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Web Sales Can Increase Your Crafting Revenue

by: Natalie Goyette

Think of an ideal craft show for a moment… thousands of people coming through the turnstiles at the fairgrounds or the exhibition areas with money in their hands and an intense desire to spend it. What about having a million people with access to your crafts at a craft show – at any time they wanted. That would really be IDEAL!

At a typical craft show, you are going to see hundreds, and maybe a couple thousand people visiting over any given weekend. Some shows are bigger than others, but even with 2,000 people coming through the gates, how many of them are stopping and looking at your booth with the intention of buying? It can vary. If you could somehow increase the number of people that stop by your booth, it makes sense that you could increase your sales, right?

Have you thought of a website for your crafts? This is the ultimate craft show – millions of people can access your information and your products, and you have limited set up fees – and orders can be placed while you are sleeping snug in your bed at night.

Putting together a good website for your crafts takes a little bit of effort to get off the ground, but it might be well worth the work. Here’s what you have to do:

” Design a site – You can probably find someone to give you a hand with this, and it doesn’t have to be very elaborate looking – just enough to show pictures of your crafts, their prices, a little bit about you… etc. It is important to make sure that you set the site up with a secure credit card payment system, as this will aid in a greater number of sales, just like in a regular craft show.

” Find a host – All sites need a web host in order to post them on the Internet. There are hundreds of providers out there, and you just need to find the one that is right for you. Chances are you have a friend or acquaintance that has a website, and they may be able to help you with on for your crafts.

” Drive traffic to the website – This can be done any number of ways: articles like this one, having others link to your site, update your pages regularly so your pages are indexed by search engines like Google and Yahoo! Coming up with the right keywords for your crafts is important for when people are searching the Internet for the type of craft you make.

” Maintain the site – I would suggest updating your crafting website at least once every two weeks, and maybe even once a week if you have time. This provides a certain amount of confidence for web buyers that your craft site up alive and well!

While having a website can certainly boost your sales, the other side of the coin is that you might be inundated with orders! That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except you could be working night and day to meet the orders! One way to avoid this is to post on your website how many of a certain item is available.

Remember imagining a craft show where millions of people came in and they had money to spend on crafts? Now you have it… albeit a virtual craft show. The sky is the limit when you are talking about selling your crafts on the Internet. With the right presentation, the right price and with the right traffic driven to your site, you can open the doors to your crafts for millions of people.

About The Author
Natalie Goyette is the author of the best selling e-book “Craft Show Success” which finally shows crafters how they can make money selling their crafts! www.craftshowsuccess.com.

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Williams Wood Works Interview

Jesse Williams is a scroll saw artist who recently set up a website, Williams Wood Works, to sell his scroll sawn wood art. He was kind enough to share some of his thoughts on the process.

[SSG] Hi Jesse, thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you get started scrolling?

[Jesse] Glad to be able to share some thoughts about scrolling. I’m 26 yrs old and live in Urbana, Ohio. I’ lived here for 5 yrs and just love this little town. I am currently a 3rd grade teacher and going back to school so I can become a principal. I have been teaching for 3 yrs and love being able to teach children everyday. I have been married to my beautiful wife for 2 yrs now and we are expecting our first child in September. I love scrolling because it gives me time away from the entire high paced world and I can just sit out in my garage with some country music on, scroll for hours. If I am not scrolling I am usually on the water fishing.

I first started scrolling about 5 yrs ago on a really cheap pin-end scroll saw my father picked up for me from one of those mobile tool shows that travel from town to town. It was a small 15-inch but it got me started. I really had no idea about a scroll saw or the different ways to use it. I just sat down in front of it after I got it and started cutting out shapes and small little figures. I then started to explore the internet to find out more information about it and found out there is some nice pieces of art you can make from it. I use the word Art and not craft because you are creating something from an image in your head not from a package with instructions. I think this is a big misconception of what we do. I saw all of the portraits and fretwork style cuttings and wondered, how in the world did they use a pin-end blade to do all of this. Well I got the bright idea to go ahead and grind the pin down just small enough that it would hold and be able to fit in a small entry hole. It worked but then I found out they have straight blades. The saw I was using at the time did not accept straight blades so I had to upgrade. The second saw was a tradesman saw from the hardware store. Really nice but had limitations, then I upgraded to the current Dewalt 788 scroll saw. The saw is great and I have been using this one going 3 yrs.

