Handmade items are synonymous with beauty, quality and attention to detail, taking the user back to a time when life was slower and gentler. Exquisite handmade clothing, pottery, jewelry and household items enrich our lives and create a sense of well-being that isn’t found with mass-produced modern products. It’s challenging to develop successful marketing strategies for handmade items, however, particularly for creative people and artists whose strength lies in the production aspect instead of the business side of the industry.
An online presence is vital in the age of the Internet. Include a website plan in your marketing strategy that displays your handmade items clearly. Optimize your website for search engine indexing by using appropriate keywords in the content. Set up a detailed catalog for your handmade items, which offers information about each product as well as price and availability. Add a blog and publish regular posts about the products you make, and invite your readers to subscribe to your blog for updated news and information on new lines and availability.
Create social media profiles for your business and post links to your blog and website. Use platforms such as Pinterest to showcase photographs of your handmade items on Arts and Crafts boards. Build a Facebook fan page for the business to display your catalog of products on the page and set up a Facebook store linked to your fan page where followers can order through a trusted medium. Use your business Twitter account to promote your products and encourage feedback on the various social media platforms from current and potential customers.
Open seller accounts on sites such as Etsy, Zibbet, Big Cartel and ArtFire. Etsy is a well-known online arts and crafts store, and Zibbet was established as the alternative to eBay for artisans, when the founder discovered how difficult it was to sell creative products. Big Cartel offers artists an independent online store from which to sell, while ArtFire is an “interactive handmade market place and craft community” dedicated to helping members build their businesses and sales. Install a shopping cart application on your website and create a PayPal account to enable buyers to place orders and make payments online. Invite buyers to post reviews of your products and rate your quality and speed of service.
As part of your promotional strategy, print business cards and flyers that advertise your handmade products. These should include your contact information and attractive photos of some of your best-selling items, as well as your website address and the details of any online stores from which your products can be purchased. Hand out your flyers at craft markets and trade shows or distribute them by postal drop in your neighborhood. Apply to be included in directories such as the Handmade Artists, which showcases handmade products from artists worldwide.
Investigate craft and farmer’s markets in your area. These typically take place on one or two mornings a week or over the weekend at local churches and community centers. You may be required to pay for a booth in advance, but even if you don’t sell many items at the market it offers the opportunity to display your products and hand out business cards or fliers. Make a sign using a child’s blackboard to direct customers to your booth.
Secure a spot at relevant trade shows; for example, if your handmade items are for the home, look for exhibitions of home furnishings and linen. Hold live presentations of your products during the market or show and run a competition to win one of your products. Collect names and email addresses of the visitors to come to your booth. Add them to your mailing list and send out regular email newsletters with details and photos of your latest additions to your range of handmade items.