CraftyPod #117: Professional Crafters, Hobbyists, Etsy, and Viable Businesses, with Megan Auman

18 Jun 2010


Image by kiki99, via Flickr Creative Commons

 
Sorry, this podcast is no longer available. You can still listen to some other free shows, or browse additional shows for sale.

In this show:

• I talk with craft-business blogger Megan Auman about a number of interesting ideas - most notably, that Etsy.com is a "pro-am community," where professional crafters sell alongside hobbyists.

• We talk about how this "pro-am" landscape affects businesses that are trying to earn a profit, and how it affects side businesses (that maybe aren't). We also talk about how this landscape affects Etsy.

• ...And we talk about where Etsy really fits into a long-term, sustainable craft business.

Links:

• Megan's blog, Crafting an MBA is a very valuable read for craft entrepreneurs.

• Here are some links to learn more about Long Tail economies: this entry on Wikipedia, Chris Anderson's book on the subject, and his blog, The Long Tail.

• If you want some really solid information about pricing, read this post series by Charlie Gilkey.

Categories: 

Comments

Thank you for stopping by and checking out the show, Sherry! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Boy - with an accounting background, you'll be well-poised for entrepreneuship. All the best with your journey to being a professional artist!


I have to say, this is the first podcast I've ever listened to. I really enjoyed it. No bashing but honest discussion. As someone with the goal of being a professional artist (and quitting my day job as an accountant) I found this very enlightening. Thanks
now to go check out Megan's blog


Thanks for this discussion, Diane and Megan. I always love your links, as well.

It amazes me, the sheer quanitity of goods available on Etsy and Artfire. I honestly don't know how the great majority of sellers receive adequate compensation through online shops. I liked that Megan discussed alternate selling venues. Her common-sense and direct assessment of market saturation (and blog saturation!) was refreshing to hear.


AWESOME and inspiring post. Excellent food for thought. Thank you!


I really enjoyed this podcast. I think we need to talk more about these issues and offer more discussion for those who want to grow a professional business. Often in the craft field...people just assume, hey you are one of those "handmade folks" and they seem to have a preconceived notion of how you are going to handle business...or not handle business. I would love to learn more and hear more from the community about the topic of crafty businesses.


Excellent podcast, I'm often appalled at how low people price their art and wonder how on earth they even cover their costs. I do think it can devalue art in people's minds but I suspect that if you're good enough, you can charge whatever the market will bear, it's just a case of finding the right audience for your work.

One definite problem I have with Etsy is that there's just so many people on their that finding things you want to buy is a bit of a slog for the customer, I think I'd buy there more often if it was easier to navigate.


Thank you Sister Diane and Megan for this wonderful and insightful podcast!


Yet again, another incredibly informative podcast that really elucidates issues without sounding overbearing and judgmental. Your standard of quality for your podcasts, Sister Diane, is consistently high and comfortingly reliable! Thank-you!!! This one, in particular, sheds some light on concepts and feelings that many may not be able to articulate. It's encouraged me to explore more selling venues besides this single type of "storefront", and start planning on making actual in-person connections with my own community. Thanks for providing even more personal motivation to be confident, step outside my comfort zone, and embrace the opportunities that present themselves. Very very helpful! :)


Aw, Corey, you are awesome. Thank you so much for your kind words, and I'm thrilled that this show was helpful to you. Your work is so beautiful, I think you have many opportunities.


Grrreat!

Thanks for being upfront and honest while going out of your way not to let people feel trashed. So many are making money from people's hopes & dreams on the internet; it's great to get a gentle, open dose of reality. I'd begun to wonder how effective the marketing idea of "pitching" to blogs is becoming, and it's great to have a reminder that selling doesn't automatically mean profitability.

By the way, I'm reminded of the motorcycle/car racing world where the term pro/am is also used. They strictly separate amateurs from professionals by licensing the pros, but they have designated races that allow amateurs to race with professionals---with the idea of giving amateurs better skills in their quest to turn pro.


