Hooray! So you’ve come to the crafty side and started your very own hand crafts emporium – congrats and long may it continue! I’ve run a few businesses in my time (and a craft business since 2003). My craft business is truly my baby. It’s the best job I’ve ever had – by far! I thought it might be useful if I posted some of the craft business stuff that I have learned on the way . So today we’re kickin’ off with the good ol’ Marketing thing…
I know, I know: many crafters don’t like the idea of bigging up themselves, but if you wanna sell stuff you need to overcome the shyness and have confidence in yourself and your products. There really is no other option folks; you need to love your stuff and you need to show others that you love it too. You see, it’s not enough to create/provide gorgeous craft items; you MUST tell folks out there about them’. When starting a craft business many of us (I’m no different) make the mistake of failing to invest enough time, energy and a bit of cash into marketing their products and themselves. In order to run a successful and competitive business you need to tell others about the existence of your lovely craft. You need to make marketing an integral part of your business activity for the life of your business.
We know that big companies plow huge sums of money into marketing their brands and their products, and whether we like it or not; it works! How else would we know about the funny names of products, what they do, and who sells them etc.? A business is a business no matter what it’s size. Therefore, the same rules still apply to folks who work at home in their jammies (just on a slightly smaller scale). Well, fortunately for you and I we don’t need to shell out huge sums of money. There are a few marketing tricks that cost very little or are free and we’ll look at them here:
- Word of mouth. You put all of those hours into creating beautiful handcraft, so you MUST be proud of your skills! Show them off, if possible wear your craft; show off your handbags, jewelry, scarves, shoes, etc. Don’t be shy when people ask where you got your lovely bracelet, tote bag, hat (delete as appropriate). Be enthusiastic, joyful, and positive about your love of your craft. NEVER sell yourself short and NEVER play your skills down. Remember enthusiasm is infectious. Tell the girls at work, your friends, your family, the person sat next to you on the bus, parties, at the hair dressers etc. This is the time to try to overcome shyness, your business will thank you for it!
- Want some free business cards? This company gives away 250FREE no obligation business cards (in the hope that you will order, and pay for more). Just click on this and then select your country from the top menu. Get them, then give ‘em away!
- Moo cards are beloved of so many artists, crafters and photographers. Why? It’s because they are soo darn cute and so customizable. If you have a Flickr account you can select whatever images you to place on your cards – making them perfect for us crafters to share with customers and customer to be.
- The Internet. It’s true, internet users watch less TV. Who can blame them when there is lovely craft to be made and lovely blogs to read and things to learn etc etc. The online craft community is a lovely, warm, and friendly bunch. The amazing internet brings us together in our millions…oh yes, we are a huuuuuge gang of crafters! If I’m not running my shop, making a bag, writing in my blogs, or eating, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m surfing the web and reading other crafty blogs, drooling over the lovely handmade craft in Flickr, or surfing the craft forums. I’m no different to millions of other crafters, they all do the same. This means there is potentially a huge audience out there on the web for you to show off your craft to. There are lots of social websites out there for you to contribute to and share your craft on. Get your lovely handmade goodness out into the web and blogosphere and contribute! Comment on people’s blogs; show off your lovely handmade goods on craft forums like Craftster,CraftZine, and Whip-up; get your handmade craft pics into Flickr. There’s also Myspace, and Facebook & Twitter (which I am on). Get your pictures and web links out there onto site like these, [but don’t overtly sell your handcraft in this manner, it looks unprofessional]. All of this surfing does eat up time, how much you decide to spend on it is up to you, but in my experience I have found it to be so beneficial in getting my little company out there. It doesn’t cost me any money and I would have been surfing for fun anyway!
