Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, my name is Steve Bayard and I'm the founder of Bayard Art Consulting in Berlin, Germany. I started this business on the 1st of May 2019 with a series of small art exhibitions and public events in a private art gallery while taking a freelance art consultant role beside my call center job.
Our 2 main products are the collection of arts for sale under BAYARD STORE and the new art magazine KUNZT MAG. Both were created and developed by myself as an answer to the temporary closing of art galleries and music clubs around the world during the Coronavirus Pandemic. I’ve seen the urge of switching businesses online and welcome more affiliates to assist me in finding buyers for the arts that many artists were creating around me.
In 2019 we closed the year with a benefit of €85,58 and have made around 50€ monthly. One year later, our collection for sale includes works that bring the value of the collection close to 1M Euro and we are receiving new applicants submitting their works weekly. This year we made around € 600 per month and our focus right now is on building the fundamentals for a huge business. After being dismissed from my call center job one month after the first event, I started back at school to continue my education with the Jobcentre in Berlin. First as a Ui / Ux Designer (that’s where Kunzt Mag idea was born) and now as a mobile and web application developer. This included that I, therefore, had a lot of free time in front of me to install computer systems such as Mobirise to code our company website and OpenCart to create more automation in terms of the sales process, visibility, and marketing strategy than I wanted to set up. The idea of creating BAYARD STORE to replace the small shop plugin we had on the company website was born.
Now that this system is in place, my next challenge will be to develop myself, at the end of my additional training, a module that will allow me to transform the BAYARD STORE e-commerce store into a native web mobile application. I am already doing other websites as well as much graphic design works for my new clients in Berlin. It also allows me to remain attentive to the developments necessary for a solid business while continuing to implement each week new features that I had not planned before for Bayard Art Consulting and continue to build lasting links with my new partners and collaborators of this small business that I started as a side job.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Bayard Art Consulting is not my first try as a small entrepreneur, but the first with an honest potential. My first side job was to clean private jets at the airport during the summer when I was in high school. I quickly learned the value of work and the money it can generate. I started my first company by founding a small production company of amateur films after a short success during a trip to the United States, it was a lot of joy for a few years, then the business changed and it was time to move on to something bigger. I finally opted for a career in design and website creation in 2014 after being certified by a private Swiss marketing school in Lausanne. Designing packaging solutions, optimizing marketing and strategies for people who had no money for their projects and no solutions quickly made me realize that it was better to move on because I was not ready to face the 8 big marketing agencies that outsource everything that is done in this area in my country.
Be prepared to work hard and work every day. Make sure it's something you love to do above everything else, otherwise you are going to hate your life without vacations and weekends!
After that, I was not very sure what I wanted to do and it took me about a year to perfect myself and test various models and designs for Bayard Art Consulting. I spent the last 6 months of 2019 doing this and at the end of the year, I started working on the website project for a restaurant near the Neuchâtel tennis club in Switzerland remotely from my office at home in Berlin. Once their site was installed, they did not want to pay me and they removed any mention in naming me as creator and designer of their website. We are now at the start of the trial to recover the money from this mandate.
Becoming passionate and fascinated by this kind of repeated experience, I could not imagine my small business running with these kinds of losses and with those types of customers. So I strengthened the conditions of sale and our process of sending and accepting offers for our customers, as well as our data policy, I installed systems that allow me today to offer my customers financing possibilities for their invoices that they did not previously or whose existence was unknown. The market for IT tools for businesses is so varied today, it has become very easy to find everything and anything but it is much more difficult to find the right partners or the right team to lead these types of projects where they should.
Bayard Art Consulting was built on the fundamental values of my ancestor the knight Bayard, who was better known under the name of the “knight without fears and without reproaches” which had the motto: "Accipit ut det" which means "He receives to give". I received knowledge, a body that allows me to achieve an incalculable number of things and I received time before me. This time and knowledge, now I give it to those who need it and I accompany them to achieve their goals.
I returned after a new term which allowed me to regain my confidence and showed me that I was on the right track. I motivated the artists around me to excel and to document everything we had done since the creation of Bayard Art Consulting, so we digitized an impressive number of already existing works of art and new works as well. I established standards for our new candidates and I came back with a more studied, deeper concept and a much more efficient system since the transformation of a simple static website promoting artists to a powerful tool selling art-form that can make a difference through its new affiliate program.
It was about 10 years that I trained before I could master this kind of installation and system myself because I did not have the knowledge, the funds, or the investors who could have believed in my fanciful project to create in my first idea, a foundation that supports artists, culture and offers real solutions of therapies adapted for this kind of people. I had redefined that for a more commercial model but it was still not enough and when tried the financing options for banks, my site was so overloaded with information that it had become difficult for any investor to know what I was doing exactly, what our products were and how to make a profit from all these activities and products.
So I proceeded to perform a big purge of content and I categorized again all products and services as well as better set the priorities that can help me bring my business to the success it deserves. After all, why spend so many hours if it is not to go after your dreams and personal convictions? I had to look for something much more simple and that made much more sense for the users.
For me it was clear very quickly that there was something to do in this area, I and my friends have seen for several years the needs of something like that, and I, therefore, decided to apply all that I could learn through my previous jobs for the success of this plan. I learned a lot about legal, marketing, IT systems, web platform coding, and installation of plug-in solutions through my multiple attempts to join the classic workplace after my continuing education.
