Wednesday, July 26, 2017

When Sales are Slow

So, Summer time is generally the slower time for online sales in the art world. At least that has been my experience. There's always an ebb and flow to sales and despite 5 years of doing this as my main income, it can still be pretty scary when you hit a dry spell of sales.

On social media, I've seen a few posts from my peers indicating that they are having some slow sales days as well. That can be both comforting and frightening at the same time. One on hand, it's a relief that "it's not just me, it's slow everywhere." On the other hand when you see someone that to you is outrageously talented that is struggling it's "If they are struggling, how can I expect to succeed?"

This post is not supposed to be doom and gloom, it's about what positive actions can be taken when sales are slow. So here is what I try to do when the going gets tough.

1. Diversify your product. In my case, I used to only make beads and sell to jewelry designers. I had customers who loved my work, but didn't make jewelry. Now I can appeal to both jewelry designers and people who just admire my work, but don't know what to do with it. I have a few "beadable" items like pens and coffee scoops for husbands in tow with their wife who probably wouldn't want to wear jewelry.

2. Experiment and try something new.  This past month, I put in some serious practice and started making marbles. I'm stretching my abilities and learning something new. It helps me to be a better artist and it can lead to a new product that can be marketed to a new audience. Or maybe something new and exciting for your current audience.

3. Focus on outside promotion (like blogging). Sometimes all the different methods of self promotion can be a little overwhelming. When you have some down time, try to work on it. There's blogging, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, mailing lists etc. Don't feel like you need to do it all at once. Maybe if you already have a blog, can you queue up more blog posts for when you will be too busy making beads.

4. Expand your line. Maybe you have a style of earring pair that sells well for you and is your "bread and butter." Can you make a matching set of 5-7? Can you make a focal? Can you do different shapes? Different colors?

 5. Analyze the numbers. Maybe it's a good time to look at the numbers and see if you are putting in time efficiently. Maybe you invest some money in targeted FB ads. Analyze the numbers to see if it seems worth it to you. Do you spend too much time blogging? Is it yielding you any returns?

6. Do the chores. Balance the books, clean your workstation, reorganize the glass, vacuum out the kiln etc etc. Do them now and get them done with, so when you're busy at the holidays, you can really devote your time to creating.

7. Diversify your sales venues. I used to only sell on Etsy. When Etsy was slow, it was super scary because it felt like my only option. Now I sell on Facebook in many groups, in jewelry shows, bead shows, wholesale to a local bead shop, Etsy, I teach and sometimes people buy my beads in class. I still haven't tried to get my jewelry in stores for consignment, but I'm hoping to try this year.

8. Set up a sales event. Christmas in July anyone? Don't expect to just throw up a coupon and sales will start rolling in. Make an event out of it. Can you do a giveaway? Maybe a game to get people to interact? Can you get people excited about your new work with sneak peeks leading up to an unveiling and sale?

I'm sure I could think of more ideas if I really put my mind to it, but this is already quite a to do list. So, I know it's difficult sometimes, but when sales are not so great pull yourself out of the doldrums and put yourself to work. These things might not yield sales immediately, but they will benefit you eventually.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

More Marble Adventures

So in my last entry I mentioned that I've been playing around with marbles. Since then, I've made quite a few more and I'm feeling more confident in my off mandrel work.

Here is some transparent blue over a core of white with silvered ivory linework. I've etched this to give it a glowing seaglass kind of look. I really love this glowing effect.

 This one was my first marble with a new larger marble mold. I think I might have gotten a little excited about the large canvas to work with and I completely covered it with lines.

 Transparent teal encased around a white core with sky blue linework. I really love the linework in this one. One side has a heart and the other a star. It feels like happy sidewalk chalk from childhood.

Here is my most recent one from the weekend. It's the largest one I've mad so far at 27mm. I tried combining some traditional boro styles of marbles with my stringer work. So, one side is a vortex, while the backing has been embellished with stringer that I left slightly raised. 
This vortex style feels like a slight turning point for me because of the clear. The marbles that I haven't been showing or selling aren't quite meeting my standards because of the clarity of the clear glass. Most people who work with effetre know that the clear often has quite a few bubbles and scratches in it. When dirt and oil get caught in these scratches on the glass rod, it turns into "scum" on the finished glass product. There's nothing physically wrong with it, but when you are trying to create a clear lens to showcase and magnify, that scum and bubbles can be distracting.

The marble above  has been made with larger diameter clear rods that I've cleaned very well using pickle. Pickle is a very mild acid that metal workers often use to clean the metal before soldering. The larger diameter clear also helps because less surface area of the glass rod is exposed to the elements.

I'm still working on finding the best clear for me to make marbles with. Next up to try is large diameter rods of the newly formulated super clear. After that, probably double helix Zephyr. 

To be continued...