Once again, I’ve been inspired by thinking about someone else’s problem.
Someone posted on a professional forum awhile back. They’re just starting to sell their work online, and they’re having trouble with keywords for search engine optimization..
Their art is unique and indescribable. It takes a lot of words to even begin to describe it. So how do they compress information about this incredibly unusual work into a few keywords that will shoot them to the top of a Google search?
Thinking about an answer helped me a lot.
I started setting up my first Etsy shop last night. Filling out all the boxes (a welcome section, an intro section, etc.) quickly overwhelmed me.
I struggled over how to introduce myself to an audience who has no idea what I do or how or why I do it.
Then I realized that’s not what I have to do.
There are two approaches to selling your artwork on the Internet:
1) Marketing and selling to people who don’t know your work.
2) Marketing and selling to people who do.
In the first case, your focus is figuring out how to rise, even for an instant, above a sea of other artists and competitors, all hawking their unique, unusual, desirable work. That’s what the artist on that forum was trying to do.
In the second case, you already have an audience–your current customers. That’s who I want to to sell to.
I thought to myself, “These people are not strangers to me.”
My customers already follow my work and my writing. We’ve met and talked, at shows and online.
They already admire my work and want collect it. They may even already know what they want to buy. They don’t want to wait another year for my next retail show. They want to buy it now. They’ve hinted, nudged and outright bonked me on the head to start selling online. They’re waiting for me to get going, because the holidays are coming and they know what they want to give–and get!–for Christmas.
My initial marketing plan is simply letting them know they can now buy from me online, anytime, day or night, winter, summer and fall.
I don’t have to work my way through the tens of thousands of other vendors on Etsy. I just have to let my collectors know I’m there.
Of course, as time goes on, perhaps my marketing will grow and change. But so will my work, and so will my customer base.
The internet will never totally replace personal interactions at shows or open studios. But the internet can support, and encourage, and expand upon that.
And once those bonds have been formed, it’s up to me to make it easier for the people who love my work, to have it.
P.S. If you are someone who loves my work, I would welcome any suggestions about what you’d like (or expect) to see in my Etsy shop (both artwork and words). It’s great to have your perspective!