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Monday, 20 August 2012

Are you a Shy Suzie?

When it comes down to it all craft artists have to show their products to people to be able to sell them.  I have been talking to quite a few crafters recently and when i told them that i find it difficult to promote my own products, yet would happily shout from the rooftops about other peoples makes, I was relieved to find i'm not alone in this.  Some people of course just happily show and talk about their products at the drop of a hat - me? even when people ask to see mine i still get embarrassed and shy about showing them.  I'm a Shy Suzie for sure!

Today's blog is going to look at the Shy Suzie method of promotion (or non-promotion) and hopefully provide a few simple tips for getting your products seen by others.

Shy Suzie

I could talk about being a Shy Suzie all day! I have always been shy about myself, my products and my abilities in general and find social interaction difficult with people i don't know, and sometimes with people i do know as well! Ironically however i put myself into situations pretty frequently where i have to overcome these feelings of panic and discomfort.  I will talk more about how i do that later, for now i want to look at the impact of being a Shy Suzie on having a craft business:

The impact can be so huge it stops you even attempting to make anything to start with.  If you do not even attempt to make anything however you are extremely unlikely to even contemplate having a craft business, making this both the most crippling and least problematic (from a craft business perspective) all at the same time.  I believe it is only once you get to the point that you do have some confidence in your own products that having a business at all comes into the equation, or maybe it is sheer need to either a) bring in some money to finance your crafting or b) do something with all the items you have made.

Regardless of how or why you have got to the point where you want to sell your products one thing is clear - if you do not tell anyone about your work or show anyone what you have done you will never ever sell anything!! Most of us know that and so we TRY to get our products out there somehow.  The problems a Shy Suzie can have though are much more complex than just getting products seen.  Here are a few examples:

A Shy Suzie may have some or all of the following difficulties:

  • Finding out about craft fairs to sell at - if you do not tell others about your crafts you will not be in the loop for information.
  • When you go to a fair you maybe don't find many people stopping at your table - if you 'hide' behind your crafts, do not talk to people, focus on whatever is on your mobile phone screen or only talk to other stall holders you might as well have a shop closed sign hanging in front of your table.
  • Pricing problems - This is a huge area for craft artists and one most people stumble with at some point.  For now i will just say if you do not value your own products then others will not value them either.  Many people make the mistake of under-pricing because they are shy about their own work - this can lead to a whole host of problems which i will talk about in another post as this is such an important area.
  • Workload issues - you can find the feast or famine cycle coming into play more often because of random spurts of promotion or being scared to turn down work in case you never get any more.
  • Reputation - for many reasons a Shy Suzie can get a poor reputation - not valuing own work, not being able to manage the workload and finding difficulty with finishing and delivering products are the main ones.
  • Investment - Both money and time investments can be affected when you don't really believe in your own products, again setting up a cycle of difficulty.
  • Uniqueness - So many people who do not believe in their own products have difficulty in creativity and end up copying other peoples work.  It is one thing to seek inspiration and another thing entirely to replicate.

These are just some of the problems that can all stem from being shy about your work - some huge hurdles there aren't there? Ultimately the Shy Suzie will struggle so much with the business of crafting that they will get caught in a failure cycle - by this i mean they create an environment in which it is difficult to sell or maintain a business and so the belief that they are not good at what they do becomes more and more reinforced. 

There are however some very simple things that you can do if you are shy about promoting your work:

  • THE simplest and most effective method of over coming this problem is not to do it.  If you truly cannot promote your own work then the best way around this is to get someone else to do it for you.  This could be a friend, a family member or indeed an agent of some kind.  It does not need to be complicated or involve marketing skills BUT it does need to be someone who genuinely believes in your work.  Word of mouth is always the most effective promotion tool there is.  

  • Compare your work with similar products to gauge the price you are charging.  DO NOT get involved in the pricing war myth which suggests if you offer cheaper products you will sell more. 

  • Invest some time and effort into gaining honest feedback if you can - conduct market research activities even on a small scale with friends who will be honest and DO NOT base your assumptions on sales figures as these can be affected by many different things.

  • Take a course or workshop - this can be in business skills if you wish but often a workshop related to the products you make will increase your confidence and skills in making them, making promotion a lot easier than trying to learn complicated marketing strategies.

There are many more things you can do of course but these options provide a useful starting point.  Remember if you are a Shy Suzie this doesn't need to lead you down the vicious cycle of difficulty - it is about looking at methods of promotion that you can work with.  

I hope you have found this post helpful - feel free to leave me a comment :)    


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