Currently I am trying to build up enough items so I can have some semblance of a "store" when I start selling. Most potters I meet, scoff at the idea of trying to sell ceramics online, saying that the customer has to have a tactile connection with the piece to close the sale. While I agree with the sentiment, huge numbers of craftspeople have websites and online stores. It's doubtful that they would do that if it doesn't produce results. I think that some are much more comfortable with Web technology, and in tune with a time-pressed buying public that may not have time to visit studios and/or arts and crafts fairs. I just found Etsy, and was very impressed with their Website and the setup for sellers. It is more similar to ebay than to online galleries that want big commissions. Please take a look at Etsy and comment, or let us know of other arts and crafts sales opportunities you know about both online and real-world. Another online arts and crafts site is Yessy which is quite similar to Etsy in both name and content.

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Update July 10, 2012 - Please note that this discussion was started 4 years ago.

In the meantime an etsy potters interest group was formed on our network, and much discussion has taken place there: http://cone6pots.ning.com/group/etsypotters. That group now numbers 55 members. Among them are half a dozen or so leaders who have done the work and made their etsy storefronts into profit centers for their businesses. We should hear from them, as well as from the unsuccessful and/or inexperienced naysayers. When the group was very active last fall, a number of them seemed pleased with their etsy experience.

Personally I never sold an item on etsy (I never had more than 12 or 15 items listed at any time, and did little to promote my store.) I did get many sales from locals who I saw my work on the etsy site and then made it a point to show up at a sale or to contact me to make a purchase.

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I have seen a couple of websites where the potter shows a "catalog" of pieces, and the buyer orders this one or that one. The potter then throws what the customer wants and ships it. The potter states on the page that each piece is individual and unique, so the customer knows they are not getting the piece pictured, just one that is the same size, basic coloration, and shape. Seems to work for them....
That might be a little harder...I surf a LOT!
I will try and find it again though, and post the address.
As you may have noticed, I am marketing my wares online on the etsy website. I started listing on Nov. 12 and now have 15 items for sale. I haven't sold anything yet. I have no history with them and no feedback, so it's probably a little harder to convince a stranger that I am a reliable seller. There have been up to 29 views of my pottery pieces and one was been marked as a favorite. My shop has been marked as a favorite of 4 or 5 people. I have heard of one potter who said in Ceramics Monthly that he sold 80% of his work on etsy. The general consensus is that one is a fool to post a bunch of stuff and expect any real success. You have to make a broad campaign to get your works noticed, appreciated, and in demand. My initial strategy is to link all my efforts together:
  • To have my etsy shop and my cone6pots personal page listed on my business cards, so prospective customers can browse at their leisure, and can ask to see one or more of the online items in real space.
  • To have links to my etsy shop here and on my facebook page, so shopping my work is super easy.
  • To have links to cone6pots and to my etsy shop in the signature on all my emails. The link to cone6pots is to establish some credibility as being a potter among other potters who take our work seriously enough to form professional affiliations. To the etsy store so the breadth of my work is easily accessable without bringing every prospective customer into my house.
  • To use the online marketing to cast a wide net for customers outside of my immediate locality who particularly like my work, and to make an occaisional online sale.
Etsy Works! . . . But not like you think. We have an electronic bulletin board at my workplace. I posted a notice there saying I moonlight as a potter, and invited everyone to use the included a link to browse my etsy store. Someone came up to me at work today and said, "I would like to buy the Ugly Duckling pitcher and the Iron red bowl". So I put the items in my car this evening, and tomorrow she can look them over, and complete the purchase. Listing fees -- $0.40, Shipping fees -- $0.00, transaction fee $0.00.
This is an example of using multiple methods to sell your stuff.
I have some sales on Etsy, but driving alot of traffic to your site, I think, is key to big sales. I have noticed that the folks who are heavily into social networking on several sites, facebook, myspace, and many more seem to be the ones who are most successful. I wish I had more time for it and were better at it. If I get featured on someone's blog, or have time to contribute to social sites, I get more traffic and more sales. I even have folks contact me way after the fact who have found something online and track me down.

