Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Monday Marketing

 

 It’s been a busy month of completing a lot of loose ends, especially in getting ready for the holiday season. But I am always on the outlook for great ideas for and about marketing. Ask Harriete has had an interesting series on displays for windows and booths – lots of great ideas to enjoy – as well as think about what could work for your own purposes. Window Dressing for Booth Display – fascinating ideas for setting up displays.  Made with pencils, and there is a video to go along with the photo as to how the booth was constructed. Who knew hangars could look so cool?

A fascinating TED talk on Collaborative Consumption – lots of food for thought……Would love to open a dialogue with folks about some of these ideas.

In the meantime, getting the Etsy shop loaded with fabrics in preparation for a 50 percent off sale on Cyber Monday. Promotesy (from the folks at Handmadeology) is a great tool for scheduling and marketing posts and items. And you really can’t beat $5 a month. The biggest marketing task has been a total makeover of the website, which has kind of sat idle for a couple of years, as the blog and Facebook page moved to the forefront. Lots of major changes on the site: new pages: Testimonials, Snapshots, Patterns, Digital Marbling, Classes and Workshops. Plus, new work is finally up, and the gallery has been seriously updated. Some pages still need writing and pictures, and the order form is getting a makeover, but the site is so much more comprehensive. And….two new domain names….

The domain name has been an interesting issue. We’ve had “marbledfab” since the late 1990s, since “marbledfabrics” was already taken. Hence a play on the words, but we always have to spell it for people. When we got our domain name, e-commerce was still very much in its infancy. It would be several years before domains became the critical component they are now. So we now have two new domains that point to the website (and I actually learned how to do that…): deanandlindamoran.com and MarbleTDesign.com. It’s all about branding and making it easy for folks to find us. We’ll see how it works…and the new business cards will have the new domains on them.

I decided to also add more examples of fabrics and patterns to our fabric page. These are pieces from our “we’ll never sell anything in this folder because it’s so gorgeous” file. These are just a few…..

Ideas to share? Pas them along!

Monday Marketing

So it is the end of Monday, and I am slowly getting things done in marketing. The last two weeks haven’t been incredibly productive – things have gotten done if they have had definite deadlines. Otherwise I have been plodding along, thinking about things to do, but that’s as far as it went. Which is why this article from Dumb Little Man hit home. Sometimes it just seems like there is a huge roadblock in your way – in this case, an icebereg.

“Icebergs can be deceiving, because what you see above water level is only the visible part of it. However, in some cases the iceberg could be a huge ice mountain, where the majority of its size is hidden underwater. Do you now see the connection between a iceberg and those certain types of tasks on your to do list? The task may look insignificant outside, but there is so much more to it than you think. It’s the hidden part that fools us into underestimating a task and promises an unrealistic optimistic timetable for finishing it.”

I think making my lists sometimes turns into an iceberg….I am still playing catch-up with to-do’s from four weeks ago.

To balance this article is another one from Dumb Little Man about balance.

4. Give yourself mini-breaks whenever you can.

8. Allow yourself the freedom to say “no.”

So I’m considering the last two weeks a mini-break….that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Monday Marketing

  A definitely busy week! I’ve been list-making for four weeks now, trying to keep track of everything that HAS to be done, NEEDS to be done, and WANTS to get done! I finally had to admit that I can’t take the Craftsy class with Cindy Needham I want until after the first of the year, because there are too many things going on that need to be finished up by the beginning of December.

Etsy has been selling well, and we need to get a LOT more fat quarters done and in the shop. The website should undergo some major revisions this week, and I’ll finish all the little cosmetic things I still need to do….pictures, descriptions, order form…..I get REALLY picky when it comes to having every possible loose end covered. EBay has also finally picked up, after a nonexistent summer. And we need more remnants for that site.

Craft Gossip ran our tutorial, and the number of newsletter subscriptions jumped. The newsletter will be going out on Sunday this month – trying a new delivery date to see if the “open ratio” is better. We have a guest post with C&T Publishing on Friday, full of pictures using marbled fabrics in quilts, both contemporary and traditional. Still have a few things to finish up on that post. We had an inquiry from a major magazine about fabric, so we worked on samples over the weekend and will get them in the mail tomorrow, along with notes about the fabrics.

