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
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.
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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
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
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
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 Continue reading
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
Well, it’s time we shatter that age-old rumor wide open
In 2013, I gathered a virtual circle of 14 creative entrepreneurs who are making a living doing things you’ve probably always heard referred to as “hobbies” but these people are putting food on the table and money in the bank doing things like:
- baking cupcakes
- candle making
- jewelry design
- creating art
- teaching creativity workshops
- making organic chocolate
- and traveling to foreign lands shopping and reselling folk art.
Recently I invited 15 brilliant, high earning creative entrepreneurs to be my guests on the 2014 Inspired Livelihood Inspired Entrepreneur panel to openly share the secrets of how they got started, what they know now that would have saved them time and money if they’d known in the beginning, how they’ve turned their interests into significant income and what advise they’d give new artsy entrepreneurs just starting out. They hold back no secrets about what it took to grow a successful business, the challenges they’ve faced and obstacles they’ve overcome. You’ll hear top Etsy sellers speak out about what they do to stand out, get noticed and make sales in a crowded market. You’ll learn where to look to get public art commissions and grant money to purchase materials and create your art. For this series I deliberately chose entrepreneurs who are making a living, many of them a six figure income doing things like:
- facilitating virtual creativity workshops
- designing coloring books,
- designing and knitting hats
- selling patterns
- designing and printing self-adhering wall decals for home decor
- painting silk apparel
- writing and speaking about financial planning in a language artists understand
I’m hoping their experiences will encourage you to continue moving in the direction of your dreams. As always, these audios are chock-full of valuable info and inspiring stories about people just like you who took an idea and created a livelihood doing what they love. You can access the whole series FREE HERE RIGHT NOW or Continue reading
If you’re exhibiting at craft fairs tot he public or trade shows to shops and galleries this summer, you might be missing the most important thing you can do to increase your sales. It’s so simple but can make all the difference in selling more of your work.
Get your pieces in the hands of your customers. Don’t ask “is there something you’d like to see?”. When you notice someone looking at a particular piece, simply hand it to them. If you sell wearable crafts like jewelry or scarves, keep a mirror in your booth and invite and encourage attendees to try things on. Engage them in conversation about how your pieces are created and where your inspiration comes from. The longer they spend in your space, the more likely it is that they will purchase.
The difference between a handcrafted piece and mass produced items is the human-ness of handmade so make sure attendees know you as a person and get to touch your work. The next time you exhibit, make it a goal to put a piece of your work in the hands of everyone who stops by your booth. Then let me now how much your sales have increased. See, I told you it was simple.
As we enter the summer craft fair season I’m seeing news of more festivals that have an eco-conscious, earth friendly section. The 39th annual Union Street Festival in San Francisco has a whole section dedicated to crafts created with recycled and sustainable materials and eco-friendly exhibits.
The Eugene, Oregon Saturday market features recycled wares, but that’s no surprise in the “Greenest City”.
There’s the Crafty Feast Indi Fair in Columbia, SC featuring alternative and experimental crafts made from re-purposed materials including handbags made form recycled inner tubes, scrap monsters made from recycled
socks and sweaters, and lapel pins made from recycled ties and vintage buttons.
At Handmade Mart in Silversprings Md., you’ll see recycled hard bound books turned into one of a kind purses, paperbacks repurposed into wallets, and skirts made from re-purposed t-shirts.
At the Annual Haddonfield, NJ Crafts and Fine Art Festival , you’ll find bracelets made from recycled soda can pull tabs, clocks and lamps made from recycled cookware, jewelry made from recycled silver, antique buttons and bottle caps and quilts from recycled clothing.
According to the artists and crafts people I’ve spoken with, buyers are getting more eco-savvy and starting to appreciate green crafts more.
So, what does this mean for you as an artist? Continue reading