Make money doing what you love. Kari Chapin’s insightful and inspiring guide to turning your crafting skills into earned income has been completely revised and updated. The Handmade Marketplace is filled with proven techniques that can help you brand your business, establish a client base, sell your products, and effectively employ all aspects of social media. Learn how easy it is to enjoy a lucrative career while leading the creative life you’ve always craved.
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About the Author
Since the publication of The Handmade Marketplace in 2010 and Grow Your Handmade Business in 2012, Kari Chapin has gained national visibility as a sought-after speaker at craft business conferences and events. She also offers one-on-one creative coaching and courses online. She is known for her effective coaching style and distinctive, supportive voice, along with her strong ability to market and network.
Read an Excerpt
Setting the Scene for Success
The very fact that you're reading this book says that you're interested in taking your handmade experience to the next level. Perhaps you want a second income stream. Maybe you're considering leaving your 9-to-5 job behind, but you want to start slowly and test the waters a bit before you take a cannonball-type leap into full-time entrepreneurship. Whatever your reasons, exploring how to sell your work is an exciting endeavor.
Nothing beats having your work appreciated so much that someone is willing to trade their hard-earned money to own it. (Well, the feeling of coming across your work out in the world when you weren't expecting it is a super rush, too!) Doing what you love and actually earning money from it is an amazing feeling. Doing work you both enjoy and control while making a living at it is the best. It's as simple as that. Even if you love your day job, no matter what kind of satisfaction you get from it, the feeling of supporting yourself from something you created can't be beat.
If you're willing to put yourself out there and try new things, selling your crafts can be a very rewarding experience. You can make it whatever you want — that is the beauty of running your own business, whether large or small. You get to be in control, and you can change your mind about the way things are happening whenever you want.
Do you like to stay up late and wake up late? You're in luck if you're your own boss because you can set your own hours. You can also determine what your projects and objectives are, and you decide how you measure your success.
You'll have the opportunity to hone and develop your skills with your creative whims as your guide. Connecting with a community of buyers and like-minded sellers is a little like choosing your own coworkers. The feedback you get once you put your work out there into the world can feel like receiving a great review from a day job.
Selling your crafts doesn't mean you have to be an expert at all things business. You just need to believe in yourself, have the gumption to put yourself out there and the desire to jump into adventure. You can take it anywhere you want. You don't have to choose just one thing, either. If your creative heart likes to decoupage and spin wool, then go for it.
For the most part, all you need to start a business is the desire to create and the desire to sell. If you choose to set up booths at craft fairs during the summer or around the holidays, sure, you'll need some extra supplies like a tent and table. But armed with a digital camera and a computer, you could be in business at any time.
If your schedule is already tight, consider what you want out of your business before you dig in. Setting some clear objectives regarding why you want to sell your crafts will help you make some important decisions along the way. Do you want to earn enough money to keep your craft habit afloat? Do you want extra income to pay for an annual vacation? Do you want to start a college fund for your kids? Or do you want to quit your day job and craft full-time? When I asked you why you wanted a craft business, this is why. Understanding what your motivation is will help you choose the direction you ultimately go in.
Like anything else in life, your craft business will give you what you put into it. If you choose to have an online store and you want to make a big chunk of change within a year, you'll need to devote yourself to making sure that happens. This may require spending hours a day updating your online store, answering questions from customers, and balancing your books. You may find yourself spending Saturday mornings packing your orders, restocking supplies, and focusing on your social media efforts for the upcoming week. Sundays may be spent writing descriptions and uploading quality photos of your goods, after you take those photos of course. Did you notice I didn't mention the actual crafting yet? That's because running a business, even a small one, consists of a whole lot of business-related tasks on top of the creating. Are you ready for that kind of commitment? Is your family?
If you have a family, they have as big a stake in your venture as you do. Are they supportive of your taking on something like this? Talk over your business idea with the people you live with, the people who depend on you. This can be the first step to making sure that everyone will be on board. Having the support of those closest to you is paramount. Your goals in combination with your current day-today life will likely affect how much time you can devote to selling your crafts.
