Collaboration

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 >

 

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. “

Collaborate with artist friends to get your work seen (and purchased) by more qualified buyers

note: this is Part 2. If you missed yesterday’s post, go read that first. Then come back. It will make more sense. 

Continuing on with the idea of collaborating with other artist friends in order to get your work out there and seen (and purchased) by more qualified buyers, here is a second option. Of course you could do both. Imagine.

Now that you’ve carefully chosen the fellow artisans that you want to collaborate with, make a date to interview each one, maybe one a week. You can either do it in writing, send them email questions, or record through a conference line. Basically, you just both call in to the line and chat. When you hang up, an MP3 arrives in your email. It costs about six dollars. You can then put a link to the audio on your blog with a photo and short bio, some photos of her work and link to her site. Of course, you all agree to feature each other on your blogs. If you do this for 20 weeks straight, with 20 different artists and you each have 250 followers, well, you do the math. Just like the first method, you multiply your list of buyers many times over. Easy peasy, right? Let me know when you’ve tried this how it worked for you, OK?

Some time-pressure relief for artists and crafters.

Are you feeling time-pressured to produce enough to have holiday stock and fill customer orders? Are there parts of your process that you might be able to delegate? Whether it’s cutting out patterns, attaching jump rings, polishing or simply packing up orders to ship, you can probably find someone happy to have a little temporary work.    If you are a jewelry artist, consider contacting the metal smith program at your local community college. If you’re a potter, you may be able to find a ceramics student who can help you fire or glaze. Do you make baby clothes? Put a “seeking intern” notice  on the bulletin board in the fashion design department. Often college students will work for a small stipend in exchange for experience or possibly course credit.
Be creative about finding assistance. Another solution would be to ask someone to do a trade. They may be thrilled to help you in exchange for a piece or two of your work either for themselves or as a gift.
Whatever it takes, don’t miss out on business or sleep because you are worried about being unable to fill orders. A little help now will go a long way toward better cash flow and peace of mind

How will your business grow? By replicating what’s working or creating a community of complimentary businesses?

Recent conversations with clients and friends about how they can add additional revenue started me thinking about how we traditionally grow our companies.

When my partner and I had success with our first home furnishings business in Tucson, we knew the easiest way to expand would be to replicate this model in other cities. It never occurred to us to open other, complimentary stores in the same city.  Duplicating our flagship store made sourcing, merchandising, marketing and managing simpler and the lessons gained from our early mistakes benefited each of our next sixteen locations. Expansion was formulaic and systematic. It worked well financially and, for awhile, personally. It served my need to explore new places and meet new people. My restless nature was satisfied by several moves to new geography in the service of expansion, but eventually I became bored and needed new challenges.

I now view expansion possibilities differently. I could have stayed in the first location and grown the business by capitalizing on reputation and an existing clientele, offering the same customer group other complimentary products and services.

The food service industry is a good example. Restauranteurs most frequently grow by replicating their first business in multiple cities. Occasionally, we see one person or company open numerous but diverse restaurants in the same area. One of my favorites is a group in Carmel, Ca who own an Irish chowder house, a seafood and steak grill, a Greek cafe and a couple of Italian bistros all within a few blocks. They cross market to customers, offering coupons at each restaurant for discounts at their other locations. While the menus are different, they can share staff and have the advantages of using local vendors. This model of creating a community of businesses in one area based on an existing reputation and customer base works for brick and mortar as well as virtual enterprise.

Because many of you have online businesses rather than brick and mortar, let’s look at how you can use this method of expansion. If we’ve worked together, I may have suggested at some point that you leverage your knowledge and boost your income by replicating and repurposing what you do. In other words, let’s say you teach a metalworking class. I’ve probably encouraged you to record your lessons and sell them as a home-study tutorial. Using the model of capitalizing on your existing business, you might also think of selling some jewelry making supplies, kits and possibly even doing some affiliate marketing of complimentary materials or classes.

