Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Learning Curve

In the five months or so that I have been selling online, these are some of the things that I have learned:

1.  Do not forget why you do what you do.

When I first ventured into making jewelry, all I wanted was to make my own set of Goddess prayer beads.  As I said in my Artfire Bio Page, that little, seemingly harmless "experiment" has turned into a passion for making beautiful things that other people can wear.  I make jewelry because I love jewelry -- and I love them because a favorite piece always brightens my day when I put it on no matter how gloomy it is outside (or inside me).  I realized that I found fullfilment in making something by hand that has the ability to make someone feel good about themselves, to add a bit to their confidence, uplift their mood or simply make them smile. I make jewelry because it is a way for me to reach out to people I will probably never cross paths with and let them know that they are special and that they are beautiful.  This is why I do what I do. To forget this would kill my passion for this creative endeavor and could, in effect, kill my muse.

2.    Do not undervalue yourself.

Agonizing, this one.  Pricing is such a delicate matter when one decides to sell what one makes.  For me, the agony has gone beyond hitting the right formula to get the perfect price -- it has been (and continues to be) an ongoing battle between my inner critic telling me my work is not worth that much and the higher me that insists I am deserving of more.  Happily for me, the one that says I am worth it wins most of the time.  But it is still a struggle.  Does this happen to you?

It is important that we don't undervalue our work as it is a reflection of ourselves.  This has nothing to do at all about humility -- but it has everything to do with pride in your work and loving yourself.

3.  Your competition isn't who you think it is.

Who do you compete with? Who are your major competitors?

With the variety of tastes and styles in the market and the number of talented artisans that cater to each one, competition in the form of other jewelry artisans should not be my problem.  My problem should be creating pieces that I love and getting them out to people who I know will love them as well.  There are plenty of jewelry artisans out there but I no longer see them as competition -- rather, I see them as partners who will help satisfy a market segment that I can't cater to simply because what they want is not what I make.  I will, however, compete against myself -- so that those who like my work will continue to get the best of what I can give them.

4.  There is no shame in saying your name.

Having been raised in a culture where tooting one's own horn is considered bad form, I had a hard time finding my voice and saying my name out loud.  I used to be very shy about promoting my work.  Heck, for some time only my close friends knew that I made jewelry and to this day, only a handful of them know that I paint and collage.  I have just started to unlearn this -- and I am unlearning it fast.  It is not bad form to show the world what you can do -- keeping it to yourself and not allowing anyone to share in it is.

What's your name? What do you do? Tell me so I can tell the next person so they can say your name too.


SusanA said...

Good advice especially about undervaluing and learning to toot your own horn. Too often, we are taught as kids not to "show off" and we need to unlearn that.

Price it well and remember if you don't start singing your praises no one else can hear that song!

SusanA said...

If you're wondering I am Susan of http://fantasyclay.artfire.com

sharlene said...

yep - definitely have a problem with tooting my horn and pricing. it all seems to come down to what we were taught as children: wait till someone else says you are good at what you do.

Miss Val's Creations said...

Insightful post! It is important to be proud of what you have created and pricing it properly. I understand what you mean though. I think of what I paid for materials and feel weird sometimes about what my customer pays. But then I remember it is because they love the item and want to wear it! It don't look at others as competition since we all have our own unique styles. :)

sharlene said...

exactly val - other jewelry artisans are partners -- we all help each other keep the world full of bling! great to have partners like you!

Speranza Jewelry said...

Really good advice. I especially love "don't be afraid to say your name" and "you're competition isn't who you think it is."

sharlene said...

@speranza - do you feel the same? isn't it hard to "say your name" -- i know i still break out in sweat each time i do. LOL

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