Central Minnesota Art Co-op



view:  full / summary

How to Increase Sales with Pinterest Marketing

Posted by wendy on March 4, 2015 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (6)

As your creative ideas for beautiful product offerings blossom with the onset of spring, your marketing plan may need a boost to do them justice. Have you thought about amping up your presence on Pinterest? If you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t have the time or resources to create a strong presence on this virtual bulletin board, I have a few stats that might just change your mind.


According to Sprout Insights, Pinterest’s share of social-media referrals soared from .68 percent to a whopping 26 percent in just one year, generating over 400 percent more revenue per click than Twitter and 27 percent more than Facebook. Do you want to increase the likelihood of a purchase? Well, then you should know that shoppers referred by Pinterest are 10 percent more likely to follow through with a purchase than visitors from other social networking sites. Pure and simple: Pinterest can be the star of your social-media sales and marketing efforts.


It’s important to remember, however, that the members of your social-media audience don’t want to feel as if they’re being pitched. They are not there to be sold to; they are there to connect, learn, and relax. So make sure to offer creativity and value in your pins: humor, statistics, interesting facts, and beauty. Pinterest is about the senses; if your visuals aren’t appealing to the eye and your words don’t stimulate the imagination, your followers will move on.


Below, I’ve created a quick resource and how-to guide for Pinterest success. Begin by creating your business account. If you have a personal account, you can convert it to a business account. You’ll find an analytics tool and other great business features to support your campaign. When you are ready to begin pinning, download the Pinterest button from the goodies page (https://about.pinterest.com/en/goodies) and place it on your website.


Begin by creating a list of ideas and a collection of fabulous pins. This will be your Pinterest plan. Here are a few ideas, tips, and resources:

Share Infographics & Checklists.

What are some interesting facts about your industry, consumer habits, or product? If you offer gift baskets, for instance, gather statistics on the most popular occasions for gifting, and other interesting tidbits about your industry. Did you know that gift baskets have been a traditional form of gift giving since the dawn of the twentieth century? Throughout history, baskets filled with fruit, nuts, wild game, flowers and other material tokens have been presented as a sign of affection or a gesture of goodwill. They were traded for goods and even used in religious ceremonies. Fun facts!


Checklists are popular as well. You might create a handy list of occasions for gifting, including those times that people may not have considered.


It’s easy to create these infographics and checklists in PowerPoint, but there are free templates and infographic creators available on-line as well.


Evoke Emotions & Make It Shareable.

Make sure your images are pleasing to the eye and evoke emotion. Use enticing words and phrases that engage the senses. If you are pinning food, use words that make people hungry, such as succulent or mouth-watering. If you’re pinning beauty products for women, use words that make them feel sexy, stylish, and beautiful.


Teach With Tutorials.

DIY ideas are hugely popular. Tutorials rank high for click-throughs and traffic generation. These too can be in the form of a checklist, infographic, or even video. Teach your audience how to create stunning gift boxes or how to make candles, soap, or bath bubbles.


Engage With Videos.

When you think Pinterest you’re most likely to think pictures, but videos are one of the highest forms of engagement on the site. Pin your videos from YouTube, and get plenty of mileage out of them.


Use a Call to Action.

Everyone loves a bargain. Create a cool background image and overlay a coupon code or special offer. A call to action increases engagement by a whopping 80 percent! Be sure to include text like: Click Here, Repin This, or Comment Below. Also include a link that makes it easy to buy the product.


Grab Them With Teaser Text.

Create interest and curiosity with teasers like “Five Tips to a DIY Spa Day” or “How to Spark the Fomance With Aromatherapy.” Use attractive background images with eye-catching colors.


Boost Your SEO.

Pinterest helps improve search-engine optimization, so make sure to get your account ranked for keywords. Pinterest has a root domain that ranks high with Google. Use keywords in the “About” section, on pins, in board titles, captions, and links (type in a URL in the image description area). Also use hashtags. If you add prices to your caption with the $ sign and a numeric value, it indexes you into Pinterest’s popular 'Gifts' category.


