Selling is hard work. And it's not all that fun for someone who is creating works from love and desire, at least it's not fun for me. Selling requires talking yourself up - or your work at least. It requires having confidence! I'm confident in almost every area except my own abilities.
Part of selling is advertising. How do you know when you're ready to advertise? I think anyone at any stage of their business can advertise...it's just a matter of finding the right venue for your work.
I did not advertise when I first started selling my jewelry. I was so excited (and naive) that I thought everyone would love to buy my work - why wouldn't they? My mom loved it so everyone should right? Ha! Gotta love mom.
That's not the only reason I didn't advertise though - it didn't even occur to me. It should have. There are thousands upon thousands of independent jewelry "designers" competing for attention. Not to mention all the brand names like Tiffany's. The chances of people finding me are slim to none.
So who do you advertise with? Where? When? How much should you spend? Being the kind of person who doesn't think about silly questions like that I just dove right in...typical of me. No research. No plan. I pretty much live like that in all aspects of my life.
What have I learned? Know your audience! Who buys your work most? Women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s??? Men? People in bigger cities or suburbs? People who surf the internet?
If I'd had a plan I would have started out slower and done a little more research. I started advertising on a few random blogs without understanding how traffic and hits work online. It wasn't my audience.
I've had a lot of fun participating in some unique advertising opportunities. There are lots of ways to advertise but some of these are a little different from mainstream magazine ads.
Happily Handmade giveaway is a super way to build up your mailing list. You may not get direct sales immediately (or ever, all advertising is a risk) but you definitely get your name out there.
Totally Indie Coupons is another fun opportunity. It is very inexpensive and requires you to design a coupon and then cut up & assemble your coupons. You end up reaching 5,000 shoppers for $50. These are people who have already purchased something from one of the other coupon participants and so clearly are willing to shop Indie companies. I'm currently participating in my third round. It may be time for me to stop at three though...my work has changed quite a bit and I don't know if I'm a good fit any longer. But it's definitely a great advertising venue.
I've been a member of Indie Finds for a year and a half or so. I love it...but it isn't right for everyone. There are rules about who is eligible to join...which is good. You have to have your own independent online store with a shopping cart. It can't be an Etsy or Ruby Lane store. Indie Finds members cooperate to buy ad space in magazines and online. So far I've been in Bust, East West, New York Magazine, InStyle Weddings, and several others. It's been a hit and miss sort of experiment to see what magazines give me the best return. So far New York Magazine is the best one. Expect to spend anywhere from $30 to $900 for ads depending on the magazine and the number of participants. Most ads are less than $200.
And if you think $200 is expensive then you need to start saving. That's just a drop in the bucket. You can advertise on the cheap, but not if you want to sell higher end items. You can always spend your time courting free press - probably the best return for the effort and something that I really need to work on.
A blog that is inexpensive to advertise on, and also features independent designers for free if something catches their eye, is Rare Bird Finds. I love these ladies and all their fun finds. I've purchased items that they've featured in the past so you know there is a buying audience here.
Another super fun blog is OhMyThatsAwesome! LOVE this blog and have seen so many cool things here. Also generated a couple of great sales when she featured my earrings last year. Advertising rates are also reasonable.
Phew...this is getting to be a really long post.
If you have a few extra dollars lying around (don't we all? HA!) try going for an ad all by your lonesome. You can see my ads in The Crafts Report (the last three months) and soon in New York Magazine. I'm also considering Niche and Jewelry Designers Showcase...although I'll need to sell some blood or something.
I'm not an expert and not all of these venues have worked spectacularly for me. I've done them all except for Niche and Jewelry Designers Showcase. Some were successful and some were not. But that's for me - some people had great successes where I had great failures. It's a matter of knowing your market and a little luck.