I really, really want to start selling things I make. I've started reading some books regarding how to sell crafts, and how to start craft businesses. I haven't really found anything that's a step-by-step idiot-proof, here's how you get started. So, I'm giving myself some assignments, and posting them here. Hopefully someone else who is struggling with taking the first steps towards making money from crafting will learn from my mistakes. Hopefully people who have taken this journey already will comment here and help me struggle through this.
So... here goes:
Assignment 1: Sign up for a craft show. This will give me a hard deadline (motivation) to at least get some things done business-wise and make enough stock items to sell that I won't embarrass myself the day of.
I e-mailed the lady who runs the "Nick of Time" Christmas craft show at the Buckhorn community centre. The fee is only $60, so I figure it's a small cost, even if I don't sell anything. At least I can say I have done a craft show.
Assignment 2: Pick a name for my business.
A while ago, before my second baby was born, I started an etsy shop called The Turnip Truck Co. My husband calls me Turnip Truck sometimes, so that's where that idea came from. I think it was a decent name, but I don't want to use that name going forward. I think the name suggests a certain sense of humour, which I like, but I think it also pigeon-holes me into making items with a sense of humour. If one was looking for a goofy monster brooch, then they might look in a shop called "The Turnip Truck Co"... but the name doesn't really lend itself to handpainted fine home furnishings. Since I make many different things and I haven't really done any market research yet, I need a name that will work no matter what the shop contains.
I came up with two options I like "Jennifer LaBelle Handmade" (origin self-evident) and "Artisan 82" (being that I'm an artisan and I was born in 1982.) I really like the word artisan and like calling myself an artisan (rather than artist or craftsperson) because I think it most accurately describes me. I took a quick e-mail poll of a few friends whose opinions I respect in this regard, and the majority liked "Artisan 82".
So... officially the name of my new craft business is "Artisan 82". Yippi!
Assignment 3: Make a logo.
Realizing that I will need to make a sign for my craft booth and probably some sort of facebook and/or blog page, I will need a logo. I really wanted a logo that said: crafty, handmade, stylish, professional. I started by scribbling my company name in a sketchbook:
I thought I could manipulate my own handwriting on the computer to make something that I liked. I traced around the letters in autoCAD, and struggled for hours playing with the image in a free image manipulation program called GIMP http://www.gimp.org/
that I didn't really know how to use. Here are various versions of what I came up with.
After sleeping on it, I looked on the above with fresh eyes, and determined that I needed to try a completely different approach. And so down the tube goes two hours of struggling frustration
Well, an education is never free... and in my struggles, I noticed that this nifty GIMP program I was using had a 'create logo' function (did I mention that this software is free!). So I messed around with that for a while and came up with this (using a free, scribbly looking font I had.)
Although I don't love this, I was getting close.
I took a similar approach with a different font, and I think I found my winner:
The flourishes make it look artistic and stylish, but I like how there's some gouges and splashes... it gives it a hand made look. I think I'm sticking with this one.
My next goals:
Get a facebook, blog, and etsy account.
Make business cards with the above information on them. This way at least I'll have some form of marketing material to hand out at the craft fair.
Oh yeah, and stock. I need to produce stock to sell. That should happen too.
I'm going to keep this post going, even if nobody reads or comments as a way to be accountable to myself. I do hope that somebody does read it... Oh, and if anybody reading this thinks that my final logo stinks, please tell me! I'd like to know before I start printing business cards.