Journey of a Lost on-line Sale

Have you ever really considered just how tough it is to make a sale on-line?

At how many points that would be sale can fall by the wayside.

Most of them nothing to do with your work, but with the marketing process itself. 

If you think you can make a living by simply selling on-line take a look at this info-graphic of the journey that an on-line mail out to your EXISTING customers has to take. The survival of your sale is just about as precarious  as the fate of a sperm looking for an egg. chart of sale   Depressing isn’t it?

You see how your sale is endangered even when it has been added to the basket and goes on being vulnerable even to the point the buyer unpacks it at home.

But you can take action, lots of the right hand downfalls can be addressed.

It’s never going to be water tight but you can make it a much less leaky journey.

For example , think hard about your postage cost, consider absorbing some in the price ( by increasing it NOT by loosing margin). Also make postage costs clear upfront in the description, nobody wants to find them out mid buying process.

Tighten the process instead of winding and bitty newsletters , go for a hard-hitting punch mail with one call to action.

My latest piece here ( link straight through to product in your on-line shop, opened and ready to buy) If that is too brutal for you and you want to send customers to your web home page, then make sure it isn’t a spaghetti junction of options, so the chance of their taking the right route is one in a million. The buying link has to dominate that page.

The less actions required to get to the sale the more likely you are to make it.So get those clicks down.

  You can find help on some of those right hand issues by reading these posts:

Prices: Pricing for Failure 

Good web home page ( but consider linking directly to your shop) : Botox your Home Page

Shockingly I can find no post on how to do decent product descriptions although I feel as if I never stop writing about it, so that’s my next task

How to handle social media bust ups

Georgian prize fighters

Occasionally somebody has a go at me on-line. When that happens it’s upsetting, especially if it really gets going without my seeing it, so by the time I arrive at the scene it’s completely ablaze.

So what should you do? What works?

The objection you need to deal with is the first one . Try not to get wound up by the ones that follow, they are just excited onlookers with very little knowledge of the issues. You can deal with those later.

With the initial one, apologise all you can, they most probably have a reason to have had a go, so separate out that part and say sorry, at least say sorry for causing them upset.

Then explain. When you explain do not give unnecessary ground, stay assured, if you are over apologetic you will attract predators. Put your case with confidence.  Then Send

Next work your way down the comments, dealing with the issues as they multiply. Do it one at a time and name the people you are answering. Each time sorry (if you think there are even the slimmest grounds) and explain and Send

This creates lots of posts which means forum watchers will come back and see your defence. Also dealing with each issue in isolation helps you stay reasonable (and you absolutely must be reasonable)

Some people will reply and be friendlier which helps you handle the sense of injustice that such on-line flares produce. Watch that thread and keep responding to any extra issues.

BUT that spat  will grab you lots of attention it’s just like the school playground when the shout of “fight” goes up, there are lots of people who will be silently  on your side, it’s better than any paid for advertising. If you want to make your mark handle the situation well and you will reap huge benefits

A brilliant animation on why anger goes viral on-line is right here 

And here is an example  of me in the defence box on Folksy Forum a while ago:

Hi everyone I am the she that you are all criticising I would have responded sooner but I did not see this post. Someone has just very kindly told me about it as they thought I might like to respond.

I understand where you are all coming from. Using a section of someone’s profile without asking their permission seems unfair especially if you are critical of the way it’s written. I would not like it if it happened to me.

However …. etc etc

I am going to post this bit then come back to the other issues raised Please consider me still in the witness-box

It was time-consuming and initially upsetting ( it’s the first read where the comments pile up against you that shakes you) but once you get into handling it you really can un -sink the Titanic and end up at a place of sweetness and light.

two swans swimming serenely

So if it happens don’t go for the gin and un-join the guilty venue, take it in your stride and see it for what it is, a real opportunity to do yourself lots of good.

This post originated on Handmade Lives’ Facebook Page

Re -writing your maker profile

Use by date roll

Your maker profile should have a use by date on it. Go read yours and I bet you will find it doesn’t reflect the way you think of yourself or your current work.

