Also check out Build A Business: The Basics
I can't say I'm all that well-informed on starting and running a business, perhaps not as it applies to a wide audience. But... I know what's worked for me, keeping in mind what follows is little more than a glorified opinion. I've covered product pricing, product photography, photo editing, selling platforms (and more on selling platforms here) and social media in previous articles, so what I've chosen to talk about here is the general idea that makes a business a business.
Before I get started, a small caveat: get all the legal stuff addressed- taxes, licenses (if required by your state), insurance, whatever is necessary which can be found on your local government's websites. They are usually pretty all-inclusive and fairly easy to navigate. And they have staff (usually) that can walk you through any process. As I said in a previous copyright article, if they aren't a government employee, don't take the advice of strangers on the internet as concerns the law. Just ask the appropriate professionals directly.
And while product pricing IS important to the overall business model, the most important element of running a business, in my opinion, is branding and marketing. None of the other stuff matters if you don't have any customers, right? Branding and marketing is what brings in your customers. If you are paying for your time, overhead, materials and profit, then what you charge (hourly rate) doesn't matter. What matters is finding the customer who will pay it. In other words, don't price to appease an audience, find the audience who will pay your price.
If you are charging $300 for a piece, make sure your branding (photography, packaging, online presence, signage) SHOWS that your pieces are worth that much. Charging $300 and then throwing that piece in a bubble mailer taped up in newspaper isn't doing any business owner any favors. Make sure your branding and marketing is consistent from the piece you make, to the venue on/in which you chose to sell, to the way you present yourself on social media. Consistent photography, consistent marketing materials are very important. Carry color themes across the board, with your social media banners and avitars, packaging and websites. Use the same business name consistently, keep it brand-appropriate and change it only when absolutely positively necessary. Difficult to pronounce or spell might signify a necessary change.
Social media is SO important. Don't rely only on Facebook. You need Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, a personal blog, and you can't post the same things on each of them. Post different material on each social media platform then link out to other platforms or your website. Your particular audience may not be on all of those platforms, but you have to use them for a while first to determine if that's the case. Learn SEO and use it ALL the time. Chose your words carefully when you post for sale, on your website or social media to assure you are creating the best online presence for yourself possible in Google search. Use a program like Google Analytics (some all-inclusive websites like Weebly may already include something similar), which will detail the source of your incoming traffic.
Vary your posts on social media. Your posts shouldn't be sell sell sell. You aren't selling materials or mass produced items. You are selling art. You are an artist. You should present yourself as such and make the transaction about a personal connection and not moving product. Talk to people. Converse with them. If you don't love doing that, I can tell you that making a living at this will be impossible in today's market.
The market is incredibly saturated. I wont sugar coat it. It's so saturated that only the people who devote all their time to making it a business will actually make it a business. No platform, no matter what they promise, will make sales happen for you. In my experience, it definitely IS a gamble. I hear people say they work full time jobs and don't have time to promote themselves. So it's a risk. You have to make that time, even if it means losing hours or money at a conventional job. You have to take that risk. If you don't believe in yourself, and invest in yourself with time and money, no one else is going to want to either.
Make product no one else is making and do it better than anyone else could possibly do it. Even if that's not really the case, BELIEVE that it's the case, because if you believe it, you'll market yourself as if you believe it, and the audience will believe it. This is what branding is all about: your belief in yourself and how you chose to present that to others.
And, finally, good luck and happy weaving!
I have always appreciated your "business" advice. I think it is spot-on. Well done again. I have been betwixt and between for years and years. In other words, I sell a little bit here and there but have no intention of making jewelry my full time job. Even that little bit requires consistent attention. I appreciate that you are sharing your experience.
11/8/2015 06:20:35 am
Always a good read, I appreciate the time you take to do this blog and your help and encouragement .
11/11/2015 05:37:34 pm
I really needed that. Our craft fairs have been a major fail, but online I'm hitting the niche I want. I am working on branding and cohesive photos, but your words mean so much. If I cant believe I can, then I'm right. Thanks for helping me change this to positive thinking that my work is special and I am an artist. Best wishes for 2016!
4/21/2018 03:17:24 pm
useful information on topics that plenty are interested on for this wonderful post.Admiring the time and effort you put into your b!..
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