Craftsperson not making a living HELP!

Craftspeople use this chart to diagnose where the problem lies. Then apply the remedies indicated.


 Okay, so now for those of you who are not making steady sales, here’s some  help for you too.

Poor sales and still no yeses? Then I am sorry to say you may have a non marketing problem. The one even your best friend won’t tell you …

You either have poor skills or are making something which people don’t like.

Improve your skills, change your product or walk away now before you are in serious debt.


Better to lose face than your home.

14 thoughts on “Craftsperson not making a living HELP!

  1. Clare McIntyre says:

    I am quite new to the idea of trying to make a living out of jewellery. I started making jewellery because I could never find anything I liked in shops- and then I made too many necklaces to wear myself, and a local gallery accepted all the “extras I had made” as sale or return. I sell through two galleries and have just made a website.

    The thing is, I like what I make, and never wear anything else!

    But am I making just “for me” or will my things appeal to a wider audience? Am I not getting the pricing right, or am I not getting to the right audience?

    And how do I get to that wider audience? I want to make this work, as I am truly addicted to making things but would prefer not to have to part with commission … and Craft and Gift Fairs can be expensive with all costs added together.

    Which way do I go next? I have tried the google advertising route- cost me a fortune for one week and I cant keep that up- so I need to be smarter with marketing somehow. But how?


    • Dixie Nichols says:

      I rather like your website, your pictures are wonderfully sharp. You need a bit more information on pieces for example bracelet lengths and are the necklaces strung or wired?I think you are underpricing: remember the lower you price the more you have to sell to make a living.

      You also need to be a bit more established sounding on your about page. Its not a good sales pitch to say you “sell them amongst colleagues and members of my choir”. Also only have on your pages essential informative text. On your site you have to make it as easy as you can for your visitor to buy, every word has to honed to that end. They havent arrived there for a chat and a cup of tea they have arrived to see if there is something they want to buy. Keep the personal chatty stuff for twitter and facebook which is where your photo of your cat belongs

      You are right you can’t just put up a website and wait for the customers you have to have more of a web presence to direct people to it. It will help you to read the Help me! post on Online marketing brick by brick as that shows you how you need to build your presence.In my book creating your own website is the final piece not the first.

      You also have to do any face to face sales you can cover costs on just to get a customer base. Your hope is that those customers will return to your website for more. Try and put them on your email contact list when you sell to them.

      Dont pay for advertising that is just money out the door befriend like crazy online and spend 70% of your time trying to build your customer base however much you are longing to make.

      You are in a very overcrowded bit of the market and you are open to the accusation that at the end of the day you are just stringing beads on a thread so try to incoporate something which is imediately recognisable as your work.

      You have got a lot right so far but there is no magic bullet its all trudge trudge.

      • Clare McIntyre says:

        Amazing advice – I am so grateful that you give everyone so much of your time and attention.

        I had a table at a craft and gift fair last weekend- and I covered the cost of my table! I am doing the same fair in November so laid lots of foundations for present buying- at least I hope it works. However it was good to see which things people looked at and what they liked. It is different every time but I think my display is very clean cut and people can glance at it all too quickly without being drawn to linger. I have had a table recently at a monthly local Farmers Market and the stall holders are all pulling together to increase posters and promotion. I hope there will be regular people there for food who might stop by for presents too and build up some regular customers.

        I will go and change the website re being too informal. Even the last thing I put on there was way too chatty so I shall go and sharpen the sentences and look at the details.

        I have just made a new range of necklaces and bracelets that I don’t see others producing. This will either sink or swim on the “individual front.” I have also just ordered some silver wire so I can make my own S or J hooks to stand out a little from everyone else. I will look at the pricing carefully.

        Thanks for the advice re marketing. I have a new facebook page and will look at twitter too.

        It is great to have sound advice. Many thanks indeed.


      • Dixie Nichols says:

        I love it when I get feed back as then I know if I am pitching my advice in a way that is helpful I want to be forthright but I don’t want to be dispiriting, so thank you.

        I think a simple display that people can take in immediately makes a lot of sense, yes it means that people go by but that’s because they don’t want to buy jewellery. An easy conversation piece is useful a jar of flowers from your garden for example allows a little chat even a bowl of sweets, but don’t complicate your offer.

        You may find that the Farmers Market doesn’t work as people have their food heads on and if they are eating food from stalls they will have messy hands also who feels beautiful when they are hauling shopping about. On the other hand they may notice you one week,need to take someone a present and think I wonder if I could get them something from that jewellery stall. It’s quite a stretch.

      • Clare McIntyre says:

        I agree about the Farmers Market stretch- however, it is close to home and not expensive. The “opportunist present buyer” has been the main customer but I am hoping that if I am always there, people will also come back expecting to see me. Little Waltham is an attractive area to live so I hope the locals have very good taste! I have made a list of several local crafts people to invite and ring the changes for interest, and will have a home made cake cafe area to help people linger a while. We have a media guru who makes soap gifts so I shall have to pick up some twitter tips from her. I am so glad you suggest keeping the stall simple. I don’t like “visual noise” and was dreading thinking about having to redo stands etc to make it not-like-me! However, I might get some organza as the covering to give a bit of va va voom and polish. Great idea about flowers or sweets for a talking point. I looked at your buttons- they are delicious! A visual feast. Thank you Dixie.

  2. joelleharris says:

    Great Advice thank you! It still applies to me, I run dressmaking and craft workshops – temping to cut prices to get poeple in – but I know that’s wrong – What I offer is good value for money. I actually need to redfine, what I do and then get out there and market it!!

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Joelle thank you for your encouragement, it is very much appreciated.

      I had a look at your website and I think your prices are already far too low. How on earth can you offer a 90min teaching session, free materials and the piece of jewellery you made to take home all for £5 a person? There is no profit in that and probably a real loss. The price is also loosing you customers.

      Think of it this way, you need to buy a box of crackers for the big Christmas dinner that all the family are coming to.
      You have no way of handling the crackers or the contents before you buy. The boxes are priced at £5 , £25 or £35 which would you go for?

      Thats why you cant charge so little, people think “pay peanuts, get monkeys”.

      That’s not to say you can’t offer a bit of leaway. Pensioners’ afternoon session, minimum number 10 people , make it just an hour long and charge £8 each. Book the hall for hour and a half and let it run over a bit and be sure to tell them they are getting a bit of extra time because you are all having such a great time.

      Do an offer, bring a friend and get a £5 voucher off another course, that sort of thing.

      .At the moment your lack of conviction is showing through and you are underselling yourself. People want to look up to the teacher and feel they are imensely knowledgable. You are not setting yourself up confidently enough and I bet you have all the skills.

      It works like this, first you say I am the boss, I know far more about this than you and I expect decent payment for my time. Then having established your status you then offer reassurance: but I am friendly, aproachable and patient so it will be enjoyable.

      You are so right about the need to redefine what you do, I could help you with that but I think it will take several hours of really thrashing out the right direction. Then thinking about the way you would need to implement it. Email me if you want to take it further and we could see if there was a way we could do that.

      • joelleharris says:

        Thanks Dixie, kind of you to take the time to look at my website. I think I know what I really want to do, it’s just a matter of unravelling from what I used to do, – jewellery making – and moving on. Your comments have helped with the clarificication.

  3. crftsrfn says:

    Hi Dixie, I love the comment about spending 75% of your time marketing. It’s important at least in the beginning to get your product, name, and business known out there. People can’t buy what they don’t know exists.

    Don’t forget to re-market to those who just bought from you they have said in essence, they know, like, and trust your company. They are the easiest ones to sell to.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Hi Hilary, I have a whole brand new theory on who is buying craft pieces and why. I have become convinced that the only place to be with hand craft is very high end the rest just doesnt work. You need to get your price up, way beyond the afordable and then you have a market. Look at my buttons, lunatic prices and its the fabulously priced ones that walk away. I am mulling a post on it.

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