Category name:Craft Business

20 Online & Offline Ways to Sell Crafts

January 9, 2015 / No Comments
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21 Online and Offline Ways to Market Craftssource: Tambako the Jaguar

I’ve had many crafty businesses over the years. I sold paper earrings, ink drawings on glass and decoupage platters. I sold hats, hair accessories, and greeting cards. I even sold custom skirts and batik wall hangings.

One thing I learned from all my crafty ventures is that without the proper marketing, your business has no chance of succeeding.

Here are 21 offline and online craft markets, with the pros and cons of each.

Offline Ways to Market Crafts

Sell at consignments shops

Pros: Consignment shops are an easy way to break into the craft business. Since the store owner is not putting out any cash for your craft item, they are frequently willing to take chances with newbies.

Cons: Consignment stores fees are on the steep side. They charge approximately 1/3 of the sale price and a monthly fee for selling your product. You only get paid once the sale has been completed. You do not get reimbursed for damaged or stolen inventory.

Sell outright at wholesale rates to gift shops

Pros: If you are unable to snag a sales rep, this is the simplest way to get your craft item into stores.

Cons: Selling to stores is hard work. You’ll need to carry boxes of products around from store to store. In addition, not all store owners are approachable. Plus, many stores do not pay for 30-90 days.

Sell through sales rep

Pros: Sales reps generally get paid on commission, so if you don’t earn money, they don’t earn money.

Cons: Sales reps can be hard to get and harder to keep. You also need to be able to provide a LOT of product if your item is successful.

Sell through museum shops

Pros: The staff is generally volunteer so they usually very approachable.  They will help you to find a price point that will work for their customers.

Cons: Sales in museum shops can be very slow. Do not expect to make a killing from this venue. In addition, many museum shops sell on consignment, so it can be months before you receive any money.

Sell at craft shows

Pros: Craft shows allow you to make a lot of money within a several day period. You are completely  in charge of price, display and sales.

Cons: The better craft shows charge many hundreds of dollars to enter, and will only accept carefully juried crafts. The cheaper, unjuried shows generally bring in less money.

Sell direct to consumers

Pros: This can be done using an Avon type business model. You can do the selling yourself or pay sales people on commission.

Cons: Direct sales is a lot of very hard work. Even if you find people to do the selling for you, you may not be able to retain them.

Sell higher class antique flea markets

Pros: Fast turnover. Low table costs. Fun and friendly environment.

Cons: This sales venue is only viable for crafts utilizing collectibles. For instance, vests created from salvaged quilts or bath powder packaged in old bottles.

Sell through community fundraisers/women’s meetings

Pros: Friendly environment. Close to home. Immediate cash and lots of valuable feedback from customers. Low cost table fees.

Cons: Community fundraisers vary in buying power and size due to the abilities of the volunteers running them.

Sell classy farmer’s markets

Pros: Low table cost. Nature crafts, such as pressed flower cars, dried flower bouquets and woven baskets can sell very successfully in this atmosphere.

Cons: Even in the higher class farmer’s markets, there is still a bargain basement mentality. You probably won’t receive high prices for your crafts.

Sell through community bazaars (schools, churches)

Pros: During November and December there are an abundance of community bazaars throughout the country. The table fees are usually cheap and these shows are almost never juried.

Cons: You’ll need to approach the winter months with an enormous amount of stock made up. If your designs don’t sell, you’re out of a lot of time and money. There is no time for making adjustment to your business plan.

Sell at trade shows

Pros: You can make a year’s worth of sales in just a few days. Trade shows are packed with buyers and orders are usually large.

Cons: Trade shows cost a fortune to participate in. There are table fees, transportation costs, hotel rentals and more. Plus, you need to produce more product than the average home craftsman could possibly manage.

Sell at craft malls

Pros: The advantage of a craft mall is that you have complete control over the price, selection and set up of your crafts.

Cons: Sales at craft malls can be slow. Many sellers barely make back the cost of their rent.

Sell from your home

Pros: Even after the cost of advertising, selling from your home can be one of the most cost effective ways of marketing a product. This is especially true for those products (like custom clothing) that can’t easily be sold online.

Cons: Unless you’re willing to turn away business, you’re on calling at least 12 hours a day. That’s 12 hours a day of high heels, well behaved children and a spotless house. In addition, you’ll need to have a product that is not readily available in retail stores.

