Pic from Telegraph. Want to start a business? Have (more) faith and take the plunge!
You love craft, it makes you happy, it calms you down, you get excited at the prospect of sitting down to create. The thing is, you now have a house chock-full of handmade goodness - yet you can't stop making and you have no desire to!! Sounds kinda familiar doesn't it? A popular solution (to cupboards bulging with your work) is to sell your work (which certainly helps with funding the ol' crafting habit!). But how do you know if folks will want buy your work, how do you know if it is good enough to sell - or indeed gift to a loved one?
In this blog post I'm going try to help you figure this question out for yourself. I won't talk about pricing craft here because I have covered craft pricing in another post. When I prepare to appraise one of my handmade items I usually do all of the following things: I get logical about the item, I think about what I want from the item and then I think about what others would like about the item.
Getting Logical (get some perspective!):
Take your item and try to be as unemotional about it as you can (tricky I know, but important!). Now look at it and try to be reasonable (and unemotional) in your appraisal of it (i.e don't be unreasonably critical of your work). All crafters are their fiercest critics and they are typically way too hard on themselves (fact). Yes, you must never sell shoddy goods, but really, is one or two slightly wonky stitches, or slightly wonky button, or slightly wonky pocket (and we are talking eights of an inch/a few mms) shoddy? Answer: "No, don't be daft!" Look at most any shop bought knitted or sewn item and you'll find any number of minimal faults such as these - yet they don't stop people from buying them do they? To be frank, handmade items are often made with far more love and care than factory made items (but we already know that don't we).
Now you've gotten a bit of perspective about your item you can now more reasonably ask yourself a series of questions regarding 'overall quality', 'fit for purpose for you' and 'fit for purpose for others'.
'Overall quality' questions:
- Does my item look nice on the table? - standing away from the item does the overall shape look: pleasing/symmetrical/finished to a good standard?
- Does my item feel nice to the touch?
- Does the item have enough body - (if appropriate) is it padded enough?
- Is the stitching firm and even?
When you're happy with the overall quality of the item you can ask yourself 'does my item do what I intended it to'. Is your item fit for purpose?
- Does the item function in the way that you had planned? If not, does it function in another way that is just as pleasing?
- Is the item the best size for the function you had in mind?
- Do all of the moving parts (if appropriate) work well and can you see them lasting a good while?
After you've asked yourself the above questions you need to ask as many folks as you can about what they think about your item. Friends and family are easy to ask not least because they are easier to get hold of, but if they are in short supply (or are too busy) ask folks on craft internet forums.
People, this is not the time to be shy, you need to ask as many folks as you possibly can because doing so will save you time and money. Don't make the (beeeeg) mistake of making loads units of an item without first consulting any members of your audience - or you could find yourself having the nightmare of trying to shift a whole lot of umbrellas in the middle of a drought (if you get my meaning).
You have to make it clear to everyone that you speak to that you won't be offended if they don't love your item. You need to get it into your head that there is no such thing as bad constructive feedback. Not everyone will love your work and that is totally normal, but do ask them what they don't like about it. Almost all feedback is helpful (but do ignore the weirdos who have nothing nice to say because they want everyone else to have a crap day). Here are some questions you should try asking others about your craft:
- Do you like this item?
- If yes why? If no why?
- What is your fave feature of this item?
- What is your least fave feature of this item?
- Do you think it could be improved?
- How could it be improved?
- How much would you pay for this item?
- Do you 'understand' this item? Can folks see what the item is meant to do, or does it look the way you intended it to look - without you having to first explain it to them beforehand? Of course the less explaining you have to do the better!
Selling your work is at first scary and exhilaring (I remember that feeling very well and I still do get it). Before you set up your business you need to do a little preparation and a little homework before you take the plunge, but the very most important thing is to never ever ever ever everrrrrrrrrr be so scared that the fear stops you from at least trying. Read this post on Feeling the 'Craft' fear, but doing it anyway.
Happy making and selling!