THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-PROMOTION
If you are a jewelry designer who has ambitions to have your work publicized in books or magazines, or to be accepted into a juried show or exhibit, or to sell your things in a store or gallery, you need to be able to promote your work. Often, I have found, creative-types can be shy when it comes to self-promotion and marketing.
What insights, from your own experiences, can you offer your fellow jewelry designers about self-promotion?
What kinds of things help you to overcome any fears about marketing your work?
How do you handle criticism and other rejection like getting the dreaded “No”?
From an article I wrote….
Jewelry designers often find a self-satisfaction in working intensely on a project, often in isolation or solitude. But when it comes to tooting their own horns – this is not as easy or satisfying for them. There is a discomfort here. You might want to show your pieces to others, perhaps submitting them for review or a juried competition, or perhaps wanting a store or gallery to accept your pieces for sale.
Then humility kicks in. Or perhaps a lack of confidence in yourself. Or a fear of criticism. Or a rejection. Hearing: No, we don’t want your pieces.
We don’t want to appear desperate for a sale, or too eager for acceptance.
But, if you don’t believe in yourself and your products, no one will. Your fantasy of striking out on your own will never materialize, if you don’t find it within yourself to do some self-promotion.
And the first step is understanding and recognizing that to promote yourself means promoting your value.
Your jewelry has VALUE to them, why….? If something has value to someone, then they typically want to know about it. Your jewelry has value to them because it solves a problem for them. It might make them happier, more beautiful, more enriched, more satisfied, more powerful, more socially accepted, more understanding of construction or technique or art and aesthetics. It might be better than other jewelry they see or wear or think about buying.
For a store or gallery, your jewelry might be more saleable, more attractive as displayed, better constructed, more artistic, more stylish or fashionable, a better fit with their customer base, with good price points.
You promote the value of your jewelry to your audience. You do not have to brag. You do not have to be shameless. You do not have to do or say anything embarrassing. Just speak the truth about value. Share examples of your work and what you have done, not your ego.
And that brings up the second point – speaking. People who are more comfortable speaking about themselves and their products tend to be more successful in their careers.
Products don’t sell themselves. People need to be nudged.
This “speaking-about-themselves and their products” is a basic communication process. This communication process is a process of sharing information. You want to educate the right people, in the right way at the right time. You want to speak about who you are, and what you make. The values your jewelry has to offer them. And how you would like to develop your relationship – whether designer/client or designer/retailer or designer/jury – so that you may both benefit.
Fundamentally self-promotion is about communication. Communicators frame the narrative. Communicators start the conversation. They begin on favorable terms. They would not say: Would you like to see my jewelry? Instead, they would say: I have jewelry you are going to love.
And this brings up the third point – be relevant.
Know your audience, what their needs are, what their problems are that need solving. You may have created the original piece to satisfying some personal yearning and desire. But if you want someone to buy the piece, wear the piece or sell the piece, you need to anticipate why. Why would they want to buy, wear, review or sell your piece of jewelry?
Do not assume they will figure all this out on their own. You will need to help them along in this process. You will need to communicate about the value your jewelry will have for them. You will need to do some self-promotion.
The last point – inspire people to spread your message.
Your best marketing and promotion will be what is called “word-of-mouth”. So you want to create supporters and fans and collaborators and colleagues. And you want them to be inspired enough about you, your creativity and your jewelry, so that they tell others about you. You inspire your current network of family and friends. You might make a presentation or teach a class. You might share images of your work on social media like FaceBook or Instagram or Twitter or Pinterest. You want to regularly connect with people, so that you and your work are frequently in their thoughts.
There are many self-promotion strategies that you can do. You don’t need to do everything at once. You might try one or two ideas first, and do those, then pick a third, and so on.
Some Self-Promotion Strategies That Have Worked Well For Others
- Wear your jewelry all the time, and don’t be shy about saying you made it!
- Have attractive business cards made, perhaps a brochure
- Have an active presence on social media, particularly FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+; participate in discussions; get people to click on those LIKE buttons (or similar thumbs-up registers) next to your images and your discussions
- Have a website, either as a “billboard”, or as a full-fledged e-commerce site
- Get your website listed in as many online directories and search engines as you can
- Generate a emailing list and use it regularly, such as sending out a newsletter; get into the habit of asking people if you can add them to your mailing list
- Collect testimonials about your work, and post them publicly
- Always speak and act passionately when discussing or showing your work
- Organize your own discussion groups on FaceBook and Google+, or begin a blog (WORDPRESS is a good place to start a blog)
- Post video tutorials or videos showing you making things on YouTube
- Submit images of your pieces to bead, craft and jewelry magazines
- Teach courses, either locally, or as a connection with one of the many websites promoting teachers online, such as Betterfly.com or CraftArtEdu.com
- List yourself with websites that list custom jewelry makers for hire, such as Custommade.com
- If your jewelry has done well for a store, convince them to carry more of it and let it take up more display space
- Doing the occasional craft show, bazaar or flea market is also a good form of advertising and getting your message out to a large number of people you probably would never have met otherwise
- Create a good, rememberable image to use as your avatar, on such websites as FaceBook
- Follow up with customers and contacts, such as after a purchase, or after someone accepting to include you piece in a magazine, or sell their pieces in a shop. Thank them. Reinforce your personal brand with a short comment about the value of your pieces for them.
- Have a clear personal style that you can point to in your jewelry, and that you can speak about.
- Have a clear idea of what is called your “competitive advantage”. What are those 5-10 things about you and your work that sets you apart from, and perhaps makes you better than, the competition.
- Search for companies or people that may want to see or buy your work. Use directories on Yahoo and Google. Use LinkedIn.com. Search Twitter looking for people who are saying they need custom jewelry work done.
- Network with other jewelry designers, both in your local area, as well as online. Ask for feedback on the self-promotional activities you are doing. Have any of these worked well for them? Are they doing other things you haven’t thought of?
- Get out of your studio and meet people in the flesh.
- Attend trade shows, networking events and charity events, or other types of places where your clients might also attend.
- Offer something – one time only — for free. A free class, a free repair, a free pair of earrings.
- Publish or self-publish a book or book-on-CD, and promote that