If you’re struggling to make sales in your small handmade business, one of my first suggestions is to take a look at your products. When you have a great product, people brag about it for you, write good reviews, become repeat customers and if they own a shop, they carry it in their store. Having a great product also helps take pressure off when it comes to marketing and selling.
When I was writing my first ebook MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS I didn’t know what kind of response it would get. I knew I wanted to write something people could really relate to and I wanted to inspire people and get them excited to work on their business.
At least once a week I receive an email, comment or social media message from someone who’s so excited about what they’re reading and even though they’re only a few pages in, they want to tell me how much love it. It’s honestly a better response than I could have ever imagined.
With each new message, I’m reminded I really did follow the right formula when putting together my ebook and to continue to put the same effort in moving forward.
I know, I know. You’re not writing an ebook, you’re selling a handmade product. You can still use the same techniques to come up with a product people rave about. It takes some deep thought but is pretty simple and super effective.
Hold up! Before you skip over this sectionthinking “Ya ya. Narrow down my niche, define my ICP, get specific…I know that already.” Take a minute to read over the exercise. It’s an angle to think about your customer in a way you probably haven’t and I think it will make a big impact on your products.
You’ve heard it before and you’re going to hear it again. And again. And again. You must find a niche.
Get so specific with who your customer is, it’s like you’re selling to one person and one person only.
It helps if you know this person or have a general idea of them. It may be a friend or family member or someone who has shopped from you before. You don’t need to know every detail of their lives but you should be able to describe the basics and fill in the blanks with your best guesses. This ensures you’re building an authentic profile and not making up a fantasy customer who doesn’t exist (i.e. She has amazing taste…an existing wardrobe that works perfectly with all my pieces…and she has an unlimited budget to spend on my products.)
I know it can feel a little scary narrowing your customer down to one person but it really is incredibly helpful and doesn’t mean people who don’t fit the profile won’t buy from you.
Instead, it’s going to help shoppers imagine using your product because they can picture exactly how they’ll look or feel. In a way it helps weed out people who hem and haw, likely never to buy and allows you to focus on those who will become loyal customers.
Think of it this way; imagine a popular fashion designer. When they design a new collection and organize a fashion show, they don’t create a look that appeals to as many people as possible or change their vision to cater to different tastes. They define the man or woman they envision wearing their clothes and create an entire show around that. From the models they cast to the hair and makeup the models wear. Everyone who walks down that runway is a version of their ideal customer. They tell us who their products are for and how they should be worn. And they’re celebrated and respected because of their clear vision and ability to lead the way.
Don’t be wishy-washy by offering one product for a certain type of person and the next product for someone who’s the complete opposite. Decide who you’re going after and make every element of your product, display and brand tailored to that person.
Make customers feel they’re buying from a trendsetter they’re willing to change their style or routine for (not the other way around where you’re changing your vision and being persuaded by each new customer).
Before you can appeal to the masses, you need to start by appealing to one.
Imagine one person came to you and said “I’ll pay you to create products exclusively for me for a full year. If you do a good job, I’ll hire you again next year.”
What would you need to know to tailor your products perfectly to that person?
You don’t want to present items they’d never wear or use. You want to wow them and get all the details right, which requires having a deep understanding of that customer and knowing all the little details that make them tick.
When thinking about who I wanted to write MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS for, I imagined myself, over 10 years ago, when I was asked to participate in my first craft fair. I was shy and quiet, hated selling but loved creating. I was unorganized and always tired the day of an event from staying up late the night before to prep. I had no idea what to say to strangers shopping my table and felt annoyed with myself at the end of the day for being so awkward. Why can’t you just say hi and speak to people normally as you do with friends?
I recalled all the thoughts that would run through my head as I would walk into a space full of veteran craft fair vendors or watch a customer shop my table. I remembered the things I did wrong that make me cringe now and the way I compared myself to other vendors who seemed to have it all together.
