August 30, 2011

Savvy Seller Café: Market Yourself For Free! Part I

Dot Vase - Felted Wool $156 USD by

Sometimes the best marketing opportunities don’t cost a penny.  This is good news for artists on a budget aka yours truly.  Today’s online communities offer more opportunities than ever before!  Are you taking advantage? Here’s a handy checklist to add to your marketing toolbox. 

This is quite possibly the most effective free marketing opportunity I’ve used. If you need help setting up your page, talk to another TAFA member who’s done it already or ask a friend to show you the ropes. It’s reasonably straight forward, so don’t be intimidated.

2. Create a Blog Using Blogger
Start your own blog for free on Blogger! In fact, the blog you’re reading right now is a perfect example.  You don’t have to be very tech savvy or know html to make it look great.  If you haven’t started blogging yet, I recommend reading “Blogging All-In-One For Dummies” by Susan Gunelius. I just started my blog a few months ago and already I'm hooked.

3. Use Twitter
I resisted Twitter for a long time, but I finally signed up a few days ago. Essentially a micro-blogging tool, Twitter inspires conversation and relationship building. You can add links to your blog, shop or anything else you want to pass on. Simple and effective, it’s definitely worth a try! I'm a proud newbie @ChristineMFord.

4. Write for Popular Blogs
For a blog to be successful, frequent posts with great content are needed to build and keep up readership. Many popular blogs need guest writers to accomplish this.  If you decide to try guest writing, make sure that backlinks to your own website, blog or shop is allowed.
5. Comment on Other Blogs
When you follow or comment on other blogs, many will return the favor giving you more traffic and exposure.  When appropriate, leave a link for your website, blog or shop. Be very careful not to create spam.  If you leave a link be sure that it is relevant and useful.

This is just a small list of ideas to get you started. Check back next week for even more ideas!

What’s your favorite free online marketing strategy? Leave us a comment!

Creatively yours,

Next Week: Market Yourself for Free! Part II

Visit me online!

August 29, 2011

And now . . . a bit of fun.

People say an awful lot of smart-sounding stuff about art.

And I'll admit that quite often, the smartest-sounding stuff makes me want to just scratch my head and say, "Huh?"

That's why I was absolutely delighted the day I stumbled across PIXMAVEN,
a handy-dandy tool that can make even the least sophisticated among us sound like true art professionals.

One merely types in any five digit number, and the phrase generator spits out a "pithy commentary or savvy insight"... capable of... "confounding friends and colleagues"... and..."dumbfounding professors and artists emeriti."

From a previous zip code, I got this:

"Although I am not a painter, I think that the subaqueous qualities of the figurative-narrative line-space matrix contextualize the inherent overspecificity."

How many times have I wished I said that?

Probably time to redo the old artist's statement.

Susan M. Hinckley
Small Works in Wool

August 25, 2011

Just a friendly reminder.

Having been without the use of my left arm/hand for the past two weeks, I have been reminded of how perfectly splendid it is to have two hands, both in working order.

I missed my beloved left hand for too many reasons to count.

Of course, there were all the expected things, like eating, writing, and flossing my teeth.  But I was a bit surprised by how cut-off I felt from my creative side as a result of not being able to use my hands.

All I could do was peck away at my keyboard with my index finger, one letter at a time, and while it saved my sanity to be able to do so, I quickly realized that I like holding materials in my hands and feeling the process as something tangible and useful or beautiful emerges.

Frank Lloyd Wright said:

If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs 
but the push-button finger.

And as I look around at the way people employ their hands most of the time these days, I am inclined to agree.  That's why, at least for the next while, I'm going to try to remember every day why I create in the first place, and how it feels --  the beautiful process and privilege of making with my hands.

Susan M. Hinckley
Small Works in Wool

August 24, 2011

Savvy Seller Café: 4 Reasons To Sell Your Work Online

Reader Eyeglass Cases $32 USD by manitobagifts

Whether you’re already selling your work online or sitting on the fence about it, there’s a lot to consider when expanding your business to the online market.  Here are a few big pros to give you that nudge to try it or to keep your existing shop open.

1.  Create a Strong Online Presence

Let’s face it, nowadays a lot of people are looking to the internet to find what they want.  I can’t even remember the last time I picked up the phone book to find a number!  As internet usage continues to grow, getting online is more important than ever.  Easy to use websites such as Etsy, Ebay or Artfire offer inexpensive (or free), attractive looking options to sell your work.  Having your own domain with a retail aspect is more expensive but a wonderful option if you can afford it. 

