By knittykittybangbang, Jan 10 2015 02:13PM
I asked members of the knittykittybangbang presents... facebook group what they had learnt in 2014 and the answers that came back were enlightening, especially to those new to the craft fair/craft business circuit!
Invest in yourself and keep learning
Whether it be learning how to do your own books or something more specialist to your field, there is always value in learning or honing your skills. It might just be making time to read or research a bit more, or it might be taking classes or a course, it is all beneficial and can save you money in the long term! Here’s a really obvious example – how much do you pay your accountant compared to how much a booking keeping class is?
All craft markets are not created equal – pick with care!
I think everyone has to go through trying EVERYTHING to see what works for them, and I think we’ve all found events that work for us and ones that don’t. There are a lot of variables when it comes to choosing events and each of us have to work out what the important variables are for us.
Be confident with pricing and don’t undervalue yourself.
Oh how I nearly cried with joy when the first person wrote this! You deserve to be paid, just like everyone else does. If a shop didn’t pay their staff because they weren’t worth it, then there would be outcry so why do it to yourself? Pricing is too complicated to go into in this post but there is a knittykittybangbang e-book coming later in the year that will cover some of it.....I could spend hours just talking about pricing....mmmmmm numbers......
Diversification VS Narrowing of product range
There has to be a better word than ‘narrowing’ but I couldn’t find a suitable one that didn’t sound hella negative! I think this is a terribly ‘space dependent’ issue. If you have the space – whether that be in a shop, wholesale or online, then diversification is certainly no bad thing – even the most avid bow lover will tire before getting to the end of 500 pictures of bows, for example. However if you only have a 6ft x 2.5ft space to contend with, there are definitely problems that come with diversification – display looking over complicated or ‘jumble-saley’, lack of a cohesive ‘brand’, having to cart about loads of different bags/packaging. Some people manage to achieve a ‘boutique’ look and product range (Crafty Wee Birdie is a superb example of this) within the small space, but it is definitely tricky to do.
Just because a fair was good one year, doesn’t mean it’ll be good the next (and vice versa)
Things change. People change. New things come into fashion, people get bored/lazy, or have already bought everything you offer! YOU change, your product refines, your clientele changes. Never rely on something being a sure thing.
Be more organised!
Whether it be with something specific, or just in general, the need to be more organised seems to hit everyone! For a lot of creative/people focussed types things such as admin and bookwork are deathly dull or difficult. Despite being the least tidy person IN THE WORLD (seriously), I don’t feel on top of things if I don’t have my books done every month and I ALWAYS make time at the start of the week to make a proper detailed to do list. (mmmmm lists......mmmmm numbers......)
People appreciate quality
They really do! If you have a well made, well designed item, that is appropriately (ie not too much OR too little) priced then there WILL be a market for it, it’s just up to you to find it.
Brand Awareness is really important
This is one that you might need to experience for yourself, but please just trust us, it really is important! Get business cards, have a table sign, even if you just make them yourself. Remind people it was YOU they got that lovely thing from. Going a bit deeper ask yourself why when in foreign countries do so many people buy coca cola and go to McDonalds? Brand recognition = trust = safety. If you are asking someone to spend money with you, they want to feel ‘safe’. I know from the outside that sounds a bit peculiar but they want to know they can trust your product, that it won’t fall apart/poison them/have a webcam in it/have fallen off the back of a truck. Once someone feels ‘comfortable’ with your brand (and this can be as simple as having heard your name before) they are much more likely to buy from you.
Don’t waste time obsessing about how competitors are faring
Now benchmarking against others is a necessary evil for some as it makes them ‘up their game’, but this isn’t true for everyone, and spending too much time picking through the work of others is a waste of YOUR time and can only be destructive to YOU. Stop following them on facebook and twitter and start watching people and companies you would aspire to emulate, that inspire you or cater for the same demographic.
This is a biggie for me. I got a tablet free with my mobile phone and I thought ‘ahhh this’ll just be a fun toy to have’ man did I underestimate it! I tend to feel that most ‘tools’ are unnecessary things just to get you to part with your pennies (to the point that some of my students make fun of me!) but my tablet and card reader have let me do so many things (and won me sales!) that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. For example - I was at an event checking facebook before I opened. A client had got in touch to ask if I had anything in green. I used the tablet to quickly snap what I had and sent the photos back to her. She picked several pieces, I told her where I was, and she was able to come and get them (and a few more!). Had I not been ‘mobile’ this would have been a much more complicated process, and would definitely have been a much smaller sale. On that same day, the folks right and left of me were losing sales repeatedly because they couldn’t take cards whereas I didn’t have this problem. Technology needn’t just be computery, it could be anything that makes tasks quicker or lets you do things you couldn’t before. Examples might be knitting or sewing machines, stand mixers (or 2 stand mixers instead of 1) or just a trolley for ferrying your stuff around. Not tech savvy? This goes back to the first point about investing in yourself and keep learning.
What have YOU, dear reader, learnt in the past year? Anything you’d like to share? Anything you would like to query or disagree with? Please feel free - but no abuse please! (as if you would....)