Who doesn’t want to sell more handmade products? Of course, that’s what every handmade business owner is after. But there’s a common misconception when it comes to sales.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from business owners when wondering why they don’t sell more handmade products:

People love my work, but they’re not buying!

 

I’ve said the words myself.

 

The problem is; you can’t go by what people say, you have to go by what people buy.

 

It’s easy for someone to say “that’s really nice”. We all do it and probably say or think it a hundred times when we’re shopping at a craft show or the mall.

 

But when it comes time to put our money where our mouth is, although an item may be “nice”, we may not be willing to let go of our hard-earned cash for it.

 

There are millions of nice things in this world that we could spend our money on but we all have limited funds.

 

Compliments don’t pay the bills so let’s find out why people are saying they love your work but not actually buying it. Here’s how you can sell more handmade products.

 

BEFORE WE BEGIN, FIRST CHECK…

 

Are you attracting enough shoppers?

 

The first step to selling more handmade is attracting shoppers to your sales channel (your website, Etsy shop, craft show booth, etc.).

 

If you don’t have enough shoppers to generate the sales you want to achieve, the tips in this article won’t help.

 

So what’s considered “enough shoppers”?

 

The average eCommerce conversion rate is 1 – 2%.

 

That’s it!

 

That means, a social media post, on average, must drive 100 people to an online shop to make one sale.

 

So if you take a look at your social media posts and only a few people are clicking on the link, it may mean your marketing needs some improving.

 

Check out:

 

 

 

 

If your Etsy shop isn’t attracting many visitors, there is one major key you may be missing. Check out:

 

 

If you’re using a newsletter to market your products, again, look at your conversion rates.

 

There are a few newsletter conversion rates to be aware of:

  • Sign-ups
  • Opens
  • Clicks
  • Purchases
  • Unsubscribes

 

Determine where you’re losing people and why that may be.

 

For example, if no one is opening your emails, take a look at your content. Is it too promotional? Is it triggering spam filters? Are the subject lines not interesting? Are you sending emails too frequently, or not frequently enough?

 

To improve your newsletter conversion rates and get more people signing up, opening emails, clicking links, and fewer people unsubscribing, check out the following:

 

 

 

 

Once you’ve worked on your marketing and have enough traffic coming to your sales channel, work on the following points in this article to convert more of those shoppers into customers.

 

 

4 REASONS YOUR SHOPPERS AREN’T BUYING

 

If your sales channels (e.g. website, Etsy shop, craft show booth, etc.) are attracting lots of shoppers, but those shoppers aren’t buying, it may be because of one or more of the following reasons:

 

 

REASON #1 YOUR HANDMADE SALES ARE LOW – PEOPLE ARE JUST BEING NICE


 

If you’re hearing “I love your work!” but have no sales, is it possible people are just being kind?

 

Let’s get the harsh, hard to swallow possibility out of the way first. There’s no shame here, we’ve all been there. I’ve had to take a hard look at all the businesses I’ve started and be really critical.

 

There hasn’t been one product or service I’ve offered in my 15+ years of being an entrepreneur that didn’t require me swallowing my pride, going back to the drawing board, and changing what I thought I got right.

 

Of course, my first reaction when questioning if I might actually have a bad product or service was to get defensive. No way! So many people have said what a great idea it is and that they’d totally buy one. There must be another reason I’m not selling more.

 

But if, at the end of the day, no one is buying; how good could my product/service really be?

 

I had to decide; did I want to be right (in my own mind) or did I want to sell more?

 

Once I accepted that my business might not be as amazing as I thought it was, I was able to look at it with a critical eye and make the necessary changes.

 

 

HOW TO KNOW IF A SHOPPER IS JUST BEING NICE & DOESN’T ACTUALLY LOVE YOUR WORK

 

Offline

  • shoppers look from a distance
  • shoppers don’t pick anything up
  • shoppers don’t ask any questions
  • shoppers don’t stay long at your craft show table

 

Online

  • lots of likes and comments but no views/clicks
  • not many likes or views
  • low website traffic and product inquiries

 

 

HOW TO SELL MORE HANDMADE PRODUCTS IN THIS SCENARIO

You’ve come to the realization that maybe people don’t like your product as much as they say they do.

 

Don’t get discouraged. This is all a part of running a handmade business (or any business for that matter) and I actually think this is the fun part.

 

You get to go back to the drawing board and be creative. You can brainstorm new ideas, test new handmade products, and shake things up a little.

 

But you’ll need to be strategic if you’re going to make changes to your handmade products. Don’t guess what needs to change and which features might make your products better. Do your research.

