Craft Ideas for Business
There is so, so much that goes into having a successful online craft business.
Truly, the path is long, and can be hard, and has so very many steps.
Some days, I can’t quite believe that I’ve reached this point. A few years back, it seemed like a pretty unattainable dream.
But here we are. I am lucky enough to be making a living making beautiful things – doing something I love.
I don’t say this to brag or toot my own horn, I say it to give you hope.
Not a false hope. Not a hollow – you will succeed if you just do what you love.
But if you’ve dreamed of doing what I do – making a living from selling your craft, I’m here to tell you that it IS possible. No, it’s not easy. No, it’s not a quick process. But it can be done. I, and many other artisans, are living proof.
Today, I thought I would dig deep into those years (and YEARS) of trial and error to share with you 10 things that I believe are absolutely crucial to the success or failure of your online handmade business.
1. Create something people actually want to buy
This is number 1. I’ve written about this before – the uncomfortable fact is that when you make the transition from making things simply for your own joy and satisfaction to making things to sell, you need to change your mindset.
This can be HARD. Of course you love what you make – that’s why you make it.
But is there a market for it? And is the market willing to pay what they need to in order for you to build a profitable business?
2. Work on it every day – but be patient
One of my most favourite mantras when it comes to business is this:
Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Whenever sales are slow, or I’m not getting as many comments/likes/tweets etc etc as I’d like, I remember this.
Businesses do not grow overnight.
Are you in this for the long term? Because if you’re doing this to try and turn a quick profit, just stop now.
If you’re not sure that you want to be doing what you’re doing in 5 years time – don’t try to turn it into a full-time business.
You need to be dedicated and patient.
If you’re both of these things, and you take steps every day to grow your business, success WILL eventually come your way.
3. Be friendly but professional
Part – an important part, I believe – of having a handmade business is being open and friendly with your customers.
They are buying from you because they prefer to buy unique things, direct from the person who made them.
Don’t make it difficult for them to get to know you (i.e. have a good About page with photos of you and your work, and the story of how you came to be making what you make) BUT at the same time, remember that your customers are not your buddy.
By all means be friendly and lighthearted with them, but remember to treat them with professionalism and respect.
Use salutations when you write to them. Always respond to questions promptly and in detail.
Don’t get het up with a customer who is making unreasonable demands – just respond calmly and professionally with reference to your strict and reasonable policies (you have those, right?).
NEVER NEVER NEVER complain about a customer in a public forum. Just don’t. Ever.
No matter how unreasonable they may be, or how mad they have made you, they, and every other customer you have, deserves respect, and to know you won’t air their issues in public.
4. Have beautiful photos
This. Is. Key.
When you sell online, your photos will make or break your business.
The photo is the first thing that captures the eye, and usually the largest part of the decision-making process when all is said and done. I even know people (and am totally guilty of doing this myself at times) who barely even READ the description, but just buy pretty much immediately based on the photo of an item.
What makes a good photo?
- Natural or filtered white light (not flash)
- Consistent, simple, yet iconic backgrounds – nothing too ‘busy’ that might detract from your item
- Clear, crisp shots in perfect focus
- Interesting and intriguing angles – so long as you show us the full item, to scale, in one of the supporting shots, the first shot can be more of an enticer
Suffice it to say, once your business starts growing, the time it takes to photograph/describe/title/edit etc etc every new product will be time you will not have.
6. Believe in yourself and your work – fiercely – but be open to change
If you don’t believe in yourself – and your product – you will never succeed.
It takes so much time and dedication to really make a go of selling your craft online, that if you don’t make something you absolutely love – and are convinced that others will love, too – you will run out of steam, get disheartened, and give up.
Put your soul and passion into what you make. Love it fiercely.
BUT. Be open to change. If you’ve been working and working and working… and STILL aren’t gaining any traction after weeks/months/years… something might need to change.
It might be what you make. It might be something about what you make. It might just be your photos or price point.
Love what you do… but be open to the fact that in order to succeed, you might need to make a change.
This is not a bad thing. Don’t be discouraged if you do need to make a change. We all know the story of Edison and the lightbulb, right?
7. Get a Mailing List
Email is still the most direct and effective way to connect with your customers.
Once your customer or prospective customer has taken the step to trust you with their email, they have given you permission to contact them directly.
These are your best prospects for making a sale – the people who love what you do already! You don’t need to convince them that what you make is awesome, because you already have.
Treat them with respect, give them value in the emails you send, and stay in touch with them on a regular basis. They will reward you by becoming loyal customers.