Monday, January 16, 2012

Part 1...Been There, Done That...Will I do it Again?

I'm going to attempt to teach you everything I've learned over the last 23 years in business...haahahahaha.

I thought I could whip out this post quickly because I've been thinking about it for weeks and weeks...but in actuality I've edited it for days and days and cut out a lot because you just don't need to hear all of my personal experiences with each issue...really, you don' I've pared it down to just the meat without the potatoes....

I've read all the books...from art marketing to Etsy and Ebay marketing. I've done trade shows, and high end juried art shows in both local and national markets. There have been good years and most definitely lean years...and years I just couldn't muster up my creativity.

Before I was in this business I designed and painted  floorcloths for 20 something years. I've always been interested in marketing my own goods. Over the last 10 years things have changed almost over night. The options to "get the word out" are endless! I will say here and now that I have made the mistake of putting too much emphasis on marketing because I have tried to do it ALL.

Print Advertising
Expensive! No matter if it's the local newspaper or a national magazine. I've done both and I've never been happy enough with the results. 

Press releases have gotten me more work...they seem to carry more weight with readers. They are more personal. People like stories.

No to paid ads for me. Yes to press releases when I do something new and wonderful!

Years ago, everyone needed a website. A presence online meant you would be found by millions and sell goods all over the world...hahaha! I have a website that is second to my blog. It is information and just another place for someone to land when they google the junk ranch. I like that I maintain it and can keep my information up to date, and that my email is attached to it.

So, YES to a website...or your own domain name as a blog....

First off, if you've read my blog from the beginning, you know that I started a blog almost the day I decided I was going to start this new chapter in my life. I was excited, I had lots to say and must have had way more time than I do posts were often and more interesting than as of late for sure!

The goal with a blog is to build relationships and with relationships comes information you all share for the betterment of the community. Blogging is a community, a support group in a sense, and a sales tool second.

I am planning to do a better job with my blog this year. I enjoy writing and taking pictures. If nothing else, it's another nice creative outlet and I enjoy going back through my own posts and seeing any progress I've made or changes I can make.

So YES to the blog.

Social Networks 
Some people swear by them. They say they can contribute much success to social networks. I am not good at it. It's a chore and it shows. I make a small attempt to keep a Facebook account and a Twitter account...a small attempt.

In my own opinion, and experience, most but not all, social network contacts are curious about what you are doing. Even though they may think what you are doing is interesting and they intend to support you, if it's not really their "thing" they won't. And on another note, some friends/followers are just lurkers or are only looking for inspiration...and not truly a networking relationship.

I will say Yes and No to social networking. If you enjoy it Yes. It's information and it's building relationships and that's good. No, to social networking as a form of advertising products. Instead, create a SOLD gallery and a  NEW ITEMS album. Then if interested, people will look and not feel like you are always trying to sell them something...even though you'd really like to!

And Now We Have Pintrest
The newest thing to me to take up precious creative time...I am overwhelmed by this. I've pinned only a few photos so far.

The jury is out on Pintrest...It looks fun but I think it's addictive and it's another time stealer. Houzz is a similar site. I do have a private account there for my eyes only where I keep idea files for my home. I only look at it about once a week and I'm good. If you can use it to store ideas you find online as it's intended and not spend hours looking at other's boards it's probably a good thing.

If someone pins your work, say, from your Etsy shop, it can be a very good thing for you...and you wouldn't even have to have a Pintrest account for that to happen. Pintrest is not a sales tool, but more of an idea file or inspiration board.

I will have to say Maybe for now on Pintrest.

Friends and Family Support
This is touchy but it has to be said. Friends and family may not support you. Period. This one I probably should edit out for the sake of not stepping on toes, but it's important to understand from a business point of view.

This is our second retail business. The first one was an art gallery. I have both family members and friends that never darkened the door until we closed and moved out. The space became a pocketbook and jewelry store and then a coffee shop. Many times I've been asked in conversation by several of them (friends and family that never came to see me there) if I'd ever been in either of those shops. Good grief!

Our storefront here at home has been open for over a year. I have friends that live within a couple of miles from here that say every time I run into them that they are going to stop they say they can't wait to visit our booth in Concord. Wait! You mean they'd drive an hour to see what's in our booth when they won't take 2 minutes to swing by here and see everything before we take it to the booth? Good grief again! 

Don't get me wrong. I have lots of support from the friends and relatives that want the things I make or sell...but like I said earlier...if it's not their "thing" they won't support you and they honestly don't know that you would even look for them to actually show up. Don't take it personally. We all do it on some level!

So, NO to counting on 100% Friend and Family Support of your business. YES, to staying positive and understanding that people usually have the best of intentions, but at the same time tend to keep their own agenda.

Well, this is enough for recap...and add one more tidbit I forgot to mention....

No to giving away my hard earned money for little to no results to advertise.

Yes to informative websites and blogs...People want to know details.

Yes to my own domain name and email with my domain's information they can track me down by.

Yes to blogging and creating relationships with like minded people. It's nice to know others do what I do and feel the same feelings and emotions. We are real people, not just businesses.

Yes to social networking if one enjoys it. It can't hurt, unless we are spammy! One post a day isn't that hard and photos of new or sold items is easy.

No to social networking if it's not one's thing. It's really okay not to do it.

Maybe on Pintrest...only for pinning and not much looking.

No to expecting too much from friends and family.

...and most importantly and probably the best thing I've learned in years...YES to just doing it! I recently met another vendor at the antique mall where we have our booth. He stopped by my booth one day when I was restocking and struck up a conversation about some old bottles I had in there. It was most inspiring to say the least. He was walking around the mall doing some price comparisons. During our talk I learned that he decided to sell his 40+ year collection of old bottles and tools. He was doing extremely well by my standards and by that I mean anywhere from $900 to $1900 a month and it wasn't the busy season yet...I'd be curious myself to know how he did in November and December!

Before leaving the mall that day I swung by his booth to see what he was doing that I wasn't...what I found was a booth lined with home made wooden shelves loaded with his all looked like a well organized garage. He wasn't doing anything but what he knew how to do...and he obviously did it well! He didn't have a social network or a blog, website or online idea file that I know of. He had a booth full of cool stuff that was clean, easy to see and touch without being overly merchandised and most importantly, priced to sell. He was focused on what he wanted to sell and did it in a modest way no less. I was impressed. I will talk more in the next post about what else I gleaned from talking with this man.

So, to sum this up for today I will say YES! to focus. This year I'm going to focus on my objective and not so much on finding new ways to get distracted from actually doing what I really want to do...which is to have a successful handmade and vintage goods business.

In Part 2 I'll go into more about selling and Part 3, the best part, creating.

Until then,


1 comment:

  1. I have missed you, my friend...and I agree with your latest musings about howit all works..wish I could figure it out!
    I am working on opening an Etsy, if I can just overcome my fear of it all.
    You are always an inspiration.


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