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!
We 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?Oh, 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.
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 🙂