Ok so I have been making business cards with my name, phone number, email, image, and services offered for about 15 years now. How old tech of me right? I get it, there are apps where you can just send someone your contact info, airdrop it, text it, or refer them to your IG I get it. But here are a few reasons why I still keep a business card for introductions. Note: I didn’t have a business card during the start of the pandemic because, well I was in the house :/
Hasan Minhaj via GIPHY
1. No phone:
You forgot your phone at home, it got broken, or you lost it. Damn. Sucks, you can tell the person you’re talking to your name or write it and your number or email on a napkin but a card might be handy. I’ve definitely had this happen before.
2. Phone battery died:
Have you ever missed a crucial opportunity to show someone your work, get their info, or exchange info but your phone battery died? Try keeping a business card as a back up 🙂 If you had a great conversation, they will want to talk to you again fam. People fake good work, and some put on a good show, but it’s harder to fake good vibes or energy. Or you can have them wait while you recharge your phone….
3. Getting away from social media:
I’ve been on social media for almost 20 years and I have referred people to my (fill in the blank) but I’m getting kind of tired of it honestly. There are some great artists out there using it to the max but I don’t want it to become my life. And it started to feel like that a few years ago. These companies found ways to make us addicted and that is not healthy, for me. You?
Also, from experience, I know that these apps come and go. For a few years they’re hot, and then people are on to the next thing. And if you’re an artist with a smaller but dedicated following you have to build your audience again. So I still use it, but I keep my distance. If you want to step back a bit from social media I think that a curated website, blog, or page is a great place to refer folks to via biz card.
4. Leave them impressed:
Ok, if designed properly with your information, a sample of your art on it, and a print quality that speaks to your esthetic your business card can leave the person holding wanting more. If I get a well made business card that communicates your taste by seeing it and/or touching it I’m going to remember you. It could be done with letterpress, with metal, or a bright color. The point is, leave the holder with a taste of how dope you are.
5. Control the narrative:
On your card you can provide the basics like your number, email, etc. But, you can also provide them with coordinates to a location. Weird, right? You can put a QR code on it that when read sends them to a song. You could just have a link to a video. There are lots of ways you can control how the holder interacts with or gets to know you and your work. A well crafted and updated website featuring a portfolio of your work is still a tried and true way to do this. Just saying, show them your true self in your way….
Dig this? Check out my post about how I got 1000 sales on Etsy as an illustrator/author who makes merch!
Who dis? What’s this? Hi, my name is Rob and I’m an artist/author from Northern California. Oakland to be specific. I have been working as a freelance artist for over 15 years. I’ve picked up a few tips on the way and “Freelance Chronicles” is one of the ways I share. Was this helpful? Please share and cop something from my shop. Adios.
|My merch table 2011 vs 2019
|Oh So Lovely Vintage
Another important aspect of my merch table has been working on presentation. A flat table is boring to me. And I started to notice who was buying from me (women). What do they like? So I asked my wife and she gave some great advice about having varying levels on my table. Not all flat. It looks more interesting to me. And I started to look at craft people, jewelry artists, candle makers, etc to take notes on how they set up their tables. I make sure to have a nice large table cloth that is pleasing color wise, but also covers the majority of my table. And I try to make the display interesting. If it’s not working , I move things and experiment.
|Hawaii record fair
|Dance Africa at Bam
8. Capture Info / Stay in contact
Ok, you’ve finished an event, made a little bit of money and saw a bunch of cool people. Some of them are homies but many you just met. How do you keep in touch with them? Sure, social media is an option but most platforms now use algorithms. As a result, only 20-25% who follow you actually see your stuff. And there are homies that have left social media all together. Your friends would love to hear what’s new with you. The new folks definitely need to get to know you. Both might buy your new work IF they know about the new (insert merch). How? Good old addresses and email newsletters. I know, it sounds old school but everyone is posting on-line. Not everyone is using tools like Constant contact/Mailchimp or the good ole postcard. Get people’s info at your next event with a sign up sheet or your phone. Follow up with them in the new year and compare your sales and engagement with folks at the end of the year. Just a thought.
|Busy Bee by Joe Conzo
9. Shout outs
I want to give a big a shout out to Nidhi Chanani who I learned so much from on how to make my work more presentable. Go check out her work here and follow her Instagram to see some of her past set ups at events.
Big shout out to the following events who helped shape who I am as an artist and vendor: The Berkeley Flea Market, Malcom X Jazz Fest, Life is Living, Carnival in SF, Dia de los Muertos in the Fruitvale, SF Etsy, Renegade Craft Fair, Patchwork, Unique Markets, Zine Fests, Dance Africa at BAM, Afro Punk, and the Alternative Press Expo.
If you’ve read this far, thanks! I’m still learning and growing as an artist and business owner. I’m asking questions, reading this, listening to that, and failing a lot. Hopefully some of this will help you fail less. Leave a comment if this helped or if you have a tip to share.
Here’s the previous post about the tech that enables me to be a working artist and vendor!