Friday, March 2, 2012

Things I've Learned From Running an Indie Biz: Part 2

In my last post with Part 1, I covered some of the basics.  Now I'll get a little more in detail with sharing some mistakes I've learned from that I'm sure some of you may have made yourself or if not, hopefully you don't now!

  • Don't expect to sell out at a craft show.  Total rookie mistake on my part.  For my first ever show I did a home party just to test the water if you will. I did SUPER and had to take orders for items I had sold out of.  This of course went straight to my head.  It never occurred to me that duh I'm the only one they can buy from and I stupidly assumed if I did that well with only 10 people imagine what I cold do with 200!  HAHAHAHA!  My first real craft show sucked, bad.  Although it wasn't my fault as I found out later they lied to me and never advertised so hardly anybody came.  I made sooooo much stuff, like four of everything and 10 each for scrabble pendants.  I was swimming in unsold merchandise afterwards.  In fact I still have some of it!  I've done much better at properly advertised shows, and I've learned a lot from my past experiences.  First, do your homework: is this show advertised, can you really afford that booth fee, how many items do you have to sell to at least break even, do you have the time and money to invest in prepping for one?  If you've never done one then go to one.  Check out the booths, especially the ones that sell something similar to what you sell.  I'm not saying copy anyone but look at their displays for ideas or search Google for ideas too.  Indoor ones are the easiest for set up since you don't have to deal with the weather but unless it's a judged artisan show, many of them also allow not so crafty things to compete with that are mostly ordered through catalogs.  Yes, them.  Good thing tough, you'll probably get lots of complements (and sales) for actually making what you sell with your own two hands instead of hawking goods made in China.  No offense to the vendors who do catalog orders, well actually yes, shame on you Lia Sophia and your cheaply made over-priced jewelry! Enough ranting, here's a good article with lots of craft show prep links to get you started.
Moss, a $50 necklace

  • Don't sell yourself short.  Pricing is difficult, there's no getting around that fact.  If it's a piece of cake, goodie for you.  I started out making one of the biggest mistakes you can make.  I was severely underpricing my work.  It's a common rookie mistake and I'm sure many of you have done the same at one time or another.  I was one of those people who wouldn't fork over $50 for a necklace so I assumed nobody else would do the same for me.  WRONG!  You are worth it!  Lots of things go into a price: cost of materials, cost of labor, overhead, etc.  I used to just pick a price that seemed "fair", eeep!  As a general rule, you should be uncomfortable with your price, unless you're full yourself, in which case get off your high horse.  Do I enjoy charging $50 for a necklace? Of course not.  Did I spend hours making it and would I like to actually pay some bills?  Yes.  See how that works?  Underpricing sends a bad message.  To a buyer it says, "I don't make quality merchandise" and makes them wonder what's wrong with it.  Of course overpricing is not good either and will send buyers right out the door as well.  There are lots of ways to price but I've been using a general formula I found on this great Etsy blog and then rounding my price off.  As far as paying yourself for your time, you should at least pay yourself minimum wage.  Would you sling burgers for less than that?  I didn't think so so why cheap out on yourself?  
My daughter as a baby with her crabby face
  • You cannot please them all.  Nope not even you.  If you've been selling long enough you've come across someone who is just impossible or difficult to please.  It doesn't have to be a hair pulling experience though.  So far I've had one "difficult" experience (I better not have just jinxed myself).  I will bequeath my wisdom on you.  I sold a necklace to someone and it broke while in the mail.  Ok that happens and she showed me a picture.  It was a simple tiny thing, a link came undone and it would take literally two seconds to fix.  Terrified that she would give me negative feedback I sent a replacement instead of telling her how to fix it.  Dumb.  Luckily she was nice enough to send the broken one back but I paid her for shipping it even though she was fine with paying.  DUMB.  She got the new one and a few days later a link came undone. Seriously, what are they doing to this poor necklace?  This time I told them how to fix it and although they weren't pleased and would rather another new necklace they eventually accepted.  Smart, gold star for me!  I didn't get bad feedback, but if I had I admit I would have been pretty bummed, but it's not the end of the world.  With Etsy you do have a chance to "make up" and get it changed if the other party is willing but for the most part if you've done everything you can within reason then don't sweat it.  There's no reason to bend over backwards to please someone just because they're whining.  Always be polite and courteous but stand your ground.  Besides, a potential customer is not likely to duck and run out of your shop because of one blemish.  Your positive feedback speaks much louder.  I admit my experience wasn't even that bad but the same logic applies to just about any customer.

Ok enough seriousness, feast your eyes on some more pretty treasuries!  


  1. Good Morning Heather: Your daughter is a cutie pie. I posted my Versatile Blogger recipients . Of course I love the green theme of your blog. My fav greens have a lot of yellow in them, like the olives and asparagus you use here. The flowers on the right are really attractive. See you around.

  2. OMG your daughter is so frikin cute!!!!!!!!!!! SQEEEEEE!!!!

    (Had to get that outta my system.)

    You are totally right about the competition at craft fairs. jewelry is particularly difficult because there are SO MANY jewelry sellers. It can be hard sitting there while your jewelry collects dust while the person next to you (selling soap) is having their items fly off the shelves.

    1. Lol, she was 8 mo in the picture, she's going on 4yr now already! At the last show I was at the lady next to me was selling crocheted pot holders and they were flying. I mean come on, how many people need pot holders? I did well though, so I can't complain!


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