- Get out outside! Get out from behind the computer screen and try selling your craft luscious-ness at a craft fair. Often you get boutique owners visiting craft fairs to see if they can snap up some cool and unique products for their shops. Yep it is a bit scary the first time around (I remember my first fair very well). You might not make a huge amount of dough on your first fair, but I tell what, the stuff you can learn from such events is so beneficial to your online selling activities. Plus it’s a fantastic way to meet craft-minded individuals and make friends. You need to get out there (and increase your friends and support network) because working for yourself can get very lonely if you’re not careful. Choose your fair wisely (yes of course I’m bigging up our fair!) Check that the organizers are sympathetic to your needs; are they experienced and is the venue going to enjoy a lot of footfall?
- Get yourself a blog This is my favourite way to market myself and my business. I use my business blog to promote my products, give my customers an insight to who I am, provide tutorials, showcase the bag making skills of others. By doing these things I hope introduce to bag making to people who have never made bags before, increase the trust that customers have in me as the owner of my business, encourage others to go into business themselves, and create a little corner (that is less formal, and more casual than my shop) for us bag makers to congregate. Having your own blog gives you another web link (that you can get out there in the internet), and a platform in which to talk about you, show off your craft photos, show off your craft, talk about the craft process for example. I have found blogging absolutely invaluable to my business, and I can’t recommend it for your craft business enough! I use Typepad (which only costs me £4.50 a month – baaar-gain!) because it was recommended to me, I think they look good, and I like their type list function. I had never blogged before I started (Nov 06) and I’ve learned it all on the way. You don’t need to be a computer geek (the help you need is in the help pages). Here are a few well known blog providers, some of which are free (I don’t know about the ones in other countries, sorry!): Sixapart (who provide 4 different types of blog depending on your needs), WordPress, and Blogger.
- Get yourself your own logo – If your not too hot on the ol’ graphic design (like me) it’s really worth getting your logo designed by a pro (you can also approach the owners of good looking blogs and ask them who designed their banners, and lots of web designers have their own blogs, see if you can set-up a trade with them!). If you are rubbish at drawing (like I am) don’t attempt to design your own logo because it will look unprofessional and this may well turn potential customers off. In the beginning I had no idea what I wanted for my logo. I just knew that I wanted it to look friendly, approachable, craftish, not too young, and not particularly old. My designer (who is experienced in logo design and branding) and I worked on the logo together and we eventually settled on the final design, font, and colour after almost everyone of my friends said ‘yep, that’s the daddy!’
- Get yourself a strapline (as defined by Wiki). A strap line is a useful bunch of words that serve to reinforce /inform (in a quick & simple way) just what your craft business is/provides. I’ve had my strapline “Love Bags, Make Bags” from the beginning and I hope that from reading it, it is obvious to the reader that my craft business is involved in handbags, and handbag making. When my strapline appears alongside my logo is serves to inform people of what my business is (in case you can’t tell from looking at the logo in isolation.
- Get yourself some labels – and place them on your craft. If you have a pretty logo, in nice colours it will look great on a tag or label and when you put these labels on you craft items it will make them look more professional. When things look more professional the perceived value (what something appears to be worth) increases, making your product look like it is even better quality. Include contact information on your label such as website or telephone number because as the owner shows off his or her new craft item (bought from you) you can bet that he or she is going to asked where it was bought from. Also, your craft item may be given as a present and the new owner may well want to know how the get their mitts on more of your craft items. Use you craft items to promote you! You can make your own tags (have a look at these yummy ones,) and/or you can have woven labels made for you. Here are some manufacturers I can think of (there are lots more, have a search on Google). Cashes,Charm Woven, National Weaving, and Clothing labels 4 u.
- Get yourself some stationary – such as business cards (did you have a look at the Free business cards yet?) postcards, or get creative and think up your own ‘little calling cards’ that you can put your business info on. In the past I have received cute ‘business cards’ that have been made from quilted scraps, cute key rings made from bottle tops, and wire window decorations all of which the creators have used as ‘business cards’. They are so pretty that they haven’t gotten lost or been thrown away! The more attractive and or useful something is the less likely it is headed for the trash, plus they also make you think nice and positive thoughts about the creators (which is important!).
Phew! I’d say that Marketing-wise that little lot should keep us busy !