One Step a Day To Begin Selling More Crafts

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.

Monday.

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.

Send the digital image of your best piece to your list of past buyers or those who have visited your booth at shows, come to your home open studio or just expressed interest in your work. (You DO keep a list, don’t you?) If you don’t have a data base of past customers, send the image to all your friends and family. You aren’t selling anything. You are simply sharing a photo with them, reminding them that you are a talented crafts person. Say something in your email like “I just wanted to share with you what I’m doing right now”. If you have already made prints or reproductions of your work, mention it. If you are in an exhibition, mention it. If you haven’t ever taken your work out of your home studio-mention it. Be open and honest about your newness and people will want to support you. Ask them to share it with their friends. A great way to get people to notice your work and pass it on is to include a quote or some kind of meaningful sentiment or story. Nothing too long, just something to make them smile or stop and think. Something that makes them nod in agreement and want to pass on to friends.

You’ve now taken your four first steps. Simple steps that will get you rolling on the next steps.
Tuesday .

Assuming you’ve followed the baby steps so far, today you are going to make a vital move. If you don’t have a data base of your mailing list, or even have a mailing list, today you will start one. This is everyone you know. Everyone. Remember, you aren’t selling to your friends and family. You are sharing your art with them. (If your work is wearable or home decorative, see other blog entries for tips on getting your work seen and download the free tips to the right to give you more great ideas.) If you are like the rest of us, you probably have scraps of paper and business cards all over with names of people you’ve met. Most of us toss them because we have forgotten why we picked them up. But, each of those people might know someone who could become your best customer or the connection to many great collectors. Maybe someone’ sister has a gallery or uncle is a decorator to the very wealthy. You won’t be imposing by sending them a beautiful image with a brief greeting or sentiment online. Think of it as a gift. Because it is.

Even if your list has only twenty names right now, you should be using a contact management program such as Constant Contact. You can start out with their free trial, it’s simple, user friendly and you will have your list automated to start. This will help you also to capture and organize your contacts and newsletter list. (Don’t stress about the idea of a newsletter. It doesn’t have to be anything more than saying hello and showing a photo of your new work.) Today, your job is to go online and set up an account with Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. They are both very user-friendly with great customer support.
Wednesday
If you haven’t purchased your domain name, do that now. Go to a site like Bluehost.com and buy your own name. Even if you have a business name and already have a web site, for ten dollars a year, buy your own name. If you already have a site under a different name, you needn’t change that, just re-direct the url with your own name to the site. This takes three minutes and is important because people are more likely to remember and search for you under your own name than a business name.
Thursday
This should be day seven. Now you have a list, you have an image and a domain name. Today are going to order some postcards. Use a site like modernpostcards.com to order postcards of your favorite piece that you photographed on day one. You can have the same quote or sentiment that you used for your email printed on the postcards. These are very inexpensive marketing tools which you will use both as mailers and handouts.  Include a special offer or invitation to a home exhibit or trunk show. (more on this in other blog posts and tips at right.)  Also have your domain address (url) printed on them.
In the first week, with one small step a day, you have a great start on your art marketing program.

See how much you’ve accomplished in one week with just baby steps? And to think you didn’t know where to begin.

Not sure where to go from here? The e-guide “21 Ways to Turn Your Craft into a Cash Cow” or the audio class “12 Easy Ways to Earn an Extra $1200. a Month” will both give you clear guidance for making more money with your craft. If you want some one-to-one guidance, contact me HERE for a JumpStart Session and we’ll map out a plan specifically for you.

 

Crafting for a Cause-How 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 Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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.

Demo Your Craft to Establish Yourself as the Expert

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 »

What Pricepoint Crafts Are Selling Best Right Now?

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 »

Why Crafters Should Visit Wholesale Gift Shows

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 »

Featured Entrepreneurs Tom and Carol Temple

10426850_645467185528342_882818547839491740_n  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 

Featured artist Char De Rouin

iusb_760x100.14673659_hoiq Char De Rouin worked high tech corporate jobs until she decided to homeschool her daughters and focused on her creative side doing everything from sewing, beading, paper arts, DIY projects, to theatre arts, She says “my art is all about layers, shapes, color and intuition. There are no rules driving the creative process, just intention. In this way, the story flows through the emotions I am feeling at that moment.” You can see more of Char’s work HERE  

Featured Artist David Cohen

front I fell in love with David Cohen’s art when I saw his Sneakerdoodles a couple of yearsil_570xN.700513276_cvre ago. . He describes himself as “smack in the middle between left-brain dominance and right-brain dominance. I can soar in the ethereal world of metaphors and visual imagery and then shift gears into step-by-step logical thinking. I’m as likely to use a spreadsheet as a visualizing tool as I am to use magic markers and a sketchbook.”

In a 2013 interview he tells us how he went from mathematician and dotcom-er to making a living helping entrepreneurs find their authentic brand.

HERE

You can see David’s art at this Etsy shop HERE  and follow his art on Twitter or Instagram @doodleslice

Featured Entrepreneur Judith Albright

Judith_Albright_1_2-148x195  Several years ago Judith discovered that the secret to success lies in the power of our mind, and if we are genuinely going to make lasting changes it has to happen at the subconscious level, literally  from the inside out. She wanted to re-invent her life and began training in energy healing techniques EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) PSYCH-K® and The Emotion Code. She has a stress management practice  that focuses on helping others resolve emotional issues, release negative behavior patterns, and change false beliefs that are limiting and sabotaging their lives.

Learn more about Judoth’s work HERE 

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