I wrote MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS with that person in mind. I know there are likely a lot of people who have read my ebook and are nothing like me. But just because I was specific about the type of person I wanted to help doesn’t mean others won’t find the information valuable.
Imagining a specific customer brought up topics I might not thought of otherwise. It allowed me to get detailed and personal. Which in turn, I believe has helped me bond with those who have similar thoughts, fears and insecurities.
Let’s imagine you sell jewelry and a customer hired you full time to create pieces for them. What type of questions would you ask so you could create pieces they love? You may want to know their:
If you’re still skeptical about narrowing down your customer, think about this:
Is someone more likely to see that customer wearing your necklace, looking perfectly pulled together and think, “Wow, they look amazing. But that necklace isn’t for me. I never wear that color and I’ve never worn my hair
Or would they be more inclined think, “Wow, that person looks amazing. I want to try that look. I never thought of wearing that color or my hair like that but I think it could work.”
That’s exactly why it’s more powerful to be specific with who your ideal customer is than be vague, hoping to appeal to a wider range of people.
Once you define the questions, answer them as the customer to create a profile. The idea is to define every detail about this person as though you’re creating a product customized specifically to their needs and wants.
From there you can think about how to apply their preferences to your products. What can you tweak or change to make your products more appealing to your customer?
Most of the time we start our businesses by creating products for ourselves. They’re items we couldn’t find so we decide to make them. Typically, we are our ideal customer. This makes it easy to get inside your customer’s head and figure out their thought patterns.
What were you frustrated with before you started making your products? Maybe you couldn’t find on-trend jewelry at an affordable price that didn’t fall apart the 2nd time you wore it. You may have started knitting scarves because it was hard to find ones made from cruelty-free wool. Or perhaps you started making soap because you couldn’t find one that was a fit for your skin type and effective.
Imagine that customer you defined in the last step and think about their wandering thoughts when it comes to the different aspects of your products. What are the hopes, fears and frustrations they might only share with their closest friends?
This is a technique you may have heard before through ideas like Dave Gray’s empathy mapping or exercises that get deep into describing your ideal client through role-play. I love Marie Forleo’s take on it, encouraging people to create a product so fitting for their ideal customer, they feel as though their phones have been tapped. Imagine you’re listening in on a private conversation your ideal customer is having with someone they really trust. They’re not holding anything back and are spilling some of their deepest thoughts.
What might they say about shopping for products in your category? What frustrates them? What are they embarrassed to admit? Who do they compare themselves to? What do they hope no one else notices? What do they wish was out there to solve their problem? Go through all the pains and gains; their frustrations and their hopes.
When I was planning the content for my ebook, I imagined a conversation I might have had when I was selling at craft fairs:
I’m so frustrated with my last craft fair. I spent so much time preparing and so
much money to be a vendor, hire a helper and stock my space. But I barely
covered the cost of my table. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. The vendor
across from me was selling a similar product and they were way busier than me.
I overheard them saying their sales were really high for the day. There were
lots of people at the event but most just passed by my table. And those that
did stop, I didn’t know what to say. I felt so awkward. Maybe I’m just not cut
out for this.
I’m tired of clicking from website to website and reading the same information that only scratches the surface. I just want someone to tell me what I’m doing wrong and to walk me through what I should be doing, from start to finish.
I kept writing until I had explored every hope, dream and fear I had or could imagine. I thought about all areas of selling at a craft fair and the questions that would come up if a person had never sold at one before. I also recalled the insecurities I had when I was selling at craft fairs, the mistakes I made and elements that contributed to my wins.
This not only helped me define my product and its details, it also helped me write the sales text for the ebook to communicate exactly who it’s for.
