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BiyoArt Business Update


It's mid February 2008 and starting the business update for this year begins with the follow through of fixing our shipment issues of last year. There were a couple 13x18 framed prints arriving in a less than perfect condition and a glass replacement refund had to be issued to both customers, who were satisfied with the settlement. Hence, new shipping boxes were ordered that allow hard insulation packaging similar to the way our larger prints are shipped. We have shipped several orders without issue to date.

Business tax season is upon us again and every January begins the process of determining this past year's efforts. While we have finally managed to overcome our road expenses, our internet advertising efforts and basic overhead cost still have us in the red. The cost of the Google Adword learning curve has been expensive, but going into it to achieve success had been a known, researched factor. Our cost of doing business from last year to this year was overall about the same, unit sales were up 10%, while our net sales increased by 36%; which can be attributed to selling more framed product.

Our latest cost cutting effort deals with our merchant services account provided by Nova International. When we first opened the account in 2001, the rates for our audio response unit service (ARU) were 2.32% at $0.95 per item with a $5.00 monthly statement fee. Well, our volume of sales back then were no where near the present levels, so the rates seemed reasonable. Bring it up to the end of 2007 and the rates were 3.21% at $1.11 per item with an $8.50 monthly statement and a $30 monthly minimum. These rates are also based upon an ARU service, which by definition are more expensive from any merchant service provider. Given our current position we went shopping for services and ended obtaining a new account with 1st National Processing (, a subsidiary of iPayment and a registered independent sales provider or member service provider (ISO/MSP) of Wells Fargo bank. Their link was found as a service provider on the Art Fair Sourcebook service site. Our new merchant service is now a Store and Forward based service utilizing a Lipman Nurit 3010 portable card swipe unit, with keyed in option rates for internet / mail / phone sales. Our basic monthly volume rates will see a decrease of over 40%, an overall per item decrease of about 60%, monthly statement fee increase of $1.50 and no monthly minimum or annual fees. Cost of unit with shipping and setup is around $190, while we believe the termination fees to our Nova account should be around $95 and current February fees of around $38. Currently awaiting the unit and will provide overall feedback at a later date.

Further modifications to our 4 month old Google Adword account over the past month finally yields a daily click through rate (CTR) average of around 4%. This in turn has gained higher position in the sponsored link ranking at a lower cost per click (CPC). Our aim is to keep our relative positions for the strong keywords, also based on cost to maintain and impressions, on an average around the number 5 position. For the weaker keywords, cost to maintain versus position and impressions, on average around the number 7 position. Just about all of the keywords maintain the Great status for ad and landing page association. We maintain a negative keyword association list of around 250, a negative site listing of around 30 and are no longer listed on the content network due to various characteristics of the CPC generated. Of course, at the end of the day, the real metric to measure success is the associated sales for the advertising campaign. Given the market economics and our unique artwork makes this difficult, so currently the target is to obtain a not so painful monthly cost versus sales until various methods can be produced to achieve higher sales (i.e. more designs and better page rank on search). Currently we have modified down to 14 campaigns with about 10 - 40 (football - triathlon) keywords per campaign all targeting the exact or phrase version of the desired keyword. Cost per campaign is at $2.00 per day, so $28 for the whole account. The target account cost is around $2.00 a day in CPC until we can get the sales to cover cost, at which point, based on varying factors the individual campaign cost can be increased to get more impressions per day per search. At the moment the target cost is for one framed piece of small artwork to cover the monthly cost of advertising. This maintains a head barely above water mentality, gasping for air position if you will...while pushing ahead. It'll have to do for now.

Which brings us onto the next topic of website design. The current framed based site has been optimized, renamed files and directories, images file updated...blah, blah,'s still a framed based site and search engines do not understand it's framed content indexing nature. Many users have liked the basic site design, but many have commented, negatively, on the window re-sizing, navigation, frame reloads back to the index...etc. It also leans more towards an artistic flavor and needs to be brought back a little more towards the commercial, more comfortable to users buying flavor. Given that our keywords for the sponsored site position have excellent placement based on a variety of characteristics, including relative strength of the landing page...but, these pages are called into the frame content which the search engines cannot seem to ferret out even with a site index file. Page rank is also suppose to play into the Google Adword algorithm for placement and cost of keywords, yet a search of our keywords leads to a nonexistent page position. The overall home index frame page has a page rank of 2 out of 10; which is crap. Plus, an image search yields no keyword images anywhere except from our other shopping sites; which is more crap. This, in no way, helps our cause...time to change again. To make a longer story shorter, Dreamweaver CS3, full retail version, was purchased to step up from our version 4. It is completely different, with the utilization of cascading style sheets (CSS) and spry menu navigation functionality. Got a lot to do...currently on chapter 9 page layouts, but the new website layout design is slowly fermenting. Also found the freeware IcoFX to update the website icons...pretty cool stuff. Onward...tortured soul.

Mid-March brings us to Chapter 9 in The Missing Manual for Dreamweaver CS3, the purchase of another missing manual series of CSS, several additional designs loaded to the website, business taxes completed for the first quarter, one merchant service terminated with another performing well for the moment, all variations of art festival applications in the mail (including 5 new shows), internet orders out the door and finally the constant massaging vigil over the Adwords campaign on Google. Also, determined not to be in a rush to get another website online, but instead modify where required on the existing one while designing the new one and get more designs completed for the current online site and art festival season.

It's been real
We'll have to do it again real soon.
Talk at ya.


20 - February - 2008


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