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  1. Like
    Tabathos reacted to saltedfire in Any insights on December sales?   
    I find our local sale increase right after we do our first wood kiln firing.
    I just did my first wood kiln firing and it has increased our local interest a lot.  Were doing a parking lot sale this weekend.
    My daughter with downs syndrome sells 95% of her stuff online.  She post her stuff every other Friday at noon, she's sold out by Sunday at noon, and everything gets shipped Tuesday.  She spends 25 hours a week working on pottery, 8 hours a week on her store listing, 8 hours a week on social media, and around 8 hours packing and shipping every other week.  The first year we paid someone to work with her on the social media and the store listings.  If we would not of paid someone to teach her how to deal with the internet stuff it would not of worked out.
    I would make as much as you have room to store.  If you bisque your pottery I would do it as you go.  That way you are able to change up the color paterns biased off whats selling at the time.
    I spend the beginning of the year in mass production, start firing the LPG kiln around July load after load, and early fall switch to the wood kiln.  Our local sales increase the week after every wood firing.  I sell to a few interior designers and they mostly buy in the fall and spring from what I have found, but with a stock of stuff raedy to fire I can get them what they want with a short lead time.
    Between my 3 kids they run a LPG kiln load every 2 to 3 weeks.
  2. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in Any insights on December sales?   
    I would say that if this is your first year in business, I wouldn't necessarily judge subsequent years by what happens now, other than to celebrate any wins. 2020 is the year of weird stuff for sure!
    I think this is a good year to build any systems for online selling that you'd like to continue with in less tumultuous times. If your strategy will be to build your audience online, be sure to begin funneling them towards your email list right from the get go: algorithm changes are constant and buying your followers back from social media platforms is a nuisance, expensive, and time consuming at best. Newsletters don't have to be complicated, and more of your audience will see them than a social media post.
    If you're focusing on online for marketing, any investment in understanding photography is probably a good thing. Farming out your product shots is also a good thought if you're not inclined towards doing it yourself. Good photos make a huge difference.
    In my first couple of years, I made half my income from pots in November and December, so I definitely second the "as many as you can" number for how much of what to make. Normally for a Christmas booth you'd want a good selection of sizes and price points.  I think this year, focusing on items that are in a similar size range for shipping purposes is a better plan. Mugs, bowls, ornaments, luminaries, small jars, that kind of thing. In the first few years of your business, you'll spend a lot of time figuring out what people are liking and what they're not. I found it very useful to have the Square item library feature to be able to track and categorize the items that I sold, but I was also selling almost exclusively in person. I don't know what payment gateway you're using online, but somehow tracking exactly what you sell will give you good data for making next year's production lists. It's also really useful to make some observations in the moment about what's working and what isn't. It helps for planning in the next few months. 
  3. Like
    Tabathos reacted to GEP in Any insights on December sales?   
    Yes, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas generally brings a boost in sales. People are buying gifts, but they are also buying for themselves. And yes, now is the time to start building inventory for December. I hold an open studio in early December every year, and it is always my biggest grossing weekend of the year. If I compare it to the other “big shows” on my schedule in a typical year, it grosses about 33% more. (of course, this is not a typical year, and this year’s open studio will be virtual, so my expectations are more fluid.)
    If this is your first year, the number of pieces you should make is “as many as you can.” Having stock leftover is not bad, and it will take you a few years before you get a good handle on how much can expect to sell. 
  4. Like
    Tabathos got a reaction from Callie Beller Diesel in Any insights on December sales?   
    Hello Callie, thank you very much for your kind words. 
    Yes to everything you said. Currently I have my online store and a IG page.  I'm planning to build a solid web presence via SEO and my blog, but it is a long path. It is OK, I was no expecting a blast in sales when I launched my website the last week, but it did pretty well for me being a total amateur. Also the people who bought was very satisfied with the product, so it is an indicator of doing things right. Slowly, but steady and constant.  And got comissions, so I'm happy that people is seeing some value in my work.
    I need to open a FB page to promote via ads. The people with money definitely is in FB.  Instagram is cool, but I find that most of the following are young adults, so I need to retarget my focus group to people with more acquisitive power. Need to learn more of marketing, but I know that mail is a powerful tool. 
    I'm going to participate in a virtual show organized by my arts college. Unfortunately because of COVID, I lack the socializative aspect of sales, but I think it would help me to promote my project. Also I'm gonna participate in a exposition in november, so another promo shot I'm excited to try. 
    I'm building a collection of pieces that I'm able to make by batch. I tried the unique pieces path, and it is exhausting to take pictures of each one, and listing them in the webpage. I'm gonna make micro flower pots, planters, stuff for art like watercolor pots and ceramic jewelry. I think that for a start is fine, as I lack the experience to make functional ware. I'm gonna leave the unique aspect to artistic pieces, that I'm able to sell when art shows come back. 
    I see that pieces like sculptures are hard sellers, but pieces like planters and a specific type of flower pots are really popular. Haven't got a public review of my ceramic jewelry, but the kind ladies who had used them had helped me to refine the product. 
    OMG. Just when I was typing this, the Woocommerce app informed me of a new sale. So exciting!
  5. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in People are buying Christmas gifts now   
    Just sold a mug today that was specified for a Christmas gift, but this lady said she shops year round so she’s not overwhelmed. Some people are just that organized. 
    I’m not that good, myself. 
  6. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Min in Any insights on unknown materials tested in a tile?   
    My guess on #1 would be a gum, tragacanth maybe? Have you read through the Mike Bailey and Michael Hewitt article thats here on identifying unlabelled materials? They have a few methods of trying to determine what unknown materials are. Not sure what you mean for #2 and #3 being "stone". How much of the materials do you have? Might not be worth the effort trying to figure them out if it's just small quantities.
  7. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Jime in Candling?   
    if it's just a few pieces that you're more worried about, you could treat them separately.
    I have put a piece on my pottery wheel to turn while I get a hair drier on it, or if your oven does low temperatures consistently, you can put it in there
    here's a story that I just have to share, as part of the pottery bloopers.
    I made my partner 4 matching beer steins for Christmas. They were incredibly elaborate, my first real attempt at sgraffito, and I spent a ridiculous number of hours on them. Once I finished carving, I decided to speed them up just a little bit, and I put them in the oven on low. I checked on them every once in a while and they were doing great. I had to leave the house on a quick errand, and I decided to be responsible and turn the oven all the way off while I was gone.
    her comes the fun part.
    that oven knob was completely misleading, and I ended up turning it to full blast broil instead of off!!
    I ended up coming back to the house with my partner, and I shooed him away so I could take them out of the oven and keep the surprise going...
    they had EXPLODED. as only pottery can. every one of them had burst into shards and crumbs.
    I cried and cried and cried and showed him the pieces, and told him that under no circumstances was I remaking them and that he was getting NO Christmas present. There were very bitter tears that night.
    and then, the next morning, I got up again and started remaking them. he was VERY surprised that christmas
    so, if you use the oven, make sure it says LOW, not BROIL
  8. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in Finding your market   
    Notice that Mailchimp calls the people on you list "Contacts" now, instead of "Subscribers."
    This is because they're really trying to integrate all your email AND social media contacts into one neat, easy, one stop shop for all your internet marketing needs (cue 1950's hand model moves). I think in a lot of instances, it's offering more functionality than tiny businesses like a lot of us here need, but it does leave room to grow. (Their new expanded business model is not without privacy issues, but that might be another long post altogether. That's what's at the heart of their falling out with Shopify.)
    Mailchimp doesn't want you to delete your contacts entirely, in part because they can still charge you for archived contacts, and in part because they want to be able to use the demographic information from everyone possible to create duplicate audiences for any ad campaigns you might build on Facebook and Instagram.  If you're not running ads, it's probably not worth worrying about archiving folks on your list, if you want to weed people out. A cynical part of me says the only reason they allow you to delete subscribers at all is that under Europe's GDPR laws, you have to be able to completely delete someone's stored data history at their request.
  9. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in Finding your market   
    OK! Marketing.
    I see you asking what others do to get in front of their customers to see if you can find things that will also work for you. I can describe what I did in my beginning, but it's important to remember that there are lots of circumstances that may be different. Having done a lot of looking myself at what people have done to support themseves through clay successfully, I can say that for every person who says one way of making an income is the only way to go, there is another person who says that method is totally unprofitable and to not waste your time. Your personal circumstances will affect your decisions, and how you choose to live your life and fulfill your obligations will all play into how you structure your business.
    All that said.
    I took advantage of small and medium sized, good quality shows to introduce myself to my community and gather emails. These gave me enough experience and feedback that I was able to get into some larger shows that are more lucrative. These small shows can teach you a great deal about your potential customers, how to stay organized, how to behave professionally, etc etc. etc.  Probably 80% of my income comes from shows, and I've built my peer community here and made contacts that led to me getting into some retail locations. Also, they are a good place to gather emails.
    I went to networking groups to introduce myself to the small creative business community. You typically don't go into these things knowing exactly what will come of it, but trusting that something will come of it. Pro tip: bring business cards, for the love of all things holy! And follow up with people afterwards. We all like thank you notes.
    I do a farmer's market in the summer where daily sales are variable but nice, but I also tend to get a lot of orders and other opportunities there. This particular farmer's market works because there have always been potters at it during its 30+ year history, and people expect to see pottery there. Working this market also gets me a spot in their highly lucrative Christmas sale. Also, gather emails.
