43 – What Sells for the Holidays

This week, Laura and Nikki begin the first of a series about selling for the holidays. We have episodes coming up about calendars, greeting cards, holiday marketing, packing and shipping your products and even a deep dive into print on demand! Today we’re starting off with a  discussion on products that are proven sellers for artists and designers during the holidays.

If you don’t know where to start… these ideas will help lay the foundation. Take a listen and let us know in the Facebook group which ideas resonated with you the most and if you’ll be creating any artwork or products to sell during the holiday season this year!

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Nikki

0:01
Laura, what are we talking about today?

Laura

0:03
Nikki, today we’re starting with the first of our series about selling for the holidays. We have topics coming up about specific products we have experience with, marketing for the holidays, packing and shipping your products and a whole lot about print on demand. But today, we’re going to give a list of products that are great sellers for artists and designers for the holidays.

Nikki

0:25
All right, let’s dive in.

Laura

0:29
Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin.

Nikki

0:31
And this is Nikki May with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way and start building an art business and life that you love.

Laura

0:41
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination, that keep you stuck.

Nikki

0:55
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Laura

1:03
Before we jump into types of products you can sell let’s talk a little bit about where you can sell your products for the holidays.

Nikki

1:12
Well, there are a bunch of places but what comes first to mind for me because it’s my area of expertise is online, specifically on your own website. You can have a shop directly on your site using WooCommerce or Shopify or if you have a Squarespace website. Or you can link out to other online spaces like Etsy or print on demand marketplaces like Society6 or Redbubble or Spoonflower.

Laura

1:38
Yeah, for me, I haven’t done a lot of selling online in previous years.

Nikki

1:42
Yet

Laura

1:43
Yet. I’ve actually done in person events like Christmas markets, trunk shows, and pop ups where I’ve sold my products, which can be really fun, but can also limit you because let’s be clear, there’s only so many people who can walk through the door.

Nikki

2:01
Yeah, I’ve done a few small markets like that too and it can be a really great way to get some instant feedback about your products and your pricing and see what people are responding to.

Laura

2:10
Yeah, what they’re gravitating towards and wanting to purchase. That’s true. But in a pandemic world, we can’t really count on in person events anymore. So I’m going to be exploring selling more products through my website this year.

Nikki

2:26
Awesome. And Laura, if you or any of our lovely listeners need help with that I happen to know a person.

Laura

2:34
Insert shameless plug.

Nikki

2:36
Always. That’s me. That’s me. In case you didn’t realize, that’s me. All right, let’s get into some specific products that we know sell really well for the holidays. The first is an obvious one – original art. Right? But it’s often hard for people to choose something as personal as original art for someone else. I have that problem when I want to gift my art to somebody. But

Laura

3:04
What you like might not be something that somebody else…

Nikki

3:06
Exactly, it’s such a personal thing. So an option could be to offer a gift certificate for someone to pick out their own art from your collection. Right? And if you do commissions consider a commission gift card for different sizes and styles that you create. It’s much more personal than just kind of a generic gift card or gift certificate.

Laura

3:27
Yeah. Yeah, for example, if you’re an artist that, that you draw or paint animals, a commissions gift card for pet portraits would be a really awesome thing to offer for all those pet mamas and papas out in the world. We love our animals, they’re family, after all. And this would be such a great gift to receive. Now, the second thing you can sell for the holidays would be prints and printables of your art. You can either print your own with a decent archival printer at home, you can find a local printer who can make prints for you. Or you could use a number of print on demand services.

Nikki

4:08
I happen to love my Epson SureColor p800 printer that lets me print up to 17 by 22 inches with archival inks. And for larger prints or canvas prints, there’s a zillion online printers you can find or use print on demand.

Laura

4:27
Yeah, that’s awesome that you have the the p800. I own a big Canon Pixma Pro 100. I call it the beast because it’s so massive. And it can print a large format up to 13 by 19 inches I believe. It’s not archival ink, but it’s like I don’t know, I think they say it lasts 50 years. So I figured the difference between 50 years and 100 years are not that much.

Nikki

4:54
I don’t know, it’s about 50.

Laura

4:58
But I think that nobody’s gonna want a refund after 50 years, that’s all I’m saying.

Nikki

5:01
Probably not.

Laura

5:05
I have to say, though, that using your own printer can also be a bit of a pain. When it comes to things like color matching, printer head maintenance, and things like that you might run through a lot of expensive ink, trying to get your colors just right. And if you can find a local printer that does those things, well at a reasonable cost, then it can save you some hassle and potentially save some money as well. The other nice thing about either using a local printer or printing from home is that you can customize your packaging that gets delivered to your customers. And we’re going to talk about that in a future episode. But it does enable you to to really present your products beautifully in the package when it arrives.