Here are some things to think about before deciding that selling your crafts is right for you:
* Why do I want to start selling my crafts?
* What are my monetary goals?
* What does my idea of success look like? How will I know when I've achieved it?
* Do I have enough free time to devote to selling my work?
* Do I have the tools I need at hand to begin selling what I make?
* Do I have a support system in place for taking on this venture?
* What are my biggest fears? How can I overcome them?
* What excites me the most about starting a business?
BUILDING A NURTURING SPACE
Where you work has an impact on how you work. You know what kind of working conditions work best for you, and you should ensure that you have the kind of creative space you need. This doesn't mean, however, that you have to rent a studio to provide your creative self with the best working conditions possible.
If your work space is small, then start thinking big to maximize your creativity. Surrounding yourself with things that inspire you is a good start. If you don't have the space to devote a whole room to your crafty pursuits, you'll need to think outside the box. Can you turn a closet that's currently filled with junk into a craft closet? Or can your china cabinet double as a place to store your craft supplies if you work at the dining room table? For a long time I had an end table that held all of my mitten supplies. I worked mostly on my couch, and it was a perfect spot to keep my odds and ends.
What inspires you? Nature? Exercise? Travel? Exploring your town? Window-shopping? Inspiration can strike at any time, in any place. One minute you're folding laundry, and the next thing you know, a creative problem that has been plaguing you is solved. A walk in the woods can refresh your mind and body and spirit, and the path you take can lead not just your feet somewhere new but your mind as well. Sometimes when I cook or bake, I find my mind wandering, and the next thing I know, I'm dying for that kitchen timer to sound so I can get into my studio.
Organizing Your Inspiration
Inspiration can be anything. It can be a picture you tear out of a magazine that you pin on your bulletin board, or it can be a sunset that makes you rethink your color choices on a project you're working on.
How you keep track depends on your learning style. If you're visual, then look for images and themes that you respond to and keep them someplace accessible. Start a filing system or designate a wall someplace where you can post everything that tickles your creative fancy.
Have a folder on your computer's desktop where you file away online images, or sign up for a Pinterest account (see here). If, like me, your ideas are sometimes more thoughts than images, consider having a sketchbook nearby and write down whatever comes to mind.
I take the ideas from my sketchbook and organize them when they pile up. I type them up, add to them, or discard them. I almost always save some version, because good ideas can be born from bad ideas, and every once in a while when I'm procrastinating or feeling a bit lost, I look over everything I've written down and typed up.
Take note of what you're doing when inspiration strikes. Maybe you'll begin to notice a pattern between your good ideas and your activities.
For visual ideas and keeping track of my projects, I have made what I call "The Wall of Wonder." This is a series of whiteboards, bulletin boards, and foam core where I pin things I want to remember, charts or lists, idea inspirations, business cards I need — anything really. The Wall of Wonder is like a peek inside my brain. There is a section divided into months and spaces reserved for ideation and concept building. Anything that inspires me goes on the wall, and I change it up often.
My husband is a writer, and I'm not kidding when I say he gets out of the shower every day with a new plot twist or poem written out in his head. No matter how your ideas come to you, carry a small notebook with you everywhere — though perhaps not to the shower — and take the time to jot down ideas when they occur to you. But make sure your notes are clear enough for you to understand them later. I am still puzzling out a note I wrote to myself a few years ago that says "love to pet animal car." I have no idea what what my intention was, but I wish I did because it sure sounds intriguing!
It's also a good idea to have a camera with you at all times. These days you can get an affordable camera small enough to fit in your pocket, and having one handy is a valuable tool. Most likely, your phone has a pretty good camera. When you're taking your morning jog, for instance, you might come across a beautiful wildflower that gives you an idea for a piece of jewelry or for a wonderful painting. Inspiration is often unexpected, but it's always welcome.
