Leverage Your Creative Genius to Make More Money from Your Craft

Do sleezy internet marketing and get-rich-quick schemes have you wondering if anyone really makes money in their  sleep? Can you run a business from a place of integrity, sell quality products or services, stay in lne with your own deeply held values and still make more money?

When you started out on the self-employment journey, the ultimate dream was to be able to fill your calendar with paying clients or have orders for as many products as you could make, right?

Something happens, though, when you hit that level of success and you realize that even though your clients or customers love what you do and are happy to pay you for it, you can only produce so many products by hand or provide so many hours of service. Does that mean you either raise your prices or you’re stuck at an earnings plateau?

You know you could make a lot more money and serve more people if only you could clone yourself. Well, that hasn’t quite been perfected yet but you know what? If you use some creative problem solving, you really can make more money and still get plenty of sleep.

Whether your business is a product or service, you can expand your reach Continue reading

How to Write Winning Descriptions for your Etsy Listings

Pre-internet, I shopped by mail-order and two of my favorite catalogues were Coldwater Creek and JPeterman’s. The clothes probably weren’t any more stylish, the price or fit better than other catalogues but what sold me was the delightful product description. My eye was drawn to the visual but it was the language used to describe the items that captivated me. Even now, on their websites, the copy tells a story. The product descriptions give you the experience of adventure or romance. The words make you imagine how you’ll feel wearing the clothes and that emotion is what makes you hit the “Buy Now” button.
With these  tips, anyone can write winning product descriptions to make their Etsy or other crafts listings sell.

Keep your tone conversational. Writing like you speak. will allow visitors to feel they know you as a person not just your product and that likability factor creates a sense of trust that is key. People shopping for handmade want the experience of buying from a real person not a manufacturer.

Speak to the buyer directly as you would a friend. Make it personal and emotional, “When YOU wear this piece you’ll FEEL…”
Attach the item to a story: “The inspiration for this scarf came to me when I was shell collecting on the beach at Sanibel and I noticed the turquoise horizon line where the sea met the azure sky.”
Use attention grabbing, descriptive adjectives: sparkling, dazzling, shimmering, luscious, plush, dangling for your product title.
Whether you make home decor items, edibles or wearables, talk about the benefits, not just the features. “The toggle clasp on this bracelet is easy to close with one hand. This clock is so lightweight you can hang it with a pushpin.”
If you’re struggling to come up with good descriptions, I’d recommend the book “Words that Sell” by Richard Bayan.
When someone lands on your page, they are initially attracted to the images but the language of your product description is key to taking them from browsers to buyers.

Are you doing this one thing that could sabotage your new craft business?

You know the increase in creative energy when you’re in the company of enthusiastic, like-minded artists or crafters? We keep hearing that the most successful entrepreneurs surround themselves with other successful entrepreneurs, right?

Well, that’s all true but there are times when you can actually sabotage your creative business if you’re hanging out with the wrong tribe. What do I mean by the “wrong” tribe? Aren’t all aspiring or growing entrepreneurs the right peeps to connect with? Not all. Here’s why:

Let’s say you’re starting a business making organic herbed olive oils. You tested them at a local farmers’ market and had a great response so you’ve decided to give an Etsy shop a try. You buy a few how-to-sell-on-Etsy books or videos and put up your shop and wait. Nothing’s happening. No one is buying.

You’re not even getting many page views. You’re feeling a little discouraged but you realize it takes awhile to grow a business so you try to connect with other makers to see what they are doing. The obvious place to go would be to get on the Etsy forums and connect with other sellers. Maybe you can get some positive suggestions so you post in a chat room and ask for help. You might be lucky and get some helpful tips but you’re more likely to find people saying things like “oh, you can’t make it selling that on Etsy. There are 700 other people selling infused olive oil on Etsy.” They aren’t asking you what you’re doing to stand out from the competition or giving you advice on how to get traffic to your page. Most likely, you’ll find other newish sellers who are on there complaining that they aren’t doing well either and you all start commiserating and discourage one another.

