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Comparing Online Venues

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I've started a new thread for comparing the various online venues that are available to potters. We've had related discussions before, this one is mostly about the pluses and minuses of Etsy:

 

http://ceramicartsdaily.org/community/topic/488-what-are-people-using-for-a-web-sitepresence-for-sales/

 

 

 

Chris Campbell mentioned WholesaleCrafts.com in another thread. This website is for connecting handmade makers with wholesale buyers. I think this is the least expensive way to enter the wholesale marketplace, but it is best suited for lower price range items.

 

I'd also like to mention ArtfulHome.com. This website/catalog is highly selective and upscale. It was a printed catalog long before it was a website, they've been around for a long time. You can apply to work with them through JuriedArtServices.com.

 

 

For me personally, I decided to create an online store last fall, and I chose BigCartel.com. BigCartel provides a store and a shopping cart, but unlike Etsy it does not provide a marketplace. I decided I was not interested in any traffic that Etsy could bring, given that there are 100,000s Etsy stores. My BigCartel store is designed to look like my own website, not an Etsy store, and I don't mind the responsibility for driving my own traffic there.

 

 

 

If anyone has more to add to this topic ... questions, success stories, cautionary tales, etc ... please share them in this thread.

 

Thanks everyone,

 

 

Mea

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I've got a new site under construction, decided to make a line of sculptural urns and market them separately from our main group....been using the sitebuilder called Wix...they also have an e-commerce available and what really hooked me in were the clean, contemporary styles of the templates available, really like a gallery, fine art or photographer's site....great hing as well is the actual builder, very flexible and easy to use, intuitive, and instant publishing of changes of course...very good support so far too, instant help from the devs

 

then of course i have to promote it myself, thats the tough part, but, when sales are made i get 100% of the money, that to me is worth 'going it alone'

 

http://www.wix.com/

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Cass ... would you care to share some ways you are thinking of promoting your website??? I would be interested to hear your ideas.

 

 

well, that is the part where i will be feeling my way along like everyone else

 

step one will be proper SEO (search engine optimisation) which, i gather, is an art and career all in itself, lol...wix seems to be all set up for this, keywords input , seo guides, the forum has a whole BIG section on seo, etc...

 

took advantage of a special they are running right now to get coupons for free Google Adwords , these are the links that pop up on the right when you search, pay-per-click, if that works i would consider buying some of those

 

facebook, twitter, google+ accounts for the biz (wix has a free facebook page setup too)...hey, i dont want to sound like a wix ad, not NOT affiliated !

 

mobile phone and tablet versions of the site (30% of people search mobile first, headed toward 50% in the next year, must optimise format for mobile, wix has this free)

 

etsy....(maybe ebay (kinda turns me off)

 

postcard and biz card printing to drive 'real' people to the online portal

 

last resort! only because i feel a bit creepy about it, is a direct mailing campaign of postcards or brochures to crematoriums...dont think i would actually go this route, because they will want their cut, maybe only as a wholesale setup, with minimum quantities

 

so far that's what i've thought of...look forward to others ideas and responses!

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thanks Mea..typing it out was actually quite helpful

 

yes! will do some pet urns too eventually

 

the reason i'm starting this is that over the years we have sold many pieces that were bought with the intention for use as urns, not what we were thinking at all in the making, but they turned out to be very suitable...had several special orders for urns, and for 3 years at least have been kicking around the idea of an urn line

 

 

 

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indeed, thats was a part of my thinking in splitting off a new line and site, so that prices could be....adjusted, lol

 

funeria dot com is a quality urn site, showing what the real artistic, highend urns can go for...1/4 their average prices would still be 2x my usual price for a piece

 

added my site under construction to my sig...just so people can see how these templates can look

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indeed, thats was a part of my thinking in splitting off a new line and site, so that prices could be....adjusted, lol

 

As a part of my thought above, I was also making the point that as a general rule, I think too large a number of handcraft potters are underpricing their work in the marketplace. I "strongly suggest" ( you can read into that ;) ) my BFA students go to look at department stores and the like to look at the pricing of commercial tableware ceramics. They usually find it a real eye-opener as to the prices people rather readily pay for such mass-produced wares. And most mass-production is HIGHLY efficient as to the actual production costs.

