Why your Art Needs a Story

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

More Business You Can Start from a College Dorm Room

   A recent article in Entrepreneur article titled “10 Businesses You Can Start From Your Dorm Room” listed IT consultant, social media consultant , web designer, photographer, personal trainer, event planner, graphic designer, cleaning service, makeup artist, landscaper and snow removal. I found it interesting that there was no mention of all the crafty businesses students can run from their dorm room, particularly since so many students are crafters.
There’s so much opportunity to sell handmade items both on and off campus and if you have an item that appeals to a young, trendy population, you have a built in customer set of tens of thousands of qualified buyers.   and that’s without even taking your business online. If you are a college student or parent of a college student, check out the e-guide “Crafting Your Way Through College” for lots of craft businesses you can start while still in school. Most of these you can even start while still in 
high school. If you’re not a maker or want ideas beyond crafting check out “Create Your Own Summer Job”. (you can do most of these businesses any time of year.) 

Long on craft supplies, short on cash?

In addition to selling your finished craft, a great way to turn some inventory into cash is to sell some of your excess supplies and tools of your craft. .Any of us who are crafters know that we can’t pass up a bead shop, yarn shop, fabric store, etc and especially since people can see what you make out of the materials, it is more attractive than the same supplies look loose in a craft store. We all have tools and supplies that we purchased on impulse and either haven’t gotten the inspiration to use them yet or lost interest in them. An attractive way to merchandise them is to bundle them with instructions for a simple piece that can be made out of the supplies.   Your market is not only crafters but family and friends of crafters who give them as gifts.

You can put them up  Continue reading

Are you treating your craft business like a hobby? Where do you buy supplies?

Are you still buying your supplies at Michaels, Hobby Lobby or JoAnn Fabrics?  If you’re just starting out, of course you need to figure out what sells best before you invest in large bolts of fabric, quantities of yarn, gemstones or glass.

If you’re going to make a sustainable living selling crafts, you have to make some items that aren’t one-offs. You need to have a bread and butter line that you can produce with fast turnaround even if your pieces are made-to-order.

Let’s say you make baby onesies, for example. You find five yards of adorable fabric on closeout at JoAnn’s and it’s a hit. You sell a ton of that item and people are favoriting it and coming back to your site to purchase but YOU CAN’T GET ANYMORE of that fabric. Yikes!

We live in an instant gratification world. Customers want everything now. If a customer is searching on Etsy for amethyst earrings and you run out of the beads to make your best-selling amethyst earrings, they are going to go to the shop with a similar product that can ship in a couple of days. And you’ve lost them. Probably for good.

So how do you make sure you can always deliver your best selling products AND put a good profit margin on your handmade crafts? If you’re a professional and you’re going to make a living selling crafts, you find a reliable supplier and purchase your materials in bulk. Now you’re probably thinking, “OK, so I’ll Google ‘fabrics wholesale’.” but that’s definitely not the way to find the best suppliers.

Here’s a tip: trade shows. Google “trade shows” + your industry. Of course, if there’s a trade show near you, by all means go to a trade show. You’ll learn a lot and be inspired but you don’t have to do that anymore to find suppliers. Simply go to your industry’s trade shows websites and study the exhibitor list. Then call the rep or distributor for the products you need and that’s how you’ll get the best price. Also, the rep should let you know if they’ll be closing out a particular item. If you can purchase a large enough quantity to keep you stocked through the season, great. Otherwise, select materials that they will be able to continue supplying.

You can also fnd a huge list of trade shows for the maker industry in the Beyond Etsy E-course. 

The most successful Etsy sellers I know have a line of at least a dozen products that they can replicate again and again and ship quickly.

If you plan to make a full-time living selling crafts professionally, it’s time to buy your materials like a professional.

4 Easy Ways to Turn your Craft into Cash at the 11th Hour.

 

Author’s Note: (Even if you’re short on inventory or time to do these tips for Christmas,   you’ll find this article valuable because you can do this days before Valentines Day or   Mother’s Day.  It really 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 the last few days before Christmas? 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:

 

Many people wait until the last minute to shop. I don’t want to stereotype or alienate my male readers, friends and loved ones but from my experience,  guys tend to shop at the 11th hour and this is a good thing for YOU as a crafter. 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. Many 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 the 24th, 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 crafters 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.)

There are lots more ideas like this in ““21 Ways to Turn Your Craft into a Cash Cow

 

 

 

A little known secret to turn your craft into cash this last couple of weeks of December and into January

Have you noticed that many of the small boutiques that sell handmade are low in inventory the last couple of weeks in December? As a maker with crafts to sell, it’s to your advantage.

Many indiependent retailers respond to the media’s fear-based projections by ordering light this season in anticipation of slow sales due to ever increasing online buying. But the trend of discerning consumers searching for unique, handcrafted, meaningful gifts is catching retailers unprepared with insufficient supply and no time to re-order handmade gifts. Last minute shoppers are too late to order from Etsy sellers in time for Christmas and shop owners are missing out on revenue if they don’t have inventory.

This is where YOU come in. Boutiques and galleries that may Continue reading

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”

Days before Christmas and you still have time to turn your craft into cash NOW

It may seem like days before Christmas is too late to plan a sale of your handcrafted gifts but this is actually perfect timing. Surveys report that most consumers have not even begun their holiday shopping and even those who say they’re finished are still likely to purchase more if they see something really special.

The days prior to the holidays, everyone is feeling rushed and wondering how they’ll find time after work to get to the stores to shop. It seems employers are not falling for the frequent “sick days” employees are taking to get their shopping done.

In order to have their employees come to work rather than play hookie at the mall, or spend on-the-clock time shopping online, companies are now very receptive to vendors coming in to sell to their staff during lunch breaks.

Most corporations don’t take a percentage of the sales or ask for a space rental fee. Apparently they recognize that it is to their advantage to have the option for their employees to get some of their shopping done during business hours.

It’s always nice to hold an event with no fees or percentages going out. If you’re used to there always being a trade-off, it may seem odd that there are people who simply would love the convenience of being able to shop at their workplace. Talk to Continue reading

When you make gifts for men, remember who the shopper is?

img_2299 Most crafts seem to be made with women or children in mind as the end user but you’re missing out if you don’t have something in your line for men. True, many men aren’t shoppers unless they are shopping for or with women, but the women in their lives are shoppers and they buy for men.

Think about all the women who have taken the Handmade Pledge. They’ll be looking for holiday gifts for the men intheir lives  Continue reading

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

major-credit-card-icons  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.