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Craft Business Basics 2 - Place

This article is the second in a series of four articles that will guide you on how you can start your own crafts business using the four Ps of Marketing - Product, Place, Price and Promotion.

I hope you've had a good time brainstorming and researching ideas for your crafts products to sell. If you haven't, please read "Crafts Basics 1 - Product" and do the exercises and see what you can come up with today. In fact, if you keep doing them, you'll never run out of things to sell!

In this article, we'll look at the places that you can sell your crafts. Traditional marketing says location, location, location is all important in retail sales. If you're intending to sell your crafts directly to your customers, then where you sell them is important. Each channel of sales comes with its own challenges and it helps to learn from experts from the various channels so you know how to sell effectively. Below are some ways you can get into the crafts business.

* Consignments Sales
* Publishing your Designs
* Internet
* Catalogs/Mail Orders
* Home Parties
* Tradeshows/exhibitions

Consignments Sales
------------------
Consignment sales are possibly the cheapest way to get started in craft sales so you should consider using this channel. Basically consignment sales means you put your products with the stores to be sold and you give the stores a percentage of whatever they sold.

It sounds easy enough but it can turn out to be difficult because storeowners can be very particular. They want to know if your product will fit in with their store, and they want a good commission for your product. Some storeowners may accept products readily but they may not bother to display them and even if they display them they may not bother to promote them.

You'll need to prepare beforehand, and you'll need to know how to talk to the storeowners so that you don't irritate them but instead attract them enough to want to sell your products.

Saying the wrong things and saying too much can cause you to lose all your sales, even though you might have wonderful sellable products. The lesson to learn is how to maintain that delicate balance between talking and talking too much when introducing your products to the storeowners.

Many people would be contented to just leave the products with the storeowners but if you go the extra mile and help storeowners with details like decorations to your products and the window display, you will see significant improvements in your sales.

Publishing your Designs
-----------------------
If you design your own products and want to get your designs published, magazines are a great way to go.

You would need to take care of your copyright before you publish in case the design is stolen but it's quite easy and cheap to do so. You would need to check with the authorities of your country for details.

Publishing designs in magazines is not unlike submitting other publications to magazines. You'll need to check out the relevant magazines for their guidelines on submission, and submit the designs according to those guidelines. Not doing so would almost ensure your design never gets published, no matter how good they are. Occasionally you may chance upon a nice editor, but don't count on it.

A potentially sticky issue with submitting designs to magazines concerns the rights to the designs. Sometimes, the magazines would want to buy total rights to your designs for a low fee. You can also negotiate to keep all the rights or give the magazine the first rights to your design, meaning they must be the first to publish that design, after which you may do so. In any case, make sure you read the contracts carefully before signing, in case you sign away a potentially profitable design for .

Another way of getting your designs published, if you want to avoid those pesky editors, is to publish them yourself. This takes a bit more work and requires a bit of investment on your part but may end up being more fulfilling and even profitable.

You could print your own designs and put them up for sale or you could create an electronic or digital version of your design for sale. If you're considering selling a digital version, the most common and probably best file format to use would be PDF, because it is viewable on most, if not all, computers. Between selling a physical hard copy and digital soft copy versions, many self-publishers are going the way of digital publishing because of the lower costs involved. Although the industry-standard is Adobe PDF creator, it will cost you a bomb to get it. You'll need to sell hundreds, even thousands of crafts to pay for it. Search on the net and you'll find several cheap and even free alternatives.

Probably the best way to sell your self-published designs would be through the internet.

Internet
--------
The idea of selling on the internet is enticing. If I were to list the steps, it sounds so deceptively simple but from experience, I know it's not easy. Many many people fail at it. It's a whole new ball game and if we want to play the game well, we should invest time getting an education first.

If you are new to internet marketing and want to get started quickly without getting into the technical nitty-gritty, Ebay should prove to be a good platform. Once you have enough sales and experience, you can then graduate to having your own store on Ebay or elsewhere.

If you are put-off by the technicalities involved in setting up a website, you can also use a blog to peddle your wares. Setting up a blog is no more difficult than getting a free email account so most people should be able to do it. Just head over to Blogger or Wordpress to get an account. You can put some pictures and descriptions of your products with a link to PayPal and you're in business! It is not the most professional way to do it bu some people have been selling craft jewelry online pretty successfully this way.

If you want to set up a blog or a shopping cart on your own website, it isn't very much more difficult either.

1) Register a domain name at GoDaddy or some other reputable company. You should not need to pay more than for .com, .net, .org, .biz etc.

2) Get a web host
If and when you plan to get your own website, one aspect you must be very careful about is web hosting. There are tons of cheap web hosts around but please resist the temptation. It is really not worth the savings of that few dollars when they blackmail you with your domain name or they ignore you when your site is down.

Once you have found a few web hosts that you think might meet your needs, do a search for reviews of those hosts first. If there are no reviews or very few reviews, I would advise that you avoid them.

If you are new, I would suggest you look for a web host that offers cPanel with Fantastico because it will be easier for you to handle. Fantastico allows you to set up a shopping cart or a blog with just a few clicks so you can get started with your online shop easily.

3) Set up your blog or your shopping cart. If you really don't want to get your hands dirty here, contact your host. Most of them will be able to help you get started.

If you intend to sell using your website, it will be much better for you to get a hosted shopping cart. (Just search for "hosted shopping cart" to get some suggestions) They will be able to set up everything for you so all you need is to put in your own writeups and photos, configure your settings and you're ready to go.

Catalogs/Mail-order
-------------------
Catalogs and mail-orders have been used for decades and even centuries and is one of the best channels for a home-based business due to its relative low-cost and its simplicity. Catalogs are attractive because they're usually very colorful and attractive and many people don't mind picking up one to flip through at leisure after dinner or in bed.

Nonetheless, if you're not careful, you could potentially lose quite a bit of money. This could happen if your catalog and sales letter were weak and you sent to too many people. This is why all direct sales experts agree that testing is necessary. Test the effectiveness of your catalog and sales letters on a small-scale first. If it doesn't work, change something and try again. Keep changing until you get it right then do it on a big scale.

There are several things to take note when designing catalogs. In catalog creation, placing the right items in the right places will increase your sales significantly. The number of items to put on each page is also an important consideration. Needless to say, your most attractive items should always be on the first page.

If you want to sell through catalogs, you should consider selling bookmarks, book covers and candy covers as they have been proven to sell very well through this channel.

Home Parties
------------
You may also want to consider home parties, which have been used effectively by companies such as Tupperware and Mary Kay to sell their products.

Home parties should be fun to attract more people. A fun environment also makes people more willing to buy your products. As mentioned earlier, use your catalog effectively and organize games with the catalogs. This will "force" your party-goers to read your catalog closely and in the process, they may find something that they want to buy.

Tradeshows/exhibitions
----------------------
Exhibitions can be very tiring but can be very rewarding as well, both financially. Especially if you've been selling your crafts behind-the-scenes, through catalogs or the internet. Being able to see the joy and delight in your customers as they look and hold and play with your crafts is rewarding in itself. If they purchase, it's even better!

Don't let yourself be restricted to just selling by sitting down. Run some events at your booth to attract more people. Even a simple game or performance can draw many interested visitors.


About the Author: Visit Craft Small Business for more craft-related articles and resources.




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