Finally got a thread order done, and I should have a bunch of new threads for a couple of new projects by Friday. I need to put the binding on my bed stand runner, as the quilting is done for this month’s free motion challenge. I need to do another blog post for Handmadeology, this time on the importance of having product available whenever you do a demo. Might seem like basic knowledge, but we did a lot of years of demos without bringing anything to sell!

Monday Marketing….a Lot Accomplished!

Busy week, and lots of great things happening. All as a result of dropping a few ideas in the pond, as well as continuing to do what I’ve been doing.

The website is coming along. A lot of minor changes, new work is up, but there’s still stuff to do in descriptions. I need to get the shopping cart completed, as we just had an order this morning and the price was wrong. There was about ten hours of work so far, and now it’s about at the point where I have to turn over the rest of the work to my amazing web guru, Suzan. Interesting discussion from a friend about the confusion for branding on the site….like why the “T” in the business name. Turns out this was a play on the word “novelty” from way back, when we were thinking of primarily doing t-shirts. Now we can’t really change the name of the business, but I need to get our personal names involved more.

Inquiry from a magazine that I can’t say anything about now, but it’s really exciting! Inquiries coming in from the Etsy store for commission work, which is good. Need to do a thread order, need to start a couple of new pieces. And…have to get some work ready to go up on a new gallery site.

Today a give-away broke on Craft Gossip, our quilting marbled fabric tutorial, so we’ve had a lot of new subscribers to the newsletter. Another tutorial will break the end of the month on C&T Publishing blog. That’s the deadline I need to make this week.

We’re marbling again this week, as we have new orders coming is, and I have a couple of new patterns I want to try out. Speaking of marbling, as a result of visits to the Etsy shop, these are the pieces people have been saying they LOVE:

Nerve Endings, and Other Assorted Thoughts…..

Well, it’s been an interesting bunch of days. After thinking I was on a roll, with blog posts in the queue and lots happening, I an felled by lowered ilium and severely twisted muscles and sciatic nerve in the left leg. To the point that I have been flat on my back, unable to walk on my left leg, kinda loopy from the pain killers, and hobbling for another visit to the chiropractor tomorrow. The lump the size of a golf ball (according to hubby) has disappeared, and things are on the mend, I was able to get a lot of loose ends done today, but I am still in a fair amount of pain.

Bummer.

A lot of good things have been happening, and now I have a couple of major deadlines to meet in the next two weeks that should drive some good traffic to the blog, website, and hopefully result in some orders. I just have to be able to do the work.

Two major guest-posts for blogs, a new online gallery, a major website revision, more fabric to make, and some patterns to finish. Momentum is developing, which is exactly what I want, bvut I need to keep up with it. Nice problem to have, especially if nothing is keeping you from working.

So I did a brain dump of everything I could think of that needed to be done this week…and then some. Lots of little things got done today, and tomorrow I will prioritize the major pieces after our marbling session. Usually I get all the little things done, ’cause it looks so good having everything crossed off. But THIS TIME I have to prioritize for my deadlines.

Should be a great – and BUSY –  week!

More Visual Goodies from TAFA – The Textile and Fiber Art List – Part 2

There is a really wonderful online gathering of artists involved in fiber – worldwide. It’s The Textile and Fiber Arts List – TAFA, for short. I am trying to get to know more of our 400-plus members, and I thought I would share what I’m learning with you, on a more regularly basis. There is such an amazing wealth of talent on this list, and I’m pleased to be a member. Please enjoy these profiles, and don’t hesitate to visit their websites and immerse yourselves in wonderful textile art. You can view the first installment of our tour here.

“I’ve been weaving since I was eight years old and studied weaving at high school, gaining an “A” and “O” Level in Weaving.

Most of my life I’ve woven for myself, friends and family, but after attending Bradford College, in the UK, to study Hand Woven Textile Design, I set up Alison Yule Textiles and have been designing and hand weaving bespoke fabrics for interiors and fashion.

Since 1983 I’ve been teaching an evening class in weaving spinning and dyeing and running workshops across the UK for large and small groups as well as one to one Masterclass sessions.

My work has won awards with Bradford Textile Society, and I’ve won awards from the Arts Council and Design Factory. I’ve been selected to exhibit at galleries across the UK and in Paris and have been selected to exhibit at 100% Design in London for 4 consecutive years, as well as at Maison et Objet in Paris.

