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Craft Show Profits - Away from Craft Shows!
As you gain experience selling your crafts at craft shows,you'll be planning your schedule a year in advance. Although abusiness plan isn't essential, a marketing plan is a good ideato have as you plan your shows. You'll want to keep yourcustomers on your mailing list informed of new products, specialsales and upcoming shows. You may need to update your marketingmaterials from time to time as well. In addition, between shows,you may decide to pursue other paths to selling your products.Some of these are: the Internet (your own Web site or eBay),retail (your own store, space in a gallery or retail store),wholesale (trade shows, distributors or sales reps), trade orconsumer magazine ads (extremely costly), mail order, catalogs,TV shopping networks and home shows.
Selling wholesale at galleries, stores, trade shows or throughreps or distributors cuts your profit in half. The only way tomake it up is through large quantity sales—and then you may findyourself in a bigger production mode than what you feelcomfortable with. Selling wholesale has other drawbacks, likereturn policies, cancellations and late payments. And some shopsand galleries will only take you on consignment.
Although billions of dollars are spent by consumers buyingproducts over the Internet, online sales for craft items has notbeen spectacular—and nothing compared to craft show figures.However, it's relatively inexpensive to sell over eBay and forunder $1,000 you can have a decent Web site designed. Check outeBay for yourself to see if anything like your items are beingmarketed there. If you have to sell way too low to match thecompetition that you won't make a profit, it's not worth it. Putup your own Web site and let it be a virtual shop for you—forexisting customers to see what you're up to and to attract newbuyers. You can post your show schedule, have information aboutyourself and your crafts and sell whatever items photograph welland ship safely.
Research other Web sites selling similar products, decide howyou would like your electronic store to look and find acompetent Web designer. Make sure you are quoted all costs upfront including monthly maintenance so you can keep your siteupdated. Design your Web site with the same care you designedyour booth—so it represents you and your product in the bestlight. Make it easy for people to buy and to contact you. Haveyour phone number and e-mail address so they can ask questions.If your Web designer is not marketing savvy, have someone helpyou submit your Web site to search engines and do whatever youcan to make it visible to potential buyers.
Another way to promote yourself online is to join craft forumsor chat groups, where buyers and sellers gather to discusscrafts. If you position yourself as an expert answering variousquestions, people may visit your Web site to gain more contactwith you. Also consider having links and resources on your siteso people will see you as a source of knowledge about crafts. Asa creative person, you'll probably have so many ideas to enhanceyour Web site—just don't become obsessed so it takes you awayfrom your first love—making crafts! Once you have a Web site,put the address on all your marketing materials—from businesscards to show schedules.
If you are doing well selling your crafts at craft shows, thatmay be all you need to do. The more avenues for sales you takeon, the thinner you spread yourself, and the less you're doingwhat you love most and what you started this businessfor—creating crafts!
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