EJR Beads

Author Topic: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc  (Read 13663 times)

ejralph

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Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« on: August 18, 2014, 11:23:29 AM »
An interesting chat developed over on the gallery thread about selling your beads on Etsy, facebook etc.

I don't like to interfere too much with the organic flow of chat here, but I think it is an important and useful discussion that would get lost to time if it just stays on the gallery threads. It also prevents people using the gallery thread for showing off and discussing their work if two strong, diverse chats are going on.

So, let's keep that interesting chat going, but move it over here maybe?

The chat started out as far as I can tell with a couple of themes. When are you "ready" to sell your work and how do you get it seen?

This is an area where I feel somewhat qualified to chat about as I've been selling art beads now for a few years and learned a trick or two. And by that, I mean basically learned what won't work because the secret of success is always elusive enough never to provide you with any pattern, rhyme or reason!

When you are ready to sell is quite simple - if someone is willing to buy- you are by definition at a place ready to sell.

But you need to be sure your product is good to go. With polymer clay we don't have many safety issues to worry about - just ensure stuff is well baked and that your design is STRONG.

If you make beads with little tiny protrusions coming out - I don't care what clay you use, what resin or varnish, what wire armature - they will break. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but sometime. Not a great legacy for you as a bead artist, so make sure your design is robust and works WITH polymer clay's natural limits, not against it.

Another issue with polymer clay - when we use other products with it - is chemical compatibility.

This is a biggie.

If you are using paints, varnishes, waxes - any surface embellishment really, there is the chance it will not be compatible long term with the clay.

Paints or varnishes that appear to dry can turn tacky and sticky weeks, months or even years later. This isn't apocryphal - I've had beads varnished with stuff from B&Q or wherever, back in my rookie years, that were find for 2 or 3 years. Then they just went into a gooey mess!

This is why it makes sense to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. If there is a product designed FOR clay, it will offer you much better peace of mind than plucking something at random from the shelves. Or if there is a product that many clayers have used and raved about for years, chances are this will be a lot safer than the one no-one is using.

Chances - that is all I mean. It could be absolutely fine - and you discover a great new thing to use with clay. Or it could not. I am just saying be aware of this issue and be sure you have confidence in the processes and products you are using before going on to sell your work.

Be original!

You will get more sales and build a better reputation for yourself if you work to have your own style, not emulate others. This goes for sales of jewellery, loose beads, tutorials - whatever really. We all know there is "nothing new under the sun" - but we also know when we've seen something a little TOO similar before.


As for being seen on Etsy, ebay - or anywhere online really - that is a tough one. I always say "build it and they will come" does NOT apply when it comes to selling your work online.

You need to promote, work, build relationships with your customers, communicate with them, learn from them. It takes time.

Build a mailing list that people can sign up for (never add them without their consent) and keep them in the loop.

Facebook is excellent for marketing yourself.  But if you don't feel comfortable talking about your own product, why would anyone have confidence enough to buy it? Remember you can have a business page on Facebook or use some of the selling groups on there.

There is nothing tacky about reaching people who want to be reached.

So if you feel uncomfortable pushing yourself on places like facebook, etc then maybe selling isn't for you? Without doing some active marketing, you'll bumble along and get a few sales here and there maybe, but you won't grow your business or your "brand". So even if you are embarassed to admit it to others, have the conversation with yourself "do I actually WANT to sell and make this a growing concern? or do I just want to have a few sales here and there, cover material costs etc?"

Either scenario is fine and honourable enough (although there are some that argue those who just want pin money are taking sales from those who rely on it for an income. But that is another debate!).

Just don't sit there wanting ONE state of affairs and wondering why you are not hitting the targets or getting the sales you want if all your actions are really more suited to the other scenario.

Lastly - if you are wanting to sell, be sure your photos are decent and fairly represent your work. A picture sells a thousand beads online!

Emma




 
Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
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Milly Fury

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2014, 12:18:59 PM »
In the thread you're referring to, I said this:

"I've sold a few things via FB Jon and it made me think up a name/logo/sales policies etc. so that was good. It can be hard to get "seen" though and I went down the route of trying to get page "Likes" by touting myself on groups formed for that purpose... But that turned out to be a bit empty.

Now I tend towards mixing with other clayers on FB and beyond that trying to raise my game as an artist/crafter, so that "Likes" (and possibly sales) are driven by actual interest in what I make... Otherwise what is the point? And in the long term I believe that improving what you do is going to pay off more than prostituting yourself for a few Likes.

Which is probably why I have less than 240 followers. Hahaha!"

