3/12/2012

Telling A Story

There are countless helpful advice blogs and tutorials for every aspect of online selling and I think sometimes, in the middle of that how-to cacophony,  a few aspects of the marketing world tend to get slighted. One that I believe is extremely underrated and under-explored is the use of storytelling.

Here, in the world of e-commerce, potential customers are more inclined to take their time and peruse a sellers works and creations. Or, as the case may be, many sellers and their work. There is no rush or feeling of a salesperson looking over their shoulder.  If they are intrigued by the visual aspect they are likely to dig a little deeper. This, I believe, offers a great opportunity and the more you have for a buyer to discover, the more they can come to feel connected to you despite being in the faceless realm of cyberspace.

And this is where I see many people shortchanging themselves in their presentation.

The buyers I have met, through all of my Etsy shop, art gallery and commercial brick and mortar pursuits almost always comment on the story I offer for every item I create. I have heard it time and again that a poem made someone want my imagery, that the story I provided of an Egyptian Goddess steered them to purchase a gift for themselves and I lost count long ago how many people have written me about the Barry Lopez story I mention in my Etsy profile “Where can I find that?”  or “Can you recommend anything else?”

If they are reading that, I know they are likely reading my item descriptions too.

The story we provide can come from many places. If, for example, you make jewelry, you can talk about why you feel drawn to designing it or how you got started with it. You can write about the origins of the stones or beads you use or the inspiration that you had for creating a certain piece.

It doesn’t have to reveal a lot. 
It doesn’t have to be poetic or meet a standard set by anyone else.
But it MUST be from within

In the case of an item like my new Miniature Moai Statues I have pictured below, I came at the story from two perspectives. On one hand I shared the way the mystery of the ancient Moai statues affected me as a child and two, I offered a bit of the history behind the large monoliths that inspired these.







In building the description from both angles I feel it allows several opportunities to connect and it lends a bit of personal backdrop to the item. I sold two sets in the first week and both customers wrote to me commenting on the story I had provided. It turns out they both feel very much as I do about them. That made me happy because, while I certainly am here to sell my work, I also want people to know there is a reason behind everything I make. A connection somewhere along the way from within my own life.  I believe that has been a large part of why customers have been so willing to share a bit of themselves in return as well as to purchase my work.

The perception we should impart is one of loving what we do and an inkling of why we do it. It doesn't  matter how simple or how difficult the craft is. We should express when it is coming from the heart, inspired by nature, culled from our experiences or representative of our surroundings, our travels or our life.

Just remember to pull it from inside yourself.
I believe it matters.

Do you feel storytelling is an important part of your creative work and sales? Do you find it enjoyable to share the inspirations or the details behind what you create?  Please share you thoughts with me and with our group! We’d love to hear from you. :)

Thank you for reading. . .

nicolas

Here are links to a few other views on the subject :
Viktoria from Donauluft
 Pure Pixie's Blog
One Clay Bead: Storyteller or Boring Seller?

14 comments:

Viktoria said...

Interesting theme Nicolas!
Especially for me... as a non english native speaker it is not so easy to tell creative stories to my products....but I learn constantly.

Jen from SewnNatural said...

Wonderful post - you are so right. Love your new work!

TuckooandMooCow said...

This is such incredibly fantastic advice! Thanks so much for sharing, Nicolas! You are absolutely right that many artists don't understand or see the value in telling the story behind the piece. It's not just about the piece, either. So many are guarded (understandably so) and don't see that the value of telling their story outweighs the risks of talking about themselves online.

It takes a bit of both, discretion about how much sharing is too much sharing and also what your buyers/fans will find interesting.

Thanks so much for writing about this. This is some excellent advice.

PurePixie said...

Your are so right, Nicolas! I remember explaining why I made an item when I opened my shop. And then I decided that my descriptions were too long and I stopped. I definitively need to change that! Thank you so much!

steinschmuckdesign said...

It is the same for me, like for Viktoria, sometimes it is not so easy to tell a Story in English, specially when it comes from deep inside :) But yes, I noticed, with a story the created Item gets to life and that is what touches us all :)

Lauren said...

I agree the story behind the piece of work is not only interesting, it is another way to "feel" a piece of art- esp. in an online environment. This is an area I need to work on - thanks for the reminder!

IKABAGS said...

Your are so right, Nicolas!

Handmade ideas with lots of secret history :)
Unfortunately not to easy to tell a all story in English too.

Maybe one day i can find one solution , i hope

Jahje Ives said...

What wonderful advice. Telling a story about what inspires a work is my favorite part of selling online. I know that I am much more likely to buy something that I connect with and if I feel a connection to the seller too it's even better.

Jennifer Cowgill said...

wonderful article!!!

Three Trees Bindery said...

I appreciate your insight Nicolas. Thank you for sharing!

SignsByDiane said...

I agree! Telling a story is a great marketing technique that can bring a piece to life!

Lee Wolfe Pottery OneClayBead said...

When done with craft, storytelling is an essential marketing tool. I think the examples you've given are spot on. Most people miss the mark by telling too many random details about themselves rather than a story that compliments the artwork.

3 Divas Studio said...

Nicely done, Nicholas. As others have said, this is advice we should take to heart. Sometimes we're so bent on telling our audience about every minute detail of our work, and we leave out the "why?" Behind every piece there IS a story, or a feeling, an inspiration, even a favorite tune...and we should share that.
Thank you SO much. I've been so busy creating and had lost the enjoyment of the stories behind my work. You've helped to revive that. xoxo

Osama El Masry said...

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