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5 Easy Steps to a Successful Handmade Business

This blog post was originally posted by Bobbie on A Vision to Remember.

Have you ever wanted to start your own business, a handmade business, but don’t know how?

Let me tell you….I’ve been in your shoes.  It had always been my goal to make my car payment each month.  That’s it.

Just one measly $312 payment.

5 Easy Steps to a Successful Handmade Business

With that in mind…I tried several things.  I started by decorating weddings and receptions.  I was pretty good at it, but it was soooo stressful too.

5 Easy Steps to a Successful Handmade Business

My husband hated doing it.  I don’t blame him.  It was a lot of packing the trailer, unpacking the trailer, packing decorations into buildings, setting it up, tearing it down, and repacking it all, then putting it all away.  Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

5 Easy Steps to a Successful Handmade Business

Then I tried a MLM scheme.  It was a huge flop.  I was getting in “on the ground floor”  I was going to make my car payment, easily.

NOT.  Not even close.  It was more like I was paying 2 car payments.

Thankfully, we got out.  Quick.

Then one day, I couldn’t find a pattern that I wanted online.  All I needed was a simple belly band pattern.  I had the fabric to make one.  I had the machine. I just needed to know how.

I couldn’t find that pattern anywhere.  But during my research, I found lots of patterns.  Lots of tutorials.  Lots of people were getting paid for the patterns.

A light switch flipped.  But I was skeptical.

But I still wrote the pattern.  I took a “selfie” {before it was cool mind you, *wink, wink*}

5 Easy Steps to a Successful Handmade Business

I had no idea what I was doing, but I jumped in and tried it.

BUT, I didn’t tell anyone that I did it.  I was too embarrassed and worried that I would fail, so I didn’t even tell my husband.

Then, something amazing happened, I sold 1 pattern.  I sold it within a few hours of listing.

No kidding!  I was floored.  Then I sold another one, and another.  In the first month I sold 3 patterns.  I was excited.  Maybe I could, maybe I could make my car payment.  Eventually.

Now, I know.  3 patterns is NOTHING.  Right?  $3 times 3 = $9.  Then I have to minus Etsy fees and paypal fees.  Comes out to next to nothing.

But I was a stay a home mom to 1 little girl.  I didn’t want to work.  My husband didn’t want me to work outside of the home.

And lets be real…I was bored.  I tried scrapbooking {cause it was the “cool” thing back then} and I didn’t love it.  But it was something to do.

I hated cleaning my little apartment.  I hated watching tv all day.  I liked going for walks, but that is only realistic less than half the year where I live and only for an hour or so every day.  What was I to do with the rest of those hours?

My husband worked crazy hours and we were still “poor”.

I was BORED and Poor.  Not fun.

So $9 was awesome.  It was something.  It was a start.

By the end of the summer I had brought in $219.

I was almost there.  I had almost made enough money to make my car payment the next month.

So why do I tell you all of this?

I hope….beyond hope….that if you are wanting to start your own business that I can inspire you, because I know you can!

Here are a few tips that I think will help you.

5 Easy Steps to a Successful Handmade Business

 

1. Idea

It starts with an idea.  For me, it was a problem that I found I needed solved.  It wasn’t a big problem.  It was an itty bitty problem.  In reality, that problem that I solved wasn’t a big money maker.  Looking back through my stats I’ve been able to make 1 car payment with that one pattern.  Just one payment.  But still my dream was being fulfilled.

The catch – That one idea started me down a path of thinking about what other patterns I could write.  My next pattern I wrote was the Flower Applique Rag Quilt and Car Seat Canopy.

5 Easy Steps to a Successful Handmade Business

This one pattern has been able to make 4 of my car payments.

Hey!  Now we are onto something!

Next I wrote another pattern, and another, and then I started getting requests for the finished quilts, and so on and so forth until I got to where I am today.

And it all started with that one little pattern idea and implementing it.

2. Research

Like I said before, I was researching when I found the problem.  While I was mulling the idea over in my mind, I was looking around at other tutorials and noticing what was missing and how I could make it better or what I didn’t like about it.  I also took the time to look around and see what other patterns were priced at.  I didn’t feel like a belly band pattern was a huge deal.  There wasn’t any pattern pieces, there wasn’t any high quality photographs.  It was just a straight forward way to make a belly band.  Simple. So I priced it accordingly.

But I really believe that I was able to sell those first ones because I had taken the time do a little bit of research.

DON’T get stuck by too much research. There is such a thing. Promise. Its called “analysis paralysis”. Basically you research and analyze so much that you get overwhelmed and don’t do anything. Its a real thing. DON’T DO IT!

Make sure to also take a little bit (or a lot) of time and learn and research SEO (search engine optimization. It is a special way to use special words to tell search engines how to find you and what you are. It will help. A ton.

Also, learn a little bit about photography. It is a big deal, but you will also learn and grow in your photography skills as your business grows.

One other thing to learn about is social media marketing. Because, as we all know, this world is a social media world we live in.

3. Focus

Those first 3 months I only focused on the patterns. I did think of all the things I could do in the future, but I focused on the patterns. I wrote 5 patterns in those months. Pick what you are going to do and FOCUS on it. Once you have determined that your idea is going to work {or not work} and you have worked it well, then you can move onto the next thing, but don’t divert your focus too far.

For example, I started with writing the patterns. The first was a belly band and the second was a quilt pattern. Then after I felt comfortable with those, then I expanded to making and selling the quilts. Then I focused and expanded the quilts for awhile, until I started to feel comfortable again. Then I found I had too much fabric, so I started to sell it {plus now I can be legit fabric hoarder and its not “weird”} I stayed Focused.

For me, the worst decision I could’ve made is to move my focus on the second product to something completely different. For example, I wrote the belly band pattern first, and then the rag quilt pattern, and if my next product was something completely not relevant to my first 2 products it would have completely removed my focus from the first two products. That would not be good. It is important to stay in the same genre. Switching from patterns to wood carved products would have been an uphill battle to grow and sustain the business, but staying in the same genre made it easier on me and my customers.

There are a few reasons you don’t want to completely switch. Your target market (those that are interested in your products) will stay the same or be very similar, your places to promote will be similar or the same, and your shop will stay cohesive and will not be confusing to your customers.

Win-win…Right?

5 Easy Steps to a Successful Handmade Business

4. Platform

Figure out the platform you want to sell from. I chose Etsy. It was the only choice for the most part at that time {circa 2009}. Now there is a plethora of choices. You can build your own website, you can sell on Etsy or another handmade site, you can sell on social media sites, and you can sell at craft fairs.

Lots of choices to pick from. Once again…don’t get “analysis paralysis”. Pick one. Do a little bit of research, but pick one. You can change and expand down the road. So just pick one.

I will say this….Etsy is a great place to start. They have built in traffic. It is really helpful to have built in traffic when you get started (and when you are established) as long as you utilize SEO.

5. Just Do IT!

This, I think, is the most important part to building a successful handmade business. Just do it! You can read and learn as much as you can/want about handmade businesses but until you actually jump in with both feet and learn as you go you will NEVER be successful. When I put up those first patterns, I had no idea about photography. I had no idea about SEO. I had no idea! I just wanted to try it. Then as I wanted to sell more and build on what I had I learned and grew. In turn, my business grew.

Now you might be saying “what do you know? You’ve only made your car payment a few times! Why should I listen to you?”

Let me just say…the proof is in the pudding *blush*

Not only am I able to make my *cough* more expensive car payment every month, but I also am able to put my 3 girls in competitive dance and piano lessons, and have extra money to go out to eat and buy groceries and lots of other little things that would have been a huge stress or not a reality for us without this income. To me, that is worth every.single.minute that I work. It is such a huge blessing to me and my family.

Now, I don’t want you to take this as bragging, Its not. I just hope that I can inspire you to Jump In with BOTH feet and give it a try. This business isn’t for everyone, but it is for someone and maybe that someone is you!

Is it you?

Now, here is your homework…comment below with why you want to start your own business. What is your motivation?

I would love to hear!

Bobbie

AVisionToRemember.com