This never resulted in commitments for other bosses calling me “the alien” so I quickly understood that I would have to manage with what I had to reach the goals I set for myself. I have always found it super cool to be able to tell myself when visiting a museum or passing by a business, "this is the type of art that should be placed here" or "I will see this type of installation here "or during consulting to be able to say" have you ever tried to do it with this tool? " or "what do you think of this choice of colors or this shape?". It was very clear that I would like to become a designer but what exactly? I realized later that I could be much more versatile and useful than I had imagined so far.
I knew I was not alone because I read a lot of blogs, I watched videos of professional coaches that focused on fulfilling your dreams, I myself made many of my dreams come true, especially in the music and entertainment industry since 1987, and I became a living example of what I wanted to demonstrate in practice, a dream achiever. So I started looking for people like me who believed in these ancestral values and who were ready to give of themselves and their time to achieve the set goals.
It was when I started to put Bayard Art Consulting that I finally realized the real need for artists to be able to have a place, a platform where they can feel listened to, concerned, and sell their works undercover. ill-intentioned minds, but above all a springboard in the art world which validates their works as being a real work of research and art mastered to perfection, their perfection, hence this question that always comes back, starting when is it art or not. It is this constant research that pushed me to continue the IT and strategic development that I had started to implement because I am sure that something bigger can be done but first we have to start by asking for a solid foundation for that and that's what I did this year for my small business.
As in any good story, there was a little haha moment also for me in this great adventure. It especially came when I started to invite international artists to come and exhibit at the art gallery, I saw that the world is very small and that everyone knows each other by exchanging references with our visitors to the art gallery and during the events that I had set up. This moment is when two artists talk and exchange on their journey and finally meet related friends. I quickly understood that we all have an interest in art in one form or another and that it is, therefore, essential to give voice to other minorities as well as those we are used to seeing or finding relevant.
I worked for a long time in call centers with rather favorable conditions for an employee in Switzerland. These jobs allowed me to acquire a great sense of listening. Even if when I am active I talk a lot; see even endlessly because I tend to always want to immerse my audience in a universe full of details so that they can live an experience worthy of immersion in a real situation, thanks to my ADHD for that; I think that these qualities and defect make me the ideal partner to tell the story of an artist's work and deposit it in the hands of a guardian who will be worthy of the works entrusted to them for a defined or indeterminate period of time.
I started working on the new magazine project to replace the horrible pdf list when I learned to use Adobe InDesign at the Institute of Computer Science and Graphic Design in Berlin. I first consulted several examples and models downloadable for free on the web and I then modeled and designed the new catalog before showing it to my classmates, then to my teachers whose interest I had slightly taken after the positive reactions of the other students and the appreciation notes given to my work by my teachers.
I finally had my first template, the choice of colors, background images, what works I wanted to show there, and how I wanted to organize my texts. I then read a lot of articles and other magazines, blogs, case studies, statistics to finally write precise and useful articles that can help both artists in their moral support approaches and collectors in their approach to always acquire more unusual and rare pieces in their art collection.
Once this work of research, writing, and design was done, it only remained for me to obtain the validation of the artists who received positively the ideas and the new concepts that I presented to them to help them in their steps to produce more sales of their works of art. Launching a magazine of more than 30 pages including all this content was not an easy task and it required a lot of coordination, patience, reflections, and time so that everyone could give their opinion and validate my innovative ideas in an environment rather reserved.
It was just the right time to change the codes and break down some myths. It was the perfect time to do it. With the crisis that was submerging us, we had to be able to show artists and buyers that other options exist. It just took one person in a circle of friends to do it once instead of always full of people just talking about it. One of my shortcomings is that I often agree to take on new challenges and find solutions, so I think that with each other this happened quite naturally in the course of things and time.
Regarding the validation of works of art and services and products, it is clear that the choice is mostly personal, I would not see myself trying to sell a work that does not vibrate internally or a service that I would not be the instigator or the author. I wouldn't see myself using a service that I could create for myself either. The choice and validation of the collection presented by Bayard Art Consulting are therefore above all personal and specific to my tastes and my convictions in matters of art.
This is what makes this collection so unique and so interesting to share because it brings together several works of art often overlooked by the general public or museums and other galleries. When some give credit to great artists, I prefer to be interested in local artists who have a very small potential just as interesting and especially in artists who create stories to tell through their works, their works, and their research. perfection in the art they master.
At the moment I live with 179 € per month for my personal needs and 27.50€ for internet to follow the school online by video conferencing until I can finish the training I follow now in November 2020 and can take my role back again. The social system allows me to benefit from training to regain a place as an employee in the labor market, the costs of this training amount to more than € 15,000. Because I participate in this type of continuing education to obtain my mobile application developer certificate, the Jobcenter in Berlin also partially contributes to the payment of my rent. For this, I have a budget of € 340 per person which means that my current rent of € 1000 per month was almost a little too expensive for me and my girlfriend. Now that she has been working since May 2020, we are starting to gain confidence again and we are trying to overcome the crisis by helping each other.
In my life I learned to live with little, I lived for a few years on the streets begging as well as in squats in abandoned houses in early 2000 across Geneva in Switzerland. I slept in abandoned windowless train stations in my Valley and the cold Canadian Bush during a survival raid with nothing else than a simple tent and 2 good sleeping bags for wintertime, nature, and the wolves and bears singing at night. This has forged a great capacity to overcome this kind of ordeal in me and I am therefore confident that the future will allow us to propel this company forward and continue to provide support for people who are the main actors of the cultural and artistic market.