 

And yeah.,.. I know Walmart has "cheap $h%@"... but it is exactly that "cheap $h%@".

 

best,

 

..................john

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I tip toed into the funeral area and was astonished at how undeserved the market is and how eager they were for new sources. Pet urns go for bigger $$$$ than people urns ... Crazy! I got email requests for years afterwards. I Googled for funeral urns then contacted them all re supplying them. Great response.

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(i think we need another thread name-change, lol)

 

cremations have risen from 20% to nearly 50% of funerals, timed right along with the economic downturn....40% of those use an urn, display and burial urns.....60% scatter the ashes (stats from the industry)

 

that is a huge! market

 

pricing, huge topic that deserves it own thread if there aren't any yet...my own experience was, in '03, when the numbers werent adding up, we nearly doubled our prices, and sales went up not down...implied value. display context must follow the pricing as well

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(i think we need another thread name-change, lol)

 

 

 

Yup.... sorry Mea ;) .

 

best,

 

.............john

 

 

 

Not a problem, I enjoyed the insight on urns too. How about if anyone who wants to continue "urn talk" starts a new thread? And anyone who want to discuss online venues can continue here.

 

Mea

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Pet urns go for bigger $$ than people urns ...

 

 

Makes sense to me. Look at the economy of it...

 

If someone is wealthy they get a very nice casket or even a tomb.

 

If someone is really poor they probably get cremated. Thus caskets would sell for more money, urns would be more likely to be the poor man's route.

 

For pets...

A poor man's dog gets buried in the backyard.

 

Someone with money to blow would give feefee a nice urn.

 

With the disparity in wealth that we are seeing these days the wealthy can afford to easily treat their pets to an expensive urn while the poor can barely scrape up enough to bury their dearly departed.

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Hi, I am new to this site and quite frankly also "new" to urns!

Cass, I went to your website and looked at your sculptural urns, wow! so so beautiful

However (here comes my newbie question) how do you get the ashes in them? And what about lids?

I can see it in your raku urns but in the sculptural ones?

Hmmm feel a bit dum asking this question, thinking that the answer must be so very obvious that I just cant see the forest for the trees :-/

 

and now if I can just figure out how to post this as well .......

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Cass ... would you care to share some ways you are thinking of promoting your website??? I would be interested to hear your ideas.

 

 

well, that is the part where i will be feeling my way along like everyone else

 

step one will be proper SEO (search engine optimisation) which, i gather, is an art and career all in itself, lol...wix seems to be all set up for this, keywords input , seo guides, the forum has a whole BIG section on seo, etc...

 

took advantage of a special they are running right now to get coupons for free Google Adwords , these are the links that pop up on the right when you search, pay-per-click, if that works i would consider buying some of those

 

facebook, twitter, google+ accounts for the biz (wix has a free facebook page setup too)...hey, i dont want to sound like a wix ad, not NOT affiliated !

 

mobile phone and tablet versions of the site (30% of people search mobile first, headed toward 50% in the next year, must optimise format for mobile, wix has this free)

 

etsy....(maybe ebay (kinda turns me off)

 

postcard and biz card printing to drive 'real' people to the online portal

 

last resort! only because i feel a bit creepy about it, is a direct mailing campaign of postcards or brochures to crematoriums...dont think i would actually go this route, because they will want their cut, maybe only as a wholesale setup, with minimum quantities

 

so far that's what i've thought of...look forward to others ideas and responses!

 

 

 

Cass:

 

I like the outline of your plan as well - whether it is for urns or for ceramics in general. A couple more thoughts:

 

You have to be very careful about the way you use Google Adwords. It is a very viable way to increase web traffic but you have to manage it carefully or you can run up a bill quickly. I use to be in marketing for high tech and we spent $50,000 to $75,000 a month on Adwords and had a person who managed the program as well. It was very successful but you have to consistently monitor and tweak it to get the best results. I wonder if anyone has ever written a guide to SEO for artists?

