sell your craft

Why your Art Needs a Story

As an artist, making each piece by hand, do you worry about competing with knock-offs made by children in China? Even if your designs are trademarked and copyrighted,  you likely can’t afford the lost time or emotional reserves to fight these mass manufacturers.  I’ve watched it happen to so many artists and I know it’s a struggle to stay ahead of the copy-cats. So, what can you do about it? How can you differentiate your work from the inexpensive look-a-likes? Well, the best way I know is to make sure that shoppers know the difference so that they appreciate the value of your work and understand why it commands a higher price tag. Otherwise, they are not going to pay $279. for a piece that looks just like what they’ve seen in the Target or Walmart. And the one element that makes your work worth paying more for is the YOUness. If your work doesn’t have a story, your customer can’t understand the value and there is no way they are going to pay more for something that looks just like the cheaper one. Now, more than ever, your art needs a story.  Annette Simmons, author of The Story Factor,  said  “in today’s world almost anyone you want to influence is operating under a deficit of human attention.”  They are drowning in facts, information and  statistics. They need a story they can relate to.  Most people don’t remember facts and figures. They do remember stories. As an artist, you need a story too. If you’re showing your work at a juried craft show, chances are the attendees  understand the value of your work. In that case, just being personable and explaining a bit about your process, inspiration, etc will help reinforce the old know-like-trust factor. They’ll be loyal fans because they know your face and like you. However, if you exhibit at an un-juried show, it’s likely that some vendors have slipped imports into the mix and you’ll have to work harder to make sure the customers know you.. Knowing your “story”, where you came from and how you got where you are now, adds that human element and makes your work worth the higher price. If your art is represented in a gallery, you may Continue reading

Are you Missing these Opportunities to Sell Your Crafts in January?

This post was originally published two years ago today but is every bit as relevant today.

By now you are likely back to work after the holidays. I hope you enjoyed time with family and friends or just relished some quiet solitude, if that’s what you desired.

“Back to work” has a different meaning when you’re self employed, particularly if you love what you do and where you do it. If you are in an area of the country experiencing winter storms, you’re probably feeling extra grateful that you don’t have to bundle up and scrape the ice off your windshield before you brave the icy roads for your longer than usual commute. This morning as the airwaves buzzed with school closures, traffic delays and treacherous road conditions, I sure appreciated my self employed status. If you already work from home, is your business meeting your financial expectations? Are you finding your work fulfilling? How are you dealing with potential isolation?

Maybe you are still working for someone else but have promised yourself that 2010 is the year you’ll break free and start your own business.

Whether you’re looking for ways to supplement your income, increase the volume you are already doing in your business or just starting out, January is the time to map out your immediate and long term business strategies.

What are you doing right now, this week to ensure that you will have income this month?

If you’re thinking that people are not spending after the holidays, you’re missing out. Whether you sell a tangible product, information or service, January can be a strong month if you stay open to thinking differently about your potential clients or customers.

Think about all the people who receive cash gifts for Christmas! They may have been eyeing that handmade piece you showcased in December but were in the giving rather than “self-gifting” mindset before the holidays. Now, they have “me” money but unless you remind them you are still out there making fabulous stuff, that money won’t find it’s way to you.

What about the people whose new year’s resolutions involve eating healthfully or learning a new skill? Now is a better time than pre-holiday to market your personal chef, fitness training or voice coaching services. Let’s say you teach macrobiotic cooking or  jewelry making or sell supplies? Both the recipient of cash gifts and the new student are your potential customers.

There are also a number of little known holidays in January. Just google “January holidays” and you’ll find that today is National Bird Day. Who knew?  I have no idea who comes up with these fairly obscure days of celebration but had you known this earlier and planned ahead, you could have arranged a show and sale of your handmade bird ornaments or bluebird earrings at the Audubon club.

Think of what you could have done had you known that tomorrow is Dia de Reyes.  Tonight, January 5,  figurines of the Three Wise Men are added to the nativity scene. Before bed, Mexican children place their old shoes under their beds, where the Wise Men will leave them presents.

Next week is Japanese Coming of Age Day and the 24th is the Anniversary of Gold Discovery Day in California. (1848). My head is spinning with ideas for marketing your creative services and handmade crafts on those and other January holidays like Chinese New Years and Australia Day, both Jan. 26th. If you’re asking yourself what those  celebrations have to do with you, have you forgotten that you are reading this on the “world wide web”? As my friend Barbara Winter says, “your clientele is no longer limited by geography.” So, go explore what’s being celebrated in your neighborhood and around the world. Rather than thinking you’re too late for Christmas, you’ll find you’re early for some creative offerings or craft selling opportunities. What are you doing now to ensure you’ll have cash flow next month?