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Topic: When does a bit of variety become too much variety?  (Read 1516 times)
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« on: April 30, 2008 02:22:49 PM »

Is it better to stick to one style/medium/theme or to experiment when trying to sell your work? It just seems to me that the most successful crafty businesses have some sort of signature look or stick to a similar style most of the time. Can't produce statistics to support this theory, so I could be totally wrong - this is just something I've observed as I've looked around the Web and around in general.

I make jewellery (and yes, I'm aware that this in itself may be a problem... flooded market and all that). Like so many people, I'd be content if the hobby would just pay for itself...

Anyway, I love experimenting and finding new techniques and materials to play with. I wouldn't necessarily try to sell experiments in a new technique or medium (seeing "this is my first try at..." on an Etsy post generally horrifies me), but once I am happy that I've got the hang of something I'll incorporate it into my ever increasing repertoire of "oh, that looks cool!". I also love hopping between styles... "Goth", "hippy", "girlie", "modern", whatever I happen to feel like that day. I don't know if this is necessarily a good thing though - I come out with such a variety of stuff that there's almost no common factor except that I made them.

So, long post short: if you see a web store/craft stall with stuff in a variety of media and/or styles but made by the same person, do you think "oh cool, a variety, there'll be something I like here somewhere!" or do you just assume the person has no focus and as a result must be a bit rubbish?
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2008 07:07:56 PM »

I think that everyone has their own particular style and that regardless of medium your 'taste' will always shine through..so it may seem like tons of different jewelry pieces to you but from a walker by person they could probably see that its all made by you  and see your style..i think we all like something for a reason and if you find yourself loving a certain color for the moment then cool..all in all the 'style' is YOU Smiley

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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2008 07:57:06 AM »

I think that's a really good question and I was wondering that myself.  I'm about to open an etsy store but there isn't really any particular thing that I make more than others, I tend to go through phases of making, say, mittens, then wristlets, then bags, then cushion covers...etc.  I'd like to think that everything I make is to a good standard and I wouldn't dream of listing anything on etsy that I didn't think someone would be impressed with when they receive it but I've always wondered if people will be put off when they look at my store and see it's all a mish-mash of things.

But then on the other hand I figure that if you've got a broad range of items and styles, you're more likely to sell things as you're covering a wider market.  And if you've got good items and good photography and presentation, there shouldn't be any reason why someone would be put off by different styles. 

I find I make different things depending on how much time I've got to spend crafting and also what materials I've got available to me.  I thrift a lot of my materials so I often don't have masses of a certain fabric or wool, so once I've made a couple of something, I can't make any more.  I also get bored easily so once I've spend a while on one project, I feel the need to move onto a different one next time.  I don't think I could make loads of the same item because I'd get bored of it and when I get bored, I start to make mistakes and the quality slips.  I figure people would rather have a well-made item that's one (or a couple!) of a kind, than have an item full of mistakes or where there's loads available.  I plan to market my items on that basis, "one-of-a-kind" type thing.

Wow, this was long and rambling and probably didn't answer your question, sorry!  But at least you're not alone in wondering it right? Smiley

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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2008 11:03:37 AM »

But then on the other hand I figure that if you've got a broad range of items and styles, you're more likely to sell things as you're covering a wider market.  And if you've got good items and good photography and presentation, there shouldn't be any reason why someone would be put off by different styles. 

i agree with this whole-heartedly!!! furthermore.. i think no matter what you're making you are obviously going to have somewhat of your own style.. be it with the colours you choose or things you always seem to incorporate with your crafts!!

i say! rock on with the new and different mishmash of crafts! it will get you to sell to a wide range of people Smiley

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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2008 06:39:33 PM »

I agree as well--I have a similar problem, where I go through phases and want to either try new things, or go back to something I was in love with before.  For example, I'm really into sewing right now (though I'm not very good at it!)  Even though I was just in a knitting phase for about a year (seriously--I have 3 projects I've abandoned on the needles, and have since completed probably 15 sewing projects.  I have issues.  My husband can't stand it!)

