The Artists Web Newsletter February 2010

THE ARTIST’S WEB NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 2010

CONTENTS:

1) BECOMING SELF-EMPLOYED (PART 2) – The second installment in our two-part feature, this time focusing on  the  legal (and slightly dull-but-necessary) steps you need to take to set yourself up as your own boss!

2) SELLING PRINTS - are you getting the most out of your website?  Selling prints is a fantastic way to get your art to the masses – and make a regular income too!  A bit of prep work and you’re set to go..this article covers all you need to do.

3) ARTIST’S SITE OF THE MONTH
– Our pick this month of a site that we feel is doing it’s job particularly well!

4) WHAT’S WORKING ON THE ARTISTS WEB
– Our most popular pages – get clicking!

5) COMING UP NEXT TIME – coming up next time!!


WELCOME TO 2010!

A very happy new year to you all and welcome to the first Artists Web Newsletter of 2010!  We hope you’ve had a lovely holiday, have relaxed and eaten way too much and are ready and willing to launch into the new decade with new artistic goals, ambitions and inspiration!
In this issue, we’re covering a couple of areas which we hope will inspire you to (if you’re not already doing so) try and sell your artwork that you’re so passionate about…and maybe even make that decision to focus on your art as your career and become self-employed.  Scary?  Yes!  Rewarding? Without a doubt…having made the transition from employee to being my own boss myself, I know exactly how daunting the prospect can be.  But the work/life balance is so much better and, although it’s hard work and a lot of self-discipline, working for myself is without a doubt one of the best moves I’ve made in my life.
So besides the admittedly dull-but-necessary-and-therefore-ultimately-useful details of National Insurance, VAT and direct debits, we’ve got our usual Artist Site Of The Month, what’s coming up for the Artists Web in the next few weeks and some advice on ensuring that your work SELLS by using our free Prints Service.  So if it’s still icy out there, put the kettle on, take a break and have a read…and do send us your feedback!

Best wishes and a happy, healthy 2010 to you all.
J Adams & The Artists Web


1) BECOMING SELF-EMPLOYED (PART 2)

Last year we explored the pros and cons of becoming self-employed in order to launch your career as an artist.  This month we’re looking at the practical steps you need to take in order to get going and ensure you’re abiding by the law and doing everything correctly!  It can seem daunting to take the leap into working for yourself, especially if you’ve only ever worked for somebody else till now.  But the benefits, as we explored in November’s newsletter, can be enormous.  So, assuming that you’ve weighed up the plus points and have decided to go for it, you’re bound to have a rather large pile of questions.  Such as….

What are the key things I have to do?
This list is things you MUST do in order to become your own boss!
* Register as self-employed
* Pay National Insurance contributions on a weekly basis (see National Insurance section   below for exceptions)
* Register for VAT if you expect to turn over more than £68,000 per annum….hey, why not aim   high?!

This list is not essential but advisable in order to make life a whole lot easier!
* Set up a business bank account.  Keeping your business and personal money separate really makes life easier when it comes to doing your accounts and submitting your tax return.    Even if you’re not earning much to start with, it really helps and also makes you appear  more professional
* Decide whether you need or want to use an accountant.  Many prefer to save the money and do their accounts themselves, but you have to keep on top of things!  Having an accountant  saves you a lot of work but I used to use one and discovered that if I just got into the routine of keeping my accounts every month, I was able to use my own figures in my   tax-return and saved myself a considerable amount of money every month.  However this is not ideal for everyone, so start to source out accountants if you want to use one.  Word of  mouth is the best way of finding a good-’un.  Ask your self-employed friends for their contacts and recommendations.  Or look in your local area…go and see a few before you decide.
* Regardless of whether you’re using an accountant or doing the books yourself, you need to  be organised when it comes to keeping your accounts.  Start a spreadsheet/ledger to log your accounts at the end of every month. All you need to do is log your income, your business outgoings and keep the receipts for materials you use in your work that you may be able to claim back in business expenses.  By doing this on the last day of each month   you’ll  get into the routine and it’ll become second-nature. It also really, really, really helps when Tax Return Time comes around and you’ve got all your accounts and receipts in order to hand to your accountant or sort through yourself! (Trust me on this one – been there, done that!!)
* Keep track of where everything is going! (Again, trust me on this one).  Sold a picture? Great…make sure you have a record of the exact date you sold it, who to and retain their contact details! Just keeping a record of amounts is not enough.  You also need records of   contacts and buyers.