Thanks, Teresa! I really like the parallel to the racing world. I'd love to see a pro-am selling environment in our craft community that focused on improving the business skills of the hobbyists in a similar way.


Diane, this is one of your best podcasts ever!

Megan is so clever and articulate and you ask the right questions... this has definitely made me think about my business! I'm going to listen to this again and discuss it with my husband.

Thanks so much!


Thank you, Concha! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think Megan has so many insightful things to say about craft businesses.


Great podcast! Informative and made me feel a lot less guilty about not participating on Etsy forums because my audience isn't there. Thanks!


I know all the rules but when I'm doing art, I go into rebellion mode and absolutely do NOT want to keep my books! ah, well, I must grow up - after all that rebellious stage should have ended for me 30 years ago. :)
I am so glad that I found your blog and Megan's - just FYI, I was in Kelly Rae Roberts FLYING LESSONS online class and one of the "students" posted a link to this over there
Thank you for all your great info - and for your willingness to share


Hi, Sherry - thanks so much for stopping in! I'm thrilled to know that you were recommended here.

Boy, do I hear you about the numbers. I've been thinking about posting about my own wonky, incremental journey to better bookkeeping. I think creative people are very often loath to deal with these frankly-less-colorful aspects of business. But you can definitely "eat the elephant one bite at a time." :-)


Loved this pocast, it was super informative!! Thanks for the great info.


this is the first podcast i have ever listened to as well, it was passed on to me from one of my full time etsy team (FTEC) members. I felt like this podcast was speaking to me and my business personally. It is a constant hot topic in our group (FTEC) , and loved how alot of the concerns of both sides (Pro and Am) are addressed in this podcast. Great listen, and thanks for sharing it!


Thank you so much, Katy. I thought Megan had such a great handle on this whole idea. I'm especially glad to hear you've found the show useful, since you're part of that whole landscape!


really fantastic interview. couldn't sgree more and at some point i will leave etsy. maybe try out bigcartel.com. it's $10 per month instead of all the fees i pay now.


Thanks for this great interview! I recently launched an etsy store (www.SplendidThread.etsy.com) and have been grappling with many of the issues mentioned. I absolutely view my store as a business and am looking to make a profit and am dismayed to find so many hobbyists selling at super low prices. Crafting an MBA sounds like a great blog too!


Awesome podcast! It's like my favorite worlds colliding having you and Megan talk about Etsy in such a grounded and intelligent conversation. Thumbs Up!

I've been on Etsy since 2007, but only about a year and half ago, did I begin to realize the "rules of the game" there. It was/is an incredibly easy place to start a little business and test the waters of brand and shop ownership. For me, success bred a desire for more success and this meant I had to learn two things: how to play the "Etsy game," and how to think about my business independent Etsy. I think that anyone who comes to this same point with their Etsy shop should and probably does figure out that Etsy.com is a springboard and not a residence for their business. I am very grateful for the exposure Etsy has given my work as it has launched several profitable extra-Etsy avenues for my work, and I know that if I really want to take this gig seriously, I MUST leave the Etsy nest at some point to fly on my own.

Inspiring, well-spoken, and right on target. Thank you!


Thank you, Beth! I think someone who has a realistic view of Etsy's possibilities for a small business is an ideal person to work with a street team - it's so important to help sellers realize their own responsibilities in making a successful, profitable business.


FABULOUS!! Thanks Diane & Megan. This couldn't have come at a more opportune time for me. You've just touched on many thoughts running through my own head. The invaluable information you have provided will help guide me in the directions to answer those questions and set the path for where I'd like to go! Thanks for all that you do for the crafting community and passing along your infinite knowledge. Much appreciated.


FABULOUS!! Thanks Diane & Megan. This couldn't have come at a more opportune time for me. You've just touched on many thoughts running through my own head. The invaluable information you have provided will help guide me in the directions to answer those questions and set the path for where I'd like to go! Thanks for all that you do for the crafting community and passing along your infinite knowledge. Much appreciated.


