An internet presence?

18 01 2013

Not everyone wants to be on the interwebs.
Completely understandable.
It can be invasive and pervasive, and dirty great big time waster.

And besides, the ‘real world’ doesn’t revolve around the internets …
really, it doesn’t.

If you’re a maker, you probably want to spend most of your time making and dreaming of making and talking about and planning making… and maybe also working at a non-related job so you can do all this in your free time.

Though an internet presence can be a good idea for potential stockists and customers to find you; you can create your profile and the kind of ‘presence’ you want to put forth. It’s less about self-promotion than creating a feel for the kind of work you make. It’s also a good way to connect with other makers – my first exhibition opportunity only came because the curator read my blog.

If you do want an internet presence, how do you choose what to do?

I am by no means an expert in this field – though I think it can be done in a way that doesn’t require a degree, or even an interest, in marketing.

There are lots of free choices for a do-it-yourself beginner, where all the technical stuff is figured out and it’s simple to add your own content. These include:

  • blog : Blogspot and WordPress are the most popular; I use and like WordPress (it was a simple choice when I started writing, I preferred the look of it), however I like some things in Blogspot that I don’t have with my WordPress theme (eg. blogroll of recent posts from other blogs, the different views like magazine and classic)
  • Klimt02 / Kit & Caboodle (I’m sure there are many others): community sites for sharing with other makers, where you set up a simple profile; update: I understand Klimt02 is curated and not necessarily free
  • Facebook : best the page is available for searches by the public, not just members of Facebook
  • Tumblr / Pinterest / Instagram / Twitter : sharing platforms for (variously) images and text and links; I don’t know a lot about these … so would appreciate any comments from users on the best aspects of these platforms; I do regularly read a number of tumblr pages and like them a lot
  • website : again, this is not in my experience; some friends have had websites designed for them; though I have been told of a free platform that you can use to make your own, Weebly (the first time someone said they had a ‘weebly website’ I thought they were deriding themselves!); update: I’ve been told of another website builder Jimdo

Please comment and let me know if I’ve omitted any other obvious options (by no means do I think I know everything).

If I could make only one suggestion, I would recommend somewhere on your chosen site ought to be the name under which you’ll be making … either your name or your chosen brand name – the name that will be used by searchers looking for you.

The only reason I suggest this is that when recently searching for a maker I used her full name and couldn’t find her site or blog (which did exist), and using only her first name brought up so many results I didn’t have the heart to continue through more than a few pages of search results (even when I added ‘jeweller’ or ‘jewellery’ to the search).

That said, I really hesitated doing this. I was fearful of my full name being in ‘public’ so to speak; I didn’t like the idea it may then be appropriated and messed with and such. But then I thought, how else will anyone find my work if they wanted to? I created a separate email address to connect with my blog, and yes it does get some spam but the filter is pretty good – I’d say this a much better idea than using your already-established private email address; and personally I would never publish my mobile number as a means of contact.

Speaking as a reader only, if the intended audience for your online presence is potential stockists / customers, but you’re not keen on maintaining regular updates, a ‘static’ website is a probably better option. Sites rarely look out of date (unless of course the ‘latest news’ page isn’t updated), whereas blogs and other dated sharing platforms can easily look neglected when you’re running low on time (and enthusiasm) to update them.

You may not want an online presence. I mean we all got by without it before it was invented right? It’s likely not critical, especially if you’re not making to make a living. There are quite a number of exceptionally high-profile makers who don’t have a website… though many do have a profile on Klimt02 or Kit & Caboodle.

What are your thoughts?

PS. Thanks to Annelise for her post, which inspired me to write this. I wasn’t sure if I was being chided or not (most awkward part of text is that tone is often lost, especially if you don’t know the author), but I took her point that beginners may appreciate some ideas.

Update: this story has received some excellent and informative comments already, so please do check them out too.


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13 responses

18 01 2013
melissa

Hi Karen,

Just as an addendum, in case some of your readers aren’t aware, Kit and Caboodle is a free network to join, begun/run by Cate Salter, while Klimt02 is curated by the site owner, Leo Caballero. As such he vets the makers that he puts online, and charges an annual fee for membership. All images and other materials that the artists (or their representatives*) submit to him are put up, and usually within a week of being submitted. Kit and Caboodle is a much more DIY kind of forum than this, and the American multi-craft forum Crafthaus (run by ‘editor’ Brigitte Martin) probably sits somewhere in between these two sites in terms of user-access.

*I would speculate that some of higher profile makers are members of Klimt02 not on their own, but perhaps due to one or more of their galleries.

18 01 2013
Karen

Oh thank you Melissa – I didn’t realise that about Klimt02.

18 01 2013
Felicity Jane Large

Hi Karen,

Great article! It’s particularly relevant to me at the moment, as I only put up my website two months ago, and have been doing some improvements to it lately.

I used a website builder program called Jimdo (see http://www.jimdo.com). It allows you to set up your own website for free. The free website has a box at the side of the screen advertising Jimdo itself, but if you pay $90 per year, they remove this for you.

The website builder was so easy to use- I’d say if you can write a Word document, you could use this program.

I’d been wanting to make a website for years, and kept putting it off, thinking it had to be the Taj Mahal of websites. I wish I’d done it sooner. I think that just putting up a simple site with some images of your work, and an email address where people can get in touch is a must. Even if you don’t want to sell your work on the web, people can use this to find out about what you do, and go and buy pieces from bricks and mortar stockists.

A big advantage is being able to show your work to people all over the world. A certain series of work may not be a good fit for your local gallery, but might really appeal to people overseas. A friend making ceramic jewellery found that her work particularly appealed to people in Japan.

