Beading Business: Expert Advice from Diane Fitzgerald

Diane Fitzgerald is the author of several classic beading books, as well as the recipient of The Spun Gold Award for her lifetime commitment to fiber arts.

From Jennifer: Anyone in the beading business knows that marketing your beadwork can be tough. So for today's Beading Daily blog, I'm so excited to share this guest blog from Diane Fitzgerald! Diane has been recognized as a pioneer in the field of beadwork and fiber arts, has written hundreds of articles and beads and beadwork, and shares her love of beads and beadwork with students all over the world. Oh, and I should also probably mention that she's one of Beadwork magazine's 2012 Designers of the Year!

Marketing Your Finished Beadwork: Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

Self-promotion is a very important part of marketing your beadwork for sale, and gaining exposure for your work through donations is a wonderful way to reach out to potential customers. But just because you are donating your work, don't feel like you have to give it away for less than it's worth.

Diane's Zulu Flowerette Chain is available as a free project on Beading Daily.

Many organizations hold fundraisers where locally-made art and crafts are raffled or auctioned off, and these are wonderful venues for finding potential customers. When donating a piece for a raffle or silent auction, you can always find out if a reserve price can be put on your piece so that it won't be sold unless a certain bid amount is reached. Most auctions start with a minimum bid, and it can't hurt to ask for a specific minimum bid for your piece. 

Displaying your work at the auction or raffle is also an important part of marketing your finished beadwork for sale. Display your donated piece of beadwork sumptuously, on a display stand, and with the best lighting possible. Don't let it just lay there on a piece of paper! You can either purchase jewelry displays from your local craft supply store, or you can create your own display from a picture frame with a velvet pad. The advantage of the picture frame is that it creates a lovely window around your piece, and the beadwork can also be easily removed from it for viewing.

Giving your potential customer as much information as possible about your finished beadwork will also help create an appreciation for the process of bead-weaving and all that it entails. A small tag attached to your donated piece of finished beadwork listing the techniques used, types of beads and countries of origin are all types of information that will make an impression on your potential customers. While not everyone will be familiar with names like Miyuki and Toho, the name Swarovski is known throughout the world and can help give your potential customers an idea of the quality of the materials you are using in your finished beadwork.

The words you use to describe your finished beadwork will go a long way to communicating the quality of the piece to interested buyers. Inform buyers about the history or symbolism of your design. Using words and phrases like "heirloom quality" and "cherished for generations" will let them know that they are purchasing a real work of art. You can also list the specific bead-weaving techniques that you used to create the piece of finished beadwork and include some basic information about the origin of the beading stitches you used. If you like, you can even include an estimate of how many hours went into creating the piece.

Don't be shy about giving information about yourself as an artist when you are marketing your finished beadwork. Include information about the teachers with whom you have studied, how many years of experience you have in bead-weaving and jewelry-making, and any other formal art training that you have had. List the artists that have influenced your work and inspired you as well, to give people a better idea of where you are coming from with your artistic vision.

Branding your finished beadwork can be as simple as attaching a customized metal tag to it. There are many sources for these little tags, and you can either have them machine-stamped with a design from a catalog or you can order them and have a custom design, word or name put on them. And don't forget about packaging and presentation! Find a style of gift box and wrapping paper or ribbon and stick with it. Your choices will become part of "your" signature, and it will make your jewelry instantly recognizable without even opening the box!

Of course, don't forget that another important aspect of marketing and documenting your finished beadwork is a set of great photographs. If you've struggled with taking great photos of your finished beadwork, have we got an exciting new book for you! The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos is full of practical, useful and money-saving tips and tutorials. You'll also find essential information for getting the most out of your digital camera like understanding photography basics, which settings to use and when and how to effectively use a flash. Are you ready to start taking knockout pictures of your finished beadwork? Order your copy of The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos and learn how to take photos like a pro!

Bead Happy,




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