Inspiration is at the root of starting and maintaining a great handmade-craft business. Sometimes you can be so full of inspiration that you're bursting with ideas and concepts, and you just can't wait to get started. You spend all of your waking moments thinking about your ideas, to the point where normal daily tasks like driving to work or doing your dishes seem to be time wasters. You will not be satisfied until you sit down and get to work. Constructive times like these should be relished because inspiration can be a cruel mistress. There will be times, and probably plenty of them, when you sit at your work station and sigh with frustration, twiddling your thumbs and wishing you had laundry to fold.
That's when you look around at things you've created before and you wonder, "Why did I make that?" or "Where did that come from?" Your supplies don't call to you. Your creative flow has dried up, leaving you deserted on the Isle of No Ideas, without hope of rescue in sight. You will be alone in your uncreative world. When this happens, do not despair! You can do lots of things to clear up this unfortunate condition. It happens to the best of us, and you are not alone, my friend.
Evaluating where you're at during your creative process is a great skill to develop. This means paying attention to how you feel during each step of your project, from creating to writing a listing, will help you tune into what you do best. It's possible that when you're stuck or not feeling motivated it's because something you don't like is next or coming up soon. Once you know what your struggles are, you can help yourself navigate them better.
When you have gazed anxiously at your inspiration wire to the point where you want to yank it down and strangle yourself with it, what else can you do? Give yourself a break. Recharge. It's important to keep in mind that doing something well doesn't mean that it's always easy. No matter how much you love something, there will be times when you need to just get away from it.
Go out and absorb the sights in your town. Study the windows of your favorite boutiques. Jot down ideas in the little notebook that you, of course, have in your bag. What catches your eye? A certain color combination? An artful display? The pattern in some beautiful fabric? All of these details can supply you with a new outlook and a new vision.
Look at work that is similar to your own. If you throw clay bowls, see what other potters are doing. Look for new trends and new techniques that you may be able to put your personal twist on. Challenge yourself to do what you normally do, just a little bit differently. Learning new things and studying the work of others is a great way to pick up new ideas. Conversely, studying the past of your craft of choice may reinspire you. Take a trip to your local library, and look up, say, the history of embroidery. I bet you'll discover something so old that it is new to you.
Walking away from something for a little while isn't a sign that you're not going to be successful or that you're not cut out for creative business. It's just a clue that you need a break. Honor these feelings and respect your business by stepping away when you need to. You'll feel better, and then you'll do better.
Feed Your Artistic Senses
I make a point of always being open to inspiration, so perhaps that's why I'm able to find it virtually everywhere. Some sources are obvious — craft magazines and art and craft books, for example, or craft stores or websites like Etsy and Pinterest or creative blogs — while others may be less so. Seek out museums and galleries for fresh ideas, or go to places you've never been but have always meant to visit, like a historic house with gorgeous gardens. Flea markets, antiques stores, and thrift shops can be endless sources of ideas; look especially for vintage books (particularly old children's books) and ephemera and interesting textiles and wallpapers, both old and new. Search out other crafters' blogs to see what the community is up to. And don't forget to look around you: nature is the best inspiration going! Examine the patterns in rocks or flower petals, shells or a dragonfly's wing. Amazing! Enjoying life's simple pleasures, such as a long bath, a good meal, listening to music, and (especially) paying attention to your dreams are all wonderful resources.
Translating an Idea into Reality
As I've said, inspiration can be found everywhere if you truly look. Now you need to know what to do with that inspiration. Consider a beautiful display of local berries and fruit from your local farmers' market. You might want to match the color of a berry to a yarn, or the variety of fruits may inspire you to try a stitch that reminds you of the bumps on a raspberry in your next embroidery project. That same display may inspire you to press flowers from the fruit trees in a book and then design a line of thank-you notes around the theme. Maybe you'll decide to work fruit into a collage project or make a bunting out of felt fruit shapes. That same fruit display may inspire you to create your own scent for lip balm, or perhaps you've always wanted to make your own laundry detergent and now you've been inspired to find new ways to use those lemons from your tree in a creative way.
