By Sarah Hamilton
The festive season is so critical to the livelihoods of many artists, designers and independent shops so, as it fast approaches, now seems the perfect time to stress how and why it's vital to support them. I'll also take this opportunity to update you with campaign news, and answer some of your frequently asked questions.
The campaign began when I saw the quote "If everyone who'd complimented our beautiful gallery had bought 'Just a Card' we'd still be open." by gallery owners who'd recently shut up shop. As an artist and designer with over 25 years of experience, it struck a chord. I well know how tough it is to make a living in a creative field, and appreciate every sale, not just from a financial perspective but also as a morale boost. I've seen many galleries and fellow creatives come and go. Small businesses are closing every day. Many artists and designers are walking away from their dreams because they simply cannot keep afloat.
I couldn't stand by and watch this happen. Nor could the fantastic team who've joined me since I started this campaign. We're desperate to see a flourishing creative community with vibrant independent shops and galleries. So are you, judging by the volume of messages we receive. We so appreciate all your individual stories. This one, shared by Alison Bartram at Heart Gallery in Hebdon Bridge illustrates our message very well:
"It might feel early to some but yes...we have started to put our Christmas stationery out! Why? Well I was reminded yesterday just how IMPORTANT the Just A Card campaign is. Three ladies browsed for about 15/20 minutes. They made all the right noises about how beautiful the gallery was, how calm and serene it felt, how unique and unusual our stock was because they'd not seen it anywhere else. Great news. They also spent five minutes talking about how much money they had spent on new underwear from M&S as they felt they needed a whole new drawer of frillies. They left without buying a card! So my friends, our Christmas stock of cards and wrap has gone out this morning to remind me how much the little sales matter.”
I've shared Alison's pertinent message to remind her lingerie loving visitors (and us all!) that sadly, perhaps, the next time they try to pop to the beautiful gallery the doors could be locked and the shop empty. If only they'd bought 'Just a Card' then hopefully they’ll find the gallery still open and bustling. Make no mistake - compliments are wonderful - they ensure the world is a sunnier place, but when people appreciate our simple message, they can also comprehend the part they can play in supporting ventures which they value. So PLEASE, if you can, make a purchase. Actions speak louder than words!
We receive many messages about the campaign so I hope the following helps clarify some points:
Why are you called 'Just a Card.' Is the campaign only about cards?
Cards are just an example - any small purchase helps. Of course we hope people make bigger purchases - however a small sale is better than no sale.
Who runs ‘Just A Card’?
A small volunteer team of creative people run it around our busy lives. We so appreciate everyone who gets involved - this campaign is for and about everyone who’s passionate about the future of artists, designers and independent shops. We don't have funding, but we do have a fantastic like minded community - WE NEED YOU!
Apologies if we miss your notifications - we get lots - as you can imagine. If we don't follow you, it's not personal - it probably means the baked beans are burning or the dog needs a walk.... Say hello – nudge us....and don’t forget to meet the team, there are lovely smiley pictures on our website.
Why do we LOVE Retweets and find likes less....well.....likeable?
Remember we are a campaign. Retweets help spread the campaign message. If you like our tweets please retweet them. Likes go nowhere yet a retweet, which is just as easy, often leads to more people knowing about the campaign – and the aim is to encourage people to support artists. So PLEASE by all means like our tweets…but retweet too!!
How can the campaign promote my specific artwork/business?
We support individuals via our blog and with the #justacard hashtag. Please share your individual artwork/business using #justacard. We’d LOVE to be able to support each and every one of you personally, but we have our own businesses too and this campaign takes up so much of our time as it is, so the focus of our effort has to be about the wider creative community.
How can I be featured on your blog?
We aim to feature people who help spread our campaign message - it seems only fair to reward those who join our community and appreciate that everyone will benefit from the message. Therefore please share our message, retweet us etc. Do get in touch though, we often miss fantastic supporters and we very much value your commitment .
How can I get more involved in the campaign?
The MOST IMPORTANT THING is help spread the word. Our logo reminds people to consider the implications of their choice to make a small purchase. It's vital that people connect the two. Help make the logo instantly recognisable. This way our entire community will benefit. Put the logo on your website, display the free downloadable posters/cards - that's what they’re there for.
How can I use Social Media to help with the campaign?
Use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Share the message – more than you do now! We at “Just A Card” thought we tweeted a lot – yet a recent survey told us only 28% of you knew we had free posters and postcards for you to download. See – you can’t tweet too much when you have something important to say! Please retweet our pinned tweet. We add a new one every time they hit 100 retweets. Please remember that you can both ‘quote’ a tweet and retweet it. This means you can simply click ‘retweet’ but you can press "quote tweet’ and write a small message above it. Doing both is best – one tweet – double the reach - good hey?
I hope this clarifies things for you. We SO need to up the anti to make this campaign work for you. If we mutually support each other we can ensure that we all thrive - we need lots more followers on Twitter and Instagram so please tell your friends! Many of you invest heavily in events, buying materials, paying for stands and you need sales to keep afloat. If you’re a small business owner or an artist/designer then please share our message with your customers. If you appreciate creativity and small businesses, then please consider buying 'just a card' and please tell your friends how much it helps to keep these businesses viable.
Thank you so much to all the ‘Just a Card’ team, especially to the lovely Kate Marsden who works so hard on our blog, for all your wonderful help and commitment.
And a HUGE Thanks to you all for your continued support.
WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE - LET'S WORK TOGETHER.