Wednesday, July 8, 2009
To sell or not to sell
I had an etsy. I still have the etsy thing on the side of this blog because I thought one day I would revive it. I had an etsy and my mom and my friend were really supportive and bought my paintings from etsy, but they were the only ones. I got a few views, but no sales, and all my listings expired. I felt a little sad.
I've made some more cards since then. To make it profitable I have to make a card in less than 15 minutes, because I need to make more than $7/hour. When I say I made $4/hour making those cards, I broke it down by supplies, time spent working on it and setting up etsy, the money paypal and etsy took out of my sale (and posting), and shipping. In the end I was making less than $4 for each card, which was a hand-painted watercolor painting with hand-drawn Hebrew calligraphy, and I could make about a card and a half in an hour. I've since learned a little bit about making those cards so I can speed up the process and also I have simplified the imagery to speed it up.
I've heard that etsy really isn't the best place to sell work but rather to get exposure and an easy way to refer people to your work (like on a business card "check out more of my work at tzipi.etsy.com!"). So the best place really is to go to craft fairs. Craft fairs charge a LOT for booths, like $400 for some, although if you split a booth with someone you could get it down to less. So I could probably spend $75-100 for a booth at a fair (I know someone who might want to share with me), and that would mean I would have to sell about 11-12 cards at $10/card to make it worth it (to account for supplies and stuff, but no shipping or etsy or paypal).
You might say, well, that shouldn't be so hard! But I don't think people buy little watercolors so often at craft fairs. AND that is just enough to break even, not even to make a profit. (Also remember that I can't sell on Saturday, so I only have Sundays to sell my work, unless I can get someone else to sell my work for me)
This Shabbat some of my friends were asking me why I wasn't selling my work. I told them about how it wasn't really profitable. I told them all of the things I wrote up there. I told them how I don't have any sleeves to make them look professional, I don't have nice business cards. It's not worth the money.
They said, "but what about your dreams?"
"Yes, my dreams of selling little watercolor paintings at craft fairs!"
But I thought about it a lot, and today I had some free time and ended up at the art store of course. I started looking at packaging for little cards. Tonight I bought some little polypropylene sleeves to store my cards. I painted a bunch more cards a few weeks ago, so I've made it so I can work a lot faster. I've made some abstract paintings so they look like little paintings instead of Judaica cards. So maybe I will give it another shot. Maybe I will ask my friend if I can buy space in her booth on one of the days at the craft fairs. Maybe I could get a booth at the American Art Therapy Association Conference craft fair (booths are free to attendees). Maybe I could package the Judaica cards and sell them to some of the Judaica stores in the city or other cities.
I wondered why I was so resistant to their helpfulness. I know they wanted to help and wanted to be supportive but I resisted really strongly. I gave them so many reasons why it wasn't worth it, but really I was scared of not succeeding. I think there is a good chance that I won't make any money, but this is a relatively inexpensive hobby. I have all of the supplies from various classes and just for hobby reasons. The only extra expenses would be making business cards (which maybe I should have anyway) and these polypropylene bags and the few cents etsy charges me to post things on their site.
So ... I'm going to do it. I'm going to post things on etsy and maybe someone will buy some of my abstract pen and watercolor paintings and maybe they won't. It's kind of scary to put myself out there again, and maybe to put myself further out there with craft festivals and stuff. But....... it's doable.