Here are some pointers to figure out your business so you can make a pinpointing effort in selling your arts and crafts worth your while. Some great fellow once said: ” If you aim at nothing, that is exactly what you hit.”. Success is not a lottery (my puny wisdom hahaha)
Since you came to read this series about selling your items, I take it you are looking to enrich yourself, find sources of revenue and are interested in the craft business. You can comment below and share with me your motivation and insights.
The demographics of the craft show business- any business for that matter- is constantly changing, but here are some unchangeable fact which I hope inspire you to find your niche to sell your art.
1. You have to put yourself in front of the customer.
2. You have to sell something of quality, that entices the buyer to part with their money.
3. You have to be serving your customer, because the customer is always the KING and you are always the pauper, no matter HOW much money you make.
4. Time is as valuable as money in exchanging goods.
5. You need to build your brand (product) and with that having your customer satisfaction in mind.
6. Be prepared to be copied, undersold and not be “liked” by everybody.
You have to put yourself in front of the customer. In other words view you things from THEIR perspective.
What a great way to be visible than at a craft show! It has the advantage that the customer can see, feel, smell and touch your merchandise. Engage with the potential customer in unobtrusive, friendly – a not pushy way.
MAKE them like you FIRST, because then they will like what you do and what you sell.
The craft show has the advantage, that people still seek them out and enjoy being entertained and inspired.
However, there are other ways to be “seen” by enough potential customers.
Whatever you sell:
Get a repertoire in an attractive suitcase. If your items are too large make a small version or take pictures and have specs in your suitcase. At an opportune time, for instant as you wait for the appointment, ride in a bus, wait in line to get to the football stadium……… pull out your suitcase and show off. You can do that unobtrusive or bold, depend on your personal style.
Find occasions for a sale: Your lunch break at work.
Ask for a spot at a gas station, at a hot dog stand, yard sale, ladies auxiliary, senior center, little league game, PTA meeting, marathon run goal line……….. people always are willing to help out, especially if you give them a cut of the profit (be sure to figure that in your price, so you do not work for free).
It doesn’t matter HOW artistic you are and what you want to make, you ALWAYS have to make, what people want to buy, else you will have a hard sale. In my time the customers desire was hand painted roses on my husband’s furniture. I challenged myself with this boring thing to paint a realistic rose, because that is what was selling. ( At the end, I was so bored painting roses, I painted them with my eyes closed and guess: what as messed up as that was, they sold!). I painted some cool stuff like eagles, hummingbirds, buildings, …… could not give them away. Roses are all they wanted.
Test your market first, before you make, make, make. Sometimes it is only the color that has to be altered and it sells like hot cakes.
Having said that: Be prepared to sell on the spot, don’t say “I will take orders”. There will be a next time and you are better prepared. The reason you will not take order is: The time is NOW. Make yourself scarce, your art is unique and not readily available. Who knows what is up in 2 weeks, when you fill the order!!!! Will the same client as enthused about the item THAN as they are now? What will their financial situation be? People are fickle, count on it!
To serve your customer! Each person has the need to be accepted, loved and feel special. Most people live very empty lives which they like to fill by consuming, find pleasure in buying more. Their money invested in your valuable product is well spent, if they can associate with the artist (you), have your special signature and can “claim” your fame. Else they might as well go to Walmart. If YOU as a talented entrepreneur make THEIR life special catering your service to their needs and they in turn are able owning one of your creations……… Well, what a privilege! But you have to let them “FEEL” that they are King. Whatever you do: Don’t sell yourself short, like make sales prices or act desperate for a buck. Show them how enjoyable it is to OWN one of your creation you lowered yourself to slave over, just they can be special.
The time you spent to market yourself is worth something.
The time you spend creating the item of course is worth something.
Be organized and this time start from the top (usually one always starts at the bottom) to calculate how much you have to earn annually. Then divide it until you figure out your hourly wage by dividing that number. Calculate the hours you want to work each day.
Example:You want to earn $30 000 per year= Government takes 8 000 easy, which leaves you with 22 000.
You want to work 10 hours per day, 5 days a week( most self-employed people in the USA work way more than that). That will give you 2600 work hours per year means you will have to make roughly $8.50 Now add your material and overhead, which in most cases should not exceed 1/3 of the process = roughly $3
So your product price should be NO less $11.50 per hour spend. I understand there is tons of philosophies about pricing. I just wanted to give you an idea how this works without a PHD in economics.
Once you figured out how much you need to feed your troops, you can decide what to make = building your brand, creating a product.
Don’t try to be everything to everybody. That will not work, since you are not God. (Read my blog on “Who are you”).
Define yourself and your product. I realize that is very hard as a creative person, since you are multi-talented. But please narrow it down to what you will be the least bored doing often, since you might have to make it all the time.
The next step is: Streamline what you make. In other words find all the short cuts, research how to obtain the materials at what price and so on. Make an assembly line process.
Example: As decorative painter, I had my art down so much that I needed buy only 10 colors of paint to make every nuance there possibly can be made to match upholstery fabrics for my husband’s furniture. I stuck to my brand of paint and saved thousands. Can you imagine our profits had I have to buy all those different colors the furniture makers produced with their line??? Those paints would have dried up in my cupboard every year, because we patterned our items after Lazyboy, Ethan Allen and Flexsteel….. No sense in making something that will not match the customer’s decor. Those companies, research their product line extensively, so it is wise for you too for YOUR brand to take advantage of that research and pattern your unique things to see what colors/style/design/ scheme …. the big guys with loads of research money come up with. If you are into Jewelry check mall jewelry stores, which deigns they sell loads of, if you are into garments, check clothing stores. Then find your touch to make stuff THOSE guys “PUSH” in their advertising. Make your unique item an outstanding complimentary addition. That brand will be your sales success, since people are truly not very original = whatever is true, is not new and whatever is new is often useless.
Yes, not everybody will like your items, and when others see you are doing something that sells, they will copy you, most of the time with shoddy workmanship. So KNOW who you are, do not compromise yourself once you are convinced you are doing the right thing. But count on those things happening BEFORE you go to a craft show, exhibit….EVERY business has the same problem.
Try to protect your work by non-removable labels, watermarks or a unique unobtrusive twist. That is very important, because often people have no scruples. I have been copying so many times, but you know what: I have the satisfaction that they have to be accountable to God one day and there are many more ideas were my original idea came from.
In summary: Learn to live the unexpected and have fun.
Living free is wonderful and you are the maker of your own destiny by your choices ( parable of the sower).
Please share your insights in the comment below, so we all can benefit.