Friday, 6 April 2012

A helpful evening in Leicester

Tuesday 27th March 2012

A beautiful sunny evening in Leicester, the perfect setting for the Creative Leicestershire event, 'Selling Art and Craftwork Online' at the LCB Depot.

The speakers were James Boardwell, co-founder and director of Folksy; Sharon Dickinson, a jeweller and metal worker who sells on Etsy and via her own online shop; and Amanda Charteris and Alison Griffiths the co-founders of Gift Wrapped & Gorgeous Ltd.

After a warm welcome from the Creative Leicestershire team, James introduced himself and began the evening's discussion. The Folksy director spoke about the difference between 'craft' and 'handmade' and what this means. James also emphasised the importance of having a story behind your work, showing or telling customers how the pieces for sale were designed and made. I felt this was particularly significant to my work as I've always found that at my Open Studios visitors are often just as interested in my tools and techniques as they are in my work. I will be using this Blog to document and share how I make several pieces from start to finish in the future.

With some examples including the work of fellow Dundonian, Nikki McWilliams, James spoke of the importance of finding your niche in the market, how to stand out and be noticed. Social media and the different methods of sharing information were also discussed. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Linkedin etc. were mentioned along with emails, newsletters and good old fashioned printed cards and leaflets. The group talked about creating different products with varying price points to attract a range of customers such as cards, mugs and badges alongside cushions and aprons.

A huge talking point of the evening was the importance of quality photographs. As the customer can't pick up the product and see it until they have bought it a set of quality images is critical. A lot of craftspeople are guilty of taking photos and knowing they are not the best quality but using the images anyway. I do it. I say to myself "I will take a better one soon but that'll do for now". Photography isn't as easy as pointing and clicking, it requires a bit more knowledge and understanding than that!

 James also discussed some of the features of Folksy such as the online magazine, Frankly and the email newsletter (which I was featured in a few weeks ago).

The next speaker was Sharon Dickinson of Archive Crafts. Sharon makes jewellery and larger objects which she sells at markets, on Etsy and on her own website. Sharon started by saying she wasn't sure why she had been asked to talk as she doesn't rate her website very highly and does not sell a great volume of work through it. It was encouraging to hear Sharon's story and her thoughts and concerns about her website and social media in general. Like myself, Sharon finds it all a bit foreign and hard to get her head around. Sharon passed around some beautiful mirrors and a particularly impressive picture she had made out of embossed pewter.  Check out her blog, it's really good, despite her misgivings.

Next up were Amanda Charteris and Alison Griffiths from Gift Wrapped & Gorgeous, the online gift boutique marketplace. Amanda and Alison work together with each designer to create an individual boutique with the option of promoting their business with the media coverage package.

Amanda and Alison gave excellent advice on photography that stands out and will be noticed by the press and by the consumer. They commented on lifestyle photography as well as white cut out photography for press use and showed several examples of images which were successful and ones that were not so successful. Amanda gave several quirky ideas to catch the attention of the press and also discussed whether it is a good idea to write your own copy or not.

A point that has really stuck with me came from Amanda being asked how best to make Twitter work for your business. Amanda explained #ff to us and it all started to become clear! In the week following the event I made a lot of progress on Twitter with a significant amount of new followers and numerous retweets and mentions. It was also suggested that we have a social media strategy to ensure we get what we want to do done in a timely and effective manner.

This event was very informative, I met some great people and got some great advice. I have already changed my practice and I am using social media more effectively. I do, however, have a long way to go!

1 comment:

Amanda Charteris said...

Hi Ruth, thank you for your lovely comments about Gift Wrapped & Gorgeous. It was a pleasure to meet you and we love your designs! Auntie Mxx