Blog

5 Tips to Keep Your Shipping Costs Low

Posted on

With the cost of shipping increasing every year like clockwork, you’re probably looking for ways to get a little thrifty. Here are my five tips to keep your shipping costs low:

1. Up with the Envelope! Down with the Box!
Obviously there are instances when this simply won’t work. If you’re shipping large or fragile goods, there’s just going to be no way around using a box. But if you sell small, fairly non-breakable items, you will save a ton shipping in an envelope instead of a box.

Take one of my items. Let’s say this top weighs about 10 ounces.

by SmarmyClothes

If I wrap this item in a sheet of tissue paper, put it in one of my poly mailers (I get mine from threerb on Ebay), and toss in a few of my business cards, the final weight is 11 ounces. Light enough to ship inside the US via First Class.

Cost to ship
Inside US (1st Class) – about $3.50
To Canada – $8.24
Everywhere Else – $13.41

If I put it in a small box, the final weight is 16 ounces. That’s too heavy for 1st Class in the US, so I have to go up to Priority.

Cost to ship
Inside US (Priority) – $5.05
To Canada – $9.50
Everywhere Else – $15.08

My poly mailers weigh about 0.5 ounces. The box weighs over 4 ounces! And of course, the bigger the box, the more it weighs.

Most of my jewelry weighs less than an ounce- if I shipped it in a box, I’d be paying more to ship the box itself than the item in it! My jewelry is fragile, but not that fragile. Wrap your items well and they will survive just fine in an envelope. Bubble wrap is your friend!Read more…

Blog

Setting Goals for your Handmade Business

Posted on

It’s the time of year when everyone takes a look back at the past year and asks themselves, “What can I do better?” 

And while it’s natural (and good) to make your business goals part of that, it’s equally important to make sure the goals are reasonable. Setting unreasonable goals for yourself is a recipe for failure and disappointment.

A good goal should be:

  1. reasonable
  2. attainable (and by that, I mean it’s something in your control)
  3. proactive

 

Felt home decor flower by IngerMaaike

 

A common goal I see for handmade business owners is setting a milestone with sales. And while the milestone itself may not be unreasonable, I don’t like this kind of goal because there are too many variables that determine sales. And a lot of them are out of our control.Read more…

Blog

7 Common Myths of Pricing Handmade Goods

Posted on

There are a lot of myths floating around out there about pricing. These myths cause pitfalls many an artist and crafter (newb and seasoned alike) have fallen into when pricing their wares. I am here to vanquish these fell beasts!

Chimaera original illustration by Calef Brown

Myth #1 – You should only be compensated for the time you are actively creating. All the other “work” doesn’t count.

Everything I do is needed to run my business.

If I did the design work but outsourced the sewing work, I would pay the seamstress.

If I hired an assistant to handle my customer service, I would pay the assistant.

If I hired a model and photographer, they would either be paid in cash or goods.

Magical Unicorn Dog Hat by sweethoots

(I wonder if the above model was compensated in doggie treats?)

Each part of my process is a job I would have to pay someone to do if I didn’t do it. If I do it, then I pay myself (or try to).

In response to this idea, some people like to say things like, “I’m a teacher, and I don’t get paid to grade papers at home or have meetings with parents after school.” That’s a very flawed argument. If those things are expected and required as part of your job, then your salary is intended to compensate you for it.

There are two reasons you should make sure you compensate yourself for ALL of your work.

The first is that you deserve to be paid for the work you do. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.

And the second is more important. Should you need to someday outsource a task you currently complete yourself, you need to be able to pay for that from the price of your goods.

I was a mythological creature BEFORE it was cool. by CreativeScratchings

Read more…

Blog

Handmade Marketing on a Budget

Posted on

Today’s Crafty Business Advice Question comes from Ti of NomBieCraftz.

What is the best way to advertise on a budget?

Social networking is one of the best ways to market your shop, period. And it’s free!

Can You Hear Me Now Necklace by TheSpangledMaker

Okay, so as the saying goes, “Time is money”. So it’s not free-free, but the time invested in getting new Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and Tumblr follows is worth it because you’re building a long-term relationship with potential customers. Traditional advertising flashes on the screen for 30 seconds, and then it’s gone.  That’s why the big companies have to play the stupid things so often.

So how do you best use a social network to market your shop? Check out my 6 Secrets to Twitter Success for a Handmade Business here. The same basic principles apply to any social network.

