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Easy? No. Worth it? Yes!

Another month has passed, and one very much for me focused on how makers can get the most of going online but also in virtual fairs. These conversations have been going on for over a decade – certainly regarding the former – but the Covid year has driven home the need for all opportunities to be exploited if, as creatives, we are to survive and thrive going forward.

And thrive we must, but to do so means ‘putting our best foot forward’ at all times. There is no benefit in rushing things, cutting corners, or doing the bare minimum just to fill the need, because in doing so we undermine all our hard work, and we risk our precious reputations ...

If we aspire to be the best at what we do, then we must show what we do at its best. For makers, poor product photography, lacklustre lifestyles and meagre product descriptions won’t cut it. We live in a highly competitive world, one brim-full of things to buy – both handmade and mass-produced – and we must give work the best chance possible to grab someone’s attention and to journey to a new home.

Excellent photography geared towards what customers need, that’s what is required. Lifestyle shots that place work in context and to scale. Product descriptions communicating the provenance of a piece, its uses and how to care for it. And online presences celebrating what makers do while simultaneously acknowledging others present – organisers, providers, peers and colleagues – in an online shop or virtual show. By doing our best we honour ourselves but also those who stand beside us.

And don’t forget story, the thread that runs through everything a creative person does. Story is the wellspring of provenance, the skeleton key that opens every lock, the reason a maker’s work exists. Without story handmade pieces enter the world as orphans, disconnected from the knowledge, the experience, the life, that brought them into being.

All this work can appear daunting, onerous, or even a distraction, but take it from me, selling online is only going to get more important and virtual fairs are not going away. To fail to exploit such a rich seam of opportunity is a chance wasted, especially in this (nearly) post-pandemic world, where we know from bitter experience how quickly our livelihoods can be taken away from us.

I’ll leave the final words to Art Williams:

I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.

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