When young artists and small business owners are just starting out they tend to sell their content on platforms with the largest audience. Amazon Marketplace, Alibaba, eBay, and ETSY are all the most notable examples of being able to reach a huge audience and generate revenue without the need to setup a dedicated website and maintain strong social media. The downfall of these sites is that you may be known in a small niche segment online, but are completely unknown in your own backyard.
I see small business owners and young entrepreneurs feel lost and deflated because they never get to meet their customers face to face and seldom do you ever see jubilation or a simple smile. Normally a customer dispute and angry emails are the everyday norm and it’s rare that someone actually sends you a thank you email. I think in order to broaden your base and have a sense of real world accomplishment you have to get out there and develop a local presence.
The one big concern about selling local is getting a distribution deal through an existing store and requires a lot of wheeling and dealing. If you live in a small town, your prospects might be bleak, which is why they turned online in the first place.
A number of artists and authors end up going on tours to conventions or trade shows to get their name out there. I know a number of self-published authors that religiously visit the Romance Writers of America show and sell their books directly. The one big problem is people really don’t carry a lot of cash around on them and instead rely on their credit and debit cards. I hear lots of authors complaining that the process of selling directly to readers is too hard.
This problem has been remedied by mobile credit card readers such as Square that can not only process payments directly on your tablet or smartphone directly with customers, but can also be used online in conjunction with your Shopify account to take orders.
I really recommend if you’re a young writer or artist trying to make a name for yourself, don’t rely entirely on the online world. You need to meet your target base directly and cultivate relationships and get that sense of satisfaction that someone is legitimately excited about what you got.