A month ago I asked you "How may I help you" in order to help solve any problems that may have. Out of all of the questions, the one that was most commonly asked was how to create, sell, (re)produce and ship your craft.
So below I have listed 3 essential steps that will help you make money as a creative, musician, artist, calligrapher or designer - just in time for the holidays!
STEP 1: IMAGINE IT - Every good product or service starts with an idea. We all have them, thousands of ideas swarming in our head and heart. So, before you go making 10 different products to see which one sells, think about what you're doing and and why you're doing it. Consider the following:
- Believe in it - Imagine you won the lottery and had all of the money in the world, would you still create it?
- Be remarkable - Nowadays, there are endless resources, websites, boutiques, and individuals selling crafts. The competition is at an all-time high, therefore your buyers have endless options. So consider your work and ask yourself "are you remarkable at what you do?"
STEP 2: CREATE IT - This step should come fairly natural to us. So, here are some tips on how improve the creation process:
- Challenge yourself - Sometimes when I create, I can get stuck in my old ways, creating the same old thing over and over again. In order to grow as a creative, we must constantly challenge ourselves. You can do this by reading a book, subscribing to blogs that inspire you, pinning inspirational images on Pinterest or literally creating a challenge for yourself (like writing a song a week or teach yourself watercolor or start writing that book, finally).
- Be original - There is a big difference between copying your role models who are successful so that you learn and grow as an entrepreneur and actually copying their style and work. Sadly, I have seen it over and over again - creatives need to make money so they copy others around them hoping they will find that same success and make a quick buck. You might make that quick buck, but you will lose integrity and professionalism by doing that. You will also be doing yourself a disservice - like when you use to cheat in math class (ok, that's me but who's pointing fingers). Stay original, never forget what makes your work unique and always put that image and creation forward for all to admire. People will appreciate you more because you're being yourself.
- Think ahead - When you're creating your latest painting, recording your latest song or designing your business cards, think about where you plan to use it. For example, if you're creating calligraphy that will be scanned to the computer, use smooth bristol paper, rather than textured paper. This will make the lines smoother and easier to polish on the computer. Or lets say you're designing your business cards - think about what you plan to do with it afterword. If you're planning on printing them, then you're going to want to optimize the printing capabilities so they look there absolute best. Using Adobe InDesign or Adobe illustrator to make sure the typography looks perfect is the way to go.
STEP 3: SELL IT - Whether you choose to sell your work online or off, here are some things to consider:
- Choose your shop - There are so many options these days on where to sell your work. For most creatives Etsy, Big Cartel and Shopify are excellent options. If you're a musician CDBaby is a great place to sell your music. And if you're interested in uploading your work and having the shop do everything else, Zazzle and Society 6 are great places to sell.
- Amazing photos - It kills me every time I see super talented artists list their work with horrible photos. Photos matter, a lot. Imagine if you were to go onto amazon.com and all of their photos were horrible, you probably wouldn't purchase their products, right? You don't have to hire an expensive photographer to take the photos. You can take the picture yourself with a great digital camera. If you do not own a great camera, ask a photographer friend to barter with you. Sometimes photographers are more than happy to photograph beautiful work just as long as you credit them on your shop and site.
- Descriptions - Have you ever stumbled upon a product you were interested in and wanted to learn more about it but there was zero details in the description? A description is just another opportunity to set your product apart from others. You can mention how you created it, what materials you use during the process, and perhaps suggest what your product might be good for (gifts, for the office, for birthdays, etc). I heard somewhere that people buy when they experience an emotional response. So if you give your potential buyer more reasons to love you and the work, you might just get a sale.
- Price- What is the value of your time + the materials. It's that simple. But we hung up on what we're worth. So let's talk about your time. I am sure most of you have had (or currently has) a job that paid/pays you an hourly rate. Consider that rate. Are you worth that amount of money? Is your time worth more than that when you're creating art? When I first made the switch from day job to full-time artist, I charged an hourly rate near (maybe a little less because I was just starting out) my day job income. Now evaluate how long it took you to create the product and charge accordingly. Then add the cost of materials and you should have a price. Sometimes when I came up with a price that was far higher than my competitors, I would lower in order to stay competitive. The last thing you want is to charge double the price of your competitors when they have more experience or higher quality than you. You will lose the sale. Find a price that feels right, then list it!
- Shipping - Make shipping easy for you and for your customers. If you're selling a set of thank you cards, I'd recommend charging the flat rate priority shipping with USPS or the one rate with FedEx. Your package will fit within the box/envelope and you don't have to weigh. I've always printed my labels online and shipped my products from home so I didn't have to wait in line. So either order supplies online to ship your products or go to the post office/fedex store and pick some up (they're free). That way, when you have an order you simply create a label online, print it out, package it up then put the packages out to your mailbox. Done.
- Production - Whether your craft is photography, calligraphy, design, art or music, you need to reproduce it in order to sell it - unless of course you're selling originals. To reproduce your craft you need to consider your budget, the quality you want put into the reproduction and the turn-around time for everything to be produced. So lets say you created some amazing quotes and want to make them into prints to sell. Ok, lets think about the paper, ink and quality. Do you want them printed at kinkos or do you want them printed at a super professional printing warehouse? Well, lets think about how much you want to sell them for - if it's $20 and reproduction costs $10, that's a $10 profit. But if you have them printed at kinkos, at $1 per print, that's a $19 profit. So what quality do you want to put out there? High quality, acid-free or recycled content prints, or cheap, semi-gloss prints made at kinkos? Either choice is yours, you just have to think about what makes the most sense to you and what your buyers are going to want. Another thing to consider is turn-around time. Sometimes hiring a printing press or clothing factory to reproduce your craft takes time, like weeks or even months. So if you're looking to sell sweaters in time for the cold weather, but they won't be ready until spring, then maybe you should look for another production company. And lastly budget - sometimes when you order reproduced work, you have to order a minimum quantity. So keep this in mind when you're planning to launch your latest music on CD but only have $100 to have them reproduced.
Now that I've covered the 3 steps to selling your product - steps that I have followed myself - are you ready to sell your product?
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