No, it’s not just “when you need the money”, though that can definitely be the trigger that gets you thinking.
No, it’s not as soon as you take a photo that all your facebook friends are drooling over.
No, it’s not when you think you can make something better/cheaper than someone else.
Keep reading… you’ll get it. (Or, go ahead and be a cheater by reading to the end of the post. See if I care. Cheater.)
Let’s Talk About Becky*
Becky’s a knitter. Has been knitting for over 30 years, since her grandmother taught her at a very young age. Becky has made gifts for her friends and family, and sold them to them so they could be given as gifts by friends and family.
Becky’s gone to TONS of craft shows in the Autumn season, for over 10 years. She tells you that there are good shows and bad shows and that “you learn where to invest your time and table fees”. Becky’s a pro at selling live and in person. But there’s one problem.
Becky has no clue what to do the rest of the year.
She’s got great products, repeat buyers, everything a real business needs. The best part? She turns a 100% markup profit. (We’ll discuss pricing another time.) But it’s only for the “Holiday Shopping” season. The rest of the year, she struggles. A few birthdays in the early part of the year, sure. But who wears knitted items in August?
People in Australia do.
But Becky has no way to reach them because she doesn’t have a website, blog, or any way for anyone to purchase her items online.
Let’s Talk About Marissa*
Marissa is a painter, sculptor, jewelry maker, and graphic artist. She posts pictures of her work all over facebook and twitter, has a blog (that she rarely posts on… shhh), spends lots of time on her Pinterest account, and can’t figure out why she’s not selling anything.
Upon closer inspection, it’s easy to see that Marissa takes all her photos with her 2004 cellphone camera, and typically under a fluorescent lightbulb, so they all look greenish and fuzzy. When you ask her about it, given that she’s so proficient in graphic arts, she says, “I just want to get it out there for people to see. I can always go back later.”
But “later” never comes. Marissa keeps posting away, all over the social networks, spending literally hours every day. She’s bought at least a dozen ebooks and programs on how to market yourself as an artist (to the tune of thousands of dollars), but she gets a few pages in, claims confusion, and gives up. She’s got a few items up in an Etsy shop that she relists every 3 months, but she’s starting to think Etsy’s a scam, and even the media’s been fooled. She doesn’t dare try any of the other sites like it. She’s never heard of Zazzle, ImageKind, Zibbet, or Artfire, and “doesn’t want to know”.
Marissa’s number one problem? I bet you guessed it. She’s spending too much time promoting work that she can’t drive sales to because she’s doing it wrong.
So How Do You Know When To Put Your Art Online?
When you’re ready to make a business out of it. Becky’s ready. She’s been doing business for one season out of the year, and killing it, but needs to take her business online and give it all she’s got. Will she need help? Probably. Can she do it alone? Sure, maybe at first. But she’ll likely need help at some point, and it’s a good thing when you can afford to pay someone to help you run your business!
Marissa’s not ready. Not yet, anyway. She’s still floundering around the social networks. She’s spending money consuming and not creating. Yes, she’s “creating” but she’s not creating a business. She needs to learn specific skills like time management, prioritizing, organization, and promotions. Or, she needs to learn that she should spend that money wisely on an assistant, and spend less time on the computer all together.
Over to you…
What do you think? Have you been in Becky’s or Marissa’s shoes? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
* Names are totally made up, because while I’m not targeting any one specific person, these stories are very, very true. Oh, and I’m all about protecting the innocent. The stupid, on the other hand… they don’t get fancy little stars next to their names. Wait, what are you doing reading this anyway? Shouldn’t you be reading the rest of the article or commenting or sharing it on facebook? Git goin!