Let’s imagine the ideal customer we began outlining in the last step. What would be her frustrations and interests when it came to shopping for jewelry? Perhaps the conversation would sound something like this:
I need to update my wardrobe. I’m so tired of spending money on new clothes that are out of style within a year though. I’d like to use the clothes I currently
have and just update them. Jewelry would be a great way to do that. I need bold
pieces though, something that really stands. I also have a ton of neutrals in
my wardrobe so it would be nice to add color with a statement necklace. I want
to be able to wear it with jeans and a t-shirt for weekends, a collared shirt
for work or a dress for all the weddings I have this summer. I also love
matching my nail polish and lipstick to my jewelry, it’s such a great way to
pull a look together.
I don’t want to spend a fortune but I also don’t want something that’s cheaply
made. I bought a couple statement necklaces last summer and the metal wasn’t
finished properly so it scratched my skin and snagged my sweaters. It was also
really heavy. Definitely not something I could wear for longer than a couple
hours. And the claps got tangled in my hair. Unless I wore my hair up I’d end
up having to rip it out of the clasp before I could take the necklace off.
The toggle closures are so much better. I wonder where I could find something
From there, the jewelry maker may choose the top 3 ideas to research and consider implementing:
If you let your mind wander it will come up with all kinds of ideas you may never thought of.
Imagine a conversation between your ideal customer and a trusted friend or family member. They’re in the market for your product but are frustrated by what’s currently out there. What might they say?
Then think about changes you can make to your existing products or new products you can introduce to solve some of their problems.
People don’t line up for average products, they don’t rave about them to friends and they don’t come back for more. Think about what you’re selling and how it’s delivered. Is there an aspect people rave about or you’d like them to rave about? It may be the quality, quantity, type of materials, design, customer service, etc.
If someone were to rave about your product, what would they say? This one may be a bit more exaggerated as people don’t typically go on and on about every little detail but just imagine they’re that excited about it.
When it came to MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS I really wanted people to say or think the following:
Wow, this ebook covers it all! It answers every single question I’ve ever had about
craft fairs and addresses all my concerns. I love how it’s laid out and it has
really helped me think about my business, the changes I need to make and create
a clear plan to follow. I’ve bought a lot of books that just collect dust on the shelf but this one has kept me motivated the whole way through and left me with a ton of actionable advice. This is the only guide I’ll ever need when it comes to selling at craft fairs. I’ve gotten so many ideas for my business by filling out the worksheets and after implementing just a few, I’m already seeing big results. Well worth the money I paid! I feel recharged and excited about my business again.
Starting with an end goal helped me keep my focus and constantly move in the right direction. After writing a section and creating the worksheets I had to get honest and ask myself if it was clear and easy to understand, going to make a difference in someone’s business and if people would have an “aha moment” after reading it. It really has been amazing to actually hear people say these things about the ebook and not just imagine them being said.
Let’s imagine the ideal jewelry customer again. What would a necklace have to look and feel like for them to rave about it? What would that conversation sound like? You can start by addressing how you’d solve all the frustrations that came up in the last step.
OMG! I just bought the most ah-mah-zang necklace! It is so my style. It’s a beautiful watermelon pink and neon yellow. It looks amazing against my tan and I have the perfect watermelon pink lipstick and nail polish I’m going to pair it with. The necklace is big and bold but is lightweight so it doesn’t feel heavy after wearing it all day. It’s also really well made; there are no unfinished edges that rub against my skin or catch my hair. I can wear it with a simple white t-shirt, a little black dress or that colorful sundress I’m wearing to brunch on Saturday. I also got a matching ring that looks so trendy. I can’t wait to wear everything out.
This really helps you get realistic about what type of products are rave-worthy. No one is going to brag about a necklace that’s so-so, they don’t know where or how they’re going to wear it and can find something similar in any department store. The customer needs to be excited about the product and feel like it’s perfect for them.
You could also imagine your dream review. If someone were to leave the best feedback you could imagine, what would it say?
Once you’ve brainstormed the details customers might rave about, you can begin to look into ways to implement them.
Leave a comment and let me know if these exercises helped you!
If you liked this article, you may also enjoy these reads: