Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Balancing business and creativity, oh my!

Our topic this week is the balancing of business with creativity. Today is a good day for me to write about this subject as it is much on my mind. Right now I sell on two venues. I sell on Ebay and I sell on Etsy. (Don't ask me what it means, no one is telling, except to mention it is referenced from a Fellini movie?)

I have been selling my artwork since 1992. I have done craft fairs, garden shows, home shows, rented space in different venues from large to impossibly small, I have sold on consignment, I have owned a brick and mortar store, I have sold thru private commisions, I have sold thru interior designers, I have sold wholesale (only on a tiny scale). And always, the underlying connecting thread to all those different ways of selling was trying to balance the business side with the creative side of me.

My items have always been one of a kinds. I don't like production work, it doesn't suit my personality, I find it boring. So, that being said... I'm it...if I don't make it, I certainly can't sell it. And I can't produce quality work in a few minutes or a couple hours.

I'm sure a secret wish of many of us creative types is that we could sit and "spin" our wares and someone would miraculously come along , claim us the Queen of Art, happily skip off to sell our art and bring us back buckets of money.

Ok, so maybe that's only MY dream. :-)

The reason I find this topic relevant today is because of a discussion going on over in the Etsy forums about Ebay vs Etsy. Etsy is only about a year old. The administrators work very hard to provide the sellers with a venue to sell their hand crafted work. But with Etsy you have to do so much self promotion I wonder where everyone finds the time to make their art.

It is a problem for me and I am in constant debate with myself as to whether I shall stay with Etsy. At Etsy I'm told the keys to selling is to list something new almost daily and to be active in the forum. If I follow that advice then my Etsy store stays empty because I'm spending so much time on "business" I'm not making anything. And if I'm not out there making myself known, trying to keep my store from being buried and unnoticed, I'm not going to make any sales. I know people who have been there longer than me and have had none to very few sales. When do you call it quits. I mean, the bottom line of selling, is well, selling.

Balance? I guess I don't really know how to balance the two sides. I've always found it to be a struggle and don't foresee it changing anytime soon

Unless someone wants to step forward and pronounce me the Queen of Art? ;-)


Michelle said...

I've found that etsy is my low cost "holding ground" for many pieces.

I will probably keep actively listing on ebay because that is what generates traffic.

I am active on a bunch of forums (on and off ebay, but not etsy surprisingly) and I know that generates traffic to my blog and my ebay listings.

Somewhere in there I have a bunch of stuff waiting on etsy. Other than that, I really have no idea how people find my etsy store (especially the ones that just stop and shop out of the blue.)

Great post. Lots to think about.
-Michelle (mw-artco)

Shabby Cottage Studio said...

Yeah, I started on Etsy because I thought I would use it as a place to put anything I didn't sell on Ebay and didn't want to relist. The fees are definitely reasonable so it's certainly doesn't hurt me to sit there.

PG Cork said...

Gail, I declare you the Queen of Art! Great post! Guess what? I'm on Etsy too! Surprise! I just listed my first item last week. I'm glad that you don't know what it means, either. I used to think that it was called, Esty! Dyslexia strikes again!

Penny :)

Shabby Cottage Studio said...

LOL Thanks Penny!!!!!!!

Michelle said...

Check out my blog for my commentary on this subject.

I posted an honest breakdown on the costs of selling a painting on ebay.

I feel kind of ill talking so frankly about the subject, but I think its time to educate buyers a little about the reality.

I didn't even get into relisting, craft fairs, gallery commissions and all the other hullabaloo. LOL.

Liz Miller said...

Of course you are Queen of the Art! When you figure this out let me know.

Shabby Cottage Studio said...

Liz LOL ;-)

Randi said...

I sell on both Etsy and eBay and I've sold more of my art on eBay. Etsy is so inexpensive to list items, I'll stay with it. It can't hurt! :)

Shabby Cottage Studio said...

Yeah Randi I have to agree with you! I've decided to stay with Etsy and see if I can't improve the situation some how. You can't beat the price! ;-)