It has been a while since I delved into the “Why Quilts Matter“ discussion guide. Browsing the topics this week, the one that jumped out at me that I want to focus on in this post is:
If you sell your work, what methods do you use? How successful have you been?
On one hand, I feel like this topic is discussed a lot in blogs and in social media. There are fantastic resources available to read about in the We are $ew Worth it! movement (and the popular Molli Sparkles discusses this on occasion). On the other hand, I have seen firsthand that there are a lot of questions about how to sell work, where to go, and how to get started.
In general, I expect that my blog readers know that I am a budding quilt pattern designer, and I will occasionally blog about and discuss my patterns that I have for sale (along with offering many free tutorials as well). However, I typically shy away from talking about the fact that I have an active Etsy store. I feel like my blog readers are not my target audience for trying to sell quilts, quilted items, and small sewing projects.
In the light of this topic, though, I thought it would be worth explaining why I tend to differentiate where I discuss these kinds of things on social media along with how I got started, methods I have used to market myself, and how successful I feel like the endeavor has been.
So let’s take it from the top, shall we?
Do you sell your work?
What methods do you use?
About a year ago I was contacted through Etsy by a woman looking for large muslin archival drawstring bags. She had been able to purchase them online in the past for her work as a museum curator, but they were no longer available. She mailed me one of hers and I created a pattern that has been rather successful in my shop since then. Serendipity has played a role in many of my sales.
While I prefer to make custom quilts, I have found that having a stock of quick to make smaller projects like the crib sheet quilts is also wise. As you might have noticed, my quilted placemats are another item people have a lot of interest in.
How successful have you been?
In general, I would categorize myself as successful. I have been self-employed since April 2014, and I am able to earn enough money to keep buying more fabric and making more quilts. My business is currently in the red from my long arm purchase last year, but over time I hope to slowly nibble away at that investment and break even.
By far I would not categorize myself as an expert in this area. But, for what it’s worth, here are what I have tried and my thoughts on marketing myself and my products.
In general, I have chosen not to discuss my Etsy store or sales on my blog. As I mentioned earlier, I just do not think that my blog readers are my target audience. I will definitely discuss topics that I think overlap, like how I worked through the design phases of a commission and developed a design for the Lighthouse Lens Placemats. And because they are a quilted item, I will blog about their finish and any interesting details that I might have learned from making them.
I have used the promoted listings within Etsy to try and capture more sales. I have found the promoted listings to generate more views of my listings, but I have only had 1 sale related to the promoted listings after almost a year. I tried increasing the budget I allocated and saw no real change in views or sales. After a year long experiment, I cancelled my promoted listings earlier this week.
I use my Quilting Jetgirl Facebook page to share about content on my blog, sewing related images / facts / information (sometimes leaning toward the silly and away from the practical), and to occasionally promote my Etsy store. I have used paid Facebook advertising to share a discount code for my Etsy store, which was very successful once and very unsuccessful on another occasion. Choosing the correct demographic and keywords for a Facebook ad seems to be tricky and something that I need to probably understand better.
Sharing posts from my Quilting Jetgirl Facebook page is a free way to also get more people to see my content. This can have consequences, however. If I share my content with another Facebook page or group and it is later deleted by an admin of that group or page, then Facebook will drastically stop sharing even the original post with my own audience.
I currently do not have an email distribution, although I have considered looking into it. Right now my main focus for content is my blog because I enjoy the community and discussions. I am content enough with the occasional sales and word of mouth references. As I work more on developing my pattern writing, though, I will probably need consider the right way to discuss that without alienating people, and an email distribution is probably the option I will explore first.
Other Social Media Resources (Instagram, Twitter, Periscope…)
Learning how not to be too “spammy” or direct in marketing my content is a fine line. Sometimes I am just genuinely excited about my latest fun project or great idea, but sharing it all at once on every social media channel will probably be viewed by my core followers and seen as overkill. This is a balance that I know I struggle with, and hopefully with time will improve. 🙂
What about you?
The bottom line is that I am still learning as I go, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say regarding this topic. Do you sell your work? Why or why not? What does and does not work for you as a seller and/or as a reader of blogs of people who do sell?