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[120] Can you make a successful living selling OOAK items online?

 

Can you make a living selling OOAK handmade items online?

This is a question I’ve been asked many times over the years, and now that I’ve been in the handmade industry for almost 10 years, I can confirm that my stance on this remains the same.

In short: no, you can’t.

Of course, there are exceptions, and good reasons why this is the case.

In this episode, I outline the reasons why it is extremely difficult to make a living from selling OOAK items online (and I am specifically talking about online selling, not markets, wholesale etc.).

If you happen to make a living selling OOAK items online, I want to hear from you! I’ve been trying to interview someone who does on the podcast from the beginning, but I am yet to find someone. If you are that someone, or know of someone who fits the bill (makes a full-time living from their handmade business, and 90% or more of their sales online exclusively from OOAK items) then I want to hear from you!

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Quotes & Highlights from this Episode:

  • A one of a kind (OOAK) piece is a unique item of which you only make the one.
  • The hard truth, learned from my own research and experience, is that it is not really possible to make a living selling OOAK items online.
  • OOAK can absolutely be successful in handmade business. The challenge is when you move online.
  • The two exceptions to this are:
  1. Expensive items priced in the mid to high hundreds of dollars. These need to be quick to make, have a good mark up and sell daily.
  2. Makers with a large and dedicated following. Time is invested in building a presence, batch making items and managing a big release.
  • “If your OOAK items are mid to low priced, the chances of you making a successful living selling online is very small.” {Jess}
  • Selling an OOAK piece online takes far more work than selling in person.
  • Each product needs to be individually listed with photos, editing, title, keywords and tags, description notes, proofing and more and all of these little pieces of time add up.
  • When starting out there is ample time, energy and enthusiasm to experiment and create OOAK items but as your business grows this becomes less sustainable.
  • As your creativity ebbs and flows having a line of reproducible items provides you with breathing room.
  • “You should have the freedom to make and list OOAK items when the inspiration strikes and you have the time” {Jess}
  • Utilise price points to support these creative endeavours. Your OOAK items should have pricing that reflects their elevated and unique status.
  • Reproducible designs do not mean that the piece is not handmade or a labour of love.
  • If you have OOAK items, list them on your best selling venue and deactivate the listing when at markets.

 

Download or listen to this episode.

You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher)

[119] 10 Steps to Wholesale Readiness

Are you ready to sell your handmade goods wholesale? Is that even something you want to do?

In this episode, I outline 10 steps to wholesale readiness – questions you need to ask yourself to know if selling wholesale is a good choice for your handmade business, and if so, are you ready to dive in?

If you’d like a free pdf copy of the questions and thinking points, scroll down and you’ll see just how to get a hold of that.

If you do decide that you want to sell wholesale, make sure you don’t miss out joining me and Melanie Augustin for our e-course Wholesale Know-How! Class starts Monday the 28th of August (2017, if you’re reading this in the future) and we only run the course once per year.

 

Quotes & Highlights from this Episode:

  • Not sure if your products are up to scratch for the wholesale market? Scout out the stores you would like to stock your work and assess the quality of the current products.
  • Easily replicable work is quicker to resupply and build your stockist list.
  • Quality control is key with wholesale especially if you are not the only maker of your products.
  • “If you are thinking about going into wholesale you need to go back and look at your pricing structure.” {Jess}
  • You should be able to sell your products at wholesale rates and still make a profit.
  • Avoid over-extending yourself – be realistic about your timeframes for manufacture and delivery.
  • Build a social media presence to demonstrate your market reach and potential for promotional activities.
  • Finding the right stockist takes time, energy and perseverance.
  • “Be selective with the stockists you approach – start small, start local.” {Jess}
  • Practise your product pitch until you have it pat.
  • Are you willing to take on assistance when you hit your wholesale ceiling?
  • “When you focus on selling wholesale it doubles your making workload.” {Jess}
  • You can choose how much of your business to make wholesale. (Jess shares an anecdote about finding a wholesale business balance with Epheriell).
  • Be clear about your wholesale goals.
  • “Until you decide why you are doing wholesaling you will struggle with progress” {Jess}

 

 

 

Download or listen to this episode.

 

 

You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher)

[118] The Only Race is With Yourself

 

Do you feel ‘left behind’ when you look at other handmade businesses?

Do you worry that you aren’t doing enough? That your business isn’t growing fast enough? That you should be where that person is?

I’m here to tell you that this is a super-common feeling. AND that you need to stop looking at and comparing yourself to those other businesses out there.

You can only do what YOU can do. You cannot compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.

That is: maybe you have a job, and children, and elderly parents, and a partner, and hobbies… etc etc. In other words – your life only leaves you with a certain amount of time free to work on your business.

Your free time may be vastly different to that person’s free time.

Stop acting like you’re in a race with other people. The only race is with yourself.

