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Selling your work? (Read 1,350 times)
 
Marc Hathaway
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Selling your work?
Aug 27th, 2009 at 9:34am
 
For those of you that sell your work what do you find is the most successful method for you?  Is it show sales, your website, a third party website, gallery or some other means?

Different methods seem to work for different people and different items/ styles.  It's always interesting to see what works for others.
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #1 - Aug 27th, 2009 at 10:09am
 
I don't have the time to do shows, and the few that I did where dismal. I know others have been very successful selling at shows.

I made a few sales from my website

My wife does a great job promoting my woodturning. Sometimes too good. She just landed me a commission to do a segmented ginger jar that looks like piano keys. They orginally wanted ebony and real ivory and I had to tell them selling ivory is banned (unless you can find some antique ivory). I have to convince them that holly would be best. Should be fun keeping the holly clean while sanding it.

I have to quote them a price today


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JimQuarles
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #2 - Aug 27th, 2009 at 10:59am
 
I have my best sales from word of mouth.  I also do a few "presentations" at a senior community during the fall.  Mostly I am selling just pens, but about $3K a year worth.  About 1/4 of my sales are orders for a specific style and and blank type.

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Vaughn McMillan
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #3 - Aug 27th, 2009 at 5:30pm
 
So far the bulk of my sales have been at art and craft shows, with word of mouth being the second most common. My experience with the shows has been all over the charts...some great shows and some where I've lost money. I think finding a niche like Jim has done and hitting it repeatedly is one of the best ways to go. It could be retirement homes, or the weekly Farmer's Market (like Reed Gray does), or maybe a gallery. You end up building familiarity, a reputation, and some repeat customers. I'm still trying to find my niche here in LA. I do a couple shows that have been pretty consistently good, but the rest have always been a roll of the dice.
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Marc Hathaway
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #4 - Aug 27th, 2009 at 6:13pm
 
Word of mouth seems to be the best advertising for all businesses.  I haven't tried any shows yet.  I was actually looking into it for next year for my photography work.  The art festivals that I have attended this year seem to have several photographers, though most are different from me, but they have very few if any woodturners. 

The last show I went to had one turner who had several pieces in the 2,000 to $4,000 range.  I don't he had anything less than $300.  Across the street there was a guy that sold only pens, bottle stoppers and the other small kit items.  He was busy ringing up sales but his items were mostly in the $30 range.  I wish I could have see the sales comparisons between the two after the show.
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Bob Wright
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #5 - Aug 27th, 2009 at 11:27pm
 
Well, the math says he has to sell 100 $30 pens to equal one $3000 bowl.
I have always aspired to join what I call "the four figure club" .
I probably will never make it, but that's my goal.
I know I would get much more satisfaction from one killer piece than a month's worth of just "stuff"
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Vaughn McMillan
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #6 - Aug 28th, 2009 at 3:14am
 
Bob Wright wrote on Aug 27th, 2009 at 11:27pm:
...I know I would get much more satisfaction from one killer piece than a month's worth of just "stuff"


I'm in the same boat. It would make better economic sense for me to turn only small things, as I think I'd sell a higher volume at shows. Thing is, I like turning the bigger stuff much more. There are a couple guys that sell at many of the same shows I do, and they specialize in pens, bottle stoppers, and other small items. One guy in particular is a full time turner, doing 20+ shows per year. He sells mostly pens, and they are all at least as good as any I've made, if not better. He told me he turns 1200 or so pieces a year. I'd go nuts turning that many pens.  Cheesy

Last year I did a show where there was a guy a few booths down selling hand-carved wooden bowl/basket things (from China). They were cedar, about 10" to 14" in diameter. He was selling them for $20, a bit more than 1/10 of my average price at that show. At the end of the weekend, we were comparing totals, and we both sold about the same dollar amounts. He just sold about 10 times more pieces than I did. Funny thing is, I don't think we stole business from each other. The people who were stopping by my booth to look were walking past his without much more than a glance. And the people who were checking out his merchandise generally didn't even come into my booth to look.
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Bill Neff
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #7 - Aug 28th, 2009 at 8:18am
 
