The break-up: Good-bye Etsy

1.19.2010

love-bug-and-garland

Happy New Year! welcome to 2010. I am going to be making some changes this year and i am really looking forward to getting started. First place i am going to clean house? My internet shop presence.

Yesterday i spent the afternoon taking photographs of my valentine art; mostly garlands and love-bugs. Having studied over the years what makes a good presentation i can tell you that objects make a better photo than flat 2-D art. I've thought about this quite a bit since my store on Etsy has died a slow pitiful death, from a few sales a week to next to nothing. This began in august when something changed in how the search functions. In addition to that, it is harder than ever to be seen on Etsy unless you happen to dumb luck onto the front page which has happened to me only once. When there were less sellers, you might be seen on the front page for a second or two in the "recently added" flash but now there are 202008 shops on Etsy making the "luck" factor have odds similar to the lottery.

garland2
And then there is the issue of favoritism. I would guess this is the number one complaint in the forums and there are various websites that address this situation. My favorite Etsy discussion website is Etsy Bitch. There is definitely an Etsy "look" and it is a slightly designery de-saturated decorator look; (think domino magazine) with a healthy dash of 20 something hipsterism which favors ironic art like felt mustaches on sticks, knitted cozys for your ipod and cowls. lots and lots of cowls. There is also a very strong cute factor. I studied the shops i liked that were killing in sales and there was a simplicity and cuteness to the shop with a somewhat limited color palette. When i look back at my shop i see that it is very colorful. maybe too colorful to look good in a set like what is on the front page.


There is also another giant problem on etsy, possibly the worst; and that is re-sellers. Resellers are people who have shops selling cheap manufactured goods. Since Etsy is supposed to be about handmade this devalues the site overall and in some ways makes it more difficult to charge a fair price for handmade since the inclusion of manufactured goods tacitly implies parity. This Hello Kitty barrette is a good example: it was tagged under "handmade" in the category of "accessories". The seller might have been within Etsy rules to post it under "supplies", but even that would be a stretch.

Then you have the situation where somebody does make something handmade using Hello Kitty imagery. The problem here is that Hello Kitty is a licensed character and is the property of Sanrio. This is violation of Etsy rules and it is yet another area where the administration of Etsy does not have the will to enforce. It's easy to understand why. Last year the merchants on Etsy made a collective 25.6 million dollars with an average price point of 14.00-16.00 dollars. Etsy made 181 million dollars for 2009. In a desperate attempt to be found on Etsy, sellers tend to renew their listings often (many do this daily) so that their items can be found within the first pages of a search. The search finds the most recent listings for your search terms; so the need to renew frequently is a built in source of revenue. Brilliant! and every renewal is .20 cents. it adds up; and then there are the commissions and the fees for the "showcases".

loe-bugs

There is a lot of copying on Etsy. I just searched "keep calm and carry on" and there are 2062 listings of art featuring that slogan, with at least 18 people making virtually the exact same poster. Once somebody gets successful, then you will see lots and lots of clones of that style; and the Etsy look seems to inspire more of the same each day. Big headed infantilized girls with wide eyes holding stuffed animals or big headed wide-eyed girls in gothic settings, plagued by existential sufferings are a big area of copy work. And if you recycle or claim your product is green? your chances of being seen on the front page are exponentially increased.

garland
Whenever anybody says anything negative about Etsy, or asks questions in the forums they tend to be shouted down as haters and are told they are simply jealous. According to Etsy the reason a shop isnt successful is because the seller has failed to: take good pictures; or to tweet or facebook constantly their uploads and to promote, promote, promote.

I dont tweet or facebook my work on etsy because i have already become annoyed at the artists who DO do this; because of that, have chosen to hide their feeds on facebook. I think promotion is good, but some people are doing this multiple times a day. I dont want to turn into an Amway salesman constantly pestering my friends to buy something. And i also dont want to spend my time and energy promoting Etsy; does it make sense to direct my contacts to a site where they can leave my shop and enter a competitive mall of artistic offerings? I know from the gallery system that the mailing list is the most precious asset an art seller can have and im not sending anyone to a place that really doesnt have my interests in mind.

