Behavior that prevents sales, how not to be that gal/guy, how to deal with people who treat you like junk, and how to form relationships with new clients.
Behavior that prevents sales, how not to be that gal/guy, how to deal with people who treat you like junk, and how to form relationships with new clients.

Behavior that prevents sales, how not to be that gal/guy, how to deal with people who treat you like junk, and how to form relationships with new clients.

“And let us consider one another to prove unto love and to good works” ~Hebrews 10:24

Encourage fellow laborers. No matter what their labor is.

Lift others up.

I want to share a few remarks on weird stuff other vendors do that ends up preventing sales, how to not be that gal/guy, how to deal with people who think it’s ok to treat you like junk, and how to take interest in your customers to facilitate relationships.

NO PHOTOGRAPHS ALLOWED.

Have you seen vendors who have signage saying “no photographs allowed?”

They’re shooting themselves in the foot!

I understand their reasoning, but I’m about to outweigh that with actual positive consequences of allowing photography.

There was a guy at a recent event who made those horseshoe boot racks and other horseshoe items. I have a pretty good board on Pinterest about horse shoes, so this guy wasn’t accomplishing much by saying no to pics except being really successful at running off customers by (kinda rudely) enforcing a no photo rule. He also had a really neat trailer setup, so that customers could walk into his rig and shop from nice built-in shelving, but wouldn’t allow other crafters to photograph his setup so they could have their trailers retrofitted in the same way. Dude. They’re only shelves. B-but, you’d get pictures of my products if you took pics of my trailer, and I don’t allow photos of my products, he said. (It wasn’t me btw…I saw his sign and steered away from his space altogether)

Here’s what I have to say about forbidding pics to keep others from sharing your work:

The stuff you’re making is easily retrievable on Pinterest (because there are very few original ideas), so why would you keep people from sending pics of it to their sister, brother or mother? You’re holding your own business back by denying others’ sharing of it. You’re holding yourSELF back by stopping a relationship from forming with a prospective client.

Instead of running them off, TALK TO the people taking pics. 99% of them aren’t taking a pic so they can run home and copy it in their garage. They’re sharing it with others who they think may want it, and if you let people photograph your work, you’ll see sales on the back end. They’ll text their pic off to whoever they think will love it, and you’ll see them come back by day’s end to purchase the thing they photographed and sent off. And most of the convos with people taking pics go like this: {you spot a person taking pics and approach them…you: Hi there! them: Oh is it ok if I take a pic of your boot racks and send it to my sister? She has a boot obsession and her entire house is western themed. you: Sure! Share away! Let me know if you have any questions and here’s my card. I have a website, I do custom work and I ship!   OR….you: no I don’t allow pics. Them: oh my that’s too bad, bc she would prolly want one for her mud room, one for the living quarters on her horse trailer, and a giant custom one made to fit the sliding barn door to her walk-in closet. But now I don’t want to buy from you cuz you seem like a jerk.}

Oof. Allowing them to take One photo could have turned into a $750 sale.

Try it. You’ll end up making more sales and feel better in your heart because you connected with others over your hard work.

Lift them up! That 1%? The 1% who are photographing your stuff to copy your work? Let them copy. They can’t do it like you do. I promise. Most artists who take photos of others’ work are INSPIRED  by it rather than led to copy it; don’t prevent that! Inspiration is different than copying. You’ve lit a fire in them to use a similar material to make something entirely different than what you are making. They’ll end up sharing your name and your business because they feel connected to you as a creator.

THE OVERLY PROTECTIVE PARANOID ARTIST

A customer told me a story about this guy…she and her husband were at a large craft fair, and they “spent too much time looking at and admiring” these amazing animal sculptures that a junk artist had made and filled a booth with. Salvaged materials sculptures. They never got out their phones, never tried to take pics, and weren’t taking notes or anything; they were just pointing and oohing and aahing and looking at all the little details. The vendor asked them to leave because he thought they were going to try to copy his work. This married couple said they felt he treated them like thieves. If they felt inclined to purchase anything before being booted, they certainly didn’t in the end.

I feel sorry for that vendor, because he missed the chance to delight in his customers. If he had simply struck up friendly conversation by asking where they were from, he would have made a sale and created a relationship with his customer that could have meant future sales as well.

THE SECRET-KEEPER

I was at an event once selling my junk. My neighbor sold stamped jewelry. She had really pretty stuff but it wasn’t my personal style. Y’all know I make jewelry, I love using copper and stamping it to do all sorts of stuff. Her stamps were unusual and pretty, so I asked her if she sold the stamps to other creators. She laughed at me. Looked at me like I was going to copy her. She wouldn’t even tell me what brand they were.

She was so clueless. She didn’t realize that she was missing out on selling to an entire demographic: creators. I sell my stuff to other creators all the time. I sell raw materials AND finished art. Her booth was entirely comprised of jewelry that was finished. No baskets of plain leather wrist bands. No trays of charms and cuffs not yet attached to the finish hardware. No finish hardware. No tools. Am I gonna tell her that she could sell that stuff? No way. She laughed at me. Let her did her own grave.

I guarantee that poor woman still hasn’t picked up on the fact that she could be teaching others HOW to create, which is a huge part of being a creator these days. Everyone wants to learn something new, pick up a hobby. They want input so they don’t fail. This lady’s jewelry and her craft were beautiful, but the only way she will consider sharing it is by selling a finished piece of jewelry. She’s missing out big time, y’all.

STAND UP FOR YOURSELF. BUT BE NICE.

I refused a sale on my Iowa trip. I had unloaded my trailer Sunday morning, holding  a couple of crates back by the trailer door because I had a use back home for the items in the crates.

While I’m cleaning my space between custom jobs, a man is digging through my stuff, which is cool, but he also dug into what was around the back of the trailer. Fine, whatever. He wanted to know how much I was charging for the hubcaps. Me: for all of them? $50. Him: just the four small ones. Me: four bucks apiece. I looked up in time to see him look at me and scowl like I was ripping him off. He was disgusted. Him: Psh! Nah I got a bunch at home.

Okaaaay. I turned my back and went back to work. Him: How much for this? I turn around to look and tell him he just picked that item out of the $5 crate. See the sign? He tosses the item back in the crate and moves on to my washtub that I use as a raised display for my custom cut templates. Him: how much for this? Me: it’s not for sale.

It really wasn’t for sale. We use that every summer to work up sweet corn, and this fall I used it to wash a lot of tiny jacks before tagging them for sale.

But it really didn’t matter. At that point, I wasn’t willing to sell him anything. So the next item he asked ‘how much for this,’ I didn’t even turn around, I just said “It’s not for sale.” He was one of those people who think YOU’RE SELLING JUNK, SO YOU CAN BE TREATED LIKE JUNK. There’s one in every crowd. I will sell to them, but I can always count on them to be insulting down to the end of the transaction. This time, I wasn’t in the mood and felt cleaning my space was more profitable than wheedling a meager sale out of this guy that would end with me feeling small. IT WAS BETTER FOR ME TO SEND A MESSAGE OF DEFIANT KINDNESS THAN TO ENDURE A PAINFUL SALE.

I don’t even remember what he looks like now. Wonderful. As it should be.

Just remember:

THE PEOPLE WANT HANDMADE AND LOCAL. YOU’RE NOT GOING TO RUN OUT OF CUSTOMERS.

I firmly believe that there are enough people seeking out local art, local everything, that you have nothing to worry about if another person copies your stuff. So lift those people up and encourage them to create! Even if they copy your horseshoe boot racks at first, they’ll find their own favorite medium eventually and begin making their own unique items. Let them take photographs. Let them look all they want.

SHARE. YOUR SOUL WILL THRUM WITH ENRICHMENT.

It’s a fool’s errand to go to a place of emotional upset when someone does copy your work. Don’t expect to come back from that place refueled or energized. This trip will only sap your zeal. Don’t go there. Let em copy you. It’s not fulfilling to keep all your ideas to yourself. Or the tools of your trade. Other creators are the key to more inspiration. Share it all and watch your business bloom. Form relationships with everyone you can, and watch doors open.

BE KIND, BUT DON’T LET ANYONE WALK ALL OVER YOU.

Not everyone gets art, and not everyone appreciates creators. Send the scowlers on their way with a smile and forget them, except remember when it’s time to teach other creators how to handle the same situation.

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