If you want easy money, go work for an employer and get exploited. I am convinced that another pattern than this exists when I wake up in the morning and want to be productive. Each end of the day confirms to me that this is what I must continue to do.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The first Bayard Art Consulting website had been created in the space of a short week and had already seen itself go from version 1.0 to version 3.0 during the first exercise of 2019. With the traffic analysis tools in place, it was easy for me to match the reactions I saw on the screen with what was happening in reality. Very quickly the small shop that I had created and linked with PayPal buttons became too small to trigger sales, I had to think of a much more conventional base and I started to install and test various solutions and options on my server such as Prestashop, Drupal, OpenCart, Square, Etsy, Google, Facebook, all of which offer opportunities to create an online store. I don't particularly like WordPress or Wix, so I continued to learn how to code HTML before I felt comfortable enough to install what would become my working base for the new platform I was going to create for proceed to trade all these works of art.
Finally, it was for the open-source system provided by OpenCart that I opted for because it was the most suitable for what I wanted in terms of development and budget too. Today we are selling here a collection including more than 150 rare or limited edition works of art estimated at over € 735,000 and we still have 60 new pieces that arrived this week and therefore very quickly the potential of ''reaching soon around 1 million euros” of art for sale here. The most decisive point in the choice of tools was made to allow other enthusiasts to share their interest and their discoveries through the affiliate program which is possible with OpenCart. It was crucial for us that everyone can benefit from the same conditions as those I enjoy when I represent one of the artists selling his works on my platform.
Our new KUNZT MAG product was first thought of as a side product but ultimately turned out to be a much more powerful tool than previously imagined. In the beginning, it was above all about being able to highlight the works on a medium that was more presentable than a vulgar pdf list with photos and prices as was the case at the beginning with our first, price list. I think this new interactive digital product will resonate today more than 10 years ago or even 5 years ago with digitalization which has started to take place everywhere since the beginning of 2020. This vision of a digital world is now clear and also shared by other specialists in the field. It is therefore important to make the right choices and to digitize without digitizing too much either, that’s where our unique and limited edition art enters the game. We have recently seen the numbers of virtual museum visits drop and we are always attentive to trends in this sector which is evolving very quickly with the creativity of some more technical artists than others.
This will evolve further over time and I think it is important to continue to invite authors to join us to collaborate on this magnificent adventure because I see that this product has enormous potential and that I have not finished testing its possibilities, this is only the beginning of a new marketing mix until I have found the right ratio and pace of growth while remaining attentive to trends in current and future markets. Regarding the services offered by Bayard Art Consulting, a lot of work has been done to improve not only the quality of the service itself but also for the offers sent in response to requests for quotes. Being the one who writes offers, case studies, concept presentations, invoices and collaboration contracts, and customer service, I have a good view of all the aspects that a business affair can mean.
The creation of a ticket creation system to manage current projects and quotes will be necessary thereafter to continue to have a global view on dormant projects and the retention of potential customers. As for incoming mandates now we are working with a system provided by Zervant in Germany to have a global view on the potential of the quotes being processed and those already cashed. As the services are always set up by myself for my clients, I strive to always check the quality of the services I offer and install. I am very lucky because I have professors and an entourage who are really very passionate about their work and the technique or the knowledge that this can include while trying to keep things simple for a user with a little language. less technical than that of computer engineers, or that art historians can practice daily.
I often make several prototypes for my clients' projects before arriving at the final product. Every good product is the source of several attempts to obtain user feedback that tells us how to improve the products or services offered to customers. As an example, today I installed the WPA of my client Buzdon-Germany on his mobile devices.
The challenge here is above all to be able to respect deadlines or to be able to find a common language with customers who do not always have clear requests. Keeping the essentials and getting rid of the superfluous so as not to scare customers with too many technical words is an exercise in talent and I have learned over time the importance of being able to find a communication field where the message is relayed to be able to be interpreted correctly. It can be visual or textual but it is the biggest challenge as a consultant that I often have to face.
The costs to start this business were relatively low, a hosting solution at Hostinger with a business account at $ 191.40 / year, two domain names for a total of $ 63, and a Domain Privacy Protection for $ 6.99. Add to that I had registration fees to pay around € 20 and a Website Builder Kit with a total value of $ 3872 which I got on promotion for only $ 149 and the Adobe Creative Cloud suite for € 69 per month. My investment to start this small business was exactly $ 1258.39 in total. All the legal part was directly handled by myself to optimize the costs on a lawyer, which made me undertake a lot of research before I could establish a solid and legally developed contract base for everyone involved in a commercial affair with me and the small company I was creating.
Describe the process of launching the business.
When I started Bayard Art Consulting, it was quite sudden. I had this idea in mind a long time ago after seeing the works of my old friend Mr. Walk who was already showing up with his graffiti on canvas and street art on ArtMajeur.com. I was talking a lot with my mentor and best friend Xtian de Medici with whom I worked on a highly successful project several years ago in 2008.
After ten years of building websites on the web with sensitive content and illustrated fiction and art, it’s finally in 2019 after my yearly road trip to Rotterdam where I visited the Cobra Art Gallery, I met the German artist Volker Scheurer who had set up the art gallery "Kunstraum Berlin" and "Kunstraum Kieswerk". He was looking for a new art consultant to boost the private gallery's sales in Berlin and after an initial interview together, I quickly felt that it would be a great adventure and it was the time to make it. According to our agreement, I had to register as a freelancer to be able to collect the amount of the provision that he granted me on his works of art and I could use the private art gallery in Berlin to carry out my work there as an artist and graphic designer as well as invite my talented friends to show their skills and artwork.
