I often receive emails from friends (and total strangers!) that goes along the lines of this … “So, I need some money, so I’m thinking of making some crafty stuff to sell. How should I do that?”. It seems like a teeny, tiny question, but it is, in fact, a very big subject! A little while ago this wonderful poster started doing the rounds on Facebook, and I saved it … because it helps to answer the next question I get … “Why isn’t my stuff selling, and why am I spending more on supplies than I make in sales?”.
If you’re thinking you might like to sell some of your handmade goodies, please have a good read of this. You see … it takes years to become incredibly proficient at your craft, to become confident in pricing your goodies, and to really learn who your customers are (and where they are). It’s not like Field of Dreams … make it and they will come. I just doesn’t work like that, and it drives people to despair! But, please don’t give up!!! If you are creating something that you’re passionate about, keep at it. Learn to master your craft, and it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit about how to market it at the same time. Personally, I used to suck at marketing, but since finding the delightful Catherine Caine at Cash & Joy and reading every single blog post she’s ever written, I know a lot more (and make less mistakes). I highly recommend checking out her website HERE and clicking to the last page and reading her articles in the order they were written.
I have been taking my little Hello Dollies business to markets for about 2 years now, though most of my sales happen via Facebook. One day, about 3 years ago, I stumbled onto what the market really wanted, and I ran with it. I started sewing when I was 10, and started making dolls in my 20’s … so this is not new to me. For me, it was about finding the right thing at the right time, and using my well established sewing skills to create a quality product. there are actually hundreds of people selling dolls made from the exact same patterns … but I have a distinct point of difference in the way that I make and finish my dolls, and people seem to like them. I am very blessed to do something I love all day long.
So, if you are thinking “Maybe I could sell my craft”, here are a few things I have learned along the way. If you’re planning on having a stall at the markets, you should attend those markets as a customer first! Check out the venue and the parking available, what is their advertising like? Are they in the same place every time, or do they move around? What are the customers like … spending money or just looking? What is the atmosphere like? Don’t spend more on your stall than you are willing to lose in the case that you make no sales. Some markets require you to have your own insurance, and others don’t. Does the market have an active Facebook page with lots of fans? Do the stallholders look happy to be there, or bored and complaining?
I also find that customers are always checking in for something new, so you do need to be creating constantly. A Facebook page is a great way to connect with potential customers, and posting a photo of a new product, your market stall or workspace will generate interaction with your likers. Don’t get caught up in watching your competition, trying to do what they are doing or who is copying who … it will drive you crazy! Concentrate on doing what you do, and doing it very well, and provide excellent customer service, and word will spread about how awesome you are. It will be slow to build, which can be frustrating, but in those moments of frustration, just stop and think … how would you cope if you were suddenly inundated with orders from hundreds of people? Probably not very well. You need to learn about ways to keep track of orders, efficient ways of answering & filing emails, and streamline your packing & posting routine. Building slowly gives you time to gain confidence and learn, so don’t wish yourself into the future too fast.
I would love to know if you have turned a hobby into a hobby business … or even a full-time business! Please share in the comments below or over at the Cake & Enemy Facebook page.