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About DirtRoads

  • Rank
    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 06/01/1957

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Edinburg, MS
  • Interests
    MMO's like World of Warcraft. Beta tester for new WOW type games. Making the world a better place for feral cats. Helping teenagers and adults cope with and break free from video game addiction.

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  1. I got that idea for a "gallery line" from someone on this forum. Can't remember who suggested it but tyvm and speak up so you get the credit!
  2. Don't underestimate the value of having a retail outlet. I think it's great that you can move some pottery in your wife's consignment shop. You do realize that you are cutting out the middle man and if her space isn't 100% full, the venue is basically a free place to sell. (no opportunity cost for your wife's business) And it does give you a place to steer 4th quarter Christmas sales. (half of my yearly sales are Nov/Dec) Many potters do not get the benefit of Christmas sales because they don't have an established outlet. The BUYER is the judge of your work. Unless you are considering acceptance in juried art shows. I started this business way too late in life to worry about making a "name". I have customers that buy the Dirt Roads brand but initially buy it simply because they like it. Repeat purchases or gift requests may be attributed to the Dirt Roads brand. Most of my line is pure production pottery and NOTHING is discarded because it's "not good enough". Two years ago, I started a "gallery line" with prices mostly ranging from $150 to $500. Have sold around 30 of these pieces. They are bigger and more free form than my production line and I glaze them myself. I would do more if I had time. You can always aspire to creating a "gallery line" but I see no reason not to sell your less than perfect pieces. Maybe create a nicer display in the consignment store. The clientele for some consignment businesses can be really good. More of a market for "vintage" not second hand or used. There may be opportunity to sell a little more expensive than $5 there. Easily consider $25 to $50 price points and maybe a few ornaments thrown in at lower prices to nab some multiple gift buyers. Since that consignment business is successful, there may be a good customer base there. Take care in how you absorb critiques from other artists. And yes you should sign the pottery. Everyone looks. I sign everything "Dirt Roads By S. Grimes". The gallery line is just "Sharon Grimes".
  3. DirtRoads

    Copied Images

    This addresses this issue: https://petapixel.com/2013/08/03/10-bogus-excuses-people-use-when-they-steal-photos-from-the-web/ No they can't do it but note what the author concludes: "All of that being said… Is it possible to police the web and stop every copyright infringement? No. It is technologically impossible to stop someone from lifting your photos, and I would need three lives to sue every infringer of my images. " The legal expense of stopping such is usually prohibitive for most small businesses. It's a very unprofessional move to use your pictures. Sort of says something about the show, if there are no pictures from exhibitors that the promoter finds worthy of using. I just can't see why you would post and have buyers go there most likely looking for the merchandise they saw on FB. I would think the light it throws on the promoter's image would be enough reason for them NOT to do it.
  4. DirtRoads


    I have a Bailey and have been extremely satisfied. Model MSV 25T De-airing. Had to replace a switch and the company sent it out immediately and walked us through the replacement. Excellent customer service on the few times we have needed anything. I only use one type/color of clay and have never cleaned it. If you don't let it sit for more than a month, you don't have to clean it. Pretty sure I read that in the Bailey manual. We pug a minimum of 600 pounds a month. I also have a Bailey electric slab roller. I wish I had purchased this equipment when I bought my first kiln. I have a production pottery business and am not sure I would still be doing it without these 2 pieces of equipment.
  5. DirtRoads

    If one of your students....

    ^. I can tell from your posts that you are a really nice person. Don't give her a second chance. I've kicked a few customers out of my retail businesses over the years for what I consider to be "verbal abuse" without giving it a second thought.
  6. DirtRoads

    Tax Time for potters

    $615 isn't bad. Think of the "opportunity" cost of doing them yourself. How much in $ in pottery production would have lost if you devoted time to the paperwork.
  7. DirtRoads


  8. DirtRoads

    Instagram or Facebook or ??? What?

