On Making and Selling

Well hello, friends! It’s been a little while. Here are some thoughts I jotted down about being an artist and making money at it.

While there are some questionable “arts” out there, generally speaking, I think it’s safe to say that most people who create can be termed an artist of some kind. Not everyone earns money or an actual living from their art, which is fine. There is nothing wrong with art for art’s sake. (Take this blog, for example! I write because I like it.) But it is a heavily sought after dream.

Artists who create with fabric or yarn know that it’s not only popular because it’s fun, challenging, relaxing, and rewarding, but as with any creative endeavor, making any kind of money from this passion is not an easy feat.

Essentially, anyone who knows how to make something out of fabric, yarn, or thread can sell it. That’s the beauty of having an Etsy shop, really. (Or Facebook, for that matter.) I’m no exception to that. I’ve sold a few crocheted things from the shop and I’ve made a few dozen custom orders from people who have seen my finished works on Facebook. It’s a wonderful feeling to know you’ll earn some pocket money from your craft in addition to having fun making the end products. Win-win. Silly baby whales

While there are certainly people out there who have mastered selling finished works and make a pretty penny off of it, it is my observation from both the photography world and the crochet world that the real money is in selling to the artists. I have mixed feelings on that. On the one hand, it makes sense, and bravo to those who have figured it out. On the other, I wish it appeared to be more prevalent that the artists themselves had more success than the teachers, marketers, and “gurus.”

When I was immersed in All Things Photography for the first couple of years, it became overwhelming to muck through all the businesses out there who marketed to photographers who were just trying to earn some money taking portraits. My email was dinging every few seconds with promotional email after promotional email. I even worked with a “photography business consultant” for a little while, until I realized that she had never had a successful photography business herself. (Seriously.) Eventually, when I realized that it was not going to be the business I thought it would, it was a tedious chore to unsubscribe from most of the companies that had my email address. Now I enjoy photography on a much more leisurely basis (see: The Bsns), and I’ve realized that, at least for this period of my life, it’s what works best.

When I jumped into crochet in 2013, the same thing happened where I realized that the gurus exist who are quite successful, and most of them have marketed patterns, classes, or how-to videos on YouTube. (Don’t get me wrong–YouTube is a fabulous tool for learning a craft like crochet for free!) Fortunately, I had learned from my mistakes with photography, and I did not sign up for too many groups, emails, classes, etc, though crochet is a completely different beast than photography.

Aside: I won’t deny that I may have a slight yarn addiction but I think most crocheters and knitters have one. Becoming a yarn snob is something I’ll save for another post down the road.

Before a couple of years ago, I had not browsed Etsy for much of anything. Now that I have my own shop, I have made a point to buy unique gifts for friends and family from others who share their beautiful artistry with the world. Pretty much anything you can think of–and a lot of what you can’t–can be found there. (Here are things I’ve favorited, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

Again, just because one has a shop, it does not mean that people will buy. Standing out from the herd of millions proves to be a frustration for many, myself included. Crochet and photography shops are a dime a dozen and, once again, those craft shops who stand out seem to be doing something truly unique OR they’re marketing to people like me, who are passionate creators but are not necessarily blazing a trail in the design world.

Perhaps designing is in my future; it’s not out of the realm of possibility. But for now, I am a happy little maker of things. Speaking of which….I know it’s a shameless plug, but it ties in so nicely with my topic here, so I hope you won’t mind too much.

I started this post a while back and by the time I’ve gotten around to publishing it, I happen to be having a canvas sale in the Photography section of my shop this week. And if I’m being honest, which I am, it’s a good one.

I’ll just leave this here and if you or someone you know needs some wall art in your life, well then…..yay!

And now I slip quietly back to my creative dungeon…until next time.

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Where I finally understand this whole viral thing

Truth time. A little secret from me to you: I really didn’t understand what “going viral” meant until maybe last year.

This guy looks viral.

Using my brain and what we call “contextual clues,” I finally figured it out but for whatever reason the term didn’t click for me for some time, even though it makes logical sense.

In the regular world, though, the word ‘viral’ does not bring forth positive images. Anytime someone talks about a virus or infection or contagiousness, we want no part of it. But in social media, it’s the best thing that can ever happen to you. So basically, digital wet sneezes are a good thing.

(Ugh. I just grossed myself out typing ‘wet sneezes.’ Don’t get me started on sneezes.)

In our era of instant gratification, news and information is now spreading so fast that something even taking a few days to become popular is slow. Which is craziness! Technology has basically turned hearing about something “through the grapevine” into a competitive frenzy, where news travels at the speed of…..well, internet connectivity.

It’s gotten to the point where, when someone finds something out two or three days after most people have chewed it up and spit it out all over email forwards/Facebook/Twitter/StumbleUpon/Reddit/YouTube/Google+/Tumblr/Pinterest/Foursquare/LinkedIn  or what have you, there is always a person who will reply, “Dude, you’re just now hearing this? Where have you been living? Old news, bro.”

Remember America’s Funniest Home Videos? I think that show is still in existence….Anyway, prior to YouTube it was the only way silly home accidents which were poorly shot could ever go viral, and even then, they didn’t guarantee that people would see them, because that would mean people would have to choose to tune in to watch Bob Saget host the show. It would have been funnier if he could have been himself instead of the cleaned up version of himself.

Off the top of my head, I can name several examples of things that went viral and of course, it’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to add your own examples in a comment! The ones I thought of are:

Friday by Rebecca Black. Talk about a train wreck of a song and music video. I heard about it on Tumblr and then Twitter. I had to see for myself. The sequel is even worse because it’s not catchy in the slightest. (Should there have been a sequel? No.)

If you’re like my friend Scott and you still haven’t subjected yourself to this nightmare but want to give in, here’s your chance:

And if you want to see the best version someone could ever possibly perform of that song, it’s when Stephen Colbert sings with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots. Go here for that piece of television magic.

Three words: Evolution of Dance. I don’t even remember how I heard about this – an email forward, maybe? But it still holds up. This video was a big deal because he got a million hits on it and that was before a million was no big thing.

This next one is by the infamous Alexandra Wallace who made a racist rant about Asians in the library at UCLA. The backlash was incredibly funny. She had no idea that her ignorant decision to make fun of a singular group of people would end up forcing her out of her own school. An ABC After School Special could have told her that.

And here’s the response to her rant (my personal favorite) by the talented Jimmy Wong. Warning: his song will get stuck in your head! But in a good way.

And last but not least, we have The Bed Intruder Song. A couple of guys took Auto Tune and made an interview with a “regular Joe” from the projects into a national sensation. Ke$ha should give them a call since they clearly know how better to use Auto Tune than she. This thing blew up and a full version was released on iTunes. I may or may not have purchased the ring tone.

So basically, you either have to be incredibly talented or incredibly dumb to have something go viral. I’m happy to say that out of the examples I mentioned, only one was due to stupidity. Alexandra, I hope you’re in a better place, honey.

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