Hate writing about yourself? TOUGH its some thing you need to do, so read some pointers and get it done.

The good news is

Good profiles are SHORT because as Scott Berkun  says

Assume with each word in your bio that fewer and fewer people will keep reading. It’s a great assumption because it’s true.

The average visitor spends 15 seconds on a page; then they click  so put the key info in that first short paragraph



Then make a list of what it tells the reader as a check to see if you have actually ended up saying anything.

When you are working on a maker profile where you can’t add pictures you must state the obvious. Say you are a potter/ textile artist/ whatever;  as web visitors all have Attention Deficit Disorder: they are on your page but often can’t remember  why.  So ground them.

You think you have a more dedicated reader? Well you don’t, the days of sitting quietly in front of a great big computer gently browsing have gone. At least 70% of your views will be on mobiles. Your reader is probably on the bus surrounded by other people’s one-sided phone conversations; passengers  getting on and off, they are late and have just realised they have sat next to a drunk. It’s not that you do not have their undivided attention, it is more likely you don’t have any of their attention.

So be calm, be clear and don’t waste their time

Do not do this

“Hello to you and thank you for reading this bit.
Please note I own the copyright on all of my images used for my greeting cards or prints. So, this is where I get to talk about me.”


Do do this

“I am an illustrator/designer, I specialise in creating modern images with a quirky mid-century feel. My preferred mediums are screen-printing and collage using vintage fabrics. I also produce my designs as digital Giclee prints in limited editions.”


My work is inspired by living in Cornwall, being out everyday in the Cornish countryside and along the coastline with my labradoodle Rufus, foraging for seasonal treats, fishing and growing my own fruit and veg. In my work I seek to evoke the simple pleasures of life here by the sea with a sense of style and humour.”


A bio answers two basic questions: “Who are you?” and “What do you do?” It should also act as bridge between the viewer and the artist. The first paragraph answers the who and what and 2nd builds the bridge. It is  a very well done and efficient profile.

Unimprovable? No, I can cut 20 words from that 2nd paragraph and loose nothing:

“My work is inspired by  being on the Cornish coast  with my Labradoodle Rufus; foraging , fishing and growing my own fruit and veg.  In my work  I seek to evoke these simple pleasures with style and humour.”

That’s why I said earlier, Write it, cut it and CUT it AGAIN

3D man reading longl list.


This is why:

“I have been taking photographs throughout my career and creating photo images for most of my life.(WE ALL HAVE) My photographs have been used in Company brochures, Universities, Advertising, presentations to the NHS, BIFM, Access Association, accessibility brochures and flyers, and elsewhere.”


“I was taught to knit as a child by my Mum.  I knit to relax, and I love making things. I enjoy knitting with different yarns, recycled sari silk, recycled cotton and wool, banana yarn etc. The different textures and colours are great. An example of items I enjoy knitting are, egg and tea cosies, mug hugs, flower brooches, cushion covers, and things to keep you cosy.”

You are with me now aren’t you? Definitely NO LISTS

3D business man


Friendly expert makers can command a decent price. Friendly amateur ones have to charge peanuts

“I live in Xshire and I’m currently unemployed. I love making my crafts in the mean time and will continue to look for a job that pays £40,000 a year that allows me to mess about with glitter.”

 She might as well say “I am selling tat “


cot full of children

  DO NOT WRITE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY they are irrelevant

This sort of thing is not re-enforcing your  standing as a maker so don’t use it

“When my children flew the nest I took up /potting/ sewing / rope wrangling”

It screams amateur and don’t talk about your disabilities either, people fear you will be unreliable

It’s not that you can’t write about these things but do so in your blog not in your maker profile . Your maker profile is there to sell. Your blog is there to genuinely share your life.



Don’t do that terrible Christmas round robin  thing of swapping around,  you must be consistent otherwise you come across as evasive

Don’t use “we” you are not Ford Motors and also, if it’s actually just you, it is dishonest

If you write very well and are very confident “I” can work

Probably the best thing to do is to just use your first name if you are just starting out  and your full name if you are well established.

boastful man


 best bit advice on this comes from Douglas Detrick

“Avoid words like “best,” “greatest,” or “well-known,” which are opinions, and stick to factual phrases  like “Joe has performed in concert halls large and small throughout the Midwest and in New York.”


photo use


Layer your photos, crop them, mix it up and make it look informal. Prepare your photos before you write your text then you will know what length you have, also the page is already looking great so you won’t be so intimidated by the task.

Its odd but viewers really think they are getting close to you through these pictures, you want to make them want your lifestyle so that they want to buy a little bit of it by having something you make.

use photos 2

Even if you are using a template that only allows one  picture cheat by doing a collage so its more lively and arresting. You want a fly on the wall feeling.

SAMPLE PROFILES FOr THE beginner and the established craftsperson


Sarah works in Dorset and specialises in knitwear for children using only natural wools from English flocks. Sarah makes traditional nostalgic pieces which stand up to the rough and tumble of childhood .She has a regular stall at Trollope Bottom market on the last Wednesday of the month.

To this you must add pictures. Perhaps a shot of  her stall, looking very English Calendar; a close up of her  knitting away, a pile of garments folded just to show the patterns, a bit of Dorset rolling countryside and some cute kids in a field walking away from the camera, all wearing her knitwear.


Tom Makepiece is one of the foremost slipware potters in Scotland. His pieces are represented in many major collections including ….( not all, just two or three )
Tom works from a pottery deep in the hills of Mcshire using local clay and a traditional wood fired kiln

(Now quote your self on why you use a wood fired kiln or local clay)

“Only a fool  wood fires, it means 36 sleepless hours of stoking wood to build the temperature within the kiln and maintain it knowing all the time that your work is sitting in there a hostage to  fortune.

But it is capable of producing heart stopping lustres which no electric kiln could dream of. For me this is the heart of pottery and allows  my work to line up with the nameless medieval makers

I am striving not to make a pot but the pot the one that will ensure that my name will be up there with the greats ”

Tom Makepiece trained with the great Lucian Pole at the St Austell pottery and studied with the Japanese master Po in Pot.

He is represented by the Bond Street Snob Gallery and the Edinburgh Even More Snob Gallery

You will find Tom Makepiece each year at Art in Clay, ( name two top regulars) a full list here (link to page)

To this you add ( if possible) a Video of you making   and a handful of photos perhaps  of you at your wheel,  romantic night-time kiln tending,   at a gallery opening  and a trophy piece


If you are intrigued by the photographs then you can read my profile of the maker here  

If you want to upgrade your homepage there is a post on that here


Getting back on track


When things aren’t going well enough and Failure is waving its bony hand

Man Sinking in Quicksand in Movie Scene

Not Waving but Drowning

This bit is to help park the emotional side.

The struggling craftsperson  is undergoing a sort of bereavement. 

They face the  loss  of  self belief.

You are doing something weird, you are grieving for something that you fear is going to happen and by reacting like that you are helping to make it inevitable

Faltering craftspeople   display  classic grieving behaviours. Here’s the list:

Denial and Isolation

You stop talking openly to other crafts people about how things are going so you cut yourself off from  help and moral support.

You no longer record statistics properly: neither your meagre income nor your fat expenditure

You hide away in creating “stock”


You secretly  resent your fellow craftspeople  finding all sorts of reasons to disapprove of their products and them. You feel this most acutely at shows where they are selling and you are not

Your special loathing is for the hobbyists who undersell you

You are cross with the public for not being prepared to pay properly for handmade things, also for having no discernment: they don’t want good stuff.


You become a sucker for all sorts of instant cures you plunge about wildly starting up and abandoning different projects.

You spend on equipment, materials, shows without proper consideration. You become a risk taker .


You lose all self-confidence.

You are more a supplicant than a sales person.

Your body language keeps the customers from even looking at your stall.

Even when you do make sales you are selling at a loss


There is nothing you can do.You decide the whole sad state of affairs is beyond your control.

You block all positive moves.

You decide you were deluded that you had any ability as a craftsman. You are universally useless.

O Dear


 How to haul yourself out of trouble

Sinking businesses know something immensely valuable. They know what doesn’t work.

