Interview: Sweet Advice from Jellybeans
Lisa of Marketing Creativity here, and I’d like to introduce you to Angie of the shop, Jellybeans on Etsy. Angie hails from Owen Sound in Ontario, Canada and works at her local hospital as an X Ray technician. I’m a long-time admirer of her art, and she is a proud, part-time creative–as told on her blog, Part-Time Creative. There she reveals her process and a behind-the-scenes look at her work-life balance. Please enjoy the interview:
Jellybeans opened on February 12, 2006. That’s more than 6 years on Etsy! How has selling art online evolved over the years?
I remember when I first started selling online, Etsy was still just a baby. For me, selling my artwork has remained about the same. I have improved my own processes personally to make things flow more seamlessly. After my first couple years selling, once I had established myself, I purchased my own printer to take my print production into my own hands and ensure that the art product I was selling was exactly how I wanted to be represented. And, every year that passes, my store gets a little more polished as I gain more experience with the industry – I know I still have a lot to learn.
You’ve celebrated more than 3,500 sales! That’s amazing. Do you remember your first Etsy sale and what it felt like?
Thank you! I definitely remember my first sale, it was a little acrylic painting of a girl. It was such a sense of accomplishment, like “wow, I can actually do this!” It made me eager to create more work to post, and to put greater effort into my store knowing that if I did that I’d then have my second item sold.
Do you sell anywhere else, in person or online?
I just sell online, on Etsy. I sell in person to those I know personally. For awhile I did have my art on other online art shops that were similar to Etsy, and I also tried selling directly from my webpage. I have found Etsy to be the most efficient, the easiest, and most successful to use. When Etsy came out with Direct Checkout [new feature on Etsy that allows sellers to accept credit cards] it was almost like heaven for me, as I could point customers directly to my store on Etsy from my website and blog. I find that after I had dropped the other stores and was able to put all my focus on Etsy, my store was better organized and maintained more often.
Jellybeans has been a longtime favorite of mine. Your art is very attractive! What inspires your work?
Colours are my first inspiration. I enjoy creating attractive and fun colour palettes with my artwork. Often when I am in a complete rut, I’ll go to colourlovers.com and just look at all the pretty palettes of colour. The first watercolour tree that I had ever done was simply to enjoy a soothing creative experience after a run of exams during university. Emotions and relationships would be the next influence in my watercolour tree series, along with nature of course. I found myself looking at trees, and thinking, “That looks like a mom with her daughter” or “That looks like a couple embracing each other.”
When I first started out, I was invited to Trunkt and that proved to be successful to help me get started and get things rolling. After that, I think maintaining an online presence is the best thing for marketing – keeping your store and website up-to-date, regularly blogging and consistently contributing to social media sites keeps my name and my artwork up in the searches. To keep regular customers coming back, I try to keep things fresh in the shop and come up with new ideas and series so that they don’t get bored with what is there. At the same time, my watercolour series all relate to each other, so that ensures that people who have enjoyed my work in the past will continue to in the future. I try to use any free resource that I can at least a couple times – something that is free can’t hurt! I have also tried some paid advertising. I figure every now and then trying something different is worth a shot. Do keep your eyes on your stats when using paid advertising, to see if it is really helping or not.
I must say that when I read your blog, I walk away feeling like you’ve found a very happy balance between your professional time and your creative time. It’s as if every aspect of your life fits perfectly in its own box, like a present waiting until the next time you’ll open it! How do you do it?
Honestly – and a lot of people who know me might agree – I have a little bit of ADD and the inability to not do anything…well, everyone has their down day. Painting to me has always been a ‘hobby’ and I’ve been blessed to have been able to turn that hobby into a business. Since it is something that I still have pleasure doing, painting after work is relaxing and lets my mind close down a little from the day. For those who might not know, I work in a hospital taking x-rays. After coming home, painting can be a great ‘escape’ from the traumatic events that might have happened during the day.
When I was a student, I had a summer where my summer job was just my art. I found that I still needed to ‘get out’ and do something different, and having a job outside of art definitely helps me separate myself for a little while. And, I find it interesting – I love taking x-rays and helping people.
What’s your mood like when you’re painting?
That depends on the painting…usually I’m painting with headphones on listening to whatever is inspiring me that day. I am usually pretty happy when I am working. I get into a state of ‘zen-zombie-calm’ where I lose complete track of time and what felt like a half hour turns out to be four. If I start getting frustrated with a difficult piece, I will just stop working on it knowing that working while not so happy won’t create anything I’m happy with in the the end.
What has been your proudest artistic moment?
I am most proud of when I was contacted by a publishing representative to have my artwork included in their line of stationery. That was when I officially considered my work to be ‘professional’.
What is the one biggest tip you would offer someone who is new to Etsy and looking for their first sale?
Try not to be everywhere at once. Pick one thing to start with and focus and polish that one thing until it sparkles. If you try to stretch yourself too much at once, you might not be putting 100% into the things that matter most. Once you have it sparkling, then expand. And, never underestimate networking with other sellers. Join a team, get to know a few others and share feedback. A second set of eyes might see something you didn’t.
Thank you, Angie! It’s been absolutely delightful. To see more of Angie’s beautiful artwork, please visit Jellybeans on Etsy. And as always, you can read more from me at Marketing Creativity! Until next time and all the best, Lisa Jacobs