So….you’re ready to register and so on….here’s some (hopefully useful) info for you!  All links and helpline numbers/downloadable form links will be given in a list at the end of the article for easy retrieval.

Where do I start??
There are many sites online which have advice about starting up your work, as well as many blogs about working as an artist.  However, in my opinion (for what it’s worth!), the best place to start to check you’re doing it all correctly is the HM Revenue & Customs website (www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/).  This is a comprehensive site and has ‘Business Link’ sections which cover all aspects of starting up and running your own business
(http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?topicId=1073858805).

How do I register?

When you become self-employed you must register for Income Tax and National Insurance purposes with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). You can register online, by telephone or by post. You need to register AS SOON AS POSSIBLE to avoid a penalty (payable if you fail to register within three months of starting up).  It’s best to look into this whilst you’re THINKING about going it alone in order to avoid missing deadlines!  You need to have the following
information to hand in order to register:
* Your personal details (name, address, telephone number, contact email address, date of   birth and so on)
* National Insurance No. (you can find this on your National Insurance card, letters from   Social Security, documents    sent to you from HMRC, on your pay slips, P45s or P60s.  If   you’re still unsure, call HMRC on their National Insurance Registrations Helpline: 0845 915   7006 (lines open 8.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday)
* The date you started working for yourself
* Business telephone number and address if it differs from your home details
* The nature of your business
* Your Unique Taxpayer Reference no. (you can find this on correspondence from HMRC, your tax   return notification – or call the Newly Self-Employed Helpline (0845 915 4515) for help.

Now you’ve got all that ready, you’re ready to register!

For online registering, follow this link:
https://online.hmrc.gov.uk/shortforms/form/CWF1ST?dept-name=CWF1&sub-dept-name=&location=40&origin=http://www.hmrc.gov.uk

To register by phone, call this number:
0845 915 4515 (Newly Self-Employed Helpline) – open from 8am to 8pm Mon-Fri & 8am to 4pm Sat & Sun.

To register by post, you need to complete form CWF1: either call the Newly Self-Employed Helpline no. above and ask them to send you one, or you can download one from this link:
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/cwf1.pdf.  The address to send to is on the form.

Ta-daaaa!  You’re now registered as self-employed!  Hurrah! Now you need to arrange to pay your Class 2 National Insurance contributions!

What is National Insurance and why do I need to pay it?
Good question.  Almost everyone has heard of National Insurance but if you’re an employee you may not have any dealings with it; become self-employed and suddenly it’s a big deal!!  National Insurance contributions from each member of the public ensures your entitlement to state benefits such as State Pension and other social security benefits.  Payments stop when you reach retirement age and the amount you pay depends on factors such as how much you earn and your employment status (self-employed/employed etc.).  It is a legal requirement that it is paid so it’s a good idea to get on top of this early on so you don’t get a back-log of overdue invoices from HMRC!  It’s usually a small amount each week but it soon adds up if you’re NOT paying!

How much do I need to pay?
Self-employed workers pay Class 2 AND Class 4 contributions:
* – Class 2 is a flat rate of £2.40 per week – payable monthly by Direct Debit or as a quarterly bill.
* – Class 4 are paid as a percentage of your annual taxable profits – 8% between £5,715 and £43,875 and a further 1% on any profits over that amount – payable when you pay your Income Tax.

How do I set up payments or find out more about them?
* – Download this form to set up your Direct Debit payments:
http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/pdfs/ca5601.pdf
* – Call the very helpful HMRC’s National Insurance Self-Employed Helpline on Tel 0845 915 4655 (8am-5pm Mon-Fri).

Once you’ve done that….you’re pretty much sorted on the legal stuff!  If you do want to set up for VAT if you’re expecting to earn over £68,000 in your first year, contact the Self-Employed helpline on 0845 915 4515.

What about Tax-Returns?  Aren’t they horrendously difficult and scary?

* No!!  Not if you’ve been a good boy or girl and kept up with your accounts/receipts-keeping skills over the months. The first time I did mine, I went to my local tax office to get them to help me – it took five minutes!
* You’ll need your net and gross profit figures, your business goings for the year, any taxable social security benefit   numbers and that’s about it.  You can file your tax return online and follow the links or go and get help at your local   tax office like I did.  For all things tax return-related, follow this link; http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/SA/index.htm
* Most importantly – don’t dread it!  Keep on top of your accounts, get help completing it if you’re not sure and get it in   on time to avoid the £100 penalty.  It’s a doddle after that!