I first started by working on the notoriety of the gallery by creating a series of unusual events around body arts and human body modifications to attract more visitors. My longtime friends Yann Brenyak and Lukas Zpira were then the ideal celebrities for this kind of operation in a city like Berlin where this type of performing arts has a huge presence. Then, I always met more artists like Steven Godden, Basti, Radoslav Dvorak, Mind Altar Art and more. I met so many artists in my career as a musician and performing artist that I stopped counting them. I think that in my network there are already several hundred artists who play a musical instrument or who design through clothing, drawing, tattoo, painting, sculpture, graphic design, collage, pop art, jewelry, diamonds, etc.
My first idea was to offer the chance to all these artists to be represented and supported in their artistic approach by an entity worthy of their talent. This simple idea quickly evolved during 2019 and I coded the first Bayard Art Consulting site in the space of a week with Mobirise software to promote the program of cultural events that I organized at the gallery of arts. The next step for me was to list and insert all the works of art by Volker Scheurer and his wife Ania Dziezewska on the site with the possibility of clicking on a PayPal button to buy the works offered for sale on the site.
So far the whole project has been funded by myself with my personal savings, my unpaid working hours, my parents, my friends, and the artists who helped me with small donations. The events created made it possible to bring in a little bit of money, but that was clearly not enough to live on. I had just lost my regular income with my dismissal from the call center and I was quickly placed in a continuing education program. This implied that when I made my first request for financial support and assistance in starting a self-employed professional activity, the Jobcenter replied that it was too early. I had to wait to have at least 15 weeks of activities. I then filed a new request once this deadline was reached. It was then that the Jobcentre told me that they prefer that I focus on the success of my new UI / UX Designer training.
Arrived in March 2020, having put on hold all my activities since Christmas 2019 with a clean account, I was able to request emergency help (SofortHilfe - IBB) to overcome the crisis that was coming with the pandemic of the Corona Virus and thus avoid a complete closure of my small business. This allowed me to buy the necessary licenses for the software that I needed to develop an even more sophisticated digital strategy after we had to close the doors to the art gallery for a temporary period due to the pandemic, as well as temporarily put on hold all the monthly events in the Maze with the Electro Open Stage event series I was managing on the side to continue the practicing of the live on stage performing arts and live music-making. Due to COVID-19, we could not accommodate as many visitors as before. It was at this time that I put all my strength into the creation and publication of what would become the new magazine "KUNZT MAG".
I also took advantage of this strategy adjustment to buy the first company vehicle to limit contact with people on public transport and thus preserve my health and that of my entourage during the pandemic. The used vehicle was sold to us by a student who wanted to sell it for around € 1,500 because it had become too expensive to maintain for him. A great opportunity to support someone thirsty to learn and continue his education and for me and my girlfriend, a good deal for a used vehicle in super good condition that she can now drive to make our deliveries or simply to go to work.
Today, Bayard Art Consulting continues to exist thanks to the clients whom I accumulate little by carrying out especially works such as graphic design and web design. In 2019, the only work of art we sold was during an event and our happy client left with a beautiful ink rubbing for a few hundred euros. Selling works of art is therefore a much more difficult path than I had imagined at the beginning but I do not give up hope that the works which we are promoting will soon find the guardian who will protect them and cherish them with dignity.
My next chance to get help and funding is now no longer expected from the city and for me to grow as a small entrepreneur before June 2022. After 3 years of activity and impeccable accounting, I will be in the position to request what is called in Germany an ERP credit and this could be a great help to improve my scores. For the cash flow available in my company and to set up paid and sponsored advertising campaigns I will now have to create a crowdfunding campaign but I don’t really like this idea. Until then, I try to keep all costs of my small business down to the minimum and I collect as much information and contacts for new partnerships as possible. My goal is now to define and segment my user profiles to determine what will be the next best operation to put in place and what is the next trend that will work in this sector of activity and what as well as how we will communicate about it in the future.
During the first year of professional exercise, I had set up a donation system to encourage people to support my work or simply send a small thank you or support for my philanthropic ideas. The small donation campaign was intended to collect funds that I can fairly distribute to the artists who worked collaboratively on the project during the launching. We never received any donations and it was not going to stop me so easily.
I did not create a Kickstarter or any crowdfunding at that time and I still did not create one because I have bad memories of a crowdfunding campaign that I stayed with, where the creators left with the money leaving everyone with nothing. Because of this, I have never been so seduced by the idea of crowdfunding. The state has enough funds to support these types of projects, you just have to ask for them at the right time and have a sufficient project. Alternatively, the collection is valued enough, so I need to sell it. I also found that even for a good cause, it was very difficult to ask people for money in the form of donations. The donation program then included: Donation for environment program, Donation for kids program, Donation for artist support program, Donation for the sustainability program, Donation for philanthropy program, Donation for gender empowerment, Donation for COVID-19 Support, Donate for our work. Do people still give away their money for a good cause nowadays? For sure, yes, but maybe I have to redefine my strategy and communication a bit for that.
Until now, I mainly concentrated my efforts and oriented my choices on "the quality of the products" presented, “the quality of the information provided” and on "history" linked to the works that the artists wanted to share with the world. But was it enough or was it too much? An artist who sells his art on Bayard Store today is an artist who has a real desire to share a positive or negative message even sometimes, but who demonstrates total mastery of the art he presents. But they have no time and their clients have even less time than the artists trying to sell their piece of art. Art has always been a vector of communication and this is what I always pay attention to when I receive an artist who presents his work to me so that I can sell it for him. The role of an artist is to create art, my role is to understand the history behind it and to transmit it to potential buyers to sell the art that has been created by those artists. Finding a guardian who will be able to protect and enhance these works in his collection is not an easy task, but I am convinced that it is still possible. It sometimes takes a lot of patience before a sale is finalized but when that happens, we know the pleasure it brings to the new owners of the concerned piece of art.
