How being generous can help you sell more crafts over the holidays

Are you wondering how you are going to find time to market your craft over the holidays? A lot of people let their marketing fall by the way-side between Thanksgiving and New Years but this can lead to slow sales in January and February.

One of the best methods to sell more craft is to make sure it’s seen at holiday parties.

If you have friends or family who host holiday parties in their home or office, ask them if they would like to borrow some of your art for the party. Whether it’s wall art, table-top or  wearable, your work will be seen by lots of new potential customers. Just be sure your friend has cards with your contact info handy to give to anyone who admires your work.

If your make jewelry or wearable art, you should wear it every single time you leave the house, even to run to the grocery store. And always have cards with your contact info in your pocket. But especially over the holidays, you can get other people to be your billboards as well. My employees and friends always knew they could borrow a piece of handmade jewelry, a scarf or other wearable art to attend special luncheons or parties. The only requirement was that they keep my cards in their handbag and anytime someone complimented the piece, they told them who made it and where they could purchase one or something similar. It’s not imposing. They’ll love wearing and talking about your work. It’s often a good ice-breaker at cocktail parties.

If any of your friends work in a place where they see lots of people every day, they can be a great source of marketing for you just by wearing what you make and telling anyone who admires it how they can contact you.

Don’t over-look how many women are shopping for the perfect outfit to wear to the holiday parties. They will need accessories as well so it’s a great idea to approach some upscale boutiques and ask them to display your work with their dresses. If they don’t already sell jewelry or whatever accessories your make, they can up their average ticket by showing the customer a piece of yours to match the outfit. They have nothing to lose if you do it on consignment. And you have everything to gain.

For more easy, fun ways to sell more crafts, check out the audio course: “12 Easy Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month”

How to make sure you don’t have holiday credit card debt.

Because I’m committed to supporting makers and indie businesses, I don’t participate in the Black Friday madness.  Still, I’m very aware that many people in western cultures dig the deepest deficit in their bank accounts during the 4 weeks preceding Christmas. For many, this gift shopping frenzy results in painful credit card bills arriving in January. So how can you make sure you don’t have holiday credit card debt?

Ideally, many of your gifts will be handmade with love. Even so, expenses mount up during the holidays but it doesn’t have to be that way. What if you could not only get ahead of those holiday bills but make thousands of dollars to give you a head start on 2016?

Retailers generally make the largest chunk of their income during this last quarter and as a maker, you can too, even if you don’t consider yourself an artist or craftsperson. If you make bath and body products like soaps and lotions, edible treats such as preserves, cupcakes or sauces, home decor items, hand poured candles, jewelry or wearable items you can earn thousands before the end of the year.

I’d love to see everyone give handmade and I’d love to see every maker be in positive financial shape after the holidays so I’ve put together  a couple of guides to help you turn your craft into a cash cow.

NONE of these income generating ideas require an Etsy site or doing traditional craft fairs. (I give you plenty of tips on those things in other courses.) Most of these ideas are things you can do any time of year but are particularly relevant in the next few weeks.

None of them involve icky, uncomfortable marketing.

EACH ONE of these tips I’ve either tried myself or recommended to clients and have proven to generate between a thousand and fifteen hundred a month. That’s from EACH idea. Imagine if you do several or all of them.

Get Your Copy of “21 Ways to Turn Your Craft into a Cash Cow” HERE

Do you learn better by LISTENING than READING?

If so, you might prefer the audio course
 “12 Easy  Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month”.

It’s got many of the same tips and you can listen rather than read.

If you’re shopping, please do your part to support indie businesses. The recipients will love you and so will the makers.

Could you use some extra cash this time of year?

Most people can use some extra cash this time of year and one of the most fun ways I know of is to organize make-and-take parties. You can either host them yourself or ask your friends or co-workers to host them for you.

Everyone is looking for gift ideas so you can combine a friends-night-out with a crafting party. Here’s how it works:

Come up with a simple craft project. It can be a holiday craft or something else that would make a good gift. Some ideas are handmade ornaments, bath or body products like soaps or lotions, candles , jewelry and even edible gifts such as salsas or fudge.

Purchase the materials.

Invite a group of friends to gather for a maker party. You can charge a small fee that is your supply costs plus your instruction fee.

You can earn extra revenue by having kits of the materials and supplies so that attendees can make additional pieces at home.

It’s a good idea to have some of your own finished work on display as well. Obviously, these will be more complicated pieces that the party-goers wouldn’t even attempt to make themselves. They’d rather just buy purchase them from you.

At the first party and at subsequent parties, ask the attendees if any would like to host another party for a different group of friends. You might offer them a hostess incentive such as a discount on their choice of your finished work.

Be sure to give them all your business cards so that they can purchase pieces from you in the future or contact you to have another make-and-take party or show. Also, collect their email addresses so that you can let them know when you have new work or specials.

What if you don’t enjoy teaching? Have a home show of your work at either your house or ask a friend to host a show for you. You can even invite a number of other artist or maker friends to join you for a group home show.

You can find more out-of-the-ordinary, fun ways to bring in extra income for the holidays HERE at “21 Ways to Turn Your Craft into a Cash Cow” 

Now is the perfect time to open a pop-up shop with minimal cash outlay or commitment.

So many artists and crafts people have told me they’ve always wanted to open a shop to sell their own pieces and the work of other crafters but they think they need to have a ton of capital and be willing to commit to a long lease. Is that you?

If you are anywhere between a little timid and downright terrified at the idea of a big commitment,  this is a perfect time to test out your dream with minimal financial risk. Here’s why:

Retail spaces in many areas are  vacant and landlords are anxious to bring in some revenue so they are often willing to do a temporary agreement for a limited period of time rather than sit with an empty space, no income and a big mortgage.

If you know of a space that you believe would be a good location for you, particularly if it’s been sitting vacant awhile, consider approaching the landlord with the offer of a “pop-up” shop.

Here’s how that would work. You offer to pay two months upfront. (Remember, you negotiate for a lower rent than what they are asking.) You commit to Nov.and Dec.only, then see how things go.  Some people go in with the intention of doing a shop for the holdiays only. Others decide to continue on a year-round basis. You can either do a month-to-month agreement after the first of the year, with a first right of refusal if he gets an offer from another prospective tenant, or once you see you are successful, commit to a longer lease. So, where do you get the cash to pay two months ahead if you don’t have it? Simple. Start out by renting walls and shelf space to other artists and crafters. This is different than a co-op. You keep control. ( There are lots of different formulas to do this and I can help you figure out which way is best for you if we do private coaching. )

If you do have access to the rent money, you still have the option to carry other artists’ crafts on consignment rather than have to purchase all your inventory outright. I discourage business loans but I do believe in using credit cards to purchase merchandise IF you are very careful to only purchase as much as you believe you will sell by January first.  Remember that the wholesale shows are after the first of the year so you could start strictly with consignment and that gives you two months of success and cash flow. Then you can go to a trade show and begin gradually adding other artists.

Those of you who’ve worked with me know I’m a HUGE believer in starting small and building on your success.  You’ll find step-by-step details for how to do this in the e-guide “Start your own gallery or craft cooperative with little or no cash” HERE 

If you want more direct consulting time with me, I do have availability for three more one-to-one clients for November so if a pop-up location sounds like a great plan to you, contact me HERE and we’ll talk about how I can help you get started.

Do you live with chronic illness? How can you adapt your creative work to accommodate your challenges?

Yesterday I was interviewed by my friend Tracy Weiss , artist and wellness coach. The topic of the discussion was how an artist and entrepreneur with a chronic illness can continue to do what they love.

Unless  you’ve been to the movies, a restaurant or an airport with me and held my place in line while I pace around or sit on the ground, you probably don’t know that I live with a serious medical condition. I don’t talk about it unless I’m in a situation like a standup reception where I have to explain why I can’t stand and speak with you.  I don’t want my disability to define me so I try hard to pretend I feel find and sometimes that’s exhausting. I’m beginning to see that my silence is a disservice, not only to my friends who would be happy to help if they knew but even more importantly to other artists and entrepreneurs who could benefit from my experience because I haven’t let it stop me from living a creative life.

I have dysautonomia which means the part of the brain that controls heart rate, blood pressure, temperature regulation and other major body systems doesn’t function correctly.  One of the complications is that when I stand still,  my brain gives the wrong signal to my heart and it doesn’t get enough blood. It forgets to tell my pituitary to release ADH so I have a rare type of diabetes that has nothing to do with blood sugar and requires daily medication to maintain fluid. My immune system goes into overdrive to fights off things that a healthy body doesn’t see as a threat so new carpet, household cleaners, many supplies used in art making, even a simple Sharpie sends my system into defense mode and it takes immune suppressant drugs to calm it down.

