Saturday, 24 November 2018

How You Can Help!

For the past 11 months our income has fallen way short of our monthly outgoings, a situation that has been on and off for the past six years. Recently both Stewart and I have got part time jobs (can you believe I have been working in the cafe for two months already!) and the difference between what comes in and what goes out has narrowed but it's still a bit of a juggling act. I'm not complaining, it is what it is, but it does mean that my 'art career' if that's what you can call it is more than just a hobby. I don't do it just for fun (although it is fun) it is my work. The teaching is well paid but unfortunately it is sporadic and not reliable as often classes don't meet the required numbers and then they don't run. And selling stuff is really difficult which is why this past week I have taken part in the JustaCard indie week on Instagram.

Photo: Joanne Hawker

The idea is to encourage people to shop small, local and independent this Christmas to support all us little independent businesses struggling to make a living. The campaign arose after a gallery owner was overheard to say that if everyone who had come into the gallery and admired the work, had bought just one card, then they wouldn't have had to close down. One card is the price of a coffee, and these last couple of months have really opened my eyes as to how much people spend on coffee!

Of course, you may not always want to buy stuff but there are so many other ways in which you can support small businesses. Most of us don't have a huge budget for marketing and rely on social media to spread the word about what we do. So getting people engaged is crucial as search algorithms alone do not work. So what can you do?

1. LIKE posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as this shows someone is engaging.
2. Better still, leave a COMMENT. Tell someone if you like something, ask a question and start a dialogue. Just say something nice... it really does make our day!
3. SHARE a post, linking back to the maker. This is the most powerful thing you can do as it helps reach a whole new audience. 

Just these three steps can make all the difference but you can also subscribe to newsletters - I have a button to subscribe to mine on my sidebar, where I share upcoming classes, sometimes I have discounts in my Etsy shop and I generally let people know what I'm up to. Then share these newsletters with like minded friends, again it is reaching a new audience. When you buy something on Etsy and love it, then post to social media, link back to the maker and leave a glowing review. Each of these small steps really do help.

I had been planning a post about this for some time but thank you Joanne Hawker for helping me put it into words!

And you can find me on Facebook as Gina Ferrari Textile Art and on Instagram as Gina Ferrari Art. I'm also on Twitter occasionally and the link is on my sidebar. So if you don't already, please follow me on these platforms.


Of course while it is lovely if you do all these things it is even better when someone buys something and so I'm am trying hard to keep my Etsy shop stocked up. There are several tutorials that can be purchased as downloadable PDFs available so you can make your own gifts. It is whole other blogpost about charging for tutorials and rather than make this too long you might want to read this post by Dolly Henry but I think anyone who sells tutorials comes across those people who expect something for nothing. I recently posted about these crackers on Facebook and had a message from someone saying how much she loved them and asking for details of how to make them. I sent back the link to my shop where the tutorial is available for £5 (It would cost £35 or more to come to a day class with me to learn how to make these) Not a word of reply, not even a thanks but no thanks... and certainly no purchase! It can be quite soul destroying, as though we are trying to cheat people out of their money.


There are also some physical items for sale including one or two of these hoops that have escaped the dog's shenanigans (although there are PDFs to make these too)


And this week I have been making angels for the Christmas tree... because it really is only four and half weeks away!


They take a ridiculously long time to make for what they are but I do love making them.
And I guess that is why we do what we do... it's certainly not to get rich quick!
There are only three available at the moment (free postage in the UK) but I hope to be adding more next week.


Now my little rant is over, enjoy the rest of your weekend... I'm off to make some more angels!

27 comments:

  1. I loved your little Christmas fairies when I saw them on Instagram Gina and so prompted by your post, I nipped over to your Etsy shop and bought one! I'm trying to make an effort this Christmas to support independent makers/ shops. It's a win/win situation - the maker gets a sale and the buyer gets something unique and crafted with care and love :) x

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    1. Thank you Annie. I hope your little fairy has arrived safely!

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  2. Sorry about the finances problem. It really does make life difficult. The am in a similar stage because of not teaching. Mostly because of health so stuff I hope you are able to get some teaching next month. And that you will sell at the Christmas fayres

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    1. The phone has its own idea of what I wanted to write. 😜

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  3. Things must be hard.I popped over to your test shop and bought a pendant.It will complete my present to a close friend.I have already knitted her a shawl and this goes with it perfectly.Could you put alittle card in saying it is homemade.
    We always try to shop locally in our market town.We were pleased to see a new butchers had opened last week and not another charity shop.