Never give up! This is the lesson I learned from it. Just last night I told my girlfriend that life is not easy and she reminded me how important it is not to give up. I had just received a negative answer for a financing fund from my bank and I was disappointed. My first reaction was to feel frustrated and uninformed. It is not always easy to set up a business in a country foreign to mine and in a language other than my mother tongue. But quickly, I could see that if I had held out so far, after all, I could still hold on and continue to the end really. So I allowed myself to believe that even without help and without funding from the bank or the city, it is possible to achieve great things. There are always alternatives, you just have to give yourself a little patience and courage to find the solutions to this type of ordeal.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
If I could give a piece of advice to young entrepreneurs, it would be never to give up on your dreams and above all, look for investors as early as possible to ensure your back and get the muscles necessary to promote your ideas or projects from the start of your business activities. Several times I have failed to accomplish and make this a priority by launching projects very quickly.
Before the pandemic, our acquisition strategy was mainly based on events that we performed at the private art gallery and in various clubs with which a program had been established to reach out to our potential clients. Since March, our strategy has completely evolved using mainly online tools, SEO, social media with animated contents posts and stories as well as banner exchange techniques to boost our traffic and improve our score for new lead generations.
Currently, we are working on a small database mainly composed of friends and relatives who saw us evolve during our first fiscal year. It is mainly through Facebook and Instagram or by a phone call that we established the first presence and once I had a hundred fans, I created the first website of the company and I started to work on my followers. Now I need to think big and even if it has always been difficult for me to devote a budget for it (mainly because of the demotion of ads which is done on Facebook) it has now become imperative for me to engage in advertising and affiliate networks specialists to establish and coordinate campaigns that will make us achieve a score more viral than that obtained so far with the artists.
I also worked with the database including the e-mails collected via our newsletter. Sending mailing campaigns so far to improve the engagement of people in this database is an intense operation and not always easy to find time to use the retention knowledge I have collected in my call center job and write new content with all that I already have to do. More work is being done right now with writing texts for announcements and mailings, a pace that I try to keep up without telling unnecessary things, and trying to go as quickly as basically possible for my readers. A more sophisticated segmentation that allows us to send more targeted mailings and which converts better is also in progress at the moment. Until now this worked well and I continue to develop it this way because that’s what converts the best and where people write to me the most to inquire about my small business. Our community currently has about 500 people of whom we have their email, about 350 fans on Facebook, and about the same on Instagram.
During my many years spent in the call center doing customer retention, I was able to learn what the expectations of a dissatisfied customer are and I always attach great importance to them. It is when you know what is wrong that you can correct it and knowing how to listen to your customers is essential for the proper functioning of a business.
Screenshot of Google Analytics from Bayard Art Consulting for 2019 until today. We clearly see that during the development of the new magazine from September 2019 to May 2020, we experienced a drop-down in our traffic, and since the operation of marketing and promotion is starting again, the traffic is increasing again generating more interest. Now I need more muscles to skyrocket this score.
Our traffic is mainly coming from the social networks as seen on this pie from the Bayard Art Consulting website analytics. Our direct traffic represented in green here is showing that people are coming from landing pages we created and finally the referral traffic is increasing bringing our message to more people since we are now spreading it with a few banners and pageviews on traffic exchange companies.
Our demographic analysis allowed us to point out that this business is mainly interesting to young males aged from 25 to 44 years old with a good segment situated between 25 to 34 years old. It confirms that our clients identify themselves to our branding which is pretty much developed for this same segment. It was a bit surprising to see that my audience is actually younger than myself but it is good to notice that they are corresponding to the message we transmit and most of all, they are positively reactive to it.
Many companies are indeed focusing their efforts to generate sales outside of their website. I am thinking here of companies that sell their products on Amazon. I have never used this type of service before and I don't think I will venture to try either.
The first reason is that on Amazon or Etsy for example, sellers must be the authors or owners of the merchandise that is sold from their accounts. I am only the owner of my works and it’s secondary that I act as a reseller for the art made by others. That’s why I’ve chosen to make their promotion by building my own system with an open-source code rather than with platforms that will suck away with a huge margin the small provision that clients and artists pay for my services when buying a piece of art from my website. This allows us to give back a bigger provision for the artists without devaluing their works, which is a very important parameter here.
It is also important to know that these platforms often work by suggesting similar articles, but we have also seen that sometimes this kind of algorithm also has its faults (Wish, Digitec, Amazon, etc). In the art world, the presentation must always be impeccable, which is why I decided to set up my own website in a more neutral environment and with total control over the items I decide to select for creating new cross-selling and improving suggestions for similar products, even in my mailings. This allows artists not to find themselves next to an item that they would not see themselves associated with.
A short view on our mailings performance from this month shows that we have a small decrease of the open rate but we keep a very decent average campaign performance situated at 23.2% opening rate which is totally fitting with the insight and worldwide statistics in the same market. This confirmed to me that we are talking about the right subjects in our mailings and communications and gives me precious inputs for detecting what will work or not.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, like most companies active in the trading of works of art, I am trying to overcome the crisis by offering services tailored to a target that does not directly interest my competitors and that is no longer the initial target I had in mind at the beginning. Sales of works of art having dropped to zero and no longer able to offer services in the field of events, it has become very difficult to promote products that cost several hundred thousand euros. I am therefore constantly looking for new investors who also want to participate in the success and contribute to the success of my small business by bringing me their muscles through financing and loans to allow me to invest more strength in promotion and advertising. In recent months, to pay for my software licenses, I have been forced to also look for solutions to increase my client portfolio and my cash flow with small mandates for graphic and web design. This way I can diversify my services and I also improve the content of the websites I develop to stay active during the crisis while continuing to train myself to be able to code my future mobile application for this business and make it this way a totally profitable business for the artists collaborating with me as well as for the good wealth of the company itself.
