Sunday, May 31, 2009

Old Dog, New Tricks?

Sweet Songs of Birds II

Chirp Chirp Tweet Tweet

I always thought that, if I make it, they will come. And it kind of worked that way at first.

I made a “product.” I took it to my gallery. The gallery sold it.

Boy things sure have changed in the last 8 years. Yes, I had my work in a local gallery. I liked them and they seemed to like me. They sold my “products”. A lot of them. Times were good. My confidence level was high.

Then I placed my work on Ebay. My Ebay business was built slowly. I tied my website to Ebay. Times were good. For me anyway. I considered my earnings growing from year to year to $6,000 was good. And it could only get better, right? I was getting more commissions. I did nothing to get these commissions, other than put the phrase, “I do commissions” on my website. It seemed so easy. Only open road ahead, right?

Things slowed. Then stopped. I involved myself in Etsy. Had a few sales from that. Had.

Now here I am, back down at the very bottom again. Say the phrase “very bottom” out loud. Cup your hands around your mouth and make it sound as if you are at the bottom of a very deep well. I did it. Chills went down my spine.

So what am I to do now? I am so behind the marketing learning curve. Sure, I blog. I write and take photos and leave comments on tons of other blogs. I got used to that and then I heard the word Twitter. I once told another blogger that the word sounded like something you got when you didn’t have quite enough money for a full lap dance. What an unattractive word. Something that a nasty little bird would do to another nasty little bird.

I have read the twitter posts (tweets?) of other artists. Seems to me it’s kind of like eating a pinch of sand for each tweet. Dry. Tasteless. I have yet to read a tweet that I give a darn about. Sorry. And by forcing others to eat my own little pinches of sand, I am going to set myself apart from the rest of the creative world and sell my work left and right?

I am now reading Social Media Marketing, an Hour a Day by Dave Evans. My husband will also read it so he can translate for me. We will see if it will help get me “out in the world.” I put that phrase into quotation marks, as I don’t feel it REALLY gets me OUT in the world. Once I give over to the internet powers that be, will I ever have the time to leave the house again? Or will I be hunched over my computer in a dark office, typing such things as,

“I’m enjoying a cup of shade-grown coffee right now.”
“I’m Neflixing for Green Acres reruns.”
“I’m doing nothing.”
“I just passed gas.”

I try to never say the word “never”, but I’ll have to say “not now” to Twitter.

Right now, I'm feeling a bit like an old dog.


paula said...

how come when you bitch and complain i laugh so much???? (and when I do it I worry people will avoid my blog like the plague).
I laugh out of sort of hysteria, of I'm there...I get it. I've experienced it. I'm right there with you twitter....on gallery sales (although I wasn't making art long as you and never caught the ebay wave or the etsy wave I'm just now trying that)
i'm waiting with baited breath for words of wisdom after your husband translates and fills in the gaps from your book your are pouring over.
in the meantime, i commiserate. i laugh. i cry. i wonder why. i'm glad you are out there.

Jean Baardsen said...

I totally agree with you about Twitter. I signed up last week, and lasted about three days. Got a yucky feeling each time I went there. I don't have the answer either. My Etsy sales of notecards and artist trading cards was doing quite well till last September when the economy tanked. Now, almost nothing in sales. Maybe if we just ride out this bad time, things will improve? By the way, I love the quilt you posted today!

Rita Vindedzis said...

This is a beautiful piece. I love the colors and the bird imagery. Birds are also big in my new work. I know exactly what you mean here. I was told a year ago to get on all the social networks, that exposure and sales will happen. I'm on twitter and still don't understand how telling the world what I had for breakfast or that my cat snores, will get me sales. I do twitter when I list on Etsy or post on my blog but I haven't seen any sales directly due to the networking. I guess I'll have to invest in that book you're reading. Hang in there and don't doubt yourself or your art. They will come again!!

Dolores said...

I don't tweet and have better things to do with my time.

kendalee said...

Kim, I'm not an artist but I have several in my family and I know how horribly economic times like these affect sales. It doesn't seem right or fair. But I just wanted to say that I have had a browse back through some of your archives and on your Etsy site and your art quilts are GORGEOUS! I hope that whatever that book has to offer, it manages to do the trick. I trust that the wheel will turn for you... Hang in there!

p.s. I LOVE orange and I know several people (mostly very creative) who do so don't give up on the orange. Your Storytellers quilts and The Sages I are now all three on my wishlist - so beautiful!

lori vliegen said...

i wish i could tell you how much i've enjoyed reading your blog posts! i love visiting other people who are normal artists just trying to live normal artist-type lives...mainly because that's exactly what i'm trying to do, too! i'm with you...they'll have to take me kicking and screaming before i'll give into the tweet thing! thanks for visiting my blog...great to see you there! :)

lori vliegen said...

and p.s.: your artwork is FABULOUS!! :)

Fibra Artysta said...

Try reading "I'd Rather Be in the Studio!" by Alyson Stanfield. She is an excellent coach for artists and one of the things she focuses on is marketing.

Have you considered joining any organizations like Studio Art Quilt Associates or Surface Design Association? SAQA has a catalog they publish for their professional members that gets sent out to places to help them sell their work.

Start moving in the fiber art circles, there is networking galore there, its not a small community anymore. Write an article for a magazine, or submit work to be included in a gallery section of a book. You don't always get paid for the gallery thing but the exposure is priceless. Submit to juried shows, that's great exposure.

Use Twitter as a professional tool only. If you don't want to share your personal life, use it to list when new auctions go up on ebay or etsy. Or when you have a new blog post talking about your art. Facebook has fan pages and you could create one for your work. The internet can be used for whatever you want it to be and its free, can't get better then that.

I do all these things and it doesn't take all day. In fact, it only takes a few hours a week. You don't have to submerge yourself in the computer to be an effective marketer.

Put yourself in people's way so they know who you are.

Anonymous said...

Don't feel like an old dog! This whole Twitter thing is...well...personally, I find it useless and slightly degrading in a way. Maybe if you're someone who has thousands upon thousands of fans/whatever out there in the world, and you *really* can't connect with them all on a somewhat personal basis...then sure, "tweet" something. But if you're a "regular" person, I say interact on a more personal basis. Even if that's Blogspot or the like!

Or maybe I'm an old dog as well...and one who's willing to take what I can get from Etsy. (no more Ebay for me, though!)

Francesca said...

Well this old dog feels exactly the same! Twitter just doesn't do it for me - despite the best urgings of my (grown up) daughter.
I wish I knew where the magic sales wand was, I'd wave it for us all right now! ;)