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Topic: Tips for Success?  (Read 2207 times)
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craftyorange
« on: April 24, 2011 01:35:31 PM »

I recently just started selling purses and am having a hard time getting people to notice. I would love to know what you successful business craftsters have done to get the people traffic going through your store.

a couple ideas I've come up with is
-fliers around town
-carrying a bag with my logo
-I have given a couple bags to friends to try and get them to spread it by word of mouth

Any help would be great, and if this topic has been posted before, a link would be awesome.
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Chris in VT
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2011 05:51:06 AM »

Try this, it always works.

Sign up for a local craft show. Set up a booth at the show and watch a thousand people see your work in one day.

If your prices are right, and your display is attractive, you'll make more money in one day than in 6 months on Etsy, or any other website.
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There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudio s.com
Circlesofstone
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2011 08:06:33 AM »

If you are on Etsy don't you have to keep relisting your products so they don't get lost in the masses? I thought I read that somewhere. Check out the "Selling on Etsy" part of this forum, I'm sure they can help you.
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MagicalCupcake
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2011 08:23:57 AM »

I haven't been selling long, but my top tips that have worked so far are:

Carry your purse everywhere, complete with business cards so when someone says "ooh, where did you get that" you can hand them a business card.

Get yourself to as many craft fairs, shows and fates as you can, and ensure you have a pile of business cards on your table, as well as one inside every purse (or every carrier bag) so that one goes with every purchase.

If your friends have any of your items, give them a stack of business cards so that they can pass them on when they get compliments too (if you're confident enough you could ask other customers to do the same, but personally i would feel uncomfortable doing this).


As for unique website traffic, that's really a different kettle of fish.. my advise from a web dev point of view would be:

Sell in as many ready made market places as you can (etsy, ebay, cafe press, MISI etc etc) people will feel safer buying through a known brand initially, you can then include a business card and maybe a discount code for if they purchase through your personal site.

Get blogging, blog regularly, and with pictures etc. Also join groups and post in groups, comment on other blogs, follow and really get active in the community.

Get listed on as many directories and search engines as you can.. I've been out of the professional web development game for a while, but when I used to work in web design, google rankings used to improve by having your site on as many other sites that had the same search terms as you..

Use google adds etc.

That should get you started anyway, but you will have to be patient with a web store. if you need instant sales, approaching shops and selling at craft fairs etc is defiantly the way to go.. go for cheaper tables first though so you don't spend more than you make. Where I live tables at fairs range between 10 and 1000 (yes, thousand).. I am starting at the 10 stalls, and they're not too big for me (i.e. i don't have to make too much stuff too soon) and I make a huge amount more than it costs me to have the fair - also if you mess up a few with a poor display or not enough items etc you haven't wasted a lot of money.
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Chris in VT
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2011 04:22:11 AM »

Where I live tables at fairs range between 10 and 1000 (yes, thousand)..

I know what you mean. Most of the shows we do run between $250 to $500 per space. And we usually take 1 1/2 to 2 spaces. One flower show we do is $1,300 for a 10x10 space.

As far as our website goes, we merely look at it as just another tool in our marketing plan. Our main source of income is shows, and that's why I do 40+ shows a year. If somebody is hesitant about buying, I hand them my card with my website, and remind them we "always have free shipping" on everything. I'll eat the dollar or so per item.

And as far as business cards go, I never put them out for anybody to take. They have to ask for one.

"What??? Is he nuts?"

No. You want to sell today, to the person in front of you. If they see a card and take it, you've lost a sale. The return on somebody taking a card is less than 1%.

The same thing for any list of future shows. I never have one. Why? The customer sees you'll be at the Veeblefetzer Festival, "so I'll probably see you there". And again, you've lost a sale.
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There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudio s.com
AshtonagoL
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2011 01:58:37 PM »

Where I live tables at fairs range between 10 and 1000 (yes, thousand)..

I know what you mean. Most of the shows we do run between $250 to $500 per space. And we usually take 1 1/2 to 2 spaces. One flower show we do is $1,300 for a 10x10 space.

As far as our website goes, we merely look at it as just another tool in our marketing plan. Our main source of income is shows, and that's why I do 40+ shows a year. If somebody is hesitant about buying, I hand them my card with my website, and remind them we "always have free shipping" on everything. I'll eat the dollar or so per item.

