sell craft

A little known secret to turn your craft into cash this last couple of weeks of December and into January

Have you noticed that many of the small boutiques that sell handmade are low in inventory the last couple of weeks in December? As a maker with crafts to sell, it’s to your advantage.

Many indiependent retailers respond to the media’s fear-based projections by ordering light this season in anticipation of slow sales due to ever increasing online buying. But the trend of discerning consumers searching for unique, handcrafted, meaningful gifts is catching retailers unprepared with insufficient supply and no time to re-order handmade gifts. Last minute shoppers are too late to order from Etsy sellers in time for Christmas and shop owners are missing out on revenue if they don’t have inventory.

This is where YOU come in. Boutiques and galleries that may Continue reading

How to make sure you don’t have holiday credit card debt.

major-credit-card-icons  Because I’m committed to supporting makers and indie businesses, I don’t participate in the Black Friday madness.  Still, I’m very aware that many people in western cultures dig the deepest deficit in their bank accounts during the 4 weeks preceding Christmas. For many, this gift shopping frenzy results in painful credit card bills arriving in January. So how can you make sure you don’t have holiday credit card debt?

Ideally, many of your gifts will be handmade with love. Even so, expenses mount up during the holidays but it doesn’t have to be that way. What if you could not only get ahead of those holiday bills but make thousands of dollars to give you a head start on 2016?

Retailers generally make the largest chunk of their income during this last quarter and as a maker, you can too, even if you don’t consider yourself an artist or craftsperson. If you make bath and body products like soaps and lotions, edible treats such as preserves, cupcakes or sauces, home decor items, hand poured candles, jewelry or wearable items you can earn thousands before the end of the year.

I’d love to see everyone give handmade and I’d love to see every maker be in positive financial shape after the holidays so I’ve put together  a couple of guides to help you turn your craft into a cash cow.

NONE of these income generating ideas require an Etsy site or doing traditional craft fairs. (I give you plenty of tips on those things in other courses.) Most of these ideas are things you can do any time of year but are particularly relevant in the next few weeks.

None of them involve icky, uncomfortable marketing.

EACH ONE of these tips I’ve either tried myself or recommended to clients and have proven to generate between a thousand and fifteen hundred a month. That’s from EACH idea. Imagine if you do several or all of them.

Get Your Copy of “21 Ways to Turn Your Craft into a Cash Cow” HERE

Do you learn better by LISTENING than READING?

If so, you might prefer the audio course
 “12 Easy  Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month”.

It’s got many of the same tips and you can listen rather than read.

If you’re shopping, please do your part to support indie businesses. The recipients will love you and so will the makers.

One Step a Day To Begin Selling More Crafts

Are you feeling overwhelmed by everything you hear you should be doing to market your craft? You aren’t alone. Most of us need a map before we start out on a journey we’ve never taken before.

So, take a deep breath and know that if you just start somewhere, take one simple step today, you’re on your way. Wait, don’t decide to start fresh Monday. That works about as well as waiting to join the gym on January first. Just take one step, right now,  yes, begin a new project on a Friday.   Even if you take the weekend off, you’ll be able to relax knowing you’ve taken that first step.
Today’s assignment: choose your very best piece. Something that hasn’t been out in the marketplace yet. Now, photograph it. OK. I know you might consider that two steps. If you’re really feeling ambitious, upload it to your i-photo or other photo program and save it. So, three easy steps. (if you really must be a stickler about the one step a day, choose the piece today, photograph it tomorrow and upload on Sunday. Those are very tiny steps.) Monday morning, it will be so easy to continue knowing you’ve already done the first 3 steps.

Monday.

Now, you are ready to take a BIG baby step on your craft marketing plan.

I’m not calling this a BIG step because it’s difficult. It isn’t. It’s simple and just so obvious but is a big step because it will make a huge difference in getting your sales rolling Continue reading

Beyond Etsy

Beyond Etsy Letter Size  You’ve probably read books on how to start a business and even some on creating a  business selling your art or handmade crafts. There are even some courses out there on starting a crafts business but most are from the perspective of someone who has sold their craft online OR at craft shows OR sold wholesale. None give you first hand advice and stories from artists and crafts people who have experienced ALL areas of the hand made world.

I keep hearing from readers that they want to make a living selling their handmade art and they’ve read books and even sought advise from SBA advisors but that they are more confused than ever because they don’t understand the MBA speak. Creative entrepreneurs think differently and need advise from someone who speaks and understands their language.

I’ve been listening to your questions and challenges, making notes from my decades of experience as an artist and gallery owner and interviewing artists and crafts people, makers and bakers.

Finally

it’s all in one place, a course that speaks a language

that creatives like YOU understand.

I’m not going to waste your time or mine on the stuff you can find in a “how-to” business book. This is first hand advise on the stuff YOU need about how to make a living from your craft

because the myth of the starving artist is a bunch of baloney.

I’ve taken a lifetime of wisdom and experience in the business of handmade art and put it all together in a comprehensive course. You’ll get worksheets and references and hear advice and real life examples of fine artists and crafts people who make a living creating and selling their paintings, calligraphy, textiles, candles, bath and body products, jewelry, graphics, photography  and just about every craft you can imagine. Some are even bringing in a six figure income from their art and they’ve offered up their wisdom, experiences and secrets to success on topics about all areas of the handmade art world, online and off. We share what we all learned from our mistakes and what we’d do differently if we knew in the beginning what we know now about starting and profiting from a creative business so that you can do it right the first time.

We’ll cover every aspect of making money selling your creations ONLINE AND OFF, at retail and wholesale to shops, at craft fairs, home parties, in galleries, even how to open your own craft gallery or co-op. We’ll talk about pricing, photographing and writing descriptions for your handmade.

I know we all have different learning styles so you’ll get a mix of PDFs, worksheets and Audio files which you can download and listen to at your own pace.

 Get the Full Course Below Now for only $47. 




Steps you should take NOW to ensure your craft business will continue to thrive in the New Year

I know you’re busy producing and and shipping your crafts for the holidays but if you don’t want your sales to dip drastically the first quarter of 2014, you need to do a little advanced planning.

Remember that the wholesale trade shows begin right after new years. Galleries and shops barely catch their breath from the holidays before they’re off to market and it will be much more difficult to get them to take your work at that time. They will have spent their first quarter budgets and won’t have the physical space to exhibit your products. Making the connection NOW, you’ll have a much better chance of having retailers take your work either on consignment or purchase outright.

Do double duty while you’re holiday shopping the shops and galleries for gifts, (you ARE buying local and handmade, right?) and make a list of those shops that carry crafts that compliment your work. Look for merchandise your ideal customer would find appealing, similar price points and style. You definitely don’t want the merchandise to be significantly lower priced than yours nor should you place your work with a shop that sells mostly contemporary if your pieces are vintage.

Notice how helpful and polite the staff is toward the patrons and if the pieces are displayed creatively. Does the merchandise appear new or like it’s been sitting awhile?  You don’t want to tie your work up in a shop where the jewelry is tarnished because it’s been on display a long time but not sold.

Make a list of some galleries or shops that feel like a good fit and then prioritize in order of your first choices.

Remember, this is a scouting expedition so don’t talk to the shop owner or staff about your work on the initial visit. Wear your best pieces and have your contact info with you incase the owner comments on it so that you may set up an appointment for a time when she is not busy with customers.

Never walk in without an appointment with a case of your wares.  The best etiquette is to mail photos and a line sheet to each of the shops. Follow up with a phone call a few days later and request an appointment with the buyer during her slowest time, before or after hours.  Usually,  midweek morning is the best time to call.  After introducing yourself, let the buyer know you understand that customers are the first priority and you will make yourself available at a time when she is not busy.

 

Arrive for your appointment prepared with a well-thought out collection of pieces that represent your craft rather than just showing up with a random selection. Your work will sell better if the pieces display well as a grouping and compliment one another. Bring duplicate copies of a printed inventory of your work. If you are planning to consign, list retail prices and number each piece so that you and the the shop owner both have a reference for what items they have and make it easier for them to pay you when pieces sell.

Remember to respect that the purpose of the gallery is to sell craft. How would you’d feel if your work was already on display in the shop and personnel was busy working with another artist and ignoring the customers?  You’d want them to be selling your work, right?  Let the buyer know that you are fine to wait while she caters to customers as they come in.

Taking the time to do this extra work now will ensure your craft business will continue to thrive in the new year.

For more great ideas like this, check out Tele-class:  “12 Easy  Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month”

More on Crafting for a Cause: A great way to sell your craft and make a difference.

We all want to make money selling our handmade items and many of us  feel the need to make a difference in our community or the world. Since the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, I’ve been thinking a lot about my running days. I always ran in 10K events that raised funds for causes I believed in. I no longer run but I still want to contribute in some way in addition to simply writing a check.

Usually, the runners are accompanied by friends or family members who are there as supporters and spectators and often they will hang around after the race if there are other activities.

