The top 3 questions craft businesses want answered
Handmade Nation takes to Twitter every week to answer budding entrepreneurs' questions on how to start and run a craft business. Founder Owen Birkby answers the three most asked questions.
Running a small independent craft or handmade business can be a very rewarding career choice. However, it can be very hard work!
The good news is that you're not alone. We reached out to our community of crafter friends on Twitter to find out more about the most common issues that they face and answer their questions.
How can I get my business to stand out?
Standing out from the crowd is often difficult, as there are lots of products out there. How do you get seen amongst the sea of handmade craft businesses?
You could try mainstream advertising or go with social media, which is relatively low cost and offers great targeting options.
If you decide to go down this route, make sure you have some budget to put towards promoted posts or tweets. It's also good to understand who you need to target and make sure your activity is consistent and follows a larger strategy.
There's also good old fashioned word of mouth. It's amazing how much repeat custom you can attract from offering fantastic customer service.
Make sure you know your company's limits. It's no good taking loads of orders if you don't think you will be able to deliver on time.
It's also vital that you get your items in the post on time and plan carefully for the Christmas period as delivery deadlines will vary, depending on where you need to send the items.
Making time to nurture relationships that you already have with existing customers can be much more fruitful than always looking for your next new customer. For instance, they can become brand ambassadors and help promote your products.
Don't forget, people buy from people they like. So don't be afraid to show your personality on your social media platforms. Encourage a positive environment on your platforms and use it to inspire a positive buying experience right from day one.
Lastly, find and build your USP. Think about why you're different to other crafters and why people should buy from you and not someone else.
How much do I charge for my product?
It's often thought that a beautiful product appears by magic, but you know how much time it takes to make your craft product. So you need to be making sure that you're charging what you're worth.
While it is important to price your products competitively, you shouldn't forget that your time, skill and expertise have value. After all, your products take a lot of time to perfect and people will see the time and effort you have put in, especially if you're shouting about it with your USP.
It can be difficult to put an accurate price against your products in the early days when you're looking to establish yourself, and you've probably offered “mates' rates” many a time when starting up your own business. But while there's no denying that making that leap to full price takes a thick skin, it's an essential step towards creating a successful business.
Time Management: How do I fit it all in?
This is probably the biggest issue of them all for craft businesses.
Looking after children (if you've got them) and keeping up with the housework and social obligations can be tough to manage alongside running a craft business. And if you work as well as run a small business, then going to job number one whilst trying to promote job number two isn't easy either.
So you need to make a habit of prioritising your tasks and your time.
Some people find lists help them stay organised; others love planners, whilst others like their gadgets to keep them on track. Find a way that works for you.
Try not to have too many balls in the air as having too much on the go at once can be unproductive. Instead, find the channels which work well for you and spend your time there. If something you do is successful, then it makes sense to stick with it.
Become efficient at what you do in the non-crafting element of your business, setting time aside for tasks such as admin and networking online or at craft fairs.
Where can I go for more tips and advice?
If you'd like to chat with like-minded business owners to share advice and showcase your creations, join Handmade Nation on Twitter (@HMNation).
Include “#HMNation” in your tweets every Wednesday between 7.30pm and 9.30pm or on Sundays between 8pm and 9pm (GMT).