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7 Newbie Seller Mistakes

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Starting a handmade business is daunting, exhausting, and confusing. You’re bound to make mistakes (and that’s okay!). But here are 7 common pitfalls you can try to avoid.

1. You listen to the people that say your prices are too high.

There will always be someone that wants it for cheaper… if you price based on how much money someone wants to spend, you might as well give it away for free.

Just as many people made comments about my “high prices” or asked for discounts when my dresses were priced at $25 (good god, what was I thinking?) as they do now that my dresses are priced at $125 and higher. I ignore them because generally, bargain shoppers aren’t my market.

polka dot swing dress by SmarmyClothes

2. You believe that raising your prices would scare away your buyers.

As I mentioned above- when I started out, I really was selling things for $15-25 a piece. I’ve steadily increased prices over the years, as I’ve grown more comfortable with valuing my time and my work. Raising prices has never EVER killed my sales.

I had a friend that was selling handmade corsets for $100. She should have been charging at least double that, considering the amount of work and attention to detail she put in. She was constantly swamped with orders, and one of the ways she was finally convinced to raise prices was that it might slow the orders down a bit. She raised her prices by $25 as an experiment. Her orders actually increased over the next few months, which was a bit of a mixed blessing. But at the very least, she was making a little more money to justify the long hours.

scared comic book girl earrings by SugarPlumRobots

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Crafty Business Advice: Make your handmade goods truly unique.

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I’ve read your article about pricing, and while I love the theory of pricing based on labor and I agree that my skills should be at least $20 or more, who in the world would pay $60 for a little scarf just because it’s handmade?

Take a look at Etsy and there are plenty of scarves selling (just check the seller’s sold items and number of sales) for $60 and more. Yes, there really are people who will pay the price of handmade simply because they appreciate the time, and they value the quality.

There are even more people who will pay a premium if it’s really something special- perhaps it’s because you use the highest quality fibers, or dye the yarn yourself in patterns and colors no one has seen before, or because the particular crochet pattern is something unique.

Rococo Knit Shawl / Wrap by ElenaRosenberg

This is where the frustration comes from when people say, “I could get that for $5 at Walmart.” Because no- there is not a single item in my shop you could get a Walmart. Yes, you can buy a dress at Walmart or a dress from me, but they are certainly not the same dress. Not even close.

That being said, if you are selling something that really could be had for $5 at Walmart, then that may be a problem. It would be very difficult to compete directly with the largest retailer in the world- even other large retailers have failed at that.

The trick is to find that magic “something” that makes people go, “Oh! I really can’t get that anywhere else!” That takes the competition right out of the game.