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All posts for the month January, 2019

ADS ON FACEBOOK—IS IT WORTH IT?

Published January 26, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

I started this topic because I think my experiences with attempting to post an ad on Facebook can provide valuable information for other writers considering Facebook ads for their books. Let’s be frank, the purpose of an ad should be not only to announce a new book, but to sell copies as well. At least that was my purpose because I think whether or not a book is successful should be judged by how many want to read it. Unfortunately, if you can’t advertise its presence, how are readers going to know it’s available to read? If sales of your book aren’t what you are interested in, then you don’t really need to read this post.

With the launch of my new book – A year and a day, I began experimenting with target ads on social media and Facebook seemed like an ideal place to start. The price was somewhatreasonable; they wanted $155 for a month of advertising to users who had previously showed an interest in the type of book I wrote in the 25 countries that I selected.  I rapidly discovered that Facebooks platform for developing an ad is notuser-friendly and despite claims to the contrary, Facebook has done little to make it so.

Issue 1– Selecting your targeted interest group: if your users’ interests are on Facebook’s list of interests then selecting them is easy. Too bad Facebook doesn’t provide instructions as to what to do if you can’t find your interest group. However, you CAN type in what interests you are looking for (just don’t expect Facebook to tell you this). Surprisingly, although movies and films areon the list, books and reading is not, so I had to type it in. I did and lo and behold, a list of types of readers came up!

Issue 2– Choosing countries where the ad will appear: since both my book and the ad are written in English, and I have no translations into other languages, I concluded it would be a waste of time (and money) to target any Countries who didn’t speak English or teach English as a second language. FYI have your list of countries prepared ahead of time, because they all have to be typed in manually. Surprisingly, the hardest one to get through the system was Great Britain (England, Scotland, Ireland and Whales as well as some territories) which Facebook kept kicking out. FYI Facebook uses the newer “United Kingdom” which took me some time to find.

Issue 3– Does Facebooks design criteria work? Does it allow you to develop an ad that will encourage readers to click on through to your selling platform? Well, that is really the issue here. If I am going to pay Facebook for an ad, then I expect it to be worth it in sales. How do you compute whether or not the ad is paying for itself? Well, a successful ad should have between a 2-5% return. In other words, if you pay Facebooks minimum of $155 then you should get a minimum of 5 to 10 sales off it the first month. Think this is Low? Get over it. Ad results usually expand exponentially (in other words, the more times an ad appears, the more sales it will generate). Why the heck do you thing those TV ads appear so often?

Before I tried to design mine, I looked very hard at other author’s ads and I discovered something disquieting.  The ads for other books I viewed on Facebook made me wonder why the authors didn’t do more to catch and hold potential buyer’s attention. Most times, there simply wasn’t enough information in the ‘sanctioned Facebook ad’ for me as a reader to follow through with a click to learn more. After attempting to work with Facebooks Ad Manager, I now know why so little information was included—Facebook doesn’t allow the kind of ad needed to pull potential readers interest. Since Facebook didn’t include books or readers on its regular interest platform for choosing an audience, I am left wondering if Facebooks management team reads. If they do, they should knowthat while an eye-catching cover image might make a potential reader take a second look, it’s the descriptive text that motivates a potential reader to open a book, or in this case, click on through to a site with a fuller description. While I understand the principlebehind Facebook’s ‘no more than 20% text’ rule in an ad, implementing it is so difficult as to make it practically impossible and still garner sales.

Issue 4— what does Facebook count as text and how is computed? If a link to a site where the product can be purchased is included in an ad, does that link count as text?

Issue 5— how much does an image provided count against the 20% text rule? In other words, if there is text on the photo provided is that included when the 20% text is figured? Does Facebook automatically turn thumbs down on anyad image with text?

Ad buyers are left to guess because the answer to these questions because it isn’t provided anywhere on the Ad Manager Platform, and God help you if you try to find out because Facebook won’t.

Conclusion: It would be much more user friendly if Facebook simply instituted a text character limit rule in the same way its competitor, Twitter does. The fact they haven’t tells me Facebook is more interested in collecting money than anything else. If Facebooks wants its ad buyers to succeed, they should provide a more user-friendly platform to develop them. I closed my ad account on Facebook and will be exploring other social media platforms to advertise my work.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I shared a free preview of this book (just the prologue) with some of my groups and Facebook shut me down for “Illegal Activity” for the weekend. I had to jump through hoops for them to allow me back on my own site. Was it worth it? Maybe, even if it was just for the pleasure of annoying the moguls at Facebook!

 

Common Potential Audit Issues of Art Galleries

Published January 19, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Information for this blog was taken from REG 121584-05 page 523 http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=254019,00.html– 77.3KB

Probably the one agency that terrifies Americans the most is not the NSA, but the IRS and being audited by the IRS ranks up there with being on some mobster’s hit list. The best way to avoid being audited is to know what items will considered red flags by the IRS. The following are a few audit issues looked at by the IRS that may be found in the examination of an art gallery or home studio.

Unreported income through cashed checks from galleries to the artists leading to related returns to be examined;

Barter transactions between artists and others in the art field;

Taxability and inventory assessment issues for trades between gallery owners and artists;

Avoidance of state sales taxes;

Treatment of ordinary income as capital gains by mischaracterizing inventory as investments;

Identification of sources who failed to file/report transactions through “cost of goods sold” by studying cancelled checks and payment/transaction records;

Framing costs not properly recorded;

A History of losses or very high travel and entertainment costs with low gross receipts suggesting potential Activity Not Engaged in for Profit pursuant to I.R.C. § 183;

Sales of artwork disguised as “loans” secured by art as collateral and possible “money laundering”;

Other “financial status” indicators which show an artist’s or gallery owner’s reported income is incompatible to his or her lifestyle;

Potential issue on Non Resident Alien Artist, Art Galleries, Dealers and Brokers (International Referral Required);

Artwork being deducted as a charitable contribution at fair market value rather than adjusted cost basis and/or not being taken out of cost of sales;

Business use of the home.

If the gallery purchases its inventory, there should be a very detailed inventory listing showing the purchase date, the purchase price, any restoration and framing costs, the sales date, and price.

If the gallery sells on consignment, there will be a system in place to track consigned items. This system will generally contain the artist’s name, his or her address, a description of artwork, the date on which the artwork was received by the gallery, the asking price by the artist, and any other specific terms. It also indicates the date the piece was sold, the sales price, and terms of the sale.

The sales invoice for an art piece needs to  display the buyer’s name, address, date of sale, amount paid (if not fully paid), terms of any installment plan, sales tax, shipping charges, and framing charges if it is the type of artwork that would require framing.

Since artists are not offering a service, galleries are not required to complete a Form 1099 for the payments made. However, artists should receive a consignment check either monthly, at the time of sale, or at a time specified in an agreement between the artist and the gallery.

The best way to keep issues like those above from impacting your career as an artist is to keep good records for your home studio/gallery. If you sell your art, it is considered income and over a certain amount, it must be reported as such to the IRS on your federal taxes. If you participate in a booth event, you are usually required to have a seller’s permit, collect sales tax, and then report and pay that sales tax to the State.  Art is a business as well as a creative endeavor. Losing your art can be a financial loss. Not being aware of losing money because you don’t keep track of costs can create a huge problem.

Hey, relax; this isn’t as difficult as it sounds! Let’s take this one step at a time, using one piece of work. Step one: decide in what form you are going to keep your work log.While it is very helpful to have this information stored on a computer, artists were tracking their work using paper files long before computers became popular. I personally prefer using a computer worksheet, however, all of this stuff can be put on a sheet of paper and kept in a binder. For the initial record, I recommend a single sheet or worksheet per art piece. (Please see the Art Information Sheet in the Sample section)

ITEM 1—a pictorial image of your work. This can be in the form a printed photograph, a slide or a digital image. If your work is 3-deminsional, be sure to take photos of all sides of the work. Since this image is not going to be used to reproduce the work, a small, low-resolution image will suffice. The image should be large enough to see details of the work, clear and without blurring.

ITEM 2—the title of your work, size, style/genre and when it was finished.

ITEM 3—a brief description of the work (use complete sentences—why will become clear later). Optional—I also like to keep a kind of diary as to what I wanted to achieve, why I chose this image, and what was going on in my life when I created this art piece.

ITEM 4—Keywords to be used when downloading the photo of your art to your web site or other internet media.

ITEM 5—Show and exhibit record is a list of what shows or exhibits were entered, when they took place and if the art won awards.

ITEM 6—wholesale and Retail price. This is probably the hardest thing for an artist to decide on—how much to charge for an artwork! What is the difference between Wholesale and Retail? Wholesale is always lower than Retail. Your wholesale price at a minimum should cover the cost of what it cost you to create the art, plus any gallery commission fees and hopefully with a small profit margin. Retail price for an art piece should cover all this plus what you as an artist feel the art is worth. I realize this is very subjective but most of art issubjective.