Nikki

5:52
Now, if you want to avoid having to fulfill orders yourself and ship prints entirely, you can use either a print on demand service like Society6, Redbubble, Printify, Printful, or a zillion more. Or you can give the buyer the option to print at home by selling digital printables on your website or on Etsy. Printables aren’t limited to just your artwork. You can sell printable planners, calendars, templates, workbooks, whatever you can think of.

Laura

6:24
Yeah, I like the idea of printables. But the one thing to keep in mind here for artwork is if you sell a digital image at high resolution, it might be easy for someone to take that image and resell it or maybe use it for another purpose without your permission. So I think it works great for things like printable calendars and templates. But I wouldn’t necessarily want to use it for fine art or illustration, unless I wanted others to use it for commercial purposes and we’re selling them a commercial license to use it.

Nikki

6:54
Right, something to think about. So let’s move on to ornaments. Christmas ornaments are always a popular holiday purchase and your fans who might not be able to afford an original painting as an example will love the ability to get a hand painted ornament.

Laura

7:12
Yeah, and funny enough, I don’t even have a Christmas tree that I put up Nikki, but I still love ornaments. I’ll just put them up in my studio.

Nikki

7:20
I’ve never had a Christmas tree in my entire life.

Laura

7:23
Yeah, well, I know you’re a little anti-Christmas. So there’s a reason for it, but

Nikki

7:27
And also Jewish.

Laura

7:30
And that.

Nikki

7:32
Anyway, back to ornaments.

Laura

7:34
Back to ornaments. So painting on ceramic ornaments is currently all the rage. I actually plan on doing this myself this year. I did a lot of research on the best places to source these. And we’ve created a special download for you in the show notes that will have links to some awesome suppliers that you might be able to order from before they’re all gone this season. When I went to order last season, they had already been purchased, so everybody was out. So we’ll include our complete list of holiday items to sell in that download as well. And another thing when it comes to painted ornaments, I have seen some amazing little mini paintings done on a small scraps of watercolor paper that have been inserted into a little clear glass locket frame. And then those you know, basically get turned into an ornament of framed art, which is super cool.

Nikki

8:26
Very cool. I mean, that’s even an ornament that I might like to go on my non-tree.

Laura

8:32
Yes, on your non-tree.

Nikki

8:34
On my non tree. And don’t worry, there’s also great options for ornaments if you’re not a painter. Anyone who knows me and we’ve made that very clear… I’m not really a big fan of Christmas. But even I’ve made some ornaments. I happen to be lucky enough to have a Glowforge laser cutter and I’ve turned one of my drawings into ornaments in a couple different sizes on a variety of types of wood. And those have been really popular in last few years.

Laura

9:08
That is very cool. I love that. And if you’re somebody who sews or embroiders you can make ornaments out of tiny embroidery hoops, or you can use felt and embroidery to create really cute animals, baubles, all different types of things.

Nikki

9:28
Another option if you’re a ceramic artist, you can make your own one of a kind clay ornaments. I’ve seen some really beautiful ones.

Laura

9:37
And if you don’t want to make and ship your own ornaments, print on demand ornaments are great, which are available from some print on demand providers that don’t have public marketplaces. So I’m not talking about like Society6 and Redbubble but there are others that will go into more detail on in a future episode when we talk about the different types of print on demand vendors, but you can get your surface designs, illustrations, digitized paintings and more placed on all kinds of substrates like porcelain, metal, ceramic, etc. And we’ll have links to these sites in the show notes.

Nikki

10:13
Some even offer other print on demand holiday items such as Christmas tree skirts, which is a great idea for surface pattern designers. Oh, yeah. And even Christmas stockings.

Laura

10:25
Very cool. And then if you do Christmas stockings, you can make ones for your pets and animals too. Let’s not forget them.

Nikki

10:34
Because they understand Christmas.

Laura

10:36
My dog totally gets a stocking, just saying.

Nikki

10:39
I’m sure he does.

Laura

10:41
Okay, so the next item that you can sell would be greeting cards. And greeting cards have actually been my personal biggest sellers in holiday markets in the past. And people aren’t just looking for holiday cards, because you can make holiday themed cards that people can purchase and send to family and friends. But they’re looking for everyday cards too like birthday, thank you, etc. So I have experience in both handmade cards as well as pre-printed cards. And we’ll have a whole episode on these in a couple of weeks.

Nikki

11:13
Right, and cards are definitely another thing that you can either make by hand or through these print on demand companies.

Laura

11:20
Yeah, absolutely. And there are a ton of other print on demand products with these companies. So you can have your artwork put on apparel like t-shirts, leggings, sweatshirts, ball caps, mugs.

Nikki

11:33
Socks!

Laura

11:34
Socks, mugs, travel mugs, journals, notebooks. These are just a few examples. But print on demand is such a big topic and it’s a really great revenue stream, that we’re going to dedicate several episodes to it in the next few months.

Nikki

11:51
And next on the list is calendars. Calendars have been my best selling single item ever.

