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Was: Etsy or Ebay? Now: When Should You Start Trying to Sell?


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#41 metal and mud

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:55 PM

I've been thinking about this thread a lot this weekend. I've been having a wonderful time making gift items out of clay--2 and 3 inch lidded boxes on feet, textured and glazed in pretty colors, little Indian rugs hanging from metal racks that my son makes, plates carved with our local Organ Mountains and a moon and glazed to look like moonlight--etc.--different things that just come to me. I had so much fun making them that I couldn't NOT do anything with them. I also know that I need to do a work many times to get better at it; already the lids on my clay boxes fix much better. I am a small business owner and it only seemed natural to sell my items, so last December I got "certified" as a vendor at our Farmer's and Crafts Market. I get such a kick when someone buys one of my--admittedly--imperfect items. They make them happy and me even happier. I use my revenue to buy supplies, thereby supporting my hobby. It's disturbing to me that someone should suggest that we shouldn't put our items in public until many years have passed, implying that the works shouldn't be in public until much better in quality and near-perfect. I view my craft as an incredible relaxation whose result brings happiness to both the maker and the purchaser. After reading some of the posts I started to doubt myself in my decision to put my works in public and my ego on the line, but I had a good firing over the weekend and I know that on July 4th, my next market, some local folks will get a kick out of my little items and I won't stop bringing them to market, for one, nor trying to make them better and better each time. I hope I never achieve perfection because then I might stop.

#42 teardrop

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 08:36 AM

I hope your market went well on the 4th, metal and mud! Were the true "jurors" of your work buying anything out there these days?:lol:

teardrop
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Dr. Seuss US author & illustrator (1904 - 1991)

#43 metal and mud

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Posted 06 July 2012 - 12:49 PM

I hope your market went well on the 4th, metal and mud! Were the true "jurors" of your work buying anything out there these days?:lol:

teardrop



Thanks, Teardrop. The market on the 4th was relaxing and happy; it gets a little crazy on Saturdays (already looking forward to tomorrow, though!!). Yes, three jurors approved of my work. I sold three of my little clay boxes that I produced in my latest firing. I am in a box phase (I've been told). It will be fun to so where my next "phases" take me.

#44 MikeF

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 01:47 PM

I'm trying to expand my audience for selling my pottery.
I'm a 17 year old high schooler thats very interested in pottery and Ive been doing it for about a year now
and I was wondering if anyone has tried etsy or ebay and which one they have found more successful
any tips?

I decided to tryout Ebay
heres my listing if you want to check it out! :) (2 great mugs)


[links removed]


Well, I am going to try to answer the question you asked and stay far far away from the rest of this thread. Anyone who has the guts to try this, and pursue it to the point of making it a business has my complete respect. I've been in the sales and marketing business for more than 30 years. I've sold $5 items and my largest sale was $20,000,000 (yes, there's suppose to be 7 zeros and 2 commas in that number, and "no", it had nothing to do with ceramics. :-o ), so my advice will, hopefully, have a little depth and weight. Here it goes...

The answer of Etsy v. Ebay is simply "Yes". You're asking about sales and marketing channels. A strong marketing plan will define 10 to 15 different marketing channels. Of these, at least 8 to 10 channels should be in active use at any time. The other channels should be held in reserve and placed into service should any of the active channels prove unproductive. What is unproductive? Any channel that doesn't produce sufficient revenue contribution, over time, to help you achieve your goal should be considered unproductive. You may reactivate an unproductive channel later for any number of reasons.

So Ebay and Etsy are two, your Facebook page is a third (social media marketing), build an email list and market by email (email / direct marketing - 4), pick up a table at Costco or a yard sale, or steal it from your Mom and try some weekend craft shows or farmers' markets (retail marketing - 5). Print postcards with photos of your work, and pass them out to everyone you meet (direct marketing - 6), go with your Mom to the grocery store, put flyers on the windshields of all the cars in the parking lot (canvassing - 7). Can you think of some more? Work up to that 8 or 10 number, now track every lead, inquiry, and sale (units and dollars) for each of your channels. Run your business by the numbers, evaluate your product, channels, and everything you do by the numbers. Don't forget to track costs by channel too. If one channel is more expensive, by say 1 or 2 percentage points, but generates 40% more sales it just might be a winner!

Congratulations on your new venture! It's exciting, and I wish you all the best. Don't hesitate to write if you have any questions. Never forget that the business side requires as much, if not more, creativity, and art, as the production side. Have fun with the business side, there's nothing like a little jingle in your pocket that tells you, that the market has spoken, and you sir are good enough!

Mike

#45 MikeF

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 01:58 PM

So... let's see here........

Let's say we have a "talented" high school student or adult ed student who has taken a couple of lower level courses and has a knack for undersanding "law". Would we be saying that ........hey.... it is a good road for this person to be looking at now doing legal consulting for some fees and trying to expand that business before they ever set foot in a an undergrad or grad college classroom or passed the Bar?

Let's say we have a "talented" high school student or adult ed student who has taken a couple of lower level courses and who has a knack for undersanding "medicine". Would we be saying that hey.... it is a good road for this person to be looking at doing some stitching up of minor wounds at the local playground for fees and maybe trying to find an additional playground to work before they ever set foot in a an undergrad or grad college classroom or passed thier Boards?

Let's say we have a "talented" high school student or adult ed student who has taken a couple of lower level courses and who has a knack for undersanding "architecture". Would we all be saying that hey.... it is a good road for this person to be looking at building some additions for people and advertising that business before they ever set foot in a an undergrad or grad college classroom, or have apprenticed to an architect or worked afor a good while with a commerical builder, or even got their builder's license?

Oh... I guess I forgot............ this is "art" and there are, of course, no imprortant educational standards or learning that needs to take place for art. It is all "in the eye of the beholder" and things like 2-D and 3-D design, color theory, visual composition, clay and glaze chemistry, firing theory and the like are a bunch of "hooey". At least THAT is what I am hearing here from some folks. Seems like a product of the "everybody wins a medal" thinking and maybe also a slophist approach to verbal discourse.


Interesting rhetorical questions, here's another, what do the following individuals have in common?

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Rachel Ray, Andrew Jackson, Henry Ford, Michael Dell, Thomas Alva Edison, Halle Berry, Steven Spielburg, and John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

#46 teardrop

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 09:04 PM

:) MikeF.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Dr. Seuss US author & illustrator (1904 - 1991)

#47 trina

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 06:40 AM

Great reply! T

#48 GEP

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 07:53 AM


So... let's see here........

Let's say we have a "talented" high school student or adult ed student who has taken a couple of lower level courses and has a knack for undersanding "law". Would we be saying that ........hey.... it is a good road for this person to be looking at now doing legal consulting for some fees and trying to expand that business before they ever set foot in a an undergrad or grad college classroom or passed the Bar?

Let's say we have a "talented" high school student or adult ed student who has taken a couple of lower level courses and who has a knack for undersanding "medicine". Would we be saying that hey.... it is a good road for this person to be looking at doing some stitching up of minor wounds at the local playground for fees and maybe trying to find an additional playground to work before they ever set foot in a an undergrad or grad college classroom or passed thier Boards?

Let's say we have a "talented" high school student or adult ed student who has taken a couple of lower level courses and who has a knack for undersanding "architecture". Would we all be saying that hey.... it is a good road for this person to be looking at building some additions for people and advertising that business before they ever set foot in a an undergrad or grad college classroom, or have apprenticed to an architect or worked afor a good while with a commerical builder, or even got their builder's license?

Oh... I guess I forgot............ this is "art" and there are, of course, no imprortant educational standards or learning that needs to take place for art. It is all "in the eye of the beholder" and things like 2-D and 3-D design, color theory, visual composition, clay and glaze chemistry, firing theory and the like are a bunch of "hooey". At least THAT is what I am hearing here from some folks. Seems like a product of the "everybody wins a medal" thinking and maybe also a slophist approach to verbal discourse.


Interesting rhetorical questions, here's another, what do the following individuals have in common?

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Rachel Ray, Andrew Jackson, Henry Ford, Michael Dell, Thomas Alva Edison, Halle Berry, Steven Spielburg, and John D. Rockefeller, Sr.



Ok I'll bite and suggest that the answer is "no college degree" but I don't think that contradicts what John B said. He was stressing the importance of education but did not say that had to be a formal academic education. I bet all of the people on this list spent years studying and practicing their craft/profession/business before they became successful.

I personally did not study any ceramics in college at all, rather I pursued it independently on my own. It took 16 years of intense pursuit before I started supporting myself with the pottery business.

Mike, I do appreciate your point about 8 to 10 active channels of distribution, with additional inactive channels waiting on the side. And that making a business work takes just as much talent and energy as making good pots. That type of advice is useful to everyone, whether they are just starting out or have been in the trenches for decades.