Classes

Pros: Selling your product through free classes is a tried and true business model. People are much more likely to purchase your item once they feel an affinity with you.

Cons: The only products that sell successfully through this method are craft supplies and equipment. That means handcrafted weaving looms will sell, finished woven scarves will not.

Online Ways to Market Crafts

Sell through Etsy

Pros: Low start up costs and plenty of online support are very appealing.

Cons: There is tons of competition on Etsy. Your product needs to be very special to stand out from the crowd.

Sell through Ebay 

Pros: No waiting around for months for your product to be sold. You’ll know within a week what the fate of your merchandise is.

Cons: Because the buyers on Ebay are looking for a bargain, not every product can be sold at online auction. Products need to be either very special, very inexpensive or hard to find elsewhere.

Sell through your own website 

Pros: You have complete control over every aspect of the sales process.

Cons: Setting up a website and driving customers in to see your product is extremely time consuming.

Sell through Amazon

Pros: Many categories of handmade products do quite well through Amazon. Sellers can often get reasonable prices. Not as much competition as Etsy.

Cons: Amazon isn’t nearly as easy to get started with as Etsy. Fees are much higher than on Etsy.

Sell through CafePress

Pros: Easy to use. CafePress will use your designs to create the products, take care of shipping and deliver payment right to you.

Cons: CafePress charges a steep percentage for their great service, so your price to the customer will need to be high.

Sell through online stores (other than Etsy)

Pros: If Etsy doesn’t work for you, there are plenty of other online stores. If your product and price is well thought out, at least one is bound to be successful.

Cons: Etsy has the highest traffic of all the online stores. Sales at other venues may be slower than at Etsy. Other online stores may not offer the support or the finely honed business procedures that Etsy has developed.

Tips

Be sure to match the sales method to the product. For instance, fine art will never sell well at a flea market, but I have seen sellers of inexpensive (and quick to make) dangle earrings do a vigorous business.

Never underestimate the importance of a lovely display. Whether selling online or offline, your customers need to see a display that make them desperate to own your product.

Reasonable prices are important, but never sell yourself short. If you’re unable to make a decent profit on your product, figure out how to add additional perceived value or change marketing tactics. For instance, when I was selling greeting cards in museum shops, I placed a small information sheet detailing how each card was made, in a clearly visible location.

Be sure to calculate the time and cost of making sales into your pricing formula.  When I first started selling hats from home, I didn’t include the time cost of dealing with customers. This was a big mistake and caused me to make less per hour than I had initially hoped for.

Books

The links listed above are Amazon affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase using one of these links I will earn a few cents profit. The price of the books remains the same; it is not increased to account for my earnings.

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Amigurumi Pears And Payments

September 14, 2011 / No Comments
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amigurumi_pears patternI found this  Amigurumi Pears Pattern over at Planet June. Planet June requests a donation of any size for the pattern, however, also offers it free to those readers who choose not to donate.

I like that idea.

Thanks to Sister Diane, over at Crafty Pod, I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately as to how craft sites can be profitable, without creating a burden for their readers.

Some of the ideas I’ve heard over the last few months have been to…

1. charge for specific content

2. use donationware

3. create a premium area

4. offer a free project but send an upgraded version for pay

5. set up a micro-payment system (a few cents for each click)

Of all the ideas that have been bounced around, I think I like Planet June’s technique the best.

These pears are being offered with the clear expectation that a payment will be sent. And yet, the size of the payment is being left to the reader. In fact, even if the reader doesn’t make a payment, she still has access to the pattern.

In that way, theoretically, the designer will receive  a small reward for her efforts, without placing an undue burden on her readers.

The only question is, will some readers actually send in money for something they can get for free?

I think the answer is yes. A certain group of crafters will.

Not those crafters who just save the pattern to their hard drive, to be forgotten forever.  They won’t send a penny.

But the crafters who actually create a useful and attractive project using this pattern probably will send a payment. Every time they get a compliment on the project or copy over the pattern for a friend, they will remember that they were supposed to make a payment. Eventually, a decent size number of them will go ahead and do it.

The payments probably won’t come gushing in during the first few weeks, but over a couple of months they will start to trickle in slowly.

What do you think?

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The Problem With Underselling

April 6, 2011 / No Comments
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underselling

About 10 years ago, I had a home based craft business sew­ing and sell­ing  hats and skirts.

I made a lot of mistakes in that business, but I think perhaps the biggest one was underpricing.  I sold hats for $10 to $15  and skirts for $5- $15. Even a decade ago, my prices were considered dirt cheap.

