There is an ongoing debate about whether Lumberjocks should be the focus of a marketing plan by professional woodworkers. There are quite a few professionals on this site now, all of us trying to make a living.
I define “professional” as someone that makes all, or most of their income from their woodworking and craft work. Selling something once in a while from your hobby work really has nothing in common with “having” to sell something every day to buy food and shelter. So, it’s not an indicator of quality, per se, but whether you have to peddle the stuff to survive, or whether it just mostly for enjoyment. Sometimes, it’s the same, as it is most of the time for me.
So, if you are offended by a lumberjock using this forum for profit, then I’d suggest you read another blog before you get upset and send me another email, of which I won’t pay much attention to, just trying to be honest.
I’ve got Martin’s blessing, and that’s enough for me.
Ok, now that the disclaimers are over:
I’ve been using Lumberjocks to great success this past year (2008) to sell my work on the internet. I’ve had a website for many years, back when it was still cool and unique to have one. Never did sell much on it, maybe a handful of orders over 5-6 years, seriously less than five times.
Then, along comes ”Martin” with a new website called lumberjocks.
I was smitten from the start. He’s sort of like our Lumberjock “Jack”, or “Ben” on the TV show “Lost”, or maybe even “Jacob”, but I haven’t yet figured out who “Jacob” is in the show. Has anyone?
But, just like High School, and those confounding school girls, a guy being “smitten” doesn’t always lead to a successful relationship.
In this case it has.
Martin has done everything he could do to make this forum website the finest on the internet, and the membership growth has resulted from it. Honestly, I just really can’t stand using the other forums that I’m a member of, as they are all so archaic in design and navigating. Nice people in the forum, but the system is so poor, after being treated to the LJ formatting. It’s sort of like having to use Punch Cards after other people show you that you can just type programs directly into the computer screen. (For all of you young folks, that’s a reference to the old days, when using a computer wasn’t so easy to do as it is now.)
Ok, so it’s fun, easy, and its quick to load projects, and it’s great to get encouraging news from other woodworkers, BUT when a guy/gal only eats if they sell something they make, the process is a little stressful at times.
Substituting computer keyboard hours for shop time is a big risk for me, and for about two years, it didn’t pay off, not at all. Lots of new “friends”, but in case you haven’t noticed, us LJ’ers don’t buy much from each other.
Martin kept encouraging me that it would “happen”, just keep posting relevant and fresh content. Okay.
Then, along comes 2008, March to be exact, and things finally started to “pop”, or “snap”, whichever description you prefer.
I don’t really know what happend, other than maybe God and Google got their wires tied together, and the internet crowd started to find, and buy my work. Wahoo!
The Key is to “Find” my work. It’s been on the internet for years, just without any “finders.” I think that most of us have the same struggle. It’s not your work, or your quality, or you website name, it’s the lack of traffic that’s the problem.
Sure, we all get SPAMMED every week from a dozen companies trying to give us “huge traffic by optimizing your website, that only They know how to do.” Between those and the Viagra Spam and the Fake Watches, I’d have a fairly clean mailbox every day.
Give this method a try, and see if it works for you.
Ok, You Want Facts?
In 2008, 51% of my revenue came from internet orders, all resulting from lumberjock’s postings. Really, I know that because none of the work has been posted on my website, a problem I can’t seem to overcome at this point, until I get my website update guy to help me out. I know that, as I’ve spent a lot of this week trying to put my tax materials together for my accountant. I want my refund before the Treasury spends all of their borrowed money.
I started about a year ago by marking my LJ postings with ”For Sale” pretty hot-and-heavy, and cross-linking them so that folks finding my work on google searches could see other similar items I’ve made before they headed back to google to try another person’s website.
It was Martin’s idea, and quite frankly, it works.
Ok, so for about a year now I’ve been getting up to about a dozen inquiries a day from folks asking me about prices on things for sale, and about custom orders for things similar to what they’ve seen in my LJ postings.
Since the lumberjock website isn’t selling our work directly, I haven’t listed the prices on my postings, only an “email me for more information” type of comment.
