I get this statement a lot when I first talk to prospective coaching clients, or craft business owners on social media and it’s difficult to answer without knowing the finer details of their business. So in this blog article I wanted to cover some of the main problems I think these businesses face and how you might address them if you are struggling.
First of all let me give you some context and an understanding of how I get to these points of advice. I ran Sara’s Texture Crafts over 11 years and this was a full-time career for me. At times sales seemed effortless and at other times it seemed like an uphill battle to sell anything at all, particularly early on before things exploded. On top of that, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thinking profitably when I started out and so it wasn’t until I made huge changes and went from selling commercial craft supplies to creating my own that I really saw the beginnings of my own sustainable and profitable business. So I have definitely felt at points like I wanted to scream and I don’t think I’m the only business owner out there who has felt like that! Although I may be one of the few who admits it!!
I wrote a blog post called, ‘How I made my craft business sustainable’ which in part started to answer this problem for other people, but I really wanted to revisit it and see what I think the main causes of anguish are for any one asking me for help. Fingers crossed I’ve got you covered here… if not then email me!
Some of the main reasons why you aren’t making money;
- You don’t have the right product/service for the right audience – Making something you love isn’t always making something that sells. Think about the last time you bought a handmade product from someone else… did you consider that the pink of the fabric was their favourite shade of pink? Did you care? The chances are you didn’t, instead you bought it because it was your perfect shade of pink, or a shade that worked with your room, or this season’s shade of pink even. As a seller we have to take ourselves out of the equation when we put the final touches to our ranges and focus on what our customers most want, particularly if you want to build a regular income from your art. Having more of what they want to buy will ultimately lead to more sales. Here’s some tips on how spending time on better research will help you understand your customers and products better. And remember being customer centric is not about stifling your creativity, it’s about the balance of business.
- You aren’t costing your products and building in profit correctly – This is a big one for most people. Make sure you sit down and work out every cost for every element of your product and include your timed labour! Yes, you do need to at least be earning a minimum hourly rate for production, just as if you’d have to pay a factory or individual if you didn’t make your items yourself. What’s more I’d say you have a set of skills worth paying for, so don’t be stingy with your wage! Once you have these in place you really need to make some extra profit on top. This profit will help you sustainably manage slower sales periods and diversify later on when you need to.
- You aren’t spending any time marketing – A lot of people fall into the trap of setting up a website, or Etsy shop and then hoping people will just ‘find them’. It’s simply not true! You have to start marketing yourself. Here’s 15 marketing ideas that will cost you little or no money!
- You haven’t started working on a way to build a loyal audience – A loyal audience will buy form you regularly and they will freely refer friends, so building a customer base is extremely important and you see bigger businesses doing it all the time! Here’s how to be your customer’s BFF.
- You haven’t built the right on-line platform for your customers – your website or Etsy shop is so important. It’s the point at which your customers go from being interested in your products, to making a sale and so it must look and act the part of being your sales rep while you aren’t there. It needs to inform, to gently persuade and to ‘wow’ them. Whether you have an Etsy shop or your own website, watch this free course I recorded for you because it will help you to understand what you need to be better at.
- You are confusing your customers – another big problem I see is craft businesses confusing their offers so much so that customers don’t understand what they sell anymore. So if you have tried a little of this and a little of that then I beg you to scale down your offer. Pick one thing that is working right now and focus on that. Go back and work on your customer research to build that one thing into something they will love even more and create your website and marketing around it. Drop everything else and make that one thing shine! Soon customers will start to understand that you do that something well and they will start to come back. Later on is where you should be diversifying, not at the beginning. Remember a confused customer is a non-buying customer!