When my son was a toddler, he joined me on the road for my unconventional furniture business and he frequently mimicked the behaviors he witnessed. One of his first full sentences was “thank you for your business”. Customers got a kick out of this tiny boy reaching out to shake hands in gratitude. It’s no coincidence that today he’s in demand while others in his field struggle to find work. He makes it a point to show appreciation.
Whether you sell your hand made work at craft fairs, wholesale to galleries or direct to consumers on a site like Etsy, one of the best ways to stand out in the minds of your customers is to let them know you are grateful for their patronage. If you sell in person at craft fairs, trunk shows or home parties, take a moment to write a quick thank you on each invoice. Then, follow it up later with a thank you note. (You do keep a mailing list of your customers, don’t you?) Make it personal. Mention something about the piece he bought and that you hope his daughter’s graduation party was fun or his wife was thrilled with the piece. Let your customers know you were listening and care about them. Even if you never meet your customers face-to-face, include a handwritten thank you when you ship out the order. If you sell wholesale to shops and galleries, include a thank you with your orders AND send a handwritten thank you a few weeks later. This may remind them that it’s time to re-order. Even if you put your work on consignment, be sure to drop a note to the gallery owner about how much you appreciate her showing your work and that you look forward to a long and mutually prosperous relationship.
Remember your customers are exchanging their hard-earned cash for something you made by hand so try to use either hand-made cards or at least something that reflects your artsy style. No Hallmark thank you cards. Maybe you can work a trade with a paper artist to design a custom thank you card for you in exchange for some of your work. Be sure to include your web url, email address and phone number on each card. Whatever you do, do not use one of those online thank you note services. Your work is made by hand, not on an assembly line so your thank you notes should reflect that. There is nothing personal about automation.
I’d love to hear how you are showing customers how much you appreciate their business. As always, you are invited to comment below.
Is selling your handmade work providing you with enough income or would you like to find additional income streams without having to produce and sell more pieces? If you’re like other crafts people I know, you probably would love to find some hidden cash to provide what my friend Barbara Winter calls “multiple profit centers”.
Regardless of what type of crafts you make, there’s easy profit hiding right under your nose (or in your studio.) These methods apply to almost any creative art form but let’s use jewelry as an example since many of you create hand made jewelry. You probably experience busy seasons in your business like Christmas, Valentines Day and Mother’s Day when you can barely keep up with demand for your jewelry. But what about summer when, unless you are in a tourist area, things probably slow down? Do you feel a cash crunch come July? How would you like to have a steady stream of income flowing in year round? It’s not only possible but super do-able.
Let’s say you do beadwork. What other ways can you turn your craft into cash besides selling your jewelry? Here are a few examples:
-Write down and diagram instructions for a piece or technique that’s unique to you or has been a hot-seller.
-Video-tape yourself creating the piece.
-Make up kits with all the supplies and components to make that piece.
-Bundle the instructions, video and supplies into a kit that you sell on your website. You might even create a kit-of-the-month club. Members can sign up to receive a new design with instructions and supplies each month.
-Ask your friends to host a make-and-take party where rather than selling your jewelry, attendees can make a piece of jewelry. They purchase the supplies and instructions from you. The party can also be a fundraiser for a charity, church or school group. Of course take the opportunity to promote your “membership” club and let the attendees know that you are available to do parties for them too.
-Have VIP days for someone who might want to have one-to-one time with you for private tutorials.
These are just a few examples of how you can leverage your knowledge to create additional income from your art. Check the blog often for more tips on finding the hidden cash in your craft.
Terri has been self employed for over 30 years in businesses developed out of personal interests in the advertising, home furnishings, fine arts, healing arts and contemporary crafts fields. She started her first business in her 20s . Her most recent business, a gallery of contemporary craft, continues to thrive under the creative direction of a new owner. The businesses were all profitable and started on very little capital. Since selling her gallery in 2007, Terri has continued to help aspiring entrepreneurs, artists, crafts people and collectors become their own boss while making a living based on their passions.