Friday , 20 October 2017
Making your product the best it can be starts with self-awareness. If you strive for perfection in your craft, why shouldn’t you do the same with the face of your business?

Give It To Me Straight – Truth in Business

TRUTH - Handcrafted Glass Art Ring

TRUTH - Handcrafted Glass Art Ring

Give It To Me Straight

In art and in life, we often don’t want to hear honest criticism. However, when you are investing so much time and money in your craft, you want to get the most out of it. Learning to be objective with your work is an important step in transitioning your business from so-so to spectacular.

Maybe this scenario sounds familiar: a friend of a friend hears you are selling on Etsy and asks you for advice about how to get sales. You take a look at his/her shop and the pictures and graphic design could be a lot better.  How do we politely suggest that they retake photos and hire someone to design a new banner? This is sticky stuff. Our work and our shops are very personal, and I often hesitate to come between someone and what they love. I usually suggest taking photos with natural light if they are using a flash, and maybe using a program like Photoshop elements to improve their photos and design. This is my honest opinion of how they can get more sales, put as delicately as possible. However, I almost always find that people weren’t expecting any criticism of the way their shop looks at all. They were looking for a magic bullet that would allow them to do the same thing they’ve been doing and have instant success.  This led me to do a lot of self-evaluation. Am I truly aware of how my own shop looks? Am I being lazy or cutting corners? Am I telling myself the truth?

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

Making your product the best it can be starts with self-awareness. If you strive for perfection in your craft, why shouldn’t you do the same with the face of your business? I spend at least 50% of my time working on photographs, design, networking and advertising for my business.  I would love to spend all my time making things, but then I would be working in a vacuum.  Like it or not, business (even the business of craftin’) is about competition. Learning to truly and honestly evaluate how your shop stacks up against similar businesses is a great first step to improving sales.

Here are a few questions to start with:

What do I avoid working on in my shop? This is often the place we need to start, and it may not be just photography and design. For a long time, my answer was record keeping and evaluating my sales for the year. Once I did this, I found many areas I needed to work on and some valuable statistics that helped me improve pricing and marketing.

How does my shop appear to a set of fresh eyes? I feel like I keep a clean house, but when I’m going to have company over and I start cleaning, I suddenly notice things I missed in my day to day routine. A house I thought was immaculate moments ago suddenly has dust bunnies on the ceiling fan, pet hair on the pillows and water stains on the floor. Eek! Try to approach your shop with the same fresh perspective. How will your shop look to guests who may scrutinize every detail?

When was the last time I put my product out there to be critiqued? Participate in Etsy’s critiques, open yourself up on the forums, listen to your customers at a craft show, or just ask someone you respect to evaluate your work and shop appearance.  If your friend or spouse is brave enough to give you some truthful constructive criticism about your work, be a good sport! My husband is also an artist and I value his opinion greatly. Having someone in your life that can give you the honest truth is invaluable.

Strive to tell yourself the truth about your business. 

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10 comments

  1. Well written – it’s particularly true that so many new shops come into the forums and want to know the “one thing now” they can do for success. It’s never that simple.

    SEO, Pictures, balanced inventory and price points, good descriptions and tags, shop policy info, these things don’t get “perfect” overnight but a good shop must commit to continuous self-improvement in many areas or, even the successful ones will be passed by!

  2. Enjoyed the read, as always! I am linking it in with an article I’m about to send to Tim, which will be part I in my Spring Cleaning series.

  3. So true Bridget! Those are all great thing to evaluate from time to time to make sure we are still putting our best, fresh face forward.
    Thanks Melinda! I’m looking forward to reading the Spring Cleaning series!

  4. The point that really hit home for me was, looking at the part that I avoid working on. It is the part that needs my first attention. Thank you for that added, push to take care of that “room” in the house that needs attention first!

  5. Thank You!

  6. It’s always an on-going process, it’s never perfect & there’s always something that we can improve. Sometimes it’s good to have a second set of eyes, as long as those eyes are objective.

  7. Well said. I’ve watch people crash and burn, even when I could help, because the last thing they want to hear is: It needs some work.
    I may ask for advice. Take a step back when I hear it. But, I will chew on it and find my truth and move forward.

  8. I’ve been resisting the idea that my stuff could be photographed better by using frames and a scene instead of just a 2D image of my art. I know that when I see other artists that showcase their work that way, I feel better about the art in general, but I just can’t seem to get up the energy to do it myself.

    I guess admitting I have a problem is the first step, right?

  9. You’re too nice, lol. I’ve never been shy in the forums or out with what has worked for me and what they could possibly try doing differently.

    Bottom line – and I speak from experience – you get out what you put in.

    Thanks so much for the post.

  10. Good analogy about a shop and house cleaning; that one hit home! And you’re right, but I never realized it, it IS a 50/50 balance of making products, and photography, marketing, promotion. That statement really hit home for me, and I feel a lot better about the time I spend on the computer, thank you!

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