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[54] 5 Ways to Increase Your Profits

You could be eating away at your profits without even realising it. However, there are lots of ways you can make little tweaks to your handmade business in order to increase your profit margin.

I ran a week-long free course a few years back on this topic, and I thought it was time to bring these ideas to you in the podcast.

By following these five steps you will be able to cut out wasted time, reduce your expenses, and therefore increase your profit margin.

For more detail on each point, the links to the course lessons are in the show notes below.

If you have any other ideas for ways that we as makers can cut expenses and increase our profit margins – while still maintaining the integrity of our business – please share them below!

 

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Streamline and organise
  • Disorganisation will eat into your profits.
  • Decrease the time spent to make the same amount of money by being streamlined in your work practices.
  • This includes organisation of your digital life.
  • Work out what you can do today to become more streamlined and organised.
  • Pinterest is a great resource for finding ideas to create a more organised space.
  • 2. Plan your packaging.
  • ‘Packaging can put a huge dent into your profits.’ {Jess}
  • You need to make sure you account for your packaging costs in the cost of your postage or the item itself.
  • Make sure you always have what you need on hand and try and buy in bulk.
  • Don’t forget to add in the time it takes to package the item.
  • 3. Do your calculations and price your work properly.
  • ‘You don’t want to be leaving money on the table.’ {Jess}
  • It is important to get realistic about how much it is costing you to make your products.
  • You need to cover the time you spend marketing and planning not just making.
  • 4. Can you make it reproducible?
  • This is especially important when selling work online.
  • Can you recreate your item?
  • If you can it will increase your production capacity saving time on each item.
  • These items can then become your bread and butter range.
  • Make sure you keep detailed notes so you can easily reproduce work.
  • Think about minimising materials used across your product range.
  • 5. Buy in wholesale or buy in bulk.
  • This will usually involve planning ahead.
  • Do your research, are there things you can cut out?
  • ‘We always have to place our creative and business integrity above our profit margins.’ {Jess}
  • Only you can decide where you can reduce expenses and save money.

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

15 Steps to Prepare for a Craft Fair, Market, or Show

 

Attending a craft fair, market, or show soon?

If you’ve never done it before, it can seem super-overwhelming – remembering everything you need to pack and take, and thinking about how the day might run smoothly.

Use the following tips to ensure smooth sailing through every craft fair you attend.

 

  1. Stock Prep

You need to take enough stock to keep your stall looking freshly stocked.

This means starting your market prep as early in advance as possible. This is especially important for your first stall – it will be the one where you find best sellers. Write a schedule of what to make over the weeks or months leading up to the event and stick to it.

 

  1. Keep a List

Write a comprehensive list. Save it and print it out prior to each and every market you attend. This will stop you turning up and suddenly realising you forgot to bring a cash float or your mobile phone. Add to the list whenever you need as things always change over time.

 

  1. Do Your Research

Do they provide tables? Will you need electricity? Do they cover insurance or is this something you need to organise? All this information will be available in their correspondence to you or on their website. If not – email someone to find out.

 

  1. Perfect Your Display

This comes easy to some and not so easy to others so it is an awesome idea to do a mock set up.

Merchandising is important because it is how your customer sees your brand. If it doesn’t interest them they will keep walking so you need to make an effort. Get someone you trust to look at it and give you feedback. Draw up a little diagram so when you get there all the thinking has been done and you can jump straight into it.

 

 

  1. Get an Early Start

Rarely is a craft fair just around the corner from where you live, if it is then congrats! If it isn’t then you need to ensure you sort two important details out.

Firstly where is it? If it is close enough go for a drive so you know exactly where – if it is too far research on maps. Once you are there you will need to know where you can drive, where you can park and where you need to set up. Most markets will email you these details in advance – so study them to reduce confusion on the day.

Secondly, though not always easy, leave on time. The last thing you want is to be running late as you really need a nice easy morning. Take plenty of extra time in case of traffic and so you can stop at your favourite café for a take away coffee.

 

  1. Take a Friend

Craft fairs are fun but they are even better with a friend. Find someone who is willing to be your assistant for the day in exchange for lunch and coffee – it’s easier than it sounds!

All they really need to do is be your support if you are tired, fill in for toilet breaks or simply be your company for the journey there and back. Of course it is completely possible too attend markets on your own, it is done by many makers, a friend can help ease you through the busy times though and is someone to celebrate with at the end of the day.

 

  1. Dress for Comfort

Flat shoes, warm clothes just in case, and something you feel confident in. You don’t need to dress up, neat casual is fine. It is about feeling comfortable and confident so you can happily sell your work and meet new people without feeling self-conscious.

 

  1. Hydration

This is something that can’t get said enough. If you do not drink enough water through the day you will be tired and probably grumpy before the day is over.

