Whether you’re considering starting a new business selling personalized items or want to monetize your hobby, it’s important to carefully plan your new venture. The marketplace for personalized crafts and knickknacks is crowded, so you’ll need to find your niche and decide how you will make your offerings unique.
Find Your Niche
The first step is to decide the area on which you will focus. There are a number of items that you can personalize using the right equipment. However, carrying a large stock of items can be difficult since it requires a lot of space and incurs expenses. When starting out, it may be more beneficial to specialize in a specific kind of item. You can personalize:
- Decorative pieces
- Baby items and toys
- Blankets and sewn items
- Mugs, glasses and dishware
Try to focus on items that you can personalize using the same kind of equipment. This way, you can expand your offerings while keeping your expenses level.
Identify the Equipment You Need
In order to personalize items, you will need some special supplies and equipment. Machines needed to make personalized items may include:
- Computerized embroidery and sewing machine: These produce precise designs and text and are great for personalizing fabric items, such as clothes and blankets.
- Die-cut sticker printing machine: These machines can print labels, decals and stickers for all kinds of hard surfaces and are often very affordable.
- Engraving machines: Perfect for metal, wood or stone surfaces, these machines are typically on the costly side.
If you’re just starting out and don’t want to make a big investment just yet, check local buy-and-sell pages for a machine for sale. You can try secondhand equipment before deciding to purchase a brand-new machine.
Establish Your Business’s Unique Value Proposition
In order to grab the attention of prospects, it’s vital to set your business apart from the competition. What do you do that makes you unique? This is the key value proposition you’ll need to use in all of your marketing materials. While many businesses can use a personalized gift-making machine, think of what only your business can do.
For example, you can offer a short turnaround time, such as 24 to 48 hours. You can use sustainable or environmentally friendly materials in your business. Another way to stand out from the crowd is the way you offer the personalization. Do you have the ability to add more than just a name, for example? Can you add an image or a quote? Establish what you offer that your customers can only find at your business.
Decide Where You’re Going to Sell
Figure out where you will sell your personalized products. How will you make it easy for your customers to purchase from you? Selling options include:
- Online marketplaces like Facebook
- Sales platforms like eBay
- Your own e-commerce store using a platform like Shopify
- In person at craft fairs or trade shows
- In a retail location
Regardless of where you sell, ensure that the customers' experience is smooth. How can they place an order conveniently? How long will they have to wait for their personalized item? Will you pay for shipping or will they? These are important factors to consider.
Market Things to Customize Online
Whether you sell online or in person, it’s important to have a web presence for your business. Showcase things to customize online on your website and social media. Include an easy way for your customers to contact you to share personalization details, such as through email, direct message, text or phone.
Be sure to share plenty of images of your products that promote the different kinds of personalization you offer. Use your unique value proposition as the basis for all your marketing efforts. Encourage customers to leave reviews and testimonials, which can be used to motivate prospects to make purchases from your business.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.