Starting a new business takes a lot of hard work, long hours, little pay, and no guarantees of success. Those of you who are crazy enough to tackle a huge undertaking like this (us included!) can relate to the frustrations that come along with starting a new business, and especially starting a handmade business in the competitive world of indie products.
When we started Heather and Hide, we had very little experience and knowledge within the industry, making our business a roller coaster of a ride in the beginning stages! But as we’ve become more established as a brand, we learned important tools and realities in maintaining our start-up business. To learn these valuable lessons for your own start-up company or brand, read on!
1. Your product needs to be buyable, durable, and beautiful:
The handmade industry is becoming a very competitive market, and whether you’re selling crafts, handbags, or stationary, your products will need to have the highest of quality! Consumers are looking for appeal, for something that will last, and for something they can’t live without. And once they find that, they’ll be willing to spend more on good quality. It’s a hot market for handmade items that not only look beautiful, but hold up in the long run as well.
2. Be a great photographer or be prepared to hire one!
If you haven’t learned by now, we are living in a visual and digital world. Product photography is everything when it comes to selling handmade! Learn how to take good product photos for your business, or invest in hiring a professional. You’ll start seeing a huge difference in sales when your photos are eye-catching and intriguing to your specific audience.
3. Think about your pricing:
Take a good amount of time thinking about your price point. Define your cost of goods sold early, and determine your retail and wholesale mark-ups. One mistake that we made when starting out was guessing our prices in the beginning. We had to bump up our price point for products already on the market later on, and that hurt!
4. Make a product you can replicate and make it well!
One-of-a-kind items are not products you can grow your business on. You’ll need items that you can stock and re-list over and over again, without going through the time and effort for items that are for one specific use. Having a good, quality product that you can photograph, list, and edit one time will help make your handmade business efficient and grow in its beginning stages.
5. Invest in a great online marketing:
Having a professional website, blog, and connected social media accounts are important to any handmade business, and can make or break your company. Design your website to look inviting to your specific customer, and make sure it has interesting and regular blog content to promote engagement. Hire a social media manager to run your accounts smoothly.
6. Collect customer email addresses:
Email is the most effective way to reach consumers, even in the age of social media. Have your customers log-in by using emails, or collect emails through social media campaigns. Then use your compiled email list to send out info blasts or sales ads. About 75% of your future business should come from 25% of your existing customers, and if you use your email lists right, you’ll be reaching more of your customers!
7. Learn, revamp, and analyze:
Always move forward! We all make mistakes when starting up a new business, and the most important part of failing is to learn from what went wrong. Take the time to see what works and what doesn’t in your business; which products are selling, and which one’s aren’t. Look at your success and figure out how to evolve it and improve on what you already have.
8. Be prepared for the competition:
Your competitors will always have great sales techniques for selling low quality products. Instead of getting frustrated and fed-up by these gimmicks, learn from them. Study the way others in the same market as you promote similar products. Never try and price point based on other competitors, but make sure you’re well-informed on the advertising campaigns of those in your industry.