It’s easy to get discouraged about selling calligraphy for a number of reasons. If a saturated market or the worry that your work won’t get noticed is one of them, I encourage you to take this post to heart! In it, you’ll learn six ways to stand out and attract clients.
If you enjoy working with a dip pen, then you may be interested in selling calligraphy. In addition to providing you with a bit of income, selling your calligraphy can give you extra practice and exercise your creativity in a new way as an entrepreneur! In this article, you’ll find six ways to get noticed when selling calligraphy.
1. Take Eye-Catching, Appealing Photos
The internet is the very best place to connect with clients, and I would start off selling on Etsy (as per the 8 Tips for Starting a Calligraphy Business article) and posting your work on social media. Both Etsy and social media like Instagram and Pinterest are highly visual, so if you don’t have good photos, it’s easy for potential clients to overlook your work — no matter how great it is.
Listen, I know that photography is not easy. It’s an art form in itself! If you know how to write calligraphy, though, you already have a “creative eye”, and that creativity can translate into success with a camera. With the help of some YouTube videos and photography tutorials, you can learn how to take nice photos that earn you clients. For some tips and encouragement, check out the 6 Art + Calligraphy Product Photography Tips from a DIY Photographer article!
2. Be Clear and Concise About Your Process
Whether you advertise your calligraphy services on Etsy or another website, clients will want to know what to expect. Don’t leave them guessing in your item description! Think about everything that you would want to know if you were a client. If you’re selling envelopes, for example, the client will want to know:
Turnaround time + exact price (including shipping cost)
Whether they provide you with envelopes or you pick them out
What ink colors they can choose from
What you need from them before you can get started (e.g. 50% deposit, address list)
If you haven’t figured out what your process will be yet, the How to Address Envelopes for Clients post may come in handy! Remember: it pays to be brief. People usually get overwhelmed by a lot of text, so keep the “fluff” at a minimum, and use bullet points if at all possible!
3. Teach Yourself How to Digitize Your Work
One of the very best ways to give yourself an edge over calligraphy competition is to learn how to digitize your work. Digital designs — like logos or invitations — are scalable for you to make and desirable to clients. Many clients who are getting ready to have an event like a wedding or a baby shower like for the same person to design their invitations and address their envelopes so that everything is cohesive.
I remember my first rendezvous with Photoshop. It was 2012, and I knew that I needed to learn how to use Photoshop in order to help my business grow. This is embarrassing, but within ten minutes of using the program, tears were streaming down my cheeks. I felt so frustrated! After several self-pep talks and days of watching YouTube tutorials and taking notes, I finally started to “get” it. Fast forward six years: I now love Photoshop, and even made a video course to help others figure out how to use it to digitize artwork and calligraphy as well — without tears or excessive frustration. I also use Adobe Illustrator for letterpress and logo design, Adobe InDesign for layouts, and Adobe Premiere Pro for videos. I learned how to use all of these programs by watching videos and reading articles online, and if I did it, you can, too!
4. Think Outside the (Wedding) Box
When people think about selling calligraphy, it’s often in the context of weddings. However, when I first started out selling on Etsy, a good portion of my clients weren’t brides or grooms. I designed logos for all sorts of companies, wrote out custom poems for people who wanted to give them as gifts, and made baby shower materials, among other things.
So, when you’re thinking of the services that you can offer, don’t relegate yourself to envelope calligraphy! There are many items that non-wedding clients may want from you, including:
Custom poem, vow, or passage writing services (clients can then frame your work and display it in their home)
Something totally off-the-wall but cool like a letter subscription service. For example: Paris Letters on Etsy sends subscribers a (photocopied) letter from Paris every month.
5. Be Open About Pairing Your Calligraphy with Other Mediums
If you can make materials like watercolor maps or supplementary illustrations (like the tulips on these invitations), clients will be even more incentivized to hire you because you’re a one-stop shop! People will be attracted by the diversity of your skills and your creativity. For a good example of diverse offerings with different mediums (watercolor, letterpress, rubber stamps), check out eDanae’s shop on Etsy.
6. Send a Complimentary Materials Packet to Wedding Planners and/or Venues
A picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes photos can’t really communicate how cool something is. Look up a few wedding planners — they don’t have to be local — and shoot them an email asking if you can send them a complimentary packet of your materials. If they say yes, thoughtfully package and send a few invitation samples, place cards, envelope calligraphy, and whatever else you think may be relevant!
The idea is that if the wedding planner likes your materials, he or she will show them to clients who may be interested in your work! Putting packets together will cost you some time and money up front, but it will be worth the investment if even one wedding planner’s client chooses to work with you.
I know that not everyone is interested in selling calligraphy. After all, calligraphy is a relaxing and creatively challenging activity that you can derive satisfaction from whether you make a profit from it or not! But, for readers who are toying with the idea, I hope that you found this article interesting! Two other articles that you might appreciate include: