Yesterday we spent most of the day updating the website. Although there were not loads of new items, there were enough to give people a variety of new items to work on. I also switched the free pattern that I am giving away. This month I am offering a couple of mini songbird plaques that are self-framing. They have the option of coloring them in with some acrylic paint and hopefully it will encourage others to get their feet wet with painting a bit. I suppose the teacher inside me always wants to encourage others to expand their creativity.
While updating the site, I began thinking about some things and I thought I would ask you all for your opinion on something that I am trying to decide.
Most of you know that I also paint. When I first acquired a website, I naturally wanted it to focus on all of the things that I could offer people, both in the scroll sawing and also the painting areas. When initially setting up the site, I had everything pretty much meshed together. For several years it did not seem to be a big issue, as my site was very much an afterthought in my business and I spent little time updating it or developing it at all. Naturally, the sales reflected that and they were quite bleak.
A year or so ago, when we decided that we were wasting a valuable resource for my company by not working regularly on the site, we began the process of revamping it and reorganizing it. My partner is a wonderful organizer, as you all have seen and he felt that there was too much distraction to have so much painting stuff enmeshed with the woodworking side of the site. I did agree with him, as woodworking is my mainstay and the sales from my woodworking patterns are a priority for my business.
However, that isn’t to say that there is not a need (and desire) from my woodworking customers to want painting information, supplies and patterns. After all, the two fields are closely related. There are many painters that are looking for interesting wood to paint on and also many scroll sawyers that want to explore ways to add color and interest to their projects. Just last week I had a customer tell me that he sells many candle tray sets that I have designed, and every one he sells are the ones that are tinted. He wants me to include coloring instructions in more of my patterns, and he is not the first one to ask me to do so.
I also saw more evidence of this when I attended the show. Most of the painting class participants were those who already did woodworking and were looking for new ways to make their wood stand out. Many of them also just wanted to learn to paint. I see the need of pursuing both is definitely there.
I suppose that the perfect answer would be to have two websites. Although that is far from perfect as far as I am concerned. Besides the cost of my time in maintaining two separate sites, there is also the financial cost. Also, it would channel customers to one or the other and I feel that I would lose potential business on both sides.
I have divided the painting portions of my site and tried to keep them quite separate from the woodworking side of my website, but I think they still need to be right there for those who are interested. As I am developing more patterns in both scroll sawing and also painting, I want (and need) a forum where they can be showcased and my crossover customers can easily enjoy both aspects of my business.
With the addition of patterns such as my Skating Pond Set and soon Snowflake Puzzle that I designed for Monika Brint (the decorative painting artist) they will bring more new people from both areas to my site. Monika just informed me that she is using the other snowflake (she made two) for a project she submitted to The Decorative Painter Magazine, the publication for the Society of Decorative Painters which has many members world wide. She is naming my company as the source for the wood, and it should bring in an entirely new clientele from all over the world. I also want to use this surface and develop patterns myself and sell both them and the surface to all those potential customers. There is lots to consider.
I need to get to an appointment today, but I also wanted to ask you if any of you have had experience with selling on Etsy. Many say it is better than Ebay and I was wondering if you would share your opinions with me. I have prints and note cards of my fine art paintings and I wish to market them the best way possible. I don’t know whether to just have a link on my site to an Etsy account, which is where I am leaning and then I can link back to the site from the Etsy account to gain more exposure to new people and perhaps bring more to my site ultimately. That way it won’t water down the site either and will keep the finished items separate. What do you think?
As my business continues to grow, I know I have many decisions such as these to make. It is sometimes difficult to have such a diversification of things, but I also feel that it is a good thing. I have many other prototypes and one of a kind things that I would like to sell instead of having them wind up in a box or ruined. You can imagine the pile of things that I am accumulating.
Any thoughts from you are welcome. I always appreciate your input and ideas. I hope you all have a great day today.
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"