Now I’m a terrible luddite, and have not yet ventured onto facebook in any way, shape or form. Some friends are telling me that this too is now compulsory for people running a small business. What do people think about this? A great example is the facebook page recently set up by high-end jeweller Terry, under the title “Terry Goldsmith Jeweller”. Needless to say, ‘Goldsmith’ is a pseudonym, but he has provided a mobile number. Even though facebook is a bit informal, the quality of the images he’s used, and the quality of the work itself still give the page a classy feel.

One thing’s for sure, if some slightly podgy Korean man doing a silly dance can become a worldwide sensation overnight, us heart-of-gold hand makers of quality jewellery need to be harnessing the power of the interweb, and using it for good instead of evil.

Felicity xo

18 01 2013
Karen

Thank you so much for your comment Felicity – I didn’t know about that website builder, so it’s great to know there are lots of options.
I’ve been putting it off, mainly because I’m not really making to sell right now – but perhaps if I do make a little website, it may turn into something with its own momentum!
Happy making!

18 01 2013
Sylvia

I still haven’t got any further in sorting out my quandary as to what avenue to pursue – continue with Facebook Page, create another blog or establish a website. Mmm? Thank you for your update on this topic.

18 01 2013
Karen

Hi Sylvia
I understand your uncertainty. The more I think about it, the least maintenance way seems the static website option, especially if there are a few free ‘builder’ platforms to choose from. The lower ‘update’ cost to start with the better I think!

26 01 2013
Melanie Dooley

I did things in the reverse. I started selling my jewellery on Etsy in 2009 and after a year or so of growing success I started selling at craft markets in Melbourne. I feel that I have the best of both worlds because I have a 24/7 shop online that reaches customers all over the world and I have 2-3 days a month at markets where I can meet customers and discuss my work.

The main motivation to start at craft markets was to build a local clientele, as about 90% of my Etsy sales were to customers in the USA and Europe.

Now people come to the markets and see my work. They hum and haa, then go home, and then they buy online that night! We also see a lot of tourists at our market. They tend to look at my work in person, think about it, then buy online when they get home.

I am renowned for my customer service, both for website and market sales. So anyone who tells you selling online means a loss of service does not, IMHO, know much about what good service actually is. I may actually write about that on my blog.

I have Facebook but I do not sell off it. I am a writer by profession so I love using my blog to write about my work. Also, I tend to be a bit verbose, so a blog is better for my rambling than Facebook.

My work is quite unique and most pieces are OOAK so I find it can be very easy or very hard to sell. my work appeals to a small segment of the market, but then those people need to own many many pieces. They become collectors. What I have never been able to do is get into the ‘designer’ markets like Finders Keepers. I’d like to but my work is not ‘designer’ enough.

Still, I can have great days at the markets I sell at or quiet ones. For the record I cost in $50 an hour for my work!

Hope this helps. Happy to share what I know with others, if it inspires or helps.

26 01 2013
Karen

Hi Melanie – thank you so much for your amazing comment! There’s lots to think of there and I love that you price yourself well (undervaluing ourselves isn’t a good thing!)

26 01 2013
Melanie Dooley

Also, I now sell about 3-4 times as much at markets than I do online. And my prices range from $20 earrings up to $700 necklaces. All price ranges sell at markets (credit card machine is essential).

21 06 2013
Is blogging dead? | Melbourne Jeweller

[…] say YES from the perspective of a maker who wants an internet presence. Blogs are probably no longer the most effective means (though it should be said that some blogs […]

11 09 2013
Annelies Hofmeyr

Hi Karen,

Wow, I can’t believe I’ve only found this now! I feel quite honoured that I inspired a post 🙂

And yes, you’re right, the most awkward part of text definitely is that tone is often lost, especially if you don’t know the author. Reading over my post from then I realise that I might have come across a little harsh (oops!) but I also remember feeling quite frustrated at the time having put in so much work for the exhibition, getting myself online, printing business cards and feeling like it all still wasn’t enough. I’ve recovered from those feelings now, a little sleep goes a long way in helping to regain some perspective.

You make some really good points e.g. being searchable by name, not just brand, etc. I’ve also continuously thought about your blog post that started the whole discussion and have taken a lot of what you said on board. I was about to email you about the first step-by-step instructional I posted today on how to start a Facebook business page and then I found this post! I plan on introducing a new social network/media platform on a weekly basis. I don’t have experience with all of them but will be approaching it as an emerging artist trying to get my work out there and sharing what I’ve learned so far. I’m hoping it’ll encourage other artists to do the same when they see how easy/user-friendly it is and how beneficial! Also that it’ll develop into discussions so that I learn just as much from the process.

The first social media blog post is here: http://witmyt.blogspot.com/2013/09/social-media-for-artists-facebook-part.html – I’d love to know what you think.

Cheers,
Annelies

PS: When I’m in Melbourne next I’m going to look you up for a coffee so that you can hear the tone behind my text for yourself 😉

12 09 2013
Karen

Hi Annelies
Thank you so much for your amazing comment!
I can completely understand the feeling of rawness and exhaustion at year-end … I know it well.
It’s a fabulous initiative you’ve embarked upon – I look forward to learning too, there is so much in the social media realm that is beyond me.
And yes, absolutely would love to share a coffee with you!!
Karen

3 01 2014
Where to from here? | Melbourne Jeweller

[…] been thinking a lot about ‘internet presence‘ and what the landscape may look like in 2014. I also regularly wonder about the […]




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