Schedule Your Pins.

You may be accustomed to scheduling your social updates. Not to worry; you can do the same on Pinterest with Pingraphy (http://pinnablebusiness.com/how-to-schedule-pins-on-pinterest/). Schedule a good number of your pins during the high-traffic times on Pinterest, which are early in the morning and late at night, with Saturday morning ranking top of the list.


Make sure to keep track of your most successful pins; this will give you a great basis for your plan moving forward. Happy pinning!

The Problem with Donating Art and the Solution

Posted by wendy on November 10, 2014 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (6)

By Maria and Drew Brophy

“The folks that put on these fundraisers are not malicious people. They just don’t understand how selling donated art at low prices hurts the art community.” Lori Woodward, Fine Artist

There are many great charities in the world, and they need your art! But there can be problems with donating art to charities. The good news is, together we can help charities to get better quality artwork by encouraging them to create a new way of working with artist donations.


You’ll go broke giving to every charity that asks. I know we used to give to anyone who called. It was flattering at first. Then, as years went on, I found many, many problems with giving blindly and not asking for anything in return. For one, we were losing money we couldn’t afford to. We already had our personal charities that we donated money to. For another, it was taking a lot of our time and energy. And some of the people we were giving to sadly did not appreciate it. And lastly, we found that we weren’t wanting to give the best artwork, but rather tempted to give the items that didn’t sell.

Drew and I attended a Surf Industry Ball a few summers ago. It’s a black tie event held yearly at the beautiful St. Regis Resort. They hold a charity auction, both silent and live. Many people who attend are wealthy and have no problem bidding on $10,000-$100,000 items. You would think an event such as this would attract quality artwork. But in the silent auction, there were amateur pieces. There were also a few pieces of art from successful artists that appeared as though they took art that wasn’t selling in their studio and donated it to get rid of it. Auctioning low quality art at a black tie event does not work. But I also know, first hand, that this event does not share in the revenue with the artist donating the work. And that’s a problem. If the charity is not making it worthwhile financially to donate art, they are not going to attract quality art.


Choose 2 or 3 charities that you care about and give to them. By focusing on just a few charities, you can actually make a difference with your donations. After your chosen few, give only to organizations that share in the revenues of the sales. Never donate anything if it will hurt you financially.

Every day I receive e-mails and calls from people, friends and clients who ask for a donation. The requests range from the local High School grad night event to very prestigious events and everything in between. Always, the charities are excellent organizations which are doing wonderful things. It’s hard to turn these people away, particularly if the person is a friend or client. But if I gave to even half of the requests, I’d have to shut my business down and get a real job, God forbid!

Usually for the small stuff, like the High School, I’ll donate art prints that are just sitting in the studio. It’s not a problem to do that.But for the black-tie events, we would not want to donate anything but top quality artwork. Otherwise, what’s the point? If you donate artwork that’s less quality compared to what you are proud of, than you will detract new collectors and you’ll make a bad name for yourself. But on the other hand, when donating your best work, you’ll need to be compensated.

Together, we can convince the charities out there that it’s in their best interest to make it enticing for artists to donate their best works.


Many charities do not give the artist a portion of the proceeds.

The expenses out of pocket for art supplies, canvas and frames: Many charities ask for Drew’s painted surfboards. The surfboard itself costs us $400 – $600 depending on the quality and size. And then there’s the art supplies and time to paint it.

IRS Does not Value Artist’s Time: We are not able to write off the amount of time it takes to paint. The IRS only allows you to write off your materials, which artists do anyway. You are often better off writing a check for the charity rather than giving them art (unless they split the revenue).

Nothing to Gain: Other than feeling good about your contribution, there is little to gain. There is no marketing value to these events, unless your name and art is printed on all of their brochures and advertising (this rarely happens).

Art can auction for less than it’s worth: Occasionally the paintings we have contributed have auctioned off for less than our collectors pay. This hurts the artist, the collectors and the value of the art.


