I have been making bears for a few years now and only (trying) selling bears at the local sewing shop and friends and family.
I was just wondering of any other ideas anyone else has.
At the moment I can only sell in Australia - I dont know anything about Paypal ( I need to do some research )
I have added a few bears on a blog, but how do you get your blog out there for people to see?
My husband is on facebook ( I dont know how to use it, more research lol ) he has mentioned I make bears.
Can anyone help me and give me any advice. I know it would be better to start selling out of Australia. I would love to give bearpile a go.
There are many ways to advertise your bears, Chris.
Bearpile is good, because it is strictly dedicated to artist bears, but it's not for free.
The easiest and cheapest (free) way is to set up your own Facebook account (private or for your business).
There are lots of FB pages where you can promote your bears for free, but you have to have a FB account first. If your husband is on FB, I am sure he can help you out setting up your own account. Lots of TT'ers are on FB as well and if you make them your friends, you can see which FB pages they like and decide which ones you want to join.
If you want to promote your blog, you can try a free giveaway bear for everyone who follows your blog; that's always a good way to get more followers.
In this day and age of mass media there are plenty of opportunities to get publicity, but that is also the drawback: too much publicity.
Bearpile is a great way to go, and with minimal outlay. Don't let PayPal intimidate you, it's not that bad- sign up and use it to buy a few things ( bear supplies perhaps? Lol) to get familiar. Use registered or pack &track if you're sending anything overseas that's expensive to protect yourself and your customer.
Ive never really bothered with facebook, pretty much detest it for everything lol, but I'm a huge fan of Bearpile. The best thing is Facebook is free and Bearpile won't cost you a fortune ($15 a month, deal!) a blog is free too- for getting people looking, maybe try some links to other bear blogs which they might reciprocate, and i have read that reading other bear artists blogs and commenting can also get you traffic. The world is your oyster with the Internet and it won't cost you a fortune!
Speaking of blog links, maybe it's time for another blog link thread to add each other to our links list?
Try looking at Etsy. I stumbled accross it on one of my many ventures accross the web. I havent sold anything there but have bought a few things. Maybe worthwhile having a look.
Its an American hand made site. You can buy/sell anything handmade as well as materials. This is from their site"
"How do fees work on Etsy?
Joining and setting up a shop on Etsy is free. Each item listing on Etsy costs $0.20 USD when the listing is published. A listing lasts for four months or until the item is sold. Once a sale occurs, we assess a 3.5% transaction fee on the item’s sale price. You have an opportunity to review and accept the fees that you will be charged prior to publishing a listing.
Fees for listings and transactions are accrued on your monthly Etsy bill. At the end of each month we add up all your fees, and we email your monthly statement to you. You must pay your bill by the 15th of the next month using either the credit card on file or PayPal.
Do I need a credit card to sign up?
To become a seller on Etsy, you need to provide a valid credit card for verification purposes. You won’t incur any charges until you open your shop and publish your listings at a rate of $0.20 per item.
What can I sell on Etsy?
Etsy provides a marketplace for crafters, artists and collectors to sell their handmade creations, vintage goods (at least 20 years old), and both handmade and non-handmade ("commercial") crafting supplies."
I have a website ..and I try to update it fairly regularly. That helps to get your website in the 'feed' ...when you don't update they website traffic tends to die down.
I am a Facebook fan ..I have afrw issues with it but since I started my my fan page in 2010 I have aquired 1762 'fans'. I have gained lots of people on my mailing list because of it..I have broadened my audience, sold bears to new collectors and even sold a bear at Hugglets in person to a new customer who saw my bears on Facebook.
I know there are issues with it..but it's free, it is extremely well used by established collectors and potential ones...and it's very easy to use.
I update at least once a day with photos which is what keeps your page in the newsfeed. Facebook prioritises photos ...and I switch off anyone I am suspicious of on my personal page.
I have had some luck with Bearpile...but it's swamped with sold bears on there...how do you wade through it. Etsy is a neat website but again, it's so hard to navigate amongst the thousands on there.