Besides just being a sales tool, my site is a great portfolio. It's easy to hand out a card with my url or email someone at a brick n mortar shop with a request and a link. I've gotten into several galleries and shows this way.

BTW, trunkt is becoming a paid only site after Jan 1.
I just found another online sales site called "America Creates" at http://americacreates.com
It's a little more expensive than Etsy at 25 percent commission but what I liked was that they jury in the artists.

 I like etsy and have sold a few pieces on there without even really trying. Hoping to build up an inventory and get more involved, I see a lot of people selling their pottery on there.

George wrote: "Most potters I meet, scoff at the idea of trying to sell ceramics online, saying that the customer has to have a tactile connection with the piece to close the sale."

I suspect that many of their in-person customers are comfortable purchasing from their favorite potter online.

This is an excellent question and a problem for potters. I have done 3 'street shows' and am looking at tents required by most outdoor art shows. It is a lot of work to pack and display ceramics.

I tried etsy without any sales. I didn't like having to figure the shipping when I didn't know where the piece might be going. I too found the site to be overwhelming and cluttered. I'd like to have something that would be targeted at my local area, Pensacola and the Gulf Coast.

Are street shows and art festivals the best way to get your stuff 'out there'?

I have tried a few things over the years. Craft Markets can be great BUT you NEED to find one that is in an area where the people that live in that local area that frequent the market would have 1) the cash to afford buying art and craft items 2) The people are the type to buy, display and appreciate such things that are sculptural pieces (which is what i do). I am in the process of looking for another gallery to sell my work. I have one reputable gallery already and they asked me to be a feature artist in a recent exhibition which was great, but at least two or three would be great. I have emailed another with my personal profile and a few pics of my work and they have said that my email was passed on to the gallery co-ordinator. I have also a facebook page set up for my pottery and occasionally I post pics and a status relating what I am making, selling etc. I have had requests to purchase pots this way and have a link to my blogsite. All these little things help.

Good morning all,

This is such a good question that I had to pipe in. ( not sure if i am replying in the correct place) I just put my work on GoodSmiths. ( https://www.goodsmiths.com/supple-claywoks) It has only been up for a week or so but I  heard on a blog that they were revamping the site and I had all my pictures already taken. It was quite smooth to post them and the fee is small. To tell you the truth, I don't expect much but I wanted some kind of on-line presence. I have been asked over and over at craft/art shows..."where else can I buy your work". At least now I can say...I am at Goodsmiths! Right now there are only 4 or 5 potters there. I was a full time potter for many years and I have just gotten back to clay again. So, this time around I didn't want a web site. I know...I know.....how crazy is that in this day and age. So an on-line presence somewhere was important to me. Maybe I should also try Etsy. I believe I have just one pot on there. I wish you all great luck with sales. I want us all to sell!!

I love this subject. I’ve been selling art for the past three years in a small demographic area, first as a solo studio, then as a gallery owner. During this time I’ve been involved in many clubs, groups, and organizations, all dedicated to figuring out how to sell art. I know three years isn’t long, but with over forty artists at any given time sharing their experiences statistically important trends start to emerge.

Here on the Oregon coast we have all the challenges that artists everywhere face, and then some. The small population yet rich artist concentration gives up stories of success and failures on a daily bases.

If you wish I’ll share many of the things that have emerged from our countless discussions about what has worked, what hasn’t, and some general observations that may strike a cord with you as an artist trying to make money (with your art) in your part of the world.

Selling has always been a challenge, but the last few years has been nothing less then brutal, both for the galleries cramming more and more work into a fixed space and for the artists who give up ridiculous commissions to those galleries.

I must go open my studio now, but later today I’ll post again to share something you may find useful.

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