Back in the day, when I used to do craft fairs (in Seattle) I had lots of people stop by my booth and say they loved the variety, but could always tell that everything was mine because I have my own style.  I can't say I've had much luck with my etsy shop thus far, but I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I can be a stay at home mom before my son goes to kindergarten.  Anyway, I say keep producing quality items, let your style show through, and it will work itself out.

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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2008 03:32:44 AM »

Thanks for the responses, gals, you've all been really reassuring - it's always nice to learn that you're not alone! tinyhouse, thanks especially for the comment on the craft fairs - I'm glad that someone has had positive feedback from the general public in regards to the variety of things that they make.
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2008 07:30:44 AM »

I would say variety is too much variety when you're stuck effectively marketing only a portion of your wares because your audiences are so different and you can only afford - in time and/or money - to focus on one main sector or product line.

No matter what the variety, in order to stay in business you have to market your products in order to get sales. If you can't do that, you have to look at your products as well as other things.

« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2008 08:12:14 AM »

I think some variety is good, but there is indeed such a thing as to much. I  think everything needs to somehow flow, but everything exactly the same sucks!

Here's some examples:

everything is crocheted, but includes a HUGE variety of things- good

All jewelry -but  equal variety of styles (goth, hippy, etc) - okay

All jewelry but mostly a few styles then like one piece of another style- no good

Completely random stuff with no two of any kind of thing- awful

Random stuff, but several of each thing, like 6 sachets, 10 necklaces, even if they are different styles- okay

Random stuff, possibly even one of each of some items, but some linking factor- like everything is shabby chic, or everything is made from recycled/reused materials or everything is certain colors, - then that is superb!

I hate shops where eveythign is the same, you enter then walk out (or exit the site) think "man that was a waste of time" because you see one thing and you've seen it all. Businesses tend to work by keeping customers interested, and that is done with variety. Wether it is done with variety by new styles (a new style of necklace) or variety by creating a "searching" expeirence wher customers linger to find the perfect item (like a thrift store scrounging for goodies)  But you have to remember some  repition is nessecary. If someone buys  a necklace from you and everyone of their friends wants one JUST like it, you're missing out on sales if you don't make any more. If you make sachets, you can offer tons of styles but if someone says "oh i bought this sachet from..." people can go there and find a sachet they like, even if it isn't just like their friends.

If you sell jewelry and it is expensive with gemstones, crystals, sterling silver, etc, you may benefite from doing ooak pieces. People pay more for that luxury.

If you make standard jewelry of beads on beading cord with a clasp, you need to make lots of the same, for reorders. Or jewelry made out of stamped/cut/embossed metal, same idea. It would be okay to have a variety of styles, but several of each design.

The idea is how do you market your biz. You can say "We sell Jewelry," "We sell ooak luxury jewelry" "We sell custom silver jewelry" "We sell birthstone jewelry."  "We sell items made from glass" or a very detailed "We make rings and bracelets from Silver, Copper, and turquoise." "We make limited edition purses from vintage fabric using vintage patterns." "Anything the color Blue we have it!"

Think of how you would describe your business in 30 seconds (aka one or two sentences) and if you can't it's to much variety.

So to sum up- it TOTALLY depends on exactly what you sell. Every possible item or type of shop has a variety window.

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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2008 09:18:03 AM »

Think of how you would describe your business in 30 seconds (aka one or two sentences) and if you can't it's to much variety.

That's such a good idea, thank you!  I'm planning on starting up an etsy store in the autumn and I was planning on doing what you suggested, have a wide range of items as there's no one thing I like doing the most, but for everything I make be sure to make at least 4 of it.  So I'll have 4 crocheted blankets, 4 knitted mobile socks, 4 quilted cushion covers etc.  So if someone looks at my store, they'll see a wide variety of things but repetitions of everything so it looks more professional and less...mish-mashy...you know what I mean...

In 30 seconds I would describe the ethos of my business as "I like to craft with recycled and vintage items", which is nice in that it leaves me lots of scope to experiment with different techniques and styles, whilst still having a theme to tie everything together with.

Thanks for this thread, it's been so useful! Smiley

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