I 2006 I co-authored Creative Spinning with Jane Deane which was published by Gaia in October 2007. Alison Yule Textiles

“There is an inherent ethereal quality working on paper, especially rice paper. It’s unpredictable nature; fragile yet resilient lends an intuitive nature to my work. Examining our natural world, I look at the fractals in a leaf’s structure to the branching of a tree in the dead of winter. Other influences in my work come from the ethnographic textiles of Asia. Their simple geometric shapes are often a meditation on nature. Having spent many years in Asia working with remote tribes as an ethnographic art dealer, I am forever inspired by the artisan’s traditions. For example, I worked with ikat weavers in Sumba for several years; much of their imagery such as the fertility symbol, the mamuli is derived directly from nature. The rhythm, symmetry and repetition of the patterns in nature and ethnographic images illustrate the lifecycle renewing itself. Finding these patterns and closely examining them inspires my work.” Allison Svoboda

“I have always enjoyed all things pretty but not just pretty, interestingly different, edgy and eye-catching too. I am grateful to have a life-long love affair with colour. I am also an Afro/European hairdresser and had a salon back in ol’ Blighty. I used to work alot with glass, (fusing in my old kiln and stained glass). I have a strong passion for interiors and styling which rubs off into my fashion work, intentional or not.

I like to work with different textures and materials including glass, crystal, fabrics, wire, clay, paints, metal, paper and many other beautifying embellishments.

I am currently working mainly with textiles – lace, fabric and leather, alongside metals, beads and paper. I make clothes, bags and jewellery. I also make homewares, including unusual cushion covers, tablecloths and tea towels. I paint and work with decoupage for cards, boxes and ceramics. Wirework is another favourite art of mine – wire crosses, signage and wall art.

My goals are still being built and for now, I happily grow through a constant stream of the blissful unknown….I appreciate handmade items and enjoy collecting or recycling them….the story continues       🙂 ” AllThingsPretty

“Ames Douces (Ah-meh Doos) is French for gentle souls. It is the name I’ve chosen for the art dolls I create.

These dolls are not dolls you would typically find in a toy store. Rather, they quietly accompany adults and children alike on their journeys through life. These gentle souls are worry dolls. They are talismans or mascots of sorts to help you wade through the difficulties you might encounter as you go about your daily lives.

Simon et Cie (french for Simon & Company) is named after my grandfather. He was an artist in his own right. I distinctly remember sitting in his attic studio with him while he worked on his assemblage art projects. Said studio was chock-full of little bits and pieces, trinkets, baubles and rusty objects. These things would keep my attention for hours on end. This is where my imagination blossomed and when I started to create.

My shop is dedicated to my grandfather’s spirit that lives on in my endless obsession with collecting these little objects of old. I have also expanded my collection to include all kinds of vintage sewing and fiber art related items that I sometimes use in my own art. My love for those definitely came from my mother who is an artist herself.

Simon et Cie is dedicated to making these same little treasures available to you. I hope they inspire your own heart and imagination.” Ames Douces

“Ananse Village operates both a retail brick and mortar business in California and a website with a shopping cart for those who live elsewhere. We work with artisans in several countries, primarily in Africa and its diaspora.

Interested in quilting and sewing? Our fabric department features an entire wall stacked high with unique hand batiked and tye dyed cloth from Africa. We have a nice selection on our website, but feel free to call if you are looking for a specific design or colors.

Our diverse selection of fair trade produced gifts are the perfect solution for a thoughtful present.” Ananse Village

THere’s your eye candy and exploration for this week – have some fun!

Need Some Advice for Holiday Marketing?

I write regularly for Handmadeology, a blog about all things handmade, and the blog is strongly connected to Etsy sellers. As I am trying to REALLY work at having a good holiday season this year, rather than letting it fly by me, I took all the advice I found in these sites!

It’s almost October, and if you’re an artist of handmade, you are gearing up for the holiday buying season. It seems early…but it isn’t. I thought it might be helpful to see what else others have written about the holiday shopping season. I scoured Handmadeology to collect a set of articles relevant to holiday buying. Some good stuff in here!

Preparation H – H is for “Holidays!”  Packing materials, your mail carrier/s, feeding your family – all things to keep in mind as you get very busy and start to run out of time.

The Holiday Rush Etsy Marketing Formula – this is a free 5-day course. I just read through Day 1, and even though I consider myself pretty savvy about online marketing, there are definitely a couple of things I can do to improve visibility. I’m headed out to look at Digg and Kaboodle today.