An idea that came to mind that I want to share with you all is combining a craft fair with a race. Whether it’s a run, walk or bike race, there is almost always a first aid tent. Often, the the tent rental requires paying by the day rather than the hour so after the race, the tent sits empty for the remainder of the day. What if you approached the organizers of the race and offered to gather artists and crafters to do a show after the event and donate a portion of sales to the cause? Ideally, you would charge each crafter a booth fee and then they would agree to give a percentage of their sales to the cause.

If a tent is not available, you can still organize a craft fair at the site and  the crafters will set up their own canopies. Either way, you will be making money from your crafts, helping other crafters and contributing to a cause you believe in.

Have you ever tried this? If so, please share with us in the comments below how it worked out for you. If not, give it a try.

 

 

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?

2 More Easy Ways to Sell A lot More Crafts and Bring in Bundles More Cash

Are you feeling a slump in sales of your craft after the holidays? Maybe you have a website or an Etsy site and a mailing list but you feel like everyone you know has already seen your work and you want exposure to new buyers.

It’s great to have a presence on Etsy, Artfire, etc but honestly, you’re missing a lot of qualified buyers who value handmade and have the money to buy your creations but don’t have the time to hang out on those mega-sites. Honestly, even though I make my living helping artists make theirs, I get overwhelmed on Etsy. There’s just too much choice.

So how do you get exposure to more qualified buyers who will be return customers and loyal collectors? Here are two very simple ways.

Both these tips involved gathering some of your online artist friends. Look for people whose work compliments yours and each others.

Ideally, choose artists from different parts of the country because you will have completely different friends. While all of your friends, I hope, have seen your work and all of their friends have seen their work, your friends haven’t seen the things each other make. Make sense?

For purpose of demonstration, let’s say you gather together 20 crafter friends. You put together a simple word press site that shows the craft and a short artist bio of each of you. You don’t have to put a shopping cart up but rather can just link to each artist’s own site. So, even if you don’t have a formal email capturing system set up, although you should, let’s say you have a mailing list of just 100 friends and fans. (and of course include previous buyers.) Now you send out a letter to all of your 50 friends telling them you want to invite them to a virtual invitation-only craft fair with 20 of your online crafter friends. Each of the artists sends this email with link to group site to just 50 friends. Now you each have 1000 new people looking at your handmade jewelry, scarves, soap, candles or other craft. And that’s if you each only had 50 names on your email list. You probably each have more like 250 contacts, right? So that’s 5000 new people seeing your work. And they aren’t just any 5000 people. They’re already fans of your friends’ handmade work. Now, imagine if you got together a group of 40 friends instead of 20 and each sent the link for your virtual craft fair to 250 of your contacts, you’d have 20,000 new people viewing your work.  And this isn’t even taking into consideration that you each have Twitter followers and Facebook friends and Pinterest followers.

Think, mini Esty. But, these people won’t be overwhelmed like they would on Etsy so they’ll buy. And the whole thing hasn’t cost any of you anything except the shared price of a domain name and a site. So maybe you’d each chip in $10. That’s not much to pay for 20,000 new viewers who are qualified buyers, is it?

Check back tomorrow for the 2nd Way to Sell A lot More Crafts and Bring in Bundles More Cash. You can find lots more ideas like this at “12 Easy Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month’ HERE

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on your Etsy or other craft market site:

Are you hurting the sales of your crafts by trying to be a “Jack-of-all-styles.” The past few days I’ve been perusing Etsy sites and noticed that many crafts-sellers make everything from textiles to metal jewelry to pottery and it muddies up their image to have it all on one site. Sure, it’s fun to try out different mediums and techniques but you need to have a specific “look” that is YOU.  Yes, it’s important to have a variety of price-points but try to keep a unified image that “brands” you.

With something like a half million Etsy sellers (don’t quote me on that figure- I keep reading conflicting numbers) your work has to not only be beautiful, priced right and of superb quality, it has to be memorable. It has to stand out from the crowd. Your Etsy site has to have a distinctive image that shoppers connect with your name.

You don’t have to get boring and do the same thing over and over to keep a unified look. If, for example, you enjoy making jewelry out of found objects, make sure your site isn’t a mish-mosh of beautiful pieces. Find a common factor and tie your work together that way. You might make initial jewelry with old scrabble tiles, vintage type-writer keys and pieces of torn paper. The common factors will be recycled and monogrammed. Then to tie it all together, maybe photograph it all on the same type of paper with your logo.

Find your best selling style, and of course one you enjoy creating and do different versions of that but keep a similar look across your site that is YOU.

How are you creating a unified look on your Etsy or Artfire site that brands you and makes you stand out from the crowd?

Are you missing one of the best ways to keep loyal, return customers and collectors?

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.