Charles on sat 22 dec 07
|Let me start by saying last year was my best year yet. I anticipate even higher sales in 2008.|
I feel like over the past few years, I've figured out a lot about how to sell pots. Beyond what shows to do and how to market this is the biggest revelation I ever had about face to face selling.
Every person, whether an ignorant ass about your work, or a kindred spirit who happens to wander into your sales arena is a potential customer. You can't please everyone with your work, but you can always be welcoming, alert, polite and gracious. An artist reading a book in the background makes their product do ALL the work. If it doesn't sing to the person they are not going to give you the time of day. Whereas an artist who makes eye contact and calls out a friendly good morning occasionally to a passerby has a good chance of getting the persons attention and
business. A customer coming to your booth should be welcomed like a much anticipated guest to your household. Be friendly, warm and courteous. People want to buy from you, they just need to feel a connection to you or your work. If you make a good impression, your work will always remind them of it. These people don't need the pottery, they may like it but it means more than dinnerware. They want to have something made by a person and they want the story of that person. Give them a story!
Another thing I have found is that people like seeing multiples. a lone mug will remain a lone mug, but if there are multiples they will sell much faster. The display should always look bountiful, but not overstocked. When a hole develops, fill it!
When we did our home based show this year it was an event. We made great food, had wine, friends were invited, not only to get them over to buy pots, but because they helped create the atmosphere we
wanted. These folks were coming into our home and we wanted them to feel like it was their home too. cozy and welcoming with a feast layed out just for them. I also gave them demonstrations with the raku kiln. It was more than pots on a table with cookies, it was an experience.
I sell primarily at renaissance faires, but I don't do a lot of stuff to appeal directly to the medieval/ren crowd. I do some mugs with a skull and crossbones medallion, but for the most part, just good solid schtickless functional pottery. Sales at Ren faires are fun. Folks may be serious pottery hounds, or they may be looking for a souvenir, but either way they buy enough pottery that I can continue to keep my family under a roof and my hands in mud full time.
I consider myself a studio potter, I try to give an individual edge to my work that doesn't make it your run of the mill production pottery. I sell a lot of pieces, somewhere around 1800-2000 a year
with an average retail of around $25 which is my mug price.
My pottery heritage tells me that I should try to make it so that everyone can afford my work. Some of my production potter friends sell their mugs for $10 each. I can't. I can't keep up with the demand at $25 each. Every time I visit a potter while traveling the country I find simpler, smaller pieces priced higher. Don't undervalue your work! You may sell less mugs at $25 but you'll make just as much from them and work a little less.
A whole lot of success beyond which show to go to is attitude.
Keep smiling, keep selling.