Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like a war-wounded veteran. I’ve been in business for 8 years now and I’ve done 150 craft shows. Over these 8 years I’ve seen dozens of people come and go, some last a couple of years, some don’t even make a whole season. I mentioned this at my last business workshop and someone asked me why do so many people not make it?
This is a hard business and most people who fail do so because they fail to realize they are running a business.
You. The person who is trying to sell just one pair of earrings, you are in business. If you don't take your business seriously, who will? As a business you have the same goal and problems as Starbucks, McDonalds and Nike. Your problems are on a different scale however as a business your goal is to persuade one customer to buy one product. As a business you need to market, advertise and sell your product. Simply making the work is not good enough. And this is why most businesses fail, they fail to put in the time to sell the work.
A chimpanzee with a pair of pliers can make earrings. That chimp may even be able to sell those earrings to her sister. What that chimp can't do is put those earrings on a nice card, book into a craft show, source wholesale materials, use a calculator to accurately price those earrings, write and create the necessary marketing materials, set up an online store and Facebook business page, and sell enough earrings to actually pay herself. If you think that running your own jewelry business means sitting around and making pretty shiny things, then click away right now. If all you want to do is make nice things then by all means make them and give them to your friends. Making and selling are two different animals. You are here to run a business, full-time or part-time. And that means making sales.
The bottom line is that less than 20% of my time is spent actually making beads or jewellery.
80% of my time is spent running a business. This means shopping for supplies, booking shows, answering emails, going to the post office, coding websites, writing blog posts (http://www.sailorgirljewelry.blogspot.com/), designing my booth, standing in my booth, updating my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sailorgirljewelry), engaging in shameless self-promotion, and doing each and every thing necessary to drive people to my website or booth to buy a pair of earrings.
Etsy, the online handmade market of choice, has 218,000 registered sellers. As beautiful and unique as your work is, if you don't spend time promoting it and you, your shop will be lost in this crowd. Same with craft shows, you can hope for random sales but success comes by getting your name known. Regardless of how large or small your company is, be it Starbucks or Sailorgirl, without the time put in to market and promote your work, your business will not thrive.
Success is 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration. What does this mean for you, the inspired jewellery designer? Creating pretty coloured things is easy, creating a business to sell them is work.
Do the work.