I had always shied away from selling online. Whenever I tried, I would always get scammers. I would never get real customers. Friends would tell me that they do well with Instagram. The daughter of my next door neighbor at ArtiGras lectured me on how to do it. I still remained skeptical. Etsy, no way. FB. Just what I need to attract spammers, robbers, hackers, and people who want to steal my identity. I bought Scott Fox's book and read 10 pages. Haven't touched it in years. Same with all the emails when I joined his web site. I kept them, incidentally. The AFI podcasts? I refused to listen to any of them. I avoided everything.
Then, all my shows got cancelled starting in March. I had been on a two year nonstop run of doing shows and then coming home for three weeks to madly crank out some pieces and then away for anywhere from two weeks to two months and then back again for three weeks of making pieces. When I was forced to stop because of COVID-19 I was burned out. I didn't do anything for a couple of months except to veg out. It was like I was kicking a habit. I exhibited withdrawal symptoms. Sequestering? No problem. I didn't want to see anyone, talk to anyone, or even go outside. I still had one gallery order that normally I would deliver at the end of April. They still wanted the work. With everything locked down, I was in no rush to make those pieces. Eventually, I started working again and finished those pieces at the beginning of June. The gallery had opened but was not doing any business. Usually, they would have 300 people come through on Memorial Day weekend. This year they had a half dozen customers. There was no rush or motivation to deliver the work.
A funny thing happened. Because I was in no rush, I took my time making and firing the pieces. The result was that I ended up with a series of my best work. Certainly my best glaze successes. I delivered the work a couple of weeks after Memorial Day weekend. (I had a flat tire and the wait at all the tire places in Marquette was a week.) Consequently I was delayed a week with the pots in my van waiting for me to drive them to Wisconsin. At the same time business picked up at the gallery. As of a week ago, they had sold 9 pieces of mine and they told me to start making more so that when they reordered just after the 4th of July, I could deliver right away.
When I make pieces for a show or for a gallery order, I always make way too many pieces. I had all these extra pieces sitting around. I decided to take pics and post a sampling on my Face Book Raku artist page with prices that included shipping and tax. I've had a few people order pieces and I've shipped a couple already. I have others waiting for pieces to be finished. I'm kind of obsessive about quality and I won't ship anything that I don't think is great even though my customers would be really happy with what I have now.
This immediate success has motivated me to be online everywhere--Etsy, Instagram, web site, you name it. I'm gong to be adding resources one at a time. I downloaded every relevant podcast from here and see if I can glean some extra pearls of wisdom to enhance my online marketing. One thing that's true. I have to sell a fraction of what I would sell at an art fair to stay above my costs. And, I control everything. Do I miss doing shows? No way. It takes time to sell online the way I do it because I'll offer choices and send pics to the customer to make sure they like what they are getting. And, it takes time to pack and ship, but, not nearly as long as it takes to pack my van, drive hundreds of miles to a show, do the show and then drive home again.
Hopefully, I can sustain and build on my online sales. I'll still do some shows, but, I'll be applying to only the one ones that are hard to get into. When gallery sales was half my income I would only do 5 shows a year. That has grown to 16 shows and this year it was going to be closer to 20 which is the most I had ever signed up for. For me the Covid-19 thing has had a positive unintended consequence. Funny how I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into today's marketing strategies.
Btw, it is possible to download every podcast, which I did, and keep them to listen to over and over and have as a reference. I might suggest that you all do the same.