How to sell more handmade for the holidays.

Several readers have asked how they can gear up their sales for the holiday season. They wonder how to stand out in the crowd of  Etsy and other online shops.

 

 

Some mention a desire to have face-to-face interaction with their buyers but are leery to exhibit at local craft fairs either because the booth costs are prohibitive or they are concerned about the quality and integrity of other exhibiters.

 

Here I offer up a couple of ideas that will increase both your in-person and online sales:

 

Alternative #1: Organize your own small craft fair. It’s simple. You can then control the quality of other exhibitors as well as the medium. If you make handcrafted jewelry, you don’t want to get lost in a craft fair with 35 other jewelry artists and you sure don’t want to pay a hefty booth fee and then find out that you are competing with mass produced imports, right?

 

Why not gather some other crafters and artists together and either have a home craft show or rent a space at a church or school.  (tip: if you offer to donate a percentage to the school or a club, they may let you set up for free.) You can then control who the other exhibitors are. You might ask a couple of potters, someone who does hand painted silk scarves, knitter and crocheter, photographer, a couple of painters who make smaller pieces or prints, a woodworker, someone who makes metal sculptures, a couple of jewelers who do different work from your own, etc. If you don’t know enough crafters personally, contact some local craft guilds and connect with artists there. I recommend charging a small booth fee to be sure people honor their commitment to show up and ask emphasize to each person that you all have to do your part to get the word out. Split up the PR chores. One person can contact the local news media, someone else might handle the postings on Facebook and Twitter, someone else create the posters and you should all distribute flyers in coffee shops, libraries, etc.

 

Alternate idea #2. Organize a virtual craft fair. Here, you invite friends from anywhere in the world to join you. There are several ways to do this. The easiest way to do this is to put up a simple webpage with links to each of your individual sites. Everyone agrees to send out an email invitation to all of their list and friends and to post a link on all their social media sites. Ideally, you each have different groups of friends so even if all your own friends have seen your work, the other artists all share with their friends. So you each have exposure to the others’ lists and friends who’ve never seen your work before.

 

If you like these ideas, check out  “12 Easy  Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month” for a dozen more creative suggestions on free or inexpensive ways to make more money selling your crafts. “

Are you wondering how you can make a full time living when you make every piece by hand one at a time?

Yes, you really can make a full time living selling handmade crafts but you’ll probably need to scale your business.

I’ve talked about ways you can do something once and earn over and over by creating prints of your original paintings or castings of your metal smithing.

But if your craft is one that must be handmade a piece at a time, there’s only so much revenue you can make if you produce every piece yourself.

Expanding doesn’t mean you have to have your items manufactured in China. You can grow your craft business without actually manufacturing at all.  One great way to stay in integrity with the handmade movement is to have other crafters help you. Let’s say you make something that must be individually hand or machine stitched. Rather than hiring employees, you can engage some stay-at-home moms or retired folks to do piece work. Maybe you would cut the fabric and they pick it up from you and do the stitching. When they return the finished articles, you can pay them by the piece.

It generally makes sense to purchase all the materials yourself in order to get a consistent quality and price but there are a couple of other ways you can grow your business with the help of others.

Have you thought about selling your designs and brand as a “starter kit” for crafters who want to have their own cottage industries? They purchase the patterns from you (and the materials, if you choose) and then they make the goods and sell them at home parties, crafts fairs, online, however they want. It’s their business. Kind of like the Mary Kay of the craft world. You can charge a percentage of sales, a markup on the material or just sell the designs and patterns, kind of like a franchise. (Different states have laws restricting franchises so you might not want to use that terminology.) You’d be making more money than you can making each piece yourself and you’ll be doing a community service by providing others with a way to earn from home. It’s a win all around, right?

Have you found a way to expand your craft business and still keep it handmade? You’re invited to share your ideas in the comments below.

Pastels for the holidays? If your crafts are wearables or home fashion, you bet.

If the items you’re crafting for holiday sales are all in winter colors, you might think about adding some of the new Spring 2014 Colors. Pantone has released the Spring 2014 fashion report and it looks like the palette is a mix of soft pastels in sand, placid blue, hemlock and vivid brights with names like radiant orchid, dazzling blue, freesia, and celosia.

It might seem odd to be thinking spring in the midst of all this magnificent fall foliage but if your customers are a fashion-forward crowd, they’ll already be looking at spring apparel and home decor by December.

I wouldn’t advise creating your entire line in these new hues unless your buyers or collectors are a hip young crowd.

For more on why this matters, go HERE: