BizzyMommy: Secrets to Making Money With Crafts

By Liz Folger


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How hard can it really be? You like making crafts, people "tell" you they like what you make and that you should start your own business. So you decide, "What the heck, I'll make a few bucks and try to sell my creations."

Is it really that easy? Can just anyone make money in the crafting business? I had the privilege of interviewing crafting expert Barbara Brabec. She shared several tips that I hope makes you a bundle of money.

While people may start their crafting business out as a hobby, it can soon evolve into a money making operation. This isn't always a smooth transition. So I asked Barbara what's the best way to turn your hobby into a home business. She explains, "Change your attitude if you want to get serious about it. You need to decide you want to make money, and you need that money. The only people who can make a living in a crafts business are those who decide to get serious about money and profits." So if you've been tinkering with the idea of actually selling your crafts, but haven't really put your heart into it, now is the time to decide if you want to continue as a hobby or make it a business.

Make Crafts that Make Money

Now there's a good chance you'll create what you like, but what about your future customers? Will they like it as much as you? It's easy to get attached to your work and think everyone will have the same warm fuzzy feelings about your products as you do. Think again. "The biggest mistake crafters can make - is to make what they want to make and not what people want to buy," explains Barbara. As with any new product or service, test marketing is key to any crafter's success.

Barbara knows of a lady who creates jewelry. Her test marketing consists of wearing her new piece around town. If she gets two people who comment on how beautiful it is, she knows she has something. If no one says "boo", she comes to grips with the fact that this piece of jewelry probably isn't going to make her any money. Other crafters will make 3 or 4 of their new crafts and try to sell them along with their other pieces. "If it's hot and it's sold quickly, you are either selling too low or it's hot," explains Barbara, which brings us to our next point.

How to Market and Sell Your Crafts

How much to charge? Pricing is a topic that is discussed in all of Barbara's books. "Most people can't tell you the cost, overhead, or the time put into a craft," says Barbara. When making your crafts be sure you include your time and expenses to come up with a price that will, in the end, make you money. "This is very critical," explains Barbara. "It all goes back to your attitude. Why are you doing this if not profit?"

While craft/street fairs are still a great place to sell your wares, don't discount the power of the Internet. Barbara did a search for craft galleries on the Net awhile back and received a return of about 7 million sites. "There are so many crafters who feel that if they put up a web page, people will automatically visit their site." says Barbara. "The only way to sell on the Internet is to apply the same marketing you use off the Internet. Your site needs to be attractively designed and easy to navigate." Once your site is nice to look at, it's time to let people know it's there." It's like having a nice-looking brochure, but never sending it out," says Barbara, "It's the same with the Internet, you need to advertise." Barbara promotes her website by including her web address in all her articles and books. She also recommends that all your business cards, brochures and any other material you might have includes your URL so people can reorder from you later. "It's like adding a back porch to your business." says Barbara.

Barbara will admit that no one is selling a lot on the Net, but they are selling something. She explains, "Look at it as a way to expand your business. Get on now and learn, so you can know what's going on." Maintaining your own site can be very time consuming. Barbara hires someone to maintain her site and recommends you think about doing the same. Is it more profitable for you to work on your crafts or your web site? "It's wonderful to be on the Web, but it's a time hog." Barbara recommends for the beginner, "Get into an established site, join an online gallery or other sites that sell your types of products." But don't think you won't have to promote it. Constant promotion, both on and offline, is key.

Quick Tips From Barbara

  • Resell to current existing buyers. A big mistake crafters make - is failing to sell to their existing customers. Barbara recommends you collect names and addresses of those who have bought from you before. That way you can notify them of new products you're making and what fairs you'll be attending.

  • Pay close attention to current trends. Be sure to keep up with what colors are hot because they change every year.

  • Be sure you aren't selling what all the hobbyists are selling. There is a fine line between giving your customers what they want, and yet still using your creative side. Always keep trying new ideas. You can't build a business on patterns of others. Copyright issues can be a problem in the crafting world, so be sure to check out Barbara's book "The Crafts Business Answer Book and Resource Guide" which goes into great detail of copyrighted material and fabrics. Don't violate the legal rights of others! Make your own patterns. Barbara has heard of people who said they couldn't draw a straight line yet ended up making a nice living from their craft business. The longer you craft the more creative you will become. It's just a natural skill you can develop.

  • The biggest reason most crafters fail to make money with their businesses is a lack of business management skills. It's not just crafters, any business can run into the ground because of this. The facts are, not all creative people can manage money and time.

  • Don't get locked into the thought that the only way you can make money in crafting is to sell the products you've made. Some of the most successful people Barbara knows go on to write, teach, sell their designs or publish their own books. Teaching is a great way to make money in the crafting field. For information on how to profit from writing, teaching, designing or self-publishing, see Barbara's book, "Creative Cash".

More Resources From Barbara

Books


Liz Folger is a Work-at-Home Expert and author of The Stay-at-Home Mom's Guide to Making Money from Home.

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