That is a very, very useful starting point for rethinking.

It is a lot further ahead than the bright-eyed startup position.

Collect Evidence

You need to trawl over what has happened in your business so far.  Don’t get hung up on the evidence. Drop the despair fest. Look at it like this: if you had a damp box of matches and every single one of them failed to light you could conclude that matches simply don’t work Or you could notice that they were damp…

The sort of evidence you need is

How much money did you make last year?

How much did you spend on your business last year?

Name all the types of products you tried to sell. Selling price of each, how many you sold and stock left.

How  many hours do you work at your business per week ?

What do you spend most of your working time on?

List all your unsuccessful face to face selling venues

List any successful face to face venues

List all your online selling places and your costs and turnover on each for the last year

List all your social media and how many likes/followers on each

The evidence collecting is the worst bit but it has to be done

Analyse the Evidence

Work out what went best, note down where you think you got it wrong. You have the benefit of hindsight: so apply it .

Decide what you need to achieve

It is crucial that you crunch your finances.

What is your timeframe to make this work ?

When does the money run out?

Should you seek some part-time work to buy the chance of survival?

How much money do you need to make a year for your crafts business to be sustainable?



Put closing down entirely as a real option. Putting it up there takes the pressure off, it cleans the decision to continue

Don’t continue for pride’s sake, continue because it is what you most want to do and only if you have a clear course of action that addresses the problems.

You should be able to get yourself to this position on your own but it is at this point that you would really benefit from help. The sort of help you want is someone listening to all you have realised and talking through your options and decisions for the future. They might bring new ideas and directions to the table and unearth any weaknesses in your own proposals.

If you have no one to that with ask me it will cost £30 for an hour’s discussion

2014-04-25 17.01.56

No Magic Bullet

Pissed off with me? Read this far and no solution  just a lot of instructions ?

Yup that’s right. You got yourself into this mess so you have to dig yourself out. No mentor can haul you out, all  they can do is  help you consider your conclusions based on proper analysis .

If you are seriously off track its going to take a lot of effort and research to turn things round.

You have to stop, look back, evaluate, conclude, discuss, plan and put the plan to work evaluating as you go.

A huge task to undertake when you are at a low point emotionally and financially. Starting the business was fueled by glorious (but misplaced) self belief.  Now the batteries must run on determination. If you can find that determination you  probably have a 70% chance of running a decent little business in 5 years.

From now on keep tight hold of the facts, never look the other way because they may be telling you something you don’t want to know.

Creativity runs on emotions, business runs on facts. 


More Help

Try this Low income Diagnostic chart 

Check you are pricing properly

Are you aiming for the most lucrative  customers

Been there got the t shirt Perfectly natural to fail first My story

Can I help?


Established craftspeople share your early miss-directions in the comments. You might save younger businesses who are about to go through the windscreen



Craft Show Low-Down: Face to Face


Craft Show Survival

You & the Organisers

You & other Stall holders

You & the Visitors

You & Disappointment

You & the Organisers

It is  worth befriending the organisers, especially on set-up day.


Never have a go at them, however stressed or let down you feel, as only they can put it right.

When the stall furniture is not there, your sign is misspelt, and you are not in the catalogue; remember its normal. It’s not personal. Sort out the problems in sensible order and go for it patiently, politely and persistently.

 In this disaster list, sort the tables first, because you can’t set up without them. On a big show  everyone sends you on to someone else. Organisers are nabbed every second to trouble-shoot. You have to keep following up.

If you have a major issue, deal with it after the first day. They don’t care at the end of the show but at the beginning they don’t want  the stall holders to get restive, so they will listen.

The organisers  can find you a trolley, give you an extra chair, offer you a discount, allocate you a corner stall, keep in with them.

You & other stall holders

Early summer 005

Getting on with your fellow stall holders is obviously a good thing, especially when you are doing a show alone and need the back up for loo and drink forays.

But remember  you are going to hear them pitching the same stuff all day long, you are witness to their deep insincerity and they are witness to yours. They are not your new best friend. Chatting away can be exhausting; go gently.

