This past year for artwork sales was as tumultuous as was the
media reports of the economy. For the year, sales were better
than the 2008 season, which would make it the best year on record
for sales. But, as with the reported ups and downs with the economy,
festival attendance as with sales were at times its best and others
at its worst. The year started with a blast in attendance and
sales in Buffalo, NY, and humbled itself two weeks later in Manayunk,
PA. The whole season turned into one long, exhausting roller coaster
ride which will require a few adjustments for the 2010 season.
One brightest spot of the season though, was winning an award
for the very first time in Graphics at the Mystic Outdoor Art
Festival for the Swinging Eight rowing artwork in maroon. The
award was for second place, a $250 check and the addition to the
website of Award Winning Graphic Sports Art Prints Plus.
Adjustments to the 2010 season will be the dropping of three
festivals from the schedule and to not add any new ones for this
season. The three festivals being dropped are in Manayunk PA,
Canandaigua NY and Alton Bay NH. We are not going to add any festivals
this year so that more time can be placed into advertising and
website modification as well as the addition of new designs.
Dropping the three festivals from the schedule decreases our
road cost by 41% and in-turn increases our road, gross profit
margin by 86%. This increase doesn't take into account cost of
goods sold, but the overall increase was a bit of an eye opener.
Add this to our overall cost reduction of almost 18% this year
for company expenditures gets one thinking of getting paid in
the future would be another welcomed expense.
The Manayunk PA festival has been a bit of a hassle these past
few years, both in travel and festival particulars. We have always
made a profit at the festival, but it gets to a point where it
no longer makes business sense to continue our efforts. If one
slice of a festival layout is any indication of the festival as
a whole, then the management of this festival needs to reboot
its thought process. The quality of work represented as well as
local support for the festival has not maintained itself over
the past few years, for upscale artists we know no longer attend
the festival and some so-called artist representatives work should
not have been juried into the festival. It would also appear local
demands upon the management of the festival has led to many issues
with booth layout as well as booth configuration. Finally, to
top it all off this past year was the simulated fire drill from
three different directions to punctuate the point; it was a dangerous
point to make for a very public simulation.
The Canandaigua NY festival is 30 miles south of Rochester NY.
We attended the show as a recommendation from customers as well
as fellow artists. The festival makes great business sense for
artist from the general area, but travel expenses eat away into
the quaintness of this festival. This particularly windy and late
stormy weekend forced us to cover the back side of the booth to
protect it from the water spray emanating from the lake waves
into the rocks behind the booth. It was also a good thing it rained
buckets the final hour of the festival to wash off the baby bird
poop from the big tree above the booth; of course mamma bird was
feeding its young black raspberries.
The Alton Bay NH show on Labor Day weekend is also a very nice
and very small local show to attend on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee.
Although we also make a small profit at this show due to our low
cost accommodations, the hours are a little long and attendance
too localized to justify the sales and continued commitment.
Website updates included the addition of Google AdSense to offset
the costs of utilizing Google AdWords. Tracking ads from Google
were incorporated into the sports artwork landing pages and Artwork
Review pages from our active AdWord campaigns for search keywords.
For the active ten months of utilization of AdSense for the 2009
year, it offset 11% of our AdWord cost.
AdWord comparison statistics between 2008 and 2009 saw an increase
of 40% in ad impressions, but only a 5% increase in clicks. This
in turn translated to a 25% decrease in click-thru-rate (CTR),
but cost control decreased overall expense by 6% while only reducing
by 4% the average placement to 5.4. Metrics have yet to be filtered
out of the data to determine true click-to-conversion search criteria
as compared to sales from festival patrons, but 2009 Internet
sales represent 31% of the bottom line, an increase of 5% from
BiyoArt tried print advertising for the first time in the Greater
Manchester Sports paper, a local youth and school sports biweekly
edition of 9000 copies to over 275 locations of an ad area of
275,000 people. The editions, in turn, are posted for future reference
on-line in a pdf format in its website greaternhsports.com. Five
of the holiday season editions were targeted from October - December
for $200 for a CMYK colored ad of 18 square inch dimension. Past
artwork in print have never been a very good representation and
at 18 inch square proved the point again. But the artwork at 32
square inch looked pretty good in print. So, an inexpensive learning
curve at print advertising, but we also have yet to prove there
was any return on our investment.
BiyoArt also managed to get on-line image ad space on the textileriverregatta.org
rowing site for $50 a year. This website event also provides an
internal event link on the merrimackrowing.org rowing website.
We will also be exploring other such sporting website linkage
and social network website advertising over the coming year.
We also received an e-mail from an artwork vendor, which caught
us completely off guard, requesting our rates to advertise on
the website. So, much thought was put towards establishing an
Advertising Corporate Policy with all of the guidelines, rates
and requirements. Ad images, advertising space availability on
the website, were also developed so as to reflect the same format
structure we established for our site with the Google AdSense
ads. This policy and ad program will more than likely be incorporated
once the new landing page layouts are completed in February, as
well as the page layout updates to include the additional ad space
opposite the Google AdSense layout.
Another ongoing, major event in credit card accepting websites
this past year was their attestation of compliance to the Payment
Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) Self-Assessment
Questionnaire (SAQ) version 1.2 of October 2008. It was just our
luck, by choice, that we do not utilize a credit card gateway
processing service and are obligated to comply with SAQ version
D, which includes over 200 compliance questions regarding procedures,
processes, storage, configuration, encryption, maintenance, security,
restriction, protection, access, testing, tracking, policy...etc.
Also, any website which processes credit card information and/or
stores credit card information must also pass a cyclic security
scan administered by a Certified Scanning Vendor at a frequency
determined by the credit card industry.
Our Internet service provider (ISP) is LunarPages (Add-2-Net
network) who is a client of American Internet Services (AIS) of
San Diego CA where our server is physically located within its
Lightwave server farm facility. AIS is certified to Statement
on Auditing Standards (SAS) No.70 Type II, which is a third-party
assurance for service organizations maintained by the American
Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). These SAS-70
professional standards are set up for a service auditor that audits
and assesses internal controls of a service organization and act
as the framework to certify such standards as those established
by the PCI DSS compliance standards as delineated in the SAQ-D.
An SAQ-D was submitted to LunarPages in late May for their input,
but due to various time constraints and clarification revisions,
was not completed until early October and finally submitted to
our merchant service provider. Some clarification issues were
that of additional and differently oriented questions on our merchant
service SAQ-D as compared to the one submitted to our ISP service.
The merchant service questionnaire originally could not be downloaded
or electronically copied for submittal to our ISP service, so
the SAQ-D was obtained in electronic document format from the
PCI Security Standards Council. Once the Standards Council version
was completed by our ISP it took a week to clarify the differences
and another month to get revisions from our ISP to complete the
merchant services modified SAQ. Upon submittal and acceptance
by our merchant service, account information was provided for
its Certified Scanning Vendor ComplyGuard. So, our website was
now required to pass quarterly scanning certification by ComplyGuard
scanning software ComplyShield. The SAQ-D is also required to
be submitted on a yearly basis.
This past May, as a preemptive measure, we also spent 2 weeks
validating and implementing further enhancements on our website
configuration based upon results from a free scan provided by
Comodo HackerGuardian, a Certified Scanning Vendor. In the end
we obtained a valid certification of our website for 90 days for
free. Did I mention that our credit card service provider, 1st
National Processing in affiliation with iPayment and Wells Fargo
Bank, as well as all other service providers, started charging
a fee for having to implement these PCI DSS compliance standards
to satisfy the credit card industry theft and network hacking
issues. Anyone who handles credit cards, whether physically or
electronically, must submit and adhere to these new security standards
So, a scan was scheduled in October to validate the security
of our website by ComplyGuard's ComplyShield, knowing full well
the issues that will require resolving again from the certification
of our previous scan in May by Comodo's HackerGuardian. As usual
the same security issues were determined along the lines of severe
/ high / medium / low security risks and our merchant service
was notified immediately as to our noncompliance because of severe
security holes encountered during the scan. What ?? It would seem
that our new scanning service, without due diligence of determination
and explanation, notified our merchant service as to our severe
security risk. As it turns out at the time, most of the issues
were related to the patched OpenSSL operating system version implemented
on our Linux server. The utilization of a patched operating system
is completely normal and securely valid, but the scanning software
cannot determine its patched revision. To augment the problem,
our new scanning service also required system generated verification
of implementation and/or modification justifying conformity in
the form of screen captures performed by the system administration
personnel at our ISP service. What ?? Well anyway, 2 weeks later
all issues were clarified without a single website, server or
network modification to satisfy the severe security risk reported
upon completion of the original scan.
We were also informed, following clarification of the first quarterly
scan, that if these issues were present upon subsequent quarterly
scans, completely new screen captures would be required to satisfy
any old and/or new security issue again. Prior submitted information
would not be valid for submittal. What ?? But, it was to our good
fortune that our ISP service, LunarPages, migrated our server
to a new platform with the latest OpenSSL operating system in
early January. The first quarter scan in mid-January had absolutely
no errors to report. What ??
So, it would be nice to finally get some designs done at some
It's been real
We'll have to do it again real soon.
Talk at ya.