It is a good idea to record where and when you get inspired. As you keep track of your projects, you'll find it's useful to know each and every detail of what you made and why. For example, if you made a messenger bag designed with a scallop-edged flap and fabric yo-yos acting like flowers with embroidered stems, perhaps you were inspired by something you recorded in your notebook — maybe a particular flower you saw while on a picnic. If the source of your inspiration is written in your project notes, when you get stuck in the future, you'll find it helpful to see that gardens (or yoga or stargazing) give you good ideas. Maybe you'll even notice patterns that you weren't aware of before. Bonus!
Keep in mind that you don't have to make things with the sole purpose of selling them. Putting the pressure of selling everything you make on yourself is a surefire way to make your creativity take a hiatus. Remember why you love to craft? Keeping that in mind will help if you need a new perspective. Sometimes making things, especially new things, is just plain ole fun. Nothing wrong with that, my friend. After all, part of being your own boss is making sure your job is fun.
Excerpted from "The Handmade Marketplace"
Copyright © 2014 Kari Chapin.
Excerpted by permission of Storey Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
My (All New!) Creative Collective
Part 1 Getting to Know Yourself and Your Business
Chapter 1: Setting the Scene for Success
Setting Goals, Build a Nurturing Space, Staying Inspired, Translating an Idea into a Reality
Chapter 2: Branding Your Business
Who Are Your Customers?, What's Your Message and Look?, What's in a Name?, Developing a Logo
Chapter 3: Establishing Basic Business Practices
What Kind of Business Are You?, The Next Steps, Collecting Money, Pricing Your Work, Hiring Help
Part 2 Spreading the Word -- and Images
Chapter 4: Marketing Basics
Marketing Defined, Essential Marketing Materials, Photographs are Key
Chapter 5: Your Craft Community
Making Connections, Online Communities, Reaching Out to Your Fellow Crafters
Chapter 6: Blogging
Blogs and Websites Defined, Basic Setup, Writing a Successful Blog, What’s your Online Look?, Give and Take, Creating an Online Newsletter
Chapter 7: Advertising and Publicity
Advertising Online, Be Your Own Best Ad Agency, Attracting Media Attention, Approaching Media
Chapter 8: Social Media
Choosing an Avatar and a Name, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Follow Me, Follow You, Video
Part 3 Getting Down to Selling
Chapter 9: The Craft Fair Scene
First Things to Know, The Fair Application Process, Getting the Word, Preparing for the Fair, Designing Your Booth Space, Fair Day Etiquette, Starting Your Own Craft Fair
Chapter 10: Selling in Online Stores
Evaluating Marketplaces, Setting Up Your Online Shop, Customer Service, Answering Customer Questions and Comments
Chapter 11: Selling In Brick-and-Mortor Stores
Getting Your Foot in the Door, Persuasive Leave-Behind Materials, Meeting with the Store/Owner Manager, Selling on Consignment
Chapter 12: Get Creative: Other Selling Options and Opportunities
Join a Co-Op, Teach a Course, Hold Trunk Shows, Host House Parties, Offer Kits and Patterns
What People are Saying About This
Kari has thoughtfully created the very best guide book for navigating the craft marketplace. Her personal voice, guided by personal experience is evident throughout the book. You'll feel encouraged, inspired and informed..... totally confident to jump start your own craft business!
Amy Butler, Amy Butler Design
“D.I.Y? Why not?! The Handmade Marketplace gives you all the answers to the D-I-Whys, Whats and Hows of being a crafty-preneur in one handy, great and very informative guide!”
Betz White, designer and author of Sewing Green
“The Handmade Marketplace is the first small business book I have seen that is written to, for and by the Indie Crafter. It is perfect for any crafter thinking of taking that next step and selling their wares. The Handmade Marketplace is also a real page turner and enlightening read for someone who has been in the crafty biz for years.”
Jennifer Perkins, designer
It's remarkable to read so much of the information I spent years divining from trial and error between two covers! The Handmade Marketplace isn't just a guide for navigating a very unique and burgeoning market, it's a fascinating record of how so many people in the DIY movement have collectively contributed ideas about running independent businesses with cornerstones of honesty, ethics and above all: personal creativity.
