sell hand made

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 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

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”

Who Wants What YOU Love to Create?

I’ve been receiving so many messages from artists and crafters about marketing and some surprise me. The tax and legal questions, I refer them to their accountant or attorney.  Sales tax laws are different state to state and whether you should incorporate or not depends on so many factors including your personal assets, the volume of business you do and if you have a brick and mortar location.  It’s my feeling that there are so many “how to start a business” resources out there, we don’t need another.  What artists and crafters DO appear to need is some guidance on getting your work in front of the people who will pay you for it.

Let’s be honest, aside from the soul fulfilling aspect of creating your art,  you’d like to make some money, right?  So, who exactly is Continue reading

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?

Is your Business Hiding in the internet equivalent of a Back Alley?

Chatting with artists and crafts people at a large juried show this past weekend, I heard the same complaint repeatedly. Many of the exhibiting artists said they would like to do less live shows and sell more in galleries and online but they found it difficult to get their work into galleries and even more of a challenge to sell online. They almost all had a website or a page on Etsy, Artfire or another handmade site. The problem was, in a sea of hundreds of thousands of artists with listings on these sites, they weren’t getting noticed or seeing enough traffic to make significant sales.
This complaint is not unique to the craft industry. Many new entrepreneurs seem to have the idea that all they have to do is put up a website (or list their wares on Ebay or Esty)  and people will find them and buy their products. Then the surprise comes when they’ve spent money and time to launch the page and no one finds it.
Would you lease a retail space down a back alley accessible only by another back alley that no one uses unless directed by someone on the main street?  And set up a gallery there to show your best work? Of course you wouldn’t. But that’s what you’re doing if you put up a webpage and sit around waiting for sales to happen. No one can buy from you if Continue reading