My advice is to make your work as wonderful as possible so you stand out from the crowd and post pictures on here, do a fair, and send your photos to a good magazine for some editiorial. That should get you noticed.
It's hard because there are many thousands of bear makers all vying for the same business. In order to sell bear they have to be great, they have to be different and they have to be what collectors want to buy.
I am not all that keen on links..never really have been. Not being uncharitable but links just send all your website visitors off to another website.
Someone pointed that out to me years ago and I think they are right!
I think a bunch of us did an experiment with selling bears on Etsy a couple of years ago, and didn't really sell on there. It's an enormous marketplace, but not somewhere that most people seem to go to intending to spend on big ticket items. The shops that do best on there are supply shops, and ones selling low value items - looking at all the recently uploaded items on the front page right now, 80% of them are under £30, and 65% are under £20. The items that are more expensive than that are a few items jewellery (most jewellery fell into the under £30 section) and a couple of items of clothing (a basque and very fancy frock) and even then, only 2 things are over £100. It's the same for page after page. Now I don't know how much you intend to sell your bears for, but I'd really hope it was for rather more than £20 or even £30. Artists with very good online followings may be able to sell high end items on etsy, but I follow a number of people with literally thousands of blog followers, that still can't shift quilts and the like easily because they're higher ticket items.
Whatever you choose, be prepared to spend a lot of time marketing yourself. I have a full time job, and I realised that I just didn't have the time to devote to working, making bears and selling them - I've seen some of the bigger artists stating that they spend at least a day a week on doing things to market themselves, whether on Facebook, blogs, Bearpile and more. If you want people to visit your blog/website/Facebook page where there is social interaction then you will need to invest a lot of time visiting those belonging to other people, and interacting with them, they won't just come to you magically, and people like to feel they're building up a rapport. To be honest as far as giveaways go (and I've been involved in a lot of large ones in the sewing world) you need a certain number of people following you to start with (although you can make advertising your button on their blog worthy of another entry, be aware that not many will want to do that), otherwise you're reaching too small an audience for it to be worth your while, also, don't make the deadline too long, people forget in a matter of days, and they won't keep coming back for weeks and months to find out if they've won. You may also find that even if you make following your blog/Facebook page a condition of a giveaway entry, you will probably lose a bunch of them again after the giveaway has ended, and a whole bunch more will never interact with you unless you're giving away something else for free.
I think Jenny's right about the links too - link to your Bearpile from you blog, for example, or your Facebook page, but links to your competition are, well, links to other places people can spend their money, and however much they may be your best friend, you still don't particularly want all of your potential buyers shopping there!
Re Bearpile, yes there are old bears listed ( and rehoming artist bears) but at least buyers can choose to not look at them, by not browsing the orphan section- a breath of fresh air compared to eBay with anything and everything listed in the artist bear section... I do get a bit paranoid about violating listing policies on Bearpile, it can get a bit crazy sometimes...
Guess I'm weird on the links lol, in my mind everyone's work is sufficiently different ( pretty much, aside from those few bear makers who cant be original) that something will either attract a buyer or it won't, I don't really regard other bear artists as competition... If someone's going to buy my bear they'll buy it-or not
What's funny? I notice nobodys suggested eBay.... I know it's still working for some people, but as the go-to place for selling, it doesn't seem to come to mind for most any more times sure have changed!
I think it's because eBay don't really want us. We don't want to set up a store and sell a whole inventory of stock paying them vast sums.
So they now lump us in with all the rubbish...making us hard to find and it just makes it impossible...and ..if you do manage to sell they charge a fortune.
I used to watch auctions but I never bother now. I think as far as artist bears go its had its time. Maybe a great new way to sell will show up but I just think people want to 'buy it now'. Auctions have become a way to get things cheap..not to sell for more...which used to be the case. That said I know that there are still a few artists that do very well on eBay, even now , and I think maybe that's because they have always sold on eBay...and they have a following who wait for their bears....maybe they don't make vast amounts of bears in a year and so when they do have a sale it's a big buzz. I make too many bears for that to happen for me...maybe I should cut down
With links it's just not because I see other artists as competition...I just think that while we are discussing getting people to visit our website and page then why would we then facilitate them then going off to other pages. I think it's fine if its some artists circle where we are uniformly promoting a craft group...but we are not a group in the sense that I do want people to buy my bears and it will always be that way. Yes it's nice to be friends ...and yes the camaraderie and support we give each other is both valuable and much appreciated. Yet that charitable attitude is measured by the fact that I do want a successful business and so I do view the industry as competition. I think if you are serious about business you do need to know who your competition is ...not to dislike them or copy...but to read the market and evaluate your own work.