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    1. Thank you for your support Barbara. I hope the pendant has arrived safely x

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  4. It is so hard, making a living as a creative, you have my full sympathy. I have seen the Just A Card idea, and it's great. Very little money here also, but I try and direct what I do spend in the right direction. Every time we spend money, it is a vote for the sort of world we want to live in etc. Wishing you all the very best with your creative career. You make beautiful things, and I hope they will bring you success. CJ xx

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  5. Well I of course agree with everything you say! I always try to share my handmade purchases on Instagram because I know how much I appreciate it when someone does that for me! I've had someone ask me for the pattern for my bunny cardigans too!
    You are so right though getting introduced a new audience is key!

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    1. It's not easy being a one man band! I do sometimes think I would do better if I just stuck to one thing!

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  6. I'm sorry about the financial situation Gina, hopefully it will improve soon. Sorry I can't help much with purchasing stuff from your etsy shop - too far away! I would happily purchase pdfs to download if I could still see well enough to make the articles - I loved your Christmas crackers and the angels.
    I try to buy local craft when I can, but unfortunately I don't always have access to the craft markets as I can no longer drive.
    I really hope your blog makes local people aware of what they can do to keep you and others in business, it would be a sorry old world without our creative artists like you. XXX

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    1. You are supportive in your comments etc Robin and it all helps x

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  7. I’m hoping the New Year brings you better finances Gina. I’ve gone out of my way to do home made and local this year and I hope the idea spreads faster. Have you thought to see if any markets near you do a Suitcase Sale? Frome does the best and others are starting to including our Shaftesbury Artisan Market. It’s a great way for little people to have an outlet. http://thefromeindependent.org.uk/the-market/suitcase-sale/

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    1. I'm doing a small church sale on Saturday which is usually quite a good one for me, so fingers crossed.

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  8. Good luck Gina with getting the word out. As you say homemade crafts will always be a labour of love considering the time they take. Beautiful Christmas fairies :) B x

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    1. Thank you Barbara. Getting the word out seems to be the hardest bit!

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  9. I really admire you for sticking to your dream and make a living as an artist. I am sorry it is so hard. My friend Zoe has a little shop that barely scrapes through and I think she'll have to close - so many small business and individuals fall victim not just of big chains but also of lazy consumers. I am guilty myself although I do try and support small businesses when I can. Wishing you the best of luck. xx

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    1. It is hard and I couldn't do it without the part time job. I hope your friend manages to keep going x

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  10. Seeing your incoming defeated by the outgoings is a miserable situation, as we can testify. We're currently trying to refurbish an inherited flat in poor repair, in the hope it can then be sold or rented, but It's eating into precious capital and, as it's a hundred plus miles away, time and petrol costs.
    The end result may benefit others more than us.
    We try to support small businesses and also shop locally, largely boycott supermarkets and large chains, though sometimes sheer economics mean one has to patronize the online sellers for basics. We still have local butchers, bakers and farmshops for veg, but many of the nicest independent shops locally and online sell things that have to be considered an indulgence when cash is tight. Shall certainly be searching Etsy etc for Christmas presents though. Hope things improve for you soon. X

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    1. I think it is a fact of modern day living that the large chains are hard to avoid. I would love to do all my shopping in independent shops but not only is it more expensive but means driving all over the place. Sometimes convenient and price win but I try to do my bit too.

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  11. Wishing you lots of luck generating interest in and customers for your creative work. I don't use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (you know me, I don't even use a mobile phone) but I'm a big supporter of Etsy and local independent makers (as my bank will testify!).

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  12. So sorry that life is a struggle again. It must be soul destroying not to make sales when your work is so good. I wish you well and hope things soon improve.

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    1. At least I enjoy what I do and I guess not everyone can say that!

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  13. Amazing how people who are earning a living, and paying for groceries, expect to be GIVEN creative work.

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I love getting your comments and I love to read what you have to say so thank you for taking the time! I reply when I can by email... or if you are a no reply blogger, then I sometimes post a reply in the comments.