Archive for the Category »Handmade Business 101 «

Creating a lucrative business from your craft

The dream of many crafters is to turn their hobby into a full-time business.  What could possibly be better than making the things you love, every day, all day?

The only problem is that making enough money is often the only thing that holds us back.  Sitting in a small cubicle at flea markets every weekend and selling the odd product on a website isn’t going to bring in the big bucks, however.  You need to kick this game up a notch if you want to create a real business.

Here’s how:

1.  Create multiple streams of income.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  You have beautiful products, right?  You want as many people as possible to see them and you can’t do this by having a shop on one website or one stall at a flea market.  You need to ensure that you have your products for sale in as many places as possible:  Online shops (be in at least 5 different ones), craft shops, various flea markets, shows and home parties, to name a few.

2.  Go where your market is.  Where do the people that really want your products tend to hang out?  If you sell African crafts for instance, go where international tourists go…the hot spots.  If you sell children’s toys, go where new mommies go – baby showers, pediatrician’s offices, etc.  And if you sell things like prayer beads, consider yoga studios and meditation centres.  Think outside your box.  Think like your ideal customer.

3.  Expand your product range.  Don’t stick to just one item or even a type of item.  For example, if you make earrings, why not source earring holders or stands too?  Not to mention the matching necklace and bracelet.  Try to make it as practical as possible.  If you are into quilting, why not expand your range into quilted teddies, upholstered furniture and cushions?  Or if you sell handmade clothing, you could create some pretty and unique hangers that go with the range.  Or possibly complementing accessories.

4.  Get a web presence and blog

These days you cannot get by without a website.  You need to show the world who you are – showcase yourself!  If you can connect this to your own online store, even better.

You also want to keep your website new and fresh.  The best way to do this is to keep a blog.  You can write about your products, your creative process, your business – whatever you wish.  The more you share online, the more people will be driven to you and your crafts.  And be sure to have a newsletter so that you can send your followers news about your new products!

5.  Drive traffic

Once you have your website, you need to get as many people there as possible.  Start commenting on other crafters’ blogs, do some guest posts, interact with people online.  Get social on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

6.  Become the expert

The big money these days is in information and skills training.  Digital products such as ebooks, videos and online courses, as well as things like in-person workshops.  Think about what you do really well – for example, your particular craft.  Now think about how you could teach that skill in a unique way to a larger audience.  You can write an ebook on how to create a quilted teddy bear, for instance.  Or you could host a workshop on the same topic.  Or both.  People don’t just want to go buy a book on beading anymore.  They want someone to show them in person – so create a video series online, or have a home party in your area where you show them how to do it – and sell your own products at the same time.  Or turn that entire concept into an online course that runs over 6 weeks.  The options are endless.  Brainstorm some ideas – you’ll be amazed what you come up with!

Now go make some money!

There is so much to talk about around this topic, so feel free to send me your comments and feedback.  I love brainstorming ideas and will help you come up with some for your unique product and/or service.  For free!  Email: michelle@michelleainslie.com

Michelle Ainslie is the go-to expert for creative solopreneurs who want to quit their day job and live their dreams – and make tons of money at the same time!  Visit her website and download a free Creative Solopreneur Manifesto poster that will inspire you to create every day:  www.michelleainslie.com

Pinterest Love – how to get started.

It being the week of Love and all, I decided that this would be a perfect time to blog about Pinterest. For those of you that know what I’m talking about, I’m sure you’ll agree that this might be one of the greatest things in Social Media since sliced bread. Pinterest is basically an online pin board where you can pin images from all over the Internet for your own inspiration and also to share with other pinners… Trust me on this one, if you have one millimeter of creativity in you you’ll want to check out Pinterest. (The site registered 7 million unique visitors in December 2011).

How to get started.

1) To get an account on Pinterest you need an invite. You can either do this via the site (and they should get back to you in a day or so) or you can email me and I’ll be more than happy to send you an invite.

2) Once you’ve got your account you’re ready to start pinning (make sure your username is as close to any of your other Social Media names to make it easy for people to find you) – our username is simply ‘jamtin’

3) In the simple steps that you’re given when opening your account, you’re given the option to add a ‘Pin It’ button to your tool bar – this is an important step and will allow you to ‘pin’ any images you come across while surfing the net and allows you to pin the image to one of your pinboards (and most importantly saves the link to the original site you’ve pinned from to enable you to revisit the original page just by clicking through the image on your pinboard).

