photographer

Etsy Featured Artist: Jennifer Steen Booher

This month on the blog we are all about Etsy, the online marketplace for “unique goods.” We have a lot of local people who use Etsy as an ecommerce tool, and they’re the best people to talk to about the platform!
Jennifer Steen Booher is a Bar Harbor resident who focuses on fine art photography. Her Beachcombing Series offers a unique perspective on the shores of MDI and “the overlapping forces and life forms that depend on the shoreline” (from “About the Beachcombing Series). Here’s what she has to say about Etsy (BEC questions in bold).
What made you decide to use Etsy as a marketplace for your business?

I joined Etsy on May 1, 2008, so I just had my 9th anniversary! Etsy was a lot smaller back then, and the community aspect pulled me in. It still works as a community, just a much bigger one. There are forum discussions about every aspect of doing business on Etsy, with more experienced sellers helping out the new people, and I spent a lot of time there when I first started. It was a great way to get into online sales, and it felt like a whole lot of people really wanted me to succeed.

Do you sell your products anywhere else online or in real life?

I have a website, jenniferbooher.com. I’m on a couple of other sites that do their own printing, like Fine Art America and Artfully Walls, and I work with Alamy for licensing my landscape and travel photography. I tend to keep my fine art stuff on my own website and Etsy. My website and Etsy are my biggest source of online print sales.

Seashell Snowflake Notecards- available on Etsy

How do you stand out in this marketplace?

I have a pretty distinctive niche – there are not that many people doing this kind of modern, minimalist, natural-history-and-ocean-themed art.  It appeals to people both on a nostalgic level (it reminds them of things they picked up on their own vacations) and on an artistic level (people who want to furnish their beach houses with something more thought-provoking than lighthouses and starfish). My work is very crisp and clean, so it works with a lot of different decor styles. I give the same artistic weight to trash as I do to shells and beach stones, which sometimes confuses people, but more often it inspires them to look at the shoreline in a different way. It’s easy to ignore trash, but these photos suggest that it’s worth examining.  I’ve shipped my work to at least 15 countries and 30 states.

“Beachcombing No. 50,” available on Etsy.

What’s your advice for anyone considering selling their products on Etsy?

Read all of Etsy’s guidelines for newcomers about things like tagging and getting your work found. Spend some quality time in the Forums reading questions (to get an idea of what problems Etsy sellers run into) and the discussions (to see how other sellers solve those problems.) The Forums are an amazing resource! Depending on what you are selling, joining a team can be helpful, especially if you do craft fairs and can find a geographically-based team. The Etsy Maine Team is very active and in additions to their online discussions they also organize pop-ups and participate in fairs. I don’t do craft fairs anymore (my work doesn’t sell there) so I haven’t been very active with the team, but I think they’d be a great resource for a newcomer.

Woodland Series No. 2, available on Etsy

Tell us about your most interesting Etsy transaction (i.e. weird customer questions/requests, or a purchasing experience).

My very first photography sale was to a guy who wanted to glue my photos of sea urchins and crab shells onto a surfboard as a display. He wanted to know if the photo paper would warp under the wet polyurethane. I thought it very probable they would, but he bought them anyway.

(Just for fun) If you had $100 to spend anywhere on Etsy, what would you buy?

An original drawing from Jane Mount’s Ideal Bookshelf series!Wait, no, a set of Arte et Manufacture’s coffee mugs.

Oh no, hang on, crazy vintage eyeglasses from Collectable Spectacle.

My ‘favorites’ list is 13 pages long – clearly this could go on for a while…

Thanks again to Jennifer for answering our Etsy questions, and make sure you check out her website!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

These Two Weeks In Business: The Great Idea Edition

Do you even have an idea, and wonder “Why haven’t I thought of this before?”

Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it, and then actually works out. Here’s what happened the last two weeks at BEC:

I had an idea for a workshop.
One of the littler known things about me is that I have a teaching certification, and I really do miss helping people learn things.

It was while I was sitting in a talk about websites that I had an idea about how I could combine teaching with what I’m doing now. What if I gave a class to help people set up a blog?

Partnering with my much more tech-oriented friend Matt, he could give the technology portion of the talk (how to install Wordpress on your domain name, basic setup, etc.) and I could do the content part (what to put on the blog/website, how to promote it once it’s set up). We would help registrants of the class buy their domain names and hosting the week before so that the day the class met, we could actually set up the website/blog. Charging $50/person would allow us to pay for our time and the room and give those just starting out a chance to have a website on their own domain in just a few short hours of work.

Matt is down for it and we have a venue…More on the progress of all this next week. In the meantime, let me know if you have any interest in attending.

After the talk, I answered people's questions and even had time for a few clever staged photographs.

I gave a presentation to the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce.
It turns out that double the amount of people registered for my talk about social media. I was a bit worried about getting through my material and also being able to answer questions so I tightened up my presentation. The other good thing was some of the people who attended gave me an idea of what they’d like to ask me, and the Chamber director was kind enough to send me a list of those who registered.

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Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.