A few years ago we instituted guidelines for charities. I’ve tidied up a form letter that I now am sending to every request for a donation. There is a copy at the bottom of this post.


Artists, let’s all get on the same page here and help educate the fundraisers and charities that need our help. If we encourage them to, Charities will make it easier for artists to donate their top quality art. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Feel free to copy and use my form letter below (replace your name and copy where needed):


Thank you for the opportunity to donate art to your organization. Drew Brophy would be honored to have his artwork and his name associated with yours.

Due to the extremely heavy volume of requests from many important charities, we’ve developed guidelines that enable us to donate artwork at less than retail cost.

These requirements also help us reduce losses since current U.S. tax laws are unfavorable to artist donations. (There is little to no write-off for artwork.)

Please consider that by offering these terms for all artist donations, your organization will: Attract top quality, high value artwork; and over time, will become known as the go-to-organization for unique and valuable art.

Our donation guidelines are:

The organization agrees to split the proceeds from the sale or auction 50/50 (50% to Drew Brophy and 50% to the organization). We ask for payment within 5 business days of the sale. The name, address, phone and e-mail of the buyer will be provided to Drew Brophy for his “collector’s club” records.

A minimum or a reserve price will be set and will be designated by Drew Brophy. (This is required to honor the value of the artwork for our existing collectors and our partner galleries.)

In the event the artwork does not sell, it will be returned by the organization to Drew Brophy’s studio San Clemente, CA, within 9 business days.

If these guidelines are agreeable to you, please sign below and return this form via e-mail to mariab@drewbrophy.com.

We agree to the above terms:

Name, Title______________________ Date ___________________

Princeton Creates A Buzz Downtown

Posted by wendy on March 19, 2014 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (3)


Ideas in Action; wrote by Andrew Tellijohn (Mar/Apr 2014)

Wendy Bursch has lived in Princeton her whole life. She has made her living primarily in marketing for other businesses. But when the City of Princeton and much of its business community established a competition aimed at filling several downtown business vacancies through the use of incentives and publicity for the winners, Bursch took a stab at going out on her own.

Bursch is now executive director of the Central Minnesota Art Co-Op, a membership-driven organization, open to all artists, professional or not, where they can learn new techniques, teach or attend workshops, find buyers, and gather together to improve the community. The co-op won the community's first "It Starts Here" competition, which entitled it to a $10,000 forgivable loan to help start the business. Other local companies and organizations made available an additional $10,000 in donated incentives such as 10 hours of payroll training from Manke Business Services, and portraits for a website or business cards from Skaalerud Photography.

Origins of the program: "It Starts Here" was a joint project started by the City of Princeton in partnership with the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Central Minnesota Small Business Development Center.

The program was born out of discussions among all the participants, who were united behind the goal of rejuvenating a downtown with 16 vacancies. Princeton Community Development Director Carie Fuhrman and former Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce Director Mary Chapman were the ones to initiate the idea, which was modeled after a similar program that helped rejuvenate Biddleford, Maine.

The initial meeting in May 2012 attracted 58 business owners and community activists, many of whom took part in subsequent portions of the program. The competition was advertised on the radio and in the newspaper and promoted on a website, a Facebook page, and on downtown street banners and reusable tote bags. It received additional play on KARE 11 news and in Twin Cities Business and other newspapers.

"It definitely created a buzz;' Fuhrman says.

And the efforts paid off. The contest generated 14 applications. One winner was selected, but at least some of the other businesses that applied have further explored opening in Princeton anyway, Fuhrman says. Contest builds momentum Business owners rose to the occasion under the realization that what is good for the community can only help their own businesses. "The group was looking for something that would make downtown Princeton more of a destination;' Fuhrman says. "They didn't limit it to any type of business.'

Chamber officials, who have become much more focused on downtown business issues in recent years, were strongly supportive of the effort.