Laura

11:57
Wow.

Nikki

11:58
I mean, they’re they’re so good that our next episode is entirely dedicated to calendars. So, so make sure you tune in next week.

Laura

12:06
I actually want to learn all about it because I haven’t made a calendar. So I’m really excited about this episode, it’s gonna be awesome.

Nikki

12:12
And I believe we’re gonna have you interview me about that.

Laura

12:16
I am going to interview you.

Nikki

12:18
That’ll be fun, I might actually let you talk in that interview.

Laura

12:24
All right. So people also love getting anything personalized. So think about how you could modify whatever you already offer or might be thinking about offering to make it more personalized. I remember a couple of years ago, I walked into a retail store and they had a lot of really beautiful leather goods for sale that particular month. And they had brought in a calligrapher to personalize all the purchased leather goods using just a gold paint pen. So they were personalizing it with with monograms or little short sayings.

Nikki

13:03
That’s a great idea.

Laura

13:04
Yeah, they had like little coin purses and passport holders and little small cosmetic bags and things like that. And the store won out because they sold a ton of products that day. But the artist won out because she was paid directly for every item that she personalized. It wasn’t difficult work but it paid well very quickly. I’m pretty sure she charged around $15 or something for each item and they took her less than five minutes to complete.

Nikki

13:34
Nice. I actually have a print that I made from an ink drawing of a tree with a heart carved into it. And I will custom letter it for people with like their initials like NM + LG or just someone’s first name. Totally easy for me and a great inexpensive personalized gift. It does really well for, like for Christmas and also for Valentine’s Day.

Laura

14:00
Awesome. I love that idea.

Nikki

14:02
Yeah.

Laura

14:03
Are you an urban sketcher or a watercolor artist? You could illustrate someone’s home and sell them the original artwork but even create a batch of customized thank you cards that they could send out to others.

Nikki

14:16
That’s a great idea. I love that. So a lot of people take advantage of the Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales and they get new phones, new iPads, new computers.

Laura

14:26
Guilty.

Nikki

14:28
Yeah, not me, I would never do that. So so you can get phone cases, iPad or laptop skins, iPad or laptop zippered sleeves from different print on demand companies with your artwork on them.

Laura

14:43
Awesome. It’s a great thing for surface pattern designers as well, for sure. Another thing is face masks. You know we thought this craze was a bit over but sadly with the second round of concern, masks are getting bigger again. And you can either handmake masks, perhaps you can even do it with your own fabric designs from Spoonflower. Or you can have designs uploaded and have mass printed through a print on demand supplier.

Nikki

15:10
And jewelry is always a great gift and super easy to sell, especially around the holidays. If you’re not a jeweler, think about tiny versions of whatever it is you create. So we mentioned embroidered ornaments but you can also get tiny embroidery hoops for necklaces or brooches. And we also said paintings for ornaments that you could also do even smaller for pendants. Yeah. Or if you’re a sculptor, think of tiny versions of your metal ceramic or wood sculptures that could be pendants or earrings even.

Laura

15:47
And I was a polymer clay artist for years, I actually used to work for polyform for a while designing projects for them. And I used to design all kinds of jewelry made from clay. I also soldered hundreds of jewelry charms that I sold on larger charm necklaces, or even sold as individual pendants. You can basically miniaturize your own paintings digitally and print them out and then insert them into a soldered charm to create original works of jewelry art. If you wanted to replicate a whole bunch of them quickly, that’s a lot easier than hand painting little ones.

Nikki

16:21
Cool, very cool.

Laura

16:23
And another thing I think would be super cool to sell for the holidays as gifts for others. If you are a ceramic artist, you could create unique paintbrush holders that you could sell to artists to give to their artists friends or to keep for themselves. I collect some of those I have to admit, and I think they’re super, super cool.

Nikki

16:42
I love that too. And lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of ceramic artists make little watercolor palettes and the brush holders too. And every time I look at them, they are always sold out immediately. So you definitely might want to look into that.

Laura

16:59
And some of them even come with like a cup to hold the water for a watercolor artist. And then the palette with it. They’re just, yeah, super cool. Definitely great idea.

Nikki

17:09
And we would buy them all.

Laura

17:10
We would buy them.

Nikki

17:12
And that brings us to our final one. Do you teach workshops? Consider creating a class around making holiday decorations or ornaments or offer a gift card for someone to give to a friend to attend one of your upcoming workshops.

Nikki

17:27
Now it’s your turn. What type of things do you think sell well for the holidays? What’s your experience? Or are there some ideas from today’s show that you plan to use this holiday season? Share them with us in the Startist Society Facebook group or on Instagram @startistsociety.

Laura

17:44
For today’s Startist Society shownotes go to startistsociety.com/holiday sales. And don’t forget, you can get your free download there of all the products that we talked about during today’s show as well as links to some great places to source these items.

Nikki

18:01
Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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