However, because of the competition, I felt I had to undersell. I knew I was doing the wrong thing business-wise, but I couldn’t figure out why. How could being the cheapest guy in town (or gal, in my case) be bad for the bottom line?

Now, with years of experience under my belt, I understand the tremendous disservice I was doing myself, my competitors and my customers.

Underselling – yourself, your customers, and your colleagues – is a big problem. It’s just wrong, philosophically & financially. It will ruin you, anger your customers, and frustrate your colleagues.

For a great article explaining in detail the problems with undercharging, check out Tara Gentile’s article on Underselling: Why Discomfort Is A Terrible Pricing Strategy.

Read More : Craft  Business

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Copycat Creativity

March 27, 2011 / No Comments
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copy cat

Over the years, I’ve read intensively about the issues raised by professional crafters.

One big problem that comes up again and again is the prevalence of rip-off artists (yes, a pun is intended). A business woman works months com­ing up with a fabric or purse design, only to see a very similar product being sold  down the block the following week.

That’s a serious problem,  and infuriating, but here is another perspective on it.

.unless you grew up in a cave and were never exposed to history or popular culture, I’d be hard pressed to believe that you’ve never come up with an idea that you thought was totally original, but that was actually subconsciously inspired by someone else’s idea first.

 The article goes on to explain that “original” ideas are frequently thought up by several people at the same time. To read the rest of the article, click here.

As a side note, I’d like to mention that something like this once happened to me. I started sewing and selling net covered snoods, and a month or two later, a competitor  was manufacturing  a very similar hat.  At first, I was sure my idea had been stolen, but later, I realized she had access to the same sources of inspiration that I did. I don’t know if I was ripped off or not, but I was at least able to consider the possibility that I wasn’t.

Read More : Craft  Business

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The REAL Cost Of Handmade Socks

January 23, 2011 / No Comments
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the real cost of handmade socks

Short, but interesting little article on The REAL Cost Of Handmade Socks, if they were priced according to realistic material, labor and overhead charges.

When all expenses are totalled, the author estimates that the socks should sell for 208.70 English pounds.

Clearly, the price is ridiculous, but the author makes a very strong point.

Read Handmade Socks, Realistic Price for the complete article.

 

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How To Say Yes, Safely

January 19, 2011 / No Comments
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how to say yes, safely

It feels great when a recognized authority requests to use our work. It acknowledges that our work is worthwhile and that we really are talented… things that we all secretly question.

But how do you make sure your skirt design or graphic element or photographs only get used in a way you feel comfortable with? That is a dilemma that all successful artists face at some point.

Sister Diane, over at Crafty Pod, has explored this issue in some depth.  She suggests that every detail of the relationship be in writing, no matter how friendly the negotiation. This isn’t always easy for a new business person to manage, but it is crucial to insuring that your rights are not violated.

Depending on the company that’s making the offer, you may or may not be asked to sign some kind of agreement before participating in their project. Given that I’m no expert in contract law, I can’t advise you fully here. Obviously, you’ll want to read that document carefully. If the project is high-stakes enough, you may even want to have a lawyer look it over.

For more details, read How To Say Yes, Safely.

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Spending Money On Your Business

November 28, 2010 / No Comments
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money

Dur­ing hard times, there is al­ways an over­whelm­ing in­clin­a­tion to spend less. This makes sense in most areas…. food, clothes, en­ter­tain­ment.

But not in your craft bus­iness. Craft bus­inesses of­ten re­quires small ex­pend­i­tures to con­tinue run­ning effic­iently.  The key is to make sure the ex­pense is ac­tual­ly go­ing to in­crease your in­come, and not just an ex­cuse to spend mon­ey.

I want you to get com­fort­able with ano­th­er idea. That spend­ing on your bus­i­ness is a fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment.

One with po­tent­ially much high­er yields than even the best money mar­ket ac­count.

For ex­ample, I can take $50 in mat­er­ials and $100 in lab­or and turn that into $450 of prod­uct. That’s a 300% ret­urn on my in­vest­ment. In one day.

Or I can spend $2,500 on a trade show booth and write $10,000 worth of or­ders. Or you could spend $300 on ad­ver­tis­ing and sell $1,000 worth of prod­ucts. You get the idea.

To con­ti­nue this art­icle, read Spend­ing On Your Bus­iness As An In­vest­ment.

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