Learn how to turn your handmade hobby into a thriving business with Jess Van Den.
Q&A with Megan Auman – September
Please welcome the fabulous Megan Auman – jeweller, business strategist, artist, designer, brilliant entrepreneur, and my lovely friend. Megan is going to be stopping by every other month to answer three of your burning questions – think of her a little like a whip-smart, no-nonsense business advice columnist.
Take it away, Megan…
I make body care products with EO. I just can not seem to sell via social media as people want to feel and smell them. A storefront is just out of my pay grade. Selling at flea market outdoors has not done well. What would be my next step?
There are a few options here that can help encourage people to try and buy your products. The first is to use really lush, beautiful images on social media that help give people the idea of the smell. For example, if a product contains vanilla scent, photograph it with some vanilla beans. This helps customers make a connection and imagine the smell based on a visual cue.
You can also offer small sample or trial sizes. Since it would probably be cost prohibitive for you to offer free samples, you could offer them at a low price (that includes shipping) and then include a coupon for that amount off their first purchase. It then becomes like a free sample, but only if they commit to making a larger order.
I would also recommend reaching out to friends and family on social media. Ask them what it would take for them to get them to buy a body product they aren’t familiar with online for the first time. They may surprise you with some unexpected ideas.One last avenue to explore is wholesaling your products to stores. This is a great option that gets your products into people’s hands without the upfront costs of a store front. (And since stores buy your products outright, but at wholesale prices, it can be a fairly risk free way to go!) For more info on wholesale and approaching stores, be sure to check out my Sell Your Products to Retailers class on Creative Live.
How do you distinguish yourself?
The first way to distinguish yourself is through product design. If you’re making products that look similar to many others that are out there, it can be difficult to stand out. This could mean taking a look at your competitors and asking yourself what you could do differently. The classic example of this is when Apple released the iPod. Everyone else in the portable music market was using black earphones, so Apple made theirs white. This led to an incredibly distinctive product.
As a product, this may also mean taking additional classes and learning or developing new skills and techniques. When you are limited to the same basic skills as your competitors, it makes differentiation all the more difficult.
Another key way to distinguish yourself is through your brand. Branding is about more than just a logo, aesthetic and color scheme. (Though those certainly make up part of it.) The best brands stand for something. They espouse a core belief that is shared by their customers and raving fans. They create stories that other people can share about the brand, which helps them achieve an almost mythical status.The key to solid branding is to define what it is your business is really about. Apple is in the business of challenging the status quo. I am in the business of confidence. Ask yourself what it is you truly want to provide for your customers. From there, the key is to choose a visual strategy (your logo, fonts, colors, product photography, etc.) that supports the core mission behind your business.Because branding is difficult to cover thoroughly in a column, I’d also recommend that you check out my upcoming class on Branding Your Creative Business on Creative Live.
How do you get out of a creative slump and get back on track?
I’m a big fan of Megan’s work and ethos. I would like to ask, ‘ I know you make jewellery, but you are so diverse with your designs. What has been your most successful product line and why?’
I’m going to tackle these two questions together, as they’re very related for me! When I find myself in a creative slump, one of the things I do is give myself permission to experiment with other mediums, techniques, processes, and product types.
Often times, a creative slump comes from burnout and taking some time to experiment in other areas can give you fresh perspective. But it’s also important that you don’t let those experiments take you too far from your main focus. In the past year and a half, I’ve ventured from my jewelry line to experiment with painting and textile design. But to answer Kate’s question, my most successful product line by far is my jewelry.
The reason for that is simple. I’ve spent years (eight since I’ve left graduate school, but who’s counting) developing my jewelry line and building a solid reputation. And because I’m more familiar with that world than any other, I’m able to produce jewelry that is more profitable than any other product line I’ve developed.Which brings me to the second part of coming back from a creative slump. And that’s to rekindle the romance and remind yourself of why you fell in love with your chosen medium in the first place. This could mean taking a class, pulling out some books, or heading to a museum (my personal favourite.
Another way to rekindle the passion is to design something that you have no intention of selling. Try making something as a gift or something for yourself “just for fun.” When Tara asked me to design a simple necklace that she had been looking for, that opened of a flood of creativity that led to my newest jewelry collection.
Got a question for Megan Auman?
Leave it in the comments below or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org (that’s direct to Megan Eckman, Assistant Editor).
Megan Eckman has written 146 posts in this blog.
Megan Eckman is a quirky pen and ink illustrator who never outgrew her overactive imagination. Her work merges the style of old fairy tale illustrations with modern fantasies.
When she’s not drawing (and giggling all the while), she can be found pacing her apartment writing more stories to go with her artwork.