Friday, June 2, 2017

Gotta Hustle

Many years ago, when I lived in the Twin Cities (the Minnesota ones, not the Maine Twin Cities), I was driving on Lake Street on a Sunday morning. A big-hair woman in surprisingly brief clothing was making mighty efforts to get drivers' attention, although not mine; she was smiling brightly, tossing her hair, and energetically waving at passing men. I turned to my passenger and observed, "She works hard for the money." My friend deadpanned in response: "Yeah, well: you gotta hustle, if you wanna be a hustler."

I tell this story not to ridicule that young woman - I don't know anything about her life or circumstances - but because his reply stuck with me. You gotta hustle, if you wanna be a hustler - or a potter.

I remind myself of this when I slack on the tedious parts of the job: the selling. Posting pots in the online store, calling shops, sending emails to teaching studios to ask after workshops. When I slack off, unsurprisingly, my income stream diminishes. No hustle, no bustle. No bucks.

The flip side of it is, make the effort, see the rewards. It always seems like it takes more effort than it should, but push hard enough and things happen. Sometimes I feel like that smiling, waving working girl: Look at me, look at me, I am worth your attention! 

I really don't like that part, but I do like the getting paid part, so what's a potter to do? I am trying a new approach, inspired somewhat by Cindy's post at Dirt-Kicker Pottery, in which she describes trying to balance her work cycle so she doesn't get stuck with a mountain of the less enjoyable parts to do all at once. Something like this happens to me! I'm lucky, in that I like all the making parts: I like throwing and altering and decorating and loading the kiln and glazing and firing; I can even sort of like the peace of the zone I need to create to mix glazes. What happens is, I do all that stuff, and put off the selling part, until I have too many pots, and I need to sell them. Shelves full of pots really bum me out, and I don't feel like making until I clear them out, so I won't make for a long time, and sometimes I'll take a chance on a consignment outlet that I don't, actually, think is all that promising, just to empty those depressing full shelves. And then later I end up with the awkward task of telling a store that, sorry, but it's just not working out, bummer, I know, but it happens...yadda yadda yadda... and then having to go and pack up the work.

That I then have to go and try to sell somewhere else.

SO. To avoid that inefficient & demoralizing cycle, I am trying to incorporate the hustle more into my routine. Every week, several times a week, I will make some effort to sell something. I will call an account, see if they need pots. I will send images to stores that don't currently carry me, to see if they want to. I will photograph pots I have here, and post them online. I will follow up on emails from people looking for ware.

The idea being that a little every day is easier to manage than a solid week of banging on doors (metaphorically) and it takes a while for the responses to come back anyway. I should always have something in the works.

Gotta hustle.

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