    No idea why some people can see my Face Book and others can't. (Just go to FB and look up "Dirt Roads Pottery" the one in Edinburg, MS. Summary: This post was exceptionally successful. Part of that due to the product itself. 3K views, 16 shares and 500 engagements (comments, likes, shares, loves). I only have 621 friends and 1900 likes. 20 people used the "Shop Now" button and I don't ship pottery. Had 5 jewelry sales that used "Shop Now" button from FB. Twelve different people asked for toppers to be shipped. About 200 toppers sold ($ 7) $1400. We have less than 10 left now and have glazed all we have. Making a lot more. Lots of sales on other products as well when people came to the store. Counted up and at least $500 in additional purchases. Reached people that had not been in the store in a few months or longer. What I learned: You can connect your Instagram and Facebook. You need to create a FB page, separate from your account (which I've since done ). Link your Instagram to your FB page (not account ... I had it linked to my account and duplicated my post ....) Taking a photo, posting to IG and sharing to your FB page literally takes a few minutes. Less time than it takes to post here. Using BOTH makes time sense because you can take pictures with your phone, hit the IG icon, post and then share to FB. I'm going to try to take a picture at Canton this year early one do this saying "Hey come see us at The Canton Flea Market". All in less than 2 minutes. If you show it you need to ship it or have a place they can go to buy it, a store, vendor mart or upcoming show. Several customers have asked if these will be at the Canton show and of course they will be. You can look at the FB profiles and learn a lot about your customers. Great for customer profiling. Your success depends on your followers on IG and friends on FB. Tip for using FB: NEVER post one word about anything like Trump, gun control, etc. ..... even on your personal account page. Do NOT even hit any of the engagement icons like "Like" "Angry" "Sad" ... etc. NOTHING EVER on any of these sorts of topics. You can set controls on your FB business page that will not allow anything controversial to be posted. I've been on FB a couple of years and have never been caught in any drama what so ever. Creating a FB page for an event or a show can bring some potential customers around. We created one for my area at the Canton Flea Market. It's under "Canton Flea Market at the Catholic Church." Just type that in FB if you want to see it. Over 500 likes now. A few vendors reported sales in the fall that came directly from people seeing them on FB. It's taken a few years to see any results. The page admin doesn't add friends so it's strictly from ppl like me sharing the post (92 of my 600 friends have "liked" the page). I think social media will be more important for future artists. One of my friends that doesn't do any told me he's asked at every show for his "FB" or people that want to follow him on IG. The key is getting your followers and friends. I'm making it a point to have 1000 friends and 1000 IG (only have 388 right now )followers by year end.
  9. DirtRoads

    Instagram or Facebook or ??? What?

    Hmmm ... do you have a face book account? Pretty sure my settings are open to all. But here's the content: "Jar Toppers only $ ! Turn a mason jar into an easy arrangement using anything you find in your yard. A variety of colors available." With captions under each picture. $ each. Many colors available. "True Turquoise", "Persimmon" "Red October", "Blue Swirt" and "Lime Bright" Jar topper over a 1 pint Mason jar, using redbud stems. Cost $ . (does not include jar) Color is "Blue Swirl" Jar Topper $ . In "Lime Bright". Over a 1 quart Mason Jar. Flowers are Camellias.
  10. DirtRoads

    Instagram or Facebook or ??? What?

    I've run 2 items on IG this week. And one of them instantly shared on my FB. I find IG faster than uploading photos to FB or my website. You click and post. Here's the facebook share. I got 2 orders from this so far. One for 6 pieces @$7 $42 and one for 12 pieces @ $7 $84. (this customer is picking them up next Friday .... additional sales will most likely occur) In addition to those 2 specific orders I've gotten 6 messages. https://www.facebook.com/dirtroadsjewelry/inbox/?selected_item_id=1745479838865463 650 exposures on FB so far. This number will continue to climb for a few days. I don't ship pottery. One person wanted to order some but said they would try to get down here next week (about 2 hour drive). This all works a little differently for me because I have a free standing retail space that is open 6 days a week 10am to 6pm. I expect to see 10 customers or more to come to the store after seeing the posts. It put me "top of mind" again. Some of the customer likes were from customers I haven't seen recently. The other IG produced 2 in store visits, about 300 likes and 3 mail orders. It's a very low ticket item - $2. Thankfully $1.85 is profit and people buy on average about 6 of them .... but still .... it's low. I'll share it on my FB sometimes next week. The target market for this product is a lot younger. On the 2 store visits, the customers purchased other items. One sale was $40 and the other sale was $120. One thing I've found is not to over use IG or FB. I'm sure I "under use" it. But I've heard customers complain about businesses that slam out lots of posts. Just consider that it's FREE promotion. I really need to get more effective in my use. I would share the other IG post but I'm not sure how to link it here. Another thing I've noted: You need to put a price on the items you post, as well as a short description. A lot of the boutiques I compete with NEVER put any prices on anything. You will see customers asking price but even then they don't post ... guess they send a pm to them. As for my customer base, about 1/3 FB friends overlap with my IG base. IG is definitely younger but I did not recogonize over 50 customers on IG this week. IG seems to have a shorter life span but can reach more people. I won't get much more feed back from the IG I sent on Thursday. I recognize 80% of the FB likes and about 50% of IG likes. (went back and compiled these numbers)
  11. DirtRoads

    Animals at work!