So my shop is slowly dying. I am building a new website for myself with a stand alone store. I have one now with a paypal cart but its not clear how to buy and that is a problem. So i am planning to change my website with a goal of up by March. I was also thinking about moving to Big Cartel; a very elegant site that is like Etsy in format, but is a stand alone store. You do pay a monthly fee there, but it is a fixed price based on the plan you choose. There is even a free store if you only have 5 items. Re-building my website has meant i've blogged less, but i hope to be back posting on a regular basis very soon.

under-construction

Other big news: I am building an art studio at here at Chickory! It will be a 12x16 room off the deck of the cabin and hopefully (if i can afford it) a loft. I got all my windows and doors for cheap at junkyards and got my flooring at the big lumber lot. That means i will have boards of varying widths which i think will look great. I will post the progress which has been slowed down by freezing cold weather and rain. But next week? I think the basic framing will happen.

Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments on my Christmas at Chickory video. I hope you all have a stellar 2010.

76 comments:

  1. well.
    good luck with it all.

    like the reflections in the windows.

    a

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  2. what a well written blog entry. i certainly agree with what you are saying.

    i am excited to see a pic of your new addition. please continue to post pics as it gets done. you are one h of a photographer, by the way.

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  3. Hey Ande, haven't forgotten the interview, just haven't done any lately. Will catch up.

    All sites have their limitations. I do agree that Etsy kind of functions right now as a kind of very limited gallery - with their obvious preferences. They could widen up the choices and bring in more buyers.

    Maybe the key is in diversification. Big Cartel seems to be growing, eBay is huge and I'm even looking at Amazon. Why not sell everywhere.

    Best of luck, that artist's studio is gonna be very cool!

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  4. Hope you find an suitable marketing and sales outlet.

    Looking forward to reports on loft construction.

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  5. Good luck Chickory!

    I hope you'll come by and visit us on the forums.

    I know I couldn't make a living selling my art on etsy, but I tried the B&M galleries too, and my work would sit there for half a year.

    Art just doesn't sell as well as jewlery.

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  6. These are great photos. And as a formerly-frequent buyer on Etsy - I totally agree with you. Please keep me posted on where I can buy your delightful art in the future. Love my last purchase!Cindy Smith
    aksandco@comcast. net

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  7. nice pics!

    cool artworks!

    and i wish you well, too, with regard to finding a market for your work

    12x16 -- i'm green (with envy) -- and hope you get your loft -- have fun, keep us posted

    × × ×

    /t.

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  8. Very interesting post. I looked into an Etsy store for my fairy pics and decided against it for much of the same reasoning ... copycats and getting lost on the site. Have you looked into Redbubble? I don't know if you can sell merchandise other than photo and canvas art or not. I almost signed up with Redbubble ... I think they are definitely a step or three more professional than smugmug or (can't think of name of other one). I will have a look at the site you are considering.

    Who are you using to build a website? I discovered WIX.com recently and love it. Very cool website building with flash. Just a monthly fee ($4.95) or so and you are up and running and there is lots LOTS LOTS of ways to personalize the site. And it is all online so you can update from any computer. I am sure you can do a shopping basket feature on there also, not that I incorporated one into the sites I've worked on.

    You should send some items as a gift to the Pioneer Woman. She is a bit of Oprah of the internet ... if she features your work, I imagine sales go thru the roof.

    I love the idea of the artist's studio. Definitely keep us posted with that!

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  9. Yes an interesting dilemma, eh?
    Pay for no guarantee or stand alone (still no guarantee)
    Shoot.
    I've had stuff at a few galleries online that still haven't sold after four years.
    Good stuff, too.
    But here's how I heard it just the other day...
    Out of a hundred great artists, one gets into a gallery.
    Out of a hundred gallery shows, one make it big.
    geez.
    Throw in a pack of mama's boys doodling and pretending it's art?
    What the heck chance is there?
    In fact, I've sold MORE online to friends who saw them, approached me, and bought from me just showing it than all the galleries, three art sites, and countless festivals together.
    Which is why I thought your truck was an interesting, absolutely creative outlet for gaining sales.
    I have a small red truck, and even as I write, know that eventually I'll get around to buying some two by twos, deck it with a lil flair (a sign, some music, whatever) and go down to the Daniel Boone Highway at 32 and settle down for a 'fishing' tour.
    Course, right now I'm battling a bit of cold.
    Seems I caught a cold while visiting the 'sunny South'....
    d=))

    If you need help insulating, tell me...I plan on traveling back down there...gonna maybe help Jeanie with her house work stuff.
    You know, bending nails, trimming the bushes around that....BEE'S NEST!?!?

