As you gain experience selling your crafts at craft shows, you'll be planning your schedule a year in advance. Although a business plan isn't essential, a marketing plan is a good idea to have as you plan your shows. You'll want to keep your customers on your mailing list informed of new products, special sales and upcoming shows. You may need to update your marketing materials from time to time as well.
In addition, between shows, you may decide to pursue other paths to selling your products. Some of these are: the Internet (your own Web site or eBay), retail (your own store, space in a gallery or retail store), wholesale (trade shows, distributors or sales reps), trade or consumer magazine ads (extremely costly), mail order, catalogs, TV shopping networks and home shows.
Selling wholesale at galleries, stores, trade shows or through reps or distributors cuts your profit in half. The only way to make it up is through large quantity sales - and then you may find yourself in a bigger production mode than what you feel comfortable with. Selling wholesale has other drawbacks, like return policies, cancellations and late payments. And some shops and galleries will only take you on consignment.
Although billions of dollars are spent by consumers buying products over the Internet, online sales for craft items has not been spectacular - and nothing compared to craft show figures. However, it's relatively inexpensive to sell over eBay and for under $1,000 you can have a decent Web site designed. Check out eBay for yourself to see if anything like your items are being marketed there.
If you have to sell way too low to match the competition that you won't make a profit, it's not worth it. Put up your own Web site and let it be a virtual shop for you - for existing customers to see what you're up to and to attract new buyers. You can post your show schedule, have information about yourself and your crafts and sell whatever items photograph well and ship safely.
Research other Web sites selling similar products, decide how you would like your electronic store to look and find a competent Web designer. Make sure you are quoted all costs up front including monthly maintenance so you can keep your site updated.
Design your Web site with the same care you designed your booth - so it represents you and your product in the best light. Make it easy for people to buy and to contact you. Have your phone number and e-mail address so they can ask questions. If your Web designer is not marketing savvy, have someone help you submit your Web site to search engines and do whatever you can to make it visible to potential buyers.
Another way to promote yourself online is to join craft forums or chat groups, where buyers and sellers gather to discuss crafts. If you position yourself as an expert answering various questions, people may visit your Web site to gain more contact with you. Also consider having links and resources on your site so people will see you as a source of knowledge about crafts.
As a creative person, you'll probably have so many ideas to enhance your Web site - just don't become obsessed so it takes you away from your first love - making crafts! Once you have a Web site, put the address on all your marketing materials - from business cards to show schedules.
If you are doing well selling your crafts at craft shows, that may be all you need to do. The more avenues for sales you take on, the thinner you spread yourself, and the less you're doing what you love most and what you started this business for - creating crafts!
Natalie Goyette shows you how to make your craft show business profitable in her best selling ebook: Craft Show Success Secrets. Visit her site: [craftshowsuccess.com parked domain].
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