Tips for Selling Your Knit or Crocheted Projects

When we crafters get into the groove, we can often end up with more gorgeous handmade creations than we know what to do with. Selling your knit or crocheted items is a fantastic way to free up some space in your craft room (for new projects, of course!) and make a bit of money to boot!

The Handmade MarketplaceWe were lucky enough to snag a Q&A session with Kari Chapin,  author of The Handmade Marketplace. This book is a super helpful resource for crafters who want to turn their hobbies into businesses, and the updated edition with new online strategies and marketing trends is now available from Storey Publishing. Check out Kari’s advice below, then get your copy of The Handmade Marketplace and start getting paid to do what you love!

Q&A with Kari Chapin – The Handmade Marketplace

1. In the second edition of The Handmade Marketplace, you talk about ways to find inspiration. How do you find inspiration for your work?

For my work with handmakers, I look to my community for inspiration. What do they want to know? What are the wondering about? Where is their motivation coming from? I take my cues from the people I most want to support and help.

For my personal creative projects, I find inspiration almost everywhere. Nature, books I’m reading, and color all spark my imagination. I love going to galleries and museums and gardens. Sometimes great ideas come from having a conversation with a good friend over a cup of coffee and simply window shopping sparks something for me.

2. You also talk about establishing a sense of community with other crafters. What are some of your favorite ways to do this?Sock with moneyOh, there are so many good ways! Personally, I belong to a local crafting group. We have a monthly Crafternoon where we explore a new craft that none of us are experts at. This is not only a really fun way to spend a day, but I get to explore new techniques and supplies. I also run an online community of crafty business people, and a lot of good connections happen in that group. You can sign up for my newsletter at http://www.karichapin.com to join the group for free! I also try to go to as many craft shows and art shows as I can manage. I introduce myself to people and ask them to have coffee with me. It’s a great way to meet new people and expand my community.

3. How can crafters cultivate their brand’s particular vibe or feeling?

Think like your customer, not like yourself. If you were buying what you make from you, would you see what you wanted to see? Look at your branding and your materials through the lens of your ideal customer. What do they want to know or see or read about your work? Make sure you are appealing to their lifestyle and their needs.

Yarn with money

4. Crafters love things that are creative and fun. How can they make marketing creative and fun as well?
Think about the products you use everyday and would recommend to a friend. Do you have trouble expressing the love you have for your favorite brand of shoes or telling people about a great book you’re reading? Chances are no. Look at your own work with the same enthusiasm you have for other items you use and adore. If you like sharing what you think is valuable, then apply that same enthusiasm to your own business. It works!

5. What would you recommend as a first step for knitters or crocheters who are eager to begin selling their handmade projects?

Honestly, my best advice to just BEGIN. It seems so simple, but it’s true. Begin by making a list of what you want to accomplish and then break it down into tiny, micro steps. Work a little bit on your business every day. An hour here, ten minutes there, they add up. Businesses don’t start themselves and like everything valuable we do in life, you have to start somewhere. There was once a day when you didn’t know how to knit or crochet, right? One day you had to pick up the needles or the hook and learn. Selling your projects works the same way. Also, pick up a good book like The Handmade Marketplace to help you get started 🙂

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Book Giveaway! Tips on Selling Handmade Crafts

Have you ever thought about selling things you knit and crochet? With the popularity of etsy, many crafters are opening up shop and selling their handmade creations.

If you do decide to go for it, the first question that is bound to come up is pricing. How do you know what to charge? To help answer that question, we’re turning to the expert James Dillehay, author of the book How to Price Crafts & Things You Make to Sell. (And to sweeten the deal, we’re giving away a copy of his insightful book. Read on to find out more!)

Q: Pricing can feel a bit like a guessing game. How can people be more strategic about it?

A: When I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t making much of a profit, I began applying the following strategy. Whenever I go to price an item now, I look at: 1) how much a piece costs to make and 2) how much shoppers are willing to pay for similar items in similar marketplaces.

What it costs me isn’t necessarily my asking price, because the average market price of work like mine may be higher. If I only ask enough to get my costs back, I will leave money on the table. I have a gallery in crafts village near Santa Fe, NM where I display my work. I started off pricing my hand-woven scarves at $65 because it covered my production costs and paid me a decent hourly wage for my time.

However, when customers coming into the store mentioned they had seen scarves the same size of mine priced at $100 in nearby Santa Fe, I immediately went through and upped my prices to $74. My sales not only did not suffer; they increased.

Q: What kinds of things should crafters consider when assessing their production costs?

A: Production costs include the cost of all the materials that go into each item and the cost of your labor. For example, you make a Christmas ornament that has glass, wire, paint, and glitter. You may have to estimate little things like how much paint and glitter, but get as close as you can. Let’s say you find you have $2.75 in total material costs.

Next, figure how much time it took you to make the ornament. For example, you want to earn at least $10 per hour and it took 45 minutes to make the item; your cost of labor is $7.50. Add material costs to labor costs which brings your production cost to $10.25.

If you sell at shows, you need to account for rental fees, travel, and food. Over time, I learned my overhead tended to average around 25% of sales, so I started adding 25% of my production costs to cover overhead. This may be a little low since you could be selling at prices higher than your production costs but look at your own sales over a year’s time and determine a percentage that comes close.

So for our example ornament, I add $2.56 (25% of my production costs) to $10.25 which brings my total costs to $12.81 per piece. I cannot charge less than this amount without losing money.

Q: Why do so many craft makers undercharge for their products and why is that a mistake?

A: I think it’s natural to think a lower price means we’ll sell something faster. But with handmade items, this isn’t always true. In my gallery, I have several times had to raise prices on items before they start selling. Shoppers saw initially low prices and thought the items were cheaply made, so they passed them by. Once I upped the prices, the perceived value increased and so did sales.

About the author: James Dillehay is a professional craft artist, gallery owner, and author of nine books. He has been interviewed in The Wall Street Journal Online, Yahoo Finance, The Chicago Tribune, Bottom Line Personal, Family Circle, The Crafts Report, and many more including Entrepreneur Radio and HGTV. For more information on his book and tips on pricing crafts, see http://howtopricecrafts.com.

This Q&A barely skims the surface of all the great, practical advice this book has to offer. For a chance to win a copy, leave a comment below.