I must be on an art kick. Today I discovered Etsy.com, a sort of online store/eBay for the handmade hipster crowd. The stuff on there is gorgeous and all of it handmade. I’ve especially enjoyed the Black Apple store, though that’s probably because the artist, Emily, has her own blog. To the left is her Anais print, which is still available for $13. I like the way it’s printed on a fabric. It reminds me of this painting done on an old book cover, which is just a cool concept.
Seth Godin talked about Emily, how she just graduated with an art degree and has her own blog and MySpace profile and Godin guesses she’s made more than $20,000. [Every time a dollar amount comes out people start to pay attention, though you also have to realize she's sold more than 800 items, only two of which were over $100 (neither over $200) and only a small percentage over $50), and has to make most of them herself (though she also has a fair number of prints and the like that I assume she has to order from somewhere). She's probably made a decent amount of money, but she's also a talented artist and obviously a hard worker.] Godin’s point was that the Internet is raveling, which I think he intends to mean that it’s all coming apart–the giant structures that make famous people famous and keep unknown people lik Emily unkown. Though Godin says raveling means the same thing as unraveling, I read it to mean to opposite–that things are coming together for unknown people like Emily. How many artists could do what she’s doing 20 years ago?
I’m fascinated by stories like Emily’s and the One Thousand Paintings guy (by the way, he’s up to 421 of 1,000 sold, that’s 200 in a single day) and the Pod Brix. I love seeing the Internet connect people like this. Part of my fascination is that I want to have some amazing story like that. I want to see some crazy thousand-dollar idea come together like that. But as I just said about Emily above, it usually takes a lot more than some crazy idea. The Black Apple is hardly a gimmick she’s milking. A lot of these ideas are more than just get rich quick schemes (except maybe the Million Dollar Homepage). They have integrity and genuine ideas behind them.
As I think about it, I’ve made my own thousands on the Internet. I’d guess over the past few years I’ve made a few thousand selling old stuff on eBay and Amazon, a few hundred with Google ads and another few hundred with Amazon referrals, and a few bucks here and there with Cafepress, Linkshare, Chitika, Lulu and whatever other little scheme I’ve tried. But that’s all they’ve really been.
I think I like to dream about these sorts of ideas, as if it’s all easy. But it really isn’t. What does work is what I’m good at, and that’s what works for these people. In a sense it is all raveling, all coming together. And it just fascinates me.