When it comes to selling handmade, traders generally fall into two categories – those who do it for a hobby, and those who want to make a business out of it. If you just want a little hobby – crocheting with your buddies midweek, and then selling at the weekends (possibly on the off chance that you might be able to add a bit of spare cash to your pension) – it’s all well and good. But if you are trying to make a business out of it, a few questions might keep on popping up, such as:
Am I too expensive?
For handmade business owners (and often other artists too) pricing can be a real issue. The question of whether you’re charging too much or too little can be a daunting one, especially when not every member of the general public understands how much time and money goes into making something yourself. There are many theories and equations that can be applied to pricing, such as: hourly wage, X hours spent on an item, and material costs. But for many of us who are less than confident sales people, this can leave us feeling a little bit lost when confronting that one rude lady who takes issue with the cost of our work: ‘I can get ten of these for the same price at Primark’, she may squark. Patricia, at the Design Trust has written at excellent article on how to respond to these people.
What about my competition?
I’m not going to attempt to belittle the feeling of complete helplessness that you feel when you’re making less than minimum wage for yourself, yet someone else seems to be doing what you do but cheaper. Everyone feels or has felt that way from time to time, but you shouldn’t ask yourself ‘why am I more expensive?’ Instead, ask, ‘how are they cheaper?’ and ‘what am I offering that they’re not?’ If we think about it honestly, how many of us as craftspeople would like to be known as ‘cheap’?
One thing that Gloria Murray told the Women Into Business group that I’ve been attending, and something that has really stuck with me is this:
‘If your customers choose you based on price, then they’ll leave you based on price.’
If you bring a unique skill and craftsmanship to your handmade business, and work hard at it, you will find customers that appreciate you for what you do and how you do it.
How do I find my customers?
This is a question that I’m still constantly looking for the answer to, though I do know that networking is the key – you never know when you might meet someone who will love your product. You have to get out there and present yourself; even at bad craft fairs, I’ve found stockists who have bought my greetings cards wholesale.