I have ETSY to thank for serving as the ecommerce platform for my business but I do think that by making the barriers to entry so low (you basically just need an internet connection and a digital camera), they have done a disservice of sorts to the professional sellers and even the buyers themselves who often get aggravated from the sheer volume of stuff on ETSY. Curated sites are probably better in the long run but I don't see any of those as having the kind of market share that ETSY enjoys. It's interesting to watch it all play out. Very interesting podcast - thank you!


I have ETSY to thank for serving as the ecommerce platform for my business but I do think that by making the barriers to entry so low (you basically just need an internet connection and a digital camera), they have done a disservice of sorts to the professional sellers and even the buyers themselves who often get aggravated from the sheer volume of stuff on ETSY. Curated sites are probably better in the long run but I don't see any of those as having the kind of market share that ETSY enjoys. It's interesting to watch it all play out. Very interesting podcast - thank you!


I haven't heard the "pro-am" expression before, but it makes so much sense when applied to Etsy. The two things that really struck home for me in your conversation were (1) the desire for individuals to increase their social currency and (2) how Etsy is a great platform for individuals to jump start their craft businesses, but that there may come a time when you outgrow the platform. It was fun to listen as a change a pace to take a break from reading so much!


great info!


Sometimes I wonder if pricing is a particular struggle for the creative industries like craft in particular - its almost like business owners / creators are afraid to put a realistic price on a finished piece or a book or pattern (that covers costs and rewards the creator). Its almost a magic trick (in a way!) of balancing the business needs of cost and profit with what the market will accept or what it will bear.


Just listened to the podcast. Very interesting and informative. I'm not a seller on Etsy yet, but I've been wanting to get into it when I return back to the States at the beginning of next year. I really need to educate myself about business and pricing. I'm about to go to Megan's blog right now.

Thank you so much for putting these podcasts out there, I look forward to each and every one!


Hi Sister Diane,
I just wanted to write and say how grateful I am for you and your blog. I'm realizing there's this whole market of what you might call old school artisans (crafters?) who have watched the climate of the craft biz change so much. I'm really not that old, but since I've been doing this for 20 years I guess I may be an old timer! Anyway, my point is that I'm super excited about all of the new ways to connect with buyers and other artists, I'm psyched and motivated to learn all of this new electronic marketing, and I'm purchasing your ebook. I know that there is a huge gaggle of 40-plussers out there looking to connect and create. I sit on the board for the Louisville Area Fiber & Textile Artists and I shared your blog URL with this group (I'm considered one of the technological people in the group but I'm completely self-taught!). I have to be careful about inundating a group with too many URL's but yours is great. You've helped me with my blog and I also think the service you provide is totally worth it. Just wanted to say thank you. Take care.


Thank you for an objective podcast about etsy. Most are of the love it or hate it school of thought and while I think it can be helpful for people to share their opinions, I don't think those articles are very informative.


Wow, I just recently opened an Etsy shop, found Megan Auman, and loved this interview. I have been working at my business for almost 5 years and have just now found people talking about craft as a real business. Thank you so much for sharing all of this valuable information! I don't feel alone anymore! Please keep on talking!


I think that in some was Etsy is curated through front page treasuries and the suggested shop links. Using the search function is still democratic, but there's a certain "look" and aesthetic that is definitely promoted on the site. Other attention needs to come from different marketing venues.


I thought that the podcast was very insightful and certainly learned about running a crafty business. I think people tend to forget that running a crafty business is like every other business. You have to sell products on and off line. I also love the Megan's website. Thanks for doing the interview.


Love this podcast. Only wish is that it was longer! I'd love to hear you two discuss more trends/etsy/crafting soon. Thanks.


Hi sister Diane, I'm a grey hair quilter who just started blogging. I like listening to your podcasts, and especially this one on Etsy, very informative. You asked for comments, and all I have to say is that I just find it incredible that you put so much energy into this programs and it's worth it, they are so good and so well done! I would just suggest choosing some other music from time to time??


Thanks so much for stopping by, Jen! Hope you find lots to enjoy here!