 

I did not see email marketing on your list of tactics. Implementing a "DRIP" campaign to your targeted URN market would be another way to generate new business, especially since this market appears to be underserved. DRIP basically means building a data base of targeted prospects, emailing them to get them to opt-in to your newsletter or some other form of consistent communication and then sending them emails every 4-6 weeks consistently. This is one of the most cost effective and simple ways of marketing once you do the grunt work to build your database.

 

Mea has posted in other places that she uses Mail Chimp to run her email campaigns. I am looking into this program now and it looks like a very nice tool.

 

Please keep us posted as you grow the digital aspect of your business as to what works and what doesn't.

 

Mike

 

 

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(i think we need another thread name-change, lol)

 

 

 

Yup.... sorry Mea wink.gif .

 

best,

 

.............john

 

 

 

Not a problem, I enjoyed the insight on urns too. How about if anyone who wants to continue "urn talk" starts a new thread? And anyone who want to discuss online venues can continue here.

 

Mea

 

 

 

I agree Mea. The thread started as a good spot to learn what others are doing to build their on-line presence with a couple of great ideas being presented in the beginning and then we lost focus. It would be great if we could get back to that.

 

To expand on my earlier post about DRIP campaigns to describe what I am doing here to launch my new venture. I am new to the Sedona area and a “reborn†potter who has been away from clay for 20+ years. I have been doing research online and capturing names and email addresses for the 4 surrounding communities from places like: chamber of commerce members and boards, local art organizations and boards, city councils, local artists, cultural organization boards, local winery owners (yes, AZ has wine country and this is the spot) and my realtor got me a list of all home owners in the area with houses larger than 4000 sq ft. You get the idea - focusing on people who are pre-disposed to art. I have built this list to 5000 plus names over the last several months in odd moments.

 

When my studio is finally complete, I will launch the "opt-in" campaign to finalize my list and then start the DRIP campaign - most likely with the first communication announcing a Studio Open House. I plan to collaborate with a local, well known restaurant and a winery, so that we can leverage each other’s marketing and create a win-win for all of us.

 

 

 

 

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Red Rocks,

 

It is fairly risky to harvest email addresses like that. Though not technically illegal, it can get you into trouble anyways, and is generally considered to be very bad form. The current law (the CAN-SPAM act of 2003) has some pretty clear rules for sending commercial emails. Make sure you follow these so you don't end up in hot water!

http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business

 

Bottom line is ... it is best to stick to opt-in lists only, and still follow all of the above guidelines.

 

Mea

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I'd also like to mention ArtfulHome.com. This website/catalog is highly selective and upscale. It was a printed catalog long before it was a website, they've been around for a long time. You can apply to work with them through JuriedArtServices.com.

 

 

Thanks for the thread, Mea.

 

Have you (or has anyone else) used this outfit? (ArtfulHome). The entry fee is a bit daunting for a newb... especially if there's an Etsy-like prospect of wallowing in a sea of knick-knacks. On the flip side, it does look a little bit more discriminating...

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Red Rocks,

 

It is fairly risky to harvest email addresses like that. Though not technically illegal, it can get you into trouble anyways, and is generally considered to be very bad form. The current law (the CAN-SPAM act of 2003) has some pretty clear rules for sending commercial emails. Make sure you follow these so you don't end up in hot water!

http://business.ftc....-guide-business

 

Bottom line is ... it is best to stick to opt-in lists only, and still follow all of the above guidelines.

 

Mea

 

 

 

Mea:

 

Sorry, I must not have been clear. I absolutely plan to communicate with this list of names and ask them to opt-in. I will not use Mail Chimp or any other email campaign platform to do this. Rather I will send them individual emails with an approach centered on their interest in the arts and ask them to opt-in. My expectation, based upon experience is that I will gather 10-15% of the list as opted-in members if I targeted it correctly. These percentages are based upon doing this with literally thousands of email addresses targeting potential customers for alternative energy systems. We never violated anti-spam laws with this approach.

 

I couldn’t agree more that you have to be very careful on how you approach this type of marketing but it is worth the effort if you have to build a data base from scratch or you want to exponentially expand your email list.

 

 

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