One of the key takeaways from this blog series is that marketing for handmade businesses is not just about how you navigate the online and offline marketing world but also the products you create. A great product will sell itself. Where many fall short is by not having any structure to their business products. I cannot stress enough that the era of making everything custom and unique as your business model is dead. That is not a business – that is a hobbyist. The make-it-all mindset makes you work harder and leaves you with insurmountable competition from other hobbyists (whom are likely undercharging). Customers do not perceive what you create as special because they know that they can get it from every other hobbyist around. Let yourself stand out from the competition, increase profits and thrive by niching down your business and creating original product collections that attract your buyers accordingly.
Here are eight tips to consider when you plan your product collections.
- Have a collection theme. The average, successful niche handmade business releases new products on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Each week has a theme. Remember that themes can be broad such as surrounding a specific color or they can be specific, such as related to a holiday or occasion. The theme sets the precedent for what your customers can expect. If they are interested in that theme, they are more likely to engage with posts and follow through on purchasing. All collection themes will not garner the same volume of orders but as your business grows, all collections do have potential to sell out each time.
- Focus on variations, not product types. Customers love options but when you give them too many options it decreases sales conversion. Instead of having 20 different products in collection release, focus on having 2-5 products, with many variations. This is a tactic that works in all handmade markets. For example, clay earrings. If the weekly theme is baby blue, there might be 5 options with the same blue clay cut out but the variations can be different gemstones added or jewel stacks.
- Rotate your product types. There are few products that people will buy multiple times which is why it’s beneficial to rotate the products that you are offering in collections. Coffee mugs, for example, are an item you can offer for Mother’s Day,
Christmas and Fall. T-shirts can be an item that you offer during the winter and around Father’s Day. Décor items can be sprinkled throughout the year. Customers will remain engaged to see different items you are offering in your collections. The themes and products should both align with the buying season your business is in. I.E. Don’t try to push grilling aprons during the middle of winter. Instead, push a collection of hot cocoa themed mugs during early December or January.
- Have a theme niche for your business. Customers seek continuity in the businesses that they are following and repeatedly buying from. Even though you may have different collections and different products throughout a year, you still want to have one reining style or theme niche for your business. That could be funny mom items, pet parent themed items, snarky/nsfw, whimsical and watercolor, farmhouse, ect. Focus on curating your collection for what you want to sell and the audience you want to reach.
- Add your own twist to popular trends. Let’s be honest, being original is not the easiest in the modern era. Between big box stores, social media and Pinterest – it seems like a lot of ideas just feel overdone. It’s important to remember that customers are shopping with your business for the “you” factor. You can pick or create designs that use the same lingo and style ideas as others and make them your own. Since we are in the sublimation industry, one of my go-to approaches is to check out what kinds of ideas are selling well with vinyl. It can be certain phrases or even font styles, but since we can add full color graphics and effects to our artwork – it allows us to take something that is popular and make it uniquely ours and fall within our theme niche that customers are expecting.
- Price your products for the quality they are. Pricing always feels a little tricky in the handmade world. Makers often fear pricing their products in a way that deters customers. It is critical to remember a few things in regards to that. First, your products are so much more than the time and materials it takes to print and press them. It’s also about all the other time you put in to determine the best designs, promote on social media, send out emails/texts, take nice pictures, pack orders, ect. Customers see pricing in association with value, to an extent. As a business, you separate yourself from the hobbyists by setting higher price points and emphasizing that you are offering the highest quality item. Sublimation items ARE the highest quality printing because it does not crack, peel, fade or wash off. When you send that message to your customer, they are more inclined to pay the higher price point. Therefore, price your products for their quality. Don’t sell a coffee mug for $10 when you can sell it for $20 or as part of a gift set for $30. Don’t sell your t-shirts for $25 when you can easily get $35. Profits do matter. Your collections speak excellence by how you price them.
- Add branding. An easy way to create product collections that gain a following is by simply separating your products from the manufacturer. Your customer should never receive a shirt or other item with the logo of the manufacturer on it. Replace that logo with your own. For t-shirts, purchasing logo and care instruction transfers is an easy way to amplify the product. For other items, consider simply adding your logo or a tagline that is identifiable to your company. Be sure to also add care cards, product price tags and packaging (where necessary) that are branded with your logo. All of this is about customer perception and helping them boost their desire to spend because they see your unique brand and product.
- Be true to yourself. The best-selling products are going to be those that you are passionate about. Our customers can feel our excitement or lack thereof. Don’t put out products just to put out products. Curate based on your interests and let the right customers find you. Each and every one of use is wildly unique. The products we create and the brand that we build should ooze that and feel infectious to our audience.
Don’t forget to follow up on the previous posts in this series that we are continuing through the month of May. If you want to dive deep into everything there is to crafting sellable products online and offline, marketing, branding and scaling your business even in a recession – then sign up for Make & Grow: The Marketing & Selling Masterclass for Makers. This course is a must-have and contains boatloads of printables for your business, audio content and more based on my 17 years of business owner experience and 6-figure selling success in multiple industries.