Friday, January 10, 2014


Every week I get Etsy emails and I very rarely have time to sit down and really read everything that is highlighted and linked to other pages. This morning, I got one and there was a link to Branding 101.
Back in the late 90's I had a brief career that ended badly with Jansport. It was a small but rapidly growing company then and they were brand driven like nobody's business. If I only learned one thing while at that company, besides ignoring lawyers, it was brand marketing.

In 2011, I set out to do just that, brand myself. And it worked. I was a busy busy girl in 2012. Constant emails from galleries and shows and customers and my business took off, sales were great. I busted my ass marketing myself and it paid off. I also nearly had a brain aneurysm trying to keep up with it all and make authentic work. So, I took a break from the marketing and the making. And guess what? A slow 2013..... no galleries called, no shows opened up to me, hellllooooo, anybody out there remember meeee?!?!?  What? If I don't shout out to the world, nobody's gonna buy anything? WTF?! Does this mean the only way I am going to successfully sell my work is if I bust my ass every single day to promote it? UGH! Do I want this?!?!

 Now here we are, a brand spanking new year, a clean slate, a new beginning, new ideas. What to do with that?  I am slowly unfolding myself from my cocoon. Old work that hasn't sold, for reasons I can't figure out, is coming back from galleries (look for a clearance sale soon!). Show applications are sitting in my email folders. Do I go back down that road? If I applied for the shows I have applications for right now, I would be sending out a total of about $800 in show fees already. God almighty, how are artists supposed to ever make any money?! I let the galleries do the work for me last year, and sales were ok, not great. I sold 12 barns in my studio in one week in December vs. one barn in one year at one particular gallery. So what does that tell me?

This branding article has me thinking. If I want to continue making the work I make, and I think I do, how will I do it? I've tried a lot of different things, some worked some didn't. Galleries sort of work, my Etsy shop works when I put in the time, the studio tour works, but that is one month out of the year. Some shows work, some don't, but some of them cost a lot of money and many depend on the weather, which sucked last year. My blog works. I'm sure facebook would work, but I detest it.......pass. Being invited to exhibitions is always nice and my work often sells, but they only ask for a few pieces and it's only worth it basically for the exposure and a little ego stroking. I'm not set up to keep up a store front, although I think that would really work for me, I am good at selling, at least when I'm in a good mood, ha! I'll tell you what really really worked. A newspaper article about me. Now, if I could get magazines and newspapers to only write about me every day, I would buy all of us a trip to Richard Branson's private island for a vacation!

So....... Defining my brand..... (from the etsy article). I'm going to work on this a bit today and blog a bit about this exercise. I think it will be good for me. Stay tuned if you are interested in what I come up with!


Sandy Miller said...

WHOA! we live in a parallel universe! I just blogged the same thing at exactly the same time! so freaky!

Dennis Allen said...

I've tried the " reclusive man of mystery " approach. Didn't work out.Looking forward to following this.

Brenda Neall said...

Ahhhh ... marketing ... the necessary evil! It's not something I excel at so am looking forward tagging along with you and seeing where you go with it.

Vicki said...

Very interested Tracey.
I'm having to go through a whole re-branding for myself this year. Everything needs an overhaul, even considering changing my art/logo name.
I'm closing my Etsy shop, because postage has gone up here and to post anything, no matter how small, ends up costing 3/4 to almost the price of the item itself! I can't compete with that and keep a decent (attractive) price on my items.
It's a struggle :)

Trish said...

I'm in! I will watch/read and learn.. thanks Tracey.
Cheers. T.

Trish said...

I'm in! I will watch/read and learn.. thanks Tracey.
Cheers. T.

Michèle Hastings said...

If you want to sell your own work, marketing takes up a lot of time but I do believe most people prefer to buy from the artist.

I don't agree with Vicki about Etsy... people will pay the cost of postage. I have sent piggy banks to other countries where the cost of shipping was almost as much as the pig. I am sending a set of piggy jar canisters to Raleigh because it's cheaper to ship than for her to drive here to get them.

If you can get organized, and into a routine with marketing, it will get easier. I wish you a successful year. Try to relax and enjoy the ride!

Vicki said...

I admire Michèle's work greatly. Very beautiful, unique pottery, and people will pay higher postage for them as they are quality and collectible.

On Etsy, I stock small pendants and brooches that, while pretty, are made quickly, to keep the cost lower.
They sell well at local markets. But, postage here went through the roof last year. To send a $10 pendant in a tiny box, costs me $11.10 (not inc box, padding etc) to the US and $18.20 to Norway.
If Etsy shoppers can buy similar within the US and not pay high postage, they'll pass me by, and I understand that.
I think I'm not doing it right perhaps, I don't know. A major re-think for me this year is in order.
So, I'm looking forward to reading your posts, Tracey. Your approach and thoughts are always very well regarded.

Tracey Broome said...

Sandy, parallel indeed. I posted this and then went to read blogs and saw yours. This happens a lot to me, we are all walking a similar path I guess.
Dennis, reclusive can be good, a nice rest for the brain!
Brenda, yes marketing is evil and I am trying to decide if I want to start it up again.
Vicki, I hear a on the shipping costs. I looked at our postal rates and you can get a flat box rate for a small item for $5.60. I offered free shipping for the month of December and it wasn't too bad. The most I paid to ship a box was $10. I understand how you feel though if your shipping is that high. I have been hesitant to put $10 pendants in my shop, saving them mostly for craft fairs. I have thought about making more expensive necklaces for etsy so the shipping would balance out.... ugh, etsy!
Hey Trish, nice to hear from you, are you cold enough up there in Canada :)
Michele, I think you are right, people like to meet the artist or have a connection there. Marketing is complicated, but those that do it well are successful, just gotta pt in the time...... of course people are going to pay for a piggy, they are too damn cute!