When embarking on the adventure of starting your own crafty business everyone has to ask themselves the proverbial question: is there an audience for my craft? After you answer that question you need to consider: is there room in the already saturated craft market for my product? The answers might not always be as cut and dry as “yes” or “no.” The good news is that there are a lot of different ways to get to a concrete answer.
The first thing you should do is conduct a little informal market research about your craft. What are friends for if not to quiz them about your product? Get feedback about whether or not what you make is something they would want to buy. I can’t tell you how many career crafters I have known who got their start by making something for a friend. And then that friend’s coworker wanted one. And then that coworker’s second cousin wanted one. Before they knew it, their craft hobby was their craft job.
Questions to ask:
-What do you think about this craft?
-Would you be willing to buy this?
-What would you be willing to pay for this?
-Where do you expect to buy this?
Remember to accept all forms of feedback, including criticism and suggestions. Just because you think that your art journals are amazing does not mean that everyone else will. Save yourself a lot of heartache and financial pain and really listen to the answers people give to your questions.
The next bit of market research you should do is to look into whether or not your craft is already widely available. I realize that Etsy is filled to the brim with virtually every handmade item imaginable, but that should not completely deter you. That should make you strive to standout.
Is the market for felted soap already saturated or is there a void begging to be filled? If the product isn’t available, then there very well may be a market waiting for you and your soap. Again, ask your friends. Don’t assume that just because something doesn’t exist, people want it. If the product already exists, don’t scrap your idea totally. You will just have to work that much harder to set your soap apart from the rest.
Standing Out in a Crowd
How do you make your craft stand out from the rest? This is where your marketing campaign will come in handy. As a savvy marketer, it is your job to create the illusion that people need, not want, a lampshade made of doilies. You need to convince them why your lampshade made of doilies is better than another crafter’s lampshade made of doilies. You do this by getting your product out there! Garnering press, pins, blog mentions and endorsements for your products are a few ways of doing this.
Standing out in a crowd also means creating a unique product. A unique product does not have to be an entirely new product. It can be an existing product with your twist. I started my jewelry business because there was nothing on the market that quite fit my taste. Sure, there were lots of crafters selling jewelry, but I wanted baubles that were big, bright and attention grabbing. I had to create that for myself. And guess what? Other people also craved tack-a-liscious jewelry because my product sold. I had created a unique product.
Various Market Places
Remember there is more than one way to skin a cat. For example, just because Etsy is overrun with ceramics does not mean that eBay or Big Cartel is. Make your product available on different websites and see which ones work for you. Take a spin through your local craft bazaars and look for artisans selling like-minded ceramics. If you come up empty handed, that’s your cue to get a booth. More and more flea markets are a mix of antiques and crafts – where else can you get a sausage on a stick and make a few bucks in the same afternoon?
Don’t underestimate the niche market. Maybe your craft does not have mass appeal, but sometimes that is a good thing. Niche markets can be a very lucrative group. When I got started with Naughty Secretary Club, my jewelry was very unusual and kitschy. Definitely not something that would interest your average mall shopper. Luckily, I tapped into a niche market, which in turn has helped me make a career out of jewelry making. Think of what makes your produce unique and focus on that aspect. If you make jewelry use vintage beads that no one else can find. If you knit think using custom yarn. Start a T-shirt business with images that you draw. These are things that can not be easily emulated and will help you stand out in an already very large crafty crowd.
Room for All of Us
The truth of the matter is that crafts are a hot industry. People want to jump on the handmade bandwagon. This means that not only is the market more saturated than ever, it also means there is a larger market for these crafts. Not everyone who is involved in this trend wants to me a maker. Remember some people just want to support the movement and buy DIY. The trick will be setting yourself apart from the rest with reasonable prices, unusual spins on usual items and marketing your product like there is no tomorrow. If the ShamWow and Snuggie can find a market, there is hope for us all.
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