Our gross margin is 10% on works of art sold. Regarding services, this can vary and sometimes go up to 80% gross margin on the creation of certain designs or websites. At the moment it is difficult to comment on the costs and returns on investments of online advertising because I have not yet launched campaigns with AdWords or AdSense or similar. I tested advertising via Facebook a bit and spent around € 1.50 of advertising to launch the first events. In the end, I spent around 20 € on ads that only converted on likes and a few events ticket sales but no art selling. I finally decided to test other options because I don't like giving my money too much to Facebook to be demoted, or seeing my ads 2 days after the deadline for my offers is exceeded. A lot of work continues to be done for Bayard Art Consulting and Bayard Store here and the year 2020 not being very conducive to losing money with paid advertising, I turned to more economical solutions in terms of publicity.
Regarding our monthly traffic and the average time spent on the site, we saw 334 users spend approximately 1 minute and 50 seconds on our Bayard Art Consulting site with a rate of approximately 11% returning to the website between January and June of 2020. Since June this traffic has increased to reach about 450 users who are now more than 20% to return to the site.
The physical distribution of works of art is one of the essential keys to our sales channel. Until now, our distribution was mainly concentrated in Berlin and the products sold were until now handed over by myself or directly by the artists against payment to the Kunstraum Berlin gallery. Since the implementation of the new sales platform, I am now able to manage the distribution directly from my mobile with the UPS extensions that I have configured for it. Now our customers can follow the distribution status of their order and have it delivered safely anywhere in the world.
Regarding the KUNZT MAG magazine, distribution is now carried out directly on our website and also on all of the following sites:
About the distribution of services such as graphic design and web design, it is most often by FTP transfer and by sending electronic mail that the distribution is organized. This allows me to keep a view and global management on all the projects that come into my home. For archiving and security reasons, it was essential for me to be able to continue to provide my services through a platform that is mine and that allows me to keep control over the data that is distributed during this type of project. It also facilitates access to my client's servers and files and allows me to act very quickly in the event of a request to modify their content.
My day begins around 6:00 am with chilled milk chocolate and reading the emails received during the night. Once this task is done, the next step is analyzing the site's scores in terms of visits and writing a small post accompanied by the creation of animated images to capture the attention of more consumers and generate more leads. Once that is done, I follow the lessons given by my new individual coach through videoconferences. The topic at the moment is the design of websites and mobile applications. It usually starts around 8:30 am and ends at 3:30 pm. During my 45-minute lunch break, I communicate with the artists and plan the next operations with them. After my classes, my day continues until around 10:00 PM, sometimes a little later to improve the design of existing products and continue to develop new ones. My operations, therefore, boil down to a lot of reading and a lot of writing throughout the day after coding HTML in the morning. On weekends I try to have a little fun by going out to go for a walk in nature to oxygenate my brain again with my life partner and find peace or simply feel loved and follow my dreams.
As explained above, my next challenge is now to develop my own mobile application to make Bayard Store a native application. As e-commerce has gained in importance, the solution I use for our sales now, was in 2019 one of the most popular open-source platforms with its lightweight and ease of customization. In fact, it has always been the first choice of many e-commerce users. The online business market is developing with more and more innovations over time, today we see applications integrating virtual or augmented reality, e-commerce sites with 3D modeling technology, and even more. Mobile apps are very popular as they have become more and more popular. People are researching and shopping right now through their mobile devices. It is therefore of paramount importance for me to consider now the organization of the structure for the future development of my e-commerce application. This will be an added advantage over not having any. For example, I developed the website of Bayard Art Consulting on a WPA which is already available right now as a mobile app to “add to your home screen on your mobile for Android and Apple, only for Apple you need to do it from Safari and manually.
According to several recent studies, there would be more than 78% of buyers prefer to choose the mobile application to buy products rather than the responsive mobile market. With the future BAYARD STORE APP, the chances of increasing our sales score will be exponential. Buyers no longer bother to search and find a website URL or even visit a gallery or an event to search for the product they have seen before or the emotions that make them vibrate innerly. The new generation of buyers now prefers to gain immediate access to all works of art and experience the finest services in a virtual world, without leaving their homes or places of work. Push notifications will allow actions much faster than email and other notifications which mostly end up in the trash as seen above in the email opening score which is in reality only around 23% in the art sector. Having an electronic commerce application will therefore allow me to considerably increase the conversion rate on the products that I develop and that the artists also develop on their side. Bio-feedbacks being possible on the human body, the possibilities are huge with the 5G coming up slowly and it is now the time to consider it for this market as well too. My goal is to find a mix with sensors that can detect how the human body can react to art and immerse the user into a virtual experience with the future mobile app and a Bluetooth sensor kit that comes bundled. This is my new vision and product line for future customers.
Navigation in the product catalog will be simplified, making it easier for our customers to find the works they are looking for without any problem. In today's world, where the race against time and user experience has become a big factor, it can take a few seconds to win or lose valuable customers. The same goes for e-commerce, with our future mobile apps the pages will load much faster than on the responsive website for you because the app will store the data directly on your devices. Data retrieval will be performed much faster because there are now ten times fewer data transmitted between a server and a mobile application than between a server and a web browser. Knowing how bad the internet network and availability are in Berlin and Germany, it was essential to code my website on a WPA to get ready for the next developments. This will also allow me now to record the data that will lead to the faster opening of the pages you are viewing, even in offline mode, for the pages you already visited from Bayard Art Consulting.