If you’re thinking about selling online, research what each option can offer you and go from there. I choose to sell my work on Etsy because it’s dedicated to the handmade marketplace and allows me to sell my work internationally. I also feature my work on a site called 100MileFinds, a new Canadian site, because it promotes local shopping as well.  It’s great to have a shop that’s open 24-7 too!

African Influenced Hand Embroidered Cuff $83 USD by MadrigalEmbroidery

2.  Enhance Your Portfolio

Even if you never sell a single item online, there are still benefits to be had. Selling online requires great photographs and descriptions of your work. Your online shop offers an instant portfolio to potential buyers. It’s also an excellent tool when applying for juried shows. My shop has been instrumental in getting me into many juried shows, blog features, consignment opportunities and more.  My local customers also appreciate seeing what’s new before they drive down to my studio. Even though they don’t shop online, they enjoy seeing what I have and then shopping in person.

Wall Quilt - Snails in the Garden $700 USD by cindygrisdela

3.  Track Historical Data

By having gone through the process of photographing and documenting your work, you’ll have loads of data with which to examine your progress as an artist and expand your portfolio. It still surprises me when I come across a photo of something cool that I made and temporarily forgot about. I sometimes get inspiration for future projects by looking back at past work.  Also, in terms of sales, I have access to lots of data about what people like to buy, when they like to buy it, price points and so on using Etsy Stats.  This is exactly the kind of stuff I’m terrible about tracking from my in-person sales.  With my Etsy shop, this information is saved automatically and is available to me whenever I need it.

"Having support is worth the price of admission alone."

4.  Join a Community of Artists

If you’re a member of TAFA and have an Etsy shop, be sure to join our team!  This is a great opportunity to meet other members and see their work. There are countless tips and tricks for online success, and networking with other sellers is a great place to gather information. Selling online is an art in and of itself and a tricky nut to crack. Having support is worth the price of admission alone. On Etsy there are literally thousands of teams. Search out teams that suit your needs and participate. You’ll reap what you sow.

Recycled Sari Silk Rosette Statement Necklace  $45 USD by plumfish

These are just a handful of benefits to be had from running an online shop.  While selling online may not be for everyone, it’s something to think carefully about.  If you decide to give it a try, being persistent and patient will take you a long way. 

What are your thoughts about selling online? Share your comments with us!

Creatively yours,
Christine Marie Ford

Next week:  Marketing Yourself Online for Free!

August 22, 2011

Colette Color of Hungary joins our TAFA Team! Welcome!

Circular Pouch by COLETTECOLOR of Hungary

I just happened to see one of Colette's pieces somewhere on Etsy.  It caught my eye and I went to her shop.  It's like a breath of fresh air!  Beautifully finished, she sews, crochets, knits, and embroiders.  I, who cannot do zippers, take my hat off to excellent craftsmanship.

So, I sent her an invite to join TAFA and she jumped on board with great enthusiasm.  Not only did she express an interest in becoming active with team, she already made a gorgeous Treasury paying homage to both TAFA and another Team she belongs to, Estspirit:

Treasury by Colette

Our first Hungarian member, Colette demonstrates a wonderful spirit of international cooperation.  She said that English is not her first language, but she plows ahead.  These are the kinds of connections that can make the world a place of harmony and understanding!  Welcome, Colette!

August 13, 2011

Introducing the Savvy Seller Café

Autumn's Pride, Miniature Fabric Art by

Welcome to the Savvy Seller Café, a new weekly series packed with information, tips and links to help you get the most out of your online selling and marketing efforts.  I’m Christine Ford, a member of TAFA and full time artist trying to make it in the real world.  I’ll be your hostess for this series, so grab a cup of java and away we go…

Over the past few years I’ve been researching the world of online marketing and selling and let me tell you, it’s a big world out there! I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m an expert; in fact I’m just another artist trying to figure out how to crack a tough nut.  What started out as a journey has become a quest. I'm reading constantly and soaking up everything I can. Every day I find new puzzle pieces and clues along the way and here’s where I’ll share them with you.  Every Tuesday I'll introduce a theme with related links and resources.

Cup Cozy by

I’m here to help, so leave us your comments!  Let us know what’s helpful and what you’d like to know about.  I believe there’s room in this world for all of us to be successful! This is why TAFA is so wonderful.

