Craft as a career... Part 1

Those of you who pick up a copy of Creativity each month will have seen our fab feature on running a craft business back in the February issue (67). Industry experts Lyndsey James, Neil Leonard, Zeena Shah, Leanne Garrity, Tia Millar and Emily Barnes offered their words of wisdom on how to make it with mucky hands. If you missed this jam-packed nugget of knowledge, here’s a stripped-back re-cap for you to feast your eyes on. Pens at the ready!



First things first: How to tackle pricing

Neil: “Beyond ensuring that you’ve covered material costs and an extra 20-30% to cover your time, there are two other considerations: look at what the market can afford by researching similar work. The material costs might be low, but this doesn’t mean the work has to be cheap.”

Zeena: “It can be really difficult, especially if you want to compete with other products on the market, but at the same time you do need to be realistic, especially if you want to make a living from your creative business. I start with my time – how long did it take to make the item, how much do I charge per hour and then build my margins for wholesale and retail from this cost price.”

Emily: “Pricing is so tricky! I have spent years trying to figure out a failsafe formula. The truth is: there isn’t one. My one tip for deciding what to charge for your work would be to look at the market – what are other people charging for similar products? Once you have done your research, trust your gut. Ultimately you want to feel satisfied and fulfilled as a maker, so if it doesn’t feel right, change it!”

Leanne: “Be realistic about material costs and labour time – don’t sell yourself short! That said, it’s a good idea to offer customers great introductory prices then increase them incrementally as the demand grows. I find offering discounts for multiples and also being generous with coupon codes helps nail sales.”

You’ve priced your products, time to take a picture…

“Photography is key. Social media, for the most part, deals in images. So if you invest in one thing, make it your product photography… people love to share a good image.”

Emily Barnes

Lyndsey James offers five top tips for making your craft photos look fabulous:

1. Switch off the flash

Enhance texture by using only natural light from one side of the scene. Direct flash coming from the direction of your camera will eliminate all of the lovely texture and detail in your crafts, so turn off your camera flash.

2. Use a tripod

Steady your camera or smartphone with a tripod. Your photos will look sharper and your device will cope better in low light.

3. Level up!

Straighten your camera and the elements within your scene to avoid wonky photos. Everything will look picture-perfect when horizon lines and subjects are level.

4. Show scale

Use familiar props in a setup to tell the customer how small or large an item is.

5. Crop ‘em

Position props half in and half out of the frame. When they are cropped a little they are obviously props and not included in the sale!

Geraldine Carruthers' 'New hive' card from issue 69 of docrafts Creativity magazine

You’ve mastered all that, now – how to get sales

Engage with your customers

Neil: “One big mistake I see a lot is people treating craft markets as a social event. It’s great to catch up with fellow makers, but customers should be the focus. Smile at everyone that approaches your stand, but try not to look too desperate for a sale!”

Think seasonally

Emily: “Create a collection! Think about seasons and calendar events like Valentine’s Day and then build a collection for each one, each year. Creating a cohesive collection helps to define your brand and, in turn, will help you get noticed.”

Be consistent

Neil: “There are lots of things you have to consider when selling online and in person, such as customer service, packaging, tone of voice, presentation and so on. If you have a good, well-considered brand approach, this should carry you through both. ‘Brand’ to me is how you present yourself and your work to the world.”

If you're left wanting even more, visit again next week for more tasty morsels of advice. Alternatively, read the whole feature in the February issue (67) of Creativity magazine. 

You can find February's issue of Creativity magazine in our online shop. Live in the UK and want future issues of Creativity delivered to your door? Subscribe by 30th June and recieve free Country Life goodies worth £16.95! 

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