I used to do the weekly farmer's market, but quit because I was doing better from word of mouth at my office & at the wife's office and special orders.  At the market I'd sell anywhere from $20 - 40 and it cost $15 for the booth rental.  It wasn't worth my time for the effort when I had other things I could have been doing on Saturday morning (sleep in, mow the lawn, etc).   I am gearing up for a big 2 day craft show late September.
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Marc Hathaway
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #8 - Aug 28th, 2009 at 2:23pm
 
Vaughn McMillan wrote on Aug 28th, 2009 at 3:14am:
He told me he turns 1200 or so pieces a year. I'd go nuts turning that many pens.Cheesy


That's way to many pens for me.

Vaughn McMillan wrote on Aug 28th, 2009 at 3:14am:
Funny thing is, I don't think we stole business from each other. 


I hear this a lot.  It seems the people that pay $20 for something are a different group than the ones that will pay $200 or more.  The trick seems to be figuring out which group will be at a particular show.  I've been told that the higher priced items will do better at the juried art shows. 
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JimQuarles
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #9 - Aug 28th, 2009 at 2:47pm
 
But even at the high priced shows, it never hurts to have some small items for those that like your work but can't afford your bigger pieces.  Also someone might buy a pen to go along with the HF in the same wood.  Likewise have a few bigger pieces at a low end show.  You may not sell the higher/lower priced items, but you might.

JimQuarles
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Marc Hathaway
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #10 - Aug 28th, 2009 at 3:51pm
 
JimQuarles wrote on Aug 28th, 2009 at 2:47pm:
But even at the high priced shows, it never hurts to have some small items for those that like your work but can't afford your bigger pieces.Also someone might buy a pen to go along with the HF in the same wood.Likewise have a few bigger pieces at a low end show.You may not sell the higher/lower priced items, but you might.


I agree.  You'll never sell a large or high end item if you don't show it.  I also like the idea of showing some lower priced items.  I think it increases your odds of at least breaking even.

I might get a chance to test this out since I was invited to do a two day show in October.  I don't know enough about it yet to commit but the $25 booth fee has me interested.
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Vaughn McMillan
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #11 - Aug 28th, 2009 at 5:26pm
 
JimQuarles wrote on Aug 28th, 2009 at 2:47pm:
But even at the high priced shows, it never hurts to have some small items for those that like your work but can't afford your bigger pieces.  Also someone might buy a pen to go along with the HF in the same wood.  Likewise have a few bigger pieces at a low end show.  You may not sell the higher/lower priced items, but you might.

JimQuarles


Very true. I always have some lower-priced items like pens, bottle stoppers, potpourri bowls, and small vases in my booth. There have been some shows where the small stuff saved my bacon.  Wink

Marc, for $25, I'd say jump on it. The experience alone will be worth more than the price of admission.
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« Last Edit: Aug 28th, 2009 at 5:28pm by Vaughn McMillan »  
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Marc Hathaway
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #12 - Aug 28th, 2009 at 6:25pm
 
Vaughn McMillan wrote on Aug 28th, 2009 at 5:26pm:
Marc, for $25, I'd say jump on it. The experience alone will be worth more than the price of admission. 


The price is right but I'm not setup to do shows yet.  If it's indoors and all you need are a table or two I might do it.  I'm not sure if they liked my photography or turning more but it would have to be a mix for me to have enough inventory by October.  It would at the very least be a good opportunity to hand out business cards and maybe get a sale or two down the road.
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Brad_Mortensen
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Re: Selling your work?
Reply #13 - Sep 3rd, 2009 at 7:14am
 
I am a big fan of the high end shows, the people coming to them exspect to pay the higher dollar, that is part of the reason for the jury in, to keep the junk out. But, even at that you need to cover the whole price range.
Also, don't hold the high dollar stuff back at a cheap show, someones husband or wife may have been "draged to the show and buy the show piece.
Currently about 70% of my sales come from sites like etsy, 25% from word of mouth custom orders and 5% from store whole sale accounts.
I have been out of shows for a couple years, but am starting back into them this fall.

Brad
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