    That's a great picture of that racoon.
  12. This year 50% of my studio sales were in Nov/Dec. Last year 42% of sales during Nov/Dec. About 75-80% of these purchases were for gifts. If you are not selling your desired target, you should consider positioning your business as a gift destination. I do sell some gifts at the two shows I do, but sell more at my free standing retail location. I think it's possible to sell some gifts at shows, but consider a bricks and mortar space as a supplement. I have built most of my destination business (which is 80% of my business) from customers that "saw me at Canton" (Canton, MS bi-annual flea market). You need somewhere to shovel all those customers after the show. This is where you could do online too. I refuse to ship pottery. So I can't offer much on experience on that. I do ship jewelry and have gotten most of my online orders from those Canton customers. Interestingly, the most searched word on my jewelry website is "pottery" .... so I know the demand for online sales is there. You have to select a location for becoming a gift destination after the show. Once you have a location, you need to shovel every customer you encounter at shows or other places to that location. I give away stacks of cards at my shows (remember cards only 2 cents now). I always have cards and casually hand them out to people I run in to. Location Options 1. Free standing retail operation in the location as your studio (my model) 2. Kiosk - A small selling space in front of or in another business (Mark C uses this) 3. Space in a vendor, craft or antique mall. This could be ideal if the venue is a successful retail operation. One of my clients just sold $20k plus in a vendor mall during December. You really need to do your research on these venues. I know of another very successful once a month venue that has an assortment of merchandise where vendors sell $4k and more. 4. A shared retail space. I've seen 2 different places where 2 people split a store in my area. They have their separate registers or use a code like vendor malls do. I could see where 4 or 5 potters split a retail space. 5. Online. Drive customers to Etsy or your online store. Gift Buyers vs Self Purchases - Most gift buying is driven by price. - The competition for gifts is just getting them to your store or outlet. You need to get in their evoked set of gift giving options. Become one of the "go to" sources for gifts. Whereas at a show, there are rows of options for competition. - Gift buyers are less discriminating ... they will buy things that will never be a self purchase. - Most gifts are "obligation gifts". They HAVE to get something. Hate to say it but half the time, they may not even really want to buy a particular gift. You are providing a much needed service if you can supply gifts in their price range. Wedding gifts and a lot of Christmas gifts are obligations. I have a steady wedding clientele. The great thing here is that wedding gifts are consumables. The buyer usually doesn't worry about "where they will put it". And pottery is easily established as the "go to wedding gift". Buyers usually have a set price. A lot of them have the same "go to" item for every wedding gift. My average wedding gift is $50. Shower gifts are usually $25 to $35. - Teacher gifts are consumable gifts. The kids usually have new teachers each year so people will come back year after year. I find ornaments to fit perfectly for teacher gifts. I always add a new style or two and change up the colors so in case they still have some of the same teachers (coaches, dance teachers, etc may not change. My record teacher gift sale this past Christmas was 27 gifts (for 3 kids) - Dirty Santa gifts are consumable gifts that you can hit almost every year. Average price varies from $20 to $35. - Family gifts. Buyers for family gifts are typically more discriminating than other gifts. A typical purchase will be a lady buying for her daughters and daughter-in-laws. Average price here is around $50. They will buy anniversary, Christmas and birthday gifts. I've found I don't retain this customer for more than 2 or 3 sales. But ... it's a good sale. Another good family sale is for "all the grand daughters" I have seen a few women hit all the women in the family with $50 gifts. When they extend to "all the nieces and nephews ", this is usually a $4 to $8 ornament. AND many gift purchasers do buy something for themselves. Or send another gift buyer in to get them a desired item. We have a wish book to record this.
  13. Post a photo of your best sales pet! Bit is the best sales person at the studio. He often sits at the front on the porch greeting customers as they arrive. At other times he's overseeing production as he sits in front of clay, reminding people to get to work. One of best things about owning this business is allowing animals to be a part of everything.
  14. DirtRoads

    Instagram or Facebook or ??? What?

    I would say YES to this. Situate yourself for gifts. Maybe even a smaller store for the rest of the year. I sold 5 wedding gifts today and a couple of birthday gifts. Selling gifts is so much easier than aiming for self purchase. Let me try and find that post I made about gifts. I only do 2 shows a year now. Canton MS Flea Market in May and October. When I first started, I did more shows but was running out of inventory by Dec 1 and decided I rather sell more here. This year I ended up with around $8K ending pottery inventory. Maybe enough to try and do a show called "Hand Works" in Jackson, MS (in November) I do more in my showroom than at the shows. Those 2 shows account for about 25% of my sales, with the showroom accounting for 75%
  15. DirtRoads

    Instagram or Facebook or ??? What?

    Range 30 to 50. I did a demographic analysis (visual confirmation) 20 and younger 6% 25 - 30 10% 30 to 40 30% 40 to 50 32% 50 and over 22% 70% of my pottery purchases are for gifts.

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