“I’VE TRIED EVERYTHING AND STILL…
A sale is a sale but a part of me always felt a little less excited when it came from a friend or family member. I appreciated their support but desperately wanted the validation of having customers who purchased because they loved my handbags, not because they loved me.
We all start our businesses to make money and nothing is more frustrating than having sales sporadically trickle in, despite our best efforts. And when those sales are coming from friends and family, the number of people we can sell to is limited.
Low sales don’t just apply to new businesses either.
I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve read from Etsy sellers who have seen their sales drop by half and are trying to get them back up by frantically making changes and paying for ads. Craft show vendors are having a harder time making sales as the events get bigger and more competitive in their category. And with site builders like Shopify and Squarespace making it easier than ever to build a website, more and more are showing up each day, making that coveted first page of Google harder to reach.
But a saturated market is no excuse for low sales. Every industry has competition and if restaurant owners threw in the towel because someone else was selling burgers, we wouldn’t have thousands of burger joints to choose from.
It doesn’t matter the category you sell under or the type of product you make; everyone has the ability to bring in consistent sales.
So why’s everyone struggling to make sales?!
Makers get an idea for a product and then look for people to buy it. When sales don’t come pouring in they try:
- selling through a different platform
- signing up for more craft shows
- re-vamping their website
- joining a new social media platform
- paying for ads
- running a promotion
- creating more products
But chances are, it’s not one piece of the puzzle that’s not working. It’s lots of little problems that add up to one big problem: no sales.
There isn’t a lack of advice or opinions when it comes to what a small business must do to be successful. We’re all looking for a magic bullet but the truth is, the successful businesses aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary; they simply have their ducks in a row and work strategically.
Taking a handmade business from making a few sales each month to a full-time venture requires more information than can be provided in an article. But check in with the steps below to see how your business stacks up and download the full ebook if you need more guidance.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO SELL BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY?
My approach to finding new customers is to think about the end goal; a sale. Then work backward to determine how exactly that sale happened.
You’ve just sold one of your items:
>> how did the sale come through? (Etsy? Craft show? A boutique?)
>> who purchased? (Specifically. We need to know more than: female, age 20 – 30)
>> what did they fill their shopping bag with?
>> why did they decide to buy from you rather than the five other businesses they encountered that day?
>> why were they drawn to your business?
>> where were they when they saw your business and were drawn to it?
>> what time of the day, week, month, and year were they shopping for your products?
This is a much different process than making a product, listing it on Etsy, and hoping it sells.
I’ll help you answer each question in the ebook so you know exactly how to make sales outside of friends and family.
WHY THIS EBOOK IS DIFFERENT
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to business. You’re unique, your products are unique, and your customers are unique, so your business strategies must be unique.
No one can give you an exact formula for success.
The basic steps to a sale are the same, but the details within those steps are different for each business.
For example, a business needs a sales channel to make a sale, but Etsy will be a better sales channel for some businesses than craft shows.
Setting up a sales channel is a step, while choosing the best sales channel to focus on is a detail only you can determine.
In this ebook, I teach you the steps required to make a sale and help you uncover the details within each step based on you, your business, and your customers.
And below is a brief overview of what I’ll help you uncover in the ebook and the steps we’ll go through.
STEP 1 – FIND THE BEST SALES CHANNEL(S)
How are your customers most likely to buy from you? At a craft show? Online? Through a boutique?
Some items are better suited to be sold in person at craft shows or in a store, while others thrive online. You need to understand your customers and how they’re most likely to shop for and buy your type of products.
Not every platform is right for every product.
STEP 2: KNOW WHO WILL BE BUYING
You don’t choose an outfit before you know where you’re going. You don’t plan a route before you know the destination. And you shouldn’t make a product before you know who it’s for.
Too many handmade business owners make then search for a customer instead of finding a Facebook group, magazine, blog or store where people are already gathering and designing a product perfect for them.
STEP 3: KNOW WHAT THEY’LL BUY
When someone visits a jewelry shop, they’re looking for jewelry; not jewelry, scarves, and pillows.
A small handmade shop offering a variety of products tells shoppers: I’m doing this as a hobby, I’m not really an expert at anything, and I just like to play in the craft room and see what comes out.
Would you hire a plumber who is just playing around and having fun with plumbing? No! You want an expert. You’d be skeptical of someone who says they can fix your toilet, fix your car, and fix your sore back.
Consumers have the same thoughts when your product offering says you can make them a piece of jewelry, knit them a scarf, and sew them a pillow; surely you can’t be an expert at all three.
It doesn’t matter what consumers are buying; when they spend their money, they want to know they’re getting their money’s worth. The products you offer must tell shoppers you’re an expert at what you do.
A jewelry shopper is also looking for a specific type of jewelry.
As a consumer, I personally love delicate pieces of jewelry that have a classic style. If I find a classic pair of delicate gold hoops in a jewelry shop, but every other piece has a completely different style and uses different materials, I can only buy one item. Not to mention, I’m also questioning the quality of the gold hoops because the jewelry store doesn’t seem to be an expert in delicate gold jewelry.
