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Posts Tagged ‘recession’

So says the NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/23/business/23craft.html?_r=1&em

Apparently not so hot economic times turn gift givers into “make it yourselfers.”

It also, in my experience, makes gift givers who can’t craft look for handmade items to give. They are more personal, unique and very often less expensive than store counterparts.

So what does this mean for artisans like us…on Etsy, on eBay, at craft shows and on your own website?

It means it’s time to turn economic hard times to our advantage. I, for one, had a as good a holiday season as my schedule allowed. And I plan to continue having a solid first quarter for 2009 as well. How?

I’ve differentiated my products by personalizing them. I love what I do, but I also love being inspired by and exciting my customers. For those of you who had a great holiday season, keep doing what you are doing.

If you had a less than stellar season, you may have a lot of competition, or you might want to¬† promote yourself a bit differently. Check out successful sellers in your genre. Don’t copy them. But see what they are doing differently than what you are doing. Sometimes, it may just be that they are in business longer than you and have a following. But sometimes, pictures, description wording, store policies or pricing (and I mean making sure you don’t undersell yourself) can make the difference.

To draw potential customers into your store, you might offer supplies as well. I know as crafters we all have tons of stuff sitting in bins, in drawers, right out there on the table, that we’ll never use. We can’t help ourselves when we are in the fabric store, scrapbook store, jewelry and bead supply store. We have trouble passing up the pretty things and we all say “I’ll find something to do with this….” As a result, I have bins and bins of fabric.

Gather those things together that you know you’ll never use and sell them as destash on Etsy or just plain sell them on eBay. It brings traffic, sales and loyal customers that may then want your products.

Also consider patterns. We can be very proprietary about our designs, but is there one you’ve stopped making or have variations of? Consider offering your designs for sale since there are folks becoming crafters who might now need neat new things to make!

The holidays might be over for now, but there are always occasions and gift giving opportunities. Don’t let those pass you by. Start now, and by Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, you might have the next really hot item in your store!

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It really is true what they say. A loyal customer base can make or break your business. I work full-time and have my album business on the side. Some weeks, when work and life get crazy, I don’t get to list as much as I’d like because I run out of day before I run out of things to do.

These last couple of weeks have been just like that. Fortunately, I have enjoyed the good fortune to have customers, some of whom I haven’t heard from in a couple of years, email me, seemingly out of the blue, requesting additional albums. Income without any effort (at least before the sale).

Make your customers’ experiences good ones. Include them in the creative process if at all possible, make the experience personal and add special touches, and say thank you for their business. It goes a long way. And it really helps when there is just not enough time in the day to cultivate new lifelong customers!

PS. Some of my most successful crafting years were in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when we were in a, you guessed it, recession. When the economy gets rough, consumers don’t stop shopping. But they do become more discretionary in their spending, looking for value and uniqueness for those thoughtful gifts they must buy. What is more valuable or unique than a handmade necklace, photo album, stuffed doll or wonderful painting or photograph that reminds them of a special place or time? Don’t throw in your crafting towel just because the economy is wonky. Instead, think of the ways you can add value and uniqueness to your products and capture someone’s imagination and heart!

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Today I got two almost identical marketing offers entitled “The Elephant in the Room,” and they of course were proposing a book that can help us all get “rich” in an economy that’s quickly heading toward the dreaded “R” word…recession. Now, I don’t know if we’ll land in a recession, but with gas prices and food prices rising and an unstable work environment, you could say the economy is less than desirable. On the Etsy forums, there are numerous posts from artists and artisans worrying about slow sales … “Is it just normal for sales to slow during June?” “Is the economy hurting sales?” In my selling experience (although this is my first June on Etsy), I find that things slow down some in June because kids are getting out of school, people are planning vacations and let’s face it, it’s not a huge gift season unless you know tons of people getting married.

However, I’ve also found ( having been a crafter for too many years to mention) that during the peak show season and the holidays, shows are more profitable the worse the economy gets. Yes, I’m old enough to have been through this before. It seems when purse strings tighten, people look for unique products that they feel give them the most for their money. Unique gift ideas, cute holiday decor, just a little splurge when there was no vacation this summer.

So my fellow crafters/artists/indie designers, take heart. Don’t look at a slow June as an indicator of what’s to come this year in your craft business. Take it as an opportunity.

Over the next few days, I’ll post five things to do to have a killer holiday craft season, starting with:

1. If your sales are slow now, use that time to create the next very coolest thing that everyone has to have. With more and more vendors jumping onto Etsy every day, competition is fierce. If you roll out with something unique that can be a great holiday gift, you’ll see increased sales in the coming months.

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