25 Things to Do on Your Lunch Break to Further Your Handmade Business – while not directly holidays, there are some good ideas for when we are pressed and thinking there is ot enough time. I really like this one: make lists of your key words – that definitely saves you from writer’s block when you are doing your descriptions.

Etsy Sellers Can’t Afford to Ignore Pinterest – true, true, true. I started pinning a month ago and have seen a definite increase both in traffic and sales. This is a really interesting stat: American users spend an average of 1 hour and 17 minutes on Pinterest compared to Twitter at 36 minutes, LinkedIn at 17 minutes, and Google+ at 6 minutes. In terms of the holidays, set up a Pinterest account and start pinning your holiday items.

Your Blog Post Promotion Checklist – for those of you who write a regular blog, here are some great ideas for getting the most out of a post, plus a listing of additional articles on promoting your blog. One of the best tips? Comment on other blogs. I need to get back to doing this regularly. And….REPLY to every comment you get!

Promotesy: this is a new app from Handmadeology to help your organize and maximize your online presence for your Etsy shop. It’s easy to sign up for, and at $5.00 a month, it’s a deal. I’ve just started using it (as of yesterday), so I will keep you posted on how it’s working.

Three Steps to Freshen Up Your Etsy Shop and Be Found Again – wasn’t aware of the “Trending Now,” and this is definitely something I will be checking out.  Also, change some of your descriptions to match the coming holiday season…..good idea, and I’m off to do that!

 

As I’ve been doing the research for this post, I realize that even if we think we know a lot about marketing on line, there is always more to learn!! I’d love to hear your insights, so feel free to leave a comment: what’s been working for you?

 

Monday Marketing – Online Business

This week I have two projects to finish, only one of which involves any marketing. The first is to finish a UFO from three years ago – my forest quilt. I’m practicing a lot of patterns learned in the free motion quilting challenge. The quilt is looking amazing – only a few boo-boos that I’m willing to worry over, but oh, the feathers on the border….yummy! They are taking a while, but it is so worth it! Maybe pictures by Wednesday…..

The marketing piece is to do final revisions on my table topper pattern – had great samples made, so I’m really excited about releasing the pattern. Mostly I need to make the pattern less wordy and more organized. But that needs to be done this week so it can be included in the next newsletter for next week, as well as my marketing plan for the holidays. Yes, I’m bound and determined not to miss the holiday season for shopping this year. Hubby has been learning the ins and outs of Etsy, so he is busy restocking the shelves. We have some GREAT fabric pieces in the store.

Readers know I have a number of places I do business on line, from Facebook, eBay, Etsy, and our website. Hubby has handled the time effort in eBay for the last 8 years, and now he is picking up Etsy. Alyson Stanfield had yet another good post on analyzing the time you spend – or need to spend –  setting up your online outlets. I will say the work gets easier the longer you are at it and set up systems for posting items. Our first two weeks of posting for eBay took close to four hours for six items. Same for Etsy when we first started. You have to be willing to spend the time, have the inventory, and write good descriptions to go along with good pictures. That’s several hours a week you need to spend – or in our case, hubby needs to spend. I write up the more unusual Etsy offerings, like the small table toppers, ribbons, and the like. You also need to add in the time to post items on Facebook, tweet them, and now use Pinterest.

A lot of us are online because we are convinced it is the way to do business. For us, online didn’t cost anything beyond our time. No stores, just free sites. As long as we were willing to invest the marketing time, we were able to get these venues to work for us. We also knew the art/craft show wasn’t the route for us, being such a niche market. But…and a very big but….you can’t put stuff up and expect it will sell if you don’t do anything more than just listing items. I did drop Tophatter from my venues for three reasons: one, not really selling anything, even in the “fabric and textiles” auction; two, a HUGE time commitment, as you want to be present at the auctions to promote your item; and three, I’m not willing to be burned by uncivil people (blog post here). These are decisions you need to make, and I like how Alyson’s guest blogger spelled things out for accounting. Our business has always been the two of us. Hubby is primary marbler, I’m the designer. I handle most of Photoshop, he does accounting, eBay, and Etsy listings. Retirement has made it easier to spend more time on what we love, as I am not exhausted from the school day.

