note: this is Part 2. If you missed yesterday’s post, go read that first. Then come back. It will make more sense.
Continuing on with the idea of collaborating with other artist friends in order to get your work out there and seen (and purchased) by more qualified buyers, here is a second option. Of course you could do both. Imagine.
Now that you’ve carefully chosen the fellow artisans that you want to collaborate with, make a date to interview each one, maybe one a week. You can either do it in writing, send them email questions, or record through a conference line. Basically, you just both call in to the line and chat. When you hang up, an MP3 arrives in your email. It costs about six dollars. You can then put a link to the audio on your blog with a photo and short bio, some photos of her work and link to her site. Of course, you all agree to feature each other on your blogs. If you do this for 20 weeks straight, with 20 different artists and you each have 250 followers, well, you do the math. Just like the first method, you multiply your list of buyers many times over. Easy peasy, right? Let me know when you’ve tried this how it worked for you, OK?
Are you feeling a slump in sales of your craft after the holidays? Maybe you have a website or an Etsy site and a mailing list but you feel like everyone you know has already seen your work and you want exposure to new buyers.
It’s great to have a presence on Etsy, Artfire, etc but honestly, you’re missing a lot of qualified buyers who value handmade and have the money to buy your creations but don’t have the time to hang out on those mega-sites. Honestly, even though I make my living helping artists make theirs, I get overwhelmed on Etsy. There’s just too much choice.
So how do you get exposure to more qualified buyers who will be return customers and loyal collectors? Here are two very simple ways.
Both these tips involved gathering some of your online artist friends. Look for people whose work compliments yours and each others.
Ideally, choose artists from different parts of the country because you will have completely different friends. While all of your friends, I hope, have seen your work and all of their friends have seen their work, your friends haven’t seen the things each other make. Make sense?
For purpose of demonstration, let’s say you gather together 20 crafter friends. You put together a simple word press site that shows the craft and a short artist bio of each of you. You don’t have to put a shopping cart up but rather can just link to each artist’s own site. So, even if you don’t have a formal email capturing system set up, although you should, let’s say you have a mailing list of just 100 friends and fans. (and of course include previous buyers.) Now you send out a letter to all of your 50 friends telling them you want to invite them to a virtual invitation-only craft fair with 20 of your online crafter friends. Each of the artists sends this email with link to group site to just 50 friends. Now you each have 1000 new people looking at your handmade jewelry, scarves, soap, candles or other craft. And that’s if you each only had 50 names on your email list. You probably each have more like 250 contacts, right? So that’s 5000 new people seeing your work. And they aren’t just any 5000 people. They’re already fans of your friends’ handmade work. Now, imagine if you got together a group of 40 friends instead of 20 and each sent the link for your virtual craft fair to 250 of your contacts, you’d have 20,000 new people viewing your work. And this isn’t even taking into consideration that you each have Twitter followers and Facebook friends and Pinterest followers.
Think, mini Esty. But, these people won’t be overwhelmed like they would on Etsy so they’ll buy. And the whole thing hasn’t cost any of you anything except the shared price of a domain name and a site. So maybe you’d each chip in $10. That’s not much to pay for 20,000 new viewers who are qualified buyers, is it?
Check back tomorrow for the 2nd Way to Sell A lot More Crafts and Bring in Bundles More Cash. You can find lots more ideas like this at “12 Easy Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month’ HERE
If you’re looking for more exposure for your work, how creative are you about where you sell you crafts? If you make items for dogs or their people, do you sell strictly to pet boutiques? Have you thought of approaching handcrafted galleries? Shoppers who value handmade will pay more if they see your work in a craft gallery rather than a pet boutique beside inexpensive imports. If you make baby gifts, don’t just sell them to children’s shops. Try to get them into shops with other hand made products. Why put your handcrafted pieces in a location where they are compared with manufactured goods? Get your work in front of buyers who are discriminating enough to appreciate handmade. What other locations can you think of where your work will get the attention and price it deserves?
Have you noticed that many of the small boutiques and galleries that sell handmade are low in inventory two weeks before Christmas? I have, and I know why. And this is to your advantage as a craftsperson.
As a result of the media’s fear-based reports, small retailers ordered light this season anticipating slow sales. But guess what? Discerning consumers are searching for unique, handcrafted, meaningful gifts this season, catching retailers unprepared with insufficient supply and no time to re-order handmade gifts. Most people say they haven’t even started shopping yet which means shop owners are missing out on revenue if they don’t have inventory. While the big-box retailers can mark their wares down after the holidays, and still make a profit, as you know, craft retailers don’t have the margin to discount since their markup is so low. So, they are afraid to purchase this late in the season.
But this is where YOU come in. Boutiques and galleries that may not have had space to display your work previously need the inventory between now and Christmas. You likely have pieces you’d love to turn into cash and the shops NEED your work now. It’s risk free for them if you put pieces on consignment and you have nothing to lose either. (review previous tips on consignment.)
Don’t limit yourself to galleries. The next three weeks, women are dressing for holiday parties and looking for that one-of-a-kind accessory to add pizazz to their outfit. Approach apparel shops and offer to consign your handcrafted jewelry, evening bags, shawls, etc.
No one can buy them if they are sitting in your studio unseen,
Check back frequently for more “eleventh hour” tips on selling your crafts and if you haven’t yet received your “13 Quick, Easy, Low-cost or NO-cost Ways to Turn your Craft into Cash” get your free gift here.
You’ll find many of these tips can be implemented NOW.
While the majority of my clients are now reporting excellent sales, I am getting inquiries from other crafters saying they are getting hits on their sites but that their work isn’t selling as well as they would like. Normally I would first evaluate their marketing. If a site is getting lots of hits but no sales, it’s possible that there is something weak about the site itself, not the aesthetics, necessarily, but likely, the marketing funnel. However, a comprehensive marketing analyses is very time consuming and while I am generous, I am so busy with my paying clients, I can no longer spend hours with an individual who isn’t a client. Still, being curious, I couldn’t help checking out their sites.
We all know that you can make the most gorgeous product but if it isn’t marketed correctly, it won’t sell. Likewise, it doesn’t matter how great your marketing is if you don’t have something people want to buy. I know, this is common sense, but there is much more to having a marketable product than its’ being beautiful or functional. I decided it was time to take a look at what these crafters are making. Maybe there was a common product factor among those who were not making money with their craft. Bingo! Those who were reporting slow or no sales mostly had lovely crafts but their products all had one thing in common. Read more
One of the best ways to market your craft is to find every opportunity to get your work in front of an audience. This seems obvious, but so often artists hide out in their studio. Some of us, myself included, shy away from the spotlight. But, to succeed, it isn’t enough to have your work on a good website. You need to make an effort to do some in person appearances as well.
How do you go about getting your name and face out there as well as your work? (remember, part of the appeal of handmade is knowing the human behind the work. ) Demonstrating every chance you have will begin to establish you as the expert in your medium. Craft supply stores, galleries, workshops and trade shows are all opportunities to demonstrate your craft. Approach the manufacturers of the materials you use, either in person or by sending them a nice professional looking portfolio with examples of different techniques for using their products. Offer to make appearances in stores that carry their products, showing both the staff and customers the benefits of using their products, and at craft trade shows demonstrating to retailers. Not only will this give you Read more
In the waiting room at the Mayo Clinic yesterday, I picked up a Forbes Magazine. It’s not typical to see an outdoorsy “Field and Stream” looking image gracing the front of a business publication but the cover of the April 13th edition featured a man with a walking stick surrounded by the most magnificent Retrievers. The headline read, “What Recession?”. While I am hearing these words from my entrepreneurial friends, it was refreshing to see this in the media. The handsome man on the cover , dog breeder MIke Stewart, was one of six featured entrepreneurs whose businesses are thriving in this economic climate. Stewart has a long list of customers waiting to pay him $12,000 for one of his dogs. Also featured in the article was Charles Morgan, grandson of founder HFS Morgan. IN the 100th year of production, Morgan has an 18 month waiting list for the 150,000 Aero 8. Morgan’s sales are up 14% over last year. 32 year old , Sacha White didn’t inherit an auto empire. Vanilla bicycle’s founder started as a bike messenger, saw a need and filled it. White has a 180 unit backlog, a four year wait for his handcrafted bikes which sell for an average of $7000. He says most of his customers are middle class. Ninety year old Stanley Bogdan and his son Stephen have salmon fishermen waiting in line for their handcrafted fishing reels which sell for $1300 to $2300. Samuel Zygmuntowiczhas a five year backlog for his handcrafted violins and cellos which sell for $53,000 to $90,000 and are played by YoYa Ma and have been called superior to a 1686 Stradivari violin in large venues like Carnegie Hall. Zygmuntowicz says he wants to keep his instruments priced low enough that they are sold to musicians as opposed to collectors. He only produces six instruments a year, despite 15 hour work days. He says “you need to understand how the moves you make today will behave further down the line.” And while many people are putting off cosmetic surgery, Dr. Yan Trokel says his signature “Y-lifts” are in demand. He plans to license other surgeons in his procedure but will keep expansion slow “within the limits of quality control.”
So, how are these entrepreneurs thriving in an economic downturn? A common thread appears to be quality control and supply vs demand. Slow, calculated growth and thinking ahead.. Having a distinctive product, staying small and flexible. Morgan made sure to make few enough cars to not have an inventory glut when the great depression hit. And like his grandfather, Charles is focused on “efficiency over expansion.”
What lessons can you take away from these unlikely entrepreneurs? If you are uneasy starting an upscale business in this climate, take it from these entrepreneurs who are thriving in an economic downturn. Decide what what will make your product stand out. How is what you do different or special enough to be exclusive, to be coveted? Take it slow, make calculated decisions and start now.