Ten reasons Why your Handmade Crafts Business has refused to Grow and how to improve sales

Handmade crafts are uniquely designed pieces created with love, crafted with patience and designed by inspiration.
Ten reasons  Why your Handmade Crafts Business has refused to Grow and how to improve salessewing machine

The process involve in making Handmade crafts include  jewelry making  (beads, wire works, gold pieces, stainless steel works  or costumes), fashion designing, sewing,  crocheting, knitting,painting, drawing, stenciling  and more.

Handmade crafts  are made from wood, paper, fabric, metal, glass, beads, stone, plants, leather, ceramic and organic products. The general belief is that handmade items have a wide market as people generally go for unique items, they always prefer a one of a kind item.

So as  a Crafter, what is wrong? Why am I not making it in my business?

 Of course, you can design like crazy, craft unique items, create out of this world beautiful pieces, spend hours , even days to perfect your work but you still feel you are not getting enough value for your efforts, not making sales or getting underpaid.  You have tried all alternatives, making more products, learning new skills, combining two or more handcrafts , gone to trade fairs, exhibitions, under price, copy competitors methods but nothing seems to work yet.

Wait a minute, you are not alone, many crafters and skilled professionals also feel the same way. In fact there are thousand others  in your same shoes, I was one of them till my eyes got open. It happened while reading an article by Yarn Obsession , it got me thinking on how to turn my passion to profit and now after months of research, poring over various helpful articles and practicing the knowledge I gained. I can authoritatively reveal to you the top reasons why you are not succeeding in your handcrafts business yet and how to overcome it.

Why handmade craft business fail most often?
crafting with typearls

1. Lack of purpose: 
So you can make beautiful beads, create signature wigs, sew lovely clothes, or you draw well. Am telling you, if you don't define your purpose clearly, your skill will just remain what it is , a hobby, Not a successful business.  Now, ask yourself what do you want to do with the skill you have, make money with it or continue to create freebies for friends or make items that no one buys and you end up giving as giveaways to families. The problem with most creative minds is to decide on the one skill to settle for, because they  are usually passionate about creativity, they can be knowledgeable in two or more skills. Which is the reason when you ask a typical crafter what she does, her reply may sound like " I am a beader, cake maker, tailor and decorator". There is no harm having skills, but you must decide which ones will remain as your hobbies and the one you want to treat as business.
Know your strengths , it will save you time and energy and help you focus on the most productive one.

2. Pricing;
The challenge to keep up and be in business at all cost has made many under price their products, many don't even have an idea of what to charge. Pricing is a determining factor on how successful your business will be , will you just break even or have a surplus. To determine the right price requires taking into consideration factors such as value of the product, clientele taste, cost of production, labor, availability of resources, scarcity of items, and packaging.
The idea if Nigerian Crafters asking for N100 in return to give out procedures or train people is horrible for business, if you are one of them, you need to stop, apart from the fact it does not help business, it also portrays you as unserious. If you want to offer free training , do it free of charge without asking for N100, N200, N1000 for recharge card, data mb when you know the value of what you want to give out is way much more than that. So when you teach a bead procedure for N100, How much do you expect to sell the bead ? Put some value on your work and don't spoil business for others or diminish your own skill.

3. Undefined target audience

The most important lesson I learnt was that I needed to define my audience quickly, I have lots of visitors to my blog who are coming diy projects, I wondered for long, how best I could convert this audience to not only repeated visitors but buying customers. So I created my ebooks series that teach diyers and crafts lovers on business opportunities, craft skills and diy projects . In few months that I have started, there has been an increase in my turnover. Also,are your crafts for mothers, teenagers , Dads, young and upwardly mobile citizens, the rich crust of the society or the middle class, your crafts must appeal to the type of the clients you wish to attract.

4. Poor branding
Branding simply refers to the perceived image of your business.  This  includes the use of attractive images, quotes, banners, exquisite finish of products, proper packaging, neat labels, good descriptive tags , names and titles. Your work must speak for you even while you are not there to defend it.
Invest in digital  cameras or phones with good camera pixels, or employ a professional photographer to take pictures of your works,

5. Inadequate use of technology
As a owner of a small or  medium scale business, you may not have the large budgets for adverts and marketing as big companies , these larger businesses already have a ground framework, more money to hire human resources, buy equipment and  reach their traget audience using traditional means of marketing through print media, Tv ads, Online ads but you have an added advantage , since your intended audience is tailored, you know their interests, where they spend their time, what they are searching for, you can make this work for you. The problem is most smes owners use their social media accounts for getting in touch with friends , observing other people's lives or just leave them dormant. That is a huge mistake, your potential clients are soending more  time online, technology has taken ovve almost everyone's life , people spend more time on phone than hey do in watchinh television, and you need to keep up with the trend. Activate your social media accounts, Linked In, Twitter, Instagram, Google plus, Snapchat, Facebook pages and Go start a Blog or write for one. Concentrate on the medium that works for you most or cross promote your content on the different channels to save you time. But you need to start making use of apps and tools that will make your selling experience better, monitor conversions, make beautiful pictures and posters, Promote ads and  get more publicity for your crafts business.

6. Trying to make and do  everything:
This is No 1 killer of business, best advice is to start with one line of crafts, expand it to include a wider range of products , before gradually moving onto other things.You can be making soaps, just baby soaps, free of chemical ingredients, you can expand to make soaps for adults, and finally body products like creams, perfumes, colognes, but start with one first.
Let me share my own experience, I started off as an event planner, made good money, but my love for impacting knowledge made me veer off to organizing series of training to teach ankara crafts, bead making among other activities that consumed much of my time. Though they were also rewarding, but the trainings combined with blogging didnt make me focus on expanding my events planning business.

What Did I do?
I simply reevaluated, My Events planning comes first, blogging comes second, while trainings come third. To make it easier, most of the trainings have been condensed into online trainings consisting of pdfs, videos and manuals, so students can get benefit of the trainings without me physically being present. Also scheduling training programs for three times in a year makes me plan well ahead and achieve more with my time and resources. You can employ Whats app, video webinars, conference calls, mail kits to automate most of your other projects, getting mails, organizing trainings, planning events, setting reminders, responding to inquiries, interviews and lots more.
In the course of blogging and teaching diy projects, I have had requests to create business plans, take entrepreneurship tutorials , teach new crafts. One activity has led to me having a multiple stream of income, but all is tied to sharing knowledge.

In trying to build a business, many handmade crafters overwork themselves, they are the marketers, designers, creators, so once they are not available, no one can be done. You need to build a business that can continue without your presence, you must be able to trai those who can do your work to your satisfaction or outsource . Handmade can be fulfilling, creating the item from scratch can be regarding but it is more tasking , but at the end, your customers are not really concerned with the process but whether their needs are met and the products created have a fabulous finish.

To make your work faster, employ the right tools and machines. Doing everything by hand will only put more strain on you.

7. Use of cheap materials
The only person you will hurt by being cheap is yourself, dont mind the fact that some customers force you to review price, while they may bargain with you to sell an item for N3000, They are willing to buy the same item at another store for N7000, it all bores down to the right packaging, good finishing, right materials and the durability of materials. Cheap materials is not quality. Always be known for your value and not how cheap you are. 

8. Lack of training and exposure 
Attendance at conferences, seminars , industry programs , events , training programs or going to learn more from an expert in your field should not be considered as a waste of time or money. It is an investment. That is the only way to learn advanced techniques, meet other people of similar interests, build a grounded network, improve your finishing, learn of new opportunities and trends. These meets are not to steal competitors' client base or plagiarize their works, they are necessary for your own growth.

9. Not knowing where to sell
Making your crafts and gifts at home  and putting them in nice display cases is not going to guarantee you a sale. Create online stores or join one. Etsy, Shopify, Jumia, Konga, Zuvaa, Crafthub. Exhibit at fairs, crafts events, church bazaars, entrepreneur meetings, yard sale. Get your goods in front of those who are looking for it.
P:S COMING SOON, Just wait for it.

10. Other reasons
Not believing in your work enough, spending too much money, improper planning, no budget system, poor working environment, lack of labor, not collaborating with other entrepreneurs, lack of patience and determination.

Why Handcrafted business is a profitable business and the right business for you. 

1. Freewill: 

This is the only business that will give you absolute control over your time, pricing and brand.
Your crafts are your concepts whether they are  handmade jewelery, fashion accessories or painted items, you get to infuse your personality and choose how many items you want to produce, either for exclusivity or for more mass production.
2. No location restriction:

Having your own crafts business does not limit you to a space, therefore you can be a stay at home and create your crafts from the comfort of your home, No boss to answer to, except your customers, more family time especially for mothers.

3. Non gender based
Crafting has nothing to do with gender, men and women create their own works as long as they are exceptional with their skills.

4. Opportunity to leave your own legacy;
The craft items you make will outlive you,. they can be your own contribution to the world and your legacy. Think of the works of Michelangelo, Nike Okundaye, Leonardo Da Vinci, they have produced works that their future generations will be proud of. Other  skills have instantenous rewards but handcrafted projects have long lasting impact.

Check out a list of crafted items you can consider selling.
Handmade jewelry 
Beaded jewelry
Hats and hair fascinators
Gift boxes
Party favors
Packaging boxes
Soaps, creams and candles
Perfumes and scents
Ready to wear outfits
Leather bags , belts and shoes
Ankara crafts
Crocheted and knitted items
Baby clothing
Printed cards and books
Cake toppers, dummies boxes and stands.
Lights and craft supplies
Batik, tie and dye, adire clothing
Customised champagne bottles
Decoration items
Wedding gifts
Bridal accessories

Finally, Always see yourself as a business owner and not a cratfter

Other useful posts to read include:
Ten things for you to do to have a successful online crafts business 
Ten essentials for handmade business owners

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Asalu Omobola said…
Really helpful tips.Thumbs up