Craft community, Starting up

What I’ve learnt so far..

When I decided to put my drawings out there and offer them for sale I didn’t know what to expect.
Eight months on, I have learnt a few things, but I suspect I have a few mistakes left to make yet!

Here are some of the things I know now that I didn’t back then…

Network, network, network!

Pastelesta's Etsy shop

My Etsy shop

When I set up on Etsy, I really thought that I would sell everything I listed, perhaps not immediately, but I was happily working out profits based on selling individual items daily.

This did not happen!

If you’re selling online on a shop like Etsy or Folksy or similar, you need to actively network and market your products to get yourself noticed. It’s a big old marketplace.

There are loads of groups on Etsy and on Facebook that you can use to get support and promote yourself and other people, as well as networking hashtags on Twitter.

Try Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more, each is slightly different and will give you slightly different results.

  • Facebook – good for building a ‘persona’ for your business. Show your work in progress, be chatty, promote your products. Build an authentic and receptive audience for your brand. Use pictures where you can to catch people’s eye in ther packed newsfeeds
  • Twitter – good for networking and news. It’s very time-based, so be carful when you post and make use of networking hours such as #handmadehour #uketsyhour and location-based ones like #hampshirehour or #yorkshirehour
  • Pinterest – good for getting creative ideas and advertising your products (remember to put the price in the title)

You don’t have to spend a lot on advertising

Building up a presence isn’t going to be instant and throwing money into advertising won’t give instant results. There is a huge amount of information online about social media and marketing so do your research and learn from other people.

Get out there to craft fairs, it will take a while to find where you best fit in as there are all sorts of different types, but they often attract press and publicity, so it’s a good way of getting your eye-catching products see in the press.

Marketing offline is an area I definitely need to develop, I’m not that confident about the face-to-face so tend to hide online. However, getting out there and meeting and networking in real life makes your brand ‘real’ to your customers and I know I have to do it!

Take the very best photographs that you can of your products

I still don’t have this cracked, mostly down to lack of time (bad time management from me) and a slightly dodgy camera, but the more professional looking your products are, the more likely it is that someone will be to part with their money online and buy them.

Again, there’s lots of information online:

Keep on making

Marketing is incredibly time consuming, but don’t forget to keep doing what you do best…making and creating. Try to build in time to try out new ideas, you never know when you’re going to hit on something that people love.

If you get creative block, here are some great ideas from Naomi at Artbiz Rx

You will learn a lot along the way

Dream picture by @pastelesta

Dream picture by @pastelesta

I have made quite a few mistakes, but I’ve also learnt a huge amount.

  • My drawing has improved
  • I’ve got more confident
  • I feel more fulfilled
  • I’ve seen a whole new working environment that’s possible
  • I’ve got new skills to bring to my day job

In November last year I did my first craft fair and although I got lots of compliments I didn’t sell a single thing. I’ve booked for the same fair this year, so I can compare how much I’ve achieved so far both with the things I sell and the profits I make.

It’s definitely a journey, enjoy the ride!

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