And as far as business cards go, I never put them out for anybody to take. They have to ask for one.

"What??? Is he nuts?"

No. You want to sell today, to the person in front of you. If they see a card and take it, you've lost a sale. The return on somebody taking a card is less than 1%.

The same thing for any list of future shows. I never have one. Why? The customer sees you'll be at the Veeblefetzer Festival, "so I'll probably see you there". And again, you've lost a sale.
Good points that I never would've thought of.  Do you offer a card to someone who seems interested but doesn't end up making a purchase?  There have been times that I've been interested in making a purchase but it's just not in my budget at that time.  It's nice if a card is available so I can purchase later.  On the other hand, I know you are right.  Many times even if I'm interested in a product, I generally buy it right then and there or not at all.  I've taken cards from ppl with the intent of purchasing later but 9 times out of 10 I don't. 
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Chris in VT
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2011 03:44:16 AM »

My style of selling is a bit different than others.  I stand right out in front and actually talk to the customers. I banter with them. I thank them for coming out if the weather is bad. I joke with them. I "demonstrate" how my product works. And if the customer is hesitant, I will offer them a card with the website and remind them of the free shipping.

Do I get a lot of returns from that card? Not really. But I can kinda see whether they visited the show when ordering from the website by their address.

Oh, and my cards are different too. I never buy cards, I make them. I just made a card on my computer and print them out on cover stock. But instead of white, they're tan. And the cover stock has a different texture than card stock too. I also cut them a little bigger than regular cards. So when the customer has their collection of cards from the show, mine stands out because it's bigger than the others (1/8 inch) and it's a different color and texture too.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudio s.com
AshtonagoL
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2011 08:03:58 AM »

Great ideas Chris!  Thanks for sharing!
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craftyorange
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2011 11:12:33 PM »

Wow. Thanks for the responses!
Chris, I will definitely be trying some of those in an upcoming event I have! Thanks!
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Chris in VT
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2011 04:16:09 AM »

One more thing.
I went to the photos of craft shows. And I was amazed at one thing. Everybody was sitting down! In a folding chair no less.

That's the one thing I never do. Sit. You have seven seconds to attract a potential customer. You must be standing and ready. If you must sit, buy a tall director's chair. That way you're at least at eye level with your customers.

Another thing I saw was clothing. Has anyone heard the term "Dress for success"? Casual dress clothes is another way to set you apart from the crowd. And take off the sunglasses!

One thing I didn't see at the indoor shows: Lights. Where were the lights showcasing your work? Staples has some nice swing out lights for under 20 bucks. I have 6 of them. Always pay the extra amount for electricity if it's supplied!

Selling your work is 50% of this business. Doing the little things will give you a big advantage over the other exhibitors. 
THIS ROCKS   Logged

There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudio s.com
MinervaLRenfield
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2011 04:47:14 PM »

I've worked with a lot of designers and makers getting started in business, I've also worked as an alternative entrepreneurial consultant. 

My first question is "Do you have a business plan?"  if they say no, I send them back to get started on one.  If you fail to plan, plan to fail.  A good business plan is a very important and useful tool.  It can help you set prices, find out if your product is even marketable, and plan for expansion. 
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Chris in VT
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2011 03:48:00 AM »

Ah, the business plan.

One of the main reasons for having a written plan is to obtain financing. Lenders want to see your model for your business.  We don't need financing in this business unless we want to open a factory and go wholesale.

But do we have a plan? Sure. To make our product for the biggest profit as possible. We watch economic trends, and adjust accordingly.

I do shows with professional exhibitors like myself. And over on another forum the idea of a business plan was discussed. So I decided to take an informal survey of the people who do this for a living. I asked no less than 50 exhibitors at 5 shows. Now mind you, these are professionals. many are making over 6 figures per year.

Not one had a formal business plan. I've been in this business for over 30 years, and I've made good money without any written plan.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudio s.com
MinervaLRenfield
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2011 08:17:32 AM »

I disagree that the main reason has to be to obtain financing.  We self financed our company but we still used business plans.  They don't have to be overly formal, something simple or a collection of notes and calculations will do.  You said yourself that you have a plan and you obviously know your product so you've likely done the research that goes with business planning. 

