How to Be In Control of Your Craft Business
Today I am going to talk about taking control in your handmade business. Having more control over our lives is a major reason for making and selling crafts. Many people eventually decide to leave their day job and sell crafts full time. While they gain a lot of control, it is possible to lose it in other ways.
In a regular job where you are not the boss, you have limited control. You probably cannot pick and choose the projects you work on. Your work schedule may be flexible but your work hours are not entirely up to you. Worst of all, employees are at the mercy of layoffs. The rise in handmade items in the marketplace may be partly due to the increase in layoffs due to the economy. Whether you left your employer to go out on your own or you are selling your crafts on the side, control is an issue.
One thing you have complete control over is what you make. You are only limited by your creativity and willingness to learn new techniques. As long are your designs are unique your options are just about endless. When it comes time to develop a website for selling your crafts you can start to lose a little control depending on the avenue you choose.
For the most control definitely start your own website. Register a unique domain name and either build the site yourself or use a free or paid template to get going. You will be in charge of not only the website design but also the marketing.
An easier, faster option would be to list your handmade items on Etsy or Ebay. The downside is you lose a little control. The obvious limitations have to do with the design and layout of your listings. This may or may not be an issue. A little bigger issue is the fees and rules. Your listing fees are completely out of your control and can go up at any time. A simple change in their listing rules can cost hours of time modifying all your item descriptions to comply. The biggest issue of all is you do not own your domain or store if it is on one of these websites. If something ever happened to Etsy or Ebay your business could be gone in an instant. The likelihood of something major happening like an abrupt shutdown is very unlikely, but could happen.
The more likely scenario is negative changes happening over time. This could be gradual fee increases, less traffic, or constant rule changes. Usually by this point a competitor will start up a similar site and you can migrate over there. Some customers will be lost in the transition and it will take time to become established on a new website. All of this can be avoided by having a personal website to sell your crafts.
Marketing is also an area where control can be limited. My best advice is to not put all your eggs in one basket and rely on only one source of traffic. Attract customers from a variety of sources, search engine results, Etsy, Ebay, Facebook, word of mouth referrals, craft shows, pay per click advertising, etc.
From a product standpoint you can increase your control by controlling as much of the process as possible. Have a variety of sources for your raw materials. Avoid using materials that are vintage or rare since the availability can be scarce. If you do rely on outsourcing certain processes, have alternative companies in mind that you can use should something happen to your primary vendor. The same goes for employees. If you hire someone to do a certain task that you cannot do, make sure to have the name of someone else with the same skills in case something happens to the first person or they decide to leave. Usually people selling handmade items are one person operations so this is not an issue but it could be as you expand over time.
Good luck with your craft selling