Today, we're chatting with Julie of Polymer Clay Beads. Julie is one of my blog sponsors, too.
Tell me how you started selling on Etsy.
I started on Etsy in May of 2006, about eight months after they started. I had been selling at local arts and crafts shows. I had a small eBay store starting in 2004. I moved to Etsy after watching the site when it opened for awhile. It was a better venue for me and my saracom store is still open and I still sell my polymer clay jewelry there. I have four Etsy shops: saracom, polymerclaybeads, cliponearrings and xstitchpatterns
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why
did you make it?
I suppose I made crafts in Sunday School as my first crafts. I think we made the paper circles that we created into chains. They were gummed strips of paper that were "licked and sticked". Of course, my mother is an artist, so I always had paints and crayons, including crapos and pastels. I cannot paint worth a lick, but I can do pencil portraits.
What is your favorite color combination?
I guess it would be deep purple and sunshine yellow. When it is not that, it is black and white.
Where do your ideas/inspirations come from?
When I am designing raw kaleidoscope polymer clay canes, I use artwork or photos to get my color schemes. When I am designing flowers for my polymer clay canes, I use my color wheel and random grab bag methods. I wrote a blog post on using swatches as inspiration. I usually do not have a plan; I grab whatever and make something. :)
Why should people buy handmade?
There are many reasons to buy handmade. Much of the current economic problems we face is due to the cheapening of products that we use in our daily life. I suppose the Bic lighter is our first downfall. We made something disposable and the disposable mindset started to take hold.
Handmade is the backbone of this nation - and any nation, for that matter. The handmade item is personal and made from someone you know. It is made by people that you can connect with and get to know. I know where my soap comes from and who made it. I know how she made it. I know who made the earrings I am wearing and I am helping her put money back into her community.
People need to return to buying handmade from whatever country they live in, no matter where they live. You help your neighbor, your community and your own economic future.
Any tips for selling handmade items? Promotion?
I run a display ad in Stringing magazine, and have for five or six years. I help to promote others and do not ask for anything in return. I get to know other artists and I really believe that Pinterest and Wanelo are wonderful ways to promote. I ran a Countdown to Christmas blog hop/post for 12 weeks that ended the second weekend in December. There were times when we had over 100 different items on a weekly post. These were all different sellers from all different venues. They all posted three of their own items and then they went out and pinned and shared everyone's items to their followers. It was a huge success with almost everyone seeing a huge increase in sales and traffic. You have to network, you have to work together and you have to be willing to take the time to promote. Hard work? Yes. Worth it? Yes.
What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists?
I learned how to continue to keep tweaking my items and keep trying to get better at my craft. I learned to look at their items and admire their skill. Then go and try and do a better job on my end. I had a heck of a time with wire wrapping until I got the proper equipment.
Polymer Clay Hearts - Valentine's Day
Is there anything else you’d like to share with other sellers (or buyers)?
Believe in what you do and always look to improve something in your shop/site/studio. I recently started the daunting task of reworking my photos of my stock items. That is going to take me all of 2013. Take classes, study other people you admire, read magazines, learn about SEO and other marketing techniques, but never stop creating something. Add a new line a year - a new product, a new idea, a new technique, anything that keeps you fresh and gives your customers something new to look at. Plus, Google loves new things.
Here's where you can find Julie: