Six Months of Inky, Part 1: Selling, Socialising, and Swapping Between “I” and “We”

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This month marked six months since Inky Collective started, and good gracious have we fitted a lot in.

  • 48 blog posts (including this one)
  • 16 interviews
  • 10 workshops
  • 4 talks
  • 2 letterpress demos
  • 2 giveaways
  • 2 online shops opened
  • 2 markets applied for
  • Ahem. 1 market acceptance
  • 1 Dear Inky post (though much more agony aunting done by email, Twitter and the like!)
  • 1 stockist
  • 1 website revamp

I’m not going to harp on about the top half of that list, as obviously you can read any of those posts at your leisure (though we’re yet to write up a few of the workshops), but the lower half, well… there’s so much to talk about I’m going to split this across two posts to give you a bit of a rest.

Let’s start with… experiences with SELLING.

 

ONLINE

Inky Collective on Etsy - Inky Collective Blog

I opened an Etsy shop back in August, the day before the Print Isn’t Dead magazine launch, in an absolute panic that we would be teaching all these people to print but not only did we have no business cards (the irony!), but we also had nowhere to direct them should they want to order any prints. I took hurried photos of three products and slapped them up online.

It then went mostly ignored (I’m very busy and important) until October when, out of the blue, my iPhone made a “cha-ching” noise and a notification popped up congratulating me on my first sale. And not even to a friend or family! To a stranger!

This was the kick up the bum I needed to print a load of new designs, and photograph them properly. I’ve made 32 etsy sales since then (small fry by some standards, I know), with what I think is fairly minimum promotion through Twitter and Instagram, so this has been a real confidence booster.

Something that definitely drives traffic to the shop though is taking part with regular Twitter chats like #handmadehour and #crafthour (which you can find the times for on our Calendar). I’ve heard others say mixed things about these chats – such as that it’s mainly other makers who will take part and retweet your links. I don’t really see the problem with this, as me being a maker doesn’t stop me buying other maker’s wares and I’ve discovered some incredible things and talented people this way.

One thing I only just learnt about Etsy, that I thought was worth sharing, is that all the listings appear in chronological order. So the card that’s suitable for Valentine’s Day, that I popped on to the shop a few weeks ago, is now probably showing on page 500 of Valentine’s Day card listings. If I want it to appear earlier, I need to pay to relist the item.

Letterpress Card by Inky Collective

I also wanted to share something a bit lovely that happened.

I closed the Etsy shop for the Christmas break and on the last day of being open I had a message from a gal asking if there was anywhere in London she’d be able to collect some of my gift tags. She wanted to buy, but needed them asap. It turned out my day job wasn’t too far from where she worked so we arranged to meet on our lunch break the next day.

It was really lovely to meet a customer face to face, especially as she said “You know when you’ve seen something you love and then nothing else compares to it?”

Um, YEAH. I know that feeling very well, but I never expected anyone to feel it about my stuff! Thank you Joanne, you don’t know what that feedback meant to me. And to everyone who’s bought cards and tags, thank you so much for your support.

A few weeks back I set up on Folksy too, and though I’ve yet to promote it properly, I made my first two sales within hours of each other a few days ago. So far the user experience of Folksy is nowhere near the standard of Etsy, but you do feel like a larger needle in a smaller haystack!

 

MARKETS

Balham Craft Fair - Inky Collective Blog6

I applied for two Christmas markets last year, Crafty Fox Market, and a local one to me, Balham Craft and Vintage Fair. I don’t mind sharing that we didn’t get accepted by Crafty Fox, and though it was disappointing, looking back at the application I totally understand why.

We did get to take part in the Balham Fair, and though we made a profit, the overall experience was pretty negative.

I’ll be writing a separate post about all of this – applications, rejection, learnings – in the coming weeks.

 

STOCKISTS

Letterpress Cards - Inky Collective Blog

After having positive feedback about the cards, online and in the real life, I had the confidence to start approaching stockists. I popped a few different designs in a big tote bag and carried them down the high street with me to a lovely local gift shop, Tickled Pink.

