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Biz Talk - Self Promotion


#1

Dear Jewelry Friends,

In the “Is jewelry making an art?” thread, Karen Bahr mentioned
having trouble promoting her work which led me to ask on behalf of
all of us who share this problem, what are some tips for self
promotion? As a kid, I was taught not to brag or boast which is a
real killer to any marketing effort! My logical side says, “get over
it, grow up, get out there and just do it” But then when going out
there and trying to speak, it all comes out as mumbling and bumbling,
ackkkkk. The confident and bold ones will probably just roll their
eyes, are there any of you out there who have actually overcome this
problem personally who can share insights?

Thanks!
Marta


#2

I too am not adept at self-promotion or “selling myself” as I call
it. Especially as a beginner being self taught, I always doubt my
end result. To approach a shop keeper is tantamount to… well let’s
just say “I need an agent” as a friend told me. I think it comes
down to a fragile ego (been too many times when I was the last picked
for sides in a game) and “no” is a word that cuts to the bone with
me. I too would like to hear what others have done to overcome or
compensate for this reticence. Thanks to all.


#3
The confident and bold ones will probably just roll their eyes, are
there any of you out there who have actually overcome this problem
personally who can share insights? 

Oddly, there was a discussion on exactly this pretty recently, but I
don’t remember what the thread was called. Maybe “closing that
sale”…?

Anyway, what has worked for me (and I think the vast majority of
people have something of the sort to overcome) is to simply share
stories about the work. This is not bragging. “This ring is an uncut
aquamarine crystal set in cast 18 karat gold. I bought the crystal
to cut, but fell in love with the natural shape and couldn’t bring
myself to change it! I had it on my bench for a couple of years
before I found a way to build a setting with wax right on the
stone…” etc. If the story is interesting, it really draws the
person into the work. The customer then has not only a beautiful
object, but a story to tell, and an investment in you as (dare I say
it?) an artist.

By the way, if you liked that story… the ring is sold, but an
article about the workshop where I created the setting (at
Metalwerx, with Michael David Sturlin) should-- I think-- be in the
next issue of Art Jewelry Magazine, along with pictures of the ring.
(Right, Nanz?)

See, now-- that was self-promotion–see how that can work?

Noel


#4

Hi Marta

I have thought about this a lot, as I am neither bold nor confident.
I have tried to work on it, but nothing has really helped me in this
area…I’m just shy. I happen to like this about myself and don’t
really want to change so…I am applying for 6 shows this year and
there is a good chance that I will get into 3 or 4 of them. I am
planning to hire someone to take with me to each show to be my
speaker. I will basically work on a little project and the person
with me will be the main talker…she’ll say "let me know if I can
show you anything, how will you be paying?, your total comes to
156.00…things that, when I try to say them, make me nauseous. This
person will probably be my sister as, my operation is small and
money’s tight

I was also thinking about marketing myself to some galleries in the
near future. Someone told me a few years ago that the best thing to
do was to have a real professional postcard made of a piece and send
it to a bunch of galleries. After that, follow up with a phone call
to each to ask if they would like to make an appointment to see your
work. After that, go to them and sit while they look over things and
decide if they want to pick your work up. Sounds scary to me and
since my gift from Santa was a new laptop, I went out and got a copy
of Photoshop. My plan is more like this…Take a digital portfolio
of some of my best work over the next few months (as I get ready for
my first show) and store it on my laptop. When I am ready to apply to
galleries, I can load those pictures into Photoshop and create a
virtual slide show. I can put the slide show together with a resume
and wholesale price list. I would send an email greet with one image
attached. If the potential gallery liked the first one and it was ok
to send more, then I would send my whole presentation package to
them. The best thing is that I don’t have to pay anyone else to do
this for me. With a good camera and Photoshop, anyone can market
their work to anyone else in the World as long as they have a decent
computer.

I would love to hear more input on this topic as it is one of my
weakest areas.

Thanks
Kim
www.kimstarbarddesigns.com


#5

Self promotion is a challenge for many people, especially artists,
and those of us who are not predisposed to engage with others easily,
and who really just want to work quietly at what ever it is that we
do.

Even though it isn’t exactly comfortable, learning how to be at ease
in speaking about your work or showing it, and being involved beyond
the creative portion spent in the studio, these are things which can
be learned and practiced. As with any new skill it becomes easier and
more comfortable as one tries and learns and improves and builds
confidence.

The rational and functional side of this is that self promotion is a
necessary component in the equation of success. If you aren’t able to
attract interest to your product or service how will it be found and
purchased? If you can’t be enthusiastic about it who will? It has to
start with yourself, maybe that is why it is called self promotion.
It is also self motivation.