4) Next you should create various ‘boards’ for ways to categorize your pins – ie, ‘handmade tutorials‘, ‘home inspiration‘, and ‘handmade gift ideas‘ to name a few of mine.  People who follow you can either follow you in your entirety or they may choose just to follow some of your individual boards, depending where their interests lie.

5) Now the fun starts – start finding people already on Pinterest to follow – this can range from friends that are already here (you can do a search via your Twitter or Facebook account), to also your favourite creatives – so many of your favourite bloggers will already be on Pinterest, and probably have a ‘follow me on Pinterest’ link on their blog or website. Alternatively, you can just browse the site and you’ll soon find people who have the same taste as you and you can follow their boards as you go. (and you’ll find people follow you back when they see and like what you are pinning. With all Social Media tools, the more social you are, the more followers you’ll have, and that’s just good for business!)

6) You can also like and comment on pins or boards – and as I was saying – since Pinterest is a Social Media tool, it’s always important to be social for it to be effective. Everyone likes to get a comment now and then :)

You may be asking why I’m telling you all about this – well, it’s two fold really. First, knowing that most of the readers here are super duper talented and creative people, I just know that you’ll find truck loads of inspiration, but Pinterest is also fast becoming a really important Social Media tool for businesses that you really shouldn’t ignore. Think of it as a “visual- word of mouth- viral” tool which shares images and products from your site. ie – it takes one person to pin an image from your site for literally 100’s or 1000’s of people to start repinning the image – all directing visitors back to your site (depending on the popularity of the image, or article, and also how many followers you have)…. think about it…

For a really great article that any creative from a small business should read, here’s the link to : “How Pinterest is Becoming the Next Big Thing in Social Media for Business” from the Entrepreneur.

Please shout if you have any questions on Pinterest. I’m still learning, but have been using it for a couple of months now on another account and just love what it’s done for my inspiration as well as the traffic that it’s driving to my site)

ps – here’s what one of my boards looks like…

 

 

Do you have a Facebook Page for your handmade business?

I’m still at the very start of my Facebook page journey so believe me, I’m no expert, not even close…  but I did want to share this marketing tool with you in case some of you are still debating whether to create a Facebook page for your own business or just didn’t know that you could.

I recently received some really valuable advice on “selling” your business – I was reminded that the more I put into my sales pipeline the more will come out… Filling the pipeline has thus become a priority of mine (yes, I know it’s kind of obvious, but I did have to hear it from someone else for it to sink in), and one element of my pipeline is to use my Facebook page to promote Jamtin, to interact with our Jamtin community and to share many of the handmade products I come across when on Facebook. It creates momentum and helps reach people that I might not necessarily have reached. (well, that’s the idea!)

I do believe it’s a valuable tool that is available to all of us to use, so…..

To get started…

  1. Sign in to your personal Facebook account (you do have to link your page to your personal account)
  2. Go to the very bottom of the page, scroll all the way down and click on the link for ‘Create a Page’
  3. Select the option that is best for you – I’d say most will be “local business or place” or ‘brand/ product’ (you’ll see what I’m talking about when you get here!)
  4. You can then add the relevant information and upload your logo or photo and start inviting friends….

Things that might be useful to know….

  1. Although your Facebook page is linked to your personal profile, this is about as far as the connection goes… ie – people who follow you personally won’t automatically follow your page – you will need to invite them. They won’t even necessarily know that your page belongs to you, so be sure to let them know.
  2. You’ll be able to post as yourself or you switch over to your page and post as your page.. ie – I can comment as Jude Foulston or as jamtincoza…
  3. Once you’ve reached 25 people who ‘like’ your page you can then secure a clean URL (as apposed to a whole bunch of numbers etc – this just makes it easier to advertise your Facebook fan page) ie www.facebook.com/jamtin
  4. It’s important to update your page and interact with your community. The way I see it, the more you interact with your community, the more they’ll interact back… and that’s what you want!

Some of the benefits of creating a Facebook page is the apps that you can use…

  • It’s Free!
  • A lot of us already know and love Facebook and so it’s an easy step to make
  • You can interact with fans from around the world
  • Your reach is massive – your friend likes your page, 2 of their friends then likes it, and so it goes..
  • You receive Facebook insights into your page which gives you information on how people are interacting with you, the trends on your page, your fan profile etc.

