Setting Up Shop: Sell Fantastic Prints | Amarilys Henderson | Skillshare

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Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      What's Covered


    • 2.

      Project to Start or Improve


    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.

      Getting Found


    • 8.

      Fulfilling an Order Well


    • 9.

      Making It


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About This Class

Want someone to give you a straight-forward run-down of what it's like to run an online print shop?

It's pretty simple, right? Then why does it feel so daunting?! Sometimes you just need someone to guide you amidst the many mini-decisions surrounding your online business. Why re-invent the wheel when so many have gone before?

This class is for those who are interested in opening their online shop of original prints as well as for those who have an existing shop and want a refresh. With the collective insights of several shop owners as well as recommendations for further linking, reading, and viewing, you absolutely will find a helpful tip in this thorough--though not exhaustive--class! Also, each video segment ends with a hack or a free download.

A few highlights of what you will learn:

  • Best practices for search performance
  • Foundations for a quality print--resolution, Photoshop polish, materials--nothing is left behind!
  • Step by step guides and inspiration
  • Branding practices
  • Helpful {and free!} online tools for SEO, branding, and marketing
  • A recipe for selecting what to sell
  • Insights from hard-earned experience

...and you'll hopefully gain a sense of community from other budding entrepreneurs while showcasing your shop's progress through your project.  

Oh, and don't miss the supplemental PDF for this class under the Your Project tab. 

Save yourself some time and sidestep a few mistakes by enrolling in this class. 

Especially now... just in time for the holiday season! 

Meet Your Teacher

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Amarilys Henderson

Watercolor Illustrator, Design Thinker

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm Amarilys. I process on paper and I problem-solve with keystrokes.

As a commercial illustrator, I've had the pleasure of bringing the dynamic vibrance of colorful watercolor strokes to everyday products. My work is licensed for greeting and Christmas cards, art prints, drawing books, and home decor items. My design background influences much of my recent work, revolving around typography and florals.

While my professional work in illustration is driven by trend, my personal work springs from my faith. Follow along on Instagram


Learn a variety of fun and on-trend techniques to improve your work!

