It’s the curse of the crafter. You’ve found something you love to make. First you make it for yourself. Next thing you know you make some for friends. Then before you know it your home is overflowing with macramé plant holders, but you still have the urge to create them. And more of them!! Your friends all say, “hey Susan! You should TOTALLY sell these!”, and you think “nah, nobody would buy macramé plant holders… I’m just doing it for fun”. So you casually peruse Etsy (while still making macramé plant holders, of course) and realize that tons of people are selling macramé plant holders and yours are actually better!!
So you want to open your own shop (and we hope that you do!). The Bastards have come up with a little bit of advice, based solely on what’s worked for us over the years (and what hasn’t). Here it is, take it or leave it! Either way, have fun…
- Think of a great name. You don’t need a professional logo or anything right away but try to come up with some way of representing your product as professionally as you can.
- Develop something new, or at least your own take on an existing product. You’ll find that copying the work of others is a quick way to lose fans.
- Make sure you test your product before you start selling it. Make it many times and give it to your friends or sell it to them at cost. I don’t know how many people I have heard say that they wish they hadn’t rushed into selling things at the early stages. You only get one true first impression.
- Photographs. My goodness photographs. Even if you’re taking pictures with your iphone, try and keep them as polished as possible. Do not use a flash. Take them near a window or outside where there is natural light. Make sure that you don’t have any dirty dishes or old socks in the background and if you’re photographing your hand as part of it… please let your nails be trimmed and clean.
- It’s okay to use recycled shipping materials, but make sure they are clean – don’t pad the item with used bread bags that still have crumbs in them (true story).
- Practice mailing your items to friends and family, so they can tell you how the item arrived. I’ve had purchases from crafters that weren’t well wrapped or well packaged and when they arrived, the item was flattened or quite disheveled.
- Learn how to promote yourself. Research social media and how to do Google searches. You will spend nearly as much time having to promote yourself as you will making your product. Building a fan base and trust takes time. And work. Lots of both.
- Be “aware” on social media. When you do get established on social media, be very aware how you post when you are representing your business. Keep “hot topics” and personal opinions off of your business status and updates. Never ever complain on your page, as frustrating as things like copycats and unpaying customers may be, keep it off your page.
- Be yourself, be accessible (to a point), be real, and ENGAGE with your audience. Be someone who people want to support and follow. The beauty of the handmade world is that your customers feel like they are supporting a person, not just a business.
- Make sure people connect you to your business. It connects people to the art and encourages people to want your work. Respond to comments, emails & convos.
- Don’t harass potential customers. If someone asks for a quote or has some questions for you, don’t assume it means they are committing to buy.
- Build a network of other crafters to support you and for you to support. Don’t see others as competition, see them as mutually beneficial. It will help when you need advice or support or when you’re just not feeling it.
- Be patient. That first sale is probably going to be the hardest to get. Without good reviews on your side, your customers are taking a huge leap ordering from you. You need something that they just can’t resist. And when it does happen, celebrate because it’s just the beginning. 🙂And last, but not least… #14… Make your Handmade with Love!!