    ha

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  10. ardliar: thanks. that's a very 'etsy' looking photograph.
    when i get my new thing set up you'll be the first to know~

    mookie: welcome, welcome! its fun to see an etsy compadre in the good fight here in this space. of course the art category is another problem but that was never the biggest issue for me. whatever happened in august that killed my shop is; and i always attributed that to the SEO changes.

    victoria: welcome furious!! i agree - thats why im not closing my shop ; what does it hurt? i just wont do any advertising that leads back to it. and it will eventually fade away...but i will leave a forwarding address. good to see you and yes on the interview when it fires back up.

    xl: i will. and it will be entirely up to me. so i really have to hustle this year. thanks about the art studio~ its going to be great. all the windows are different which makes it fun to decide what will go where. the north wall wont have windows;that gives me a place to work on a large canvas.

    mystic: hey hey! welcome! i never thought i would make a living with etsy. maybe pay a bill or two? ive always cobbled together a living from combined projects. brick and mortar gets the big stuff. i had a large painting sit over and year and then one day it was gone to its new home. that doesnt bother me the way etsy does - the stuff on there is starting to bother me.

    Now if your petition accomplishes its goal, i should think the overall experience on Etsy would be greatly enhanced.

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  11. Wow.Wow.Wow. Seeing Chickory again took my breath away and you better get that loft in! :-) Or you'll be sleeping with the chickens come April.

    Interesting about Etsy. You can buy simple shopping cart programs through places like Verio that you can add to your site, or use theirs.

    But those pictures you posted of the ornaments and garland? I just love them; the colors, the old window, the green behind the red/white. Stunning.

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  12. cindy: thank you! you have the oak leaves and moths; i often wondered why i never could get into that "woodland" gift guide with that and other work. thank you for your kind words and i will definitely send you a link to my new shop. thanks so much!

    /t: when i told the builder i really needed that loft in case i had to sleep up there or something and he said "you're building yourself a doghouse" grherhahahaha oh how perceptive of him.

    thanks 't, you know how it is in art.

    pam: you always find the coolest web gizmos! i wanted to try that LiveWrite after you told me about it but its not for mac. i will definitely look at the Wix and send ms pioneer lady a little something once i get set up. thanks so much...and have i seen the fairy pictures you made? id like to!

    boney: i never expected a guarantee. i did expect it to be "handmade". like it happens in a lot of things, big money was made and that lit a fire of greed. then they allowed all kinds of items to be listed - and it began to look like ebay.

    ive been in galleries and sold a piece over Christmas...but that is for paintings. i do sell paintings on etsy but they are the little ones. i used etsy for my "products". the three posters above (mookie, victoria and mystic) will back me up when i say i didnt bother to list my larger originals on etsy.

    the Truck! i love selling out of my truck! i made all my walking around money last summer at the farmers markets. have you ever heard of the highwaymen? a group of black artists from 50's-60's florida who did typical scenes and sold them -of course-on the highway.

    sorry about your cold!

    boxer: ironic isnt it? i was trying to get ready to post them on Etsy, thinking this batch was front page material and then decided not to post them at all...just like a real break up - ive known it was over for a while, the photos were the catalyst to say "good bye" and thanks.

    i wont be sleeping in the chicken coop. dont worry!

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  13. A new studio designed by you... super-cool that!

    I never did do anything with Etsy and now I'm glad. The idea of people stealing ideas, words just makes my blood boil.
    Good luck with the new website. Looking forward to perusing.
    d:-)

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  14. I still like your back of the truck sales system best. You are a real person, people love that.
    Happy New Year.

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  15. Enchantin' photos of yore old widows wif' garlands and AndeArt creatures!

    Makes mah heart yearn to stop in fer a spell.

    I ain't got no clue about Etsy or any other seelers sites--but I enjoyed readin' of the insider tips--especially PamOKC's cool suggestions.

    When Chickory thaws, I'll be slippin' down yore road, mayhap.

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  16. I have to say I don't really get how so many people expect to be seen on Etsy. Although if I ever need any Steampunk jewelery I'll know where to go. I like the idea of it but for me, someone who likes to buy art but has a meager budget, wading through the Art categories was disheartening and just really tough to find that artist whose work you connect with.
    I wish you luck but I know it's a tough row to hoe.

    Will the loft be big enough for the Big Shoes?

