I Need Serious Advice From Professional Beaders - This Is Not Spam.

Q: I am seriously working on starting a co-op for professional beaders to market their work. We would do all the marketing directly to high-end businesses such as banks, hospitals, hotels, that often exhibit artwork and sculpture in their lobbies on a lease basis. A percentage fee would go to the co-op, much like a gallery arrangement. I would like to hear people's serious opinions on this. That is: would you be willing to join? Would you be willing to pay a small annual fee/dues to cover administrative and marketing costs?

A: Uncanny! I just posted a note, on one of the E-Mail lists I subscribe to, that 'The Professional Beader' needs a better way to market their work. I would certainly like to be involved in something like this, and can support the concept once I see a detailed plan for how you are going to go about it. I am aquainted with many professional bead aritists, who use my program, 'The Bead Pattern Designer', as their design tool. I know that they are looking for something like this. To add to that, they also need a more organized way to sell their classes. Just a quick note to share my experience. Make sure that you have a good idea of what your admin/marketing costs really are. We tried to start something similar on our mailing list, and it bombed. I was going to host the site and do the website development gratis. We were going to charge a 1-time fee of $20 to help with initial setup costs (as it was, hubby and I were going to have to lay out quite a bit more than what we would get in) and only $5 a month for their gallery page, which would also include maintenance, etc. We needed 20 people to make it at least a viable option for us to spend the money to get our server set up with a decent domain name, secure server program, shopping cart, and credit card processing. We didn't get enough responses to make it a reality. None of our known expenses, which added up to a couple thousand dollars, included the advertising costs. Basically, I guess I'm saying that the idea is really great, and worth pursuing, if you have the money to spend, and don't mind that you probably will have a negative profit statement for quite some time. Most people who shop through the web want to have some proof that they can trust the people they are sending money to. With a gallery that is solely an online presence, it is hard to get that sort of reputation. Most successful web businesses also have a presence outside the web, and it is that reputation which helps make the web portion of their business successful. However, now that I've played "devil's advocate", I hope that you can get something successful set up. We really do need to start increasing the public's perception of beading as an art.