You & the visitors

In a busy show your visitors are buffeted, bemused, hungry & hot; or hungry & cold. The show is a struggle.

In an empty show your visitors are self-conscious  ( all the stall holders are watching them) and unenthusiastic. Just as at an empty restaurant: you expect the food to be no good.

A smile is all the greeting they need.

Once they begin to look in earnest, say a little more. Just a snippet of information  about your work. So a potter might say its all wood fired It doesn’t matter what you say, it’s just telling the visitor I am here to help, its my work

Let the visitor look peacefully, don’t chat at them.

They will let you know when they are ready to talk; but if they talk a great deal, do not expect them to buy. The talkers usually don’t.


Intense silence, a distracted look and work handling are buying signs. The distracted look is them thinking how they would use your work.


They are looking, better still they are looking in competition, they are selling to themselves, leave them alone.

Sometimes you see people doing all this and then they are gone and nothing purchased.

Don’t worry, many buyers will do a first round, see what they want, then come back later and make their purchases.

When they come back, they go through the looking again to be certain. If you know it’s a  revisit say something like “I thought you would be back, you were looking earlier” That helps to lock them in


Once it comes to helping or paying, then social chat is all good. They will naturally go off and show other people their purchases and the more they feel you like them as people, the more they will market you.

Some buyers need support in making their choices, you are the expert so help them to choose. It is very important that they leave your stall feeling confident and happy that they have made a wise purchase. Don’t  just support their choice actually contribute to the deciding.

Family groups and friends Visitors-to-the-fair-1-565x376

This is a huge problem. One is interested the other wants to move on. The uninterested one distracts and puts off the interested one and the sale is  lost. Do your best to engage the less interested one, not with your work but just in chit-chat. Your chit-chat is buying time for the other one to look at your work properly. Sundays are always the worst days for this when the family comes and no one is happy. Sundays are for ticket sales, not yours.

 Don’t sit, Don’t eat and drink and Don’t read on your stand.

Don’t be so bloody silly you can do all of those. You have to survive a long hard day, do what you need to do.

ren3Working on something when you are not busy encourages visitors to talk to you about your work and shows you are the maker and wastes a bit less of your time.

You & Disappointment

Manage your expectations.

Share Denver Wild Mae Craft Fair

Here we are first show, how did it go ?

 I had no idea what to expect. I was simultaneously so nervous that I wouldn’t sell a thing and so nervous that I didn’t have enough inventory. It turns out, I sold lots, I didn’t sell out, I about broke even, I got great feedback, I met amazing people, and I left the fair brimming with new ideas and feeling incredibly inspired and motivated.

To be pleased to break even is a low goal but look how happy it left her. Lets hope she works out that her prices have to go up as to sell lots and break even is not a very business like place to be.

Redo your display mid show

When a show is going badly talk to your neighbours they may see where you are going wrong. Advice on rearranging your stall can find you some sales.

Also after the first day you know the visitor flow direction so you can redo your display to max that sight line.

Consider taking out of the display anything that is not earning its place.

At the very least, re doing your stand will give you an injection of hope which will help your state of mind and ability to sell.

Do not, absolutely do not, drop your prices. That will not be the problem. It will simply mean that the sales you do make will do less to help your parlous situation. A bad show could even be an argument for putting them up. People tend to respect big prices more than bargain basement ones. You only need half the buyers if you double your prices.

When the show is a disaster for you but the other stalls are making fortunes

This is such a dispiriting situation but stay logical:

I am doing a new show

It is a gamble

It has not  worked

But I knew it was a risk

It reflects on the show, not my work .

It means the show is wrong for me, but the only way I could find that out was by trying.

When the show is a disaster for everyone


They happen, those Where the hell were the customers? shows, they are annoying, boring  and expensive. Get drunk.


This is part three of three posts on shows

Part One was on Picking the right show

Part Two was on Preparations for your show

If you struggle with feeling Confident then acquire  The Coat of Arrogance

If you want  one to one help with your business then this is current  deal.

Talk to me in The Comments and if I helped please share the post.