But I can’t just stop creating. I tried when I first got sick but it was like trying to stop breathing.
So my art has changed over the years to accommodate physical challenges. In my early years as an artist and at University, I learned to Continue reading

Have You Ever Dreamed of Your Own Art or Handmade Crafts Gallery?

There’s probably never been a better time to test the waters if you dream about your own craft shop or gallery.  Right now is the easiest time to get in with very little capital. So many premium storefronts are vacant and commercial landlords who previously wanted high rents and long leases are anxious to just get some cash flow. For the first time in decades it’s a lessees market and landlords are willing to negotiate like never before.  Whether you want to go solo, or co-op with partners, right now you can work out a temporary, even month to month lease on a prime spot with an option to eventually sign a long term lease. Landlords are hungry so it’s never been a better time to realize your dream of having your own gallery. This is a strategy that I normally suggest for the fall holiday shopping season but going into summer is also a an ideal time. If you live in an area that gets summer tourists, find the best vacant spot and approach the landlord directly. Don’t be afraid to Continue reading

Make your Craft and 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.

Did you enjoy this article?  For more great ideas on how to make your craft more meaningful and profitable, you can

pre-order “Makers: Make Money and Make a Difference”

now for the pre-sale price of $9. (it will be $19. when it’s released this summer.)

ON PRE-SALE NOW for only $9. Makers- Make Money, Make a Difference

Crafting for a Cause- Your Art Can Make a Difference

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 Continue reading

Should You Consign to Galleries?

The question of consignment keeps coming up and while I’ll address it in more detail in the tele-seminar series this summer,  let’s touch base on some basics since it’s the time of year to get started.

Assuming you’ve selected the galleries where your crafts will be most compatible, you’ve narrowed down the choices and set up appointments, it’s time to prepare for your meeting.

Show up well prepared with your pieces attractively tagged, with the information we’ve discussed. Price the pieces at retail. Number each piece so that it coincides with a number on your inventory list. (which you will duplicate and leave a copy with the gallery.) Ideally, a thumbnail photograph of each piece next to the number will help you and the gallery owner identify them easily. This doesn’t need to be a high resolution photo, it’s for reference only, not a marketing piece. If your objects are fairly flat, for example jewelry, a simple way to do it is to just place it on your photocopier, scan it and reduce to thumbnail size..

Also, if you have a display that shows your work off well, present the gallery owner with that option. You always want to have display recommendations.

If you are consigning work to gallery far from home, consider asking someone in the area to periodically “shop”  the gallery for you.  (they are actually your spies.) I can’t count the times I’ve walked into galleries to see a particular artist’s work and it’s nowhere on display. The artist has no idea why he isn’t receiving commission checks and it turns out

Continue reading

Why your Art Needs a Story

mad-men-225x300  As an artist, making each piece by hand, do you worry about competing with knock-offs made by children in China? Even if your designs are trademarked and copyrighted,  you likely can’t afford the lost time or emotional reserves to fight these mass manufacturers.  I’ve watched it happen to so many artists and I know it’s a struggle to stay ahead of the copy-cats. So, what can you do about it? How can you differentiate your work from the inexpensive look-a-likes? Well, the best way I know is to make sure that shoppers know the difference so that they appreciate the value of your work and understand why it commands a higher price tag. Otherwise, they are not going to pay $279. for a piece that looks just like what they’ve seen in the Target or Walmart. And the one element that makes your work worth paying more for is the YOUness. If your work doesn’t have a story, your customer can’t understand the value and there is no way they are going to pay more for something that looks just like the cheaper one. Now, more than ever, your art needs a story.  Annette Simmons, author of The Story Factor,  said  “in today’s world almost anyone you want to influence is operating under a deficit of human attention.”  They are drowning in facts, information and  statistics. They need a story they can relate to.  Most people don’t remember facts and figures. They do remember stories. As an artist, you need a story too. If you’re showing your work at a juried craft show, chances are the attendees  understand the value of your work. In that case, just being personable and explaining a bit about your process, inspiration, etc will help reinforce the old know-like-trust factor. They’ll be loyal fans because they know your face and like you. However, if you exhibit at an un-juried show, it’s likely that some vendors have slipped imports into the mix and you’ll have to work harder to make sure the customers know you.. Knowing your “story”, where you came from and how you got where you are now, adds that human element and makes your work worth the higher price. If your art is represented in a gallery, you may Continue reading