Wednesday, January 27, 2010

making it, selling it

Yesterday, I was contacted by a local television station that wants to do a short segment on me and my pottery for an afternoon program they have. Being the publicity whore that I am, I said "yes" right away. As the producer discussed the segment with me, it emerged that she wanted the focus to be on how to market yourself and "make it" as an artist or craft person. She is a huge etsy fan with her own crafty inclinations, so she wants this to be an inspirational segment for people who are considering a different kind of life for themselves that involves making and selling stuff.

I've been considering for a while of running a local workshop for people who want to market their work online, be more visible or successful on Etsy, and deal with the ins and out of websites. I've had to learn most of this stuff from scratch-- including designing and building my own website-- and I'm still always learning something new on Etsy that helps me sell more work. And I love to share this stuff, I'm constantly bossing my friends around on how they should be marketing their work or making changes to their shops. Though, it must be said, they are quite successful without me.

My husband suggested I teach a workshop quite a while ago, but it has suddenly seemed more pressing. This month, I was elected President of the Association of Clay and Glass Artists of California, an organization of over 500 members. My election represents a big change in leadership just in terms of my age. I'm the first Gen-Xer to lead the organization, and in the weeks since my election, we now have a blog, Facebook Fan Page, and twitter feed. I feel that all of these things are vital to building and connecting our community of artists. At our annual retreat, it came up again and again: how do our non-tech savvy artists--many of them from the baby boomer generation and older-- compete in this web-based marketplace? Many of them are overwhelmed by the options and don't know where to start, but recognize that the way of relying on shows and gallery sales are not bringing in the bucks the way it used to. I want to help them.

I would love to get some feedback from my readers. What kind of information would you want from a workshop like this? What tips do you want to share? Are there things you wish someone had told you before you launched yourself into the web-o-sphere? All comments welcome!


  1. Wow! Congratulations! What a huge honor!
    Hmmm. You have the artistry, technical skills, business head, and marketing skills. Seems like you should teach a series of workshops.

  2. I would love to see a workshop about how to market myself and my pottery. Much of what I read is geared towards painters, sculptures, photographers...but our art is different. Many of the ways to display and market pottery are quite different than other arts, and very much the same as some others. For example the photography of the pieces is different. Should I have a picture of every mug I've ever made or just an example of the more creative ones?
    From reading your blog I think you'd be good at doing this. Go for it and help your fellow artists achieve more success.

  3. You really are an inspiration Whitney! I love the fire and clarity in your voice. AGCA has no idea how lucky they are to have you - not to mention how your influence will play out for the clay community. Phew, a breath of fresh air!

    As Ms Mertz said; I can see how you could very well do a series of workshops that would be invaluable to up and coming artists. I would sign up!

  4. I love your statement publicity whore, I refer to myself as a shameless hussy, in those matters.

    I would love to take a workshop on "making it" as a craftsperson. I am in the process now, starting to market my work. It is a long and involved process, it would be wonderful to hear from someone who has been successful making, marketing, and selling. I wish I could jump on a plane and pick your brain, but alas life gets in the way. So......, I would love to see an on-line class, I'm sure many of us would take it. Now that you ventured into the media world, an on-line class should be easy. hint hint

    Thanks, Connie
    PS. I would love it if you bossed me around!!! ha ha

  5. good luck! sounds like a great idea for a workshop.

    i think its good to mention things like Facebook, Twitter and blogging. and how much time to devote to it. its hard to get out of the studio to market and do social media tasks but it can be well worth it.

  6. Congrats Whitney! Publicity goes a long, long way. Do it, do will be great!
    I was featured in 2005 on HGTV-That's Clever-Season 1-Episode 160...still get hits on my website goofy as it was! You not only are a talented artist but a savvy business chick! I have purchased several pieces of your work from Craft Alliance in St. Louis, MO for gifts! You have much to teach/mentor...let your voice be heard!

  7. I just found your blog and your work. Wow! So beautiful. I'm going to do a post about you and your work this morning on my blog with pictures of some of your creations with a links back to you.

    Congratulations on your success! :)

  8. I am getting back into making ceramic sculpture after several years (still have a day job). I am interested in finding online workshops on marketing via internet venues and photographing ones work for etsy. (Face-to-face is great, if close enough to my town).

    I love your blog and your work, and will be keeping track of your workshop plans.

  9. It seems that there is always something new I am running into -I now see a forum where you can ask someone any question and a place where you can set up for strangers and friends to support your projects monetarily-would love to know the details behind these types of things and how to distinguish what is a valuable way to use your time