Places you can promote your Facebook Page

  • Your packaging
  • Your email signature
  • Your invoices
  • Your business card
  • On your blog posts

For more detail, you can download this pdf from Facebook on using their Facebook Pages…

Lastly…. please like our Facebook page and do let us know if you set a page up for your business so we can like you too :)

Hope this was useful!

x

Your Handmade Business 101

As part of the Jamtin revamp, I’ve been spending quite a lot of time reading online articles on running your business – in particular handmade businesses, and online businesses. I’ll try and share as many of the articles I find useful via our Twitter account as I go along (so please do follow us if you’re interested), and will be doing a weekly post on our blog offering what I hope is some useful advice. As always, we welcome any feedback or questions that we could perhaps research and try and answer in this space. We’re not experts, but we do like to learn and share what we’re learning as we go!

Selling 101

Sell a unique product

This sounds pretty obvious, but it does need to be noted right up front. You don’t need to recreate the wheel with every product you make, but do make sure you put your own unique touch on each item, as this is very much a key part of what will differentiate your product from the next. I believe this is particularly true if you are hoping to use the immense power of the internet to showcase and sell your handmade products. As powerful as the internet can be for you to use, it is also used by millions of others doing the same…. Either way – if you’re selling products at your local crafters market or online, making your product somewhat unique is going to be to your advantage.

Convince the buyer to purchase your product by describing it well

1) Attract the customers attention, 2) describe the product in detail so that the customer knows exactly what he or she is purchasing. Remember online the customer doesn’t have the opportunity to touch and feel the product – something many of us do subconsciously when deciding whether or not to buy something. By describing your product well enough, your customer can feel as if they have felt and seen the product in real life, and that they are fully aware of what they are purchasing. Make them feel comfortable making the purchase. 3) It’s also not going to hurt to give the customers some reasons why their lives won’t be the same without your product!

Sell your products in an attractive environment

Whether you sell your products in a retail shop, online, from your blog or a stall at your local market – invite your customers into your space by making it as attractive as possible.

We like to think Jamtin is a pretty attractive environment that we’ve created for our users. We always like hearing feedback though on how we can make improvements – please feel free to leave comments for us below to let us know…

Display your product professionally

Make sure that all photographs that you take of your products are taken with a good camera and in good light. The background that you shoot on should also be as plain (and light) as possible. There’s nothing worse than a busy background to distract your eye from the actual product, or a photograph where the product is in a bad shadow. A good photograph of your product can really be the difference between a sale or not.

It’s not just the initial photo that display’s your product. A wonderful way to promote your brand is to ensure the packaging that your product is received in is also done beautifully. This doesn’t have to add a large expense to your product, but can really go a long way in creating a great customer experience.

Jamtin listers have space for 2 ‘listing’ photos and then depending on which level you chose, a choice of either 16 or 32 photos ( – displaying 8 or 16 products). See for yourself – go to our homepage where individual products are showcased and see which products you are first drawn to, and then take note of the quality of the photos that are used.

Keep interacting with your customers

Any good business is maintained through keeping relationships with your fans and customers. Keep talking to them, reply to queries as soon as possible, keep them updated with shipping times, rather communicate any delays or problems with your customers – most are understanding if something does go wrong – but would rather know than be kept out the loop. Keep talking!

Use Social Media as a successful marketing tool

Sign up for your Facebook page now if you don’t have one already for your business. Get onto Twitter, start reading and interacting on people’s blogs. It’s all about filling up the pipeline – the more you put in, the more will come out the other end in the form of sales. And don’t forget  Social Media is exactly that… Social… don’t expect anything profound to happen just because you have these platforms (though signing up for them is of course a step in the right direction). You need to be making friends here, talking to different people etc.

Once you’re on Facebook and Twitter, don’t forget to let us know – we’d love to be a part of your online community and you in ours!

Share customer feedback

I think many of us find this difficult to do, but it’s an important aspect of promoting your business. Find ways that you are comfortable with – ask customers to click on the ‘submit review’ link on your Jamtin listing, other options are to invite customers to give their feedback on your Facebook page. If you’re sending newsletters out include a quote from a happy customer. It’s important for your  clients and potential clients to feel the confidence that others already have in your products.

Original source for this post is from Oh My Handmade,  a truly delicious site.