I think it might have been a bit misleading, in that I DO promote myself - but I don't believe Likes = sales and I've had people "swapping" Likes, only to disappear from my stats the next day... So you have to be careful where you choose to push your name.

At the moment I'm hovering somewhere between "business" and "hobby". Ultimately I'd like to have a business but so far I have sold things to help finance my materials for learning. I think that's a perfectly valid thing to do. I don't think hobbyists can "steal" sales, unless they under-price I guess, but that's business. Customers can get cheap canes and charms from China anyway.

Lastly I try hard to make sure my things are up to purpose and I'm always trying to be original, or at least to put my own spin on something. ;)
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JonB

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2014, 01:22:20 PM »
Thanks Emma,
I 'know' that what you say is true, but I would like the promotional side of things to be more natural somehow, talking about work in context of a conversation rather than as a kind of promo, posted on FB or wherever. I'd love to bang on about what I do, but it would run the risk of being boring.
My issue with 'online marketing' as it is outlined in the million or so guides I have read, is that it basically comes down to bugging people about your stuff. It's the assumption that every communication online has only one purpose, vis , marketing. You are advised to make your posts informative and interesting, not because that is a good thing to do and to be, but because you can then slip in a mention of your product now that your audience is receptive. Subterfuge and cynicism is good, apparently.


I much prefer forums like this, or flickr, where if someone likes the sound of what you say etc, they can check out your profile and look at your work. Or you can put your work on a thread for that purpose, then people can choose whether they see it or not. I guess FB could be like that, but I haven't yet worked out how. FB seems to be about pushing things onto people, only some of whom may be even remotely interested. People say you can join groups but I have yet to work out how you find them. There is nothing intuitive about FB for me, I just get frustrated and lost, and I'm not stupid or non tech savvy.

I take your point entirely about the internal conversation about selling, whether you really want it or not. But it's not all or nothing surely? I also agree that if nobody knows you exist then nobody is going to buy anything, so getting seen is vital. If there is a guide to how to market online without being inappropriately pushy I'd like to read it ;-) There's too much about how to 'utilise social media in your marketing strategy' and not enough about how to be a human being who has stuff you might like and who would be happy to sell it to you.
This is not an attack on you Emma, more an expression of frustration with the online selling process, your post is entirely sensible and informative.
I need to find a way of promoting that suits my temperament and personality. 'Marketing for grumpy gits'.com. . .
Jon

ejralph

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2014, 01:39:09 PM »
Ah but there are some big assumptions about what constitutes marketing.

Yes, marketing can take the form of chasing likes on facebook, swapping reciprocal links or likes, making every post sound like a sales pitch and trying to "close" on a sale.

That is not ALL marketing though - and certainly not the type that works sucessfully for artists and artisans

So much of the "gentler" marketing you are talking of IS still marketing though

But there is this very British attitude that if you dare to even secretly want a sale to result from a conversation that somehow you have taken that person's first born and auctioned it off to the highest bidder.

Having a good, healthy relationship with your customers means you let them KNOW what products you are working on. You keep them in the loop. Marketing is a dialogue not a sales pitch.

And the two don't need to be mutually exclusive. Remember, the bead world is a very friendly community. People WANT to know what you're making so they can buy, and they WANT to get to know you better too. We're not selling car insurance - this is  a FUN industry to be part of.

Many of my closest online friends are ex customers. I say ex-customers, because many of them have moved onto other crafts or maybe have enough of my beads to last a lifetime! Some are still buying from me regularly, some just occasionally.

But the point is - there are a LOT of them. And we wouldn't have ended up pals if I were hard-selling to them. So really that type of marketing isn't needed or wanted.

But to go to the opposite extreme where you feel self concious about promoting your work at all is not the answer

There is a happy medium in the bead world -

and yes, you can just post to flickr and hope that interested parties will get in touch. Maybe they will. Or maybe they will just assume you are showing off your work for other reasons and move on to the beadmakers who they know are actively selling.

People don't always ask. That is my point.

Emma
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JonB

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2014, 02:40:59 PM »
Good to hear that there is a gentler side to it all ;-) and I very much appreciate reading your take on it. I don't want to cut off my nose to spite my face. . .
Any groups on FB you can recommend? Where is this beading world to be found and how does one get involved in it's conversations? Is the approach to FB to find the artists you admire and see what groups they are in?
I need to get some images on a website and maybe a blog I guess. . . I can do that bit, it's the finding anyone who gives enough of a proverbial to read it that escapes me. Or at least the process by which they can be found escapes me.
Anyone here want to tell what their first steps in finding a community of like minded people were?
Jon

ejralph

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2014, 04:18:11 PM »
This is one of those "you never step in the same river twice" things unfortunately

I can tell you some of the steps I took when starting out, but it was a different time and a different community then. I started out selling my beads in earnest online around the late 90s.