There are several facets which are interrelated; to believe in what
you do and recognize that it is of value; the development of
confidence in your skill and abilities; the recognition of your
achievements, large and small. Starting here will enable you to work
towards the ability to be articulate about what you do and why you do
it. Encouragement from friends and colleagues is always helpful too.

Often what is uncomfortable is also developmental. Speaking in front
of people, whether a handful or a room full, can be challenging. It
takes work but it is well worth the investment in time and discomfort
to develop this ability. I still find it to be one of the most
challenging aspects of my work and I still have to compel myself to
do it even when I would prefer to retreat to the studio and work
quietly at my bench instead.

This is a very good topic.

Michael David Sturlin
www.goldcrochet.com
www.michaeldavidsturlin.com


#6

Neil’s advice is good - just talk about your work, and Kimberly’s is
effective but probably more fix than solution - hire a rep. What I’m
going to say comes under the heading of “Easier Said Than Done”, but
it works. My father was an engineer/physicist with the missile
program, starting with the V-2’s, into the Mercury program, and on
up to Apollo. So, I call myself a “civilian army brat” - I moved at
least every two years of my life until I came to San Francisco. One
time, before we moved, and I was all shy (early teens), I said to
myself, “This time I’m going to be outgoing.”, and I did it. I just
reached out my hand and said, Hi, I’m John, how ya doin’? It’s not a
new concept, it’s called re-inventing yourself, but there’s a thing
that’s fairly necessary to have and understand, is that it should
be, but doesn’t have to be, a new environment. The thing to
understand is that nobody knows who you are but you outside of your
usual world. So if Jane Doe who is a mousy librarian takes off for
Florida and puts on a sexy wig and exotic clothes in the airport,
people she meets will just say, “Nice to meet you, Jane.” Not, Oh,
look at her, she’s changed, snicker, snicker. Just, "That’s Jane."
Again, it’s not a new concept, many people change cities for that
very reason - personal evolution, but it works and I just put it out
there as a way. It takes a little courage - nobody’s saying to do
100% at once - and the desire to change, and a direction to change
into, but it works. Just be what you envision, and that’s what you
are. And if you fall on your face once or twice, it’s also a new
environment - you’ll likely never see them again… And speaking of
clothes - The Clothes Make the Man is not an idle concept. Assertive
clothing makes for an assertive person.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#7

Hi

"no" is a word that cuts to the bone with me. I too would like to
hear what others have done to overcome or compensate for this
reticence. 

This is partly in reply to the person who has creative blocks as
well.

At the risk of sounding like a total bore, I run to overcome my
nervousness and (at times) feelings of inadequacy or powerlessness.
I never have felt the strength (from within and without) as I have
found when I am running. This is not to say that everyone must be a
runner or even some kind of athlete, but it very much helps
confidence if you can find something that you can do that makes you
feel powerful. This is the key. When you want to feel more control in
any situation, you find something that makes you feel strong when you
do it and then you do it as much as you can. Also, when I am not
running and I’m in a tough spot, I can think about the other day, for
example, when I had a really good workout. I have heard this called
"resourcing"…it’s when you can recall something pleasant in tough
times so you don’t feel so bad.

Not too long ago, I had real problems talking to people. To make a
sale would actually make me sick. It’s a tough thing to do…to get
out there and talk about your work. There’s a lot at risk…what if
they say no? what if they laugh at me? what if they say the dreaded
’thank you’ and just walk away?..yuck, but you gotta do it,
otherwise no one will.

Good Luck
Kim
www.kimstarbarddesigns.com


#8

The old adage is that a good salesman sells himself.

I’m sorry if I step on toes with this but…some artist’s
statements I read really sound odd. It’ clear the writer is the
artist speaking about his/herself in the third person. Maybe they
feel this frees them from the perception t hat they brag. If you’ve
got something good, go ahead and brag…but do it in the first
person, you’ll get more respect. If you distance yourself from
yourself, people will pick up on it. and they won’t ‘buy’ you. Be
direct.

“John Q. Artist gets his inspiration from sunsets”

“When I see a blood red sunset, seeping into to the dusk between
earth and sky, I want to capture that moment in precious materials so
you can hold it, own it, command it.”

which version makes you want to read on?


