This summer, I celebrate 9 years of having a website of my very own, for my jewelry. I had been selling on Etsy, and also through shows, but in 2013 I finally had a real live website – where you could shop and everything.
I was so obsessed with getting everything right and perfect. Thinking that having the website would bring fame and fortune (and mostly fortune).
It felt so public to put myself out there, so visible. So exposed. So many eyes on me. It was me, but on the INTERNET. So many people were watching me!
I’m not sure whether it was a relief or an utter humiliation to find out that no one noticed when I launched. BECAUSE I HADN’T TOLD THEM TO NOTICE.
Nobody was watching my work as closely as I was. I used to think that if I put up a website that I would be so embarrassed if there was a typo or a missing photo or something “wrong” with it.
Sure, occasionally a friend would point out what I had missed. And sure, occasionally I’d have somebody asking for more photos. But by and large nobody was keeping an eye on it like I was.
And also, if there was something wrong or missing? No one was telling me because I hadn’t given them a way to contact me. *sigh* whoops.
Mistakes are for learning
Why do I bring this up? Because one of my mental barriers to launching a website was a fear of failure.
I assumed public embarrassment in advance.
Social media has led us into, um, interesting territory. It has amplified our desire for perfection and has trained us to think that what we do and what we make must be Instagram-ready, instantly popular and drive sales overnight.
But what if what’s popular is an idea that you’ve been sitting on because you couldn’t see a way to make it look good for the ‘grams?
What if an idea or a design of yours needs time to breathe and needs time to find its right audience?
What if making something perfect, perfectly on brand and perfectly precise isn’t what the people want?
When I realized that no one was watching my website, I felt a kind of freedom to experiment. A sense that I could try and fail without it wrecking me and my self-esteem.
Yes, this is a very long way of saying “dance like nobody’s watching” (just over here embracing my middle-agedness) But hear me out – what if you made jewelry and built your website like no one was watching?
What risks would you take? What work would you make?
The freedom to experiment, to make mistakes, to test out designs and ideas gave me license to be me. To be the most Me that I could be online and to do so without fear of judgement. It was a strange kind of public invisibility, like having a superpower.
To get a sense of how little people are watching, check out my contact page. Did you notice the intentional typo? It’s my own personal Easter Egg and I love it, but hardly anyone notices. It thrills me no end when they do.
But would you have noticed if I hadn’t directed you to it? Had you noticed it before?
There is another name for this
This idea of directing people to notice, this idea that people won’t notice unless you tell them to – it is called marketing. And as small craft-based artists, we go out of our way to shun marketing, when it is what we need the most.
The truth is that until you start marketing your website and marketing your jewelry, not as many eyes are on your work as you might think. It takes quite a bit of work to put yourself out there. It takes quite a bit of work to get people to know about your brand.
So if you have a fear of being seen or if you have a fear of public mistakes just rest assured hardly anybody is noticing unless you tell them to. Feel free to make your mistakes, to test and try until you find what you like.
And then help the people to notice you.
I believe in you and in your vision.
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