Accepting Credit Cards by M Theresa Brown
Credit and debit cards. As a marketing artist (www.ArtCareerExperts.com) , I am asked all the time by artists about what and how to accept credit cards.
“I can’t afford the fees!” says one artist.
“They’ll take a big bite out of the final figure!” complains another.
“My bank won’t give me one-they say I’m not a business because it’s just me,” comments another artist.
What do you do? Well, if you are an artist who is taking your business seriously, you need to be able to accept and process both credit and debit cards for your clients who are interested in purchasing your work! Whether you sell occassionally out of your studio or regularily at a show or even on the street, the ability to make a sale will increase ten fold if your client can pay for the purchase with a credit card. Yes, really!
Even back before swipe machines, any business that was set up to handle credit cards could pretty much guarantee a 60% increase in sales simply by offering this method of payment.
The percentage now?
Well, banking technology has advanced to the point where it is becoming less frequent to find an individual carrying around a check book, let alone sums of cash. So if you sit on the side of the road with your pottery or have your office workers wanting to buy what you just made at lunch or find a line of prospects at your tent at an outdoor art show, if you cannot take these cards, you might as well go back to your studio.
So what ARE simple, cost effective ways to accept credit and debit cards?
Online, we like to use www.Paypal.com. So many online stores now accept paypal that it is a smart move to open your account now. You might as well have your website and blog making money for you and it’s easy to do with the step by step processes through Paypal. We send our clients invoices through Paypal and you can set up your own templates for deposits, receipts, etc. Hands down, get a Paypal account!
AH, but what about all those off line sales? Well, after the old knuckle buster machines bit the dust, (the ones where you had to call in the number for approval?)we eventually took on a portable swipe machine we saw in Sunshine Artists magazine. They were the new thing-perfect for on the road artists.
Much more helpful, easy to take into remote areas (if there was cell connection) and it looks like a cell phone with a swipe assemblage next to it. We have a little printer which prints out the basic receipts. Cost? Well a lease is $42.00 a month and very reasonable 1.79% per sale. Ah yes. The numbers. Let’s see, there is a per piece fee, a batch fee, a tax fee, an annual $99.00 compliance fee…..the monthly lease whether you had a sale or not (that happens) ….and that 1.79% was looking more like a whopping 5% per sale at the end of the year. After 3 years of leasing you are also offered a “deal” where you can buy the machine for an additional $250.00.
So bless technology and inventors as, after a lot of recent research we opted to go with a very cool little device from a company called www.Squareup.com that attaches to our cell phones (we have two). There is no lease, no batch fees, no surprises. There is a flat 2.75% if you swipe the card, a little more if you key it in (over the phone for instance) You can photograph the art they just bought and by sending their receipt to either their phone or email, you have also captured THEIR basic information as well (such as phone, address ) to your email. It even googles the location of where you both were when they purchased it. (very helpful at art shows)
Go online to the www.Squareup.com site and make sure that you have the right phone for the job. I have an Android (Hero HTC) and went to the Sprint store to get a free upgrade to be able to use my version. Because of my particular phone, I found this Youtube video especially helpful!
Other YouTube videos will show you how to use the device with an Ipad or Blackberry. We have tested it, loved it and see it as a great, cost effective solution for artists, whether you currently do or do not take credit cards. There is no such thing as a free credit card processor. That’s how they make their money. For the artist, 2.75% of the sale sure beats 50% wouldn’t you say? 🙂
In the final analysis, use due diligence of course. But if your own bank is making you jump through hoops, or the cost prior to this has been prohibitive, or you are not a formal business, then this could be the solution for you!
Want to see what other artists do in their art marketing? Join our free online forum at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/ArtistPaycheck/