[SSG] You just recently created a website to sell some of your work, can you tell us about it?

[Jesse] The website was intended for me to get my work out to the public. When I first started to sell my scrollsaw woodart it was mainly by word of mouth. It really was nice to sell items that I created from my thoughts. The custom portrait is something I really love doing. I do not think the public knows much about this type of art. That is where I really started to make my first sales. Teachers from my school saw what I did and wanted one. It was great. My thought was, get this to the Internet and make a business from it. Offer people who do not know about this a way to see some of the portraits that I have done and the detail I put into them. I always tell my customers if I would not hang it on my wall, I will not sell it to you.

Along with custom portraits I wanted to also get all of the items I have created out to the public, stock portraits, which are portraits from pictures I have created, welcome signs, and a few other items I am currently in the process of finishing and placing on the web.

I also have so many scroll saw magazines with patterns that I will cut and have for sale on the website.

[SSG] How long have you had your website running?

[Jesse] The website has been up since January 2008. The site right now is kind of in the test phase so I can continually add to it. I wanted to get some of the main areas out there so people would see what I have to offer. It is a website that is going to grow and keep getting bigger.

[SSG] What prompted you to create the website?

[Jesse] Talking with some of my current customers they asked if I had a catalogue or a website. I thought why not put the two together and create an online catalogue. I am currently trying to put a paper catalogue together as well.

[SSG] Is the website strictly for internet sales, or do you use it in conjunction with craft shows.

[Jesse] It is right now strictly for Internet sales. To be honest I have yet to do a craft show. I have went to them to see how business was and to see what scrollsaw woodart was offered. My first show will actually be this October if I can get enough stock built up.

[SSG] I noticed the products you offer are made to order as opposed to maintaining an inventory, what made you choose that route?

[Jesse] I think options are good, not to many because then it get confusing. My thought was some people might want a small portrait for the mantle, or a big one for the wall. Same for welcome signs. This gives the customer the option or lets them feel more like they have a decision. I look at it like the grocery store. If you are making dinner for two and you want turkey but the store only sells whole turkeys you most likely will not make turkey. But if the store offers whole turkeys and turkey breasts, the store has accommodated to the customer that wants the smaller portions. (I am not too sure why I used turkey as an example)

The big idea is offer something for either the small buyer or the big buyer.

[SSG] On your website, you offer custom portraits. Can you explain the process when dealing with custom orders?

[Jesse] The big question I get is why do you not take a down payment when you design the pattern. My answer is simply I want business. I could charge someone $10 to design the custom pattern then apply it towards the cost of the portrait they want. There are 2 sides to this. Some of the customers I get have never seen these types of portraits before so I want them to be able to see how nice the final product is. I am offering it as a free opportunity to see what it will look like. This encourages the buyers to step outside the paper portrait box and into the scrollsaw woodart world.

I have offered two different ways for the customer to submit photos, either through email or through an online form that I created. The online form is right there and the customer does not have to go through their email to submit photos. Quick and Easy is key.

If the customer would like to submit their photos through email that is fine as well. They just attach the images and send them. Once the pattern is created, I then send them a graphic representation of the final cutting. I never send just the black and white pattern because the pattern could be confusing to some.

[SSG] Did you design the website yourself?

[Jesse] I did create the website by my self.

[SSG

] Do you have a background in web development?

[Jesse] I have dabbled here and there with web pages and blogs just to get a feel on how it works. I do not have any type of schooling to create websites. I have found a great website builder program and host. Bluevoda is the program I use. Very user friendly and they also offer online video tutorials.

[SSG] What program did you use to design your website?

[Jesse] I use Bluevoda. This is a great program for anyone to create a website. They are cheap, as a host and the program is absolutely free to download. You have to use them as a host in order to get your website on the Internet. That did not bother me because they have such a wealth of knowledge on their website it was just worth it. This is a great program and a great site.

[SSG] Were there any hurdles you had to overcome when developing your website?

[Jesse] The biggest hurdle was making the website user friendly. You do not want it complicated to navigate, and you don’t want it to be cluttered or hard to purchase items. That was my biggest hurdle. I have to take myself out of the equation and think of the end user. It should be Quick and Easy, two key words to building a website.

When building a website you just have to try things and see how they work.

[SSG] How do you handle orders and payment processing?

[Jesse] All of my orders go through PayPal. It is yet again quick and easy. Push the buy button, go to the cart, and check out. That is the main payment system I am using right now. For some of my custom orders I will send an email with a payment button along with the graphic representation, making it easier for the customer to buy the product.

[SSG] Can you give any advice to other scrollers wanting to set up a website to sell their products?

[Jesse] Be patient, you will not start getting orders the first day you put your website on the internet. I have had mine up and running now for two months and have gotten a lot of feedback but just a few orders. I am still getting the word of mouth orders. But the site is coming along with close to 50 –80 views a day and people emailing me.

I actually worked on this website for 3 months prior to having it placed on the web. That was just the website, not pattern making. So be patient and read on the Internet about online businesses and get some ideas. The one big thing that helped me a lot was to put everything on paper first then build the website that way.

Remember Quick and Easy navigation.

[SSG] Thank you, Jesse, for the insight on how you put your website together. It looks really great and I wish you continued success.

[Jesse] I really appreciate the opportunity and thank you.

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Take a look at Jesse’s website Williams Wood Works. His website is a great example of how to set up a website to sell your work. Hopefully this will inspire you to set up your own website. If you have questions or comments for Jesse, please post them in the comments section. He said he’d be happy to answer any questions. Thanks again, Jesse.

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How To Profit from a Craft Niche

by: Natalie Goyette

One of the things that you might consider is finding a niche for your craft. Maybe you have some expertise, skill, or interest that might be a creative tool for you to use in creating items for craft shows. Below are some hints to finding what that area might be for you:

What interests you? – You can take an interest you have and turn it into a craft show success. If you are a gardening hobbyist, why not come up with something every gardener needs. Provide that craft inexpensively and you might have yourself a winning craft for spring craft shows.

What do you have knowledge of – Maybe you are a model railway buff, along with being a crafter (the two go hand-in-hand) and you want to provide railway buildings or railway terrain for people to use in their own train sets. You have the knowledge of what needs to be built and used – so why not combined the two joys in order to come up with one profitable craft show item?

What are you good at? – If you are a good cook, then make a quick recipe book. If you are pretty good at organizing things, then why not come up with a desk organizer that anyone can use.

What are other people doing? – This is certainly not an open invite to start copying the design of other people at a craft show. Instead, it is an opportunity to see what is out there and for you to be the one that says, “You know, this craft would be better if it was… (fill in the blank).” Once you fill in that blank, it might trigger an idea inside your head of how you can improve this product or maybe even come up with one that works WITH it.

When in doubt, teach others – This is becoming a great way to make extra profits at craft shows. Some crafters love to take the bull by the horns and make their own crafts, so why not capitalize on that? Provide them patterns or instructions and unmade kits at a cost – so it takes the labor out of it but you are still selling the product.

At last resort, create a niche that works for a craft you have in mind. Sometimes that niche is staring right back at us and we don’t even know it. If we are good at something, or interested in another, or you see something you can improve on, feel free to take the initiative to take it and make a profit from it at your craft shows!

About The Author
Natalie Goyette shows you how to make your craft show business profitable in her best selling ebook: Craft Show Success Secrets. Visit her site: http://www.craftshowsuccess.com

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Selling Your Intarsia

By Jerry Mifflin

Our challenge as Crafter’s and intarsia artists is to discover our markets. You need to know your market, who is your customer? Are you selling a product to local or global customers.

If you’re selling to local customers say out of a storefront, you must know if you are in the right market and selling at the right price for this local customer. If you’re not showing the right product to the right customer base, chances are they’re won’t be any sales are at least very few.

It only makes sense that If your selling a product that is not of use to the customer and its not something that they see they want or need, you had better find either different markets or a different product to sell from your store.

I use to have a shop that sold simple crafts like little animal yard and driveway signs. I sold lots of country style decorative items for the interiors of their homes. These items sold well because I was living in a rural area where my customers had big yards and long driveways.