Also, bear in mind I work in multiple materials. So it is hard for me to extrapolate just the polymer side of my beadselling. Some of my twists and turns pertained to my lampwork glass beads or my ceramic work maybe.

Back then, the market for art beads in the UK hadn't really taken off - so we were chasing the American buyers. For polymer clay beads, and indeed lampwork glass to a degree, the best place to sell was a small auction site called Justbeads

For a while, polymer clay beads were quite popular there. Lampwork glass beads more so on Ebay, - polymer didn't do well on ebay

Things ebbed and flowed, things changed - justbeads went, the taste for art beads swung a little to Lampwork over polymer. The British market increased too for art beads - (no small part due to some of our marketing and advertising campaigns and the British Lampwork advertising co-op that I was instremental in back then)

The thing was though - the market changed and shifted constantly and you had to keep up, keep aware and follow it rather like a herdsman following his flock.

Lately, for the lampwork glass beads at least - many selling groups have set up on Facebook where sellers can auction their beads off and the buyers are keen to see what new art is to be had. I think there are some for polymer clay too - I am not really so active in chasing down sales for my polymer clay work these days so haven't kept abreast

The thing is to get searching and look for them. Facebook is confusing but worth learning. Lots of people have luck promoting themselves on Youtube, or Flickr too - these are markets I haven't even begun to investigate - but they are routes to explore.

All the while as you drift from place to place, you need to get chatting and "networking" to use what is a corny, old phrase now. Build up a mailing list of people interested in your work and keep them posted. Mail chimp offers easy mailing solutions if you have a small database. I don't know how much they charge for bigger ones, they were too expensive for my list so I went for an open source solution on our own servers.

Get a website, keep it fresh and use to chat to your readers. Imagine that someone is reading it. Because one day, someone will and its good for them to see the lights are on and someone IS at home. Then, you can add a link to your site everywhere you visit online, under your sig here for example  - we don't allow commercial links, but sole artisan traders such as bead artists are welcome to advertise here on the forum. It is one of the reasons I set the forum up - so beadmakers and polyclay jewellery makers etc can show off their wares. We just don't allow commercial suppliers or tutorial vendors to tout here because that would get tiresome.

Blogs are another worthy persuit - I used to blog on my own website, but have fallen off the wagon. I need to get back to that or better still blog on some of the blogger sites these days. That too is an area I haven't really got to grips with yet!

So trust me - there is nothing unusual in feeling lost or not knowing which path to take. As I said, I've been selling my beads for years and I still havent got a clue about half the options out there, nor really understand the ones I do use!

I just know that the more you put in, the more you get out.

When it comes to selling art beads - you need to envisage that every minute spent making a bead, you will be spending at least the same if not more marketing it. By that I mean photographing it, listing it in your store or an online sales venue like Etsy, telling your customers about it, telling your facebook or twitter or pinterest followers etc

And even then there are no guarentees. The market for beads has generally fallen away a bit - plus there are more people making and selling. PLUS lots of the overseas factories are mass-producing poor copies of bead styles made by art bead artists. It all takes its toll and I don't know any long term beadmaker who is finding it as easy as they did 8 or 10 years ago.

But beads are timeless. One of the first things mankind decided he couldn't live without. How many times do we see hunter/gatherer societies on the telly with no shoes or clothes, but decked out in beads. Beads are VITAL to us humans - so make a good one and there will always be a customer out there for it. You just have to find that person because they will not come looking for you.

Then just a case of tortoise and hare-ing it. Emphasis on the tortoise. Slog away, keep going and you'll start to reap the rewards.

If anyone has any good beading sales venues, forums, facebook groups etc maybe they will share them here also?

Emma
Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
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Karolina.S

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2014, 05:35:02 PM »
I find selling online to be tricky but face to face is much easier if we are talking in general BUT i sold 5 tutorials to a company and gotten 5 soon 6 articles printed and this is only thanks to self promoting as Emma says and good photos. A mediocre photo does not help a good design but a great photo can improve a already good design that is for shure.

I got tired of Etsy but maybe one day i will take it up, right now im trying to "make a name for myself" and i do this by promoting myself and improving my designs and working on new ideas with tecniques.

Funny thing that i never visited USA and i had some, just a tiny bit, of sucess there but here in my own country i dont even get answers to my emails to editors and places where i could have an exibition.
Face to face people are fascinated and i can sell a bit but otherwise its dead over here.