On the other hand, if the jewelry store is full of delicate gold jewelry, I can buy multiple items and trust they know how to work with gold.
Only fill your shop with products your target market will buy.
STEP 4: KNOW WHY THEY’LL BUY FROM YOU AND NOT YOUR COMPETITOR
What is the main reason your customers choose you? If you closed your doors tomorrow, would your customers feel a loss or could they buy something similar from another vendor?
Understanding why your customers will buy from you among the thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of other handmade businesses selling a similar product will help you build a business that’s more appealing to them.
STEP 5: KNOW HOW YOU’LL ATTRACT CUSTOMERS TO YOUR STORE
When walking through a mall, what draws you into some stores and makes you decide to skip others?
It’s their branding.
Branding tells you what a business is all about without saying a word.
If you love a feminine style, you’re going to be drawn to a store full of feminine products, feminine fixtures, feminine lighting, and feminine signage.
Your business must immediately tell shoppers what your business is all about, and your brand does that.
You must first know what your brand is, and then properly communicate it through every element of your business. I’ll teach you how.
STEP 6: KNOW WHERE TO FIND YOUR CUSTOMERS
After step 5, you know how to attract your potential customers. But you can’t attract them if they never see your business or its products.
When you understand your customers, you know where to find them.
The person spending their free time on TikTok is a much different customer than one hanging out on Facebook. Is your customer a Facebook or TikTok user? Once you know information like that, you know where to promote your business.
And once you get their attention, you need to keep it.
Does your business have funnels set up? What about a newsletter and blog? Automated emails? All are an integral part of a system you can build that continuously attracts shoppers, ensures you don’t lose them on their path to buying, and retains them for future sales.
STEP 7: KNOW WHEN YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE SHOPPING
Unfortunately, your business is not on a continuous upward climb. Every company goes through peaks and valleys based on their customer’s spending habits throughout the day, week, month, and year.
You must recognize the rhythms of your business and plan product launches, marketing, and selling accordingly.
If your customer is a mom of three who doesn’t have time to go online until after the kids are in bed, posting product photos to Facebook at 10 am is likely ineffective.
If jewelry sales ramp up in February but it’s January 31st and you haven’t thought about Valentine’s day products, gift sets, marketing campaigns, etc., you’re bound to miss out on sales.
Determining “when” will help organize your schedule, get a step ahead and be more effective with your product planning, marketing, and selling.
HOW TO SELL BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY WILL HELP YOU WITH EACH STEP
We’re aware of what’s best to eat but if we don’t have a plan or healthy recipes and ingredients on hand, nine times out of ten, we divert back to what’s easiest and most satisfying, short-term (and that’s a bowl of macaroni and cheese for me;) Each section has worksheets designed to be filled out as you go to build a plan once completed, which will help you take action.
If you feel stuck or are wondering what to work on, pull out those worksheets!
Do you offer a printed version?
I do not have a printed version; I only have a digital version available. I understand the appeal of a printed version over a digital copy, however, as an independent author, the cost to print a short run of books and ship them would raise the price significantly.
Although, I know, it’s not the same as a professionally printed and bound book, many of my customers have printed my ebooks at home, or have had them printed at an OfficeMax/Office Depot/Staples/etc.
*Please note: due to the ebook’s copyright, some printing services will require a note from the author granting permission to print a personal copy. Please contact me if you plan to have one of my ebooks printed and I can provide you with written permission.
Do you offer refunds?
Because my ebooks are digital copies that are instantly delivered to your email’s inbox, I do not offer refunds.
If you have any questions about an ebook and whether it’s right for you, please feel free to contact me with any questions and I’d be happy to answer them!
WHO AM I?
I’m Erin, founder and one of the creative minds behind MadeUrban.com. I’ve been in the crafting industry over a decade now, with 2005 being the year of my very first craft fair. I started as the poster child for “craft fair don’ts” and grew into a successful handmade business owner selling full time through craft fairs, online and wholesale accounts. That small business led me to my current dream career of helping others with their creative businesses and working for the cuddliest boss in the world…..my cat Josh.
As a Visual Communications Design graduate, past Regional Visual Merchandiser, former craft show vendor, current crafty website owner and forever and always a handmade hoarder, I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. From methods taught in the classroom to techniques used by major retailers to bring in the big bucks, I’ve tested them all to see what works and what doesn’t.
I want nothing more than to see your small business succeed and to share every bit of information I can to help you along the way. I hope you love reading my advice as much as I love sharing it. Check out the blog if this is your first time visiting Made Urban. Read a few articles to be sure you like my style of writing and find my advice valuable. Over 10,000 people have joined my Seller Newsletter and my articles are read by thousands each day, so I’m confident you’ll find value in my articles or ebooks too.
If you have any questions about the ebook, my articles, Made Urban or cats, I’d be happy to answer them!
DISCLAIMER: This ebook is presented to you for informational purposes only and is not a substitution for any professional advice. Although I strive to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice or free from any errors, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any professional, business, legal, and financial or tax-related decisions.