If your handmade items aren’t selling, it could be a variety of factors. Finding a fix can require a lot of trial and error.
However, this article outlines the three most common reasons many business owners struggle to make sales.
#1: No Unique Factor
USP stands for unique selling position and it’s something I see the majority of handmade businesses skip over or define incorrectly.
*If you don’t have a USP or aren’t sure if you have the right USP, check out: 8 Mistakes Handmade Businesses Make with their USP
I know your items are handmade and each one is unique because of that, but, what makes your products different from the ones people can find in stores or buy from another vendor?
Being made by you and being your designs just isn’t enough to stand out and get sales.
A USP clearly tells shoppers why it’s better to buy from you.
If you can’t find a good reason, shoppers won’t be able to either, which means; no sales.
A USP doesn’t have to be spoken/written. It may be communicated through the style of your products, packaging, photography, branding, etc.
For example, most bridal hair accessories on Etsy are very traditional, using crystals and pearls in floral or leaf patterns. By simply offering bridal hair accessories in geometric designs, or in designs that spell words (e.g. “I DO” or “LOVE” or “BRIDE”), or using colored gems, my USP would be obvious to shoppers. And, my accessories would stand out among the sea of clear rhinestone and pearl bridal accessories on Etsy.
A USP is not just a tagline or slogan; a strong USP will shape your entire business, influence your branding, and boost sales.
If you need help uncovering your USP and defining it in a sentence, I’ve dedicated a full chapter in HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY which shares the exact steps to uncover your USP.
I also share a formula from that chapter in my FREE 5-day challenge: BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES. It’s a simple USP formula that will help you craft a powerful USP. You can sign up for the challenge below.
#2: Poor Presentation
Product photos, craft show displays, and even product descriptions are just as important as the product you’re selling, if not more important.
How you present your products determines the value consumers place on them.
A) Product Photos
Your photos are your business’s first impression online and a tool for helping shoppers make decisions.
If you quickly set products on the closest flat surface and snap a pic without thinking about lighting, composition, props, etc. you’re instantly lowering the perceived value of your products.
Once people find you online, you need to get them “through the door” to make that sale, which your photos will help you do. If your listing’s photos or the images you post on social media don’t get people to stop and click, it may be the reason your handmade products aren’t selling.
You’ll find lots of tips and examples for photographing handmade products in this article.
B) Craft Show Display
If your products aren’t selling at craft shows, it could be that your craft show display is lowering the value of your products.
From your tablecloth and props (here are 50 prop ideas) to your product arrangements, and even the way you dress; every aspect that surrounds your products at a craft show can add or subtract value from them.
Make sure you’re choosing display elements that work with your brand, strengthen its message, and increase your product’s value.
Don’t leave your display as an afterthought and ransack your home for baskets and racks to showcase your work on. Consider the message you want to send and then brainstorm how you can communicate through different display elements.
Your display is what draws shoppers over and makes them feel they must stop at your space.
It’s the equivalent of walking through the mall and deciding which stores to stop in. You can’t go into every store, so you decide based on window displays. They tell you if the store carries items that are a fit for your style, interests, etc.
Your craft show display is like a window display.
Get creative and think about how to convey your message through your display.
For example, let’s say I’m selling bath & body products. I could create a spa-like environment in my craft show space so people imagine using my products at home for a mini spa day. Tranquil music, soft colors, the scent of lavender, and perhaps even herbal tea to sip.
The elements that surround your products and the experience shoppers have in your craft show space will increase or decrease how much shoppers are willing to pay for your products.
If a poor display makes shoppers think your prices should be lower than they are, you’ll have a hard time selling your products.
Sign up for the FREE email challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY for an easy-to-follow guide that will help you increase the value craft show shoppers place on your products.
C) Product Descriptions
How you write and/or speak about your products will help shoppers paint a picture in their minds. If you can’t get them to imagine your products in their lives, they’re not likely to buy.
Your product descriptions and sales pitches should help shoppers see the value of your products.
For example, if I’m listing one of my handbags online, “Handmade. 14” x 10″. Green cotton.” doesn’t add much value to the bag.
On the other hand, a good description can communicate the benefits of the bag and help the shopper imagine how they’ll use it. For example: “A backpack diaper bag will evenly distribute weight to help you avoid back pain caused by heavy one-shoulder bags. Each seam is double stitched for durability. 5 interior pockets help keep all your items organized and easy to find. This bag is made from environmentally friendly, organic cotton and can be thrown in the wash for easy cleaning.”
#3: Lack of Marketing
Marketing is essential for every business and requires as much of your time as creating products does (if not more).
Imagine if a craft show organizer didn’t market their event. They could have the perfect venue, an amazing variety of vendors, and a great selection of products. But if no one hears about the event, none of that matters.
Simply having a product to sell, an Etsy shop, or a table at a craft show is not enough to make money.
You need a way to let people know about your products and lead those people to them.
There are many other ways to market your handmade business, such as getting featured in the press, getting influencers to mention your products, writing guest posts on blogs, starting your own blog, etc.
If you need help with marketing, How to Find a Goldmine of Customers is a great place to start.
If you want to sell more products, you should be focusing on marketing every day and finding new ways to get your products in front of new people.
There are many reasons some products don’t sell. But these are three of the most common mistakes I see handmade business owners make.
I hope they were helpful!
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!