See full profile

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1. What's Covered: Maybe I could start a print shop and people might actually like this, who would factor into what you're already doing to enhance what you already do. This is about setting up your print shop. I want to provide that special kick in the pants to be able to do that. For those of you who already have a shop, then I want to help give you as much advice as I can. I'm going to cover painting and I'll choose what to sell, how I choose keywords that would work well. How I print, how I package them and ship them, and how I make this all sustainable so that it doesn't drive me nuts, and it continues to move on and grow. I also want to improve in my shop. You're going to help me do that. Let's get you ready for the busy season that sells 50 percent of what's sold throughout the year. Let's set up your shop in time for that. 2. Project to Start or Improve: Let's get started. When we talk about a project, I am incredibly visual and I believe that the rest of the Skillshare community would mostly agree. We want to have something fun to look at in that gallery of projects on Skillshare. How are we going to do that when we're really improving our online shops? The way I see it you can fall into one of four categories. You either do not have a shop and therefore your first step is to start a shop, your project will be to showcase your shop. To keep the project interesting in starting your shop, show us your favorite piece, show us what you think will sell very well. Show us the print that made you think, "Hey, maybe I could start a print shop. " Show us that and feel free to add a link to your shop so we can see more, especially if we love it because we are all consumers. If you are like many of us, you already have a shop, but you could improve. There's three larger areas where we can all use some improvement. Maybe the branding session will really resonate with you and you feel like it's time for a new logo, whether it's time for a redesign or you just threw something up there because you just wanted to start and you want to actually, now seriously, look at your logo design, something that you really love. Maybe you need to improve on your shipping process, maybe shipping has been difficult for you or you added a new way to package, or you found this great hack on how to do that quickly and efficiently or beautifully, show us that. For those of you who just want to increase the performance of your shop, you want it to sell better and you're using some of these SCO tricks that I'll talk about in the class. You can show us a before and after and be very creative about it. Maybe you could show us a product that you see has increased in performance, that is getting more views and is getting hopefully more purchases, whatever it is, show us an example, and that'll be much more fun to watch than just a simple screenshot of your shop. I'm looking out for the most interesting takes on this project. You guys are going to blew me away, you always do. 3. Define: The most valued thing online right now is authenticity, because suddenly, we've gone through these phases of going to be as many cured as we can be and solely restarting to deconstruct that. We really want real. If you really know who you are, what kind of aesthetic you're going for, this will all come together very naturally. If you just think, I don't know, I just do this kind of art, really look at what it is that sets your art apart from anyone else's. Are your designs very colorful? Are lines really strong? What are your influencers? Really, when people are looking art work, they want to be able to express it themselves, to explain why we bought something to our friends, and family, our peers. Who you are and what you have to offer are very well entangled. It's that echoing that they see in that print that says, "But first coffee," or whatever, that makes them think, "That is so me, I must have it." Who are you? What kind of lifestyle? Here are some prompts, some questions to ask yourself as you're thinking through how you would define you and your business. Who is that ideal customer? It's your moving target. Make up a name, make up who is this person, how old are they, and why did they buy, what did they like? The more defined that little character of a person is in your mind, the more likely you are to hit that target. Finally, define what it is that you sell. I have hundreds of paintings, which ones am I going to make prints from? This is a huge question for me. If I have those first two questions answered, it helps me answer this next question. Here's a little recipe that I got from Renae Christine. She specializes in helping Etsy sellers sell well. You should look her up on YouTube. She has some really useful tips. This is what she calls her awesome sauce recipe. In the video that I'm linking here, she explains each one of these components really well. But the gist of it is that you have a base product line with five items that are neutral and very friendly to most people, three that are on trend, and two that are totally out there and you have fun with. Then she moves on to price ranges. How there's three categories for that. Really what you're aiming for are the mid-range prices. Oftentimes people won't buy the cheapest or the most expensive, but they land right in the middle. Then how to expand that here in the third column with upgrades and accessories and give sets, add-ons as bonus, as options for your buyers. 4. Branding: Branding, it is such a huge deal. Well, we've gone over who we are, who we're selling to, what we sell. Now how are we going to package this visually to create trust and to create a cohesive look that's attractive to our potential buyer. The first thing to do is to start looking around. Start though in your own creative space. Start to look at your tools, take pictures of your tools, take pictures of the things that inspire you. You'll start to notice the things that become important to you. For me I love to have a lot of white space contrasted with really bright colors, and when I realized that things started to fall into place. Then look outward, look at other shops and see how well they present their shops. You might notice that your work tends to be monochromatic or have nature or twigs or feel rustic, or feel modern. Notice these trends in yourself because basically branding is representing yourself. But when you're looking at everyone's stuff, you going to start to realize that, I really like that they use hand lettering, I really like these colors. Maybe you can pick from some of these influences and make some [inaudible] board, if you want to do a Pinterest board, do a screen capture of that and include it in your project, that'll be great. In creating logos there are some great programs out there. Or maybe that's a starting point, maybe you have a friend who can do some hand lettering or who can provide an aspect of your logo that's not part of what you usually do. Create something as a template, and work from there, test drive it, come across it in your notebook, put