Setting up as self-employed can seem scary but it’s not that bad really – there’s so much help available if you’re  unsure of anything!  Here’s a round-up of all the numbers and links you might need so they’re all in one place (rather than scanning through the above article again!)

* www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/ – HMRC website for all things tax/NI/employment-related!
* Business Link site – helpful information, tips and articles on setting up:
http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?topicId=1073858805
* Newly Self-Employed Helpline (for all general enquiries) – 0845 915 4515 (8am-8pm Mon-Fri & 8am-4pm Sat-Sun)
* National Insurance Registrations Helpline: 0845 915 7006 (8.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday)
* Registering as self-employed online:
https://online.hmrc.gov.uk/shortforms/form/CWF1ST?dept-name=CWF1&sub-dept-name=&location=40&origin=http://www.hmrc.gov.uk
* Registering as self-employed by post – downloadable form: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/cwf1.pdf.
* National Insurance helpline no.: 0845 915 4655 (8am-5pm Mon-Fri).
* Downloadable form to set up National Insurance payments by Direct Debit: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/pdfs/ca5601.pdf
* Self-assessment & tax returns website: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/SA/index.htm

Phew!  Hope that hasn’t ‘taxed’ you too much! (Groan!).  Talk to other artists who are working for themselves to get a good idea of what’s involved and for tips they might have to pass onto you.  Be disciplined when it comes to your accounts and you shouldn’t have any problems…..and the best thing is, you’re now your own boss and are doing a job that you feel passionate about!  Perfect!


2) SELLING PRINTS

Now you’re established as a working artist, you really should be working to sell your art!  Selling original pieces of artwork is great and it can earn you some decent money…but then that piece of artwork is gone, never to return…and there may be many, many others out there who wanted it!  The joy of selling prints is that it can provide you with a steadier stream of income than selling one-off original pieces, prints are way more affordable for less wealthy art-lovers and if you sell your artwork through our Prints Program, which is FREE when you sign up with The Artists Web, you don’t have to lift a finger when it comes to selling, shipping and dealing with any returns!  You just sit back once you’ve sent your photographed art off to us and send good ‘buy-my-prints-please’ vibes out to the universe.  Getting your artwork ready to sell isn’t difficult if you use the right means…and it isn’t costly either, especially once you start making the money back from your sold prints!

Have you considered it yet?
So you’ve got your website, you’ve made it look good, you’re happy with your biog; are you selling prints?  If you’re not, you could be missing out on income and getting a name for yourself as an artist!  The prints service run at The Artists Web takes the strain out of selling for you, yet there are some artists who still haven’t signed up for the service yet.  Here’s what you need to know and what you need to do to grab yourself some income and satisfaction that your work is now proudly displayed in the home of another!

So what happens?
It’s really simple; you decide which pieces of artwork you’d like to sell, prepare them for our prints system, upload them….and the rest is taken care of!  Your artwork Will appear on the Easyart website.  Easyart is Europe’s largest online art retailer, selling thousands of prints every day to Europe, the UK, America and Asia, through various websites as well as their own, including art.com, leibermanns.com,barewalls.com and allposters.com. And this list could grow; we are working to find more and more outlets where your work is being published, enabling you to sit back and reap the profits! If a buyer decides he or she wants to buy your art, the whole process is done through Easyart’s professional, friendly service – so none of the dull stuff like packing and shipping comes your way.  Your buyer will select which frame they want, how they want it delivered and make their payment securely to Easyart.  Easyart will ship your artwork directly to your buyer and also deal with any (hopefully non-existent!) returns.

What about commission?
We charge you no commission for this service at all.  Nowt.  Not a bean. (You get the idea!).

How do I get paid for any work that I sell?

Each month, The Artists Web will pay you the money you’ve earned from selling your prints directly into your account.  There is no need for you to do anything – just enjoy looking at your account balance!  You can find out more about commissions with Easyart and payments in the Print Agreement: http://www.theartistsweb.co.uk/Print-Agreement

So now you know how simple it is, read on for more in-depth descriptions of how to get your artwork ready to turn into profit-making prints and how to maximise your opportunity to sell.  You want a career as an artist?  Selling prints is just part of it.