#9
I too am not adept at self-promotion or "selling myself" as I call
it. Especially as a beginner being self taught, I always doubt my
end result. To approach a shop keeper is tantamount to... well
let's just say "I need an agent" as a friend told me. I think it
comes down to a fragile ego (been too many times when I was the
last picked for sides in a game) and "no" is a word that cuts to
the bone with me. I too would like to hear what others have done to
overcome or compensate for this reticence. 

I know exactly what you mean, I used to be very shy and was raised
to be seen and not heard so self promotion was something I thought I
couldn’t do. I could talk about, and sell, someone else’s work but
the thought of talking to complete strangers about my own work was
unthinkable. Selling and promoting ourselves is something that can be
learned. A friend told me about www.artbizcoach.com and it turned my
life around. You can sign up to receive the newsletters and cruise
around the website for free. Read lots of the archived topics and
comments. Look for the one about mingling, that’s a hoot. There’s a
wealth of knowledge there for creative people precisely like us who
need to learn skillful marketing and “shameless” self promotion but
don’t know how. Check out the links too. It doesn’t cost you
anything unless you want to sign up for some of the teleseminars
which usually start at $15. Cheap. Alyson Stanfield runs the site and
she really knows her stuff and freely shares info and practical
advice. She’ll give you the tools you need to succeed and run your
business like a real business. I’m learning volumes and building up
my confidence so much that now I feel that I’m a confident business
woman instead of a timid metalfreak. I never thought I’d say that
about myself.

It’s time to break out of that old confining shell and grow into the
person you want to be. Start the new year with a new you. You can do
it! Go, Michael, Go!! Was that too much? Sorry, I was just being your
cheerleader.

We all need one occasionally. Here’s to your success!

Terri Garcia


#10

This is a funny topic for me. I am not a shy person AT ALL. I could
even be called “outgoing.” I love to be in front of people and have
performed on stage, worked promotions for other people’s stuff
(gillete razors, Johnson and Johnson etc.), and never shyed away
from those nasty class presentations where you had to get up and
speak. I LOVE to talk and meet new people, HOWEVER, and this is a BIG
however, for some strange reason this does not carry over to my
jewelry. If I do a show, I’m fine. I talk to people, smile, no
problem. Unfortunately it ends there. I CANNOT bring myself to
approach stores. I did the leg work, you know where you go in and
look around, and make sure your stuff fits in with the theme and
price points. For Pete’s sake, I even took classes, real honest to
goodness business classes on sales and promotion. Have I done
anything with it? Nope. I’m scared. I keep telling myself to just do
it, get it over with, run head-long into my stupid fear and knock it
out…but I haven’t done it. It has been easy to avoid. I went back
to school three years ago to finish a BS in psychology. It’s kept me
so busy, and been the perfect excuse. I told myself for the longest
time,“Jewelry is just a hobby now.” This has been my protection. I
got really sick three years ago trying to make a go of my small
jewelry line and since then I told myself this business did not fit
me well emotionally. But I love it, and I’ve never given it up. Every
time I read about some up in coming designer in Lucky magazine or W I
get so green with envy I have to stop reading. I literally don’t
allow myself to read those articles anymore because they get me all
upset. And now I’m graduating in May. I’ll have my stupid degree and
lots of time to work on my jewelry, but what then? Can I face this
fear? I don’t know. I don’t work in fine jewelry. I work in “fine
costume” jewelry, as I call it. I think maybe this is the reason I’m
afraid to get out there and sell. I also have a weird sense of style.
It’s really not for everyone, and certainly not the kind of stuff
that appeals to a wide market. Where do I fit in? I have no idea.
Maybe someone out there in Orchidland can figure it out. I’m almost
to afraid to try.

Augest Derenthal
crybabydesigns.com


#11

Marta,

Wonderful question!

I broke through by coming to the understanding that I had information
that could help others make more informed choices. It’s not about
bragging or boasting it’s about sharing and being of service to
others.

I am going to paraphrase something Charles Lewton-Brain said to me
(and he can jump in here and correct me if I am wrong);

‘Until a work of art is presented to the public for view, it is not
functioning as art, and even though most metalsmiths create their
work to be worn or held in some way, the majority of the public
’maybe 97%’ will only experience the work through a visual image.’

So, marketing efforts like having professional quality photography
done of your work and then printing postcards or then submitting
those images to books and magazines, that isn’t being boastful, it is
contributing to our collective culture. It is you doing your part to
make the world a more beautiful and creative place.

If public speaking isn’t your strong point, try smaller one-on-one
communications or teach a workshop to hone your speaking skills. Hope
this helps.

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228


#12
To approach a shop keeper is tantamount to... well let's just say
"I need an agent" as a friend told me. 