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  17. Agree with you about Etsy. Something very similar's happened with eBay. Once upon a time it was this great, anarchic garage sale with independent folks grooving on selling and buying one person's junk and treasure. Now, it's all these rules and regulations and "store front" sellers hawking cheap ass crap from China. Boo.

    That being said, I prefer to buy art directly from the artist or the gallery that reps him/her. Nothing thrills me more than talking about art, and if I see something I like, I want to get INTO it with the person who created it or at the very least reps it.

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  18. Tired of Etsy as well1/20/2010 3:40 AM

    Someone spammed [it was a *little* related] a thread in the forums with your info. lol. I'm glad they did. I have been considering big cartel for a number of reasons. Most of which you mentioned here, but also because the Artfire community has the same numbnuts in the forums and the $12 I pay every month is getting me nothing. I'm really curious to see where you go with this and how your studio turns out. Thank you for being frank. There are some things you put plainly enough for me to make a decision on my direction soon. I needed this post, thanks.

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  19. Chickory dear, sorry to hear that your Etsy sales have died a slow death, but you still have your truck for the warmer months, it will be great to try out something new as a point of sale and I wish you good luck with that.
    I love these displays you have here, those second-hand windows have made a super backdrop to display your creations...what a great purchase they were, I love old windows and doors.
    How lovely to have a 12x16 art studio, I hope you get your loft what fun that will be for you and what a view. xo ♡

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  20. Lol at the comment the builder made, he has no idea has he. :) xo ♡
    Love you sweet Rottie! xo

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  21. I have to agree with your analysis of Etsy. I have always done much better selling face to face at fairs and the like, but in the UK we don't have the same opportunities for art focused fairs. Most here sell the full range from knitted tea-cosies to full blown fine art all in one place.

    I was letting my shop die, but I'm holding on for the moment to see how the category revamp and improvements to search pan out. I'm also going to invest a lot more time and effort in getting into B&M shops and galleries. Because a lot of my work is digital I don't have the same problem of work being locked in one place that a painter might have.

    I'm also looking into organising a couple of real 'Art Fairs' - ie no jewellery or crafts. Not that I don't like them, I just want artists to be able to get front and centre for once.

    We'll see.

    Good luck with the studio - I am really envious. I have a room in the roofspace that freezes in winter and bakes in summer (which these days is about two days in August!)

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  22. Ian, you make a great point about "art" fairs. Most of them here in the states are the same way – fine artists lumped in with the crafters. It makes me nuts, attendees oohing and awing over the same old same old beaded necklaces and knitted scarves while crickets chirp in the painters' and sculptor's booths.

    The only fair that takes painting seriously in my town is, believe it or not, the State Fair. Their Fine Arts show is just that: paintings, drawings (watercolors, pastels, etc.), and sculpture. Nothing else is allowed. It's wonderful.

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  23. Jean: i think making your pondering shop with a blogger page worked out well....and you seem to have gotten a lot of support from your readers. Did you ever see about placing your mugs in coffee shops? i think thats a great match. my studio! i am very excited; and will post the progress along the way.

    nina: well as you so astutely said "its all back of the truck economy now" and indeed it is. the connections i made at the farmers markets last summer were invaluable. its a network of good people that busted through the hologram and out to the other side...its a bit harder, but far more rewarding.

    aunty: hey! you are welcome anytime come thaw or not. i do enjoy making the garlands...they just make me smile and really do add a nice touch to a mantel or window or across the dinner table for a party. i bet i end up giving the love bugs away!

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  24. shamy: i had the same problem: as an Etsy buyer myself, i would look for original paintings and the search would return painted purses or clay work or even a digital print. and then there were the artists who uploaded their entire shop of one swirly tree 67 different ways...and you have to page through all that. very annoying.

    the search has a few problems. some of them are Etsy based and others, like deliberate mistagging of items, are artist created problems. Etsy doesnt have the will to correct it. 181 million? for Etsy, it aint broke!

    moi: i liked doing the art fairs but youre right: its hard when half the folks traipsing through there are looking for a 5 dollar gimcrack (which is fine). i used to kill back in the early 90's making enough to hold me over for months at a time. but now? its too hard on my neck- putting up the tent, hauling art in and out.

    that said, i am thinking of doing the wildlife festival in blue ridge this fall. that is a juried outdoor show and its small and its in my town so its not the hard haul.

    tired: welcome! i think artfires site is an ugly mess. i tried 1000 markets it just a ton of work and i never sold anything there. i left my shop up but i never go there. i just think if i am going to be doing traditional style marketing for a shop it needs to be mine and only mine. Ive seen some very beautiful BC sites that have inspired me. I wish you every success however you decide to go.

