So let’s say you made up a pattern or you have permission to use someone’s else’s pattern to make a product to sell.
You have a beautiful finished piece and it’s buzzing. Friends have said things like: “You should totally try selling that!” or “can I buy one?”
Those are good signs that there is a market for your product.
But what on earth do you do next?
Selling Sewing Products
1. Figure out your prices
You need to calculate how much supplies are costing you per product. (Round up!)
Look into buying some or all of your supplies somewhere cheaper. I surf eBay and try to buy things in bulk when I can! Every little penny adds up. You may want to wait, and see how well your product sells first before investing in bulk material though.
Make another product and time yourself.
I charge anywhere from $10-$25 and hour when I do specialty sewing work or make products. You need to determine how valuable your time is. (I do reccomend going cheaper in the beginning! Once your name gets out there, you can charge more.)
Finally, estimate how much it is going to cost you to ship your handmade item.
Viola! Your total price.
2. Take good photos
I am by no means a photographer (can’t you tell?!), but I am always surprised with how well an iPhone can take photos. If you have an iPhone and some good photo editing apps, you’re golden.
Professional Photographers everywhere are probably dying a little inside after that comment. Sorry. I believe there is a place for you in this world, just not this early in a business!
Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words and I get that. But it’s not practical to dish out $150 to get professional photos taken of your product if you don’t know whether it’s going to sell well or not.
So you need to use your creativity! Below you will learn how to fake professional photography in 8 steps:
- Get some good photo editing apps on your phone. (I love VSCO for a photo’s coloring, Aviary does well with the minor details and for cropping I use Moldiv).
- Find good lighting. What do I mean by good lighting? I mean the time between 8am till before the sun sets. You want a room that has windows where the sun shines into.
- Get a white sheet or fabric, and find a wall with a white background. If you don’t have any white walls (welcome to my world! My mom is obsessed with paint colors), get a white poster board. They’re like $5 in Walmart.
- Put the sheet on the ground, poster on the wall. Display your item in the center of this whiteness in a way that *best* shows it off. (This may mean stuffing a purse, unzipping a clutch halfway opened to allow a glimpse of the inside color, positioning a stuffed toy in a goofy pose, etc.)
- Let the sunshine from the window light up the room, get your iPhone’s red square box thingy to focus on your item, and click.
- Take a bunch of photos from different angles. Try adding different props. Compare an item’s size with another common object, or get a cute friend to model with the item for you.
- After you get a bunch of pictures, select around 5 different ones that are clear and crisp. These photos need to include: various angles of your product, a comparison-to-another-size and a zoomed up to the features of the product (like a zipper or pretty embellishment).
- Edit! Upload your photo to aviary first. This app takes care of any minor, basic editing (like red eye, teeth whitening and blemish remover. Which you won’t need for your handmade item, but those tools are lifesavers for an ugly day, let me tell ya!). VSCO’s “moody” filter is my favorite, and I like to use Moldiv’s square shape and add rounded corners and thin out the borders. Don’t get too crazy with weird colors and too much contrast. You’ll be getting too close to the “cheap and unprofessional” pit that you don’t want to go down EVER.
3. Make a name for yourself
Take it from someone who named a personalized purse making business, “Pursenalize It” (still living in regret over that!), put considerable thought into the name of your company.
Stay away from anything too hard to pronounce or too cliche or too difficult for someone to remember.
Think of a tagline for your business name as well. This could be a company promise (“we’re always on time!”), or a short descriptive (like my tagline: “a Sewing Blog”. Whatever the case, your company’s name and tagline needs to make sense to the buyer.
4. Advertise through social media
I am assuming you have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and probably even more social media. Don’t worry, I’m not about to preach to you about how horrible it is to be a young person in this day and age and blah blah blah. That gets so old, right?!
Personally, I believe that social media is an irreplaceable marketing tool and I’m glad that young people today know how to use them!
But let’s actually earn back from the time wasted on those things for once. Enough is enough!
- Start by posting one cute photo or a collage of your favorites (use the Moldiv app!) on Instagram. Caption it simply and with the total price of your product (discluding shipping- you can tell customers of the shipping price in a private message. It’s better for business to have a lower price advertised).
- Go ahead and throw in a bunch of hashtags; they attract even more customers.
- Instagram gives you the option to also share the photo to your other social media sites before finalizing the post (which I am sure you already knew that, you modern millennial, you). So go ahead and share away!
- If you want to get really serious, you could even rename your Instagram to the name of your new company and your bio can be a (seriously short) descriptive of it. It’s also professional looking to have a link to a Facebook business page or an Etsy Shop (ok don’t freak out! Keep reading to find out how to make both an Etsy Shop and FB page for your new business).
5. Etsy, Facebook and Pinterest: a Crafter’s Small Business Heaven.
Etsy.com is such a beautiful site! It’s basically eBay, but there isn’t bidding and almost everything on it is handmade. The downside? It doesn’t get nearly the traffic it deserves.
But that’s where a Facebook business page comes in.
If you want to get serious about your business, you’ll need both Etsy and Facebook, and for kicks throw in Pinterest too! (Pinterest is also an irreplaceable inspirational source. But beware: once you start pinning, you’ll never look back!)
- First, make an Etsy Shop. Etsy.com is extremely self explanatory, you should have zero problems when you go to their site and make your shop. You’ll pretty much just type in the name of your company, add a cool photo, fill out it’s bio and history. Then viola!
You’re now ready to list your product for sale in your shop! It costs 20 cents a listing. (Be careful not to break the bank now!)
Upload all the photos you have edited already, describe your product in detail, be sure to use accurate measurements in the description and add as many tags as you can think up.
- Ok it’s time for the big mama: Facebook.
I am not about to walk you step by step on how to make a Facebook business page; honestly you can google that question and find directions everywhere! I just want to give you some important tips I’ve found helpful in running my own business page:
Link to your Etsy shop if you don’t have a website to add to the Facebook Page’s information.
Allow your first FB post to be a “welcome everyone!” post with photos of you or your studio and a short description of who you are as an artist. This really personalizes your page!
Don’t be embarrassed to invite ALL of your friends to like your new business page (granted, ex boyfriends don’t need an invite; let’s not get too crazy).
Wait for people to like your page first (this may take a couple days), and then make your second post contain: your product’s photo, Etsy LISTING link, and short descriptive of your product for sale.
- Ok Pinterest’s turn!
Pinterest is as easy as going to your Etsy shop as a guest, clicking your listing’s photo, and using the “pin it” button to save it on one of your boards. How does this help? Friends of friends of friends of friends will see it, and those who like it will click on it and go directly to your link. The traffic will never end!
Boom. You just professionally marketed your product for 20 cents.
Next week, I’ll be discussing packaging, labels and making your handmade items look like they came off Pinterest!