I never ever do a like swap becuase what is the point? I like only pages that "speaks" to me not that i think that other pages are bad but im just like that.
I have only 146 likers after a couple of years but i know this is becuase i dont do the like swapping thing, i want people to press like beacuse my design "speaks" to them.
Im taking it one step at the time as time is limited. My next project is a book in Swedish, already started with taking some photos and thinking about what to include.
Timr in the north of Sweden. Always with my polymer clay eyes open.
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Karolina.S

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2014, 05:51:25 PM »
While i was writing you two where busy i can see :)

Jon im one of those that never will write like "look at his beautiful pice that i made" it really bugs me when i see it but im from Sweden and we have something called Jantelagen and it goes like this:

You're not to think you are anything special.
You're not to think you are as good as we are.
You're not to think you are smarter than we are.
You're not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
You're not to think you know more than we do.
You're not to think you are more important than we are.
You're not to think you are good at anything.
You're not to laugh at us.
You're not to think anyone cares about you.
You're not to think you can teach us anything.

I do not live by this but off course it has coloured my way of promoting myself. 

I borrowed the translation from Wikipedia so more correct would be not "us" but "others"
Timr in the north of Sweden. Always with my polymer clay eyes open.
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ejralph

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2014, 06:34:39 PM »
And I thought we British were too modest at times!

I think there is a way to be happy and proud of what you are making, to show it off - without being braggy or big headed.

Many of us have a cultural taboo of "showing off" - it is natural to not want to go against that. But like the saying goes - nice guys finish last.

If you are not proud of what you make, no-one else will be

If you don't show it off a little - no-one will know it is there.

If no-one knows it is there, they won't buy it

So, you have to decide - do you want to be a modest, poor artist or do you want sales?

If we want sales, we have to show off our work - and if you are happy enough to sell it, why would you want to take an almost apologetic approach in talking about it - all "oh sorry for daring to enjoy this and be happy with what I make!"

Life is TOO short -

If you decide to sell - my view is - jump with both feet and ENJOY selling. It is fun.

If someone really thinks you are big headed or wrong for just being happy with the product you make, then they must lead a really miserable life.

Everything I sell, by and large, I like - or I wouldn't be selling it. Most of it I gladly admit is not earth shattering stuff. But I am happy enough with it at the time. If it sparkles prettily - then yeah, I will say so. If it is a pretty colour - darn right I will say so.

What is my alternative? Write my product description as an apology or point out all the flaws? Might as well go home to bed if we take that attitude. It's like eating a pudding and feeling guilty and fat - why bother?  Just count your calories, be sensible and then those pudding times can be enjoyed with full gusto!

One of my fave sayings, is "P*** or get off the pot"  - if we are going to sell, then let's be positive and proactive about it.

We don't have to be nauseating or annoying. Just show people that we enjoy what we do.

I run a mailing list of customers - all of who have signed up to be there  - it runs to a few thousand now.

Every time I send out a mailing - I will get some people write back and just have a chat with me, say Hi or thanks for the newsletter, or maybe ask a question about a product etc. Everytime. Its nice

Equally every time I send out a newsletter - I will get one or two people unsubscribe or ask me to unsub them. They are not into beads anymore, or just dont want the emails or whatever.

So one man's meat is another man's poison anyway. You never can please all the people  - so work on pleasing yourself.

The people who don't want or like your style of marketing will let you know or just bugger off!

But if you have people coming TO you - such as they visit your shop online or they sign up to your newsletter. Well, they WANT to be there for a reason and they don't want us being all miserable and pathetic about what we do. They want enthusiasm, information, light hearted chit chat, friendlyness. If we sit there worrying that people will think we are big headed, we will just be SO boring, who would want to buy into that?

Emma


 
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ejralph

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2014, 06:41:46 PM »
Incidently - this very forum is an act of me marketing to you all on one level.

Afterall. I set this forum up originally as a place for my customers to chitter chat and as a way to better communicate with them. That is why EJR Beads pays the bills here and why EJR Beads is the only advertising you will see right now

I also use the forum to push my new products or let you know when we have new stock in etc.

BUT... I hope you'll agree that the marketing is not too nauseating and that the agenda also not particularly secret (promotional posts are always prefixed with EJR so you can avoid if you choose)

I hope though, it is a symbiotic thing and that not all marketing has to be exploitative. This is why the internet is so cool - because we don't have to "bill board" our customers these days, we can interact WITH them online.

Emma
« Last Edit: August 18, 2014, 06:43:37 PM by ejralph »
Emma from Sunny Sussex, UK
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Karolina.S

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2014, 07:17:19 PM »
You are correct Emma and i know im good at what i do ;)

I had a friend here visiting me for the first time and she was looking thru my stuff and she said that "you probably dont realise it yourself but you make very nice things" and my answer to that was "Thank you but i know im ggod" So very unswedish of me :)

And i do put my stuff out there but i refuse to write words like pretty, beautiful and stunning about my own work i will let the items talk for them self.