Mea
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http://www.goodelephant.com

#49 MikeF

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 10:16 AM



So... let's see here........

Let's say we have a "talented" high school student or adult ed student who has taken a couple of lower level courses and has a knack for undersanding "law". Would we be saying that ........hey.... it is a good road for this person to be looking at now doing legal consulting for some fees and trying to expand that business before they ever set foot in a an undergrad or grad college classroom or passed the Bar?

Let's say we have a "talented" high school student or adult ed student who has taken a couple of lower level courses and who has a knack for undersanding "medicine". Would we be saying that hey.... it is a good road for this person to be looking at doing some stitching up of minor wounds at the local playground for fees and maybe trying to find an additional playground to work before they ever set foot in a an undergrad or grad college classroom or passed thier Boards?

Let's say we have a "talented" high school student or adult ed student who has taken a couple of lower level courses and who has a knack for undersanding "architecture". Would we all be saying that hey.... it is a good road for this person to be looking at building some additions for people and advertising that business before they ever set foot in a an undergrad or grad college classroom, or have apprenticed to an architect or worked afor a good while with a commerical builder, or even got their builder's license?

Oh... I guess I forgot............ this is "art" and there are, of course, no imprortant educational standards or learning that needs to take place for art. It is all "in the eye of the beholder" and things like 2-D and 3-D design, color theory, visual composition, clay and glaze chemistry, firing theory and the like are a bunch of "hooey". At least THAT is what I am hearing here from some folks. Seems like a product of the "everybody wins a medal" thinking and maybe also a slophist approach to verbal discourse.


Interesting rhetorical questions, here's another, what do the following individuals have in common?

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Rachel Ray, Andrew Jackson, Henry Ford, Michael Dell, Thomas Alva Edison, Halle Berry, Steven Spielburg, and John D. Rockefeller, Sr.



Ok I'll bite and suggest that the answer is "no college degree" but I don't think that contradicts what John B said. He was stressing the importance of education but did not say that had to be a formal academic education. I bet all of the people on this list spent years studying and practicing their craft/profession/business before they became successful.

I personally did not study any ceramics in college at all, rather I pursued it independently on my own. It took 16 years of intense pursuit before I started supporting myself with the pottery business.

Mike, I do appreciate your point about 8 to 10 active channels of distribution, with additional inactive channels waiting on the side. And that making a business work takes just as much talent and energy as making good pots. That type of advice is useful to everyone, whether they are just starting out or have been in the trenches for decades.

Mea


Not only did they not graduate from college, some never went, and some dropped out of high school... Some worked hard for long periods of time like yourself, others found their path quickly with little to no effort or resources... But, I believe you missed the point entirely, as I was not suggesting that education and practice isn't helpful or even necessary, nor was the question a commentary on the comments about the importance of education, well not mostly anyway... Rather it was a commentary on the establishment of standards and conventions in the creative realm, and it was a commentary on the proper value of peer review. Both of which were used as justification for answering questions never asked in the original post.





#50 Chris Campbell

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 10:45 AM

My answer would have been that they all failed, recovered and kept going. Fall down six times, get up seven is the key to most successes.

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#51 DAY

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 11:50 AM

There are more than one ways to skin a cat.
In Europe they have a rather strict apprentice system.
Not so here (although a few years at Alfred can't hurt!). Anybody can proclaim themselves as a "master---"fill in the blank-and open a store front. Or an internet site. Think of all the Instant Grand Masters that got there overnight, via Martha or Oprah.
I have no formal ceramics training, no Curriculum Vitae, yet I have been supporting myself for the past 25 years, "making it up as I go along."
And I learn something new every day- often right here.

#52 Tuttaz

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:03 PM

There are more than one ways to skin a cat.
In Europe they have a rather strict apprentice system.
Not so here (although a few years at Alfred can't hurt!). Anybody can proclaim themselves as a "master---"fill in the blank-and open a store front. Or an internet site. Think of all the Instant Grand Masters that got there overnight, via Martha or Oprah.
I have no formal ceramics training, no Curriculum Vitae, yet I have been supporting myself for the past 25 years, "making it up as I go along."
And I learn something new every day- often right here.


Hello Forum 1st post =)

Thanks for this one, after reading the 1st three pages I was a little shocked on some of the comments. While I understand pointing the young poster towards school, forgive me for freaking out a little when the discussion when towards "needing" school. Us old farts need to dream and I don't dream of getting rich or going to school. I dream of making something out of almost nothing that is both useful and beautiful. So thanks for the down to earth (pun intended) post!

#53 Amy Waller

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 12:06 PM

Thanks for bumping up this thread, Tuttaz - some interesting comments here. Teardrop - I especially appreciated what you had to say.

This thread over on the education forum has some more thoughts on related issues:

To School or not to School? How has your choice affected your life in clay?


#54 Cass

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 12:50 PM

etsy or ebay?....both, and 5-8 others if you can find them, and shops, galleries and shows

just my feeling maybe, but etsy, being a craft only site seems more classy, just a bit...i would not sell in a brick-and-mortar shop that also had car parts, toilet paper or toast with the face of Mary..so that carries over imo

good point made early in the thread, that in etsy, the more work you put the more you will sell, this is a good rule of thumb for 'real life' too. people like choices, and the impression of abundance gives a psychological motivation to buy

#55 Chris Campbell

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 01:20 PM

Another venue that you could consider is:
www.wholesalecrafts.com

You have the option of online sales or live craft shows.
Doing this type of wholesale can get your work out across The US and Canada.

Chris Campbell
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#56 johnb

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:30 PM

This is not the reply you want to hear, and it is only my opinion but here goes ....

If you achieve a career in clay you will have about 40 years to make work that has to sell in order to bring in money to pay the bills.

As a 17 year old you have about 8 years to learn to learn how to make good work without caring about sales. Pottery that weighs what it should, works well when used, has good glazes that fit the clay body .... AND satisfies your creative soul.

At this point in your life you should be learning ... soaking in every bit of info you can find .... you should be going out to see pots in museums and galleries ... you should be visiting craft fairs to see what others are making ... you should be trying everything without worrying about whether or not it will sell. It's your window of opportunity.

So don't waste your time ... Soon enough your world will be ruled by "Will it sell and at what price?"



#57 Pres

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 09:03 AM


This is not the reply you want to hear, and it is only my opinion but here goes ....

If you achieve a career in clay you will have about 40 years to make work that has to sell in order to bring in money to pay the bills.

As a 17 year old you have about 8 years to learn to learn how to make good work without caring about sales. Pottery that weighs what it should, works well when used, has good glazes that fit the clay body .... AND satisfies your creative soul.

At this point in your life you should be learning ... soaking in every bit of info you can find .... you should be going out to see pots in museums and galleries ... you should be visiting craft fairs to see what others are making ... you should be trying everything without worrying about whether or not it will sell. It's your window of opportunity.

So don't waste your time ... Soon enough your world will be ruled by "Will it sell and at what price?"



Things go full circle. When I was young, teaching hs taking graduate classes with no thought of selling I would dream of making something out of almost nothing that is both useful and beautiful. Then the years where I would try to sell because I had too many pots to just give away, and I felt they were really pretty good, and I needed supplementary income. These were busy hectic years working in the shop til late, teaching in the day, doing shows i the summer. Now, retired, introspective, with a few established orders, and lots of time I find that . . . I dream of making something out of almost nothing that is both useful and beautiful. That said, my aesthetic of the early years, and my aesthetic of today, aren't even in the same galaxy. Wonder why? :rolleyes:
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#58 GEP

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 10:16 AM

Hi everybody,

I've changed the title of this thread. Discussing Etsy vs. Ebay was really not the OP's intention, and the thread turned into a discussion about whether a beginner should be trying to sell their work.

I will start another thread for those who want to compare the different online venues.

Mea
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#59 Cass

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 10:30 AM

i think only the OP can answer this question...nothing sacred about becoming a young potter/ entrepreneur...if you can sell your stuff, then sell it, beats the heck out of working at a carwash (ahhem) or some mindless place like Mcdonalds.....go for it i say

#60 CGALVIN3

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:02 PM

i think only the OP can answer this question...nothing sacred about becoming a young potter/ entrepreneur...if you can sell your stuff, then sell it, beats the heck out of working at a carwash (ahhem) or some mindless place like Mcdonalds.....go for it i say



Thanks for the support.
I've been selling my stuff since January from my home and through my website. Also through a local art co-op/flower shop and recently just got a request to be the featured artist of the month in a Gallery across the river in Washington as I live in Oregon. And you're right, it does beat working a fast food restaurant because I still am in school and play 3 varsity sports a year so I don't have much time to work. I get payed for playing with clay and doing something I love while I'm at school also! My mom also enjoys the support financially since she is a single mother. If people are going to buy my $150 vases faster than I can make them I must be doing something right.

Here's one of my recent sales
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Not "good" but I try
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