adopt a method to keep it orderly. Maybe have your notebook sectioned into topics, for example, 'references,' 'organizations,' 'peers.' If you are bookmarking your reference information through your browser, organize your list by assigning them to folders. This option is usually listed under your favorites menu, typically called 'organize favorites.' Do whatever makes sense to you and will help you easily retrieve the information you need in the future.
Organization doesn't just stop at notebooks and bookmarks. It goes much deeper than that. Make sure you are personally organized before you start our next challenge. Clean up your workspace. Take care of your priorities or any tasks you may have been procrastinating. The key here is to not just clean out your physical space, but mental space as well.
Now we can start working on creating your collection. Your 'collection' is going to be the foundation of your purpose. If you are creating art for example, it would be your artwork. If you are a writer, it would be a collection of your writings. If you are intending on being a merchant of other sorts, it would be your product.
So the first question to ask yourself would be: do you have a collection? If you do, now is the time to organize your work. Again, maybe break your collection into groups, organize your work by likeness or by time frame. This can be done by simply creating categories and assigning your work to the appropriate heading. This will help you set the stage for your web presence. Now is the time to keep in mind some of the sites you went on in our previous step. Think about what sites were easy to navigate and what sites were not. Did you like how a particular site was organized? What did you like about it? Apply your answers to your own concept of organization.
If you don't have a collection, then now is the time to work on acquiring one. Establishing a collection does not happen over night. So be patient with yourself and set realistic goals. My very first website was created by a friend of mine when I lived in California, before I started designing my own site. The first collection was composed of only 13 works of art, but it was a start. Now seven years later, I have a collection of around 160 paintings. You don't have to have an extremely large collection of works or products to get started. One of the best things about opening a store on the web unlike a brick and mortar store, you don't have to have a large product line. Granted it helps, but it is not always necessary. The key here is quality not quantity.
Once you have your collection created or organized you can now work on the information side of your collection. Assign your collection or product names, titles, or SKU numbers. Write up descriptions for each piece or group. Be as informative and descriptive as you can. Put yourself in the consumer or viewer's place and think about what information you would need to know in order to make a proper buying decision. You do not want to be vague here at all. Your description not only aids your buyer, but it also protects you as a seller. Describing your product or service honestly, prevents any likelihood of surprise to your buyer. As a result you should have less returns and refunds and more customer satisfaction.
Once you have developed your collection or product sheet, make a column for pricing. Pricing can often be the most challenging task of designing a web front mainly because you are being asked to place a price on yourself and your own value. This is especially true if the services you provide are rendered creative. A normal or typical marketing tactic is to research your competitors and get an idea of the market value of your product. If you are working in a creative field or freelance field you can search for guilds that offer pricing guidelines.
After you get an overview or others' pricing then you need to realistically figure out what it will cost you to perform your services. You want to consider the amount of time you spend on a project, the cost of materials, the tax you will have to pay, and the cost of shipping and or transportation. Your cost may be very different than your competitors. Pricing is a personal choice and decision, so base it on what you believe the item to be worth. You want competitive prices, but worthy prices. The biggest mistake I see creative people make is under pricing themselves. Buyers believe they get what they pay for, so make your pricing valuable to them.
Develop a confidence in your work, but back that confidence with experience and knowledge. Believe that what you are creating has a value to more people than just yourself. Most importantly, be excited! Your enthusiasm will be conveyed in every area of your work. If you are not excited, then you need to go back to step 1 and reevaluate what your purpose is.
Your challenge for this month is to get organized in your personal and mental space, organize or create your collection, and then write effective descriptions for your works or products. During this process, continue to network and continue to learn and you will develop your path... your purpose.