I have been looking back at the last year or so and thinking about the year ahead. This is the time of year I begin to plan the craft shows I will apply for and pound out my summer schedule, so it only seems natural to look at other aspects of Willow and Me, too. This is hard for me because this is the part I hate the most. I stink at the business side.
Financially, Willow and Me didn't do as well as I had hoped in 2009. I hope it was just the economy, but there's no way to know for sure, I guess. So with that in mind, I am trying to think of ways to improve for 2010. I want to try some new craft shows, maybe heading towards southern Maine and staying pretty much coastal, but that costs money and I am a bit afraid that the economy hasn't improved enough for people to want to spend. I do plan on doing the old standbys that have been good for me in years past.
I have been selling on Etsy just about a year now. It's hard to get noticed, although I can say that I made it on the Front Page TWICE (with the same, item, but still...) and I have started keeping a scrapbook of all the blogs I have been in. I have been in several by people that I didn't know (people that I know count too, but being on a blog written by someone I don't know gives me an idea of how visible I might be to the big world out there), which is good, I think. For the first time, I spent some money on advertising, but there is no way for me to judge if I got any sales from it or not.
I have been trying to study some my fellow Etsiers' shops to see what makes them successful. What are they doing that I could do to grow my business more? I don't want to get rich doing this, but I do need to make some money in order to keep working. Mostly, I make jewelry because that's what I like to do, but it's an expensive habit! One of the things I have noticed about successful shops is their "brand". By that I mean that the items they sell are mostly similar in style.
My items are all over the place. That's because my history of jewelry making is all over the place and it has taken me a while to figure out what I like and what I don't. I have everything from beaded jewelry to fine silver PMC jewelry to Beaded Bouquets. I think there are too many different things and not very much that is consistent throughout my pieces. So now comes one of my conundrums: Where to pare down? What I would like to do is concentrate more on my PMC pieces and concentrate on lines that are nature-inspired, like my leaf pendants and my pussywillow jewelry. That's what I would like to do, but whether it is financially feasible is another question. I still have tons of beads - and I mean tons. I could sell some of them as destash and use the others only to support what I do with silver, or I could continue to do some beading, too. I think I might continue to make a few Beaded Bouquets, if only because I do get requests for them occasionally from past customers.
One of the reasons I want to continue with PMC is, of course, because I like it better than any other medium I have worked with. I feel like there are so many things I can do with it. And this coming weekend I will be teaching my first class in PMC. If that goes well, I would like to teach more, but I also need to work with it more to improve and expand on techniques that I can teach.
I don't have any answers to these questions right now, but I am going to continue to think them through over the next few weeks. For those of you who might read this blog, whether you are a follower or not - whether you know me personally or not, I would love to hear your opinions as well as suggestions and stories of things that helped you. You can leave a comment on my blog here, convo me at my etsy shop or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And thanks to those of you who have followed me and those of you who have supported me and, last but definitely not least, those of you who have bought my pieces in the past!
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