This week: Discover Handmadeology as your "go to" resource for selling and marketing tips

Creator Timothy Adam, a long time artist and Etsy seller provides a wealth of information on his site Handmadeology.  He has thousands of dedicated readers and many guest writers.  His site contains countless blog articles creating a rich resource for Etsy sellers.

Earring Display made by Timothy Adam, founder of Handmadeology

Handmadeology also has an Etsy shop with helpful business products available for sale plus an Etsy Team that everyone can join. Just days ago, Handmadeology introduced a new social networking feature to their site which already has over 1000 members! You can set up a profile with links to your shop, blog, twitter etc. and network with other Etsy sellers (my username is ChristineMarie if you want to be friends!).

If you're impressed with Handmadeology, you can subscribe to the blog and even upgrade to "Handmadeology Pro" for a small monthly fee. The general blog site and social networking features are free. There's even free tools and e-courses available that you can download!

Writing for other blogs can be a great way to promote yourself. Handmadeology welcomes guest writers and also features Etsy artists and their work.

Wow I'm starting to sound like a commercial and I'm not even getting paid! Although not every blog post is a gem for everyone, Handmadeology has lots of treasure to uncover and is definitely worth a long look.

Until next time, stay savvy!

Visit me online!

August 11, 2011

TAFA Team Etsy Pick of the Week: Vintage Flower Art Deco Chair

This week's Etsy pick comes from the workshop of Jeanne Connolly of Vintage Renewal in Denver, Colorado.  By re-upholstering and painting vintage furniture and accessories, she makes fresh, modern home decor that is both useful and fun.  There are so many things in her shop that would love to come and live at my house, but I think my favorite is this 1940's era chair re-covered with an overblown floral print.  Love it!

Vintage Flower Art Deco chair by Vintage Renewal

You can read more about her and see more of her work by visiting her on the TAFA List, on her website, and at her Etsy site

*Etsy Pick of the Week feature by Stacey Sharman from Peppermint Pinwheels.  Every Thursday, we will post one item from a TAFA Team affiliated Etsy store. In choosing a Team member photo, we will be looking for beautiful, Etsy Front Page worthy photos.

August 4, 2011

Of Pencils and Possibilities

There's always a lot of noise in the art world about the definition of art, and who deserves to wear the Artist title and who doesn't -- admittedly a gray area. And it's a title I've been very reluctant to take for myself.

Most of the reluctance stems from the fact that I can't draw well. Even as a 4th grader that was painfully clear. It kept me from entertaining any thoughts of going to art school. And even though I know that drawing is a skill that can be taught (and that there's so much more to art than drawing), so firmly had I affixed the label "non-artist" to myself that it superseded my knowledge of those facts.

So I came to art via a long and winding path on which I studiously avoided picking up a pencil whenever I could. However, this year I decided to face my drawing demons and took on a 365 day Creativity Challenge to do a drawing every day for a year. It took me two years to work up to even thinking I could possibly do it (and so far I remain truly draw-o-phobic.)

So I count it as a great victory that this week I bought a case for my pencils and erasers. Sure, it was only 69 cents, but that was 69 cents I wouldn't have invested in drawing 3 months ago. It has polka dots! So I couldn't resist it . . .and it represents a step.

day 46 of the drawing challenge

I will never be able to draw with photo-realism. I don't even want to. I mostly just hope to improve my ability to see, and increase my artistic self-esteem by slaying the drawing dragon.

I know that practice does not make perfect. But I am also learning that practice does introduce possibilities.

And in art, it's the pursuit of the possibility that keeps us creating.

Susan M. Hinckley
Small Works in Wool

August 3, 2011

Search Improvements: A Chat with Etsy Staff & Engineers

By Barbara Harms, Asian Art and Quilts have got to hear this!

I watched this live stream on ETSY last night.I was really surprised with what I learned, I usually don't utilize ETSY labs as much as I could. This link is heavy from relevant information for anyone selling or buying on ETSY. I'm on a mission to share this with every ETSY shop keeper that I can. Search Improvements: A Chat with Etsy Staff & Engineers

For example...Do you know how the new ETSY relevancy search effects you and your customers? How does it compare with the default search? Do customers use it & what are they saying? What is the criteria for ranking? All this and more, answered right at the end of this link above.