The online world is a tricky, crazy, spectacular, eventful, wonderful and sometimes terrifying place! My post today is inspired by a few threads I have followed online in a couple public jewelry/art Facebook groups over the past couple months.
The first subject I will call the HOSTAGE SITUATION. Folks held hostage by the fear or threat of a negative review on Etsy. I didn't know this was a thing, but evidently it is. I followed an online thread that began with an artist appealing for advice regarding a very difficult custom client for whom she had gone waaaaaay above and beyond to please but no matter what, the client was unhappy and threatened to leave a negative review of her Etsy store. This seemed to really upset the artist, almost more than the fact that her client was obviously unreasonable to begin with. Over 55 comments and replies were posted within hours. Most of the advice given made sense to me. Continue professional, calm dialogue with the client, keep copies of all emails between artist and client, and if she posts an unwarranted negative review (which this would have been), take it directly to Etsy admin. They have a division just for this very thing. Which brings me to my point....you do not EVER have to feel you are a hostage to someone's complaint unless the complaint is warranted. Keep records. Save emails. Be as up front and transparent as you possibly can and be ADULT about everything. Is one negative review on Etsy really that catastrophic? When I had a shop there, way back when the Internet was still on stone tablets or whatever, I got a review from someone that was the equivalent of an online "Meh". Not negative, but not positive either. I noted it, and moved on. I'm all about customer service. My clients know that I like to have a one-on-one dialogue, and that is one of the many, many, MANY reasons I left Etsy. It's too easy to have a pissy day and feel that somehow gives you the right to RUIN SOMEONE ONLINE.
Which brings me to my next point--a big one--DON'T BE A CYBERBULLY. I get the impulse. It's soooooooo hard to resist sometimes. You are in a group or forum of like-minded individuals (you assume, I mean remember, you've NEVER ACTUALLY MET MOST OF THESE PEOPLE IN REAL LIFE) and you have a terrible day, or interaction with someone (another artist, client, whatever) and the impulse is to TELL IT TO THE MOUNTAIN THAT IS FACEBOOK IN DEEP DETAIL. Um, DON'T, okay? Sure, that first wave of responses telling you how fantastic you are and how HORRIBLE the other person is may feel good, but wait a minute. What about the long run? What about the consequences? When I read posts that vaguely infer something awful about another artist I totally cringe. The responses are so predictable--you are wonderful, they are dirt. Then the inevitable "Tell us who you are talking about. Come on, give us a name...." If you do, you are a CYBERBULLY because you know full well how online crap works. It's the perceived anonymity, and it's also mob mentality. You know full well your "supporters" will beat the online crap out of whoever they think has wronged you whether they have all the information or not. Do you really think it's okay to potentially ruin someone online? Do you have any idea how much that can devastate someone? Before you hit "post" carefully read your remark. Would you say that out loud and in person? Would you be able to handle it if it was said to or about YOU? If you answer "no" to either question, DON'T POST IT. Disagreements are always best handled one on one. As soon as you involve complete strangers simply for the sake of an ego boost, you become a cyberbully.
Now, ranting in a private group of friends you know and trust--that's another story. We all need to vent now and then and groups are great for that as long as they are PRIVATE. I've been that person who has had one glass of pino too many and has drunk-blabbed and over-shared to friends online. I DEEPLY REGRET IT AND WILL NEVER DO IT AGAIN. But, I do occasionally fire off a rant that I know these ladies will understand and respond to with a rousing "AMEN, SISTER!" Usually about the absurdities of life and art and living life as an absurd artist. But I will NEVER vilify another artist or client online in a public forum. The thought makes my stomach hurt and my skin crawl.
There are exceptions, I know. For example, when an artist is totally taken advantage of by a large corporation (are you listening URBAN OUTFITTERS?) or have their work stolen. Corporations, no matter what you may have heard, ARE NOT PEOPLE. And even then, smart always beats bully. Be smart. Don't make it your mission in life to ruin someone else's. Don't be a bully. We have to work together, lift each other up, encourage the best in each of us. I've been on the receiving end. It HURTS. I will never retaliate publicly. I'm better than that. So are you...all of you. Also, Facebook has this handy-dandy BLOCK capability....use it as needed.
Sorry for the serious post--it just really bugs me to read posts from artists struggling so hard to make it and ending up scared and defensive--scared of what could happen to them online somewhere. It's hard enough to deal with real life....
To make up for this sober post, here are pictures of art/jewelry currently blowing my mind (top three), and a recent design I made that came together in a way that has me so pleased (fossil stack on the bottom). It's good when the muse is on board!!
Now, GO MAKE SOMETHING AMAZING!