If you’re not familiar with Handmadeology, I have done (and continue to do)  a series of posts on marketing your niche market. You can find them here, plus there are loads of great articles about running your business that are well worth your time.

Part 1: Niche Markets

Part 2: What is your wackiest marketing idea?

Part 3:  Getting out there

Part 4:  Have you done your newsletter?

Part 5: Your Newsletter Revisited

Have a great marketing week!

 

Monday Marketing – Keep Your Chickens Flying

Love the headline. This article comes from Fine Art Views blog, and the message for me is very timely, and hopefully it will resonate with many of you. Here’s a quote from the article:

“Keeping the chickens flying means you will find a way to make it. The old farmer took the risk to haul double the amount his truck would carry. He knew he would have to keep half of the chickens in the air. It’s sorta like us juggling our budget to make ends meet. You are facing two choices, give up or find a way to keep your chickens flying.”

I think so many of us are trying to figure out new ways of working and diversifying so we can make it as artists. Lower prices, develop new products, try something completely different, double down our marketing efforts…..we will find ways to make it.

Sometimes you need to look at networking with others. I’ve written about The Textile and Fiber Arts List before. This is an amazing group of textile and fiber folk from around the world. $75 membership, one time only, no renewals. Lots of marketing opportunities. We are not alone in our work, even though it seems that way as we work on our art, stitch by stitch.  We need community, and TAFA is a great way to begin. Consider it your professional organization for your resume.

And while we’re at the motivation stage, here’s an article from Dumb Little Man. Everything just kind of goes together.

Here’s hoping to a productive art-making week – and art-selling week – for all of us.

Ps – any spelling errors are from one-fingered typing – put the needle through my finger……

 

 

 

 

Handmadeology – Niche Markets

Here’s a look at what’s coming on the Handmadeology blog, of which I am a regular correspondent. I’m focusing in on niche markets, since a lot of us have unusual things we sell, items that don’t seem to fall into a general marketing category.

You can see the first two posts on Niche Markets here and here.

And here’s this week’s post:

Marketing 101: Niche Markets 3 – Getting  Out There

Just what does that mean? We’re talking about marketing your products without spending money. In Part 1 you looked at other uses for your unusual product, and a lot of you had really good ideas. In Part 2 last week I asked for unusual marketing ideas you’ve tried.

And poof, just like that, the conversation went dead.  In fact, I found myself short on ideas. It seems if we have a store front, it’s a lot easier to come up with ideas. Rachel from Rayela Art talked about literally stopping traffic with a belly dancer in the window of her shop. Michelle of SHELs Unlimited does yard sales on a regular basis and includes a drawing for a chance at a coupon in her store.

Belly dancers certainly work with a store front, but now they have no storefront and have moved into the realm of social media.  Michelle is looking to do something more unusual. And I pondered for several days, trying to figure out how I could help you all jump-start some ideas.

Did you see this new headline on Handmadeology? “May 2012 Etsy Stats – 1.29 Billion Page Views and $65.9 Million in Goods Sold.” Pretty impressive, and we all need a piece of that pie. So let’s get brainstorming ideas to market ourselves.

This presupposes you all have Etsy shops, but even if you don’t, these ideas can work for you.

1. Get your profile up on LinkedIn. It takes some time, but it doesn’t cost anything. Then you can include that in all your email addresses, business cards, and the like. It makes you look a lot more professional at your art. I know a lot of “gurus” suggest your profile picture be actually of you, but hey, I’m different. I have a piece of my art as my profile picture, and I keep the same one across social media platforms. Once I had my profile up, I began to look for groups to join within LinkedIn. I hooked up with presenting some potential marbling classes, and participating in an unjuried show last fall, just to name two opportunities from LinkedIn. Take the time to do this.

2. See what professional groups have blogs and discussion groups on line. Have you done any searches? Many have restrictions about outright marketing, but you can have a tag line at the end of each of your posts. Start a dialogue, ask questions, follow potential ideas you see, comment thoughtfully on other posts. Yahoo has a marblers group we belong to. We are not only up-to-date with what’s happening in the field, we also learn of new supplies, who’s having issues, new ways of trying marbling techniques, and just in general having a way to stay in touch with other professionals.

3. Get more pictures. Use your own living space and think about how else your product could be used. Can you hang it on the wall? Take a picture. Can you wear it? Take a picture.  Can it be part of some other product? Take Pictures!!!

4. Start some partnerships with whom you can trade supplies Who’s your supplier? Would they like to have a sample of what you do with their product? Could you do a demo or teach a class for them? In fact, where do you buy your supplies? Do you follow them on Facebook? Do they have a website? Do this for all the suppliers you use. We met a batik artist when we did an art show in the Seattle area. We traded fabrics to see if we could marble over batik, and if she could batik over marbling. You could have another by-product you can sell.

5. Get noticed on line. Dharma Trading likes to spotlight folks who use their products. ArtsyShark has a call a couple of time a year to spotlight artists on their weekly blog. If you have an Etsy shop, is one of your available pictures what your product would look like in something else or in the home?

6. Start reading business blogs. Now, there are a LOT of business blogs out there. Are you reading Handmadeology, primarily focused on Etsy? (Hint: your answer should be “yes.”) Check out Alyson Stanfield (ArtBizBlog) and Tara Reed (ArtLicensingBlog) – always insightful and full of good ideas.

7. Schedule time for marketing each week. You need to find a balance between marketing and make product. Set aside one day a week, even just a couple of hours, and read blogs, respond, look for opportunities, follow through on new ideas. It takes a while, but it does pay off.

If you remember your high school algebra, one of the basic functions of life is exponential; something starts very small and over time begins to accelerate faster and faster. That’s what you want with your marketing, so start thinking and doing!

Leave me comments – I want to know what you’re currently doing, what you’ve already tried and with what success, and what you’re thinking about. Let’s share the wealth of ideas each week.

 

Monday Marketing – What Exactly Have YOU Done This Week?

Over at the Handmadeology blog, I’m doing a series on niche markets – those of us who have a really unique product, and potentially a limited audience. This week’s article is about unusual marketing ideas – things we’ve done – or attempted – because we can’t afford to do anything else. I’m hoping that this week I will get a lot of comments and some new ideas to try, and then I’ll be able to share them in the next blog post.

This series that I am doing has a secondary purpose – am I really doing all I should to market my business? It seems to me, when I wrote the post, that all the really cool ideas came when I had no money for advertising, and way before social media kicked in big time. So I’m thinking about what I can do that’s new and different…..

Writing for Handmadeology is one thing. I answered a blog post with an idea, something I don’t normally do, and voila – three weeks later I have a regular column that hopefully will send visitors – and sales – my way.

Tophatter, the new auction site, is interesting – I have sold a few pieces of fabric, but it is frustrating trying to get items scheduled. It’s fun to be in an auction, it doesn’t cost you anything except some time to list and be available for the auction. Stand-by is frustrating…in order to get out of stand-by, someone has to put a bid on your item. Which means, on the one hand, it’s definitely sold, but on the other, you wait around for the actual auction. Kudos to Tophatter for having a text alert when an item you are watching is about to come up for auction. I’m afraid I’m going to find out that to get some good scheduling times, you will need to pay. I don’t know that this is the case; I need to check it out this week.

Other than those two things, I don’t feel like I have done anything new for marketing. I have items on my list, but it will be a while till I get to them, and….they just don’t seem exciting enough to draw in people.

But then I remind myself of one of the key areas in algebra: exponential growth.

You start out very slowly, and you slowly build, until you reach the point where things take off with a life of their own. The month of May seemed like I had reached that point, but things have slowed down again. I feel like I need to jump-start the momentum again, and I’m not sure what new tricks to pull out of the hat. So…..

….this brings me to the title of this post – what have YOU done for marketing, especially if it’s unusual? Leave me a comment, let me know what you’re doing.  I’ll share all ideas, and hopefully jump-start myself again.

Selling on Etsy……

So the Etsy shop was on hiatus while we went to Seattle and back. I’ve added lots of new fabrics in cotton and basically restocked the store. Now, we have had some movement within the store. Certainly more this past year than totally since I opened the shop. But I feel like there is so much more I can do. I need to get the links done to my TAFA (Textile and Fiber Arts list) profile, and just generally think about how I can market this. By the end of the month I expect to have silks and some other specialty fabrics in the shop.

Ebay has been great for small pieces of fabrics and remnant bags. In fact, remnants have been the big seller on eBay, so we’ll keep it that way. I will use Etsy for the specialty fabrics, and the fabrics that are more expensive. This is one of the ways I feel we can specialize, and at the same time differentiate product. I need to do some reading on getting an Etsy store to be productive, so that is one of my goals for the rest of this month. By the end of May I want to have a couple of pattern kits in the store, complete with fabric. I have two of the samples made, and I am ready to start writing the pattern, as well as complete the remaining two samples. That’s my May goal.

I have sold a couple of small quilts in the store, so I should think about increasing a few of those, especially around the holidays. Speaking of holidays, I have not been able to take advantage of buying for specific days…and Mother’s Day is coming up. I need to think about how to incorporate that.

All that said, here’s a look at the fabrics waiting for you and your projects, be they quilts, wearable art, or applique. Perfect for that creative person you know!!

 

 

Monday Marketing – Concerning Etsy

Interesting post concerning a shopkeeper who had her Etsy store taken down unexpectedly. I too got a similar survey saying I had potentially violated some of the principles of Etsy. I answered their questions and emailed it right back, and I never heard anything else. I don’t even remember at this point what it was about. After reading this article, I’m glad I took the time to search through policies and look at the fine print.

Our Etsy shop is inactive right now, as we are involved in a major fiber presentation (StashFest) and all our product is with us, not in the shop. I plan to rebuild the shop with lots of new fabrics once we are back and done with special orders (we have three commissions awaiting our return).  We’ve had a domain name since 1997 – in fact, when it comes to e-commerce, we are really “old-timers.” There are a lot of good points in this article about understanding and handling your own business.

Our problem has been a problem with our email connected to our web address. Evidently we get blackballed every now and then….our email address is considered spam periodically. We usually stumble on the problem after not too much time has gone by and can arrange through our host to get the problem taken care of. I find it interesting that this happens. We were hit one time with a major spam attack, at least a decade ago (seems like it was the cube iMac we were on when it happened…). Cox has blocked our domain a number of times, and we have had to work around their services. They can’t give us a reason why they have blocked out address, and after it happens a couple of times, we have to find a way around it, which we have done, so there are usually no problems.

But I think the major point in the article was not to rely on only one outlet for selling your wares. Interesting, because there are times when I am convinced we are just spread too thin, and yet there are places we can expand. Interesting conundrum. As I’ve mentioned a number of time sin the Monday blogs, you can spend a lot of time doing your marketing; it is key to find your niche, understand the marketing/business strategies you are using, and still find time to make your art – do what drives you creatively.

All that said, I am ready to hit the bed (it’s Saturday night as I type this) and hopefully not dream about all the things that can go wrong with this show that we’ve been working so hard on for the last four months (not including the unexpected move we had to make). Hopefully we made enough lists that we haven’t forgotten anything critical. In fact, the first thing packed in the car was all the marbled fabric and the quilts. If you’re in the Seattle area, StashFest is a fund raiser for the La Conner Quilt Museum, the weekend of March 31 and April 1. Stop by and say hi to me and hubby and Marble-T Design.

Brain Dump….

Wow, it has been a crazy week since getting back from California. There was so much floating around in my head by Monday that I needed to do what I have come to call a “brain dump.” Get it all out on paper so I don’t have to keep worrying about remembering everything. then I can add to the list as new things come up, and cross things off as they a=get done (snort….).

So here’s the “dump” from Tuesday: email tutoring parent, email LN, change bed, reinstall Contribute, PD for AI, finish TAFA profile, take care of GoDaddy renewals, email long-lost teacher friend, write the review for C&T, look at Linqto, look at TalkFusion, finish blog post on vendors, finish blog post on quilts, blog post on MAS, email AI prof about video, Quilt Show renewal processed, install quilt album software, do paperwork for “quilt album ambassador,” finish January FMQ project and get it online, photograph new Etsy basket, plan for gift baskets for NW trip, complete Google + stuff, look at Facebook Timeline, score homework from class, mark quizzes from class, finish lesson for Monday, type new lab worksheet, get new business cards ordered, look at Redbubble, book proposal on academic coaching, check on bank loan, meet on company taxes, first newsletter, input names for newsletter, website revisions list, change copyright on website, update and reinstall Contribute, prepare for major copyright submissions, continue working on Visions piece, finish Visions piece, photograph Visions piece, marble this week, plans for deadlines in April since I will be gone.