Screenshot of last 28 days scores for Bayard Art Consulting page on Facebook with this small animated banner here designed by Steve Bayard.
My short-term goal now will be to distribute the first edition of "Kunzt Mag" free of charge to make our product catalog and our business project is known to the whole world which contains many artists who are also looking for solutions to sell their art and many collectors who might want to save on their yearly taxes for 2020.
This first step will lead us towards the long-term goal of generating enough leads and prospects to contribute to the full sale of the collection presented now as well as the recruitment of new artists and talents already confirmed in the market. Self-sufficiency will allow me in the long term to continue to provide my services to people who really need them and to continue to collect ever more important and daring works with a view to the creation of a small museum including all invaluable works which have already been offered to me by certain artists with whom I had the chance to collaborate.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
My business plan did not happen overnight without surprises. My biggest disappointment is that the Jobcenter never made it easy for me to start my business and that I was very poorly informed if not even informed at all about my rights. This made me lose access to important funds for the launch of my small business during the first year of activity.
To start this activity without my own funds while I was losing everything, my job, my apartment, my couple, trying to digest the death of my dog by occupying my mind to do something that I really love, it was not an easy task but I kept my objectives and I was able to create little by little the first base structure to allow my company to develop while following a new training which will allow me, either to succeed with my business project or to return to the labor market with better qualifications than before.
The hardest part was not to let myself be blinded by the mass of work to be done for this. Trying to find time for myself, making sure that my private life is not hampered by my professional choices has been very difficult. Not falling into Workaholism was the biggest battle I had to fight with myself. Not to disappoint my family, my friends, my partners, my fans, my audience who all had different expectations of me, it was important for my personal development and to start it and make my small business survive.
I had to relearn how to learn, to follow the instructions and advice of my coaches and counselors from Jobcenter and employment agencies. Going from CHF 5,000 in salary in Switzerland to less than € 300 in social assistance to live on was the most horrible thing that has happened to me. I had to relearn how to live with the minimum and set my priorities accordingly.
The best decision I made was to start continuing education again. This allowed me to make great progress on the project and to limit the costs of developing and setting up the structure of my small business.
During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I also decided to diversify my services while recategorizing them. I think it's important for an entrepreneur to know how to pivot and move on to other activities when some need to be put on standby. The closure of many public places and performance halls that promoted the performing arts and small local artists have been a real scourge since March 2020 for me putting almost all my activities on standby because it has become unthinkable for me and my partners to put people's lives in danger by continuing to create gatherings and events around art.
I had to react quickly to find help and solutions. I am really happy to have been able to find some new clients in this period which is not very conducive to prospecting. I had the chance to be able to show my talent and I have assisted companies such as Buzdon-Germany who asked me to create their website for them with very short production deadlines that I was able to meet thanks to the experience acquired with my continuing education and with my determination to succeed.
This crisis also allowed me to create my first works of art officially as an artist with the realization of 2 small collections of 4 works of art each. The first series is a little nod to my past as an actor and model which is called "Fetish Disco Diva" and which was produced based on a photograph that I took myself with Lady Helen during a stay in Spain.
The second collection that I made during this period is entitled "CoronArt Poetry" and includes 4 images now available in A3 poster format on which appear poems by Jean de La Fontaine that I have updated with the events of the moment in Pop Art style. What was supposed to be an indefinite crisis finally turned out to be for me a moment when my desire and my need to share my emotions led me to develop my creativity even more than before and to surpass myself so that I don’t remain the arms folded or not spending my days twiddling my thumbs like the Berlin’s Jobcenter would like me to do right now.
The lesson I learned is that for someone running a business, knowing how to react quickly is essential. It can be a reaction to a detected trend or to an unexpected situation such as natural damage or a pandemic as we are all experiencing at the moment. Knowing how to put in place sustainable solutions to overcome the lack that has arisen on one side by compensating for it with something else is a real exercise of talent and I would never have been able to achieve it without the help and understanding of the people who surround me and actively participate through their collaboration in the smooth running of the operations that I make. If you spend all of your time thinking that you are right and that you are the best above everyone else, you have a good chance of failing miserably. If instead, you can recognize when something is not working and take the time to figure out how to make it work properly, you will always go very far in this world.
“Keep learning and apply what you learned”
Over the years I have been able to acquire many skills in customer services and advice, consulting service, drafting of texts and contracts, drafting of offers, graphic design, web design, IT installation and maintenance, reverse engineering, music creation, event management, performing arts and of course a great sense of listening which help me to carry out this project.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
To organize this business, I am using a lot of tools, and here are a few of them if you want to start your own business like me:
Hosting & Domains:
- Hostinger.com It’s been over 10 years of relationship and they have been assisting me a lot back from 2008 until today providing excellence at any level. Its mission is to provide cutting-edge tools for a successful and sustainable online presence while keeping a reasonable price. Hostinger was born in 2004 with a very simple idea – to help users create websites and grow their online projects. They are simply the best to my taste. They have an affiliate program that is really worth signing for it here.
