How can you get guys to buy your handmade creations for Valentine’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 Valentine’s Day and it’s still 2 weeks out so you are still in time to schedule some dates.

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 >

 

Why would you go to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show if you don’t make jewelry?

 On the way to my annual winter writing retreat this week, I passed a sign reading “Gem Show” with an arrow to a local hotel. I was reminded that today begins the two-week long Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.

Started in someone’s garage 63 years ago, the event has grown to nearly 50-venues and brings 55,000 people to Tucson. I’ve read reports stating that during those two weeks, an extra $120 million is spent in the city.

It’s NOT just for rock collectors and jewelers anymore. In fact, in addition to every imaginable gem, mineral, crystal and jewelry-making tool and equipment, there is African Art, Native American Handcrafts, food trucks and items completely unrelated to gems and minerals.

Vendors sell everything from cheap junk to a tiara made with more than 1,000 diamonds. I’m told that one year, the show included a multi-million dollar uncut diamond.

There are also vendors of fibers, fabrics and vintage or handcrafted buttons. I think they are smart to show in an industry other than their own. Someone who hand knits wearables, for example, might also be shopping at the show for fancy buttons.

As a creative business coach, I aways look for overlaps and how one industry can compliment another. Noticing what makes you different and how other industries would be interested in what you have to offer helps you stand out in a crowded field.

One year, on a flight back to California from the Tucson Gem show, I sat next to an interior designer who was heading home from a furniture trade show. Because I’d been in the home furnishings industry years ago, I was interested to hear about what she saw at the market. As she talked about trends in lamps, fabrics and flooring, I thought about how someone in her business would be smart to attend a gem show and make connections with providers of architectural size rocks and minerals. An upscale designer could do well if she had a source for large, decorative accent pieces and what’s more one-of-a-kind than a giant rock?
I always ask clients “who else already has your audience?” When you’re trying to figure out where to sell your products or services, you and someone with a complimentary (not competing) business can connect each other with the ideal clients.

When you’re out and about, seeing new places and meeting people, always ask yourself, how can what i do compliment this person or place. You’ll be delighted with the possibilities.

Here are 3 more reasons you should go to a gem and mineral show even if you don’t make jewelry or collect rocks.

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.