Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Describing Art, Your Views, Policies and Everything Else

I decided to write this post yesterday when I was looking for shops to write about. I found a few shops with great items, very unique, very well done, but the sellers left everything blank in the policies and where they were supposed to write about themselves. Because of that I couldn't write about them. One thing all these shops had in common is the lack of sales. So, here is my verdict, if there is a space where you can type something, do it. People want to know everything they can about the seller, the product and the shop. This goes especially for online sales. Most of the time when I buy on line I have never seen the person I am buying from, and I don't know how well the transaction will go if I never bought there before. How can I know what to expect from this purchase? The only way is to read about it ether from others who bought there before (and if the store just opened, it's not an option) or to read it in the shop's policies.
People who buy handmade items often would like to know who created them, what their philosophy in life is, what inspired them, if there is nothing there to find out about this seller, I'd rather go buy from someone else whom I can relate to because they also live sitting by the river in the middle of the woods, or because they love this book by Terry Goodkind that I read a couple of month back. Yes, I know I'm addicted to his books, what can I do, Richard Rahl is the best wizard ever after all. 

Here is a list of things I want to know about shops that sell arts and crafts: how can I pay? Checks, money-orders, credit cards, paypal? How will it be delivered and how long will it take to get to me? It the item already made, or will it be made after I order it? Can I return or exchange it? What moves the artist, what inspires him/her? Why did he/she start this shop? A cool story about their arts and crafts would be greatly appreciated as well. What is the item made of, is there a deeper meaning in it, a story? The more I know, the more likely I am to buy. Honestly I am more likely to buy from the shop that says they do not accept returns then from the one that says nothing in regards to returns at all. I'd rather know that it will take a month to get my item here so that I can order it ahead of time then not know when I'll get it, even if it will end up taking only 2-3 days in the second shop.

Item explanations and information about artists work in galleries as well. This is exactly why every artist (I call everyone who creates something, be it fine arts or sweaters an artist) should have an artist statement. Go a step further and type up a short description of an item if there is any hidden meaning or a story behind it. My husband and I were displaying our art in this one show twice, last year and this year. We had much more success this year because we typed up descriptions for almost every painting. I hear a few people say things like "Look this guy doesn't just paint, he has a whole story written, this is so cool" and "This is so worth it, look at the quality, the shadows, and there is a whole story about it." Such a small addition to the shop can help increase your sales significantly. If people wanted to buy an item without knowing anything about it's creator or the meaning behind it, the story of it's creation they would've gone shopping in Walmart. People who buy handmade are those who want to know the whole story, the more of it the better. They want to be able to associate with it, to be able to look at a painting and feel some connection to it, wear a jewelry and be able to tel friends who made it and what it's made of.

Think about your shopping experience, what would make a difference for you when you shop on line for some hand-made goodness? Come up with as many pieces of information as you can and put it in your profile, shop policies and item descriptions. If you have a problem figuring out what to write, look through other shops? What did you like there? What caught your eye?

When writing policies, don't assume everyone is out to get you. Yes, there are some people out there who might want to scam you, but most are honest. When you have a phrase that seems like you don't trust your customers, you will lose them. People like sellers who are nice and helpful, who will go an extra mile to make customers happy, not make customers go an extra mile to make a clean and profitable transaction. Don't show your aggravation at some questions, or requests, be polite. Here is an example: I had people come to me and ask if I can paint beach, bottles, cats and so on. This is what they ask after they look at my artwork, do any of my pieces look like I paint cats? or bottles? or beach? I probably could paint it all, but it's not my style, and it would take me too long to readjust myself to drawing something out of the ordinary like that. I would like to do custom orders, and wanted to include it in my profile, but I don't care much for drawing and painting things I don't normally do. The way I worded it was "if you like what I have in this shop and want something similar, but more personal, I can probably do it. If you would like something that doesn't really look like anything I have here, convo me and I at the very least can tell you who would be a good artist for the job." By writing it this way I opened myself up to communication, making myself more approachable and since I do know many good artists and we are all helping each other whenever we can it would not be a waste of time ether way. Since my husband is an artist too, I can refer some of those possible orders to his shop as well.

And now I am going to go back to finishing that small painting I started today and perhaps I'll be able to hit the bad before the sunrise for a change.

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