An Art Collective to Help Artists Succeed in an Amazon World
I’ve received a lot of interest in my business posts and will seek to answer the many questions I’ve been asked. First, I want to give a general overview of all the moving pieces to give a better idea of the business model. There are two separate areas of discussion here and some might be in both ‘spheres’. First are the writers signed to Moran Press with books to be produced and marketed at Amazon and other retailers. Group marketing efforts are made behind the scenes and executed. The second is the ‘Art Collective’ concept – a group of writers, artists, musicians, and artisan craft makers that treat their art as small business that can help each other with problems of scale by linking certain efforts to minimize the negative aspects of being a micro business. Perhaps a shared website/online store – shared traffic by tight linking/branding of the content. This concept mimics some of the characteristics of a mall – in the online space. Some stores in the mall simply share retail space. Some businesses link their efforts in more direct ways such as coupons that work in multiple stores/reward programs that span the entire mall. For the authors that sign with Moran Press – one strategy to overcome the shortcoming of releasing only a few titles each year is to increase the content published on MoranPress.com. Special guest posts, poetry, short stories, and other content for the entertainment of those that visit the site to keep interest between major releases. Obviously increasing the number of authors signed will help in this goal as well – so that’s part two of the goal. The third part is adding specialty literary treasure items (handmade journals/poetry broadsides/limited edition run letterpress books) to increase the margins on each purchase. To sum up the Moran Press section, it’s a three-part plan to increase profits.
Add authors to the roster at Moran Press
Increase the amount of content posted to the website via guest posts, poetry, stories, and more.
Produce and sell specialty products to improve margins with the goal of increasing cash flow.
The Art Collective – I know many artists trying to make it essentially on their own. Whether as a writer that chose self-publishing, a micro press producing one title at a time from their own money, or bands/artists trying to make waves in their local communities – I see a common theme that leads most to fail: scale in an Amazon world. Simply put – you’re not selling enough units to overcome the margin compression that Amazon’s monopoly has caused in the retail art community. However, there’s only so much an individual/micro business can do. How can you mimic scale and maintain autonomy? Well, retailers group together in malls/strip-malls and other locations to help share traffic and expenses. It’s dramatically cheaper to rent a unit in a strip-mall than a stand alone building. A group of micro business artists might find many areas of ‘redundancy’ in their effort and will be able to save time/money (or both) by combining efforts such as:
Improving overall quality by being able to dedicate more time to content that had previously been spent on items now accomplished by the ‘Collective’.
Decrease the amount spent to acquire new customers. For instance – an artisan craft homemade chapbook maker will find ready and willing customers in the traffic flow of a publisher like Moran Press.
There are many possible areas to increase productivity by grouping efforts. Creating an online ‘mall’ – a one stop artistic nirvana for customers - can lift the boats of all and help mitigate the issues of scale.
Types of business I think would work well in this concept:
Writers – doing every aspect of a micro writing business is an arduous task that many aren’t able to perform and grouping some tasks can free you to WRITE.
Artists – in addition to selling your art, you’ll have a ready-made customer base in writers looking for covers.
Musicians – it’s hard enough to make music, never mind marketing it. Being a virtual slot in an online mall can be beneficial because it’s extremely difficult to make waves on social media as a band/musician.
Micro publishers – this group needs to see each other as potential collaborators rather than competition. Our competition is Amazon, not each other. Each time a fellow micro press makes a sale it’s much more likely that person will purchase from a small business again in the future. Big savings of ‘redundancy’ can be achieved by linking several small/micro presses as well as improved quality control. Having other industry professionals looking at the work will most certainly improve quality.
Artisan Craft Makers – a micro business that makes homemade chapbooks/designs merchandise/boutique letter press would find a nice home in a collective of artists. Deals to ‘license’ products might be signed or collaborative creative efforts realized to bring products to the next level.
The overall concept of both ideas is to link artists that wish to maintain control of the creative process, but need help getting their art into the world. Linking efforts with others can help you maintain autonomy while limiting the impact Amazon has on your micro business.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I look forward to hearing your thoughts, questions, and concerns.