What do I need?

You need a website with The Artists Web to sell your prints; if you’re a trial member, seriously look into selling with us as it’s a great deal and commission-free.  You’ve got two weeks – it’s easy to get going and you could use your free fortnight to make some money!  If you’re a paid-up member but haven’t yet investigated selling prints, you can start the Print Program whenever you like.  You’ll need print-ready art……see below.


Your prints

These need to be high-resolution, high-quality and print-ready, with no cropping needed.  We advise that you seek a photographer to ensure that all the art you want to be put up to sell is ready to go.  This may sound like a bit of a mission but it really isn’t and doesn’t cost much to get done.  You may be able to seek the help of a photographer friend or if you think you know how, have a go yourself.  Once you know how to do it, that’s it!  You can apply it to your other future work and need to do nothing else on that side of things. To get more details on the exact sizing requirements for selling your prints, follow this link:

(http://www.theartistsweb.co.uk/Print-Agreement)

Then scroll down to ‘Print Submission’ and under that you’ll find ‘Image Acceptance Criteria; it’s got all the measurement information you need! If all that sounds a bit technical for you, call in some professional help….it shouldn’t cost too much and it’ll take all the effort off you.

To source a photographer:
simply look online for one in your area and give them a call or drop them an email with your requirements.  It’s a
good idea to get a few quotes first to get the best deal.  You can email him or her your artwork and they can email it right back once it’s done….so it’s really a painless procedure and worth taking the time to get done.  Once they are done you can use them for prints and other applications in the future.

To have a go yourself:
You can have a go yourself if you’re very strapped for cash or you feel you could do a good job.  It is very important that you adhere to the criteria required for prints; resolution and size must be within the limits. Check the criteria in the Print Agreement (link is above in the ‘Your Prints’ section). There are also many tutorials on the internet with helpful hints on how to photograph your artwork.  They may not necessarily be focused on print production, but the techniques are good and you can check you’re adhering to the correct criteria regarding megapixels and so on in the Print Agreement on The Artists Web.  Here are some links to some good tutorials on the web which you may find useful:
http://artlinkswap.org/photographing_art.shtml
http://www.bermangraphics.com/digital-jury-resources/photographing-art.htm
http://www.artistterms.com/artbusiness/promotion/photographingpaintings.htm


Sell, sell, sell!

So you’ve decided which work to put forward, got them beautifully prepared in the right resolution and size – is that it?  Well not quite – you’ve got to let the buyers know exactly where to find your artwork and how much they can buy it for.  So many of our members don’t realise the potential of loading their images with information until they realise they’re not selling as much as they’d hoped.  Potential buyers will scour artwork because they WANT it.  They are prepared to part with their hard-earned cash for some lovely piece to hang on their wall….so make sure thhey find YOURS!  It’s easy to do this: when uploading your images for prints, simply fill in all the fields required.  Include a description, the medium, the size of the work, the price, tag-words (if, for example, your painting is of a red dog in a green field, add the tag words ‘red dog’, red’, ‘dog’, ‘green field’, ‘animals’, ‘countryside’ and so on).  Any phrase you feel might bring up your artwork to the attention of somebody searching for a nice painting of a green field….but who, upon seeing yours, is so struck by the red dog as well that they just have to have it!  It takes just minutes to do but it ensures that your artwork will be flagged up far more often to prospective buyers.

How much can I make?
Please don’t forget to add the price….you know how annoying it is when you finally find THAT item of clothing you adore and simply HAVE to have….and then there’s no price tag and no sales assistant instantly available to ask?  Well, don’t put your customer through that same irritation!  Many of our buyers search by price so make sure it’s on there.

Quality or quantity?
Should you only put one or two choice pieces that you’re particularly proud of or confident about up for sale?  No!  You should go for lots of pieces.  The painting that you think is just ok may be the ideal piece for somebody’s living space….remember that your audience will view your work on an individual basis…so cater for as many of them as you can.  You may be very pleasantly surprised by just how popular some of your personally not-so-favourite works may prove to be.

Ok….NOW am I done?
Yep!  It may seem like a few steps to do the first time around….but trust us, once you’ve got the hang of it (like anything) it will become second nature.  And it’s a great thing to get into the habit of doing.