Water helps keep the oxygen running through your blood and keeps you hydrated so you have enough energy for even the longest of days. Take plenty of water bottles too because not all markets have water available to purchase.

 

  1. Handouts

Take along more than you need when it comes to this type of thing. Business cards, or more effective are fliers that tell a little more about you and what you do. There is so much to see at fairs so having information for people to take home means they will be more likely to remember or recognise you in the future.

 

  1. Work in Progress

If possible take along some work in progress. Depending on what you do this can be a simple task or it could be impossible.

Having something to work on during quiet periods keeps you busy and customers love to see what you do. So if this is possible take something along, even if it is just something small or even a notebook for planning.

 

  1. Feedback

Take a little book along and write down the things you notice so that you haven’t forgotten by the end of the day.

Write down which items got the most attention. Which colour ways attracted people the most. What positive things did you hear people say. All of this can be taken into account as you plan and make decisions for future projects and markets.

 

 

  1. Record Sales

Write down all sales. Write down what sold and the sale price, how the customer paid and what time the sale occurred. This is helpful for future market prep as well as bookwork at the end of the day.

 

  1. Practice Self Control

Many makers have a rule not to make any purchases while at the market. It can be so tempting being surrounded by beautiful items. If you don’t have this rule or at least a limit you will end up eating through all your profits.

Take business cards and when you get home look them up, follow them on social media and tell your friends. There are more ways to support your fellow market stall holders than making a purchase and this means you can take home all that you make. It is a huge compliment to have your work purchased by other makers and it does happen all the time despite the rule!

 

  1. Play the Customer

An important point to remember is not how your stall looks from where you stand but how it looks from the customers perspective. As often as possible walk around and take a look. Are there grubby finger prints? Have items been moved by people looking? Is your tablecloth wonky? During quiet periods assess this and make changes so that your stall is always looking neat.

 

  1. Have Fun

One of the most important pieces of advice is to relax and have fun. Markets are an excellent way of making and building connections, learning about what to do and what not to do, connecting with customers or potential future customers. So enjoy it, have a laugh with people and you will go home feeling satisfied.

 


Want to learn more about how to sell more at craft fairs and markets? Check out our self-study eCourse – How to Sell More at Markets and Shows.

Enrol and get your first lesson straight away!


 

 

[53] Why You Need to Find Your Micro-Niche

Your micro-niche is your super-speciality. It is the one product (or product line) that defines your business – and the one that makes you recognisable amongst your competitors.

We all begin creating because we love it – but taking that step from making for fun to making to sell changes the playing field completely.

We can’t make everything we want to all the time – we need to try and find a micro-niche. Something people want that you make really well. Something specific, that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Once you discover this micro-niche you, will find it much easier to run a profitable business.

If you are yet to find your micro-niche or are yet to consider this idea – take a listen to this podcast for ideas on how to find your own micro-niche.

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • The key point here is the moment when you change from doing craft for fun to trying to sell it.
  • This ‘When parents find out their daughter makes jewelry‘ video made me laugh – I appreciate the satire, because as much as I value what I do (and what all artisans do) there is an element of truth in it.
  • ‘Growing a business is hard work, it will take a long time and you have to be patient.’ {Jess}
  • You need to get more specific with what you are making, you need to find your micro-niche.
  • ‘You want to be the master of one specific type of thing.’ {Jess}
  • Look to successful people and think about what they make. Do they have a micro-niche?
  • When you find your micro-niche you will be able to define your target market.
  • ‘Constraints are a beautiful thing when it comes to creativity.’ {Jess}
  • You are more likely to become successful with a small group of people than with everyone.
  • Remember that less is more.
  • You may have to give some stuff up – and that is ok.
  • Your micro-niche may be a theme rather than a product.
  • So, how do you figure out what your micro-niche is?
  • 1. Follow the market – what are your best sellers and why? Don’t be afraid to ask your community.
  • 2. Consider your niche market. Who are they?
  • 3. Do some research and see what your competitors are doing right and wrong.
  • ‘Your brand story is going to be incredibly powerful here.’ {Jess}
  • Finding your micro-niche may mean you need to change things, re-organise or drop products.
  • If you don’t have a micro-niche it will be incredibly hard to have a profitable business.
  • Finish this sentence: “I am the person who sells…”
  • ‘Be the one that people think of.’ {Jess}

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

[52] How to Thrive in the Face of Illness and Injury with Heidi Fahrenbacher

Heidi Fahrenbacher is a ceramicist. She has faced some huge challenges in her business following a fall on some ice outside her studio.

No one knows the stress of facing injury while running a creative business better than Heidi. She makes a living full time from her ceramics so it was a huge deal when she fell and injured herself.

From business success to a painful path to recovery, facing chronic pain and surgery it took Heidi many years to get back on track, and the healing process is still ongoing.

