15 Ways to Increase Craft Sales

Do you want to get your crafting business on the right track? Here are 15 ways to increase the sales of your hand-crafted items.

1) Look for new sales venues. If you have a traditional or 'old-fashioned' product it may sell better in a museum or in a historic setting. Try shows at museum and historic sites.

2) Sell your work at visitor gift shops. Visit the shop first to make sure your work will fit in and that it won't duplicate things that are already there. Make an appointment with the buyer. Bring along a price list with retail prices and wholesale discount prices clearly listed.

3) Consider selling your work to gift shops in hospitals or nursing homes. Again, an appointment is mandatory. These shops are usually looking for inexpensive items for families and visitors that will offer comfort or cheer for the patient. Be careful; you are competing against imported and manufactured impulse items, so don't bother unless you have something different and inexpensive.

4) Home parties are fun and a steady source of sales. Invite bookings with a hostess gift and a percentage of sales; usually 10 percent. Borrow routines from Tupperware, Partylite and Avon: play a few word-games to get their attention. When you've awarded a few inexpensive prizes, begin exhibiting your work. Explain special care details, work-saving benefits, or details about the creation process. After everyone hands in their orders, offer a $10-$20 retail item as an incentive to book a party within a few weeks. That will get your chain going. The hostess will also receive 10% of total sales at her party as the hostess prize. Work with samples and take orders. Allow enough time to make sure you can deliver when you promise. Don't book parties after December 1. It's amazing how work backs up, supplies are back ordered or unavailable, and you end up exhausted, delivering to customers on an icy Christmas eve. Not fun!

5) Do you have products with a wide range of prices? Even at higher-end shows, people are interested in less-expensive products. These low-end sales can make the difference between a marginal show and a good one. Make sure your low-priced items are profitable, or spend a little time in R and D (Research and Development).

6) Create lines of products. Do you have products that match others? Display them as a grouping or a set, close to one another. That is what's meant by a 'line.' With pottery, you might have two or three lines, each with a distinct color range or design. In white stoneware with blue designs you might have bowls, mugs, dishes, pitchers, etc. - and the same pieces in a different color or design. It also works for jewelry, woodwork - just about everything. Customers will buy two or three pieces, and come back for more, even a year later.

7) Display a catalog of pieces you have created, but may not have with you or which have sold. This can be nothing more than jury-quality close-up photos in an album showing your range of work, or alternate styles and colors. If you sell out of a product, you can still take orders for it from your catalog! These are sales you would have lost. Full-color printing is expensive, but colored postcards are reasonably priced and impressive. They will even help your customers remember who you are when they receive an invitation to a show.

8) Make a list of your upcoming shows. Section a page into squares, each square to hold your show list. This is called "four-up" or four on a page. Each hundred pages will yield 400 lists with just a paper cutter. Stack them on your display for people to pick up, and put one in the bag with each purchase for repeat business. Each one should have your complete contact information, including email address, phone and website if you have one.

9) Create an online catalog in full color for just pennies, even if you have only moderate computer skills. To receive orders initially, you can create a print-out order form which the customer can mail in with payment and investigate e-commerce plans at a later date.

10) Put your website address and email address on every piece of paper you generate, from the little show pick-ups with your show schedule, to your business cards, thank-you messages, email signature, care directions, hang-tags, and even on labels for the back/bottom of your products.

11) Collect customer names and addresses in a Guest Book at your booth, and from every check and credit card sale. About ten days before each show, mail 50-100 postcards (or more) to bring your old customers back for more purchases. Offer incentives, such as a 'refund of the admission fee with your purchase of over $35, or 10% off your purchase of $35 or more. Or even 'come see my new line of berry strainers and quiche dishes!' New and novel designs will bring enthusiastic customers to your booth. They won't come to your show if they don't know about it.

12) Create a Show-Stopper. Display it up front and center, even if it's too expensive to sell at most shows. You want everyone to see it, and stop to admire it. Once they're in your booth, they'll notice your other work, and probably buy something less expensive and within their budget.

13) Get a widget! A widget is something you can make quickly, and sell inexpensively. Even if you don't make much profit on your widgets, they will help pay for your booth. Again, it can make the difference between a marginal show, and a good one.

14) Talk about your work. Many craftsmen are shy about talking about themselves. If you love what you do, talk about your new designs, or how happy you are with the reception your work receives. Tell your neighbors; give your business card to people you meet along with a show schedule. Even your next door neighbors may be unaware of your work, unless you tell them. Ask your family to help you spread the word.

15) Lastly, make sure you have enough merchandise. If your display looks empty, people won't bother to look. They'll think they've seen everything as they pass by. A good rule of thumb would be to figure that you'd really like to sell ten times as much product as the fee you pay for your space. If you pay $75 for your space, aim to sell $750 worth. You need three to five times that amount in merchandise, about $2200-$3700, in order to finish the show with a good selection and well-stocked shelves right to the end.

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