Recently, I asked a friend who is an uber successful Etsy seller if she ever goes on the forums to help newer makers or goes to meet-ups with local Etsy teams. Her answer: “Are you kidding? Successful Etsy sellers don’t have time to be hanging out on the forums. We’re busy filling orders. When I take a break from making, packaging and shipping, I’m updating listings and posting new photos on Pinterest to drive traffic to my site.”

So how, as a fledgling creative entrepreneur can you find people who not only answer your questions but understand what you’re going through and encourage and support you?

Here’s what I would do. I’d look for a few successful sellers whose products are complementary but not in competition with yours. Let’s say you make custom diaper bags. You might look for someone who is successfully selling baby shower invitations or hand knit baby sweaters. Contact them and be honest. Tell them you admire their work and were wondering if they would be willing to chat with you. You might even contact a few successful makers in your local area and invite the to meet for coffee. If they are so busy that they don’t have time to help you, hopefully they’ll at least give you the names of resources they used or a coach who helped them get started.

If you’ve already found people who boost you up, please share in the comments-we’d all love to hear your successes and cheer you on.

Does your Etsy site look like you’re closing up shop? Here’s how to fix it.

sell lhandmade scarves Yesterday a client asked me to check out her Etsy shop and advise her on why she wasn’t making many sales. There were a number of reasons which I’ll talk about in future posts but the very first thing that stood out for me was how few listings she had.
Her product was gorgeous and the photographs weren’t bad. There just weren’t enough of them. She makes adorable purses in some really cute fabrics but because she only has three styles, she showed images of the three styles in two sizes and a handful of different fabrics. She had a total of nine photos.
Imagine you’re out walking through a cute village with a bunch of sweet little shops. You step into one and there are only two racks of handbags in the whole place. If your online shop has only a few listings, it’s like walking into a brick and mortar store that looks like they’re going out of business. You’d quickly move on to the next one, right?
Can you make money selling handmade online if your shop looks like you’re almost out of inventory? No way. Can you be successful on Etsy if you only make a few items? Absolutely. Here’s how:

Let’s use the handbag example. Photograph each purse you make in as many different fabrics as you offer. You may only have two styles. Let’s say you have a polka dot, a gingham, a chevron pattern, a floral and a paisley and you offer a variety of color-ways in each pattern. You might be inclined to just show each of the two styles in each of the five patterns with a drop-down menu for color but that only gives you ten photographs. Instead, make up samples of every single color offered in each design and that will give you at least a couple of pages of images. Make each image a separate listing. (You can still use a dropdown menu with color choices.) This gives you the appearance of a well-stocked shop and shoppers will stay on your site longer and be more likely to purchase your handmade items.

Watch your inbox because in the next article, I’ll address another reason my client’s shop wasn’t making enough sales and what we’re going to do to solve it and get her making money.
If you’re not receiving these tips, fill in your name and email in the box on the right and you won’t miss out. You’ll also get a great resource of the best places to sell handmade crafts online.


 Turning those excess craft supplies into recurrent income


If you’re like most makers, you’ve got more craft supplies than you’ll ever use. Maybe that’s not a problem if you have a huge, well organized art studio but let’s face it, there’s always some new yarn, paint, fabric or tool that you just have to have, right?

Wouldn’t it be nice to get rid of the supplies that you no longer want and turn them into cash? You could always list them individually on Etsy or Ebay but I have a better idea that’s fun, easier and will bring you recurring monthly income. (Or extra cash to buy more new brushes, paint, beads or fiber.)

When I look at my crafty stash, I see ideas for combining different elements like wire, yarn, beads and fabric. You’re obviously a creative type too or you probably wouldn’t be here now. Here’s a great way to turn those excess craft supplies into what I call a subscription for ongoing monthly income.

Gather the supplies that you’re no longer using and design a project that uses those supplies. (It should incorporate supplies you have a lot of.) Write up, illustrate or make video instructions of the project and offer a program of monthly bundles. Depending on the quality of supplies and uniqueness of design, you could charge anywhere from $5 to $50 monthly. Your social media friends can subscribe to receive a different bundle for a new project each month. If you have only 150 subscribers at $10 a month, you’ve created an extra $1500 a month. That’s a pretty significant profit center, don’t you think?
Please share some of your cool designs for your new project-of-the-month-bundle. You can post them over on the Craft Biz Blog Facebook page. I look forward to seeing the magic you come up with from your craft stash. For more great ideas on how to turn your craft into cash, check out “12 Easy Ways to Turn Your Hobby into an Extra $1200. a Month” HERE 


Why Co-op Galleries Fail and How yours Can be Wildly Successful

I received so questions about co-op galleries that I am reposting this article from 2009 to give you some helpful pointers on starting your own. Lots of you have expressed interest in opening your own gallery or craft shop and said you are concerned because so many fail. It’s true that many co-op style craft galleries don’t make it but artists who approach it as a business rather than a hobby can do very well. There are some co-op galleries in this county that have lasted decades.


First, let’s look at the advantages of a co-op:

  • Customarily,  the cash output initially is minimal since it is shared amongst members.
  • You don’t need to purchase inventory to start up since it is the members who make up the artists represented.
  • As an artist you will not be stuck sitting the gallery yourself full time at the cost of precious studio time.
  • You don’t ever have to advertise for help. The members all put in time.


The reasons they frequently don’t work are:

  • There are too many “cooks”and not enough sous-chefs. You need a director or a team of directors.
  • Every one does every task so you have people taking on responsibilities that they are not qualified for or don’t enjoy so they can’t do their best job.
  • In an attempt to save money on rent, co-op galleries are frequently poorly located. There is often no jury process so members display any work they chose. One or two amateurish artists can ruin the professional image and reputation.
  • The mix of price-point or media is out of balance.
  • No one’s promoting the gallery.
  • The artists have their individual contact information on their tags so customers will try to go directly to the artist rather than through the gallery. They believe they’ll save money.
  • Some artists charge more for their work in a co-op to make up for the percentage the gallery takes. If you are trying to bypass the gallery’s commission, you’re sabotaging everyone’s efforts to make it a success.


What can you do differently to make sure you are one of the success stories?

  • Choose three people with a good sense for business to be the directors. We’re not talking about members with a business degree. Just those who are a bit more right-brain balanced or detail oriented. Three because an odd number means there will always be a tie breaker rather than two directors possibly butting heads. If there are not 3 members of your co-op who fit the profile, select members of the small business community.  Ideally, they will be retailers whose business is complimentary, not competitive.
  • Divide the tasks according to members strengths. You may have some members who are better at display, others who are good at handling behind the scenes like paperwork or public relations. Someone else who is good at event planning to handle the show details. Of course, you don’t want to put everyone on the sales floor. Many artists find it difficult to ask for the sale and while you don’t want to hard-sell or pressure customers, the purpose is to sell art. The members can be trained at good sales skills but some people are going to be naturally comfortable speaking and educating the customer.
  • Don’t skimp on location. I’m always amazed when coops take locations on a second floor or side street to save money. There is no costlier mistake in retail. You may save $800. a month but you’ll lose $8,000. or more in sales. This doesn’t mean that you will only succeed if you choose a very high end location. There are many factors and specific criteria for the right location. If you aren’t sure, it is definitely worth hiring a consultant to help you chose the best location.  I’ve had the experiences that someone has hired me to help them open a gallery and they do everything right except go for the locations we’ve helped them choose and negotiate. They opt to save a few dollars on rent and and their sales figures suffer.
  • Appoint a jury to approve what is displayed. As friends, members are often concerned with hurting someone’s feelings but the quality must be consistent. You might ask a few local artists from the local art association or even a nearby college to serve this role. They will most likely be flattered to have been asked. This keeps the selection neutral and professional.
  • Every member should agree to charge at least keystone (double) the price they wholesale to other galleries or shops and agree to never undersell the gallery price at craft fairs or online. Keeping your prices consistent maintains integrity for the whole gallery.
  • As tempting as it is to bring your work in and paint or make your art when it is your turn to work the gallery, it should be agreed that no one does work during their assigned gallery hours. As artists, we get involved in the creative process and find it an inconvenience to be interrupted. The customers feel that and you will loose sales. While having a working artist in the gallery is good for traffic and sales, it should not be the person whose turn it is to be on the sales floor. Customers want  connection with you, to hear the story behind the work, a little about the technique and some bio tidbits. They’re not just buying the piece of art. They’re buying the human element.

If you’d like more detailed information about opening your own gallery or craft cooperative with low or no investment, you can purchse the “How to Start Your Own Gallery or Craft Co-op” HERE for only $19. 

How to leverage your art so you don’t have to rely completely on one-of-a-kind items.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I like to give you ideas to leverage your art so that you don’t have to rely solely on one-off items. For two-dimensional work, it’s easy. You can make prints of some of your originals. If you create bonze sculpture or carve jewelry forms in wax, you can scale your art by casting. It takes as much time to hand fabricate a piece in sterling as in platinum or gold but if you cast your originals, you can offer price upgrades without additional hours.
Begin thinking in terms of collections. If, for example, you do wire-wrapped dangly beaded bracelets, developing a line of “modular” or add-on pieces or charms so that you can give the customer the option of a lower price point but will encourage repeat sales. (I’ll tell you a secret. Customers actually end up spending more, not less because they seldom purchase just one component. They see how great the pieces you have assembled look and can’t resist adding on). The great news is, they still perceive it as a bargain because they have the option of spending less. This isn’t tricking anyone-it’s just giving them the benefit of more choices.
Can you think of ways that you can offer ad-on components or create collections to sell more art?

What colors should you be including in the crafts you make to sell?

FCR_SPRING2016_Home_Banner_Img  Most of us work with colors we enjoy when we’re making crafts but when creating a line to sell, it’s important to keep up on trends because the people who purchase from you, even if they aren’t super fashion-forward, will be trying to match their wardrobe or home decor. I know, it makes me a bit sick too to think that people buy art to match the sofa but some actually do.

The photo here is from the company Pantone, a major color forecaster. (Yes, there are people who actually get paid to decide what hues will be popular in apparel , home furnishings, jewelry, etc.) The Spring 2016 pallete includes rose quartz, peach echo, serenity, snorkel blue, iced coffee, lilac grey, butter cup, limpit shell, fiesta and green flash. Wouldn’t it be fun to be the person who choses these names?

This is the first year in a long time that teenage girls will be wearing the same colors as their grandmothers. Rose quartz and serenity blue are remeniscent of prom dresses from the 60s.

READ MORE HERE for more about why this matters.


Can Making Smaller Paintings or Crafts Pay off for YOU? When Working Smaller is Working Smarter

Have you been hearing about the mini movement in paintings and crafts? Almost every arts publication these days has reference to producing smaller, less expensive pieces and more of them.

When someone asks an artist to create a smaller piece, they always assume smaller means it should cost less. Sometimes this is true from a materials cost alone but frequently, working on  a smaller scale is more challenging and more time consuming. So,

initially, my rection to this mini movement was less than enthusiastic. If you’ve been following me, you know that I suggest artists and craftspeople have a wide range of prices. I also advocate printing, casting, licensing  or in some way, reproducing a portion of your work to add leveraged income. I also recommend keeping part of your line Continue reading

Are you an Art Snob or Craft Connoisseur?

I admit it. I was an Art Snob. I didn’t consider crafts an art form. Yes, glass blowing, metal smithing, maybe even pottery, but I turned my nose up at cropping, stamping and needlework. I saw them as “housewife” or ‘granny-crafts”, color-inside-the-lines for those who had no imagination. And collage, well, that was just something for people who couldn’t draw or paint.  That was, until I saw some of the amazingly creative things artists do with fiber, paper and glue. Now, I’m a convert.

My old attitude came from a misguided background in fine art. Actually,  I was a misfit in a competitive Design , Art and Architecture College at a large university.   It was immediately apparent they’d made a mistake accepting me into the art education program. I’m a creative idea generator but this was pre-computer and to say I’m not a perfectionist is an understatement. Several of our design courses were combined with architecture and industrial design students and, well, let’s just say,  I didn’t fit in.  Another part of the curriculum was classic training in the fine arts of drawing, painting and sculpture. It was unacceptable if not laughable to even consider creating anything functional. The only time I felt in my element was the one semester we got an abbreviated sampling of jewelry and textiles.

Decades later as I walked the aisles of the Buyer’s Market of American Craft, a wholesale-to-the-trade show Continue reading