These people loved the country style of decorating. They loved the crafts I was making for them. I even had other crafters producing items for me to sell for them. I was producing and selling to my market base.

If I was trying to sell the country style signs or plaques where I’m living now, in the city, I would not do so well. For my customer base is not the same. Their yards are different, their driveway is short and their interior decorating may not be the same kind of “country style.” So for this new customer base you have to change your product line.

Does your product fit into the decorating scheme of most of your customers, if not very few are going to buy. You must be certain that your craft fits with your prospects or your business will fail. You must take the time to study this. Find the proper market place.

Crafts people are used in having friends and loved ones telling them how cool and how beautiful there craft is, this is encouraging. The problem is that it’s not realistic. You need to get input and about your product from a source that will give you a helpful honest response about your product.

When your customers come into your shop and say how much they like what you’re doing but walk out without buying anything you have to ask yourself, what’s wrong?

Are you in the right market for the craft you sell?

If your craft fits your customer, how is your price? The price you sell your product for may need to be adjusted up or down.

For the price setting you need to look at your competition. At what price are they selling a comparable product. Ask yourself can I make a profit selling my product at that price. Can I sell my product and get a higher price? What can I do to make my product worth more money?

I now sell art, “intarsia woodworking art” that is higher priced, which means for the customer to let go of the money, she will have to really love your product.

Crafts, can be a tough market. I am a cabinetmaker, caught up in the world of art. I love to add artistic designs to cabinet doors to make them stand out from what other people build. The cabinets add atmosphere to a room by giving the room character and there by adding value.

I have managed to sell a lot of my work over the years. My prices are usually from about $200 to $15,000 depending on the work involved. As I said before, some time ago I had a craft shop in a small town. I built every wood craft I could think of to build and it was fun, but not really much money.

The money only comes after you learn the business end of the craft market. As a cabinetmaker I have learned the hard way that you must get paid for the hours that you work, even when you love the work.

How much should I charge for my work?

It’s basically the same for most businesses, how much do you want to pay yourself per hour. Just add to that a percentage for overhead plus a percentage for profit and add material cost. That gives you a charging rate for all of your products. You must add the profit, that gives you the money to grow, like buying more tools. My charging rate depends on if it’s commercial or residential, $45-$85 per hour depending on how custom the work is. In my old “craft shop” my charging rate, at that time, was $35 hour, the price fit the product and the overhead.

If you can sell your craft as “ART” it will increase the amount you can charge for your product. Perceived value! Do you have awards! Do you have newspaper and magazine articles about you! Do you have references? Have you developed a recognizable name for your market? If not, you need to work towards these things. All of this adds to the perceived value of your craft.

Intarsia woodworking is my craft, my art. It’s the work I look forward to doing. Find the craft you love to make, find the correct customer base, set a reasonable price for your work and your on your way to a successful satisfying life.

(c) Copyright Jerry Mifflin, All rights reserved

Jerry Mifflin creates many works of Intarsia Art and gives away patterns of his work for other crafters to use. Articles and information on how to build intarsia are on his website, www.intarsia.us , specializing in that woodworking art and business. For patterns and a how to do intarsia art e-book go to www.freeintarsiapatterns.com to get yours.

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The Business Side of Craft Shows

by: Natalie Goyette

Starting a craft show business when you’re really an artist at heart may be a rude awakening for you. Nevertheless, if you decide to turn your hobby into a business, you need to switch hats from time to time. You wear your artist hat when creating and producing your crafts, and you put on your businessperson’s hat when you’re running the business end. Begin successful on the craft show circuit doesn’t just mean you have a great product; it also means you have a decent head for business.

Planning your craft show business

It’s not absolutely essential to write a craft show business plan if you’re not seeking a loan or partner, however, it can help you focus your business goals from the start. There are numerous books and Web sites on how to write a business plan, and most will fit with craft shows just fine. The most crucial elements are the financial projections—which include your estimated income and expense for the next several years—and the marketing plan. The marketing plan helps you identify your target audience and how you can best find and serve them. This is essential as you develop your craft show product and find the right shows at which to sell. If you are seeking capital or a partner, you will probably need a complete business plan. If doing this overwhelms you, contact your local Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center, Chamber of Commerce or local universities to find help with developing a professional business plan for your craft show company. At this point, you may also seek the advice of an attorney to decide what business entity yours will be—a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company or a corporation. You can always grow into corporate status later on, though it’s advisable to at least know your options up front.

