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Creative Artists Confront Sales Anxiety

From jewelry designers to painters, many creative artists recoil from salesmanship. But making a living from your work requires some hard-nosed marketing savvy
Petra Geiger is now franchising the Beehive Co-op concept across the country.
Petra Geiger is now franchising the Beehive Co-op concept across the country.

Raven Hanna, 34, approaches her art with the practicality one might expect from someone holding a PhD in molecular biophysics who quit the laboratory-rat race to make jewelry. Though she considers herself an artist, she has no romantic ideas about starving for her craft.

About 75% of Hanna's business, Made with Molecules, comes from direct sales through her Web site, Etsy.com (BusinessWeek.com, 6/12/07) with the remaining quarter from wholesalers and occasional trade shows and craft fairs (BusinessWeek.com, 7/26/06) in Northern California, where she is based. But Hanna dreaded selling in person. "To really be out there personally with your product is a lot different from being anonymous behind a Web site," she says. "I wasn't sure how 'sales-y' I should be. When people came over, should I just say hi and tell them about my product, or tell them about a special I have? Or…" Or, what else, she didn't know. That was part of the problem.