I’d like to share some tips and tidbits that I’ve learned while working in the craft industry for over 25 years. It’s a great industry filled with exciting opportunities and avenues to earn a living doing what you love to do. Craft! Design! Write! Demonstrate! Creativity and purpose will help you succeed.
- Understand there is such a thing as the “craft industry” and become an active member. Join the Craft and Hobby Association and attend a trade show at least once every 2-3 years. You should also check out the toy market, gift market, and stationary market to round out your knowledge of the creative industries. Find where you fit in and get involved. This networking opportunity can help you meet a wide variety of industry members and open a few doors to prospects available.
- Make the most of your trade show visit. Plan and prepare early, make a list of companies and people you want to meet or talk to, take part in classes or demonstrations, bring business cards, have a portfolio and resume, attend get-togethers, and try to walk the show floor twice. It is tiring, but a trade show is the best way to network and to get work for the craft professional.
- Always, always be professional. Whether it’s answering your phone, writing a query letter, sending off product, or interviewing with a potential client you need to put your best foot forward and be professional. What does professional mean? Just type the keyword phrase “business etiquette” in your favorite web browser and you’ll get plenty of advice. The short version is to be polite, dress neatly, speak clearly, and don’t let your ego get carried away.
- Don’t miss a deadline. Deadlines are serious business and your reputation is built on meeting your deadlines. If you can’t make a deadline, it’s critical that you let the powers that be know what is going on. Life does happen to all of us, but there is no excuse to let a deadline pass when you knew in advance you could not meet the goal. It may be a how-to article, a kit for a class, a video of a product review, or a dozen product items needed in a week. Basically, it doesn’t really matter what is needed or requested. What is important is you only say yes if you can meet the deadline. It’s a small industry and people do talk, so every deadline you miss is a chip off your reputation.
- Give back. Goodwill and acts of kindness have a way of bringing in business to your business. Volunteer at the library, donate books to the library, volunteer at the local senior center or teen club and use every opportunity to let others know what you do! Volunteer tasks can lead to business jobs so make your community a more creative place by sharing your talent and passion for crafting.
- Keep up-to-date on current trends including color, design, balance, texture, and techniques. You should also be aware of current trends in the economy, your own local economy, the gift market, local housing, and open house homes as all of these influence your client and customer. You can provide the best service and the best products, but if the color, design, or theme is out of date, you won’t make a penny for your efforts.