Whether you are doing embroidery on shirts and jackets, modifying purses, making specialty quilts or taking personalized orders, making money in the embroidery business can be a challenge. The best thing you can do to make money is to begin advertising and create a name for yourself, all the while working hard at creating your product or providing your services.
Know what you're going to charge. An instant way to lose money is to not put the appropriate price tag on your embroidery work. Something that takes 10 hours to make by hand can't sell for $10; otherwise you're working for $1 an hour. If you are doing hand embroidery, you must consider the hours of dedication put into the product and charge appropriately. However, the same item embroidered on a computerized machine may only involve you setting the thread, positioning the loom and pressing start. You now have time to promote your business, make phone calls or work on you budget. The price of the machined product doesn't have to be as high, probably resulting in more sales. If you do choose to hand embroider, promote that aspect as the highlight of the product; that it is done by hand. Convince the customer that the handwork is where the true value lies, making that higher price tag justified.
Start using the Internet as a source for business. Whether or not your intention is to promote your embroidery business online, you should not turn your back on this 24-hour billboard. You literally can make money in the middle of the night. Your services can be offered on sites like craigslist.com and your finished products can be sold at auction and crafts sites, such as eBay.com or Etsy.com. Make sure your customers know how to find you for repeat business.
Set up a promotional website. A specific site name, (TotalThreads.com, for example) can feature your business and point customers to the appropriate place to purchase your goods. This is your opportunity to show crisp close-ups of your embroidery work, post testimonials from previous clients and show examples of work you have done. Did you make a set of embroidered hats for a T-ball team or a memory quilt for someone's wedding? This is the place to display your work and catalog your fees and pricing structures. Consider adding checkout features to the site to offer your work directly from your own site. Keep the site visually clean and shop-able while also giving any information your customers need.
Spread the word about your new business to build clientele. Let friends, family, co-workers and people at the library know you are doing embroidery and are either for hire or have something they may want to buy from you. Positive word of mouth will spread faster through your town than anything else. Without giving away the bank, you may want to offer a discount to friends that are willing to help promote you in their circles.
Pick up new clients by visiting places that have to do with your embroidery business. If your focus is embroidery for team sports, shirts, totes and hats, attend games. If your embroidery is for dog clothing, ask the manager at a pet store if you can set up shop for a day outside the store and talk to customers about your services.
Take advantage of advertising. Put up fliers that tell about your business and offer contact information at the library, craft stores, the mall, the local college and anywhere that seems appropriate for the customers you are looking for. Most repeat embroidery is done by teams and hobby groups who are in need of a logo to be added to uniforms or items they plan to sell for fund raising. Contact the coaches and presidents of local teams and clubs to find out their needs. You can offer to create a sample for them to look at. Based on your records, if you have the funds, consider paying for a spot in a local current events magazine. The key is to get enough information out there that the customers will start to come to you.
Research craft shows that come to your area and find out how much a booth costs and the dates of the show. Prepare as many of your items as you can to be ready for the craft show. Print up pamphlets or business cards and take them with you to the show. While your products create an initial sale, your business cards are the key to repeat business. If your business is still going well, then consider renting a booth at your local mall, but only if your business is making enough for you to be able to afford it.
Take a look at where you get your supplies from. A great way to increase the amount of money you make is to cut out the amount of money you spend on your embroidery supplies. Check out where you are getting your thread from and make notes about how much your thread costs, for what quantity and how much shipping costs. Then, go look at other suppliers and compare the costs. You may find that the "cheaper" thread has actually been costing you more because of how much you pay for shipping. Look into the costs of other supplies, such as blank canvases, hats, needles and machine oil.
Take time to set up a system to track your income and expenses. Use a computer program such as Excel, or even the old-fashioned notebook and a pencil to track any movement of money in or out of your business pocket. The costs of marketing your embroidery services and performing your work should factor into how much you charge. You won't know if you are turning a profit unless you can see the numbers for sales and expenses in front of you.
Stick close to your finances and know at any moment how your company is working. If you are losing money, you will need to know as soon as possible. Have an action plan in place for what you will do should you realize your company is failing.
Take every opportunity to bring up your embroidery work in conversation. Anyone you are talking to could be a new potential buyer or someone that knows how else you might be able to find customers.
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