The owner, Anna, was overwhelmingly helpful and supportive when it became clear I hadn’t been stocked before, and was also really nice about my designs. She ordered more than 50 cards right then and there (which I dropped off a few weeks back) and I wandered home feeling quite overwhelmed.

I am working on some new designs, and then hope to start approaching more shops, so stay tuned! Once I’ve had a bit more experience I’ll share any tips with you, of course. In the meantime, the lovely Rod of Rodology, shared some great advice on choosing stockists in this interview last year.

 

STAYING SOCIAL AND BLOGGER BURNOUT

Twitter ghost - Inky Collective Blog

Classy.

Those of you who tweet, post, pin and all the rest may recognise this scene. My husband (and inky partner in crime) Wrighty snapped this while we waited for a cab after a full day on our feet at The Mini Maker Faire. We’d been teaching a queue of families to print all day, so we’d barely stopped to eat let alone tweet!

We were shattered but I was straight online tracking down people we’d met, photos that had been shared, and to tell everyone how well it had gone.

I love the brilliant community I’ve met online, but I have had to learn when to give myself a break. Constantly trying to keep up to date and visible across the networks, no matter what else is going on, just isn’t sustainable. And it’s not much fun for those around you either.

I still try to post photos and tweet every day (Buffer has been fantastic for this, as I can line up some of my tweets at the start of the week), but if I miss a day or a Twitter chat here and there, I don’t give myself a hard time anymore.

The same goes for blogging. I try to post twice a week – an interview on a Tuesday, a review or some news on a Friday. When things pick up on the letterpress side, or at the day job, or I just run out of time I used to get really stressed and stay up late to ensure I still posted something. The quality of my writing suffered and I went to work or the printing studio (aka: the spare room) the next day completely out of beans.

Letterpress postcard - Inky Collective Blog

It makes me so happy, and I feel so honoured that the blog has a small following (and that it’s growing each day!), and the stress I sometimes feel comes both from keeping up with the Joneses (we all have a blog that we hold in such high esteem and is so consistently good that we hate it just a little bit, right? Right?! Oh god, please say I’m right.), but also from the idea of letting you lot down.

But then I give myself a little wallop with the Sensible Stick (patent pending) and get over myself. I think about the blogs I read, and how I’d feel if I opened my laptop to find no new post for a few days, or a week. Would I never look again? Would I feel let down? Of course not! I’d probably wonder what was going on, so in future, I shall always let you know what’s occurring.

 

“I” vs “We”

I always feel a bit self conscious when I see others online write “Why do people say “we” when it’s just them?”, “Why try and make yourself sound like a team when you’re not?”.

I think some do this as they feel that sounding like a team equals sounding like a reputable business, or maybe because it’s less scary to put your opinions and personal work out there that way. Personally, it doesn’t bother me if you say “we’ve been in the studio” when it’s really just you, in your living room, churning out work every evening and weekend. I don’t feel mislead. If anything I’m more impressed when I find out it’s just you who’s been doing the work of several.

You might have noticed that I swap between saying “I” and “we”, and I wanted to clear that up for anyone who wondered why!

I, Jen, started Inky Collective. I do the majority of the blogging and I do all of the tweeting and instagramming and pinning, etc. So most of the time I’ll say “I think this” or “I went to that”, because it’s me doing the writing. I also do the letterpress printing, unless it’s at an event, and then Wrighty is printing with me.

I say “we” when it’s not just my opinion, or it’s not just my news. I say “we” when saying “I” makes me feel I’m taking credit for work or words that aren’t my own.

I really hope to say “we” a lot more this year (we’ll have another member of the collective to introduce to you very soon!). The dream is to grow the collective into a much larger network, but I’ll tell you all about that next week in Part 2 along with some other exciting news!

Letterpress Card by Inky Collective

Jen Wright

Jen Wright

Letterpress printer, maker and freelance writer. I blog about the people and things that inspire me, in the hope that I will inspire you.
Jen Wright

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5 Comments

    • Haha, thank you! It’s not too bad, but just making sure I have a proper day off from everything once a week does wonders. Long walk in nature, nice long bath with a good read :) lovely!

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