it in places to just jump out at you. Because you want to run across it the way that a customer would as they're looking online or they're just scrolling through Instagram. Whatever your logo, as much as possible, do it yourself, no one's going to understand your business as well as you do. I'm guessing that if you are creating prints to sell, you are somewhat to completely capable of creating your own logo. Here are some usual dimensions for your profile and your shop. Then for your shop banner or your cover photo, I'm using Canva here. Canva is mostly free, every once in a while you need to buy a picture if you so choose to. But they have the dimensions ready for you to prepare your cover photo. Imagine if this person is walking into your shop, what do you want them to see? So my hack for this session is basically a freebie that has hundreds of images. If you use Photoshop, you're going to love this. Each one of these images is isolated and ready to place on your desktop for that epic cover shot. 5. Production: If you're like me, producing the art is the favorite thing, for sure. So after you've finished your painting, your design, whatever it is, we are going to scan it. This is my scanner bed. Place it flat on there. Sometimes I need to put a little extra weight on there, and I'll put it just right on top. Then these are the settings that I use for scanning. In my photo settings, I've already arranged them to be like this. I want the photo to be full-color, to be at 600 DPI resolution, which is pretty high. It could be 300 just as easily. I always want to scan it as a TIFF. JPEGs tend to corrupt over time, meaning that the more you open and close them, the lower the quality of the actual file. So I like to keep them as TIFFs even though that is a larger file size. That way with all my settings in place, I just hit photo and it'll scan, I'll open it up in Photoshop. I'm going to show you the quick and dirty way that I go about cleaning up my scans. I have another video on this that's a little longer in length and you can check that out in the links. Let me go to levels. My shortcut is always to use the white ink dropper, but on the lightest part. It's still going to pick up some of that texture. I don't want to take away all of the watercolor paper texture, especially the kind that's on the leaves, so I'm going to leave it like that. By hitting Command, Shift E, I'm going to create a new layer that's going to flatten all the layers that are beneath that. I use this trick a lot. But now I can actually select the white. I still have my raw image underneath, and with this layer, I'm picking up that bright white. Then I go to the lasso tool and I add in whatever it missed. Even though you can't see anything that it's missing here, I always select big areas of white because inevitably there are going to be some spots that aren't picking up with the magic wand, and you'll see that soon. Then delete that, and just so you can see the difference add a white background, and now you can see that these leaves are isolated. Now, to see all the places where we missed, I'm going to hit stroke. I'm going to add a stroke and make the stroke a little thicker just so I can see it very clearly. Now you see all the places that the magic wand did not pick up on. I'll just simply erase those. You can always do this by using masks instead of erasing. There's so many options for this, but this is my quick and dirty way to just get things going and have a clean file that I can work with, and even changed the background pretty easily. Now that my background is black, it allows me to see areas where the magic wand actually picked up too much, and I wanted to keep my leaf shape. This was really light green and it picked up on that. I'm selecting with the lasso tool, and I'm going to use the rubber stamp to mimic another area of the leaf. By hitting Alt, I pick up on whatever spot I want to use to recreate, and it's also great for removing tiny spots where watercolor tends to crumble up, if especially if it's a little old, I think mine is. So I'm going to zoom in and clean up edges, anything that needs a little extra attention, anything that needs a little extra racing, or rubber stamping so that I have those crisp edges. Now, here's another piece one that could actually work as a print much better than those leaves could. So I'm going to crop it to be a standard size and eight by 10. So that proportion is four by five. You might want to go up to image size just to double-check that your dimensions are actually eight by 10, or any other standard size that you want your print to be. I get this question a lot, how I print. I'm just going to be forthright and tell you exactly what I use. Doesn't mean you have to. So I use a Canon PIXMA MG6320. It is an inkjet printer. So I highly recommend inkjet printers because the ink actually has time to set into the paper and the colors are richer. If I could do it again, I would purchase one with the back feet, meaning that the paper doesn't go in a tray and then have to funnel through, go forward and come back out, that's actually hard for the rollers to pick up the paper that I use. A rear feed would have been better. If it has a rich black, meaning that the ink colors are CMYK, cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, plus another black cartridge that's a plus because then my blacks will be very rich. If it can print full bleed, that's definitely also a plus if you want to sell prints that are the size of the paper size and go right to the edge. This model does. Some of the other shop owners that I spoke to use Epson printers. Epson and Canon tend to be the best choices for graphics. The paper that I use is by Epson. It is cotton rag paper. It feels like watercolor paper, so I'm very happy with it. Besides up for packaging, I buy back boards to size and clear bags or cellophane bags. You can buy all of these on Google Shopping at eBay, Amazon, all those places. Now I've shown you exactly what I do to create my prints at high-quality. I'm going to show you how I keep up with trends with those prints. So a lot of times when I paint, I paint what I feel will look good and I go with it. But maybe right now the color trends according to pan tone are this blue or a light pink, which I'll show you later. I adjust the colors a little bit so that my pieces are on trend. I added another layer with that color on it, set it on the color blending mode, and then added a layer mask. Once I monolayer mask, I use the gradient tool to start to delete some parts of where that blue is going to show up. So it's a little irregular, it's got that blue, but it still has the feel of the original piece and knock it back a little bit, play with that to see how it looks better now, or looks maybe more on trend with this added color. Now, that that's all set up, I could actually change the color to any other color I want to try I'm going to try dusty light pink to see how that would look, and now I have three color options for the same print. I leave you with this quote by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, to encourage you that it doesn't have to be perfect right off the bat. 6. Photography: Photography. It is hard to make something that looks so great in person look great on a screen. If you want to go about it yourself, the less, the better. Styling is huge, so especially when we're talking about that lifestyle branding, what are the little things that make that lifestyle come to life? Whatever it is that you use to style your photographs with, keep it to a minimum. The one exception can sometimes be Christmas, because with Christmas we just like busyness and excitement and twinkle and you can go wild with Christmas, but on the most part, when you showing your work, that's what you want to have shown. Another important thing about photographing your own work is that it be consistent, and that goes across the board. You always want your shop to have a consistent feel and every season, every six months, every year, feel free to just wipe all that clean and start a new look to give your shops some refresh. Another great idea is of course, to outsource the photography if it's something that you feel completely not gifted with, but you need to factor that into the price of your piece. I'm going to show you how I go about photography. What I've landed on is this if its something that enables me to keep the look consistent, to make it efficient and not spend a lot of time on photography, and also to keep the colors authentic to the pieces that I'm creating. When I was taking photographs of my prints, I found that the color was not being consistent, so I created this way of working where I take pictures of blank sheets of paper, and make sure that the paper is the right size to the size of the print that I'm going to create, and then I digitally add it on. I take the blank sheet of paper, picture the scenery, and make sure that those levels are correct. Per usual, I use the white dropper from the levels palette, put it on the widest part and it color corrects everything for me, then I open up the art that I want to sell as a print. I'm going to create a flattened image again using that same trick from before. Command, Shift E, select all of it, copy it, close it, don't necessarily need to save it and paste it into the file with the image of the scenery, the picture that I want to use. Hinge that layer is blending mode to multiply so that you can see very clearly how it's going to look on the page. After that, I resize it as much as possible. Hold down the Alt key on the corners to make sure that the edges are matching up perfectly. If you happen to have something overlapping your page, you're going to need to create a mask. So with my magic wand, I'm selecting the white paper. But when I selected the shadow, it would pick up more of the hanger. So I broke down the tolerance little bit, went back to the layer with the art on it and added a mask. It's a logo like a square with a circle within it. There's my product shot, product shots on Etsy are 1000 pixels by 800, which is also ironically an eight by 10. You are welcome to download this image of frames that I've hung up on a wall and use it for your product shots. 7. Getting Found: Now we have a shop, name and logo. We know who we are, we know who were selling to, we know what we're selling, we've taken photographs and it's time to list it. Now when it comes to your description get ready to sit down and type because when you are writing your description it should not sound salesly for several reasons. One reason is that the buyer does not want to be sold to. They want to know what it is that you have and they want to be able to choose whether they want it or not. You do want to describe what's great about it but how you're going to do that is through a story. Search engines like Google love stories. Actually they bought Blogger because they want that kind of a story. Sit down and think about what it was that made this come about under that things that people want to know. They want to know what kind of quality they're buying. They want to know where this would work best if they're going to be able to find a frame that suits it best, all that stuff you can put at the end but start out with something that is more interesting and entertaining both to your buyer and to those search engines that we serve. If you want to know what would sell best, coffee print, coffee lovers print, coffee quote print. There is an app for that. You can test drive a few titles and get to know how frequently they're searched for. If you're on Etsy you can try out at Etsy rank. You can put in whatever keywords you want to find out more about and take a look at a list of how popular they are, how much they are used and gain some analytics for it. A cool feature with Etsy rank is that you can compare three keywords and simultaneously see how they compare in different ways. Marmalead is my favorite. I like the interface it just feels very user friendly and you can do similar things and a few extra things. There are some special features that you can access by paying for it but just purely on a free level you can really gain a lot of insights by just dabbling with some of those keyword searches. Something that I consider to be a cool feature that it's also free is it gives you a peek into other similar listings that also use that keyword. Then you can also gain ideas for more tags or keywords to use from looking at popular listings and how they performed and which performed best. SEObook is the third option I'm going to show you. It's a little more advanced. I find that the interface is painful to look at. That's typical for me being very visual but what you need is under the Tools tab there at the top. You'll find videos to help you out to figure out how to do this. All of these websites have great tutorials of their own. Something fun to do with SEObook is create long or creative titles for your products by putting different words in different boxes and it'll create a whole list of options for you to choose from, some that you may have not thought of and some that might spark new ideas. When someone is looking for something 10 out of 10 times they're going to look for it online and they're going to put in whatever keywords they think of so it's your job to think of them first so that when they type those in they'll find yours. 