I haven’t talked about offline logistics in a while.
One of the most difficult, tedious aspects of your business will most likely be keeping enough information on hand about your materials and finished products as possible.
I can’t make it fun, but I can make it easier and I can make sure you have the requisite knowledge to start without screwing yourself over.
Let’s start at the beginning.
When you purchase supplies, you have to track how much they cost, and often what material they are. For instance, if you make jewelry, it is incredibly important to know how much money each and every bead costs and how much silver you’re putting into that necklace so you can calculate the market value of the material and accurately find your base price. And you need to know what kind of gemstone that teardrop pendant is so you can accurately show your customer the value of the piece they are buying.
Nothing is worse than a customer asking what something’s made of and you not being able to tell them. And you’ll never sustain your business if you don’t know how much something cost you to make.
SO THE VERY FIRST THING YOU HAVE TO DO IS DEVELOP A SYSTEM FOR TRACKING THE MATERIALS YOU USE IN YOUR ART.
Whether they be paints, yarn, beads, or anything else… it’s crucial that you keep accurate records. I like spreadsheets for this, but if you have a lot of pieces you may need more robust software.
Another side effect of tracking your materials is that you’ll never be shocked when you run out of that crucial shade of Prussian Blue at 8pm the night before a commission painting is supposed to be finished.
NEXT, YOU’LL NEED TO WORRY ABOUT FINISHED PRODUCTS.
Obviously, some artists don’t need a complex system. If you only make one painting a month and you usually sell two paintings every three months, then you’re not moving enough product to make this complicated. So don’t. Keep a list in a Word document of your pieces and cross them out when they sell. Or rely on your Etsy shop or your own ecommerce platform to tell you what you have and what you’ve sold. Or use a spreadsheet to keep more info like who bought the piece or what galleries it has been in.
But for those of you who have a lot of pieces, you will eliminate a lot of stress if you have a method for managing inventory.
I really love Artwork Archive for this. The interface is easy to use and it allows you to track a lot of information about each piece, including where it is (very useful if you consign at boutiques or show at galleries, etc.). You can see price trends in your sales and easily pull up information about any piece, even if you’re not at your desk. You can read more about what Artwork Archive can do for you in this article.