ITEM 7—Incidental information such as the date you formally copyrighted the work, cost of the copyright, etc. More about copyrights later in the Copyright section.

ITEM 8—If you had limited editions of a painting or photograph or copies of a sculpture made, when, how many , how much it cost to make them, how many sold and how much you made when you did.

ITEM 9—the date you sold the original art and the name and address of the Buyer.

 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

Published January 12, 2019 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Resolution 1—Improve myself and my art by joining one or more of the local art groups

Resolution 2–Take Advantage of the opportunities offered by these groups to improve my skills

Resolution 3—Become an active member of each group I join

Resolution 4— Remember that it is time to pay my yearly dues!

2019 is coming sooner than you think! It is the time of year when many of us take time to look back to study how we can improve on what we accomplished (or didn’t accomplish!). Ask yourself these questions: Did I carry out last year’s New Year’s Resolutions? What can I do to better achieve the goals I set?

If you don’t feel you quite made it to your goals, don’t be discouraged. Most of us fall off the wagon many times before we arrive at where we want to be both professionally and personally. Start over in 2019. You can still become the artist or writer you want to be, in the local community and the world at large.

Self-improvement goals don’t come without some personal cost in our time and effort. We must have viable, flourishing local communities to nurture our progress for us to grow. In the Fresno/Clovis area alone we have at least five such local groups, in the Fresno/Clovis area, and I can think of at least seven within driving distance of these cities! Sadly, low contributions by members to leadership in the individual groups has caused dwindling membership and has caused cut backs on some of the groups activities. Fewer members are stepping up and maintaining our local community.  If you want to stop the drain of this precious resource, get off your backside and stop sitting on the sidelines! Go out and actively look for an art or writing group that meets your needs. When you find that group, look around and see how you can contribute to its healthy growth. If you are already a member of a group, make it one of your New Year’s Resolutions to become a more active member.

Joining a local art/writing group can be rewarding both personally and professionally. Why is it so important to associate with other artists and writers? Well, although you can create work in a vacuum, if your work is never evaluated by your peers, you will get stuck echoing the same type of art or writing at the same skill level forever. Peer groups challenge us to stretch our skills, reach for new goals and generally provide support when we are feeling down. It is important to seek out those who are Sympatico with our ideals and feelings about our Work. Local groups can be irreplaceable in support in this area. Let’s face it, while our friends and family members may oohand ahhover our work, they really can’t provide an informed opinion about it. In addition, most of us may suspect they are praising our work because they love us, and notbecause they truly love our work or are really interested in what we are doing with it.

Not all groups are the same. Different groups may offer you alternative types of support. All of these groups can have valuable insights into improving our work. So stop sitting around waiting for someone else to step up, and make it yourmission to get involved! If you want to learn more about these groups, many of them have websites where you can take a first look at them from the comfort of your computer screen. Once you decide on a group, commit yourself to actually attend at least 3 meetings of each group to meet your fellow artists. For myself, I actually belong to several of them and I get something valuable from each group!

 

Alliance of California Artists www.allianceofcaliforniaartists.com

Art Demonstrations at the general meetings

Workshops

Art Sale in April

Juried Shows throughout the year

Membership Gallery

Clovis Art Guild www.clovisartguild.com

Art Demonstrations and mini-workshops at the general meetings

Membership Gallery

Workshops

Fall Art Show (NOVEMBER)

Old West & Rodeo Art Show (APRIL)

Miniature Art Show (JULY)

Madera County Arts Council www.maderaarts.org

Celebrate Agriculture With the Artist –    Exhibit and competition

Circle Art Gallery

Society of Western Artists (local chapter) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Society-of-Western-Artists-San-Joaquin-Valley-Chapter/223715287698387

Art Shows

Meetings & Demonstrations locally and at the San Francisco chapter

Sierra Art Trails http://www.sierraarttrails.org/

Exhibits:

Pathways

Sierra Art Trails

Our Wild Lands

Water, Source of Life

Going Deeper, Reaching Out

Yosemite Western Artists www.yosemitewesternartists.org

Art Demonstrations at the general meetings

Rotating exhibits at satellite locations

Annual Tri-County Competition and Exhibition

Sierra Art Trails

Plein Air & photography outings

 

 

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