Those of us who create, often have a strong desire to. We didn’t start making bags, jewelry or scarves because handmade became trendy; we started because it excites us. But what do you do when your handmade products aren’t selling?
It’s hard when your passion and hard work isn’t validated through sales.
Even if creating is just a hobby and not relied on for income, there comes a time when you, and everyone around you, has more of your creations than you/they know what to do with. (If that sounds familiar, you may be interested in my new ebook HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY)
The craft room starts getting crammed with piles of un-sold inventory and un-used materials. You need to sell some stock to make room for more creations, justify buying new materials and cover some expenses.
And when you desperately want your craft to pay the bills, it’s even more frustrating when your products aren’t selling. Sales aren’t just a nice to have; they’re a need to have.
If what you’re currently doing isn’t bringing you the number of sales you’d like, you’ve gotta change what you’re doing.
This article is to share ideas when your products aren’t selling; your work is reaching people but not getting much attention or sales.
If you know you have a product that sells but just need help getting it in front of more people, these articles will be more helpful to you:
To boost sales when people are visiting your shop but your products aren’t selling, follow the steps below:
You’re a creative person; you can figure this lack of sales thing out.
Apply your creativity to other areas of your business and be open to tweaking your creative style when it comes to your products.
Dedicate yourself to uncovering why your products aren’t selling as is.
There’s no shame in the game of switching things up.
I have never started a business and had the right idea or product out of the gate.
Success has always come when I’ve been willing to pivot, no matter how great I thought my original idea was. When I wasn’t willing to put the work in to adjust; those businesses failed.
Even if you get your business model right from the start, the rules are always changing.
Etsy is not what it was 2 – 3 years ago. Nor is Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest. There will always be obstacles thrown on our path but we can move past them if we’re willing to change our strategy.
You’ve gotta decide:
Do you want to keep doing what you’re doing and have sales stay as is?
Or are you willing to accept the current plan isn’t working and be open to any and all changes (within reason)?
Open to change? Then read on! 🙂
Your first and most important mission when your products aren’t selling should be to gather feedback.
There’s no point shutting down your Etsy shop to build a new website, paying to promote listings or running Facebook ads if what you have just aint selling.
We all have our unique talents and style but sometimes they need to be tweaked and developed to become more marketable.
Here are some tips for gathering feedback:
I know they’re the easiest people to turn to but don’t put them in that awkward position 😉 Not to mention, if they knew what was causing your low sales or wanted to share their critiques, they would have done so by now.
Head to forums and ask for brutally honest feedback. That doesn’t give people permission to be rude but reassure them your feelings won’t be hurt if they share their honest opinions.
What surrounds your products also has a big impact on how shoppers perceive your products, so get people to give their overall impression of your online shop.
It may be that your product is awesome but your photography doesn’t do it justice. Or maybe your branding is throwing people off.
Ask specific questions such as:
Or try posting a link to your shop and asking people to share three things they would change. This gives specific instructions and let’s people know they can get right down to business; no need to sugar coat or serve you a sh*! sandwich 😉
I realize this can be a big expense but decide if it’s worth it for you. If you’re serious about turning your handmade business into a main source of income, spending the money on one on one time with a coach who has been-there-done-that could be just what you need.
If you’re not in a position to hire a coach but could really use feedback from a professional, try reaching out to a business owner you admire or a craft show organizer. Get out of your comfort zone and gather a few names of people you may feel a little intimidated to approach. Try to choose people who are where you’d like to be in 5 years.
Don’t expect everyone to say yes, or even answer your request (that’s why you want a few names). Be respectful of their time and send all information they need so if they’re feeling helpful and have time, they can look at your shop and answer specific questions regarding why your products aren’t selling.
Include a link to your products and 1 – 3 questions you’d love to get their opinion on.
I’m going to start this one with a disclaimer:
This step is in no way to encourage you to copy someone else’s work or business. But you need to have an idea of the standards in your industry and for your product, which requires being aware of your competition.
If you’re worried you might be tempted by a competitor’s ideas, research an industry, or product, similar to yours but that isn’t your competition.
It will help you think outside the box and still give you a good idea of what the top shops are doing well and how they’re achieving success.
There are too many handmade/craft/creative businesses operating like a hobby, rather than a business. If someone were to open a restaurant or clothing store they would:
But because start up costs are low for handmade businesses and most don’t require a loan, they don’t go through the mandatory steps a bank requires to ensure their business idea has a high probability of success.
To conduct your own research:
Etsy is a great platform to use since you’re able to see how many sales a shop has had since they’ve joined.
A “good” sales number depends on many different factors such as price points and how much time a seller dedicates to their business. 1000 sales per year may be a good guideline for success (depending on your industry and product) and is generally a healthy number of sales in a year for a handmade business.
You may also visit websites. You’re unable to tell how well a business is doing from their website, but you may be familiar with the business and know they rely on it as their only source of income.
Pull your shop, website or products and compare to the shop or website of a business you deem successful.
Pay attention to:
Once you gather feedback and complete your research, make a long list of all the things you think you could do to improve.
Again, you’re not copying another business’ model or setup. You’re simply looking for differences and then coming up with your own ideas that fit your business.
List ideas for:
Once you have ideas on how you can change your products, marketing and selling, it’s time to test.
Choose one or two aspects to change, test them and see what the response is.
If you overhaul all your products, your Facebook page and website, you’re not going to know what’s responsible for improvements. Or worse yet, if sales get worse, you won’t know what to simply set back to how it was.
Pay very close attention to numbers. How much interaction did the new photo you posted to Facebook get? How many visits did a listing receive? How many sales do you have each month and how are they broken down by product?
Don’t form opinions too quickly. Give each change a fair chance. You can’t try something once and decide whether it worked or not. You must be consistent and play around with small changes until you’re certain you found the right way.
For example, if you try posting something new to Facebook and don’t get a response, don’t write the method off. Try posting something similar on a different day of the week and at a different time.
On the other hand, if you put a new product out there and it sells right away, don’t be quick to assume it’s the answer to your problems and scrap all other products. You may have gotten a lucky break. Make another one and see if it sells again.
You must see the same results at least a few times in order to label it as “successful” or “unsuccessful”.
This process takes time and you likely won’t see sales turn around overnight.
Change happens slowly, over time, so don’t get discouraged. To put things in perspective, 1 – 2% is the average:
Of course businesses can be above 1 – 2% but that’s the average. Check in on your numbers; you’re likely doing better than you think you are.
If you’d like more guidance on getting sales beyond friends and family, check out my ebook HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY.
Finally understand why your hard work isn't resulting in more sales
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