Thursday, August 15, 2013

House Magick Post- Extra Money By Selling Crafts

It has been quite a day. As I was typing this post, it refused to save, resulting in an error message/warning/annoying beeping sound every five seconds. I ignored it and then the power went out. I went to work and discovered nearly all the temps had been laid off. I don't know how I kept my job. Supposedly they called every one. I had three numbers I didn't recognize so I didn't answer. BUT, I didn't get any voicemails. In my experience, temp agencies love, love, love to give bad news. Maybe I never was on the shit list. The plant manager (who decided to get rid of all these folks) kept looking at me funny. I may be out of work tomorrow. I didn't work on my regular job, I was assigned to rework. I could see the whole production floor from the rework area. I counted 23 people- workers, team leaders, managers, and maintenance. We should of had 2 and a half times that number. When I got home, I discovered those annoying beeping messages DID matter as I only had half of what I wrote. So moving on, doing the best I can, here's my very timely how-to-make-money post:

This one rambles over several topics and on the surface it doesn't seem to have anything to do with house magick. I'm writing about extra money for three reasons. 1. I'm about to start selling my crafts again. 2. People usually want extra money to either catch up on bills or so they can buy something for the house. 3. I'm seeing a lot of people selling stuff on Facebook. I assume everybody needs extra money.

Most of my extra income comes from sewing so that will be my main focus on this topic. I usually make items with the intent to sell them. I used to sell quilts at my work. The first time I had a quilt to sell, I was really nervous. I was afraid no one would like it or that management would tell me to remove my sign from the bulletin board. I worried a lot. I realized the economy was bad and the chances were good no one could afford to buy anything from me. I put my sign up then went about my job. No one said anything, so I wasn't getting in trouble, but I wasn't making money either.

All morning, nothing happened. I was starting to feel depressed. Maybe my quilt was ugly and that's why no one came to even look at it. Maybe my work wasn't that good. Maybe I was going to end up with a closet full of unused, ugly quilts.

Before I made my rounds on the production floor, I held my hands over the quilt and whispered, I release you to a good home where you can be cherished and loved. While I was inspecting parts, one of the managers came up to me. Had I sold the quilt yet? No. Could he see it?

I was surprised. I was more surprised when he liked it and wanted the quilt for his daughter. He paid me cash. The next day, he asked if I had any more quilts because his other daughter also wanted a quilt. I brought in a very colorful quilt and he paid me cash for that one too.

The next week I brought in a baby quilt. By this time, the manager had told several people how much his daughters liked their quilts. I sold the baby quilt in one hour. As I took down my sign, I was asked if I had any more quilts. And then I was in business.

I sold one quilt every week. I could have sold more, I just didn't want to be greedy. I had a fairly steady business for nearly four months. After that, pretty much everyone had bought a quilt and I worked myself out of a side job. The quilting led to other things; not only did people ask me to design quilts especially for them, I also repaired antique quilts, hemmed clothes, and sewed on patches. The patches were for my biker co-worker. He was in a motorcycle club and he became by biggest customer. He asked me to sew on site at the club. I thought that was great until I realized I would be working in a biker bar with drunk bikers. I filed it away for future reference, say maybe sewing at an outdoor event like a fair or sewing on an Army Base for GI's, but I really didn't want to be in a dimly lit, smoky bar surrounded by bikers while I was only armed with a small sewing needle. It just did not sound like a good idea.

Selling quilts was nice. I felt like I could provide for myself. I felt like I had a back-up plan if I lost my job. It built up my skills, especially when I was asked to make something I had never before tried. And best of all, I had extra money.

I learned a few more things, and these are the things I think any small business owner should know:
1. Make what sells. After I realized baby quilts were popular, that was my focus. I didn't waste my time making full sized quilts. People are very willing to buy nice things for babies. I could have expanded my business by making dolls or teddy bears or baby clothes. And I could still do this now that I know what works.

2. Be flexible. I thought I would make bed quilts. If I had gotten stuck on that one area, I would have missed out on the baby quilt thing and then I wouldn't have made any money. Also by being willing to sew things I didn't advertise for, like the patches, I created more business for myself.

3. Never say how you really feel about money. This is a tough one. Obviously you are in business to make money but if you look desperate for it people will take advantage of you. This lesson applies to all businesses. If you own a lawn care service, do not be nice and charge two hours for four hours of work. You customer will want the lesser price from then on. They won't see it as you giving them a break, they will see it as you doubling your price and cheating them. Also, some people are resentful if you view them as poor. Even if you know they are struggling, they don't want you to point it out. Name your price and stick to it. Your customers will either meet it or they will make an offer. I did let some people pay in installments, and some people I traded with like my biker who often bought me lunch instead of paying a cash fee. This is something you have to do on a case by case basis. NEVER tell anyone how your other customers pay.

4. What you make, sell, or what service you provide must have value. If it is something you could throw away don't try to sell it. You don't buy trash, you buy things you like and use. Don't assume your customers are stupid. Don't try to pull a fast one. Nobody likes an asshole. If you don't like what you are selling then you are in the wrong business.

5. Always make the very best you can make. When you have pride in your work it shows and people respect that.

6. It's okay to say no. It is especially okay if you feel uncomfortable.

7. Be realistic. I didn't make enough to quit my day job. I don't think I could make that much. Maybe I could earn more if I focused on selling designs to large companies, but just selling quilts I made? No, that's small change, not a retirement fund.

8. Nothing happens if you don't try.

9. Start small. There is no reason to kill yourself by making a huge batch of products, especially if you don't know how people will like them. Make one or two, see how people react, then adjust accordingly.

10. Keep your word. Nobody ever forgets how you made them feel. If you can't deliver, don't promise.

11. You must be willing to part with what you are selling. There is no 'keep it until the right person comes along' or holding out for the right price. If I truly loved an item, I wouldn't sell it. If I thought I had made something perfect for a particular person, I would gift it to the person, not offer it for sale. I think crafters sometimes get stuck on who their ideal customer could be instead of meeting the demands of the market they are in. I realize your creations have a special place in your heart, but if you can't sell them then you should just settle for being generous on Christmas.

I wanted to make money doing something I enjoy. I think I achieved that. I realized a few things along the way, like timing. I could probably sell costumes, but if I did my time to sell would be late summer (fairs) and fall (Halloween). Formal dresses would probably sell best for prom. Having a plan is THE smartest thing you can do. A plan keeps you from being overwhelmed. The more steps a plan has, the more work you are going to do. I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible. I did not want to work two jobs. I started with what I could do, then I pared that down to what I was willing to do. The only way a business can be successful is if the owners know what they are willing to do.

1 comment:

Vivienne Moss said...

Excellent advice. Thanks you for sharing!