Still 6 Days to Sell your Handmade Crafts for Mother’s Day

If you think you are too late to sell your hand made jewelry and gifts for Mother’s Day, check out the links below for easy-to-implement tips to sell your crafts at the last minute.

How can you get guys to buy your handmade creations for Mother’s Day

IMG_1853  Some of my male friends, relatives and readers may deny this, but let’s face it, most men don’t shop early. My husband used to say things like “it’s more exciting right before (insert holiday) when everyone’s in the spirit” or, “I’m still trying to come up with the perfect gift”. Sorry to stereotype but truth is, many guys don’t know where to begin and need guidance (and a little nudge.)

As an artist or crafter with inventory,  you can take advantage of their procrastination and need for gentle “peer pressure” by holding a “Guys’ Night Out” just before Mother’s Day.

Whether you make wearable, household, or garden art, some men need guidance in getting gifts for their wives, girlfriends and mothers. They also spend way more money when they are in groups because they don’t want to look cheap in front of the other guys. (especially if these guys are hubbies or boyfriends of their wife’s friends. )

So, invite your friends’ partners, your partner’s friends, the guys from your day job-(and if you still have a day job, you really do need these hints) and “help” them choose a gift for the women in their  lives. They’ll particularly love if you know what styles, colors, etc their partner likes. If you  don’t have lots of male buddies, another great venue is any venue where men gather. An upscale barber shop or men’s spa is always a great place and remember they will be glad to have you.

Are you wondering how you will entice the men to come?  Partner with a caterer, winery or brewery to do a tasting.  Craft breweries and vintners love to do tastings and pourings at upscale events to promote their beer or wines. In fact, they’ll often be thrilled if you hold the event at their tasting room. Didn’t your mother always tell you that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?

Well, it’s also a great way to get the wallet out of the pocket, cash into your hands, and your creations out into the world.

For more great ideas like this, check out   “21 Ways to Turn Your Craft into a Cash Cow”  at the right of this page >

 

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.

 

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.

 

Do you have art or craft projects that you love to make but haven’t figured out who will buy them?

IMG_1633 Sometimes we stumble upon a craft medium or art technique that we just love and make it for the joy of the process. But what do you do with products of your latest creative obsession? You can only give so many away as gifts and there is that uncontrollable urge to buy more art supplies.

Recently, I’ve reconnected with an old love. No, I’m not referring to my college beau, though that did happen too. My new/old love is dyeing and painting textiles. I can’t get enough of playing with color and water and fabric but as I just placed an order for more silk and bamboo and dye, I realized I need to sell some of these finished scarves before I spend any more money on supplies.

I took some to an artist and writers event where my intention was to debut a new bracelet for poets and writers. More about these beauties soon. The scarves were such a hit that I didn’t even make a display for the bracelets.

But that was a one-time event. I’m not setting up a sales page or site for the textiles because they’re each one of a kind and I don’t want to mess with updating them each time one sells. (if you make one-of-a-kind art, I have some solutions for you HERE).

Do you see the dilemma? I want, no NEED, to make more art. I’ve ordered more supplies. When the bill comes for the supplies, I want to have paid for the last batch. I made an artist date for next week to make more scarves and I need to create an outlet to sell them,
Solution:
It occurs to me that the women at my mom’s senior housing place dress for dinner. I’ve also noted that their adult children and grands go to take them out or join them for brunch on Sunday. Note: this is not a nursing home. It’s an upscale independent living facility so most of the residents (except my mom) are wealthy or their kids are footing the bill.

On my to-do list today is to contact the activities director and offer to set up a display of silk scarves on the Sunday before Mother’s Day. Assuming it goes well, I’ll probably do the same in December, there and at other area independent living facilities.

What ideas do you have for turning your finished craft into cash? There are many more proven ideas HERE.

 

 Turning those excess craft supplies into recurrent income

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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.

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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.

How to get the best photographs of your handmade jewelry or craft for your Etsy shop

In this guest post, Rodney Washington shares wonderful tips for photographing jewelry and other shiny objects.

Having been a professional photographer since 2006 I’ve had the privilege in my career to photograph a variety of subjects, portraits, fashion, jewelry, food, travel and location and while I definitely have my personal favorites none of them has presented more of a creative challenge than photographing reflective jewelry.

If you’ve ever attempted then you know it’s not necessarily easy to create an image of a reflective piece where you don’t see either yourself or your camera mirrored in the object.

While it’s true that it’s not particularly easy, photographing reflective objects can become easier once you’re aware of a few simple tips and product resources I’ll be sharing with you in this article. But before I do I want to clarify a few foundational principles.

For starters I’m going to assume that you’re not a professional photographer or that you have formal photography or image editing training. Nor that you have access to professional camera equipment. Of course it doesn’t hurt but only if you have the skill and knowledge level that comes with some degree of formal training. So while professional gear can be helpful it is by no means required.

As a matter of fact, everything I’m about to share will apply to just about any camera you currently own even an iPhone or other Android based mobile device. Lastly jewelry designers, crafters or artisans that need quality images of their pieces to publish on a website or to Etsy for example will find this article will be particularly useful.

So let’s kick things off with a discussion about the #1 subject every photographer must get a handle on, lighting!

Because you’re photographing small objects the most important item in your studio setup besides the camera is Continue reading

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 Sell Handmade Jewelry and Crafts for Valentine’s Day

All this week, you have the perfect opportunity to sell your handmade jewelry and crafts for Valentine’s Day.  Even if you’re snowed in, just pick up the phone and set up some trunk shows at galleries, men’s salons, health clubs, office buildings or all of the above. Do you have any idea how many people would love to have your help in choosing a piece of hand crafted jewelry or a silk scarf for their wives or girlfriends rather than have to scour shops trying to figure out what the women in their lives would like?  Whether you need to generate cash to pay off your holiday credit card bills or turn your crafts into cash so that you can go to the Gem Shows and buy more supplies, right now, today is the time to make those calls. After a successful sale, you’ll have an open invitation to return for Mother’s Day. See the December post on how to sell handmade jewelry to procrastinators. (It talks about  Christmas but the ideas are great for Valentines Day as well.)