Many of us start on our beading path with only the pleasure of beading and making things for ourselves in mind. Usually, along the way, someone wants to buy one of our pieces. Maybe you hadn’t considered selling your handmade art. Maybe you wouldn’t consider parting with one of your designs. But just maybe, this opportunity takes you in an unexpected direction. Next thing you know, you’ve written up your business plan. You’ve put together your logo, business cards, and officially launched yourself into a new business.
Carolyn Edlund, Executive Director of The Arts Business Institute (ABI) and Wendy Rosen, the founder of ABI know this story all too well. They developed ABI to help those just like you. Carolyn and Wendy have put together a new course, Fast Start Marketing for Artists & Makers. This course is designed to help you reach goals you may not’ve even realized were possible.
Carolyn took the time to answer a few of our marketing questions; to follow are her answers.
BD: Carolyn, what prompted you to create this new fast track marketing success course and who is it written for?
CE: Over the past five years, I’ve worked individually with hundreds of fine and craft artists. We’ve worked together on business strategies and planning. It’s clear there is a lot of hunger out there to know more about how to market and promote your work. There is also a lot of confusion about how to do this effectively, and what methods of marketing to use. It can just be overwhelming at times.
As a writer and speaker, I present frequently on business topics, and marketing is a specialty of mine. And, as a former ceramic artist and production studio owner, I had to do all the marketing for my own small business. This gives me first-hand personal experience and helps me clearly understand all the hard work involved.
Marketing doesn’t have to be a mystery. You can actually set up systems in your business that make it easy to reach out over and over to a prospective customer. There are ways that don’t make you feel like you’re bothering people or that you’ll face rejection at every turn.
This course starts with the basics, but it’s comprehensive. It’s perfectly suited for beginners or any creative entrepreneur who has been selling their work and who wants to learn new strategies, improve and reach their marketing success goals.
BD: What do you think is the biggest challenge people have with marketing and selling their work?
CE: Well, I think there are several things. Sometimes artists and craftspeople have problems speaking about what it is they do. They aren’t sure what customers would find the most fascinating about them and about their collection. This can happen because they are simply so close to their work they cannot have an objective viewpoint.
Getting that viewpoint can give you tons of information about potential customers, so we encourage personal interaction with people. Get some feedback by showing your work face-to-face, perhaps in a craft show or fair, or an exhibition. What do customers love about your art or your products? What do they not like? What questions do they have? You really have to get inside the mind of the customer, and understand what they need. In our course, we actually have a whole unit on “Connecting with the Customer.” It’s so important to know why people buy, what motivates them, and why they will buy from you. Once you know that, you have an insight into marketing messages that will turn shoppers into buyers.
BD: Could you share some basic tips about marketing with our readers that might help them right now?
CE: One of the most important things you need to know about marketing is information is absolutely essential to cultivating customers. If I’m looking at your art online, but I don’t know your prices, I won’t buy anything. If you don’t have great photos and enough of them, I cannot make a buying decision. And if I don’t know your terms, for example, if you take returns, then I wouldn’t have the comfort level to say “yes” to the sale.
If you want to sell your art or craft, then you must be aware of the information people need to become your customers. This is true wherever you’re selling. In order to buy, your customer must believe what you’re selling is worth more than the money they’re exchanging for it. And that means your marketing must take this into consideration. After all, it’s truly all about the customer. When you plan your marketing from that perspective, it becomes much easier.
Thank you, Carolyn! I’m looking forward to your course, learning from your experience and expertise, and then to seeing what our community does with all they apply to their own businesses and reach their individual marketing success goals!
Have a questions for Carolyn or a marketing success tip to share? Please leave a comment below.
Yours in creativity and business!