Licensing your craft show business

Most cities require any business, home-based or otherwise, to register and purchase a business license. These range in cost from $15 to $100 depending on the size of your city and are obtained from the city clerk’s office in most cases. It makes your craft show company official and enables you to conduct business legally. Find out if your city requires any special-use permits for operating a home-based business. The rules may differ if you have customers, supply trucks or employees coming to your location.

You may also need to file a fictitious name statement with your county offices if you call yourself anything other than your name, such as Posh Pottery. This guarantees that nobody else in your county is using the same business name. From here your file the name with a newspaper, and then you can open your business checking account. It’s highly advisable to keep craft show business income and expenses separate from personal if you are serious about being in business. Then on a regular basis, you can “pay” yourself from your business account. You can also now file your taxes as a business entity and take advantage of the many tax exemptions for businesses. Car expenses or mileage, supplies, overhead costs and more are all deductible. Find a copy of a schedule C (www.irs.gov) to see some of the expenses you can write off.

Now you have officially moved out of the hobby status and in to the serious craft show business. Actually the IRS considers your enterprise a hobby if you haven’t made a profit in two out of five years that you file as a business. If that happens, it’s time to rethink taking your goods to craft shows as a business venture.

You will probably need to get a resale (sales tax) license. This allows you to buy wholesale anything you will be reselling and not pay taxes, however, you need to charge tax on your crafts and then submit it to the tax board either monthly, quarterly or annually. Check with your local state board of equalization or state office of taxation to find out what their rules are. It doesn’t cost anything to get a resale license.

It’s helpful when starting out to set aside a savings account for your sales tax to be sure you have it when it comes due. Also check with your sales tax office if you are required to collect tax when you’re selling in other states. Some show promoters collect tax from you at the end of the show, so you need to keep accurate records, which you can do by issuing a receipt with every customer purchase. Make sure you find out the amount of tax you need to charge at the show as it varies by city, county and state. Also, it’s a good idea to carry your sales tax permit everywhere—you may need to pick up some supplies, and you can avoid having to pay taxes on them.

Each city, county and state has different regulations regarding licensing, so make some phone calls to find out what’s required, and do this well before your first craft show.

About The Author
Natalie Goyette shows you how to make your craft show business profitable in her best selling ebook: Craft Show Success Secrets. Visit her site: http://www.craftshowsuccess.com.

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Blogger

The internet is a wonderful thing. There is so much information available at your fingertips. Email is more common than phone calls anymore. So it only makes sense to build your own website. I plan on writing several articles about building easy websites to show off your creations to online communities, or to direct your potential customers to.

The first free service I want to discuss is the page you are looking at now; Blogger. Scroll Saw Goodies is a blog hosted by Blogger.

What is a blog? Blog is short for web-log. Think of it as an online journal where you can write down your thoughts quickly and easily. Blogger has a back-end interface where you compose your blog entries. It has tools that work much like a word processing program. Font, size, style, spell check, etc. You can upload your own pictures and make links to other websites with ease. And with a click of a button, your blog entry is made live for the public to see.

To make your blog unique, you can easily cusomize the look. There are quite a few templates you can choose from to suit your tastes. Colors are easily changed. You can arrange the features of the website with a simple drag-and-drop. And if you are comfortable with HTML code, the code can be changed with ease.

Blogger is a great way to start your online presence. Its easy to use and customize. And best of all, its free! You can create a blog to showcase your work like I have done with Woodworks By Travis. You can create a blog like this one, to distribute information. Steve at Scroll Saw Workshop uses his to distribute free patterns. Or, like David at Scroll Saw Blog, you can just share your thought about scroll sawing to those who would listen.

If you run into any problems with Blogger, let me know and I can help you out. I have been using it for years. I’d be happy to help if you get stuck.

If you have a blog related to scroll sawing that is hosted by Blogger, please post your link in the comments area for others to see. It would be a great way to get traffic to your blog and show others what can be done with this great service.

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