8. Fulfilling an Order Well: When it comes to packaging and shipping, the two most important things are; make it special and make it simple. Shipping is the biggest complaint of small business owners. You want to get this right so you avoid burnout. In fact listen to what Stephanie Corfee said about shipping, "If I could do anything differently with my Etsy journey, I could have used the Etsy shipping option from the start. Print-at-home postage through Etsy is the fastest way to go." I too really like the print-at-home option. I tend to use more often than not so that I can add other shipments that may or may not have to do with Etsy orders because they might come through my website or through referrals and that way I can put two labels on one sheet and create several different batches of shipments. Maybe you need to buy some supplies in bulk and have them ready to go. Just like Nancy at Doodle Graphics says, "For me printing, packaging and shipping have to be as uncomplicated as possible." She purchases her materials from Uline and has them ready to go at arm's length from her desk. You want to make special though, because that is what makes people happy. When they're buying from handmade marketplaces or makers, they want that personal touch. There's a reason why they came to that place to shop. They want that connection with the artist, with the designer, with the creator and that is really important and it doesn't take much to do that. What I do is, I'll often take my watercolor painting scraps, and I'll cut them up and make something of a note. A 'Thank You', with some washy tape on that cellophane. You don't want to get dragged, bogged down into creating a system that you then have to maintain, that it's difficult for you to maintain. For 8 by 10 prints, I just use the USPS flat rate envelope. When it comes to these larger pieces, an 11 by 14 for instance, you can buy from Uline some wonderful big envelopes. I make my own. I use poster board, which you can find that a craft store or the dollar store for 50 cents, sometimes a quarter, sometimes 30 cents. It really isn't too difficult to make. I'm going to show you how I do that. To create your poster board flat mailer, you're going to need one sheet of 20 by 30 poster board, cardboard backing that's the size of your print, if you don't already have it as part of your shop setup, scissors and packaging tape. When you take your poster board and it's flat, you're going to need to fold it into thirds. Put your print down right in the middle here and fold it over to make it suit to the perfect size. Then we're going to cut these bottom two rectangles and just to make it fold easier, we're going to remove these triangles there too so basically what you're going to be left with is this. This is how it looks with the print. I fold up these edges, fold this in and tape and then cut the top to put in my goodies. Don't forget that note or your business card to add a special touch. Fold it over, seal it up, and you have your mailer. 9. Making It: About 14 months ago, I asked my friend Lindsey, who actually doesn't even live in the same city as me, to help me man my Etsy shop so that I could focus on bigger fish. It's been a choice that I haven't regretted. It's really worked well. Create systems for the things that are bugging you down and avoid burnout at all costs. You also want to re-evaluate your pricing a little bit in. Before we looked at things and we were really excited and we wanted prices to be competitive, and we just really wanted to get our stuff out there. That is totally normal and that is the first phase of having your own business. It is just getting it out there, the people buy it and invalidating the business. After a while though, you might realize that your prices are too low and you need to up the prices. There are several ways you can go about that. You could just do it, end of story. You could do it at a certain time, like the beginning of the year, after the Christmas rush, or you can e-mail your faithful followers, maybe the toppers for the following three months, somewhere in your response, your shipping notification, to say "Prices will be going up, but I want to give you is discount because you've been such a faithful buyer and it's good for so long." You can use this coupon to get the old pricing. People are generally actually very understanding when prices go up and when you notify them of that. Maybe you want to run a sale, give them a warning on social media. It's really okay. Make sure that your shop works for you. I actually made a spreadsheet one day, where I listed out all the things that I was doing, whether it be designing this type of thing, illustrating how much do I get per licensing and it was really hard to come up with averages for these different things. I listed out how many hours they each took and I listed about how much I get. I made a little equation to find out, well, how much am I making per hour? I don't generally look at what I do that way, but it is a good way to measure and evaluate what is working and what's not. What I realized is, I was spending a lot of time doing craft shows. That said, I do think that was worth it from a marketing standpoint. You take a bit of a loss thinking, "Hey, marketing is basically an investment expecting a return." A lot of those craft shows did do that. But that was no longer going to be one of my real houses, and I knew it, and it felt great to be able to see numbers without all the emotions tied. To be able to say, "You know what? I may like doing this and I may do it what's a season, once a year," but that's not going to be my focus. My focus is actually going to be this one. That went all the way to the top and I had no idea. You're constantly re-evaluating, what works and what doesn't. What will end up happening with your print business, if it's something that continues long term is that you start doubling, and taking stabs in the dark and trying things and trying things and then you find a place where you have some understanding, you have some systems in place. The things that really annoy you, you figure out how to streamline those. The things that you really love, you figure out how to do more of that. You get your pricing where you're feeling like it's fair, and you're rolling away. Innovation is part of a successful business. Don't feel bad if you're having to tweak this image or the size, or do a new photoshoot or maybe change the logo a little bit. That is totally okay, because that's actually a sign of growth. Another thing to maintain your shop, to make it sustainable and make it fresh and exciting for yourself, refresh what it is that you sell. Look at those seasons, look at what is sold well. You can keep a few best sellers, but in this little hack, I want to showcase Sharon Foster's shop, who has done very well on Etsy. What she does is tricky and very smart. Let's say that she has a pumpkin that she paints. She lists it for autumn. She tags it with October with Halloween and things like that. When Halloween passes, then she reframes it to be for Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, she might re-frame it to be Kitchen decor or something like that. Keeping the same item, the same listing that's still tracking favorites and still selling and performing well, but drawing in new buyers. It's a great hack. As I close, I hope that this last video session is not the end of the learning that can be gained from this class. If you have something to offer, if you have a hack, a system, a way that you have found, please post it in the discussion board. All this can feel somewhat daunting, especially if you're just starting out. You have a lot of things to figure out and a lot of things to consider. Download this resource under the your Project tab in this class. Hopefully this class has been very helpful to you. Who asked you, with your story? Until the next class. Bye.