Crafting for Relief-Artists can Make a Difference
For decades superstar entertainers have done benefit concerts to raise funds for causes they believed in. I will always remember the 1971 Concert For Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden organized by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar for the relief of refugees from East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh atrocities and Bangladesh Liberation War. The event drew 40,000 people and was the first benefit concert of this magnitude in world history. It featured Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Badfinger, and Ringo Starr.
The popular summer music festival, Bonnaroo donated $50,000 to Music City flood relief efforts and of course Nashville’s elite songwriters made enormous donations to the flood victims but you don’t have to be a rock-star or billionaire to make a difference.
I’ve heard from artists and crafters who feel called to make a contribution to aid recent disaster victims but think they must have Read the rest of this entry »
Crafting for Relief-Artists can Make a Difference
Do you have a product you love making and people are buying but you’re struggling to produce enough to meet the demand and make a living?
One of my favorite solutions also answers the “must have more meaning” criteria that is integral to inspired livelihood. Rather than hire employees to help produce your craft or seek a licensing agreement to have your work mass produced overseas, what if you were to find a group of people who want to make money from home?
Rather than having to find a larger studio space and hiring employees, you can help people create their own cottage industries who then sell to you on a piecework basis.
Consider either stay-at -home parents who love crafts and want to make money without leaving their children OR a group of people in an underdeveloped country who have no industry, training or marketable skills. Either way, train those people to make your craft according to your designs and techniques, furnish them with the supplies and outsource the fabrication. If you love to travel, you can visit a different culture to source and train the crafters (joyful and deductible). You’ll be bringing satisfying gainful employment to people in need and you’ll have enough handmade inventory to make a living.
Are you already outsourcing your work to stay at home crafters either in your community or around the world? Feel free to comment. We’d all love to hear what you’re doing or what you’d like to be doing to make your craft more meaningful and profitable.
Author’s Note: (Even if you’re short on inventory or time to do these tips for Valentine’s Day, you’ll find this article valuable because you can do this days before Mother’s Day (or Christmas) . It WORKS. Many crafts people report making more money in a few hours this way than at a huge craft fair.)
Do you think it’s too late to sell your crafts a day or two before a holiday? You’d be amazed at how many crafts people tell me they have made more sales in a couple of hours a day or two before a holiday than in the three previous weeks combined. It’s all about using the bad habits of procrastinators to your advantage.
Here are a few tips for making some last minute cash:
Guys, I apologize in advance for the stereotype, but let’s face it, men tend to wait until the last minute to shop. (Yes, some women do too.) Still, hanging out where men are captive audiences is a guaranteed way to turn your craft into cash at the last minute. Particularly if you make wearables like jewelry or scarves, jump on this. Most guys have no idea what to buy their wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers so they appreciate your suggestions.
- Pick the most upscale men’s salon or barber shop and offer to set up a display of your wares at peak hours. Make sure and approach it as if you’re doing THEM a favor rather than the other way around because you are. (The owner and operators likely haven’t done holiday shopping yet either so they can have first pick without having to leave work.) Also, mention that setting this up will be an attraction for them as well so it will draw in new customers for the salon. You will sell more than you would in a craft show or retail setting because guys won’t be cheap in front of other guys. There’s kind of a magnet effect. One buys and they all start opening their wallets.
- Even as late as Monday, if you get permission to set up at a large office building in the lobby or break room, you’ll be doing the employees and the employers a favor because lots of guys (and gals) are planning to leave work early on Christmas Eve and stop on the way home to pick up last minute gifts. I’ve heard craters say they sold more in a lunch hour Christmas eve than all month long.
- Medical personnel often have to work on Christmas eve so a hospital is a great place to have a last minute sale. Ask the HR department if you can set up in an area that the nurses and doctors gather on their breaks.
- Another great place to set up a last minute pop-up display is a nice neighborhood sports bar where regulars gather for lunch and dinner. (think Cheers). If you get the guys at lunch time, you have a captive audience. Many of us eat out the days before Christmas because we’re going to be cooking the next few days, so you have the advantage of couples as well and believe me, if there is a table of handmade jewelry set up, women will crowd around. They’ll not only buy for friends and family but will show the guys the pieces they like.
In all of the above instances, be sure to have plenty of cards and brochures with your contact info and write a description on the card what the person liked if they don’t buy it so that they can call or email you later. Also, do a drawing for a piece of your work. Just put out a bowl to collect business cards or scraps of paper for them to put their name and email address on. Ask permission to add the to your newsletter list so that you can let them know in advance when you’ll be back at that location or somewhere near by. (Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, etc.)
For more suggestions like this, put your info in the upper right of this page and get a copy of “13 Easy Low-Cost or NO Cost Tips to Turn Your Crafts into CASH NOW” ——————————————————————-
Hopefully, you did a great business in December and are still going strong but for many artists, sales are slow in January and early February. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here is one simple thing that will guarantee you increase your revenue and have a good winter and spring.
Have you noticed that when women shop, they are often verbal about what they like. This can be used to their advantage and yours when it comes to making more sales. Whether you show at craft fairs, home parties in shops or online, you absolutely are missing the boat and a big chunk of cash if you do not keep an active wish list. (If you sell online, you MUST add a wish list to your website.) If you sell in-person, here is what I did.
I had cards made that were double size. One half was my regular business card and the other half said “Hint, hint: I found exactly what I want at (my gallery or booth name). Then I had a blank line where I filled in the item description that I would recognize. I had them with a pen in several locations throughout my displays and I kept my own file with index cards under the person’s name with their wish list items. The women could then bring their “hint” card home to their husband, boyfriend, friend or family member. When it was time to look for a gift, the men could then call (or come in if you have a permanent location) and ask what was on his wife’s wish list. Everyone is happy. The guy is satisfied that he picked something she will love. The woman is happy that she got what she wanted instead of some random choice of his which she may or may not like and YOU got the sale. A win-win, right?
You only have 11 days left to sell your handmade crafts for Valentine’s Day. Even if you’re snowed in, just pick up the phone and set up some trunk shows at galleries, men’s salons, health clubs, office buildings or all of the above. Do you have any idea how many men would love to have your help in choosing a piece of hand crafted jewelry for their wives or girlfriends rather than have to scour shops trying to figure out what girls want? Whether you need to generate cash to pay off your holiday credit card bills or turn your crafts into cash so that you can go to the Gem Shows and buy more supplies, right now, today is the time to make those calls. After a successful sale, you’ll have an open invitation to return for Mother’s Day. See the December post on how to sell handmade jewelry to men. (It talks about Christmas but the ideas are great for Valentines Day as well.)
Are you feeling overwhelmed by everything you hear you should be doing to market your craft? You aren’t alone. Most of us need a map before we start out on a journey we’ve never taken before.
So, take a deep breath and know that if you just start somewhere, take one simple step today, you’re on your way. Wait, don’t decide to start fresh Monday. That works about as well as waiting to join the gym on January first. Just take one step, right now, yes, begin a new project on a Friday. Even if you take the weekend off, you’ll be able to relax knowing you’ve taken that first step.
Today’s assignment: choose your very best piece. Something that hasn’t been out in the marketplace yet. Now, photograph it. OK. I know you might consider that two steps. If you’re really feeling ambitious, upload it to your i-photo or other photo program and save it. So, three easy steps. (if you really must be a stickler about the one step a day, choose the piece today, photograph it tomorrow and upload on Sunday. Those are very tiny steps.) Monday morning, it will be so easy to continue knowing you’ve already done the first 3 steps.
Now, you are ready to take a BIG baby step on your craft marketing plan.
I’m not calling this a BIG step because it’s difficult. It isn’t. It’s simple and just so obvious but is a big step because it will make a huge difference in getting your sales rolling Read the rest of this entry »
The best way to market your craft is to find every opportunity to get your work in front of an audience. This seems obvious, but so often artists hide out in their studio. Some of us shy away from the spotlight. But, to succeed, it isn’t enough to have your work on a good website. You need to make an effort to do some in person appearances as well.
How do you go about getting your name and face out there as well as your work? (remember, part of the appeal of handmade is knowing the human behind the work. ) Demonstrating every chance you have will begin to establish you as the expert in your medium. Craft supply stores, galleries, workshops and trade shows are all opportunities to demonstrate your craft. Approach the manufacturers of the materials you use, either in person or by sending them a nice professional looking portfolio with examples of different techniques for using their products. Offer to make appearances in stores that carry their products, showing both the staff and customers the benefits of using their products, and at craft trade shows demonstrating to retailers. Not only will this give you Read the rest of this entry »
As we are getting into craft, gift and trade show season, I am hearing from clients and friends that two areas of the art market are doing well in the present economy. The reports are consistent that the very high end and the under twenty five dollar price points are selling. Mid price crafts are suffering. What does this mean for you?
My advise to any artist, craftsperson or retail gallery is always, in any economy, to make sure your line Read the rest of this entry »
January is the start of winter trade show season. As a maker, you should plan to walk at least one show. Whether you sell directly to the public or you’re considering selling to retail shops and galleries. If you can only attend one, I recommend you make it a general gift show rather than craft show. I know that sounds like a contradiction since you are in the business of crafts but you need to know what’s going on in the general gift wholesale trade for a number of reasons.
What should you be looking for as you walk the aisles?
- Trends: Even if you do vintage crafts or very traditional work, it’s still important to keep up with the trends.
- Notice themes. Are particular patterns, symbols or icons showing up across many lines? Sometimes a certain flower or animal print is popular. Remember when everything from clothing to home decor featured palm trees, owls or sunflowers? Last year, vintage trailers were the trend on fabrics like sheets and pajamas.
- Colors and fabrics. You should be aware of the current color palette so that your work will coorinate and compliment. Who knew chenille would ever make a comeback?
- Copy Cats: You also need to know if someone is knocking off your work, having it produced overseas and selling it for a fraction of what you sell it for. The likelihood of of getting the copycat to cease making it is questionable and you obviously aren’t going to lower your prices to compete but you should know that customers are seeing similar work at import prices. You may be able to tweak your line just enough to make it more apparent that it is handmade and you definitely will want to have other additional lines that aren’t being seen in mainstream shops.
If you’re considering wholesaling your work, try to visit several different trade shows. As you walk the aisles, notice which booths are busy. Who is writing orders? What do the artists who are writing the most orders have in common? Read the rest of this entry »
Tom and Carol Temple contacted me a couple of years ago when they were both in the newspaper industry in the Raleigh area. They had a dream of moving to the Blue Ridge mountains and opening a gallery and wanted to know if I thought they could really make a go of it. I consulted with them as they looked for locations and and sources and today, they are living their dream. Their gallery, Handtiques, features American handmade and 80% local artists.
The majority of the items they carry are functional. They like to show people that just because a piece is functional does not mean it can’t be beautiful and vice versa. Carol makes wire wrapped jewelry and Tom is a woodworker concentrating in jewelry and small functional pieces.
You can see more of their art HERE