And, for about 10 months, it has been fun to be encouraged and excited every day to get up and read the emails, and send prices, and get to know folks that want to buy, and those that just came to kick tires.
But, after all of these months, I’m tired.
I just can’t keep up with this anymore, answering everyone with the prices individually. And, to make it better/worse, I hope there are more of them in the future…..
So, I’ve been looking for another solution.
I did set myself up on Paypal in 2008 at the request of folks trying pass me money. I can’t stand paying their fees, but it is quick and easy, and folks can use their credit card if they have a paypal account.
But there is the real situation of all those emails every day, that have been hard to keep up with.
Not to mention all the folks that want me to tell them my craft secrets, and help them find special materials I use, and advice on starting up a business of their own, and other questions I get each week. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part I enjoy the emails, I just can’t keep up with them all. I need to work.
So, for all of this time, I’ve been begging Martin to put a “Buy Now” button on the postings.
He told me this week that he just doesn’t have the time to keep up with the maintenance of what that requires, and so he has been unable to take the forum that direction, and it may just be a direction he didn’t want to go, bluntly.
But, I want to eat, and I need to spend more time in the shop, so I gotta do something.
Over in another forum in yahoo where Scrimshaw Artists congregate in a horribly archaic format (great folks – bad forum format), I heard about a website called www.etsy.com this week.
One of the members of the yahoo group sells her jewelry work at Etsy ( http://jaijohnson.etsy.com ), and she has spent quite a bit of time this week helping answer all my questions about this website.
Etsy is designed for handmade work that the artists actually makes themselves.
It is not designed to be a resale place for things you buy at garage sales, or warehouse closeouts, or from Asian Importers, or estate sales, or find’s from your granddad’s attic, all sold to the highest bidder.
There’s another place for that, actually several places.
I tried that Big Place one time to sell my work, and the high bid was 1/3 of what I routinely get for my work in galleries and online directly, so no more auctions for me.
There is no auction at Etsy.
There is just a stated price, and a ”Buy Now” button.
And, I bought one of Jai’s jewelry pieces today, actually getting my wife’s birthday gift three weeks early, so she’s in shock.
So, a double bonus day for me. The Wife is tired of getting lousy woodworking things I throw together in the last week before “her big day”. And, she is equally tired of watching me leave the afternoon before “her big day” to get a gift certificate from somewhere to stick in her birthday card the next morning.
I always get accused of buying her gifts at the corner gas station. Which technically is not accurate at all. I go to Walmart, and eventhough it is the same imported junk, it is cheaper at Walmart. But, because of my foresight in gift buying today, I feel pretty good about myself, in that regard.
And, also because I took the first step of setting up an Etsy account, starting up a “Store”, and listing my first item.
My plan is to cross link the Lumberjock Postings to the Etsy sales page.
But why Cross-Link?
Well, there is a lot of stuff on the internet for sale, in case you haven’t noticed.
Getting folks to find the cool stuff you make is the challenge. Especially if what you make isn’t all that much of a niche. Good quality it might be, but getting people to find it is the key to success. Don’t believe me? Try peddling walking canes on the internet. Oh my gosh, everyone sells canes on there. But, not like mine.
Using lumberjocks as part of that process is my goal…..and it works folks.
How does it work?
So, okay, if a person finds my LJ posting by google, they can go with one “click” to Etsy, and hit the coveted ”Buy Now” button.
The money is transferred into my paypal account, and whizz bang, I box it and ship it, and pay the propane and electricity bills, or at least a portion of them.
It’s Gotta Cost Something?
Sure, there are fees to using Etsy. A $0.20 Fee per item, and a little under 4% commission, which sure beats the 30%-50% commissions I’m used to paying at consignment galleries. Those high commissions either raise the prices so high that the items don’t sell, or I take it in the shorts just to sell an item.
If you’d like to see how this is all set up in my new internet marketing strategy, go to this project by clicking the Widget picture of the Lumberjocks’ project
In the project posting, right at the top, there is a “weblink” to take you to the Etsy Page where the items is shown for sale with that big ”Buy Now” Button.
Wish me luck (whatever that is), Taking the internet world by storm, one binary digit at a time…..
Mark A. DeCou
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com