Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics (or putting your stats in context)

Yes, I know that the title of this blog post is not going to get me any Google ranking or search engine traffic. I went to that webinar.

But people search for things like tutorials on “can I dye a towel with food coloring?” and “reviews of babylock sewing machines”. (The answers are “no” and “Mine was a lemon” if you got here from Google. Welcome.) So I am not sure that search engine optimization is what this post really needs.

I was looking at stats and search terms the other day. Everything gives you stats now, whether you want them or not. How many people like your post? How many people visit your page? How many people engage with your photo? I am not sure what I was looking for really, but I noticed that everything is down right now compared to last year. Etsy shop sales are down 22%. My blog viewership is down 25%. I posted a picture on instagram and Facebook yesterday of a piece of mine that I am really proud of and only 42 people have so far reacted to it. (About 4% of my audience at those two venues) The thing I shared about someone else’s machine knitted star map has more than double that. My newsletter subscribers have remained pretty steady, but it’s still only about 49% of subscribers that even open the email I send. I didn’t even send one out in August. That makes a real dent in your stats. Sigh.

And then I was reading a post in a forum about marketing and market testing to your Facebook followers. It’s a craft business group I belong to and often it has great questions and advice from members. […]

2018-10-07T22:35:19+00:00An Artist's Life|7 Comments

You’re not doing art wrong.

A couple of years ago I joined an art organization and went to a monthly meeting with about 20 people. I was excited to be part of a group and to talk about art related things. On the agenda for the meeting was to have a discussion and show-and-tell about our sketchbooks. It sounded like it could be interesting hearing about other people’s process (and it was) but I don’t keep a sketchbook. That’s not a part of my process; I’m not a sketcher. So we went around the room and people talked about how they organize ideas for pieces or make lists of tasks to do. Some made more journal type books with beautiful complex works of art on each page. Some used theirs as a mood board or inspiration source where they created a collage for pieces they were thinking about. All cool ideas and interesting to hear them talk about each version. But when my turn came around the circle, I didn’t have anything to show and it was at that point where, unfortunately, I stopped enjoying the meeting.

I do sketch things. Like that little dog up above. I printed out the circle on a piece of card stock and made a sketch and then I scanned it and used it as a guide to draw the version on the right in Illustrator. I am a lot looser when I draw things on paper, so I often do a little rough sketch of characters especially and use that to help me with proportions and placement when I get into the computer. It’s a process that works well for me. But this little sketch is […]

It’s never not about marketing. (More things they don’t tell you about being an artist.)

It’s been 3-and-a-little-bit years now that I have been doing this gig as a full-time artist instead of trying to squeeze in some art around a full-time job. There are a lot of things about it that I love and I am feeling like my system (Etsy + teaching + exhibiting/grant projects) is working for me and my little business is keeping me busy and sustaining itself. Let’s be honest, I am not making enough to retire on, but I am making enough to not need to wonder if I need to be out job hunting because I need the steady paycheck.

But one of the big surprises for me in this journey is realizing just how much of my time I spend marketing myself. (Spoiler alert: It’s way more time than I spend making art.)

The idea of going to a cocktail party and having to make small talk with people I don’t know is about the most horrible way I can think of to spend an evening. I hesitate to fall into the introvert/extrovert cliché, but I absolutely don’t enjoy social gatherings meant for networking. I would rather stay home and scrub the bathroom, seriously. But I have realized that as an independent artist, I pretty much need to spend some part of every week (probably more realistically, every day) in interacting with somebody I don’t know and telling them about me. Posting something to Instagram. Writing an engaging post on Facebook. Remembering to tweet something. Writing something thoughtful for my blog. Adding something to my Etsy shop. Planning out a newsletter. Going to a meeting. Pitching a new class. It’s like a series of tiny little cocktail […]

2018-05-08T09:38:17+00:00An Artist's Life|4 Comments

An introvert’s guide to surviving an art show

A friend posted a comment on something I wrote on Facebook:

I want to have a booth at a show, but I am nervous that I will not be charming enough. Any tips for being yourself And an introvert and a good salesperson for the crafts you love to make?

That seemed like an awesome thing to think about and share what I do. I am a major introvert. When I say that, I always have students from my classes say “There’s no way you’re an introvert.” but it’s really true. When I am in front of a class, I can turn off the introvert for a while and I enjoy it, but I have a timer and it runs out. I get what I call a “teaching hangover”, especially when I teach in the evenings where I need several hours to unwind and reset before I can sleep or deal with people again. It’s a different feeling than just being tired. I feel prickly and scatterbrained and I crave silence. (It’s a lot like the onset of a migraine now that I think of it.) I need to get that out of my system before I can do anything else. So a class that goes until 9 pm means I will be up until 2 am before I feel like I can relax again. I know that about myself, so I have come with a lot of ways to make it work.

When you’re an introvert, showing your art at a show is pretty much you having to be “on” for 8 or 10 hours straight, which is so hard to do. The reason people come to art shows is […]

How to do everything at an art fair (or maybe not)

photo 1This has turned out to be my very busiest time of year.  This last week I travelled to Rapid City SD for the Black Hills Fiber Arts Fair.  It is just the second year for the fair.  I went last year as a visitor and took a class with my mom; this year I taught 4 classes and had a vendor booth.

I do several fiber fairs that are structured like this one:  vendors, classes, other events all packed in to one weekend.  Figuring out what parts you want to do and what you realistically CAN do are two different things.

Classes

photo 4I realized quickly that I wouldn’t be able to take any classes.  This event was set up to have a “classes day” for the vendors before the event was open to the public, so that you could go take a class without having to have someone watch your booth.  But I was teaching a class then and the schedule worked out that I was overlapping with other classes and one of the events that evening (an opening reception) so I wasn’t able to do either of those things.  It was a great class to teach, so that really worked out just fine.  The rest of the weekend I was either teaching or needing to be in my booth, so no classes for me.

Events each have a personality.  This fair had a pretty laid back policy about checking in for set up and teaching and those kinds of things.  I needed to be a little pro-active about tracking down what I needed (extension cords), improvising name tags […]

2015-06-16T17:16:35+00:00An Artist's Life, Everything Else|Comments Off on How to do everything at an art fair (or maybe not)

Things they don’t tell you about being an artist…

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I just finished 28 hours of an art show.  That’s probably really 36 hours on my feet on a hard concrete floor once we have set up and tear down.  The experience was amazing and I wouldn’t trade any of those minutes for anything, but chatting with my fellow artists all weekend brought out some things that we agreed they never tell you are part of the job description.

1.  Describe your art in 10 words.

When you meet anyone at an art fair there are about 100 things competing for their attention.  You need to be able to talk about what you do in 10 words or less if you want to start a conversation with someone and talking about your art is why both of you are there, usually.  My phrase for this event was “Let me know if you have questions.  These are all digitally printed fabrics from manipulated photographs.”   Most people would pause for a second (as they made sense of all of those technical sounding words that I just said) and then I would get a big smile and they would say “Oh, that’s really cool!” or “Wow, I’ve never heard of that.”  I had a lot of really great conversations that started just that way.

2.  Cute outfits always include comfortable shoes.

There is just nothing like the 10th hour on your feet in inappropriate shoes.  Danskos will save your life.  Cute dress, tights, danskos, cardigan sweater.  That’s my uniform.  Pockets are also really necessary.

3.  Eat lunch in 2 dozen 2 bite segments.

Almonds, cheese and apple slices are my very favorite show lunch.  You can eat two bites between conversations, and […]