Saturday, January 26, 2008

90 Day Challenge Status Update, Health, and Thoughts on The Economy

The medical mystery continues and I may be starting with a new doctor fairly soon if everything works out and this referral I got from another autoimmune patient takes my form of insurance. It looks hopeful but I won't know anything until at least Monday. I still am not able to spend much time online without feeling worse so will have to post the rest of these intermittantly (whenever I have a short window of time that I feel better) until all 90 are completed.

We still need 16 more participants to join before we reach our goal, so if you have not signed up please go to the link on the right and post your blog link on the Etsy forum thread. A number of people taking part have already reported that this challenge has improved their business, and it can do that for you too. The key is to make this collaboration as big and as highly visible as possible! I would love to see everybody benefit from this project and to have it be a working model of how to stimulate the economy through collaborative effort. A federal tax refund is all well and good, but a true economic stimulus requires more than a one-time payment of $300.00, it requires that citizens like you and me frequent the businesses whose livelihood depends on our cash. This is what really makes the world function.

If you are an online shopper reading this, please take a look at the shops in this challenge and choose some of these artists to buy your handcrafted gifts from, and make sure to let them know you heard about them through the 90 Day Challege.

Valentine's Day is going to be here sooner than we realize, so why not treat someone to something really unique instead of shopping at a commercial jewelry store for the one you love. If you are single and unattached there is no rule that says you can't buy something for a friend, your mother, your daughter, or somebody at work who would be touched that you thought about them enough to give them something special.

If you are a seller who also buys on occasion, believe it or not, spending money will come back to you in one form or another. I have experienced that first-hand. I bought some artisan lampwork beads and within just two days I sold something! It wasn't a big sale, but after about 4 months of no jewelry sales at all what were the chances of that? And this has happened to me more than once. I look at cashflow as a pipeline. If the pipeline gets stopped up nothing can move (either out or in). Like they say, "An object in motion tends to stay in motion, and an object at rest tends to stay at rest".

When money circulates around a community (be it within the 90 Day Challenge, within Etsy as a whole, or the larger surrounding marketplace), its ripple-effect sooner or later reaches everyone. Since the world is not infinite and it has parameters, the money you spend is not "lost" into a void, but it changes hands many times and in a subtle way returns. Even though that effect is so far removed that you can no longer trace its path (and often where your results come from), there are a number of core principles at work which benefit not only others but yourself.

When you buy, you are in a state of receptiveness, and the outflow of that amount of money you just spent allows you to make room to receive something in its place. It also sends a message to people that you appreciate what other artists have to offer. Like setting a candelit table in a restaurant, it sets the stage for a mood of receptiveness and generosity. Engendering that feeling leads to action in those in your general vicinity. Until you analyze it one may be unaware of doing this in many areas of one's life unconsciously and not even be aware of how or why it achieves positive results.

One part of successful selling is about the product itself, and the other variable (less controllable or measurable) is the buyer's mental association he or she has to you. Call it chemistry, ambiance, or whatever; there are lots of subtleties beneath the surface that determine the difference between looking/bookmarking, and deciding to press that Buy Now button. I am still trying to get that down to a science. Perhaps the buyer likes the blue you use in your banner because it reminds her of a favorite dress her grandmother made for her as a child, or a shape in a pair of earrings that reminds her of earrings her older sister wore and she coveted all through high school. Maybe something in the description of an item makes the customer feel this particular piece is relevant to his/her life in a profound way, or that a piece the buyer bookmarked a month ago is the perfect color for a particular new outfit and it appeals even more now that they have a "reason" to buy it.

By the same token, if an artist continues to list his/her wares for sale and pays to do so, continuing to list beyond a certain time-frame if customers are not buying is no longer cost-effective. However, if those items begin to be bought up, room is freed up (both physically and emotionally) for that artist to create more and with a refreshed perspective. This freeing-up cycle of resources and creativity must continue in order to maintain a strong economy where all will benefit.

Even with all of the unconscious positive motivating factors, people tend to react and respond in some respects to that which goes on around them. If they see alot of other people buying then it is just human nature for them to follow suit. By the same token if they see people putting the breaks on their spending they are likely to do the same.

With all the publicity on television about debt, news of lay-offs, and open-ending federal budget depletion due to the war in Iraq, it is easy to get stuck in a mind-set that dictates we can't spend any extra money, to go way to the extreme, clamping down our collective sphincters and resolving to tighten our belts in anticipation of a long, hard famine, but doing that will only perpetuate the problems that plague our nation, prolong the duration of the slowdown, and force us to live in a constant state of self-denial, and in so doing we deny others.

We need to take this economy into our own hands to the extent possible and make the conscious decision not to become victims of the status quo. That is not to say that one should spend thousands of dollars every week and run up credit card bills that would take a lifetime to pay off, but if each of us buys on a consistent basis and we think of each person we buy from as a living being with a mortgage or rent, utility bills, food and transportation expenses, etc, and be conscious that this person relies on these sales of their art product just as you might rely on your weekly or bi-weekly paycheck from your employer to fulfill your financial responsabilities and to feel viable as a citizen, we begin to understand how our buying decisions help maintain the necessary balance and flow of society.

As artists we step out on faith each time we buy from our suppliers in hopes that what we choose to work with will appeal to the public once we perform our magic on it transforming raw materials into a useful or recognizable art object. Without our business these suppliers would dry up and disappear. Like us, they are mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, people with lives who have to hope that the demand for their products today will still be there tomorrow. Any blockage in the pipeline will adversely effect people both upstream and downstream from us.

You could say that money is the fiber that flushes out the colon of the US economy! Fiscal constipation can be every bit as problematic as physical constipation if it is allowed to continue. Do what you can to support artists by keeping the cashflow going!

1 comment:

On A Thousand Hills said...

A lot of good points and very well said.