"We needed to do something to improve downtown, add something to downtown, bring some businesses back to downtown;' says Scott Berry, president of the Chamber and owner ofBerry Law Offices, which pledged $700 worth of pro bono legal services to winners. "We really wanted to be involved because it brought a different element into highlighting the city."

Berry adds that he was encouraged by the number of local businesses that stepped up to the plate to donate services in recognition of the importance of a strong downtown. Many of the 14 proposals were exciting, he says, and would be positive additions to the downtown.

"There were some fun, fun things that were proposed," he says. "There were some great business ideas."

Businesses wanted to give back: Everyone involved in the program celebrated the participation of existing local businesses for their willingness to help judge and provide services for winners. David Patten, owner of Patten Landscape Architecture, agreed to provide design consultation and sketches to help the owner of the winning business. He was impressed with the work city officials and other stakeholders did in drununing up both publicity for the competition and interest from potential business operators.

The lifelong Princeton resident thinks it is important, whether business or individual, to get involved in helping to better the community m which they live and work. Patten also likes the idea that if a new business opens in his hometown, it might save him time and gas on trips to meet those needs in other nearby communities.

"It doesn't take a lot of time to make an impact." Patten says. "In the long run, it benefits everybody."

Barry Kirchoff, director of the Central Minnesota Small Business Development Center, helped plan and facilitate some of the events surrounding the program. The organization also stepped up by offering scholarships worth about $400 for winners to attend a comprehensive finance class.

Kirchoff has been working with small businesses in Central Minnesota for years, and he says it was the participation of city officials and the business community that made the competition a success. Revitalizing a struggling downtown is not an overnight project, Kirchoff says. But this was an innovative program that got people excited. "It raised awareness," he adds. "The way people stepped to the plate, 'it shows people want downtown Princeton to survive and thrive. People are talking about it."

Future of the art co-op: As for the winner, Central Minnesota Art Co-Op started in February 2013 with one gallery available to artists wishing to sell their work. Today it consists of two retail gallery rooms, classroom space, and studio rooms for clay, music, photography, and screen printing. The co-op finished 2013 with 60 members, and in December alone sold 74 pieces of art. Bursch says the business is in talks to purchase additional space to expand its offerings in the community. One goal is to cover the north wall of the building with a mural portraying an old fashioned drive-in theater. It would have a working screen that could be used to host film festivals. The organization is also partnering with businesses, such as a local Fairview Hospital, with the intention of providing on-site art galleries. Bursch says the prizes that came along with winning the It Starts Here contest were fine incentives, but what really helped was the publicity. "Being published in the paper that we were the winner helped let people know this new business was here;' she says.

It was also very helpful to go to the meetings and meet business owners in town. "They were excited about it, so the word spread really quickly;' Bursch says. "To start out and have a town excited about you is awesome:' The city is thrilled with its contest winner. "They filled a void," Fuhrman says. "We knew there were individual artists out there. This gave them the opportunity to display art in a public location."

Moving forward: The It Starts Here partners are happy with the success of the campaign. They were able to help fill one vacant space, and use some of the art generated to dress up a couple other vacant storefronts. So, they feel confident that the program has a future.

Additional vacancies have been filled by other businesses in the time since It Starts Here ended, though Fuhrman acknowledges she's not certain those moves were tied to the competition.

Nonetheless, It Starts Here raised awareness of the vacancy issues, brought some excitement to the community, and educated other potential business owners of the services and support they could receive in Princeton, Fuhrman says.

All the partners plan to participate in a second It Starts Here campaign. The groups are discussing fine-tuning the program with more details coming soon.

"We are going to be retooling again and going through the process of figuring out what we need here in town" Berry says.