Heidi and I discuss how she stayed positive through some of her hardest days, how she managed her frustration and got her business back on track.

If you have faced illness or injury, are currently on the road to recovery or would like to make sure you are prepared just in case, have a listen to this episode!

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • Heidi’s small business was going very well until in 2011 when she walked out of her studio and fell on some ice, knocking the wind from her. She thought she would be fine but soon noticed a numbness in her foot. She realised then that she had to get some medical advice.
  • It took years before the doctors could find what was causing the pain Heidi was experiencing.
  • Heidi had to undertake hip surgery and it was at that point she had to stop working.
  • After recovering from surgery, 6 months later she started to feel numbness in her foot again and began physical therapy.
  • ‘I was ready to quit ceramics.’ {Heidi}
  • A foot doctor found that the bones in her feet weren’t aligned and were pinching a nerve. Finally she had found the source of the numbness!
  • Heidi finally  was in the healing stages and it came down to waiting patently.
  • ‘That kind of strain and stress can really bring you down.’ {Heidi}
  • Heidi eventually accepted  what was happening and realised she had to be honest with herself.
  • ‘I would go through days when I would throw a pity party for myself.’ {Heidi}
  • Heidi could no longer focus on her social media and marketing and suffered greatly.
  • ‘It is much easier to self promote when you are excited about what you are doing.’ {Heidi}
  • Heidi soon came to the realisation that it was just work and it was time to cut herself some slack.
  • ‘I was surviving instead of thriving.’ {Heidi}
  • It took a year or so to get back into things, changing the way she worked and some of the techniques she uses.
  • The best practical advice Heidi can share with you is to ensure you are insured especially if you live somewhere where there is no free healthcare, figure out how easy your products are to make in the case that you can’t, and try and have an emergency savings account to cover you through the hard times.
  • Emotionally you need to stay positive. Heidi used to use physical exercise to find stress relief but now reads and listens to comedy to ensure she is laughing as often as possible.
  • Having a supportive person and/or community is also very important for you emotions.
  • ‘You can’t give up, you’re going to want to and there are going to be really bad days.’ {Heidi}
  • You can find Heidi at her website, Facebook or Instagram.

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

 

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)


The Role of Your Partner in Your Creative Business

 

 

 

Your loved ones are expected to be your support, give you encouragement and help to motivate you, especially through the hard times.

So what happens when your partner just so happens to be a non-creative? Someone who doesn’t quite understand what you do and why you do it?

This doesn’t have to be a negative, there are ways around it. Let’s look at a few of them below.

 

  1. Your partner does not have to be part of your business

This one is probably the most important point here.

It is so exciting when you start a business, all you want to do is share it with your loved one. You start dreaming of working from home together, attending markets together, or throwing business and product ideas around over a glass of wine in the evenings.

Of course we want or partner to be on board with all that we do but this is often the furthest thing from their minds. Most importantly remember that this is your dream: not theirs. Of course you want to share your passion and excitement but remembering it is your dream, your idea, and your goals will save disagreements.

 

2. Only tell them the good bits

This is not healthy in the long term. There is no small business that only has ‘good bits’.

It can however be a good tactic to use for a partner who can only see the flaws in your plan. Focusing on your successes when talking about your creative endeavours will help the other realise just how exciting and wonderful your business is.

Don’t ignore the challenges but see them as just that, a challenge to work through – and find support from other creatives who have probably encountered the same challenges.

The last thing you want in the growth stages of your business is your loved ones telling you to give it up (yes, it happens!).

 

3. If they are not creative they may never understand

Sometimes a creative person finds another creative person to call their significant other, but more often than not there are wonderful matches made between the creative and the non-creative.

While these partners may never truly understand the passions of a creative person, they have strengths that can help you in your biz. Find these strengths and work with them.

 

 

4. The ‘real work’ argument

One common barrier to understanding is that a non-creative partner may see your work from home, or social media, or emails and accounting as ‘not real work’.

After all you are sitting there on your ipad in your jeans enjoying a cup of tea.

This is a common challenge in relationships where one person works from home in a creative online-based business.

Rather than getting defensive (a natural reaction) just explain – tell them about how your instagram brings you sales so you need to keep it updated, or that you are replying to an exciting email about possible wholesale.

It is often a simple lack of understanding of what you are doing that can make a partner feel this way.

 

5. Celebrations

Those of us with supportive partners are super lucky, but those of us with partners who don’t understand need to remember you didn’t meet them with the goals of having a business partner or mentor, and so they don’t need to be that.

Find these skills in others who face or have faced similar challenges and let your loved one be just that.

Once you lose that expectation, they will hopefully soon see the joy you feel in running your creative business, and support you in a way that is comfortable to them and nurturing to you.

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