From Etsy to Redbubble to local markets and more, the creator community is more competitive than before. But with the larger and more widespread movement comes more opportunities – so there is no need to be afraid to dip your toe in. To help you be prepared (with your brand and ambition and wares), we’re going to explore:
- Researching to make it work
- Logo and branding your biz
- Online stores explained
- Selling face-to-face
Getting started selling your creations is a huge step, but whether you do it as a side hustle or a full-time job, it will be rewarding. So, let’s get started…
Researching to make it work
Step one is always to research others like yourself – how else are you going to know what not to do?
Check out other creators who make similar products or artwork to you and see what marketplaces they use, what their packaging is like, how they market themselves – this will all feed into your overall plan. You should also make sure to look into the more financial side of things like tax and accounting responsibilities, material costs and suppliers, not to mention any branding, marketing and location charges as these may be different for online and in-person events. It pays to prepare for these sorts of things – they’ll be no nasty surprises later on.
It’s best to take your time with all this – it’s too much to pack into one weekend of research (especially if it’s your job on the side). Give yourself smaller targets and tasks to do, for example – one night, task yourself with finding a list of similar brands. Once that’s complete, move on to researching one per day. You may even want to take a week or so to sort out the financials. Don’t rush it – that way mistakes lie.
The aim of all this is to define your journey to business and discover your niche.
Here are some materials you can use to support your research:
- The UK Government website – if you’re based in the UK, there is plenty of advice and guidance on setting up and taxing your business.
- Look at other creator stories like this one on Entrepreneur.com.
- Read books such as The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin and The E-myths Revisited: Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it by Michael E. Gerber – they’re full of handy hints and super-useful information for start-ups.
- Speak to your local crafting friends and Markers to see if they have any do’s or don’t’s.
- The Makers Business Toolkit is full of insight into the more business side of things too.
Logo and branding your biz
Part of your planning and research will no doubt be on branding and design. As a maker, it’s safe to assume you’re creative and used to making eye-catching or appealing things, so creating a brand should be easy, right? Wrong. There is a lot to consider.
A branding pack includes:
- Your logo
- Your brand identity
- Your brand ethos and values
- Your packaging,
- Your Tone of Voice for communications
There’s more too, but this is the start. It’s a lot, but there are things you can do to ease the work.
First up, don’t over-complicate it – keep it simple. Some of the most memorable logos are simple shapes like the Nike swoosh or the Apple apple.
Moreover, doing your logo a similar way means it’s more versatile – you can get a stamp made to imprint your logo on your tissue paper wrapping or thank you cards, or use a wax seal to close it up. These are particularly useful for hand-crafters as they add a personal touch and makes it unique.
It’s also recommended to get your branding into everything you do to increase familiarity with your audience. Use your chosen colours on your website, feed your brand beliefs into your packaging and use your product description to relate to your customers and reinforce your tone of voice. It all adds to your brand and business success.
Online stores explained
In the past few years, there has been an increase in the online creator marketplace. Long gone are the days of eBay, there’s now Etsy, Redbubble, Shopify and loads of ways to create personal online shops. From digital designs to tiny statues and jewellery, there’s an online storefront waiting for your arts and crafts, you just have to make sure you choose the right one for your creations.
Things to consider when choosing an online store platform:
- Transaction fees
- Seller charges
- Hosting costs
- Your product pricing
Your earlier research will no doubt have identified how many others there are in your marketplace selling similar products too, so you should use this information to price your products.
Within certain industries (handcrafted goods included) seeing an item up close and feeling the quality is a valuable opportunity to have, so selling in person is an option many makers take advantage of.
Look for your local craft fairs and markets, any maker festivals or local boutiques and consider galleries too. These kinds of locations are ideal for creators as they value individuality and handcrafted care. Customers can also see and feel the products themselves which isn’t an option with online sales. This access will probably help your local audience become familiar with your brand and products and hopefully lead to continued support.
Luckily, everything you do for your online sales can translate into your in-person sales too. Your branding and packaging are still needed, as is your logo on business cards and for use on stalls and stands. Just remember to consider the costs of these methods (stall fees, consignment fees, etc).
Overall, we can see how there are loads of opportunities to sell your handmade arts and crafts in person or online through Etsy and the like, but you have to be more than a Creator. You have to be a business person, a marketer, a communicator and a salesperson. When creating your online or in-person Maker business, you have to be able to wear a lot of different hats, so take all the advice you can and learn what works for you and your wares.