    I have social media accounts that are useful tools and have the potential to be monetized. It is my firm belief that social media is a good way to build peer community and get opportunities through. It can be monetized and you can make sales there directly, but it's a much better idea to use it as a funnel to get customer's emails so you can market directly to folks. At the end of the day, you don't own your social media accounts, and you're at Mark Z's mercy if he decides to change algoritms and you loose your visibility. Those who spent tons of time building audiences 5-10 years ago on FB organically are now obliged to buy their follwers back through ads in order to maintain their visibility. Since Facebook owns Instagram, they are already making strides in a similar direction. Social media is an awesome tool and one I'm a big fan of, but you need to understand how that tool works properly in order to use it to your best benefit.
    I have an Etsy shop that I tried the "set it and forget it" method. It was a spectacular failure. I tried focusing on my keywords on the Etsy site itself. Also no dice. I put some more effort into driving my own traffic through my website and social media, and had much better success. I buried all of my shipping costs into the listed price of the item and offered free shipping, and that worked rather spectacularly! Etsy can be a really good place to begin: setup is easy, they have some great photography tutorials that are geared towards this specific purpose, the payment gateway is secure, and despite recent price increases, their fees are still pretty affordable. You need to remember a few very important things though:
    -Etsy is much more interested in promoting their own brand than yours
    -They do not guarantee you traffic, and
    -The terms of service prohibit you from collecting your customer's emails for your own marketing purposes on their least expensive service offerings. (They may have added that capability to the more expensive tiers that they're introducing now, but I haven't checked tbh.)
    I suggest Etsy as a place to begin and to learn, but if you want to sell professionally or in quantity, it's a good idea to have an exit plan to something you have more control over. I know others have different experiences of Etsy, but that's what happened to me.
    While it is a slow moving project, I'm in the process of building a Shopify website with the goal of phasing out some of my less lucrative in-person shows. I'm taking the booth fee from one of my shows where I only made booth plus expenses, and putting that into the website startup, learning about FB ads and having a budget for them. I'll keep you posted on how that goes.
    You may have noticed that the one thing I think is a really good idea to do regardless of where you choose to sell your stuff, is to get people's emails so that you have your audience consolidated in one place. Being able to communicate with people who have told you "yes I want your email newsletter" is the strongest marketing tool you can own. It doesn't have to be onerous to write a simple newsletter with a couple of shiny images and your upcoming events in it once a month. I think keeping it simple and straightforward is best, in fact. But those are the people that are your audience, your tribe, and the folks that are willing to support you  and your work. It's a good idea to keep them in the loop so they can do that.
  10. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Callie Beller Diesel in Finding your market   
    Hi and welcome!
    So my brain is looking longingly at your $75 rent plus 20% comission situation at that boutique.  In order to cover your overhead for being in that store (not talking about the rest of your costs or making profit, just the expense of being there), you only need to sell $100 or more of work every month. That's about 3-4 mugs, assuming prices in the $25-30 range. That's one pot a week. That's pretty good! If it were me, barring anything weird like 3 months straight of no sales at all,  I'd try the venue out for a full year. You want to establish your presence there and to take advantage of retail cycles. You're going to earn a lot more in the months of November and December than you will in January and February.
    I think the big question here is how you want to try and market your work. Marketing is different than selling. Marketing is finding the right audience of people who will love your work and want to buy it. Selling is closing that deal. If you want to make sales, you have to do the marketing part first. I have lots of thoughts on this subject, but my lunch break is almost over, so I'm going to write more on this tonight.
  11. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Mark C. in Who wants to see an explosion, look here!   
    Welcome to the learning curve of ceramics it takes about 50-60 years to start getting the hang of it.
  12. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Chantay in Firing Beads and Pendants   
    I am soooo lazy.  I made a bowl. then squished into a square/rectangle shape.  When it was leather hard I cut small wedges out of two opposite ends.  This is where I place the wire to hang the pendents after the bowl was bisqued fired.  This way if the glaze dripped, the bowl caught it.
  13. Like
    Tabathos reacted to Denice in Very old glazes brand (Reward)   
    I have bottles of old glaze that are dried up,  some of them had never been opened.   You can rejuvenate some of them with water others are history,  good luck with your purchase.    Denice
  14. Like
    Tabathos reacted to neilestrick in Very old glazes brand (Reward)   
    Reward was acquired by Amaco in 1979. I'd call them and see if they have any info on the products you're looking at.
  15. Like
    Tabathos reacted to liambesaw in Is there any way to "whiten" red clay?   
    Try using a white slip, fishsauce slip is a good recipe for many bodies, add some zircopax to really kick up the whiteness.
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