I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about my business: how far I've come, where I'm going, what I'd like to achieve.
But, mostly, I have been reviewing what I've learnt.
Just to recap - this year I started selling my crafts on Folksy and Wow Thank You. I participated in 2 on-line Craftfest fairs and 2 real life craft fairs. I now have a facebook page, a Twitter account and a few other social media accounts.
So I have learnt quite a lot of techie stuff...
.... I have learnt how to set up RSS feeds so that when I post on Folksy or WTY, a post automatically appears on my FB page....
.... and I have learnt how to schedule Tweets and FB posts so that they appear when I want them (and not all at once)....
.... and I am beginning to get the point of Twitter although I am still not sure if I will ever find it particularly useful as a marketing tool.
These lessons have been useful but they are overshadowed by some of the things that I have learnt about selling and about myself. These things are what I would like to focus on today.
So here's what I have learnt this year:
- People value what I value - I have no reason to apologise for the price of items that take a great investment of time and love. The price I ask is fair and reflects the value I place on my skill and time.
- People who cannot value what I make are not worth my worry - even if I were to sell my craft items at a price that just covered the cost of materials, I would still be undercut by poorly made imports. If that's what people want then they will settle for the cheap alternative, but I will not stoop that low.
- Giving something away can be as satisfying as selling it - whether as a gift to a special friend or as a prize in a competition - knowing that what you have created has gone to a good home is always a special feeling.
- Parting with an object made with love can be hard - this is especially true with the bears: I find that I develop a strong attachment to each little character and it becomes very difficult to part with them. Benny has become part of the family and will now only be used for promotional purposes. Another reason why valuing your wares correctly is crucial: selling them for less than they are worth is soul-destroying.
- Consistent marketing produces results - I know, I know, I shouldn't have needed a year to work this one out but sometimes I cannot be told! When I consistently listed new items, blogged, tweeted and posted, I made sales; when I stopped listing, blogging, tweeting and posting I made no sales! Surprise, surprise!
- Selling is hard - it's hard to find your customers, it's hard to convince them they need what you are selling, it's hard not to become discouraged. But no-one ever said it would be easy, did they?
- Love what you do - if you create with love, describe with love, package with love and sell with love your customer will also love what you do. What could be better than that?
- Make things for me - sometimes I just want to make something for the sake of it. Just for me. And that's OK.
- Make someone smile - sometimes it is enough that my bears make someone smile. The chance to brighten someone's day is a precious gift and a worthy goal.
- My time is limited - There is only so much time to make things and to develop new ranges. This year I have floundered a little and lost the path. As my OH pointed out recently "Bears are supposed to be your thing... so list some bears!"
Some of these lessons have been harder to learn than others. Some I seemed determined to struggle with even when I could have learnt them quickly from other people. I am sure that there will be new challenges to face in the year ahead but they will not seem so daunting if I can remember how far I have already come.
What lessons have you learnt this year? I'd love to hear about them!