Dealing with Public Criticism

WARNING: The internet can be a harsh, openly critical place. Thick skin may be required.

When you put yourself out into the world of cyber space, there are going to be those who will judge, criticize, and hate you. This is true whether you are trying to sell products, offering your personal opinions, or simply passing along information. How you are able to handle these negative reactions could be beneficial to your online reputation, if you can mange to keep your cool, maintain a positive perspective, and remain respectful of others (even the meanie-heads.)

For starters, keep a personal distance from your products when they are criticized. Always, ALWAYS try to look at things from the customer’s point-of-view. Instead of feeling hurt when craft fair browsers say your prices are too high, remind yourself that they may not know how much time you spend on each of your pieces, or that they may have no clue how much your supplies cost. Bite back the urge to make a snappy response, and take the time to educate these criticizers exactly WHY you price the way you do, and they just might end up changing their minds.

Same goes for internet remarks of the same nature. If you stumble across a group of forum commenters, marveling at how you could possibly sell anything with such “high prices,” feel free to step in, and calmly explain your pricing methods, while at the same time letting them know that you appreciate their feedback. If people feel like they are being listened to, and not argued with, they are more likely to listen to what YOU have to say as well.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: ALWAYS be respectful. You never know when some harsh words might come around and bite you in the arse.

When you see criticism of your work, it may be tempting to feel personally attacked. When someone says “I think that handmade _____ is ugly” you are thinking “they think the thing I made is ugly, so they are basically saying I’m ugly!”

No, they aren’t.

They are saying a particular item that they found online is unattractive, in their opinion. Even if they aren’t using the most respectful tone, there might even be a chance that their criticism could be of value to you. If the item in reference isn’t selling, perhaps there is merit to the negative opinion. Take a step OUT of your role as creator, and INTO the role of the customer. What are their specific criticisms of the item? How can you take them into consideration and make future items better? How awesome will you look when you step in and THANK them for their remarks, letting them know you have dutifully noted their concerns, and you plan on rectifying the issues in your future creations.

Internet criticizer: Have you seen these handmade pillows? They look like they are poop stained! Freaking GROSS, amiright!?!

You’re response: OMG, now that you mention it, the fabric I used for these really DOES look… unsanitary. I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before. Thank you so much for pointing it out! I’ll definitely reconsider using this fabric in the future. No wonder those items haven’t been selling.

OR: I can kind of see what you mean, but honestly, the sales I’ve gotten from these items tell me not everyone thinks they look that bad. Or, they do, and they’re buying them as gag gifts. Either way, I appreciate the feedback!

See what happened there? In either response, the criticizer was recognized, and felt as though his or her complaints were HEARD and RESPONDED to. There’s even a good chance that your positive, appreciative attitude could land you some new customers. Keep that in mind before you feel the urge to post a knee-jerk defense of whatever negative thing anyone has to say about your items.

Related post: Handling the Haters


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12 thoughts on “Dealing with Public Criticism

  1. Greenstar December 12, 2012 at 8:06 pm Reply

    This is a great post and great advice. I hope many of your readers take this on board. Many people on the internet can be quite ruthless with their comments and knowing how to deal with such comments is key to running a successful business.

    • MegansBeadedDesigns December 13, 2012 at 8:19 am Reply

      Thank you Greenstar. Obviously, I completely agree with you. Responding in a way that respectfully considers the criticism can be a boost for a business’ reputation.

  2. Patricia December 13, 2012 at 4:55 am Reply

    This is wonderful advice for situations that can feel very personal, especially online where the people making the comments can sometimes forget that there is a person on the other side of the artwork. I do appreciate that folks tend to be much more honest online than they might be to your face, but it would still be great to see others using some kindness and tact when opting to voice opinions of this kind. Thanks for the great post Megan!

    • MegansBeadedDesigns December 13, 2012 at 8:17 am Reply

      Glad you found it useful Patricia!

      I will say, that sometimes responding in kind reminds people that you ARE a real person and may change their attitude about how they reference your work.

      Other than that, if someone is simply hate-speaking (not really offering any constructive criticism of ANY kind, this is usually out of jealousy), then its okay to completely ignore that person. Generally others will recognize this kind of “criticism” for what it really is, and there is n need to respond.

  3. Sharon December 13, 2012 at 11:56 am Reply

    Great post. I have only encountered one situation where 2 ladies said ,”oh I can do that for half of what you are charging. Then they walked away, came back later and wanted full instructions on how to do it, handed me paper and pen wanting me to write it all down for them. Including a supply list and where to buy it.. This was at a artist in action event. Thank heaven the owner of the store interceded and I was off the hook. I was flabbergasted to say the least., but I just kept smiling. One of the ladies came back hours later and purchased a painting. Goes to show being nice counts. :-)

    • MegansBeadedDesigns December 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm Reply

      Wow, the nerve of some people! Usually, if describing how to make something would take longer than a sentence, I politely hand them a business card and let them know I sell patterns and tutorials online.

      Good for you, being able to keep your cool in that kind of situation!

    • Jeanie Bates December 18, 2012 at 9:20 am Reply

      “I could make/do that” must not be an uncommon response from some people at a show. I have had the same experience. Once they have the full supply list and explanation of your work, they must realize they are never ever going to invest the time or money to try and sew, paint or sculpt what the artist has made with the same result.

      • MegansBeadedDesigns December 18, 2012 at 9:46 am Reply

        Exactly Jeanie, and not only that, but they don’t always consider the time investment. For example, sure, I could probably learn how to crochet. But am i going to take the time to learn, buy the yarn, and make myself a pair of gloves? Nah… I’d rather just buy them from a handmade artist who makes them and save myself the trouble!

  4. Silvia December 18, 2012 at 3:34 am Reply

    Thanks for this post, this applies to a lot of situations in life…if only I had the nerve to answer in such a smart way! Polite is ok, smart is better! :)

    • MegansBeadedDesigns December 18, 2012 at 8:13 am Reply

      At least online you tend to have some time to cool off, and think about a “smart” and respectful way to respond!

  5. Lynn January 23, 2013 at 9:28 am Reply

    I’ve never understood the need to say something is “ugly” to the creator. I always find “it’s not really to my taste” or “I prefer something more [insert esthetic term here]” to be both truthful and adequate to ensure my husband doesn’t think I like it and buy it for me when I’m not looking. Saying something like that saves face for the artist, and it reminds me that all those people who don’t buy MY stuff are just people with inadequate taste. ;)

    • MegansBeadedDesigns January 23, 2013 at 9:29 am Reply

      We all have different tastes – something to keep in mind when being criticized! Very true!

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