Saturday, February 25, 2006

Mistakes of the Craft Business

When you start out selling your arts and crafts, you are bound to make some mistakes. That is okay; everyone does. There are some major mistakes, however, that you can learn to avoid by reading up on what you are doing.

The first major mistake that crafters make is that they sell their work for too little money. They feel that they really love what they are doing. It is something they would do anyway. They just do not feel comfortable charging other people more money. That is a major business mistake. To determine the appropriate pricing for your hobby, you should add up all of the materials, down to the lace that cost three cents, and then calculate the amount of time you spent on the craft. Add one half-hour for set up and transport costs, and then multiply the time by the amount of money you want to make per hour. That is your price; do not go lower.

Be sure that you are not starting out with too much going on. Most crafts can be completed for relatively little money. That means that you should begin small. You do not need a huge business loan. In fact, you do not need a business loan at all. Instead you can use your own capital to begin a crafting business. Start out by researching products and going to some small craft fairs. You will be able to start the business for about $100 if you plan well.

And that brings us to another point. You should have a plan. Do not wing it. Many people believe that they do not need a good, solid plan if they are just going to craft fairs. That is a mistake in thinking. Do not think of it as just going to craft fairs. Think of it as a business venture and go in with a workable plan in mind.

Part of that plan, of course, includes the budget. Decide how much you have to lose on craft fair registration, food, and parking in the first year. Now there are some ways to save on those expenses. You can park farther away. You can get a smaller booth. You can pack a lunch. Still you need to know how much you have to spend. I say lose because you do not know how much you will recoup, and you need to be prepared not to make anything back. That does not mean that you will not make anything back; it just means that you should be prepared.

Also keep a constant watch out for specials. Many small-time crafters focus on handmade products that do not all have to be the same. That is wonderful! You can look for products everywhere. My mother-in-law sells her crafts, and she makes several that need glass jars. She picks them up all the time at discount stores and even Goodwill for pennies. That really improves your profit margin, so keep an eye out for bargains. Also begin researching wholesalers. While you are not ready to use a wholesaler yet, you are ready to research.

Also watch that you do not fall prey to trendy crafts. Some crafts will become popular, but they likely will wane again. You will do better if you specialize in a certain type of craft and then stick to it. You can always update the line. If you make aprons, you can add catchy sayings that fit with the times or do a couple with kittens on them if you notice that they are popular. You should not, however, stop having aprons because you saw something else that was selling better.

As with any business, there will be good times and bad times with your craft business, and you should be prepared for both. Put away some money or put yourself in the position that you do not have to rely on your crafting income. This business will have its ups and downs, but think of it this way. On a bad day with crafts, you would rather be doing this business than working at something that you do not enjoy. Spend your time on your crafts business, and you will get the hang of it. Then there will be no stopping you.

By Julia Mercer

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