 

Check out:

 

 

 

REASON #2 YOUR HANDMADE SALES ARE LOW – YOU’RE TARGETING THE WRONG MARKET


 

Although your handmade products are unique, they’re still competing with thousands of other businesses.

 

To stand out and take some sales away from your competitors, you must offer something that’s better suited for their customers.

 

Many small business owners don’t want to get too specific when it comes to who they’re targeting because they think it will mean fewer sales. But it’s actually the opposite that’s true.

 

Think about it this way…

 

HOW DO YOU SHOP?

Everybody buys toilet paper. And we typically reach for the most familiar brands; Charmin, Cottonelle, Angel Soft, No Name, etc.

If a new toilet paper brand appeared on the shelves, or appeared in your Facebook feed, or was advertised in a magazine…

What would make you pay attention to it?

If it were simply another basic toilet paper, you’d likely ignore it and stick with your favorite brand.

It would only stand out to you and get you to buy if it was better suited for you.

There are already too many businesses selling toilet paper made for everyone; it’s hard for a toilet paper business to stand out.

But imagine a toilet paper brand made for:

>> Women with sensitive skin

>> Children going through potty training

>> Homeowners who have composting toilets

A business targeting a specific type of customer has an opportunity to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie, rather than the crumbs from a big pie.

For example, a new toilet paper brand targeting men and women who use toilet paper (big pie) is competing with hundreds of other businesses (most of which are already dominating the market) and will likely only capture a few sales (crumbs).

On the other hand, a new toilet paper brand that targets moms potty training their kids (smaller pie) has the opportunity to turn almost every potty training mom into a customer (big piece of pie) because there isn’t another business on the market specifically serving their needs.

 

You must think about your handmade business in the same way.

 

There are thousands, maybe even millions of jewelry, soap, art, crochet, etc. businesses selling products that vary only slightly from each other.

 

So when a business creates jewelry for women, or soap for men and women, or art for homeowners, etc. it’s competing for the crumbs of a very big piece of pie.

 

Instead, a small business must target a more specific market of people and alter their products, marketing, website, selling techniques, etc. to appear to that market.

 

 

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE TARGETING THE WRONG MARKET

Some of these situations may indicate there’s an issue with who you’re targeting:

 

Offline

  • You get a wide variety of people stopping at your craft show booth (as opposed to: everyone who stops is a mom, or is a camper, or is getting married, etc.)
  • People you think should stop, just keep walking
  • No one is crazy for your items; they’re sort of ho-hum about them
  • You’re unable to create connections with your shoppers / you can’t find anything in common with them

 

Online

  • You don’t have organic traffic (i.e. you must pay for ads to get traffic) because your content doesn’t speak to anyone specific
  • When you do pay for ads, you don’t know who to target and the ads are ineffective
  • You have a wide variety of social media followers or not very many followers
  • You don’t know where to find customers

 

 

HOW TO SELL MORE HANDMADE PRODUCTS IN THIS SCENARIO

You must take a look at who your business is targeting and determine if it’s too vague.

 

If you’ve defined your target market or ideal customer based on demographics alone (e.g. gender, age, marital status, etc.), it’s likely that you haven’t gotten specific enough about your target market.

 

The information you use to define your target market must help you find your customers.

 

Your customers are out there forming in groups. It’s much easier and more effective to market to groups so you’re not selling one-by-one.

 

You must choose an existing group to target, determine what the people in that group have in common, and then use that information to alter your business so it’s more appealing to that group of people.

 

There’s one trick to choosing the right target market for your business. If you don’t know who your business targets, or are targeting a very broad market (e.g. women in their 30’s), check out:

 

 

REASON #3 YOUR HANDMADE SALES ARE LOW – YOUR PRODUCTS AREN’T PRICED RIGHT


 

When people land on your website or visit your craft show booth, your prices may be throwing sales off.

 

PRICES MAY BE TOO HIGH

I would never suggest a handmade business owner randomly drop their product’s prices. And I’m not suggesting you cut corners, undervalue your work, or set prices based on your competitors’, just to sell more handmade products.

 

In most cases, handmade vendors under-price their work. But if you’re starting out and using the common pricing formula: materials + time = cost, cost x 2 = wholesale price, wholesale price x 2 = retail price (or something similar), it may just be that your material and time costs are too high, which will drive up your prices.

 

If the amount of time you put into a handmade product is pushing the price higher than people are willing to pay, you don’t have a sustainable business.

 

Think about it this way…

 

HOW DO YOU SHOP?

Let’s say you’re shopping for a basic white t-shirt. If you found two very similar styles and quality of shirts at two stores, one selling it for $30 and the other for $25, which store would you purchase from?

Shoppers never want to pay more than they need to. So if they can buy a similar handmade product, of similar quality, and pay less, they will. It’s not about getting into a pricing war with your competitors; it’s about showing the shoppers who come to you, why your handmade products are worth the price and giving them more reasons to buy from you than not to.

Shoppers will pay more for a brand. Let’s say the $30 t-shirt is in your favorite store. You love shopping there. The staff are so friendly, the smells, sights and sounds are always amazing, the vibe is cool and you love carrying around their branded shopping bag and unwrapping your purchase once you get home.

The $25 shirt is in a store you’re not as familiar with. You don’t get a great feeling when you walk in the store, there’s not much attention to detail and you have a hard time finding help.

In this case, you may see the $30 shirt in your favorite store, know you can probably find a similar product at another store, but not bother to look because you’re willing to pay $30 for the experience, convenience, and quality you know they offer.

 

Shoppers are always comparing your business and products to your competitors’. For them to buy from you, they must be able to justify paying more for your product and see the value in paying more.

 

 

PRICES MAY BE TOO LOW

There’s also the other side of the spectrum; you may be pricing your handmade products too low. If shoppers think your prices are lower than they should be, you could be sending the wrong message.

 

Shoppers assume low prices mean low quality or that they’re making some other type of sacrifice (e.g. poor labor standards, materials are bad for the environment, etc.).

 

A handmade business can also lose a bit of their credibility when prices are too low.

 

When I come across a pair of earrings priced at $5 and another pair priced at $30, I automatically think the vendor selling the $30 earrings has more experience and knowledge in jewelry making. They seem more authentic and are confident enough to charge that price because they know the value of their work.

 

It’s easy to think: the price is so low, why wouldn’t someone buy? Everyone can afford it. 

 

But that’s not always the case.

 

Think about it this way…

 

HOW DO YOU SHOP?

Let’s go back to shopping for that basic white t-shirt. This time, imagine shopping online where you can’t examine the product. Again, you come across two stores. The shirts look identical but one is priced at $5 and one at $30.

Do you think you’ll be getting the same quality t-shirt if you go with the $5 one over the $30? I’d assume the material is thinner, it likely won’t wear or wash as well, and I won’t get through a year before it starts to wear out.

$5 may be great if you’re looking for something cheap to throw on under sweaters. But if you’re looking for a classic white tee you can wear for years to come, feel good when you put it on, and get a great fit, you’ll probably go with the $30 t-shirt.

 

Price alone can lead shoppers to make assumptions about your products, which may not necessarily be true. Make sure your prices reflect the value you’re providing.

 

 

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR PRICES ARE TOO HIGH OR LOW

Some of these situations may indicate there’s an issue with your pricing:

Offline

  • If people at a craft show stop at your table after something catches their eye but they don’t end up buying
  • If they spend a lot of time in your booth but don’t buy
  • If they put items down after learning the price
  • If they buy your lower priced items

 

Online

  • If views are high but sales are low
  • If lots of people make it to your shopping cart page but don’t buy – they may have had second thoughts based on the price
  • If your bounce rate is high – people follow a link to your product, learn the price then leave without visiting other pages or learning more
  • If the average time spent on your website is low – something changed their mind quickly

 

 

HOW TO SELL MORE HANDMADE PRODUCTS IN THIS SCENARIO

 

PRICED TOO HIGH

If your work is priced higher than average for a reason, you must clearly explain that reason to help shoppers understand your prices.

 

If you want to sell more, you also must be sure every aspect of your business says your handmade products are worth their price.

 

What surrounds your products (e.g. website design, craft show props, customer service, etc.) will either raise the perceived value of your products or lower it.

 

If you feel your sales would benefit from lowering the prices of your handmade products, you must first lower your costs. Otherwise, you’re eating into your profits and you have to sell more to make the same amount of money. Check out:

 

 

PRICED TOO LOW

If you believe your handmade products are priced too low, simply start raising your prices. Many handmade vendors are skeptical about making an increase in price and believe it may harm their sales. But if you’re currently unhappy with how much handmade product you sell, what’s the harm in bumping the price up and seeing where it gets you?

 

Many handmade business owners have reported they sell more product when they raise their prices.

 

Again, be sure the elements that surround your handmade products support your price point. If your photos, descriptions, packaging, etc. are lackluster, the higher price point may not help communicate higher value and you still won’t sell more.

 

If you need help increasing the perceived value of your handmade products at a craft show and creating a display that supports your prices, check out:

 

 

REASON #4 YOUR HANDMADE SALES ARE LOW – YOUR SELLING TECHNIQUES NEED HELP


 

I know, you likely don’t enjoy selling but if you want to sell more, it’s necessary. You definitely can get away with less selling at a craft show if every other aspect of your display is on point, but even then, you need to give the shopper a little attention.

 

When it comes to selling online, the same applies. Your description is your sales pitch and all other elements (your product title, photos, bio, policies, etc.) need to play a supporting role and tell shoppers: you can trust me and you’ll be making a good decision if buy from me.

 

Not many products sell themselves and most shoppers need help picturing a product in their lives.

 

Think about it this way…

 

HOW DO YOU SHOP?

When’s the last time you saw something and bought it without a second thought? There was no display, no photos of the item on the model, no sales pitch, and no signage pointing out the benefits.

Most of the time, there are hints from the seller, telling you: you need this product. It may be a mannequin in the front window helping you imagine the entire outfit (not just showing the top or an accessory on its own). Maybe the salesperson told you: That face cream is our top seller. I use it every day and couldn’t live without it. Or it could have been the packaging that pointed out the 100% organic ingredients used.

If you simply set your handmade products on the table or post a photo online, without much information aside from the price and what the item is, you’re leaving it up to the shopper to talk themselves into needing your product. Which doesn’t happen often unless they’re already familiar with the product or the brand.

There are times when you rummage through products and decide to buy without the persuasion of the seller. But generally, it takes you longer to get to the “sold” point and it’s you selling yourself on the idea of owning it. You might pick up an item, examine it, tilt your head and try to imagine how you might wear it, where you might place it in your home, or consider if you’d enjoy using it.

Your shoppers may also sell themselves on your handmade products without any persuasion from you. However, they’ll likely need more time to think about it before purchasing, during which, another vendor may sell them one of their products. Shoppers also don’t have all the information needed to make a decision unless you share it with them. How do they know the gem used in the ring is vintage and from Europe? Or that the yarn used to knit your hats can be washed and won’t lose its color or shape? How would a shopper know the benefits of charcoal soap if you don’t tell them?

 

If you want to sell more handmade, don’t assume your shoppers know everything you know about your products or the materials/ingredients/techniques you use, and the benefits of them.

 

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR SALES TECHNIQUES NEED HELP

 

Offline

  • shoppers spend a lot of time in your booth but don’t buy
  • they ask a lot of questions but don’t buy
  • they’re interested in your products but start to back off when your sales pitch starts
  • they walk away but come back later to buy – they had to convince themselves; your pitch didn’t quite do it.

 

Online

  • people spend a lot of time on your product pages but don’t purchase
  • you receive a lot of emails asking questions about your products
  • your description is one sentence
  • you only have one photo of your product

 

HOW TO SELL MORE HANDMADE PRODUCTS IN THIS SCENARIO

Selling doesn’t have to be complicated or hard. You just need to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. What do they care about when shopping for handmade products like yours? Which features are they looking for? What are their concerns?

 

*These questions become much easier to answer when you know your customers.

 

First, switch from the mindset of a maker to one of a shopper. We’re often so close to our work, we talk to shoppers as though they’re our colleagues, with the same knowledge of products, materials, techniques, terms, etc. as us.

 

For example, someone who sells soap may label their bars as “cold-processed”. Other soap vendors may know what that means and the benefits of cold-process soap. But I personally have no idea…..and I buy a lot of handmade soap.

 

ONLINE

If you need help with your online descriptions, please check out:

 

Your product photos should also tell a story and help shoppers imagine your products in their lives.

 

Use photos to put your products into perspective.

>> If you’re selling a winter scarf, how will your customers wear it? It will be with a winter jacket, not a t-shirt. So, don’t photograph a wool scarf on a bare mannequin or on your friend who’s wearing a t-shirt and is standing outside in the middle of summer. Help your shoppers imagine how they might look wearing that scarf; the type of winter jacket, the color, how it will be wrapped, other winter accessories they may wear with it, etc.

>> If you’re selling a piece of art, where do you imagine your customers hanging it in their home? What will surround it? Hanging a piece of bedroom art above a dresser that has a lamp and stack of books will give shoppers a better idea of how big the piece is and how it could look in their home.

 

Setting up this type of photoshoot requires more work but it will help with sales. There’s a reason major retailers put a lot of time and effort into photographing their products (it pays off!)

 

Check out:

 

 

 

OFFLINE

If your in-person selling at craft shows needs a little help, you’ll find loads of tips in:

 

And if you’re shy, quiet, or introverted and would prefer to use selling techniques that don’t require speaking (or requires very little) check out:

 

When your craft show display is on-point, it can do most of the selling for you. Be sure to check out the free email challenge:

 

 

 

Have another theory as to why people say they love an item but don’t buy? Share in the comment section below!

 

 

Links mentioned in the article:




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