I responded to this thread yesterday-- but that was about talking to
people at art fairs. That is, when the person comes to me. Going to
a gallery or shop is another thing altogether, and I find that
enormously difficult. “Fragile ego” just about covers it. You are
really putting yourself out there when you make a sales call,
especially cold.

I can’t say that I’ve yet taken my own advice much, but I think the
solution is to contact the “shop keeper” ahead of time by mail,
sending a CD of images, or even better, a CD and a few 8x10’s, then
follow up with a phone call asking if you may stop by to show them
actual pieces. Then it isn’t a cold call, and the “no”, if it comes,
is likely on the phone or by email— easier to take.

I’m sure open to other solutions, though.

Noel


#13

Greetings to All:

I’ve been lurking for a couple of weeks since I stumbled on this
forum during an on-line search for soldering help… huge thanks
to Charles Lewton-Brain. I’m enjoying reading the thoughts of
everyone and the you folks are so generous in sharing is
wonderful and appreciated. I recognize names from the magazines and
jewelry instruction books I have bought and am thrilled to be able to
read what you write each day.

The confident and bold ones will probably just roll their eyes, are
there any of you out there who have actually overcome this problem
personally who can share insights? 

This from Marta boosted my courage to actually reply to a thread!!!
The replies on this topic will be especially valuable to me also,
since my goal this year is to promote myself, and it is going to be
very difficult for me to approach people.

Last year in the May 2006 issue of Art Jewelry magazine, there was a
timely article on approaching Galleries that saved me from complete
self destruction. I realized that I was NOT… Soooo NOT ready!!!

The Art Jewelry magazine is my Bible. It has everything I need to
help me bring the things I imagine to life, as well as very
informative things in the Market Savvy column, and interesting
interviews. If you don’t already subscribe to this magazine, Marta,
give it a try. It’s great.

In a few years I hope to retire and be able to pursue my passion of
creating adornment. Is it jewelry? Probably not by the standards of
the real jewelers who post here. Is it art? Possibly… judging from
the various postings… but very amateurish. Am I having fun? You
bet I am and I am not going to give that up. This year I hope to be
able to make enough to at least buy my supplies and who knows what
will happen if/when I get up enough nerve to promote myself.

Take care everyone and thank you for this Orchid place.
Sheila


#14

Hi Marta and the rest of this great neighbourhood

When I was first learning to make jewellery and got many compliments
from family and friends who suggested craft sales I was rather shy
about talking to groups. I was reasonably okay with one person as
long as they were regular folk and not the president of some big
company that made lots of money. Somehow I had programmed myself to
believe that they were better than me rather than just a little more
successful. I had also been raised that talking about oneself was
bragging. Part of it stemmed from trying to please my father and
thinking that he was disappointed in me until my mother explained
that my father was proud of me but did not know how to give positive
feedback only criticism.

When I was 21 - 22 years old I was asked to give presentations on
rocks & minerals to grade 4 students but was terrified of talking in
front of a group of people. A friend mentioned to me about the ‘Dale
Carnegie’ speaking program. I scraped the money together as I was
desperate to build confidence in myself. In that course I learned how
to look at criticism as a way to improve myself and not to take it
too personally. I also got positive feedback for speaking in public
as the whole course is built around giving only positive feedback. I
also met people in the class from all walks of life, even CEO’s of
big companies and found out that they were real people and some of
them had the same fears as I did. Wow, what an eye opener.

Now I can stand in front of any group of people and talk about
things that I know about. That is one of the tricks I learned, don’t
try to debate/talk about things you do not understand. I also
realized that we are all people and no one is better than the other
because of a position or job whether or not they clean toilets or
have earned a billion dollars.

As to portfolios, I later took some courses in Marketing and found
that to a point, your work speaks for itself. Remembering back to my
first markets I remember the compliments that I received, but never
got too big a head as someone would inevitably criticize my work as
well. Remember the old adage “you can not please everyone” is quite
true. And that applies to every one of us even the most talented. I
was also told that when I write up my CV, Artist Statement or Bios
that I should write them in the third person as if I was writing it
for someone else with only knowing the facts. This helps one to
separate oneself from over/under stating what is necessary to know.
Another thing for shyer people to remember is that the public wants
to know your knowledge and expertise and not your life stories. Our
art already reveals something about ourselves that we wish to share
with the world so we do not have to give them a personal history. By
concentrating on the facts of your art, e.g. materials, technique,
style, inspirations, etc., we do not have to get into too a personal
type of thing. They will already have a feeling about you and your
work when they meet you.

I hope this explains a little of my journey to gaining confidence in
myself and will help some of you find the confidence to believe in
yourself. Just don’t make the mistake of comparing yourself to
someone else as no matter how talented you are, there is someone out
there who is better.

Happy New Year with many fruitful rewards!
Karen Bahr - Karen’s Artworx
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


#15

John,

And speaking of clothes - The Clothes Make the Man is not an idle
concept. Assertive clothing makes for an assertive person. 

This means you should go and visit my favorite clothing shop since
it’s in SF. Al’s Attire is in North Beach. He custom makes some great
stuff.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#16

Noel

actual pieces. Then it isn't a cold call, and the "no", if it
comes, is likely on the phone or by email--- easier to take. 

Of course you reailze that a “no” is much easier to deliver by phone
than in person.

The rest of your plan sounds good though, it’s just that the
follow-up visit to the shop should be a “mandatory” result on such
an ambitious strategy - and not be left to a possible “yes” by phone.

michaela


#17

I’m not any kind of promotion expert, but I think this comes down
mostly to self-confidence and communication skills, which are life
skills. We saw “Akeelah and the Bee” last night, which is really
great, BTW, but there’s a quote on the wall in it that made me think
of this thread. It’s more profound than I can recite, but basically
it says that we don’t fear failure, we fear success. My nephew had a
scary job interview (he’s a scientist, and this was really big), and
in my pep talk to him I said “Don’t be afraid to be a star.”

Somebody stands up and says, “I’ll be president of the USA.” or I’ll
get onstage and sing to 50,000 people. What I’m saying is a little
vague, maybe, but it’s really what one said about taking the Carnegie
course - it’s really all about self-confidence, realizing that
everyone else is just people, too, and being able to stand up and
reach out. The first time I walked into a jewelry store with my work
I was young and scared to death. But I reached up and knocked on that
door. And then it got easier and easier. It’s the first step that
gets you.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#18
fear? I don't know. I don't work in fine jewelry. I work in "fine
costume" jewelry, as I call it. I think maybe this is the reason
I'm afraid to get out there and sell. I also have a weird sense of
style. It's really not for everyone, and certainly not the kind of
stuff that appeals to a wide market. Where do I fit in? I have no
idea. Maybe someone out there in Orchidland can figure it out. I'm
almost to afraid to try. 

Perhaps you are “Bridge” jewelry? You could enter that contest for
bridge jewelry.

I checked out your website, liked your stuff. I would have looked at
more, but your site requires many many clicks to get to a picture.

I think there’s a book called, “Don’t Make Me Work,” on web design,
which sums it up. It’s too hard and takes too long to get to the
pictures. Thumbnails and more jewelry on one page would be great,
then click to enlarge if you want.

I don’t think your stuff is that quirky.

What’s your question, really?

Can’t tell.

Oh, and I am really disturbed by that crying baby picture on your
website, I had to keep scrolling so I wouldn’t have to see it.

Sorry for answering questions you didn’t ask.

Elaine

Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#19
There's a lot at risk....what if they say no? what if they laugh
at me? what if they say the dreaded 'thank you' and just walk away?

Well, what if they do?

I don’t mean to sound insensitive-- I have difficulty myself. And
for me, the answer is, I may feel bad, like a kid caught in the
cookie jar. But that’s a leftover feeling from childhood, when
whether we were acceptable to others (parents, especially) really
was a matter of life and death. So you could say the feeling is
"atavistic"-- it no longer serves a useful purpose, if it ever did.
Sometimes it helps to stand back and identify behavior as “Oh,
that’s my little kid. I understand her, but I can’t let her run the
show.”

It does absolutely get easier with practice. I still have trouble
with galleries and cold phone calls, but I can do it, and art fairs
(which used to make me so anxious I couldn’t have a conversation on
the way there in the car) are a piece of cake. At least getting
older isn’t all bad!

Noel


#20

Self Promotion becomes very easy when you have no choice. If your
only form of income is from your jewelry work and you need to eat,
you learn to find ways to promote your talent. Now for my shameless
self promotion and a little thank you to Suzanne Wade for writing a
very well thought out article titled “Keeping In The Black With
Gold” and to Merle White of Lapidary Journal for including it in the
January, 2007 issue of Lapidary Journal. I have been creating
Jewelry for 34 years and although I have been quoted many times on a
local level in those years, I have never had a quote placed in a
National Publication never mind having one of my pieces used in a
photo. Thank You. I do appreciate it.

Greg DeMark
www.demarkjewelry.com