 

 

Quotes and highlights from this episode:

  • Many fledgling creative entrepreneurs struggle with finding what they think is enough time, energy, and resources.
  • There are times when establishing a business will feel onerous and times when it will feel easy.
  • What really matters is that you enjoy the majority of the journey. Otherwise a time will come when it all becomes too hard.
  • “You are not in competition with someone else. You’re not racing someone else. You’re simply racing against yourself.” {Jess}
  • In the words of Mary Schmich “the race is long and in the end it is only with yourself.”
  • It is okay for your craft to remain a hobby rather than a business. (Jess shares an anecdote from a Thriver Circle member who made the decision to close her business and instead pursue her craft as a pastime).
  • Establishing a business is more than just creating your saleable project. You will be spending a large proportion of time learning about marketing, administration, finances, connecting with people.
  • Factor in your time, energy and resources when making goals.
  • “We get frustrated from the disparity between our reality and our imagined reality.” {Jess}
  • Create a toolkit of time management and planning strategies.
  • Building a business takes times, patience and long-term dedication.
  • “Every little step is progress forward. No matter how small it is. It is always a step forward and it is always something to be proud of.” {Jess}

 

Download or listen to this episode.

You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher)

Register Now for Wholesale Know-How!

Wholesale Know-How Handmade Business Ecourse

 

Hey Thriver,

 

Have you ever wondered…

 

  • If wholesale is right for you, and if so, if you’ve got everything in place to hit the ground running? (Business branding, products, legalities etc.)
  • If you’re pricing your items right, so you’re still making a profit when selling wholesale?
  • How to grow your business faster than you’re able to by only selling direct to your customers?
  • What systems you need to put in place from the beginning when selling wholesale to get things running smoothly?
  • How you can get your brand ‘out there’ into the world, and gain wider recognition?
  • The best way to approach stockists, and how to maintain a positive (and profitable) relationship with them?
  • How to put together a wholesale catalogue that will wow potential stockists?
  • What the ins and outs of how to succeed at a trade fair are, (without taking the risk of losing thousands of dollars because you don’t know what you’re doing?)
  • Exactly how other people have made selling wholesale the main part of their business?

 

The C&T E-course – Wholesale Know-How – will answer all these questions, and more.

It will teach you everything you need to learn in order to start successfully wholesaling your handmade creations.

 

Registration for the 30-day course is open now: class starts August 28th!

Enrol Now

 

 


[117] Round Table Q&A with Thrivers in Winchester, England

 

This week, I’m bringing you something special!

When I was in England recently, I had a Thriver meetup – and 5 wonderful makers (who also happen to be Thriver Circle members) came along. We spent 2 hours talking all things creative business!

In the first part of the session, each maker had 15 minutes to ask questions about their business. In the second session, I opened the floor to general handmade biz questions.

I did record everything, but alas, half of the first session didn’t save (darn technology!) so today I’m sharing with you that second session – the open Q&A.

We cover some important topics – from pricing to finding and marketing to your ideal customer, to collaboration and SEO. We packed a lot in this short session!

Enjoy, and a huge thanks to my guests for not only coming along and being awesome, but being willing for me to share this with the world via the podcast. Their names and details are below – do check them out!

 

My Guests

 

Quotes and Highlights:

  • Adela sought advice on marketing her card-making business for adults, Della by Design.
  • Try bundling and marketing kits for events – hen’s parties or girls’ craft nights in.
  • Market these event packages on the website separate from the individual kits to increase reach across audience markets.
  • Victoria, of Toria by Victoria Jowett, asked about establishing a creative partnership.
  • Approach your potential partner with a concrete proposal package.
  • Ensure that collaborative partnerships are formalised in a written contract.
  • “Remember, when you’re working with someone else it doesn’t just double your problems it multiplies them as there are two people wanting to get things done.” {Jess}
  • Jo, of Stitches to Treasure, enquired about how to establish a business focus.
  • “You don’t just have to have one group of target customers. You make different ways to engage the different groups.” {Jess}
  • Use a variety of marketing messages and customers will connect with the ones that resonate to them.
  • Suze, of Suze Harris Decorative Woodwork, sought advice on how to set an hourly rate.
  • Ensure you cover all of your time not just the making.
  • In the early stage of a business your time will be skewed towards learning lessons. This will shift as you gain experience.
  • “You can do all the maths you want with your pricing but at the end of the day it’s just the starting point. It’s not the end point.” {Jess}
  • Remember business is about experimentation. Take risks. (Jess shares an anecdote about product lines that have been trialed and retired)
  • Victoria is looking to boost her SEO.
  • Ensure photos are saved with key words and your business name in the title.
  • Mix up your key words and utilise the power of the Alt Tag.
  • Adela wants to run an Instagram Christmas promotion featuring styled images with objects from other businesses.
  • Try working with a different maker each day to increase reach and build relationships.

 

Download or listen to this episode.

You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher)