Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Value You Can't See

As a self-managed working artist, one has to make many daily decisions based on the value of things. One have to ask one's self is one thing worth doing over another thing. Can I possibly make my money back on this advertising? The questions may be phrased differently, but the choice for me often comes down to: "What has the most value to what I hope to achieve?"

It can be difficult to make these decisions, because the face value of something can be far lower than its hidden value. I find that it's easier for me to be more confident when making these decisions if I keep in mind that everything I do to add value to my art business builds on what I have already done. More importantly, I really can't accurately judge what will be the value of any action, judgment or dollar spent.

Case in point, a .20¢ listing fee on Etsy. The face value is .20¢ that buys you a 4-month listing on Etsy. At one time, a hidden value of the .20¢ was 5-10 minutes of exposure on the front page of your category. That exposure is not as likely to happen now, but it does not mean that there isn't some exposure value in listing or renewing a listing. Renewing listings made it possible for me to establish a presence on Etsy. But, Etsy was far less populated then, and it takes a lot more renewing to make a splash now. It may not worth it for some, but it always will be for me because of the way I see the value of the .20¢.

There is at least .60¢ in listing fees that I have spent on Etsy that have had immeasurable value.

The first .20¢ was about 2 years ago. I listed one of my dog series. That listing was seen by a publishing company. In fact, one of the largest fine art reproduction companies around. As a teenager, working in a frame shop, I can remember looking through this company's catalog. That listing led to a licensing agreement with said publishing company. That agreement has led to my work being seen on major retail websites, in catalogs and the like. That agreement has allowed me to continue making art on my terms, the art I want to make, while putting my work in front of a larger audience that I could never hope to reach on my own. That agreement allows me to spend my days working as an artist.

The second .20¢, and the third .20¢ were spent within days of each other. I was contacted through Etsy by two major catalog companies directly to have my work sold in their pages. Without my publishing agreement, I probably would not have been able to even consider these opportunities. Running my Etsy shops fills my days as it is. It would be murder to try to fill catalog orders as well. Or maybe it wouldn't. Me judging situations again, but I am pretty sure it would be more work than I can handle.

I can go on, as I am sure a lot of us could if we sat and thought about it, about little things we have done that blossomed into much larger things. Sure, everything business decision I made before I relisted the dog, or the By Order of the Managment Sign, or the Tin Toy Box Art led to my being found by the right person in the right place at the right time. I probably didn't even consider to what those particular relistings might lead. It's part of my daily routine, something I don't really consider beyond, "Well, these 3 pieces will look nice together", etc.

The point is, in the midst of the myriad of decisions I make each day, some expensive, some not, it has sometimes been the littlest, least expensive decisions/actions that have nudged my work into to just the right spot to be seen by someone who can help me to continue making my living as an artist.

I always hope that each .20¢ I spend to list or renew will come back to me as a sale. But it's exciting to think that I never know what I am gonna get.


Mixed Species said...

Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom! Congratulations as well.

-the Mixed Species guys-

John W. Golden said...

Thank you! I love me some Mixed Species!