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My wife makes children's clothes. Watching her market her craft over the years has taught me how I can use shoestring marketing tactics to sell my writing. Not only do these methods work like a charm, but if you are diligent in marketing your crafts through the six sales channels, you will be amazed at how rapidly your business will grow.
If you sell books, sell at book shows and conferences related to the types of books you sell. My wife has done well selling her children's clothes at local craft shows, fire company events, and tractor shows.
Yes, I said tractor shows. She makes modest children's clothing by hand and tractor shows are frequented by people with an interest in the vintage past.
The trick is to find out where your target audience hangs out and to set up shop there. Whether you sell handmade jewelry, wood furniture, wrought iron garden supplies, or some other craft, you have some idea who your ideal customer is. Find out where they shop and put your craft business there. Pay a booth fee if you have to.
The beauty behind craft shows is that they typically take place over the course of a few days, usually on weekends, so you can create your crafts between events. Take business cards. My wife has sold more clothes after the show simply by passing out business cards.
Set Up a Website With An E-commerce Store
Online marketing is a whole new gig altogether, but it's relatively inexpensive. A $500 website is an expense you can calculate against the life of your business. If you sell just $100 worth of merchandise in your first five years, it will pay for itself.
On the other hand, free open source software like WordPress – with its huge volume of free plugins and a community of support volunteers – can offer an inexpensive way to establish your craft business online. You might have to learn some new skills – and all you have to pay for is a domain name (about $10/year) and hosting (less than $10/month), but, believe me, it's well worth it.
This channel works better in conjunction with your own website, but you don't need a website to sell through social media. Chances are, you're already there.
Facebook allows you to set up a fan page, and it's free. You can add a store to your page that will allow your fans to buy your products through Facebook. You can also promote your craft items by pinning images of your creations on Pinterest, sharing them with friends on Instagram, and attracting your audience through other social media websites.
Find out where your audience hangs out and go social.
Search for consignment shops in your area and contact the owners. Some retail stores sell items completely on consignment. Others make special arrangements with crafters whose items they like.
Whether you sell handmade clothes, jewelry, iron products, wood furniture, or another type of craft, there are stores ready to take your items on consignment and sell them for you.
Become a Wholesaler
If you make items that can be replicated, then you might sell them wholesale to retailers.
Unlike with consignment, you can charge retailers up front for your craft items if they buy them in multiple units. You won't make as much per unit this way, but if you get a few good retailers who can push your products out the door as quickly as you deliver them, then you can establish for yourself a steady stream of income.
Online Craft Vendors
You've likely heard of eBay. Many crafters have used eBay over the years to sell their items online. The advantage to using a site like eBay is you don't have to build your own website, but you do have to give up a percentage of the sale for the privilege of listing your items.
Another popular website where crafters sell their items is Etsy.
Amazon allows third-party vendors to list their items for sale and is a great place for many craft vendors.
You may be able to find a specialty website for your type of craft just by Googling "craft directory" and your type of craft (i.e. "jewelry," "greeting cards," or "wood furniture"). Print-on-demand stores like Café Press and Zazzle allow crafters to open an online store and sell to their audiences for a commission fee.
Artsy Shark has published a large list of craft vendor websites where you can sell your goods.
Conclusion: Run Your Craft Business Like a Business
With some diligence and hard work, you can run your craft business frugally and sell your craft items online and in the real world. Keep in mind that your craft business is a business. Therefore, your goal should be to bring more money in than you spend to keep it running. When you achieve that goal, you'll have a profitable craft business and you can build upon your success with more success.
Seek out sales channels that require no expenses unless you make a sale, and diversify your portfolio so that if one sales channel dries up, you still have other income streams. Start small and take one step at a time.
SEE ALSO: Transforming Your Hobby Into A Career
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