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  25. dianne: grrrrrrrherhahahaaha no he didnt know how right he was: a high loft loblolly for the old rottweiler. LOL. thanks for you kind words....yes those second hand windows have been put to work even before the studio is built...i have collected so many windows now that i dont even need these....maybe save them for the shed? im going to make a small cold frame to start early seeds with them.

    ian: welcome! i would send you some warm southern breeze 'cept its the coldest winter in a while this year.
    I will be interested to see how the category revision works but you have to have artists that tag their work correctly. and they have to throw out the re-sellers. even the vintage people are complaining about shops with current products tagged as vintage. face to face is always best but that life is a grind. i have some friends that do that....gypsy like from town to town, every weekend a fair somewhere. thats not for me. i love my home. and ive got too many animals for that. good luck whatever you do.

    have you ever thought of making a fine art painting of a tea cozy? LOL

    moi: youre right...and it gets worse all the time. i did the local art fest for the last time about 7 years ago....too much fudge, kettle corn and hats for dogs; which by the way, made a fortune. our state fair does the same thing...ive never entered anything into it though.

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  26. Missy D, Piper Belle and I have been looking for the pics and details of new RR puppy - can't wait. Beautiful photographs the lovely green garland that you made for me hangs above my big mirror in our dining room.

    Re: etsy I have had (maybe still do) a big ol' fantasy based around "the black apple's" etsy coup. Dumb I know but that's sometimes how fantasies go.

    xo S & les Gang

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  27. susan: the black apple had the perfect storm: her work was very good and very of the time; she was very early on Etsy before it was as flooded; and the content of her work was very age appropriate for the typical Etsy buyer. I believe she is Etsy's top seller for 2D? Im very pleased for her...i saw the martha stewart clip where martha tells the audience BA made 6 figures on Etsy i though she was going to have a heart attack.

    I hope you DO get your empire. you have a cowboy to feed now. grrherhahaha. puppy pix soon, i promise! xo

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  28. I really appreciated this articulate analysis of the etsy machine and can see why you have "had the talk" with them. I hope your stand alone site works better for you. Your work is too good to be drown in the sea of mediocrity on etsy.

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  29. Chickieboom: I sent you an e-mail last night (in my painkiller haze) with examples of the two sites I have built using Wix. I checked and there is definitely a paypal and shopping cart feature. Just in case you are interested in checking into them further, I do think they are based overseas in Europe but it hasn't been a problem so far.

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  30. I was feeling the same about Etsy last fall, and it was the final kick in the pants to set up a real shop of my own at my own domain.

    FWIW I use ShoppePro for the structure and had one of their recommended designers build the look. So far so good - it's not as flexible as a totally from scratch HTML site, but then again I'd rather make stuff than code.

    Good luck to you!
    Jill

    PS - your chickens are adorable!

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  31. MLou: welcome! i should start by saying how much i have enjoyed your exotic photographs from the exotic far east. the one of food was of particular interest.

    Thanks for your kind words about my work...you know when i can get it in front of people i tend to do okay. not an empire as susan would say...but keeping me in chicken scratch. We'll see how the new system works and i should be able to report on that around Easter. I have a nice Easter product line. rabbits. lots of rabbits.

    Pam: i was all over Wix last night...i have a flash based site now...id rather go back to a simple HTML thumbprint and big image format. and i am going to borrow the css of big cartel. im getting help from a friend in seattle. yay! thank YOU for all the tips...keep em coming because i really am interested in them all.

    jill: welcome! im going to look at your shop the minute i finish typing. ive decided i will use big cartel if i cant get my own thing to work right....i love how there can be a style consistency from website to store to blog. this is my primary goal for 2010. i am still writing goals and its already jan 20! gah!

    good luck to you as well - i am right behind ya!

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  32. My love affaire with Etsy died a few months ago, and I have to say: it's a good feeling to walk out of that door. I still sometimes go to the forums, where I am now able to speak my mind without being afraid of being muted or worse. And now Etsy is hiring people to set up an in-house payment system I can't being to say just how happy I am that I left when I did.