It’s also important to continue to build your following. If you have 600 Twitter fans, every time you share a link to your item, you’re only reaching those same 600 people. It’s just a simple fact that the more people you reach, the more potential for sales you’ll have.

Another great way to advertise on a budget is by doing giveaways. Again, it’s kinda free. You don’t pay money (or at least you shouldn’t have to… any blog wanting you to PAY to do a giveaway is shady, if you ask me), but you are offering up a free product, which is costing you the materials and the time to make it.

Be selective when choosing a site to do a giveaway with. One of the things you’ll get used to is people demanding free stuff. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry has an AWESOME blog, PERFECT FOR YOUR ITEMS, and they’d just LOVE to giveaway one of your AMAZING items to their followers! It’ll be a BIG HIT! Or maybe they don’t have a blog but they’re doing a CHARITY AUCTION for KIDS WITH LEPROSY and isn’t this a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to get the word out about your AMAZING items and do something GREAT FOR KIDS all at the same time!

My personal rule is that unless I’ve heard of the site doing the giveaway or actually know the person, I don’t give freebies. There are too many people out there willing to take advantage. It might not even be intentional, but it’s still costing you something. Never forget that. A freebie isn’t free for you.

Rebel Yell ORIGINAL by NeverDieArt

Here’s a simple checklist you can use if you’re considering doing a giveaway with a blog/website you’re not familiar with:

  • Have they done giveaways in the past? What was the response like? I’d like to see that they’ve done lots of giveaways before mine. I’d also like to see a lot of response. If their last giveaway only go 10 entries, then it’s probably not worth it for you, because that generally means the site doesn’t get much traffic and/or the person running it isn’t promoting it. If you’re giving away freebies, then their side of the bargain is getting the word out!
  • How much response do non-giveaway posts/pages get? I like to see a regular stream of interaction on posts that aren’t giveaways. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but a few comments here and there show me that the site gets some amount of organic traffic. If they only really get comments on giveaways, then I wonder if their only source of traffic are the freebie/giveaway junkies that run around entering every giveaway on the net, never bothering to look at what they’re even trying to win. Part of the appeal of a giveaway is exposure to your key demographic and freebie junkies aren’t part of it.
  • Do they have a following on Twitter and/or Facebook? Again, this speaks to their commitment to promoting their site. I’d want to see a Facebook page or a Twitter account with significant followings (at least 1,000 on Facebook and at least 3,000 on Twitter)
  • Are they asking you to pay to do the giveaway or give them a freebie in addition to the giveaway prize? This is an automatic deal-killer for me.

People often get overwhelmed by the idea that they’ll never be done with marketing, but that’s the nature of running any business. We’re like sharks. We have to keep swimming, or we die. To make it easier, set small goals for yourself. If you make it a point to get 10 new Twitter followers a day, by the end of the year, you’ll have gained 3,650 followers! If you get 100 new Facebook likes on your fanpage per week, that’s 5200 new fans for your page in a year! That’s thousands more potential buyers for your shop. They won’t all buy, but again, that’s the nature of running any business.

Happy crafting!

-Lex

Do you have a crafty business question or just general crafty question you’d like to ask?

  • Send your questions to what.the.craft[at]gmail.com with your question!
  • Include your shop/blog/website URL with your question, and I’ll include it in the post if I choose to answer your question in the blog!
  • (Unless you’d prefer to be anonymous. In that case, just tell me you’d prefer to not be credited!)

 

Blog

So You Wanna Be An Indie Fashion Designer – Part 2

Posted on

In the Beginning
So you think you’ve got the skill down, and you’re ready to start selling? Fantastic. But not so fast, my friend. There are a few things to consider first.

Buy Handmade v-neck shirt by phippsart

Find a Niche
Before you can start making cash, you need to know what you’re going to sell and who you plan on selling it to. In my opinion, the best and easiest way to be a successful indie designer is to find a small, specific group of people to sell to, at least in the beginning.

Too often people try to cater to everyone, when they’d be better off focusing on a smaller group. You are not Wal-Mart. You can not compete with Wal-mart (at least not directly). You need to be the Anti-Wal-mart! High quality, hand made, unique goods are how you indirectly compete with big business. Offering a product or a unique design that people can only get from you is going to be what separates you from the competition and motivates customers to come back for more.Read more…