This was so helpful. Thanks, Diane. I'm still going to open my etsy shop, but with eyes wide open.


Awesome! I'm glad you found it helpful, Georgene!


 This was Brilliant.  Thank you so much for the honesty here.  I am a Professional Artist/Crafter who does ONLY retail art/craft shows and has tried to bridge into Etsy with IMMENSE frustration. How you ladies worded this makes perfect sense.  I found you because I am registered to sell at the California Gift show and found Megan through them.  Wonderful info.  Hope to meet you both on day.  Thank you again.  Lisa


I'm so lucky to have found your podcast! Having given Etsy a 6 month trial, with no unrealistic expectations, I was sadly disappointed in my negative sales outcome and closed shop. I did not underprice my goods, which were made from very high quality materials. IMHO if you're lucky to get noticed on the site, it's by folks that are looking to buy low cost. I've learned to market myself through my teaching and contacts rather than Etsy


I see that I am commenting on a podcast that occurred almost a year and a half ago, but I just wanted to let you know how relevant it still is, and maybe even more so considering how many people are trying to just make a living with what they do in this abysmal economy and that includes me! I so appreciate the honest way that you approach your discussion of Etsy in the "pro-am" crafting world (I was not familiar with the term, but I'm so glad to have had the whole concept brought to my mind today!!). I have felt the frustration of feeling buried in all the shops of people who clearly enjoy what they do, but are not trying to put food on the table with what they make. Thank you so much. I feel as though this bit of wisdom from you sets me in a new, and hopefully, more profitable, direction.

Wishing you a wonderful day!

Betty


Thank you so much, Betty! I'm thrilled that the show was of use to you. These really are interesting and challenging times. I can't feel like hobbyists shouldn't have their opportunity to enjoy trying out selling, but absolutely - it can make things challenging for those of us who need to make rent. Still, there are endless opportunities outside of Etsy to find customers who'll pay what your work is worth. Don't give up!


Thank you for a great podcast. This is my first visit to your site, but I'll be looking around some more. I have what seems like a very silly question. I went to Megan Auman's blog and tried to subscribe to it on my blog reader. I couldn't find any way to do so, or any way to contact her except through formspring, which I'm not at all familiar with. Am I missing something, or is her blog blocked to RSS feeds? I did try adding the suffix /rss.xml to the blog name, which has always worked for other blogs.


Hi, Liz - I was able to subscribe in my Google Reader by pasting in the main URL for Megan's blog: http://www.designinganmba.com I think most feed readers will accept homepage URL's these days - give it a try!


This interview was awesome. I do market my busines in just about any way I can. All the top social media spots, Etsy, two web sites, a consignment store locally, relaxation parties, and I just keep going.

It is refreshing to hear down to earth talk and easy to understand ideas and someone who is being honest and not telling people you can build your business easily in a day and make money at crafting.
It is a real business and takes living, breating, being your business most of the time.
It is also pretty cool to hear of business books on crafting I have yet to run across. I will definitly look Megan's up and will add to my Library. Another important thing on running your own business. Educate, read, and stay up to date on media, computer, business marketing trends.
Thank, Hope to hear more like this.
I will listen a couple more times and post your link on my facebook.


Hi, Jennifer - this archive show is available to podcast subscribers. CraftyPod needs the support of subscribers and sponsors to stay in production. You can learn more about subscribing here: http://shop.craftypod.com/catalog/24

Or, there are quite a few free shows on all kinds of subjects available here: http://www.craftypod.com/category/podcast/free-podcasts/

In case you're interested in having a little background on why my podcast availability is set up the way it is, these might help: http://www.craftypod.com/2011/12/07/a-major-course-correction-for-crafty...
http://www.craftypod.com/2012/01/17/considering-removing-some-archived-p...


Hi, how do I listen to this? I am really interested in hearing Megan talk about business and pricing. I couldn't find this episode number over on iTunes (It seems you have only a select amount of your archives over there unfortunately), and there doesn't seem to be any "Play" button within this blog post. Could you point me in the right direction please?