What if I don’t sell a single thing?

Well, it’s like the car boot sale I tried to do last week; I took down so many great items I was already planning what I’d buy with the profits….and I sold three things, for a huge sum of £8!  Some days you rake it in, other days you see no extra income.  Selling your work depends on so many factors, not just your talent.  The current economic climate may well have an impact.  The time of year too (Christmas is a popular time for hugely obvious reasons!) will affect the amount of people looking online to buy.  You can always run yourself a checklist if you’re having no success whatsoever though:

* Have you priced yourself realistically?  Charging way over the odds for your work (no matter how astounding you
may consider it to be!) can obviously put people off.
* Is your website up-to-date and well-maintained?  Don’t underestimate the importance of having an attractive,
informative website as people who buy your work will almost certainly check out your site to find out more about
you and your work.  Keep your exhibition details current, your biography friendly and interesting and your artwork
easy to see and all priced.  Look as though you’re serious about your art and buyers will take you seriously too.
* Are you sure your artwork is completed with ALL details, not just price?  Double-check this point!  So many of our
members have thought they’d completed everything but hadn’t. And it makes all the difference.  Meta-tags, price, size,   medium, materials used – it’s all valuable information to an art buyer.

Once you’ve got your work print-ready and made your first sale, you’ll be glad you took the time to have a go!  It’s a free service so you’ve really got nothing to lose – and everything to gain!  Good luck!


3) ARTIST’S SITE OF THE MONTH

This month the website of the Scenic Art Co. is my pick.  This website covers the works of a number of artists who make up the company, but I really like the way they’ve done their site. Firstly, the images they’ve uploaded are clear and well-photographed. Always a bonus…it’s frustrating when you have to squint to get the full effect of a picture or if the impact of the work is lost due to a blurry focus!  Secondly, a lot of their work is big…quite literally.  We’re talking 35ft by 20ft backcloths, murals and cut-outs.  This could be quite difficult to convey in a picture without losing the detail or the depth of the image, but they manage to capture the full effect by having close-up of the detail (like Lou Reed on gauze), followed by a picture of the gauze being used in it’s final setting on stage.
The Scenic Art Co.’s site gives enough information on the homepage and in the ‘About Us’ section to convey that they are successful, busy and, from the companies they work for, quite probably leaders in their field.  But it’s done without self-congralating back-slapping, which, although maybe quite deserved, I find to be off-putting and unnecessary when I find it on the sites of some artists; surely the audience should deliver the praise and congratulations, not the artists themselves?
All in all, The Scenic Art Company’s site is uncluttered but clear, straightforward yet informative and understated  but impressive.  Clear images, well laid-out, well-photographed and therefore not needing reams and reams of text to help it out.  Thumbs up from us, guys!
For a closer look, check out their site and their amazing work for yourself!
http://www.scenicartco.co.uk/


4) WHAT’S WORKING IN THE ARTISTS WEB?

It’s clear from our monthly stats that you’re liking:
* Arts Jobs Page…we keep this updated as the jobs come in so keep checking for opportunities!
* Spotlight – our regular interview with selected members is still a popular feature.
* Our interviews – Fraser Kee Scott was a popular one, as was Paul Blake.  More coming soon with some prominant
figures from the art scene so keep reading!
* The Artists Web Newsletter! Hurrah!

5) COMING UP NEXT TIME……..
* ‘Straight From The Artists’ Mouths’….straight advice straight from fellow artists!
* Art Shows – the best coming up this year, why you should be taking part and what it involves.
* Art Courses – could you benefit from one?  Could you run one?  The view from both sides.
* The next Artist Of The Month
* Another good excuse to make a cuppa and have a read!

Please send any feedback/responses/ideas/news you might want to include in the Newsletter to:
jordan.adams@theartistsweb.co.uk

2 comments for “The Artists Web Newsletter February 2010

  1. February 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Why does the artist have to have all the trouble of marketing his work, instead of being able to just concentrate on doing his art??

    Are there agents out there specializing in assisting artists in this area??

    If anyone can help in this area I would be very grateful, as contacting galleries to show artwork is enormously time consuming!!

    Many thanks

    Harry STOLL email harrystoll@orange.fr

    harry stoll

  2. March 2, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Great article for me, especially as I thought I already knew this.

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