That's not the case all the time though.  When I have alt businesses contract me for help it's -always- the first problem to find they don't have any kind of business plan.  All they had was a "cool" idea and thought they could make money off of it.  These are the most typical problems I hear:

 - "I don't know how much it costs to make, but I figured $20 sounded fair"

 - "It's a popular product but I keep running out of stock"

 - "I didn't budget for "x" problem thought!"

 - "I can't afford to keep the business running"

 - "My mom said they were cute!  I don't know why they aren't selling!"

In most cases having some kind of business plan would have helped these people out from the start.  It's always my first remedy when we're troubleshooting these kinds of problems.  It's quiet eyeing opening to find out that the $20 product you thought was "priced fairly" is actually costing you $30 in materials just to make.   Is your company bleeding money despite awesome sales?  You need to see where your expenses lie.  Every part of your business will have an effect on your pricing and your ability to make sales and you need to be prepared for all possible issues that come up in your line of business.

If you're already an expert in your field, your business planning might be minimal; if you're more "crafty than business" oriented, make a plan.  It won't cost you anything but some time and can help you make a successful venture with your product.  I've seen some people succeed without one in place, but I've seen many more burn out without one.  Even if you're not applying for a loan, it'll help you manage the money and effort you sink into the business.
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CraftyChef
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2012 07:19:38 AM »

There is too much emphasis on what things are called. Anyone who is serious about making money has some sort of plan. A budget and a calendar is a plan. If you don't know the costs of your business, or fail to plan inventory and costs for those 6-figure-producing shows in advance, you're pretty screwed pretty fast. There are few people who can keep that all in their head.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2012 06:54:30 AM by CraftyChef » THIS ROCKS   Logged

chemical_emily
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2012 10:47:31 AM »

I just wanted to say thanks to Chris and everybody who contributed to this thread. I've begun selling my yarn, and Chris's advice to sign up for a fair (which I just read yesterday) made me react like this: Yeah right, like I've got that kind of money laying around. But I'm doing all my homework before jumping in, so I did some looking around, which led to an amazing find: There's one being held literally TWO BLOCKS from my house in two months, which is time to prepare, and the slot was only $20. The sign up deadline was today, and they had a slot left. Kizmet, indeed.

As for business planning goes....I'm lucky. My boyfriend has the math brain, so we made a deal: He does the financial planning and organizing, and I'll do the creative work. He did some math, and came up with some winning numbers. Minimal investment, both time and money wise, and frankly....most of us crafters would be doing this even if we weren't making money, so at least we're getting SOMETHING back. If I could make a career out of traveling and selling my goods....I'd be in heaven.
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Chris in VT
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2012 04:00:16 AM »

"...If I could make a career out of traveling and selling my goods....I'd be in heaven..."

That's exactly what my wife and I have been doing since 1994. And part time from 1980 to 1994.

I travel throughout New England and the Mid Atlantic states and do about 40 shows per year. And I love what I do for a living!

There is a down side though. We are at the very front line of the economy. As I have said before, there's nothing at a craft fair anybody needs, so when gasoline goes up, sales go down. When people are nervous about the economy, sales reflect it. So income can be fantastic one year, and minimal the next. It's just part of being self employed.

There are other adjustments too. First, you must work weekends.  And that's tough for a lot of people. My workdays are Tuesday through Sunday. I spend the weekdays making product, and Saturday & Sunday selling. And from labor Day until Thanksgiving, 12 hour days, 7 days a week are the norm. Especially September & October in New England, where people come from all over the world to see the colors.

And spend their money when they have it.
THIS ROCKS   Logged

There's NOTHING at a craft show, or on Etsy, anybody NEEDS. NOTHING.
www.shadypinestudio s.com
SewMantra
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2012 06:30:48 AM »

This is a wonderful thread, great ideas, thanks to all to commented. Double thanks to the initial poster of the comment, this is something I actually had in mind to ask.

Merci!
Martiel
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Martiel B.

Sewmantra
REUSE | RENEW | REINVENT
http://www.zibbet.com/sewmantra | http://sewmantra.blogspot.com
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