If you want to sell your art and have all but given up, here’s hope! Over the years I’ve marketed my artwork in many different ways. My efforts tend to fall into 3 categories: craft fairs, house shows and online websites. Creating and selling pottery is a part-time endeavor for me, and because I much prefer the creative part to the selling, I look to make sales with as little time and effort involved as possible.
Craft fairs are not lucrative for me. I’ve participated in a number of local shows and found I am not able to compete with the low priced crafts being sold at nearby booths. Inexpensive costume jewelry, soaps and canvas bags appeal to casual shoppers more than unique, one of a kind pieces that are priced fairly, but perhaps too high for the average craft fair. To be successful I really need to participate in higher end shows, but unfortunately the cost of these booths is prohibitive and greatly eats into profits. I stopped doing craft shows years ago until last week when I participated in a show in which I was offered a free booth. What did I have to lose? Well, I did not do well, selling only 4 pieces in 4 hours. I spent much time pricing, wrapping and transporting my work, breaking an item or two in the process. Timing was bad, one week after Mother’s Day, which likely affected sales. On a more positive note, I had fun interacting with the shoppers, and a number of people did not buy but took my card. I also collected emails for my mailing list.
House shows set up as cocktail parties with wine and hors devours are more successful for me. I prefer to hold the events at a friend’s house if someone offers, which not only provides access to people I might not know personally, but also seems to create less pressure for friends invited. I do not want people to feel obligated to come. The last house show I did was two weeks before Mother’s Day last year. 100 people were sent email invitations and almost 75 showed up. The atmosphere was relaxed and social; guests visited while viewing the artwork and enjoying a glass or two of wine. My ceramic pieces were carefully displayed on every available space in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. The amount of time and effort that goes into this type of event is somewhat more than doing a craft show, but the expense is similar and rewards greater. I sold 70 pieces in 3 1/2 hours.
Selling online, more specifically on Etsy.com, is what works best for me. As someone who needs to see and touch art before purchasing, I was unsure how much I would sell on the web, but apparently many people who shop on Etsy do not feel the way I do. Selling online, however, is not as easy as simply listing items and sitting back in your pajamas waiting for sales. Each listing needs 3-5 professional looking pictures and for maximum exposure, 75 items should be listed in the store. Creating custom items involves less time up front than listing already made pieces, but since total control over how the piece looks after the two firings is not possible, the end result may not be exactly what the customer has in mind. Additionally, aggressive marketing via Etsy channels, website, blog, and social media channels is essential for my items show up in searches from potential buyers. More on online marketing in a future post. Packing and shipping can be a hassle, but easier once you have accumulated all the supplies including a postage scale. After 16 months on Etsy, I now consistently sell 3-4 pieces per month online. Most buyers are new, but I have a number of repeat customers as well, which is a huge compliment.
The moral of the story is that all artists must find the venue that works best for them and their specific work. A few tips:
- Know your audience and competition
- Do your research – price your artwork competetively
- Gather emails for email list
- Market aggressively – facebook, blog, website, twitter, pinterest, etc
- Solicit feedback for your online store so others will be comfortable ordering from you.
Share your success stories please! What works best for you? We can all learn from each other!