Friday, November 7, 2008

Online Venues

As I write this, in another window I am setting up shop at a new online marketing venue called 1000 Markets. 1000 Markets is another artisan shopping community, similar to Etsy, but because one needs to be juried in and approved before setting up shop, I'm really hoping that most, if not all, of the really inexpensive, underpriced, undervalued handmade work doesn't show up at 1000 Markets as it has proliferated on Etsy.

Here's a link for an interesting article Etsy ran yesterday in it's Storque (online newsletter), about the phenomenal sales growth happening there. Nobody I know, including myself, who has higher-priced work at Etsy has sold anything in quite a while, if at all. Somebody's making a lot of money at Etsy, with $8.4 million in sales in October alone. I'd sure like to be getting my share of the sales activity! A friend told me yesterday that Etsy recently said about itself that there were "better deals at Etsy than you can find at Wal-Mart." OMG! I will very likely not relist my finished work there after the listings expire over the next few months. Instead, I've begun listing all that work at 1000 Markets. I'll use Etsy for fiber sales only, eventually.

What are REAL artists to do? Which brings me to something else I've been thinking about this week -- whether or not it pays anymore to have a standalone website. I've had mine for over a year, and just this week I had the first contact via my website contact form. It's true that I've had a lot of hits in this past year -- a nearly unbelievable 58,000 since last December! But nobody's ever contacted me before via the site, whereas I am in constant contact with folks around the world via my blog. Also on my blog are links to my other online venues, as well as Flickr galleries. So I'm not sure why I have the website any longer. As a matter of fact, the way my website is set up, all the photos you see there as well as detailed info about each piece for sale are actually housed in Flickr galleries. So this seems like it might be the height of redundancy.

I've had changes in mind for my website, but it's pretty costly to maintain and I've begun to feel that updating it with new galleries to herald my shift away from wearable handwovens to surface designed handwoven art cloth would be duplication of effort, since this blog is my regular mouthpiece for all aspects of my life and work as an artist.

We artists are always told that it's definitely a good thing to have a website, to refer art galleries, museums and patrons to. But why can't this blog work just as well for that purpose, with expanded links to places online to see my work? Without the cost of a standalone website?

I'd really be interested in hearing what other artists think about this. So please weigh in on this and let me hear from you. Thanks!

5 comments: said...

I am pondering/weighing the exact same issue now. My website does not cost much at all but that is not the only point to consider. I can see a blog-only presence IF I am able to present things in a very clear, professional way. I welcome this conversation; thanks.

tiedyejudy said...

Hi, Connie. Since I am both a fiber artist and a tie-dyer, I have maintained a website primarily for my tie-dye... it's a great way to showcase my inventory for shoppers who don't have time to go through all my stuff at a show. And these days, I am not doing a lot of shows. As for my art quilts, I am really in the beginnings of this phase of my creative life, and my blog is mostly devoted to surface design and art quilts, but isn't set up for direct sales. I have had 9 sales on my etsy store since I set it up in July, and that was all tie-dye. A recent panel discussion at our Artists' Coalition meeting addressed using a website as a vehicle to present your work to galleries, much like a portfolio or slides used to do. So a lot depends on the audience you are trying to reach. BTW, there are many web hosting services out there with a variety of price ranges. I pay $8.95 a month, and have a ton of pictures on my website with plenty of space left over, so you may want to do a little window shopping for a new web host if you decide to keep the website.
Hope this helps!


Sue O'Kieffe said...

i have been pondering this question since i read your article last night. i have been putting a lot of my biz on hold until that day my website was up. it ain't happened we need a solid web presence that a site is supposed to offer, rather than bouncing from blog to flickr to view work and make a decision about possible purchase? if you sell at etsy and elsewhere, do you think it necessary to have a website? what search words do you use when you search for yourself via google? (btw, i think godaddy has a package that offers oodles of room for $4.95/month)
i'll be interested in following this conversation. said...

I am back because I just realized one of the top reasons for keeping a website--it slipped my mind earlier, I am sorry. It is this: most blogs, at least those that are free, do NOT allow sales in their TOS (terms of service). Granted, most people either do not read said TOS or choose to ignore them, but ...

So, you may want to consider that and also explore it further. Hope this helps the discussion.

Meg in Nelson said...

For about 18 months, I abandoned updating my still web site, and concentrated on the blog. Then I thought about it.

Because my blog is more in the anything-goes style, AND because blogs are essentially chronological, when I revamped, I used the blog format, (much easier to update) but created a logical order/presentation.

The function, e.g. links to photographs, etc., are pretty much the same in my blog and web site, but by having the web site, a more or less an official, electronic business card, I can present a tad more professional front, while on my blog, well, I can stretch out like Bee Gee.

Pity my web site has so little content, then! It's functioning as a giant TOC for the time being.