Monday, August 20, 2012

To Market, To Market...

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

We make jewelry.  We want people to buy it.  The more people who see our work, the better our chances are of making a sale.  Enter the internet.  

Online, the possibilities are endless. You just have to take advantage of them. The more locations you present your work, the more people will see it, start lusting after it, and want to own it. Like athletes cross train to build muscles, endurance and agility, cyber sellers need to cross promote to reach a greater audience and to seduce the audience they reach.  Each social networking or cyber commerce site leads a potential buyer to another - and the more times they see something intriguing, the more they’ll want it.

Etsy - The world’s marketplace for all things handmade.  Why would you want to open an Etsy shop? The better question is why wouldn’t you? According to Etsy’s blog “The Storque”  $6.5 million worth of goods were sold in July alone, with over 80,000 new members joining.  Yes, the competition is fierce, especially with jewelry, but where else would you be able to have so many people view your wonderful work?  And the seller support there is amazing. The Resources section has links to great articles to help you get started from how to set up your shop, taking better photos, cooperative advertising ideas, the art of pricing and more. The Virtual Labs offer cyber meetings for newbies, shop critiques and a camera-assisted glimpse into the brick and mortar Etsy labs in Brooklyn on  Craft Night. There are chat rooms, forums and teams for social networking. 

The Artful Home - This site features handmade objects for the home and body, but with a more upscale presentation and clientele. Focusing on North American artists, this is a juried cyber gallery with only about 1200 artists offering about 10,000 items at any given time.  Artists are asked to submit a resumé and photos of their work, which are reviewed monthly by an advisory team. 

Ruby Lane - Is a venue that provides cyber store fronts for both handmade and commercially manufactured goods alike.  The fee system is unique and includes a monthly charge for advertising. Like The Artful Home, Ruby Lane has defined return and exchange policies. One attractive feature of this site includes various audio tutorials including shop set up and fee explanations.

Big Cartel - Want to add a professional looking shopping cart to your existing web site? Big Cartel is a simple, easy to integrate option for those who want to offer their visitors a one-stop shopping experience, without the distraction of other sellers' goods. It also offers the ability to customize the colors and header to blend seamlessly with your web site design. Test out the site for free with 5 items and then upgrade to two different levels to take full advantage of this great shopping cart system.

Offering your goods at more than one location increases your visibility exponentially.

• Blogs - Creating a blog of your own gives you a place to share photos of works in progress and items you’ve listed in a shop, but it also gives potential collectors more insight into your life, work and process. Here’s where you can share tutorials, accomplishments, classes you offer, other artists you admire - anything you that interests you and that you think your readers would find interesting.  A personal blog can be a simple one paragraph, once a week endeavor;  a professional, ad laden, everyday commercial venture or anything in between. It can fit seamlessly into your life and take up as much time as you want to give to it. Or as little. Check out Blogger, Typepad or Wordpress to see which might serve your needs best.

• Visiting other peoples' blogs can also be a great way to get noticed.  When you leave comments on articles they’ve written or products they’ve featured, the editor might take a look at your contact info (which should be your own blog or shop) and offer to feature your work. Their readers might find your comment interesting and want to learn more about the person who wrote it. Then - bingo bango! A new contact you wouldn’t have otherwise made.

• Online Advertising - In addition to posting comments on professional blogs, you can often buy advertising space on them. The ads are usually on one of the sidebars in full view of readers. Find a blog that you think might attract the same type of readers who would be interested in your jewelry and contact them directly to find out about ad space or try out an advertising auction site like Project Wonderful. You choose the price you want to pay and when you want the ad to run, bid on it and Project Wonderful does the rest.

Flickr - I’ve always thought of Flickr as a place that folks upload pictures of their vacations and the kids to share with long distance relatives, but it can be so much more than that. While sharing glimpse of your life, pets, home and hobbies you are allowing potential buyers to get to know “the real you”, giving them a feeling of personal acquaintance. Posting pictures of your works in progress creates an excitement to see the final object and a desire to collect - I speak from experience. I’ve bought some wonderful things from my Flickr contacts. Taking beautiful pictures of your completed work (and tagging it correctly) allows galleries and magazines to find you in a search, providing opportunities you might not otherwise have had. One of my images interested an editor at Belle Armoir enough that she invited me to write an article for the magazine.

Twitter - Twitter is a service that allows members to “tweet” messages of 140 characters or less to their followers. Chirp about little tidbits and snippets of what you’re doing, movies you’ve seen, and yes - products you sell. But take care not to be a constant advertisement. For more on the fine art of Twittering read these two great blogs entries: one and two and visit this Squidoo lens.

These are just a very few of the many marketing venues offered on the web.  There are more storefront sites like ArtFire; Dawanda; and ShopHandmade, more social networking sites like Facebook and Crafthaus, and shopping sites where you can share your own favorites like StyleHive; ThisNext; and Kaboodle. You can advertise your art and knowledge by making videos and sharing them on YouTube or Vimeo. Online promotional opportunities are as vast as the internet itself.  Spend part of a rainy afternoon exploring and discover the new brave new world of marketing possibilities.

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