Selling Handmade: I’m Not Selling Anything

Selling Handmade- tips for people who want to sell the stuff they make from someone who sells stuff they make.

I was going to do a post about custom orders, but this keeps coming up over and over again on Etsy’s forums, and in other places where people talk about selling their handmade goods, so I figured I would post about it.

“I’m not selling as much as I did last year at this time.” “Sales are slow.” “My stats are down and I haven’t sold a thing.” There are a lot of reasons that your sales could be slower.

The economy is still something that’s getting thrown around a lot- no jobs, no money, etc. However. It’s not so much a factor anymore, not online. While it’s true that some markets haven’t fully recovered, the economy is coming back up. Discretionary spending is up.

While the horrible economy is not so horrible anymore, it is still affecting online sales in a different way. When the recession hit, a lot of people lost their jobs. Some of these people said, “Hey, I can make jewelry. I can make hairbows. I can crochet, or knit, or make tutus,” and suddenly there were a LOT of new sellers in the market. When there are now 50 stores who sell the same thing you do instead of 5, well, sales will be down. You need to be constantly doing market research to make sure that you’re setting yourself apart from your competitors. Advertising? New products? Packaging?

And speaking of advertising, just “advertising” isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to target advertising for your market. Find a pertinent blog (with good readership) or a forum relevant to your market and see if you can buy advertising there. There are places that will help you with this, Passionfruit Ads is one a friend suggested.

Trending. Trends change. The jewelry that people were killing each other to buy last year are drawing crickets and dropping pins this year. Narwhals were huge last year and now I think it’s moved onto something else. Again, market research.

And sometimes, there are just things that are out of your control. Etsy, for example, is FILLED with resellers and wholesalers of late, and seems to be pretty reluctant to do anything about it. People who come to Etsy just to buy an owl necklace are going to see, “OWL NECKLACE FOR $3.99? I’LL TAKE IT.” They won’t even get to your owl necklace that is vastly superior in quality- and the quality is reflected in the price.

Undercutting is also something you can’t control. Along with the wholesalers and resellers, some people set themselves apart from the competition by undercutting. This is also part of business. Can you market your stuff so that it’ll sell at a higher price? Can you afford to go lower and still cover cost and a fair wage for yourself? Is this something you would be better off removing from your inventory so that you can sell something that you will make enough money from to make it worth your time?

Promote yourself. Are your product photos awesome? Can they be better? Describe your products in a way that will make people go, “Hey, I didn’t know I needed those, but I sure do now!” Present your product in the most flattering way you can, keeping your target market in mind.

Finally, you may make a product that would sell better off the internet. Can you find a local store that will sell on consignment for you? Is there a craft fair circuit that you can get involved in?

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