I don't spend ages promoting my Facebook page..or my website. I just do perhaps 30 minutes a day updating and posting photos etc. that way people get to see my work..and all the other stuff I talk about. I think it's all part of the working day. It's quite a pleasure to do. Kelly Dean has the cleverest FB page and he updates every day...he does this ' on my work bench this week' thing....and I bet the bear is sold by the time it's completed! I wish I had thought of it..and I have taken to promoting my work as I make I each piece to whip up a bit if interest probably because of that bit of genius...
The clever part is to post photos ...FB prioritise photos over everything else and so I post pictures of everything...the dog, the kids, the dinner..anything so when I do post a bear it gets great exposure. I have an iPhone and I use Instagram and it is a great combination. It works really well for me. If it ain't broke...don't fix it!
This Thread is very interesting indeed. Thank you ladies for your input!
I have also tried Etsy, I actually still have an Etsy shop, but it has never really worked very well for me in terms of sales. It is sad as I think it is a very well done site, I love the statistics page that is so detailed...
I thought that my failure to sell well on Etsy compared to other places was my problem alone, but I think Katy's analysis could have a lot of truth in it.
As for Bearpile, I have had a positive experience up to now. Yes, so many businesses out there all competing for the front page can be overwhelming, but it is fair in its standards, and I have gained new customers through it. Another thing I like of Bearpile is that you can put your creations for adoption there, but at the same time you can try selling them somewhere else.
I couldn't put my creations for adoption on e-bay and on Etsy at the same time, but I can put them on e-bay and on Bearpile. If somebody contacts me on bearpile and wants to buy a creation that is at that time on e-bay I can direct them there.
As for e-bay, I think it is worth a try, as you still have exposure. Their fees are too high, I agree. I think choosing e-bay can be good if you are not a renown artist, and wish to have your name and work seen. For artists like Jenny that are already so well liked and loved, I understand that it can be different.
As for the Facebook page...I'm just now trying to regain my strength after some busy hours restyling my blog. I have a Facebook page that I never really knew how to use. Maybe my next technology challenge should be in that direction....thank you Jenny for your insight, I love your Facebook page by the way!
Yes, you can 'lose' some time on your PC following all these suggestions. I don't think it is really time lost though, as I enjoy it a great deal!
Sorry, I should clarify, that any time you spend on Facebook/your blog interacting with friends who may be customers, even if it isn't specifically saying 'buy my bear', is still instilling in their mind that you exist, indirect marketing if you will. People honestly do like to feel that they have an 'in' with people they admire, so even if you're sharing a joke, or describing a fair that you attended, then you're still popping up on their feed. I will admit that I stopped using my Facebook account because my feed was totally overwhelming me, and I didn't have the estimated 3-4 hours to go through the latest day's worth of news from my 'friends' and actually have time to make stuff. I know there are settings now that allow you to filter your feed down, but even the thought of going in and setting those is daunting me! That aside though, I do know that there are many, many people that are on there for large chunks of the day, who really are reading it all, and possibly sharing on with others.