And here’s what’s been accomplished…..

email tutoring parent, email LN, change bed, reinstall Contribute, PD for AI, finish TAFA profile, take care of GoDaddy renewals, email long-lost teacher friend, write the review for C&T, look at Linqto, look at TalkFusion, finish blog post on vendors, finish blog post on quilts, blog post on MAS, email AI prof about video, Quilt Show renewal processed, install quilt album software, do paperwork for “quilt album ambassador,” finish January FMQ project and get it online, photograph new Etsy basket, plan for gift baskets for NW trip, complete Google + stuff, look at Facebook Timeline, score homework from class, mark quizzes from class, finish lesson for Monday, type new lab worksheet, get new business cards ordered, look at Redbubble, book proposal on academic coaching, check on bank loan, meet on company taxes, first newsletter, input names for newsletter, website revisions list, change copyright on website, update and reinstall Contribute, prepare for major copyright submissions, continue working on Visions piece, finish Visions piece, photograph Visions piece, marble this week, plans for deadlines in April since I will be gone.

It doesn’t seem like much got accomplished, based on this list, but a lot of these are long-term, and now are reminders for me. Let’s see where I am next week this time.

So do you do anything similar to a “brain dump?” Inquiring minds…..

Thoughts on Entering Juried Shows……

I’ve written that one of my goals for this first quarter of the year is to create some new artwork to enter into a few select juried shows. Joanne Mattera had a really interesting blog post on Monday about entering shows: When Do You Stop Entering Shows?

Certainly timely for me. Her checklists of questions to ask yourself are excellent. I had success about 10 years ago with a series of shows I entered, especially Expressions in Textiles, which was more an early art-quilt venue. I would consider this my first prestigious show. I have success entering a show in Alaska each year, which is an art show, and fortunately for me they like fiber entries. I stopped entering a lot of shows from about 2006 on for two reasons: I was teaching full time and had  very little time for creating art, and entry fees were expensive (moderately so nbow, but I must say, being able to do online entries is a blessing). The entry fee was groceries. Then I entered an art quilt show two years ago and was rejected. Aside from being P.O.’d, when I looked at the artists selected, they were the “same ole – same ole” quilt artists whose work is very recognizable. That’s when I figured I wasn’t going to play with the “big girls” any more. I needed to make work for me.

Hence my decision to try for Visions and a SAQA show this year….there, I’ve said it. Big time. If I am selected, these will be two huge pieces for my resume. Which brings me back to Joanne’s article. “But at a certain point—a tipping point, let’s think of it—you want to see your exhibition experience evolve into opportunities in which you are invited to participate.”

Yup, that pretty much says what I am aiming for. Joanne goes on to say: “Indeed, most dealers looking at an artist’s resumé want to see that evolution. ‘When I see a string of juried shows on a mid-career artists’s resume, I have to ask, ‘Where’s the progression?’ says a dealer I know.”

I know I’m making progress in creating art, and I want to be mindful of shows that would add value to my resume and future opportunities. Quilt shows aren’t going to do it for me. Some art quilt shows? Visions, SAQA, Tactile Architecture…..probably. I’m not interested in dealing with the “quilt police.” My work is not mainstream quilting, although that’s a skill I use. A number of years ago we had our work in a now-defunct fiber gallery in Scottsdale. At the time I was doing different things with my “bindings.” I was serging or facing the edges of my art quilts because the technique helped enhance the message of the piece. The gallery owner – a fairly traditional quilter who worked with bright fabrics and called them art quilts – was appalled that I didn’t have regular bindings on my quilts, and she wouldn’t take a couple of pieces without regular bindings. Well, to my way of thinking, a binding would have constricted the design in a way I didn’t want.

Those pieces are now all in private collections, and I’m still spreading my wings as an artist, trying all different kinds of techniques.

Some shows I do enter – nonjuried, no-fee art shows, where fiber will be accepted. The Tikkun Olam show was an easy show, a twelve-by-twelve piece dealing with the theme, and it could be any media. I did receive a lot of feedback about the piece and some interesting opportunities – and a lot of interesting lessons (just because you say you’re a curator doesn’t mean you’re especially good at it….). There is another show like that coming up that I plan to create work for.

In retrospect, I am on the right track. My decisions seem based in reality and forward movement for me. We’ll see how everything plays out. I am behind on my piece for the Visions show, but I have a month…..less, when I think about photography, but I’m almost there…..a solid week of sewing (which will have to be next week…) should finish it for me. And then on to the rest of the first quarter list.

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