    Good luck getting over the break-up. It won't be so bad, promise.

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  33. Speaking of the etsy's search function, I went over to look at Black Apple's stuff since you mentioned her, searched by seller? Nada. Had to google. Not good.

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  34. eveline: good to see you! ive always liked your commentary at EB. welcome. and thank you - i a gree an in house payment system where shoppers have to sign up for yet another pay venue? forget it. thanks so much for your encouragement.

    shamy: you have to type it with no spaces

    theblackapple

    what do you think of the work? she has had over 20K sales. with my combined shops i made around 150 in three years. pitiful isnt it? grherhahahaha

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  35. Reading all the blog comments here it is VERY apparent there is a real need for a decent online art store.

    So how do I start FarmersMarketArtSource?

    I'd like to feature artists like you by region, with a cross referenced schedule of which markets you will be showing. That way regional folks have a way to see/meet art/artist. Subsequent comments should boost sales ie: "We drove 2 hours through the mountains to find Chickory at the farmer's market. Worth the trip, we love our purchases, we will buy more as gifts for friends as often as possible".

    Obviously there has to be some authentication protocol for accepting artists and their work onto the site, but still, wouldn't it be fabulous to take some of those millions away from Etsy for some actual art?

    I need to round up some teenage techies and launch!

    On another front, also judging by the comments, you best start taking reservations for the loft. Or, perhaps launch a loftylottery for first dibs! I'm in on the lottery, where do I send my hundred?

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  36. great, how stupid. no spaces. seriously, you can't find a seller with the site's own search engine by typing out the black apple?

    Her stuff is ok. Doesn't really connect with me. I'm glad she's making money. I still don't get why so many people buy Thomas Kinkade's work.

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  37. I had the same idea as Fishy and this is an interesting post. I love the comments.

    Selling direct gets you the highest price without paying a gallery or boutique their part, so I think you're smart to think about your own site for selling. Here's something else to consider; Google Search Ads. You only pay when they are clicked and you can set the price. It saved my bidness, even though I know we don't sell the same thing. But this post and your comments has given me ideas for my own business.

    Now Fishy and I need to talk about "our" idea.... bwahahahahaha.

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  38. I have been thinking for a few years about just the thing that Fishy and Boxer mentioned.

    Oh and Shamu? Thanks for the Kinkade mention. I just barfed up a perfectly good lunch.

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  39. Boxer, Moi, K9 .... how do we make this happen?
    Fishy

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  40. Don't worry, Moi. I'll make it up to ya.

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  41. Good for you! I left Etsy last September for the same exact reasons you listed. I'm currently at 1000Markets, and although I don't get the views I got on Etsy, people are staying longer in my store.

    Good luck! and kudos to you!!

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  42. fishy: what a cool idea. i like the combination of art and farmers market. the reason why is those who are seeking out real food are likely to be real art people as well. fishy, if you visit chickory i will give you the river room and super plush towels and a hot toddy. the loft is for the up late artist to crash. ;-)

    shamy: yes. i had to examine my work and honestly assess am i right for Etsy? i dont know....maybe for a while i was. I am not blaming Etsy for my shops death per se, i am just saying if i am going to go the route of traditional marketing im not sending a potential buyer anywhere but chickory. makes sense, right?

    boxer: you and pam are techno-geeks! google search ads? who knew? awesome. i will check it out.
    yeah, get busy on that idea. :-)

    moi: what do you have against pink cottages and purple skies, hater? grherha

    BadCat: i loved your shop -especially how you sectioned out your valentine offerings. i like also the style consistency across your shop and blog. well done! im glad you stopped by. thank you