Karen, I understand what you're saying about people's work being different, but I think you have to remember that in any craft business you have 2 potential sets of customers - the 1st set are seasoned collectors, they know what they want, the looks they like and so on, but the 2nd set are kind of coming in on spec, they've maybe never collected/purchased the kind of art that you're selling before, and are therefore much more open to suggestion. Recently I had a customer ask if I could make her a custom quilt. Now while I could do that, I was already making her a large custom bear, and I really didn't have the time to take on another commission, plus, it's far more expensive to buy fabrics and make a quilt up here than it is in America due to insane price mark ups on the exported fabrics and/or the cost of shipping + import taxes if you buy direct. I showed her some of my work, and then I showed her work of some American friends that had quilts for sale, and she happily toddled off, easily distracted by what they were offering. She'd never bought a quilt before, and knew nothing more, really than the vague concept of a nice bed covering, and she never came back to ask me again for a quilt. Now I gave her those links (I don't link to them from my blog), but if someone comes into your site and falls down a rabbit hole of links off to other sites you may find that they've completely forgotten what they thought they wanted on your site in the first place. Adding links to places like this or the Guild are good signs that you interact with other makers, and people may be inclined to follow through and check them out, but it's far less direct at rerouting your customers.
Oh, sorry, I should also add that Google Analytics is a great way to monitor your traffic. My website is currently woefully out of date, and I really need to spend some time this easter overhauling what's on there, but even though I've not been promoting anything on it for about a year, I still get traffic, and 80% of my visitors right now are new, that have never visited before. A lot of blog platforms have this kind of analysis built in as well, for instance I can tell you that last month I had 12,107 pageviews on my blog (which slightly blows my mind btw!) and it shows me where my traffic comes from (you should check out what search terms bring people to your site some time, it's hysterical!)
A couple of notes on links: First, linking to other pages helps your website's search engine optimization (SEO). The links can be to anywhere, of course, but I enjoy offering links to bear-related sites such as Teddy Talk and other bearmakers' sites.
Second, set any links you do decide to include to "open in a new window" if possible. That makes it easier for surfers to return to your page.
I use a free stat counter which is just a bit of code that you paste somewhere on your website...and it tells you who visited ...where they came from, how long they spent browsing...where they go off to. All kinds of stuff..It's fascinating.
Linked in is also good for that...it shows you who looks at your profile. Not that I am bothered who looks but it's interesting to see the stats.
Not that I build my business around that but it's quite informative to see the peaks and troughs of the visitors ..and when you get the most traffic..and where from.
I think it all boils down to what works for you. I've always felt that way about competiton, since I started this sort of thing (1989 or so) bogging myself down with stuff like that doesn't work for me, it just fills my head with things that stop me doing my thang working on 'the business side' ugh....the beauty is we are free to do what works for us individually, lots of awesome suggestions here for you to try M&Ms.
I was thinking of starting my own face book page but reading all the above has scared the life out of me
It looks as though im going to have to get an IT fundy to set up for me as im a bit stupid with technology or ask my 10year old Grandson im sure hell be able to help
Very informative from you all ill give it go
What we need is a bear artist auction site hehe
I set up a facebook page, but no one has joined it yet, i figure i will see how it goes, if people join i will try to spend time on it, and if they don't i will close it.
There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything i would like. This kind of discussion thread is interesting and helpful, because it shows us all that there isn't really a set way to do things, and we are all in the same boat when it comes to trying to decide what is best for us.
I set up a facebook page, but no one has joined it yet, i figure i will see how it goes, if people join i will try to spend time on it, and if they don't i will close it..
Jenny, can you post the link to your FB page? You have to invite some friends to get the ball rolling (many TT'ers are on FB too); otherwise I fear that you won't get much traffic on your page.
Peter, same problem here. I also have a Facebook page and never really used it until last week after reading this thread. I'm afraid I haven't really understood how it works. I use my personal Facebook page, and know well how it works, but I'm not sure the 'business' facebook page is to be used in the same way. What I mean is: I would like it to be for people that have an interest as collectors or other artists. I don't want to bother all my friends that really have no interest in the bear world. So, I wonder, how should I gain new likes from this world?
I gather from your post that you can post the link to the facebook page here. I will try it now....other suggestions from the experts?
The link to my Facebook page, in case any of you feel compassionate enough to like it...:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/KALEidea … 5090356219
...I hope I did it right!
Hi Peter, sorry i saw you join the page before i saw this post! Thanks for joining
My friends are not into bear stuff so i don't like to pester them to join, this is my link:
I am still a bit new to it all on facebook, it seems a little complicated.
I think i managed to like your page Fran, i like your little white doggy