Jenny Hart, founder of Sublime Stitching and author Embroidered Effects
The Handmade Market Place is a fantastic resource full of useful tips and guidelines from top D.I.Y. insiders. Their testimonials along with Kari Chapin's easy to follow outline and the fabulous design work of Emily Martin (aka the black apple) makes this book a must have for any makers library.
Faythe Levin, Director and author of Handmade Nation
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is an immense source of guidance, encouragement, inspiration and friendship! A lot of the writters are friends and share their findings, wisdom, insight and laughters to this wonderful guide!You feel like getting on their blog and strick a cyberfriendship with them! This very updated book is more than a guide to begin or perfect your steps toward selling your creations, it is a fun companion too! They list everything you need to know and where to join them, how to improve this or that with ladies who are expert in those domaines. This is the book I always wish was out there, understanding of where I come from and where i wish to go, I don't feel like a struggling crafter anymore, this book has equiped me with all the info, tips and encouragements I needed to not give up and insteads knowing what I need to improve, work on and so on! All the references, websites and blogs are up to date, the graphics, text and overall design is very appealling to me, and I am considering this book a strong reference to anyone. You have a sense of a friendship, like you have joined a new sisterhood of creativity and it is extremly encouraging, uplifting and cheerful!! I LOVE this book! frenchaccentbymagali.etsy.com
I've sold crafted items off and on for many years and can't help but wonder how much better I would have done had I known the information in this book. Chapin does a great job informing the reader about things such as determining the cost of goods, pricing items, identifying the competition, navigating through the business side of selling crafts, and selling in various venues available to crafters today including Internet stores like Etsy. I like that the author keeps the tone of the book upbeat and conversational as she sticks to the facts about the craft business. Chapter topics include basic business practices, branding your business, marketing, making connections in the crafting community, using blogs to promote your craft, advertising and publicity, and using marketing networks and social media. Also covered are the pros and cons of venues for selling such as craft fairs, online stores, brick and mortar stores, and other selling opportunities. The tips on how to create a good craft blog and taking photos for using online were helpful. The author includes the advice of successful crafters as well as that of experts in specific fields such as an accountant's general advice on what can be deducted as an expense when filing taxes, etc. Although this isn't a detailed business book and won't address every issue one might encounter in running a business, it is one that will answer basic questions specific to the craft business and minimize having to learn from mistakes. I've learned a lot and look forward to implementing the ideas for more success in selling my own creations. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review but the opinion of it is my own and wasn't solicited. If I didn't like the book, I would say so.
I paid a few more dollars but the book is so cool that i couldn't help it. But no matter which one you decide for. It's a great book, great ideas to run your own business and super helpful. If you are into the world of crafts you really need to get it.
Very practical advise on all aspects of a personal craft business. The text has a very straightforward, conversational tone, which I like. I also appreciate the listings of inspiration craftspeople and the interviews with them and their advice sprinkled throughout.
Maybe it’s not the have all, end all of books on creating a business – with every possible step in excruciating detail, I honestly feel that the approach of this book is SPOT ON for the artistic people who are reading it! We're crafty - creative - think outside of the box kind of people. We want to be inspired AND practical - and this book does that. It gave great insight into a lot of the little "How To's" that people don't think of - great resources, great ideas, great direction. But my favorite part? The little extras – the “Act Now” sections – the little quips, quotes, and questions. Those thoughtful little “get the creative juices flowing” parts – and the bullet-pointed “hey, this is practical stuff you HAVE to do, so listen here!” parts. LOVE this book. HIGHLY recommend this book. If you are even remotely, just a little bit, maybe – kinda interested in making money at your craft – GET THIS BOOK.
I enjoyed this book so much. It is filled with valuable information!!
This is the complete starter guide to seeling your handmade goodness. I am a teen,though,and I can't do most off the stuff she talkes about in the social networking chapter.