The After School Special program is a series of three panels that present practical information about presenting, marketing and selling artwork online. The panel discussions are built on a partnership between SooVAC (http://www.soovac.org/) and mnartists.org (http://mnartists.org/). The After School Specials were designed to provide artists with a place of dialogue and conversation rather than a typical workshop. The idea behind this was to guide and showcase possibilities for artists think about in terms of their careers, rather than presenting a typical how-to or top ten list.
Our first panel featured, Jesse Draxler and Beth Bowman, both artists, alongside Allison Beattie from Fallon. They shared their tools, tips and topical information about online venues used to promote their work including their artist website and social networking platforms. The second panel featured Paul Schmelzer, from the Walker Art Center, Sarah Crist, from Fallon, and me, Kate Renee and we talked about marketing and blogging. The third panel focused on selling art and featured the work and online Etsy shops from Jennifer Davis, Kimberly Tschida Petters and Amy Rice. All three artists make income from Etsy sales.
The artists all use Etsy as a venue to display their various works, prints and products for sale. In building upon a continued conversation among all three panels, it was discussed to use your additional online and marketing venues to help promote your own Etsy page such as promotion of your shop through Facebook or Twitter.
Amy Rice’s Etsy shop
Sales management and shipping was a topic we touched on during the panel. Shipping of a sale was typically done with in 3 days of the initial purchase. Some artists begin to process orders as they come in, other artists pick a day of the week and process and or ship on that one day. Their exception was for custom orders. The entire experience from browsing your work to purchasing and shipping is the customer’s experience, the whole process is your business. When the artists are away for a week or more and had no access to their shop and sales, the artists ‘closed’ their online shop which can prevent sales from happening while you are away. Once you return from your vacation or hiatus, with another click, your shop is up and running.
Here is a view of the shipping options for Kim Tschida’s Vandalia Street Press shop where she sells cards.
Another great tip about shipping is to include the “Everywhere Else” price for your shipping locations. This allows you to reach international markets. Not providing an international shipping amount automatically shuts you off from reaching beyond into other markets. Look at other shops prices to help set a good shipping fee. Reimburse customers whose shipping fee was not entirely utilized to ship the item.
Customer service also was talked about briefly. Amy Rice once sold two works of art but accidentally shipped both items to the opposite buyers. In keeping professional, she reimbursed the sale for each item for both customers. While she messed up the order and lost the sale of two works through the reimbursement, Amy kept her clients and maintained professional business practices. She turned a bad situation into something that made her clients happy even though they did not get the product they initially wanted. Kim Tschida said, “Make them happy, then move forward.”
Print listed for sale in Jennifer Davis’ shop
Etsy had once been seen as a craft website, but today you can find bulk supplies, kicknacks, custom art work, prints, and higher priced marketed items. The panel demonstrated through their own stores the range of prices they had in their shop and had items listed all the way over one thousand dollars. Jennifer Davis’ shop has items starting around $40 and go up to $1400.
If a customer is interested in a piece but cannot afford it right away, consider offering a payment plan. In this mode, the buyer pays whatever they want when they can. The artist holds the item (in the Etsy shop labeled as reserved) until the entire payment has been received, and then the item is shipped.
Both of these works for sale at Jennifer Davis’s shop demonstrate her wide price range to appeal to many customers.
Utilizing all aspects of Etsy is an important tip for success. Here are some basic tips from the panel to boost your sales and shop success:
1. Use all 13 tags allowed for each item but not all items should have the same tag because shoppers can search for things and you want them to locate your items. If they do not search one of your thirteen tags while browsing they will not come across your items, variety in tagging similar items differently brings more opportunity for traffic and sales
2. Take good, consistent photos and upload all 5 images. If you are selling something flat or 2D, take a photo of the back of the piece
3. When making and selling prints use sizes that allow your prints to fit in standard frames
4. Utilize the Etsy Seller Handbook, Online Labs and forums for ideas and help.
While our panels offered many tips, suggestions and possibilities to our audience, we also thought to suggest that artists should not go home and do all of this at once! Take your time and consider what is relevant to your arts career. Be sure you have the product, time and energy to manage and sell work through an Etsy shop.
The After School Panel discussion was a great three part series that offered a real life perspective into the world of other creatives, entrepreneurs and artists. These three blog recaps purpose is to help summarize the ideas, messages, tools and tips mentioned during the discussion, so the conversation and success for the audience members can continue well after the panel has ended. It was a great experience to be a participating panelist during panel 2 and I enjoyed listening and learning from the other two panels.
You can also check out my Etsy shop here.