HOME MADE BUSINESS: how to cook it?
- IWB Post
- February 22, 2014
Homemade goods can become the global brands of tomorrow is what the current business trend seems to indicate.
Handmade items are originally synonymous with beauty, quality and attention to detail, which takes the user back to a time when life was slower and gentler. Exquisite handmade clothing, pottery, jewelry and household items enrich our lives and create a sense of well-being which lacks in mass-produced modern products.
However, for handmade entrepreneurs, selling their products is especially challenging because we love what we do so much, it’s tempting to spend most of our time creating things, and not enough time marketing and selling them and planning for the future. This often results in lots of nice products, but few sales. So let’s discover the marketing strategy for handmade business:
An online presence is vital in the age of the Internet. Online Website should be opted for marketing strategy, with a clear outlook to your creative product. Optimize your website for search engine indexing by using appropriate keywords in the content. Set up a detailed catalog for your handmade items, which offers information about each product as well as price and availability. Add a blog and publish regular posts about the products you make, and invite your readers to subscribe to your blog for updated news and information on new lines and availability.
There are many benefits to selling crafts online as opposed to through retailers or in person:
- Online marketplaces tend to take a much lower cut of your profits than traditional retailers
- Online marketplaces can set you up with your own online shop (but you don’t need to worry about complicated code, web hosting or e-commerce – all that stuff is done for you)
- Your customers can be based anywhere in your country, or indeed the world!
- Online marketplaces attract keen buyers of handmade arts and crafts
- You get to deal with your customers direct, meaning you can receive feedback on what people like about your products and what would make them more appealing.
- If you establish your own website with more information about your products, you can use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to improve the number of people finding out about you.
- Once your business gets going, you can buy ad space online (such as on search engines like Google, related crafts blogs and publications etc.) much cheaper than in print.
Create social media profiles for your business and post links to your blog and website. Use platforms such as Pinterest to showcase photographs of your handmade items on Arts and Crafts boards. Build a Facebook fan page for the business to display your catalog of products on the page and set up a Facebook store linked to your fan page where followers can order through a trusted medium. Use your business Twitter account to promote your products and encourage feedback on the various social media platforms from current and potential customers.
Open seller accounts on sites such as Etsy, Zibbet, Big Cartel and ArtFire. Etsy is a well-known online arts and crafts store, and Zibbet was established as the alternative to eBay for artisans, when the founder discovered how difficult it was to sell creative products. Big Cartel offers artists an independent online store from which to sell, while ArtFire is an “interactive handmade market place and craft community” dedicated to helping members build their businesses and sales. Install a shopping cart application on your website and create a PayPal account to enable buyers to place orders and make payments online. Invite buyers to post reviews of your products and rate your quality and speed of service.
As part of your promotional strategy, print business cards and flyers that advertise your handmade products. These should include your contact information and attractive photos of some of your best-selling items, as well as your website address and the details of any online stores from which your products can be purchased. Hand out your flyers at craft markets and trade shows or distribute them by postal drop in your neighborhood. Apply to be included in directories such as the Handmade Artists, which showcases handmade products from artists worldwide.
Pay special attention to collecting data of your clients. Shoot creative e-mailer to inform them about special offers and new product launches. Keep it interesting and engaging. Compliment your regular customers with exclusive promocodes and discount offers.
Investigate craft and farmer’s markets in your area. These typically take place on one or two mornings a week or over the weekend at local churches and community centers. You may be required to pay for a booth in advance, but even if you don’t sell many items at the market it offers the opportunity to display your products and hand out business cards or fliers. Make a sign using a child’s blackboard to direct customers to your booth.
Secure a spot at relevant trade shows; for example, if your handmade items are for the home, look for exhibitions of home furnishings and linen. Hold live presentations of your products during the market or show and run a competition to win one of your products. Collect names and email addresses of the visitors to come to your booth. Add them to your mailing list and send out regular email newsletters with details and photos of your latest additions to your range of handmade items.
How to Price Your Handcrafted Goods
Pricing is one of the most difficult parts of setting up any business. It requires you to put a concrete monetary value on very subjective qualities like style, experience, and care. The perceived value of your products does not determine their price. No, it is the other way around. The way you price your products (along with your packaging, branding, etc.) determines how people perceive their value. A lower price, therefore, does not always lead to more sales. A product that is priced too low may imply a lack of workmanship or inferior materials to some customers, and may actually cost you business.
To figure out the right price for your products, you can take the bottom-up approach.
It is easy: Price = Freelance rate × Hours + Materials. Please note that the cost of your materials should include the cost of storing, shipping, and/or sourcing your materials, not just the cost of buying them. If you find that hard to calculate, you can just add a 10-20% mark-up to cover it. I also suggest that you don’t guess what your freelance rate is, because you will likely underestimate it. Freelance rates are typically much higher than what you’d make working for a company, because as a freelancer you need to pay for all of your own overhead and benefits.
Other things to consider:
Always have a contract. Always before you sell your products or services to someone, you should have them sign a document outlining what you will provide and when and how much they will pay you. This doesn’t have to be complicated. You can simply add a signature line and some terms to the bottom of your order form or client estimate. Make sure to lay out the forms of payment you accept, what the penalties are for late or non-payment, and your return or cancellation policy.
Always collect a deposit. In the case of client work, you can require a 25-50% deposit up front. In the case of retailers, you can require new accounts to pay with a check or credit card before receiving their first order. If they pay reliably, you can relax your payment terms for re-orders later on.
Keep good records. If you use accounting software like QuickBooks, then you can set up alerts or reports for when payments are due. If you’re more of a simple spreadsheet or pen-and-paper type, you can just create reminders in iCal, Google Calendar, or a paper calendar.
Brand yourself. As your business grows, you will find more people wanting to identify with more than just your products. Your repeat customers will start talking about you and your products, and in some ways, the two will merge into a single brand.
Handmade entrepreneurs are in the unique position of making the products they sell. This means that when a customer sees your product, whether you like it or not, they also see you. Take advantage of this by letting people experience you personally as you market your products.
Sharing photos of you in your production studio making things people love to buy is a good way to leverage yourself as a person, as you also promotes your products. In time, if you’d like, you can translate this visibility into new streams of income as a speaker, a blogger or coach.
SHARE WITH JWB YOUR EXPERIENCE OF BUILDING A HOME-MADE BUSINESS.