So how do you manage to sell an item that you're made? ...and more to the point, if it doesn't sell, does it mean the item is rubbish? ...or that you aren't any good as its creator?
My stepdaughter, Jen, has made me very aware of the importance of social media marketing which has become so integral in our lives that it's now said any company that doesn't avail itself of online resources is doomed to failure. While at the moment that may seem drastic, I have a feeling it will become total reality in the near future.
But getting back to you and I as sellers, we're just the little insignificant artisans trying to be seen in today’s doom and gloom economy. If you added up the hours spent creating whatever it was you did last, you'd know that you could never sell it at even the minimum hourly rate.
If you're like me, you really don't think about the money; what you're doing is for the love of creating, to able to use your gift of artistic ability... and of course it's nice to think that someone values your ability enough to buy from you. Receiving money to buy new supplies doesn't hurt either!
All of which brings us back full circle: how can you market yourself? Because let’s face it, it's not the tiny tea set, the cake, the....whatever it is you make, the bottom line is, it's you that you're selling. Once you've established a name for yourself, your creations seem easier to sell. Why else can a "known name" artisan command the big bucks for an item; I'm thinking of the Kivas and Linda Cummings and Betsy Niederers of the miniature clay foods... although I'm sure that if you asked, they'd tell you they don't find it that much easier; they’ve just been at it longer.
The most important marketing strategy seems to be networking. The more places that you join and become known at …and more importantly show off your creations, the better your chances of success.
There are blogs, yahoo clubs, facebook and twitter to name just a few. From what I’ve read about Social Media participation, here are some different uses:
Content creation - bloggerFacebook, for instance, allows you to create a business page; there are even apps so you can sell directly from your fb page.
Content sharing - twitter
Connections - facebook
Community building - facebook pages, Yahoo groups
You could sell from your blog …just create a separate page for sales. The problem I see with that is if your followers read your posts through the Google reader, they’ll never see the other pages that you’ve made. You could post a link within a regular post but usually only your followers are going to see it and then only if they’re caught up with their blog reading.
So what then? Do you sell from eBay? I’ve heard that if you’re a newbie eBay seller, eBay and its monetary company PayPal, hold the money you’ve received until after your customer leaves feedback.
You could create an Etsy store. However keep in mind that both Etsy and eBay will favor the buyer’s word in the case of a dispute.
One nice thing about Etsy, they very frequently send out emails giving help with selling and if you do your homework, adding lots of the “correct” tags to your sale item you do actually stand a chance that your item could come up in a Google search as well as a search from within Etsy. But here again, the operative phrase is “doing your homework” and that includes getting to understand one of the major concepts of online selling: keywords to help the search engine crawlers find you. Having great photos, well rounded descriptions etc, and your item might even end up being featured by Etsy.
There are places like CDHM that will do your marketing for you …for a price. But to my way of thinking, that defeats the purpose of selling in the first place …unless you sell multiple items, command large prices or can't/won't do your own marketing.
The bottom line is: if you’re a newbie seller, it takes almost as much time doing research, creating the correct (for you) marketing strategy and then using your chosen venue correctly as it does making your creation. The biggest no-no seems to be, simply churning out emails of the same item over and over and over again. People will just tune out or even worse, get annoyed with you.
And now that I’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest and/or got you thinking, I’ll step away from the dais and get back to my studio.