Over the past 10 years that I have been actively involved in the craft business, I have collected many tools and ideas to build my business brand. I launched Divine Kreationz over 10 years ago, and back then we sold 5 orders per year. Now, we sell over 250 Homecoming Mums per year, over 1200 pee wee mums and dozens of boxes of supplies. Over 75 percent of these sales take place completely online without ever speaking to a customer. We ship nationally and internationally. I built this business from the ground up, and, like many of you, I didn’t have a lot of money, but I did have one skill that most did not. My background is in technology, so the technical aspects of creating an online business were not foreign to me. Below are a few of the tips I used to build Divine Kreationz into what it is today. Today we are DK Florals, and not only do we specialize in Homecoming, but we also specialize in occasions of all flavors. One of our new locations on the web is now Etsy. Check out or store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/DKFlorals. I hope some of my tips help answer questions you may be having about being in the online craft industry. This is the first post in a series about being a professional in an industry that most consider hobbyists. Please feel free to email us about additional topics you would like to see at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four basic steps to starting your craft brand.
The craft business is known for being born out of a simple hobby. You made one for your friends, two for your cousins and “Bam”, you’re opening a business. When transitioning from hobby to business, it is important to realize that a successful craft business will require the same effort that Apple or Honda put into their marketing. Your craft business needs a niche; in other words, you must know who your customers are. Are they women, men, or teens? Are you targeting stay at home moms, the elderly, day cares, hotels? Who are you speaking to? The united states is populated by over 500 million people, and they are NOT all your customers. Decide the who your audience is and chase those customers first. Believe me, narrowing down your customer base not only gives you direction but it also makes advertising much easier, not to mention cheaper.
I know this seems extreme, but vision simply means deciding what your business stands for or what you do. When I started my spirit business I wanted to sell everything (we can make everything, we can do everything…NOT so much). Narrowing down your product offerings and sticking with a distinctive line of products makes things crystal clear for your customer. At DK Florals, we are a silk florals business. We specialize in occasion based floral designs. Our vision is simply designs for every occasion. We use this because we offer several lines all occasion based. We list it under our business name. Between our business name and our tagline\vision, it’s clear what we do and for whom. This is what your vision needs to say for your business. It says this is who I am and this is what we offer.
In this day and age, everything we do is online. The most successful businesses in the world are known for their identity. Apple, Microsoft, Target. None of these are craft businesses, but once they all were small business that no one knew about or believed in. I know that most of you have heard the phrase “dress for success”. This applies to your business identity as well.
From Facebook to your website, your customers only see what you show them. When they visit you online at your Etsy store and\or check out your Facebook, they should be able to see the same company from one to the other. Do your logos match? Do your pictures have the same background? Do you have a clear professional identity? Take a moment and think about what you buy online. We are all skeptics; we are looking for the cleanest, most professional website. We want to make sure we are buying from a reputable source. Consistency is key here as your customers expect the same. This doesn’t have to cost a fortune, as there are plenty of Etsy and Facebook web designers that are cheap and specialize in craft design.
I host my blog through WordPress.com they offer free services along with paid. I host my website with netidnow.com, they offer several packages from the novice to the beginner at very reasonable prices for web hosting and ecommerce. You can do a simple Etsy search for several Etsy graphics artists. I have been using Bears Graphic Designs (she is an Etsy seller also). Vanessa offers reasonable pricing, with a custom touch.
For example my company DK Florals carries a similar look on each selling platform you find our brand.
I cannot stress enough the need for what I like to call professional-ish photos. It doesn’t matter what you are taking a picture of, but it does matter HOW you take it. You do not have to be a photography professional to take good pictures. You just need a decent camera (8 mega-pixels or better) and an area that is either staged for the product or a simple blank background. You always want to use the same type of staging environment over and over again. It shows consistency. Take pictures of your products in use. If it’s a wreath hang it on a door. If you are a fashion designer or seamstress, use live models.Your customer needs to believe you run a professional business, so you don’t need your kitchen table, your husbands hand or your kids toys in the background. The key to taking pictures again is natural light and a clean setting.
You may also watermark your photos for protection, but be careful with your watermarks. It is meant to protect you, but a huge watermark can also hurt you. Protecting your work is always key but also keep in mind not to let the protection over power your product. There are tons of free tools available for editing pictures that are simple to use. Picmonkey.comoffers editing and collages on their site for free, however they do not offer storage of these files. Picasa is Google’s free web editing application. It offers simple photo editing and an picture organizer for all of your photos.
Personally I use both of these, Picmoney is great for collaging your photos but Picasa is better suited for editing the actual original photos. This also means you have media read photos available at all times. When bloggers, advertisers, and craft fairs call you will be ready in a flash to send them photos of your product.
Picmonkey.comallows for easy and simple photo editing and the best part for FREE! Below there are some screenshots of the Picmonkey interface.
Go to Picasa.comto download this FREE software.
Check out this link below to see a video from the Etsy staff on how they look at staging products and what Etsy and bloggers might be looking for in a Etsy or online seller. http://livestre.am/4alW1
Using some of these simple tools will allow give you the building blocks to create a craft brand. Starting a business can be daunting, starting an online business can be even more tiresome. If you keep in mind the details that you use when you are shopping, you can easily see how to refine your business identity. Once you build this foundation your company can go anywhere. You can build anything on a solid foundation.
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