I discovered this solution a few months ago when I started to provide more graphic designs and get my first clients for web designs. The first website I designed for a restaurant in Switzerland was not a successful project. I delivered everything for their corporate identity but they never paid my invoice of 5109€ for all that, So I had to engage a lawyer and we are still at the beginning of a long process to get this money paid by this client now. This leads me to search for a way to get my work paid and automate this processing for my next client. What I found really cool about Zervant is the fact they have an affiliate program that helps you as a consultant to bring such services to other small companies and if you do it well, you get paid for that too. It was a good way to place service and get rewarded for it while generating additional and passive revenues to my business plan. The second awesome thing is that Zervant works with FundFlow and can get your client financed so that you get paid and start to work immediately while your client pays later.
Simply the best in the market now if you like to drag and drop and to code HTML5 & CSS yourself instead of giving that to WordPress or such a joke for a web coder who knows a bit more about data security and data privacy. They also have an affiliate program that you might want to sign for. (I just signed today for it and will put my affiliate link here for you before final proofreading)
The best in 2019 and probably the best in 2020 if you manage to code your own CSS. It’s a nice eCommerce platform filled with tons of cool plugins to add to your store. Installation is simple and data are yours because it works on your server and not one of the companies you don’t know if they would exist tomorrow or not.
- Visual Studio Code (VSC)
New software for me but very interesting, I can’t say much about it unless it’s what I use now daily at my lesson during my HTML5 & CSS coach. A very good editor with a huge collection of plugins to add for free. Some basic coding is required here.
This is what I was using before to start using VSC, it’s a basic editor with some good possibilities but if you think about mounting workspace with that, it might be a bit limited.
One of the most used editors as I’ve understood for beginning with writing your own code to design HTML pages. I started using it a bit but now it’s just taking place on my laptop, I might use it again to teach others with a small introduction to web design and coding
Online Payment System:
They are the best option in Germany and worldwide and they have lifted our limitation to be able to sell the pieces of art that are the most important in the collection. It’s easy, fast, many people are having it and they accept the most used credit cards as well too. What else?
- Deutsche Bank
I use this german bank to receive payments by e-banking from my clients and orders coming from the store as well. They have a great presence in Germany and they have been assisting me in turning my private accounts into multiple accounts for managing the funds of the company correctly and they have a good service in general. What I like the most is that with a simple press on my phone and 1 fingerprint, I can access all my accounts. I wonder why is that so complicated by other banks. Anyway, happy customers here and will stay like that as long as I feel satisfied with them.
Design & Conception:
- Adobe Creative Cloud (All App)
- Adobe InDesign
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Lightroom
- Adobe Spark
Because simply the best. Sometimes I use Ableton Live or Blender or even make my teeth slowly on Aero.
Emailing and Newsletter:
It’s a powerful solution for small entrepreneurs and I've never finished learning with it, I should definitely put more time here now that the system and structure are ready to work with it.
I use it for staying mobile with my business e-mails and it’s a powerful solution on the desktop as well too. I have been using it for a long time, already as a call center agent when I was touching a bit more of the system linked with SAP.
Scores & Stats:
- Google Analytics
Until now it has been a good tool for giving me feedback on what I am publishing and how people react or even interact with the website. I definitely need to put more effort here to track what happens in my business. This needs some advanced SEO expert skills and I’m still learning that on the side as well too because since my marketing and communication certification, I have always enjoyed understanding how things are running and I know Google is making very deep looking tools, you just need to understand them and their language that is a bit strange sometimes but I guess it will come with a bit more experience at it as well too.
For social media tools, I use;
I don’t buy likes, I work on the first loyal network I have around me and I keep an objective to make it a good showcase for what I do as well as to detect new emerging or viral trends. My friends and my family are there, but my customers are not very much there and I have to seek them where they are and understand their behaviors and art of living. That’s where Google Analytics enters the game.
What I have learned is that, if you are going to seek your customers where they are not, do not be surprised if you do not make a turnover.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
It is while reading this question that I tell myself that I should take the time to read something other than marketing and psychology books. The most recent book I read was Le Moi-Cyborg by author Frédéric Tordo. An excellent book that I recommend to all those who are interested in the psychoanalysis and neurosciences of the connected man.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
The best advice I can give you if you want to start your own business is to “get started”. You don't need to have it all figured out to have a big vision, you'll see what that means when you get started and must adjust your parameters and expectations for the first time in your life.
I talk to a lot of talented people, artists, visionaries and when I see a few months later they still haven't done anything because they're afraid of failure or just not sure of themselves. It's only natural once you start to run into more talented people than yourself. If you believe in what you are doing, keep doing it, one day your efforts will pay off. So many times I was on the verge of giving up and each time something would happen and I was so glad I didn't throw in the towel so quickly. It's an inexplicable feeling and you have to live it to understand it.
Be prepared to work hard and work every day. Make sure it's something you love to do above everything else, otherwise you are going to hate your life without vacations and weekends! The other thing I would advise is not to take any shortcuts on product quality. People see it and care about it more than you think. I love being able to look people in the eye when they ask about the quality of a work of art or its process of creating and tell them that it is produced in the best quality possible or even handmade.
There are no answers, no easy paths. Believe in yourself and your genius, work hard, and never give up on the goals you set for yourself! Do it! You’ll adjust after that!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
At the moment I am not allowed to engage any employee, but I am looking for affiliates and content writers to intensify the rhythm of my newsletter and increase our mailing score. My biggest dream now is to be able to continue the development of KUNZT MAG as well as finding a huge load of affiliates for the BAYARD STORE to help me sell the actual collection for sale here. The most important thing for me now is to build a strong team of ambassadors and to do this, I will need a strong business angel who believes in my project and can support me to bring more muscles to skyrocket my business ideas to the next level.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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