Make Your Handmade Business Thrive: Intro
Congratulations, it looks like you have decided to open a handmade business! I’m so happy I made the decision to open my first handmade business ~ 4 years ago, but it didn’t actually open for business until March 2014. The primary reason I created this website was to make a community to help spread knowledge related to handmade businesses. This post is very important and can be very useful to make your handmade business thrive. For years, I have watched many handmade companies come and go, and very few of them are able to thrive. There are several reasons that handmade shops fail, but this post focuses on the reasons that they thrive.
I conducted interviews with several leading handmade shops, and I combined their information with my own experiences to make this list of the Top 5 ways to help your handmade shop thrive. I chose to include 5 tips because I wanted to discuss each on in extreme detail.
Unbiased & Independent Information
All of the advice contained in the MHH community and this post is independent and unbiased. I do not own stock in any handmade marketplaces, and I specifically sold my Etsy stock prior to creating this website. I wanted to make sure that I had no reason to appear to offer information for my own personal gain. My personal reputation is on the line, and I promise to always remain trustworthy.
Make Your Handmade Business Thrive: Top 10 Tip
Choose the Correct Marketplace
One of the first steps you can take to ensure your company’s success is to choose the correct marketplace to sell you handmade products. You can sell your products locally, but I suggest selling your products online to gain the most exposure. When you are starting out, it is best to use an existing marketplace, rather than spending a majority of your time learning how to create your own website. Trust me, it took me months of research before I was able to create this website, and I am still learning.
Several online marketplaces sell handmade products, but I suggest choosing one. Right now, there are two main marketplaces that sell handmade goods, Handmade at Amazon and Etsy. The My Handmade Hub community contains information for both of these marketplaces, but I currently suggest choosing Etsy for several reasons. The main reasons include Etsy’s ease of use, relatively cheap fees, and great track record selling handmade goods. Etsy has been around much longer than Handmade at Amazon, and Etsy focuses online on selling handmade goods. If you need more details, you can read my detailed list of Reasons to Sell on Etsy.
Create a Great Brand Identity & Company Name
Many people make the mistake of rushing through the early steps of creating a business. They do this because they want to start making money as soon as possible. Starting a business is like building a house, and you need to ensure your house has a firm foundation. Creating an appropriate brand identity is very important, and it will help make future decisions even easier. Once you create a brand identity, make sure that you stick to it. Consider the general characteristics of the customers you want to serve, and construct your brand identity accordingly. This starts with your shop name. As I stated earlier, the other aspects of your handmade business should follow your brand identity. These categories include products, pictures, marketing, packaging & shipping, etc.
I have written the Ultimate Guide for Creating an Etsy Shop Name, if you need help brainstorming your shop name.
Differentiate by Using Amazing Packaging
Packaging seems like it should be pretty easy, until you start having orders pouring in and have to ship products all around the country (or the world!). It becomes huge headache, and many business owners start cutting corners to get through the process quickly. This is another area where you can differentiate yourself if you spend a little extra time and money. If you are worried about cutting into your profit, don’t be! The demand for your products will increase so much, you will end up increasing profits. One of my favorite practices is letting the customers know how much I appreciate them. A hand-written Thank You note goes a long way (trust me, do it). Another way to differentiate yourself is to throw in a small free token of appreciation. This small gift should be related to the product you are shipping. I suggest purchasing these small items in bulk from other handmade business owners. You can also make the items yourself. Always include at least one business card to help customers spread the word. Don’t forget the obvious packaging advice. Use high-quality bubble wrap or foam so items don’t get damaged during shipping. Choose strong boxes, and don’t smash your products trying to make them fit in a small package.
I totally underestimated the importance of packaging and shipping when I first started out. I was so focused on sales, that I didn’t even make sure that I had the correct package sizes to ship my large products. My first customer ordered a large wine rack, and I had a terrible time trying to find a box to put it in. I ended up barely breaking even because of the shipping costs. Everyone makes mistakes, and I will never let anything like that happen again.
Network with Other Business Owners
Most new handmade business owners are surprise to find the amount of support experienced owners offer. This community is a perfect example. Take the time to engage other owners through this community, Etsy Teams, or contact them directly through their shop. We can help lift everyone up and help everyone grow instead of focusing on competing.
Learn About Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) doesn’t get the love or attention it deserves. SEO focuses on making your business and product pages rank high in search results. Each search engine uses its own algorithms to decide what order the results appear in. This means that Google, Etsy, Amazon, and other search engines all have different rules to learn. This can be a complex subject, but it can make a big impact on your handmade business. At least make sure that you provide good product names, detailed product descriptions, and tag products appropriately. Taking the time to master SEO can definitely make your handmade business thrive.
Master Social Media for Marketing
Social media is booming and becoming one of the most important factors in determining any company’s success. Very few people know how to use social media correctly. This is one area where your natural instincts are most likely going to lead you astray. You can dominate your product niche by learning the best practices of social networking. There are four main social media platforms that deserve your attention. These important platforms include: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Make sure that you are at least taking advantage of these four, and keep paying attention to social networking trends. I decided to read a book on the subject since I was lacking in my social media knowledge. I loved the book and learned a lot. I actually rented it from the library at first, but I ended up purchasing it. I wanted to be able to reference the specific guidelines and examples in the future. I provided the Amazon link below, in case you are interested:
I don’t personally know the author, but I feel very comfortable recommending this book due to the quality information included.
Go Above & Beyond with Excellent Customer Service
Customer service is the most important factor in any business succeeding. Almost everyone knows how important customer service is, but many people thrive in this area. Customer service is a broad category that contains many different parts of your business. Providing great customer service starts before the first sale. You want your customers to feel your passion to serve them when they first interact with your shop, which usually takes place online. Providing great customer service doesn’t end when you make the sale. You need to follow up with your customers after the sale to make sure that they are extremely happy. Happy customers will spread the word to their friends. This allows your sales to grow very quickly.
I provided great customer service from the beginning of my handmade business. I noticed that my sales were increasingly rapidly in certain cities, and I discovered this was due to word-of-mouth advertising. Make sure to put your customer’s satisfaction above everything else, and your shop will grow very rapidly.
Make Your Handmade Business Thrive: Conclusion
There are hundreds of ways to make your handmade businesses thrive. I have analyzed the responses from successful business owners to create this list of the Top 5 tips. Hopefully you can use some of the tips used in this post to get your handmade business started correctly or to take your business to the next level.
Let’s keep growing together!
Make Your Handmade Business Thrive: Comments
Are you an experienced handmade business owner that knows other important success tips? Please share your information and personal experiences below. Your tips on how you make your handmade business thrive can help us all!