Meanwhile, Fuhrman says the buzz generated by It Starts Here has spread beyond Princeton. She has been fielding calls from other communities, both in Minnesota and outside the state, that hope to pursue a similar effort. "That's great to hear;' Fuhrman says. "We know we aren't the only community dealing with these issues:'

10 Tips for Artist Development

Posted by wendy on July 14, 2013 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Artist Development: 10 Tips for a Successful Year

1. Start with a new song, a new piece of art or a new art form.

Finding the right "thing" can either open or close the door for your career. Virtually anyone can be an artist today, given the available technology and resources, so it's critical your art stand out and present something different from what everyone else is doing. Learn to ask for feedback and develop yourself from constructive criticism.


2. Interpret yourself vocally.

Never get lazy with your vocal training. Always push yourself, and do more than what you think you're capable of doing. Be creative, and do something original with your vocal presentation. Realize there is no voice like your voice. Work with what you've got.


3. Find a producer or outlet.

And not just any producer - form a true partnership with someone who can envision how your talents fit into the big picture. Find someone who can listen to you as an artist and can blend with you creatively, not overtake your vision. This will help ensure your creativity is made bigger, better and brighter than it could ever be on its own.


4. Advertise yourself.

Think outside of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, iTunes and Kickstarter. These are all fantastic and necessary outlets to promote your art, if not the best, but how do you truly promote yourself? Think visual, and specifically concentrate on local and regional markets. Get broadcasted on local television, get featured in a local filmmaker's documentary, use college campus networks, or book a gig at a local event or art festival. Making these small milestones will put you closer and closer to accomplishing your big picture goals.


5. Network, network, network.

Even the most talented artist can’t get very far without knowing the right people. Educate yourself about all facets of the industry, and meet as many people as you can. Go to conferences and meet other artists, worship leaders and organizations. You are only as powerful as the network of people you know, so make it count.


6. Consider hiring an artist manager.

A good manager can make your career, just as a bad manager can seriously break it, so don't esteem this decision too lightly. Being a successful artist goes way beyond the art itself - you need to book gigs, schedule tours, negotiate deals, sign contracts, find licensing opportunities for your art/songs, and give interviews. Get to understand this process and know where you stand in your career. Your ideal manager is someone who can seamlessly align your artistic vision with your business operations.


7. Also consider hiring an agent.

The right time to hire a booking agent is not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when". Judge where you're at in your career. You may not need an agent now, especially if you're just starting out. However, when you do get far enough along in your career, an agent will play the biggest role in organizing your tour/exhibits and making it successful.


8. Social networking is big.

In today's art business, the Internet is changing everything. But don't worry, this is good news. That little "Like" button on Facebook and "Share" button on YouTube can connect you to any listener or art lover in the world. That's more than any artist has ever been able to do before, so embrace this new age of technology and make it work for your career.


9. Make your art as accessible as possible.

Integrate your Facebook page, website, iTunes, and all other platforms to create a seamless brand for your art. 


10. Be ready to resolve the tough issues.

When difficulties arise in your career, have people on hand who can help resolve it. The subject of rights and credibility can be one of the trickiest matters in the business - who owns what, and who gets paid? You probably don't have all the answers, and you rightfully don't need to. Consider hiring a lawyer to help you with agreements. Taking the extra step into making things legal may cost you a little money now, but can save you a lot of money later.


As an independent artist, there are a lot of things to think about to make sure your career shines brightly. Do what you do best and surround yourself with people who can fill in the holes where you may lack. Believe it or not, being a successful artist is a team effort. Accept this, and you will be well on your way to making this year your best year yet!

Retail Gallery on the Grow

Posted by wendy on July 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The retail gallery presently has 42 active artists showing and selling. Everyday something new is coming or going in the gallery.

Membership Savings until July 31st

Posted by wendy on July 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Join today as a member of the Central MN Art Co-op or a "Friend of the Arts". It's a great way to show your support for rural arts programs. Join until July 31st for $50 (half year membership). It's a great way to try the co-op!

iPhone Photography

Posted by wendy on July 14, 2013 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

This class is so exciting! Did you know that even National Geographic has an iPhone class? Technology is all around us ... you'll be amazed what you can learn in this class. We know you'll come back for "Creating Artisitic Images with iPhones".