Monday, July 11, 2011

Let's Put on a Show

A note card featuring my drawing
This post is, eventually, about a craft show I'm in this Saturday. But first, a little context.

So I have this Etsy shop, for which I chose the rather obscure name Arty Didact, trying to convey the marriage of art and information that appeals to me and characterizes some of my work, and playing off the meaning of autodidact, a self-educating person.

Informative back of the lily note card

Quite frankly, I haven't sold very much at all on Etsy. I tried reading the forums for advice, and joining a couple of teams, and adding more and more items to my shop, because everyone says that's what you're supposed to do (that is, those participating in the forums on Etsy say this, repeatedly and emphatically). And when you don't have something new to add, you're supposed to "renew" listings, which means that you re-list them as if they were new, because when someone is searching for a category of items on Etsy, the most recently listed ones generally show up at the top. So it's like keeping something in the front window at all times.

A paper mache bowl
But when I was being as obsessive as I could about promoting my shop, I wasn't spending as much time making stuff. And I found that spending time each day listing and re-listing and promoting my shop isn't really very interesting, and the people who say it pays off to do that appear to be even more obsessive about it than I was. There are websites and blogs where you can offer give-aways, for example, and some people offer discounts and deals through their Facebook page and blogs, and, well, really, I'm just not into all that. I don't go for promotional offers and hype as a consumer, and it's really against my nature to try to promote my shop in that way, too.

So I've eased up on the re-listings, and I haven't added anything new to my shop in a while because I've been kind of busy with other things (house, garden, freelance work, family...). But, the one thing that I have found to be helpful and fun is the local network of Etsy shopkeepers, called the HandmadeMN Etsy Team. They are a great group of creative people, and through the group forum, I learn about a wide variety of show opportunities, including the smaller ones that fit my budget and level of commitment.

Most notably, this Saturday is the HandmadeMN Summer Market, and the way it came about was kind of cool. First, it started back in March with Erika Herker posting an announcement that she learned that she could reserve a large pavilion in Roseville for free, and maybe it would be cool to put on a mini art fair there consisting of members of our team. From there, an enthusiastic series of messages followed, and eventually, the summer market was organized. It made me think of Spanky and Our Gang: Let's put on a show!
Photo by Erica Herker

I'm looking forward to it, despite the forecast of 90-degree heat that day—and am so glad we will not only be in the shade, but also will only be operating from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. No getting up early on a Saturday and no lingering in the late-afternoon heat! I am grateful to the ladies who chose that time frame!

If you're in the Twin Cities area, it would be really swell if you'd pay a visit. Sorry I'm not offering any coupons or specials or snazzy promos like that, but I will have some cooling peppermint candies on my table to share. I guess that's a give-away, isn't it?

HandmadeMN Summer Market
Saturday, July 16, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Rainbow Community Pavilion
1201 Larpenteur Ave. West
Saint Paul, MN 55113


  1. Hey Sharon- nice drawings! I wish you many sales at your event. I haven't started an online shop for the reasons you mentioned and because I know myself well enough that I could become OCD about it.

  2. Best of luck at your event! Being an artist is a lot like being a performer on stage (but you rarely go offstage). An avenue you may be interested in pursuing is both the hobby gardener (which it seems like you hit), but also the botanist. There are botanical conferences that allow vendors and the prints of plants might be a big hit there. Again, best of luck!

  3. Thanks, Terry, for the compliment and good wishes. You're right in supposing that starting a shop can make a person a little OCD. I'm not sure where the right balance is on that yet.

    Catey, thanks for your good wishes, too, and for the suggestion about botanical and gardening events. I should look into that.


Thanks for reading, and for sharing your thoughts.