Like many crafts people and artists who decide to start selling their work, I was really looking forward to spending my days drawing, designing, painting, sculpting, etc, in other words doing something I loved. I knew I might have to do some fairs, that I’d need to set up a website and probably upload a lot of my designs and resources to online selling sites. I knew I would have to contact certain groups of target customers directly and I thought it would probably be of benefit to have a business Facebook page and Twitter feed. I took a business start-up course with my local chamber of commerce (St Helens) and having had to produce a business plan as part of my degree, albeit over 20 years ago, I thought I was pretty well prepared.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the overwhelming amount of branding and marketing, in various forms, that would need to take place on a daily basis. From perfecting product photography and developing a ‘style’ to labouring and agonising over the correct wording for descriptions and tags, the marketing aspect of running a crafts business is almost self-defeating. If I did all the marketing it looks as if I need to to do, then I’d never have time to make and if I made as much as I would like, I wouldn’t have time to sell it!
Fortunately, back in January, I spotted a link for a new training programme on Etsy, Etsy Resolution 2016.
Granted, without ER16, I wouldn’t have known about half the stuff I do and worry about now but equally, I wouldn’t have sold anything either! Whilst the training has been extremely useful, the invaluable legacy of being involved in ER16 is the network of new Etsians who continue to support, inspire and advise one another daily, even though the the programme is now over. They are the thoughtful ear when you’re having a bad day or are full of self-doubt; they are happy to offer feedback on new designs or ideas and they are full of advice on a multitude of topics.
And whilst there are lots of members who share their sales or ask for help with issues arising from problems with customers, by far the most common request for help is in regards to marketing, SEOs and using social media. Like I said, I’m not alone with being caught in the market or make trap.
I don’t have an answer to the problem, I’m still looking for balance between the two. If anyone comes up with the perfect formula or, even better, a magic tag that would guarantee your work would get seen (and hopefully bought!), I’m all ears!! 🙂