Monday, September 12, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: Be Awesome (Part I)

I was chatting online yesterday with fellow artist (and one of the newest GB Handmade Corporate Rejects Affiliate Members), Scott Krichau, about a technical problem he'd managed to get customer service help on where I had failed. When I asked him just how he'd accomplished this amazing feat of persuasion, his answer was,

"I made it clear that I was awesome and they needed me, and they bought it."

This got me to thinking about how important it is to project a certain level of self-confidence whenever you are representing your indie business (which, let's face it, is pretty much all the time, but that's a subject for another tip).

Really?  OK.  I'll just go buy stuff
from someone who doesn't suck.
Thanks for the warning, though!
I hear all the time from artists, writers and DIY company owners that they don't like to talk about themselves or that they don't think that they or their art/writing/product is 'good enough.'  Well then, my friends, let me tell you something: you either need to find a way to get over it or admit that you're in the wrong line of work because self-deprecation is NOT charming.  Not even a little bit.

I'm not saying you need to walk around saying how awesome you are.  But posting "here's my shop, like it if you want to, but I'm just starting out and my stuff sucks" isn't going to win you any new fans or customers.  Think about it, why should they want to buy something from you if you are already telling them they shouldn't want it?  I mean, would you buy it?

By publicly undervaluing your own work or even your shop design, photography or description writing skills, you are actually selling your competitors' goods to the people who would otherwise be your potential customers.

Your friends may be willing to overlook your negative self-assessments for a while, but I promise you, it will wear on them sooner or later.  Not only will you lose your initial supporters and potential customers, but you drive away others in the DIY business.

Successful indie shops aren't going to promote a shop owner who can't or won't promote him/herself.  I know because this subject comes up constantly in DIY/indie business owner/artist groups.  For example, I asked for some of the biggest marketing mistakes my colleagues noticed, and one posted "I get sick of seeing ... people do the guilt trip 'Does my stuff really suck so bad none of you want to buy it?" Another mentioned shop owners who asked for advice and then refused to follow any of it because they "'don't get enough customers to bother putting more time in to this.' *face-palm* "  Well, if you'd follow your friends' advice and stop telling everyone how much you suck, you'd probably get more customers.

Of course, there is the Irony Exception to the don't be mean to yourself rule, but if you're going to employ comedic self-deprecation, you'd better do it really REALLY well and be completely thorough about it.  Joint venture The Worst Shop Ever! is one of the few shops that has managed to get it right:
Being featured in the Regretsy book totally ups their "we suck" street cred.

OK, so we have a pretty good understanding that self-deprecation is not the same as modesty (which kinda went out of fashion in the 1920s anyway, Granny).  I'm guessing that the next question is -because it is always the next question- "But Krissi, what should I say? I don't want to sound full of myself!"  Well tune in next time for some tips on how to write positive posts, listings and descriptions (even for items you goofed up) without sounding like you think you're the best thing since sliced bread.  Trust me, it is possible.

Do you have an indie business question or tip?  Drop me an e-mail at and let me know!


  1. I definitely agree with this! When I did my very first Con, a scout from a publishing company came up and thumbed through my book. He looked pretty interested then asked me about myself. I said "I'm still a rookie at making comics. I can't write very well and my drawing isn't where I'd like it to be."

    He looked me in the eye and said "Well, if you don't think you're very good then I don't have time to waste." I still burn with embarrassment when I think about that moment.

  2. Yeesh. What a horrible experience, but you obviously learned from it, Sheika! Everything about you is so 'can-do' now! We all need to remember (or learn) the old Johnny Mercer song, Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive!