Friday, December 31, 2010

More advice for budding arts-and-crafts entrepreneurs

In retrospect, I wish I'd started this blog way sooner than I actually did.  I should have begun building a fan base for my paintings (and the twisted sense of humour behind them) before I even opened the store on Etsy.  Then when the store actually did open, I'd have a built-in audience who'd run over to see it.  As it is, I opened the store and now I'm trying to drum up an audience from scratch, and it's becoming obvious that this will take a while.

So, yeah, a word to the wise: if at all possible, get people interested in you and your product ahead of time!

Another thing I wanted to mention is that rookie mistakes are inevitable and you need to be aware of this and forgive yourself (and try to have some money in reserve so you can fix things if need be).  For instance, I ordered business cards and then a month or two later I realized I should've gone in a different direction with them.  The cards I ordered are totally cute and still useable, just...not quite in line with my new and improved idea of how my brand should come across (by then I had made my store banner - the same one you see at the top of this page - and decided my promotional materials should all match it).  I beat myself up for a while over wasting money, not thinking things through, etc., but then I realized that everything is happening exactly as it should.  I needed to actually have the business up and running before I could know how best to represent it; I needed business cards before the business was up and running so I'd have promotional materials to pump it up.  No matter how compulsively I tried to plan things out ahead of time (and I am a compulsive planner, oh yes), it was inevitable that my ideas would grow and change as the store actually took shape.

Therefore, my second piece of advice to those starting a business is: plan ahead, but be flexible...and don't expect that you'll do everything perfectly from the getgo.  All businesses have a bit of trial-and-error to them and if you put "I'm gonna stick to my original plan" blinders on, you could miss out on a lot of cool opportunties.

And here's a weird thing: when I sold that painting the other day, I realized "Oh - there's one less item in my store now.  I'll have to replace it.  And if more people buy things, I'll have to replace those, too!"  I mean, I knew all of this in theory (and I have many more paintings I haven't uploaded yet, so I'm certainly in no danger of running out) but in practice it kind of caught me by surprise.  I'd become so obsessed with promoting She Said Pop that I've been doing very little actual painting lately!

My third piece of advice, then, is this: promoting your store is really important but don't lose sight of your primary mission: to make an amazing product!

I hope these thoughts have been illuminating and helpful. :)

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