Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not My First Dance

When I started this blog I subtitled it Adventures in Marketing because I thought I would share as I learn.

What I want to share today is what I have done up until now. I have been making and selling beaded jewelry here and there for decades.

My first sales were to family and friends. My mother, grandmother, and aunts have always oohed and aahed over my creations and they will always be my first and best supporters. Friends have watched me create and than purchased pieces they were particularly taken by over the years. Those “sales” are sometimes gifts and at a reduced wholesale price.

My next venue was as a street vendor- no license, no plan, just a cloth set out on the ground, and no profit. Although it sounds bleak it affirmed my skills as an artist; total strangers stopped and not only looked at my creations but bought my jewelry.

I branched out in the early 1990’s to a local gallery. (The picture accompanying this post is from that show and looking every bit its age.) Although being able to place my work in a gallery was an affirmation of my artistry it was not a monetary success. At the time I blamed the lack of sales on a lack of understanding in the community. Since I work mainly with seed beads the potential customers did not see past the materials, i.e. glass beads and thread, to the value of the art itself. Craft fairs were not overrun by jewelry artists. Craft shops were of two varieties: fabric shops and hobby shops. Etsy did not exist. I was ahead of my time and not a successful leader. My lack of professionalism, beyond my art, also contributed to my lack of sales. Nonetheless, I consider my gallery experience an accomplishment.

A decade after my failed gallery experience I began selling to co-workers. This was almost all word of mouth. Even though these were my best sales this was far from professional. Nothing was priced or labeled. Nothing was displayed. It was, however, just the push I needed to begin looking at other venues.

The next obvious step was craft fairs. It is here that I finally began to develop my presentation- display and tags. Most craft fairs, however, are not a good venue for jewelry. The most important lesson I learned is that there are a lot of talented jewelry artists and my work had better stand out.

Recently I have been learning what I can about marketing. I have a group of friends who I meet with to discuss marketing. I read blogs that offer marketing tips:
• Cat at Olive bites;
• Lori Anderson at Pretty Things;
• Lorelei Eurto at Lorelei’s Blog;
• Luann Udell at Luann Udell;
• Alyson Stanfield at Art Biz Blog;
• Harriete Estel Berman at Ask Harriet;

And too many others to name. I follow these blogs not just for what they say explicitly about marketing but also for what I can learn from example.

This is not my first dance and not my last and hopefully as I go along I will stumble less.

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Thank you for sharing. I had to turn off anonymous comments because spam was being posted.