Getting Started Selling Your Crafts
Until recently crafts were usually sold locally or, at best,
regionally. Now you literally have the whole world at your
fingertips! Some of you may choose a gradual progression from
selling to friends, to selling at fairs and shows, to retail
selling ? and so on. Others may decide to jump directly from
selling within their circle of friends to the worldwide Internet
market - the costs are low enough that this is surprisingly
My first career was as a special education teacher. After 15
years of teaching I earned an MBA degree followed by CFA
(Certified Financial Analyst) certification. After 15 years in
finance I was a vice-president and portfolio manager of a major
insurance company before I was downsized. Tired of the rat race,
I opted for early retirement. Looking for something to do with
all my free time, I started crafting and am now making a nice
supplemental income from it.
As a crafter and a businesswoman, I feel I have some valuable
insights into the craft business that I can share with you.
to Sell Your Crafts for Profit
At some point in your progression from crafting for fun to
crafting for fun and profit, you go from handcrafting individual
items for yourself and friends to filling quantity orders for a
broader marketplace. That's the time to take a very business-like
approach to your craft business. This needn't be daunting. You
don't need an MBA or management experience - just a bit of common
sense. If you're going to do this for profit, you need to
The Four M's:
1. Meet your market;
2. Minimize your costs;
3. Maximize your selling price; and
4. Market the heck out of your product.
Simple, right? But very few people get it. Look at the high
failure rate for new businesses. It takes effort to be
successful, but the task is hardly impossible.
Traditional craft retailing methods are what most crafters use
to get started. They're the easiest way, especially if you don't
know if anyone will buy what you make.
I believe that there is a market for any well-made craft,
whether decorative or useful. The problem facing many crafters is
how exactly to go about selling them, or more accurately, finding
paying customers. The fact is that there is an awful lot of
competition out there.
My own business got jump-started by my "circle of friends". My
friends noticed and liked my calling cards and began to ask me to
design and make cards for them. Starting with just Broderbund's
Create-a-Card program, I was soon earning a nice supplemental
income in just a few hours a week. It probably helped that I was
retired and live in an area dominated by retirees.
But I think that everyone has a "circle of friends" either
socially or at work. Of course you don't want to impose on their
friendship by making a hard sell, but rather use or display your
crafts in front of your friends to see if they draw any interest.
If they do and if they're priced right, you're on your way to
craft retailing for profit. If your "circle of friends" market
starts extending to friends of friends, you're probably ready to
tap the general marketplace of craft retailing.
Most crafters are aware of the periodic craft shows put on by
local groups or even by the local Parks Departments. These
usually cost little or nothing to join and should give you a fair
idea of whether there is any broader interest in your craft. What
better way to jump into craft retailing?
There are also organized craft shows that tour the country,
most of which charge an entrance fee for participants. Check your
local papers, especially the free shoppers, for information about
Another venue for craft retailing is at the local flea markets
that spring up in every community just about every weekend. Again
the entrance cost is usually minimal. The only other thing you
need is a little marketing savvy.
With little cost and some effort, you will be well on your way
to knowing whether there is a market for your craft. Once you
know that, you can move on and think about other ways of selling,
such as in galleries, on consignment, on eBay or from your own
All these methods and more are discussed in great detail on my
website,By Eileen Bergen
Come visit and see what you can do to become successful in the
The Artful Crafter
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