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  43. Hello and thanks so so much for stopping by the blog but for your kind comment about my daughter Rita's work. She and I both animal lovers and for me its more of a heart string thing!
    Ilove your blog more than anyones and can always get a great read and amazing photos. Please try selling on Ebay too. I don't know if art will sell there but its possible to get a client group who appreciate you and love you. Also I would suggest looking around the internet for art directors. Gallery shows do pay although the amount of work, packing up and shipping are a huge effort.
    I think I am as disallusioned w Etsy as you are and just don't care anymore. I used to like to make treasuries but now there are so many terrible treasuries going on the fp with deliberate attempts to please admin with ugly this and mustache that. I too feel the heart has been torn out of that site. We need another one with just original art and hand made goods like quilts and home made dresses for children and home made jam. Like a farmers market online. Please let me know if you find one. I love love your work and I have one suggestion. Once your studio is finished maybe you could do some large paintings on big pieces of wood and put them on a permanent display in cities to bring some animal art to the towns. I have a friend in Santa Cruz CA a very very successful folk art painter in similar style, her name is Elizabeth Williams. She gets grants from the city all the time to do installations and she loves her animals! She has none like you but that is the theme of her art. I have one of her pieces, the only piece of art I ever bought. I want something of yours when I move to Oregon this summer after Rita graduates. I will always check in on you. Who knows maybe someday will take a trip back east and visit. I have hardly left the west in 20 years. Take care and please keep painting. I love your artwork and your dog and chickens. Marianne
    happy new year!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Moi,
    I am on your page, I do not accept clients who have Kincaids.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thanks all, for this interesting discussion about marketing.

    I have found it useful to use a truck to display my wares. I used to have a 1936 chevy 1 1/2 ton flatbed that I showed work on with my phone number. I called it my "roving billboard" technique because I lived in a major population area so was seen on the freeways by thousands of people when I was out and about. The truck was a work of art in the sense that it had the power of "real art," even though it was "mere craft." When I pulled up somewhere it had as much or more "impact" as if I had just taxied up in a stealth bomber or something ha ha. It had been built by a master artisan/mechanic for a woman who used it to attract attention to her brain-tanned beaded deerskin and fortune telling business. When I lived in the city I got all my commissions from people seeing that truck and a piece of work displayed on the back and I was never without a commission.

    I have found high quality craft/art fairs to be useful for marketing at times but feel they are overpriced for the gross sales delivered. They can be somewhat useful for developing a mailing list, however, or lucky contacts with high-end buyers who have big projects. Selling Fuller Brush products taught me that you can put out a lot of energy to sell a 2 dollar item. If you can put out 100 times that much energy to sell a 5,000 dollar item then it is more efficient. In my area the farmer's market wanted 50 dollars to set up, and it was not a good deal for me because I rarely sold anything. The art/craft area was seperate from the food and it was deserted. 50 bucks for that pitiful walk by traffic was a complete rip-off. On the other hand, the Malibu Farmers Market was a good one, as you would expect, because people had money there. Hopefully they still do. I haven't been there in some years.

    As the planned demolition of "the economy" continues the noose gets tighter and tighter and creative types must either tunnel under the bar (lower overhead-work from the third world maybe?) or to jump over the bar-get the high-end clients and charge a lot. There is always room at the top. During the depression the conductor of the opera in NYC was making gigantic money.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Don't stop posting such themes. I love to read stories like that. BTW add some pics :)

    ReplyDelete
  47. How do you get stuff on Allposters.com? I get e-mails from them every week. And I know an artist who has some things on there. I will go ask him right now.

    ReplyDelete
  48. CONGRATS ON THE STUDIO darlin'! I'm surprised you don't already have one! woo hoo! All your own stuff in your own space! hmpf.

    I feel your pain...so much! I hate those FB peeps that send out multiple crap each day, HIDE!

    I've been told by SEO experts that I should export my blog to my webpage. That will raise it's place on the search engines. Why don't you think about that? Soon, La Diva's blog will be on her webpage....why not?

    I love your stuff. I used to have my own line of jewelry out and did street fairs only to have assholes with spy cameras take photos and copy my stuff. Saw the copies in shops later, very cheap! of course they were atrocious. But, I also participated in juried art shows where the stuff was more high end and not so crafty with a good turn out guaranteed.

    Keep working on the SEO and also, DON'T do reciprocal links unless the website is getting a lot of hits. It can bring your rankings down. You can check where your page ranks on Mozilla...

    ReplyDelete
  49. Holy Cow, Chickory - I come here to say howdy and you have a million comments! LOL!! Well, etsy just isn't the be all and end all, that is for sure, and I am right there with you in low sales. I make most of my sales from my blog and flickr (and STJ). Etsy is just there in case someone accidentally finds it - haha! Your work is so fabulous - be not discouraged!!!! xoxox Pam

    ReplyDelete
  50. PS from me - what about Ebay? I've thought about it. Keep us posted!

    ReplyDelete
  51. marianne: thank you for your kinds words and great suggestions. like many people, i have found the ways i had made money drying up - mainly illustration. i still have one or two good clients but not as much work. i just did a project for a T-shirt design and i love how it turned out.

    I will work hard for my stand alone shop in a way i was reluctant to do for Etsy. for the obvious reasons. but yes, they have diverted off the original mission statement...and i must also examine if what i have to offer is wanted. it seemed to be at one time...so i dont know for sure if it is i am no longer found, or no longer wanted. either way...no more renewals.

    so good to see you and i love your daughters animals!

    fishy: dont hate, hater. LOL just kidding fishy.

    brian: well we are certainly in agreement on the planned implosion of the economy! soon i can begin my seeds and the farmers market will roll around and i can get my "walking around money".

    i think you are really onto something with regard to the effort put forward toward selling and the price point of the effort. I have a show opening in may and i think i will work on the big stuff and put forward an effort to get some sold. the problem with the bigs are the frames....im drawing lately and that means glass. er...maybe i will half and half it with canvas.

    thanks so much for your comments. much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  52. pam: good question. maybe i will send a sample to them and i also have some other companies i plan to submit work to. thanks for all your suggestions. you have been so thoughtful.

    ladivacucina: i do have a studio in ATL but i may lose it soon due to the fact that it is in my husbands warehouse; because the economy has also hurt his business, he may have to downsize, and my space will be needed.

    i really dont know that much about SEO and reciprocal links and stuff...i may be sending you an email asking you a few questions...are you okay with that?

    ive had my work copied too when i was in the art fair circuit. i made these little accordian books of my prints and then everybody started to do it. i stopped posting my christmas ornaments on etsy because i was worried about it.

    yoborobo: thank you! i havent really used my blog so much to sell....but i may make a blog to go with my new website...this blog i want to make about this place in the forest too...im not sure i can manage all these blogs...i already struggle to post often. i thought you were killing on Etsy!

    yobo: i dont know about Ebay. do you Ebay?

    xl: regretsy is hilarious. home of the duct-tape crucifixion!

    ReplyDelete
  53. You know, darlin', it might be a lot easier to have your studio at home, then you can work when you feel inspired without having to drive anywhere. I remember wanting to work for "just an hour" and this will allow you to do stuff like that.

    sure you can email me, I have a new friend that specializes in this stuff and he's been advising me. I'm just learning about it all myself!

    From what I know about web sales, the first challenge is getting people finding you. The second is logistics...if you get a bunch of orders, can you fill them within a specified time frame? haha! Cross that bridge when you get to it!

    ReplyDelete
  54. You fired the builder? Uh. OH!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Uh -oh. Now who will finish the job?

    ReplyDelete
  56. You fired the builder!!!!!! More info please.
    Also, this is pretty basic but if on the art circuit others pirated your accordian book idea then how do you protect your copyrighted images if they are online?

    ReplyDelete
  57. It's really hard to copyright/protect art, etc. All anyone had to do was change one bead on my jewelry and it would be different from my copyrighted design. Cost you more than it's worth. What can you do? not much.

    ReplyDelete
  58. it is very hard to protect copyrights even paid for ones. you still have to pay to prosecute and like Diva said you can just barely change something and get off. the government doesnt care about our intellectual property. hell, they wont even stop land grabs or incarcerate killers.


    I wrote about firing the builder on K9's blog.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Regarding copying, that is another reason why there is safety in complexity. The shorter the time it takes to make something the easier it is to knock off. The more complex it is the less the likelihood there is of someone knocking you off and the less damage they can do to you even if they do manage to copy. Of course if you are actually engaged in complex creative work it is likely that you will make secret discoveries that make your work even harder to copy. Innovations come from manufacturing. Guarding those innovations yourself I think is good business. Look at Fortuny and Steve Jobs. Richard Serra says, "work out of your work." If you do you find yourself on a creative river that runs wider and deeper and you always know what to do next. People trying to copy you are always behind the curve. They don't know what to do next. They may jump into your river but it soon becomes a creek, then a puddle. Meanwhile you continue to pull ideas effortlessly from Source.

    ReplyDelete
  60. brian: i love how you write about the process, the journey of art. this is sound advice i knew but forgot somehow. if you have a place where you write, kindly post with a way to follow you home. if not, i thank you for what youve written here today. much appreciated and taken to heart.

    ReplyDelete
  61. good rant
    i remember slogging my aunts pottery to every art show in the country (some seasons) and ALWAYS the jury fees were high the prices were too low and the guy making ALL the sales?

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    Spring

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