The common perception about starting a craft business goes something like this:
A talented artist decides to sell her work- it’s the ultimate artist dream: to be able to make a living doing what you love.
She’s sure she can succeed. Friends and family have been telling her how much they love her work and strangers constantly suggest she ought to think about selling her craft.
She builds a site or registers on an online marketplace like Etsy.
The views start. They’re low at first, but she doesn’t give up.
Weeks pass and the sales finally arrive.
It’s just a few here and there, but she celebrates anyway. She’s new at this, so she understands it can time for a business to grow. She isn’t doing much to promote her new business anyway; she’d rather spend her time creating, the very thing she loves to do.
She lives her dream while watching the sales trickle in.
And then her big break happens.
A successful person buys her product talks about it. It may be a famous celebrity who uses her creations in public or a blogger who writes about the purchase to millions of followers.
Sales explode and our talented artist is propelled to living the life every artist dreams of: getting paid to create.
Love the story and want to be like her?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but that’s a fairy tale. Business doesn’t work like that.
The awful truth to living the artist dream is that roughly half of all small businesses fail and the probability of the Cinderella story happening to you is next to none.
It may be blunt and even downright mean, but it’s reality.
To get your business out there, you have to promote it. You have talk about it, reach out and let everyone know that you exist. Yeah, and you might have to spend more time telling people about yourself than actually creating for them.
Many artists start a craft business with big dreams, only to end up making the most beautiful artwork no one’s ever heard of. Eventually, they give up and become part of the 50%. And it’s often not because they’re bad artists or their product sucks, it’s because no one even knows about them. They’re not trying hard enough in the right places.
Get The Word Out
What can you do to not be part of the half that doesn’t make it past the four year mark?
Promote your products through business cards, attend conferences regularly and encourage word of mouth.
Set a schedule and pitch your handmade items to at least three blogs and one magazine each week. Set aside an hour or two each day to connect with your customers through social media, e-mails and SEO.
Customers can’t buy what they don’t know about, and it’s up to you to tell them you’re here.