Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sarah's rules for self-marketing

Jewelry making. Fine art. Writing. No matter what the field, you'll hear that promoting not just your work, but yourself, is essential. As important as creating pieces that capture people's interest.

I can't say I agree with this completely. I'd rather not think of myself as a Brand, because I'm not Goldfish Crackers (no matter how much I love them)! I'm just me, and I'd like my jewelry to speak for itself as much as possible.

However! And this is a big however. There's just no arguing with the fact that if I want to sell my work, I need to find people to buy it. It's like the old question of a tree falling in the woods with nobody to hear it. Sound waves need ears to translate them into sound. We need people to translate our art into sales.

That said, I think staying true to who I am as a person is important, and one thing that makes my pretty curly hair turn white from stress is the idea of pushing myself on people. Of, frankly, being rude. Or unhappy. Or bored. Or unbalanced. This is why I came up with a list of guidelines for myself. I'll share them with you, in no particular order.

1.) Make it fun!

Quite honestly, I wouldn't keep a blog if I didn't enjoy it. I like writing. I like giving myself advice. I like talking about the cool people and things in my life, and for the love of all that's sparkly, I love anything related to sequins. I think that if I'm not enjoying myself, it will show. I won't seem genuine. Which leads me to...

2.) Be genuine!

I pledge that I will only read and subscribe to blogs that I find interesting. I'll leave comments on Flickr photos that impress and amaze me. I'll enter contests for companies whose products I love, and I'll support charities whose causes I would support, exposure or no exposure. Promotion for the sake of promotion is for car dealerships, not me. This is because...

3.) I'm dealing with people!

I always want to keep people in mind. They're not sales, they're not blog stats, they're individuals with their own wants and needs and thoughts and feelings, and to treat them otherwise would be terrible. I pledge to leave interesting comments on blogs, not just invitations to check out my own. To support other artists in the way I'd like to be supported, and should the opportunity present itself, to mentor fledgling jewelry makers/writers/whatever. To make friends!

4.) Because it's not always about me!

I think this one speaks for itself. I'll just add that I want my work to be noticed, but other people work just as hard (or harder) and deserve their share of the spotlight. Who am I to try to steal it away from them?

5.) Stay balanced!

With all the available options for promoting my work, it seems like it would be easy to get so wrapped up in submitting work to contests, looking for teaching opportunities, posting and commenting on blogs/photos, that I start to neglect the rest of my life -- especially if I've followed the first rule and am having a blast. I pledge to pay attention to Mr. Sequin, my friends, my health, my other interests. To laugh, create, love, eat, sleep, bathe, and to spend time in the real world where there are blue skies and chocolate cupcakes and bunnies. Never underestimate the importance of bunnies!

That's all I can think of, but I'd love to hear your suggestions. What are your rules for self-promotion? How do you maintain that manners/exposure/life/work balance? Curious sequin enthusiasts want to know.

Thanks, and have a sequintastic day!

Edit: I almost forgot to mention this post by author Maureen Johnson. A few months back I did I search for "I am not a brand" on Google, and her post was the first to come up. It was a breath of fresh air and sanity, and re-reading my own post, I can see how much she inspired and influenced me. Kudos, Maureen! And cookies. With chocolate chips. And toasted coconut. And caramel.

Edit again: Also, check out this post by Christine Kane. Marketing tips for authentic people!


  1. This post is really lovely (and not just because I also LOVE Goldfish Crackers). I think that your guidelines are inspiring.

    I'm trying to get to a place that is more balanced and have more fun. When I decided that I wanted to do this full time, I went on a rampage. I applied to every contest, art fair, and other opportunity I came across. It worked out great for me--and I have a growing jewelry business to show for it--but I was totally wiped out by the end of the year. Now I'm figuring out how to work when I need to and take a break when I need to.

    As a society, we're inundated with so much information, that you have to push to get noticed. People won't care about what you're doing unless you tell them why. I think that as long as you're genuine, you won't come across as pushy. At least, that's what I hope.


  2. Vanessa! It's so great to hear from you. :)

    I have to say, I'm so proud of you and all the success you've been having. And I was so impressed with your winning entry in the Bead Dreams contest! I can totally understand being wiped out. You've done a lot.

    One thing I have a hard time doing is relaxing! But I'll tell you what works for me and puts some fun into my life. Hula hooping. It gives me energy and burns anxiety away. Plus, a hoop is like a big plastic jump ring!

    Thanks for commenting and for the sweet compliment. :)

  3. Great advice - and I think that (just starting out myself) number 5 is already turning out to be the hardest sort of rule to follow - it's too easy to just throw yourself straight in at the deep end!

    And I'm taking at least one bit of advice away from this (besides the yummy idea of chocolate and caramel chip cookies) - I'm going to try and leave comments when someone impresses/helps/inspires me rather than just melting into the background as I tend to do!!


  4. I'm the kind of person whose unintentional life philosophy is Go Big Or Go Home, so I know what you mean about the deep end! I'm going to have to reign myself in and put a limit on either the number of activities I do each day or the amount of time I spend. Here's hoping we can both follow rule 5, to the best of our abilities!

    Also, very glad you decided not to stay in the background! I'm always very happy to receive comments because everyone has something interesting to say. I know plenty of awesome people who feel the same way. :)

  5. Thanks, Sarah! As talented as you are, I'm honored that you're impressed by my work. You make magic happen with those small rubber rings.

    I'll have to try out hula hooping. Right now I've been taking improv classes to purge all social anxiety from me and it's making me WAAAAY anxious. I could use something to de-stress. :)

  6. Your words are so full of wisdom, I'm constantly struggling with number 5 though - even before I started putting my work out there in the online abyss as I have the last few months I always find it difficult not getting engrossed in something to the point where all else suffers. My friends will tell you even something as simple as replying to their texts, calls etc gets forgotten in I'm in a 'phase' I guess is the word. So now, with all this increased creativity and whole other online world I've found this imbalance is even harder to control (take today for example - it is the first time I have been online for 10 days or something because I have been creating). Wow this is a long comment, sorry, you seem to have it down though any tips in this area though GREATLY appreciated lol much love Jenny

  7. One thing I'm coming to realize about balance is it's something we have to constantly work at because things in our lives are always changing as new projects or interests come up. So I think it's normal to have an adjustment period from time to time.

    I also think balance doesn't mean doing everything evenly all the time. Some days things like creating are just going to get more attention because that's what we need to do.

    A few things you might try, though, are a) a timer. I use my stove timer so I actually have to get up and turn it off, and I use it to make sure I don't spend too much time, say, checking my email or sitting in one position making jewelry. Or I'll use it for things I don't like, like cleaning the studio -- it's amazing how much you can get done in 20 minutes!

    Then there's b) a flexible schedule. Use a wall calendar and sticky notes. Write things like "work on a new journal," or "make kits," or "reply to email" on them, and stick them to every day in the week. Re-arrange them if you feel more like doing a certain thing on a certain day.

    I hope that helps! :)

  8. Balance. Yes. That's the key to everything isn't it.
    Great post. Thanks ~


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