If you have the creative talent to produce original ceramics, you can start a pottery business in your home. The market has few entry barriers and start-up costs can be kept to a minimum. However, after you've saturated your circles of friends and relatives with pottery, you'll need to step forth into a competitive market. By keeping your production process simple and efficient and by marketing in a smart way, you can grow a profitable ceramics business.
Research Home-Based Pottery Businesses Before the Leap
Assess the expectations of the market you're targeting before you leap into launching a home-based pottery business. On the one hand, if you're selling handmade wares straight from your pottery wheel, you're looking at a small niche of potential customers. On the other hand, targeting the market for functional ceramics, you'll be contending with mass-produced pottery. You need to determine if people will actually buy your expensive hand-crafted soup bowl or head to a retail store to purchase a machine-made bowl.
Balance these considerations with the products you're passionate about making. Take the time to research and identify the market that suits your product line. In general, many potters will produce ware that is more likely to pay the bills and then make pottery that expresses their aesthetics.
Streamline Product Lines
Instead of creating many product lines with a fixed price range, create a limited product line with a wide price range to balance sales opportunities. If you want to expand a product line of your home based pottery business, make different types of objects within that line, such as goblets, plates or bowls. Customers tend to look for sets, not individual pieces. A full dinnerware set — soup or salad plate, dinner plate, lunch plate and cup — can dramatically boost sales.
Avoid time-consuming traps, such as custom orders for individual pieces or making replacement items. It's impossible to replicate another potter's techniques. In addition, rely on reputable suppliers that provide reliable customer service. If your supplier delivers a bad batch of glaze or clay, monitor how the problem is resolved. If it's not to your satisfaction, find another supplier.
Simplify the Production Process
To maintain consistency and minimize defects, simplify your production process. Keep glaze and clay body formulas simple, rounding off formula numbers. For example, if you're using 45.2% flint in a glaze, just use 45%. Certain ingredients, such as dyes, coloring oxides, stains, binds and suspension agents, require that you use the exact amount. Even tiny changes in the cobalt oxide used can produce very different results.
Situate your equipment for efficient production, such as putting your clay near the wedging table. Then, put the table next to the pottery wheel. In comparison to fossil-fueled kilns, electric kilns tend to produce more consistent results and you don't have to consider innumerable fuel and air mixtures.
Pick The Best Pottery Marketing Ideas, Then Sell Smart
You can sell your ceramics to retailers as a wholesaler or on a consignment basis. In addition, you can rent a booth at craft shows and trade fairs. One of the most best pottery marketing ideas is to invite customers to a kiln opening at your studio. In a festive atmosphere, customers can buy warm pots emerging straight from your kiln. The less handling, the fewer broken pieces, though you can also allow customers to try out the pottery wheel by offering workshop classes.
Also consider developing an e-commerce website for your ceramics or online storefront on an arts and crafts marketplace, such as Etsy or ArtFire. While many potters tend to shy away from digital technology, managing an online shop is a cost-effective way to dramatically extend your reach and boost the sales of your ceramics. Another one of the best pottery marketing ideas is utilizing Facebook and Instagram pages and ads to promote your brand.
- Ceramic Industry: PPP: The Business of Pottery
- Entrepreneur: Business Idea Center: Pottery
- The Pottery Consultant: Opening a Contemporary or Paint Your Own Pottery Studio
- Ceramic Arts Daily: A Pottery Paycheck: Expert Insights Into Making a Living as a Potter
- Brit + Co: How To Quit Your Day Job And Start A Ceramics Studio
- Ceramic Arts Network Daily: Great Advice On Starting A Ceramic Business
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.