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!