I didnt meen that one should not "show off" because i do it all the time but tha big words i leave for others. :)
Timr in the north of Sweden. Always with my polymer clay eyes open.
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ejralph

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2014, 08:18:50 PM »
I understand the reluctance people can have to describe their work in emotional terms - like pretty, beautiful etc.

It seems braggy and big headed or just un-necessary

But I read a lot of descriptions where people try to sell their work without this type of dialogue and very often the wording sounds SO boring or technical.

They are all "these earrings are made with blah blah colour and blah blah technique and use this ink and that foil and blah blah blah "

And the customers generally don't care. The desciption of how it is made, what materials, what techniques is usually boring as hell to anyone other than another clayer.

It is not dialogue that will engage the average user.

They want to firstly view this item as a treat, a luxury item - and beyond that, what they care about is what this product will give THEM.

You (one, everyone - not you personally) WILL sell more if you work this into your product discriptions somehow.

However uncomfortable we feel about it, describing a pair of earrings in our online store as "these beautiful shimmering gold disks will get you noticed with their eye-dazzling patterns made from nothing but metallic clay" WILL be more likely to sell that the same earrings labelled "Gold disk earrings worked with mica shift technique in mica laden clay"

I don't make the rules - I don't always agree or even like them. But having sold literally thousands of beads now,  I recognise them as being mostly true. And when it comes to selling finished jewellery - the rules apply even more I think.

If you are in the business to get sales, sometimes you have to play the game a little I think.

Emma

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Karolina.S

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2014, 08:38:37 PM »


However uncomfortable we feel about it, describing a pair of earrings in our online store as "these beautiful shimmering gold disks will get you noticed with their eye-dazzling patterns made from nothing but metallic clay" WILL be more likely to sell that the same earrings labelled "Gold disk earrings worked with mica shift technique in mica laden clay"




But if you skip the word beautiful in your description i could write that and it stills sounds good ;)

You are probably right and i am a bit unswedish in my approach but not quite there yet. I am maybe a bit boring :) Still a Swede you know.

Maybe you remember that i lived in Russia for four years and the are very diffrent to the Swedes, sometimes refreshing and sometimes not, like when a salesperson at the market that i sometimes chatted with said to me "You have gotten so fat!" , not refreshing but refreshing is that i could answer "what is it to you? Do i come in your way?" and she was not offended in any way :)

You are right and you are the pro here but im still a Swede so be gentle with me ;) Im doing good and promoting myself whenever there is a possibility :)

I had articles printed very unswedsih to approach a magasine and ask if they where interested a real Swede should wait until they notice you.
I tell people that im planning a book and they look at me like im an alien becuase that is not very Swedish of me to say a thing like that especialy me cleaning a supermarket for a living, picking up poo after others and thinking i could write a book.

Im actually on my way to recovery from being Swedish ;)

Timr in the north of Sweden. Always with my polymer clay eyes open.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/77424684@N04/ http://www.facebook.com/Hobbyrian

ejralph

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2014, 09:06:30 PM »
Lol - I love the culteral differences between us all

Also, remember my comments are not aimed at you personally - they are comments in general to everyone and no-one. Just inspired by some of the things you said and some thoughts it created in me.

Something tells me, I would not do well in Sweden! lol

Also  - I think pride in our work and modesty don't have to cancel each other out.

I just try to get people to be a BIT more confident in their selling. Because time and again I see what I feel is the same website or Etsy store over and over. No personality, no confidence. So many times I see a website where the person talks about their work, "I....this. I.. that" but never even tells us their name.

Being in the bead / polyclay arena - your name is your brand. And those "big names" that we all know - who teach, or who write or who sell their work. I can promise you, they all worked hard to get their name known in their own way - even if they deny it  ;) ;) ;)

Emma
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Karolina.S

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Re: Selling on Etsy, Facebook etc
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2014, 09:16:44 PM »
Thank you Emma :)

I am confident but maybe boring.........or to you for shure boring but that is okay :)

I know that it takes work and i am working on it but in my own pace as i have 2 kids with me at ALL time exept at work (i now work for about 7 hours a week rest of the time im with them).
My plan is to soften people up to me now and go all in when they start school 3 y from now.

Maybe then i can write as vivid as you can about my own work :)

 
Timr in the north of Sweden. Always with my polymer clay eyes open.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/77424684@N04/ http://www.facebook.com/Hobbyrian