Artisan markets are more diversified than ever, causing unanticipated difficulties and opportunities for creatives. Where will it all lead?
Artisan markets have been exploding over the last couple years, mainly due to the rapid influx of new entrepreneurs aiming to tap the power of evolving handmade and micro trends. What does that mean for long-time artists and craftspeople who have always been committed to their work, regardless of mass popularity?
In my opinion, recent developments have created an uneasy mixture of sellers who aren't always on the same page with regard to primary life goals and the values associated with them. For example, these two sets of sellers aren't entirely like-minded when it comes to adopting mainstream sales and marketing strategies. And they don't always interact the same way with conventional business advisors, who might not relate personally to the creative lifestyle.
There's also the question of the newest trend, which is for craftspeople to diversify and become business consultants without having had any mainstream business training. This type of consultant might have some insight into how creatives think and work, but might not have had broad enough experience to effectively guide market newbies.
What does this mean for both micro entrepreneurs and self-identified artists and artisans? Small business owners with an entrepreneurial mindset are more likely to connect comfortably with sales and marketing concepts than their art-identified counterparts. If you've started out primarily to make a living, and have intelligently identified artisan markets as the appropriate venue, then all you really need is solid professional advice, helpful tips and some general business coaching to get you going. Whether or not you're successful in the long run will depend on your talents, your determination, the quality of the advice you're getting, and a lot of luck.
Creatives, on the other hand, generally find it more difficult to relate to the entrepreneurial lifestyle, and have a tendency to feel alienated by standard business presentations, marketing strategies and sales concepts. If you're driven to create, if the creative process is your primary (sometimes only) objective, the time spent doing business can be physically and mentally painful. Unfortunately, mainstream business advisors often remain unaware of this disconnect, and will sometimes pound away at conventional methodologies without regard to the effect it might be having on their own clients. In fact, this kind of mismatch won't matter at all to highly income-driven consultants, whose services favor the high-potential, entry-level entrepreneurs who can most easily benefit from their advice.
Success for self-identified creatives will depend primarily on adaptability. Can you stretch your lifestyle to accommodate these alien sales activities? Can you tolerate the time spent talking about the features and benefits of your work (rather than let it just speak for itself)? Are you able to find a balanced spot within yourself where selling can take place while you're also maintaining your own artistic and personal integrity?
The world is definitely changing. It used to be that artists never expected to be famous or even to make a decent living with their work. Craftspeople would simply aim to create a small local following, and would be satisfied with that, even if it meant also holding a regular part-time job to cover monthly expenses. Fame and fortune were entirely unpredictable and unanticipated. The newest market trends offer a tremendous opportunity to break from old habits and expectations, with the potential for significant financial benefits. But is the evolving artisan scene really as beneficial for true artists and artisans as most public observers tend to think? I'm not sure.
What's your opinion? Feel free to comment or ask a question. And browse the blog for more on marketing, social media, copywriting and SEO.
Need immediate help for your website or Etsy shop? Consider a professional critique or hourly coaching from The Copywriting Coach on Etsy. For larger sites and projects, visit Services here for a free consultation.
Barbara Clavan provides copywriting, coaching and consulting services to high-growth businesses, high-profile individuals and creative entrepreneurs.
Visit Services to learn more.