Do you create products strategically or simply create whatever comes to mind first?
You probably went into the handmade business because you’re creative and love making. That’s completely fine, but the moment you decide you want it to be a business, your product creation has to be strategic. It’s a bit of a mix between the right and left side of the brain. You need to create art that you’re able to apply to a market. Knowing the trends and what’s working and not working for your customers is very important and I feel is often neglected, leaving you more in the “hobby” than “business” category. You can still create whatever you want in your free time, but your products need to be created strategically if you want to run a business. The product collections should be cohesive – your shop should make sense to your customer, and not just be a collection of various, unconnected items. It’s okay to have a range of product, but it should always have something to tie them together. Without that, it’s going to be hard to scale and profit from your handmade shop. If you want to learn how to create cohesive shop collections, you can look here.
Can you walk me through your plan?
If you don’t have a marketing/promotional system in place, if you’re playing it by ear or going with the flow, you need to pause and take a step back and work on that. If you’re running a business and not a hobby, you can’t just rely on your friends and family buying from you and an occasional sale. You need to actively plan and sell your products. It’s one of the parts of business we all probably hate (me included) but if you want to be in business, you need to respect yourself and your work and make a profit out of it. That means you have to have a strategy in place:
- a clear, detailed plan for the next 3 months: your social media strategy, email marketing plan etc.
- yearly collection release and marketing/promotions dates. You need to know that 12 months in advance to work backwards and be ready for each. That’s very important because planning, creating collections and promoting is time-consuming and if you were to start thinking about Halloween today, it’s way too late. It’s best to plan your collections and promotions 6 months in advance. Make a plan of the seasons, the dates you want to promote on and work backwards to figure out what needs to be done when. It also triggers questions like: how am I going to market for Christmas? Maybe I should start an email list? Etc.
Here’s an example of a plan to prepare your handmade shop for Christmas.
To sum it all up, to have a business instead of an expensive hobby you need to:
- Price your products for profit;
- Track your finances and creating a financial strategy;
- Create products strategically;
- Have a detailed plan for your shop for 3 months in advance and a general one for the next year.