How can YOU create a community of businesses that cater to the clientele you already have? What other products or services can you offer to meet the needs of your existing customers? Can you align yourself with other business owners who already serve your ideal customer and provide complementary services?

AS always, your comments below are welcome and appreciated.

Social Media Tips for Artisans and Professional Crafters

Our guest blogger today is Sandy Dempsey of the Dreaming Cafe

As artisans and crafters you work in one of the worlds oldest mobile professions. Many of you travel yearly to attend and participate in craft fairs, festivals and outdoor expos.

You may have a website (or you should have) and maybe an Etsy store, but you may also be wondering how to take advantage social media and use Facebook and Twitter to grow your business and make more money.

Here a few quick tips to get you started.

  • Collect email and physical addresses from people stopping by your booth or exhibit. Use a guest book or do a giveaway/prize drawing as an incentive for people to give you their personal information.
  • Include your website, Facebook page and Twitter ID on ALL of your marketing materials (flyers, brochures, business cards, packaging labels, etc) and encourage people to ‘Follow’ you on Twitter and ‘Like’ your Facebook Fan page or send you a ‘Friend’ request for your Facebook personal page.
  • When people engage you via social media, thank them, talk to them and encourage ongoing conversations.
  • Use Facebook and Twitter to share where you will be (venue, city, state, booth, etc) in the upcoming months.
  • Encourage people to stop by and visit you. Offer them a Fan or Follower only discount or special offer.
  • Using the email addresses you have collected to stay in touch. These people have already shown an interest in your work. Share what you are doing, new projects you are working on or share some industry insiders secrets – an enthusiastic, well educated customer is usually your best customer.

Bio: Sandy Dempsey is the founder and creative director of Dreaming Cafe Ventures, LLC, a diverse education and consulting company dedicated to serving the needs of the lifelong learning community with a primary focus in the areas of personal growth and development, creative self-expression, self-employment and social media and technology.

Sandy also writes about, talks about and teaches journaling, creative self-expression, time management and productivity, dream building and goal-setting, using social media and using free or low cost online tools and technology to help start and grow a businesses and make more money.

You can find Sandy blogging at thedreamingcafe.com

Cross Market your Crafts-Sell More for Less

Are you counting solely on the popular internet craft markets to bring in all your revenue? If so, you should consider additional options. The handmade mall-type sites are wonderful ways to be seen but your work can get lost in the crowd so don’t count on those alone.

While I always recommend getting out in the real world now and then for your crafts to be seen in person, there are other methods for selling online as well that will help you stand out from the crowd.

One of the best ways to market your craft is to partner with online vendors who are selling items to the same target audience. For example, if I made hair accessories for little girls, I would seek out sites that sell children’s clothing, dance wear, bridal wear, and maybe partner with someone who hand paints children’s shoes.  Rather than pay for advertising on these sites, set up a meeting with several complimentary vendors. (This can be a virtual conference since you are likely in different geographical areas. ) Either agree to all trade ad space on one another’s sites or better yet, agree to blog about the others’ products, show images and include links. You might even try to coordinate styles or colors with what the other vendors are showing and do sort a Amazon style cross market. (“People who ordered this also like this”).

You can also each do “my favorite things” list where you feature one another’s products. Don’t discount sites that are strictly magazine/article oriented rather than actual e-commerce sties. Find a publication that appeals to your ideal client and ask them if they’d like to do a “recommend exchange”. I wouldn’t simply exchange links-most people don’t even bother checking out the “links” on other people’s sites. Rather, submit an article to the other site with photos and a link to your site. that way, if your JV partner doesn’t have time to write a post about your products, they have something to post that’s ready to go. If they do agree to write a post, they’ll not have to go research facts about your business.

Assuming you connect with three other vendors selling complimentary products and you each showcase one another’s lines on your sites, you will each have expanded your list up to four times.