Recently I’ve noticed that there is a new online marketing ploy. “Craft” vendors are placing ads that state they are retiring their entire “Great Waves” or other collections. They sacrifice profits to clear this valuable inventory as they approach retirement or other significant life events. Pardon me while I laugh. I suspect the items were mass-produced in China or some other offshore location precisely for this commercial maneuver. These days it’s easy enough and cheap to create a folksy online shop on any online marketing platform, present yourself as a handcraft creator and sell via social media ads.
Craft, by and large, thanks to online marketing, has become formulaic in the online marketing world. But the concept of the craft itself is on the cusp of great things; if you go looking in the offline world. More than ever, there is a wide variety of items available.
Almost every weekend, there are shows where craftspeople display their work for sale. You only have to get off your computer, get to the fair, and rendezvous with them.
You can feel the textile, weight, texture, and weave at the weaver’s booth. You can have an honest discussion with the woodworker about the choice of wood. And actually, sample the cheese you are interested in.
I’ve struggled with whether I would or would not open an online shop. At this point, the Magic Eightball suggests that the answer is no. In part, I am worried about the competition. No, I’m not concerned about the competition in terms of quality. But many online crafts seem involved in a race to a pricing basement. As a carver, I have a pretty good idea of what materials, labor, and overhead will be on the simpler products I produce; spoons, spatulas, and such. These lack the labor intensity, research, and special skills required for a ship portrait. A spoon is a straightforward product. But the pricing and the lack of unique form on many “handmade spoons” I see online lead me to suspect that they are machine-made to look handmade.
Deal with craftspeople, not online robots that sell fake craft. For example, talk to a potter about their pottery and a jeweler about that earring.