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How to build a craft business mailing list by Laura Lynn Matthews


Aw cute! Patrick the bear with his pet frog by Laura Lynn

See more of Laura Lynn’s cuddly bears here.

See Laura’s FREE patterns for collectible teddy bears here.

Laura Lynne says “A large percentage of my sales are from my email mailing list.

How did I build up my collector mailing list?

I started selling some of my less expensive collectible bears on eBay…. and my larger bears too! EVERY time someone won one of my auctions I would ask if they would like to be added to my “New Bears Mailing List”.
It is VERY important to ask first!

I started a Yahoo Group in the teddy bear section and have had people join there when they were browsing around the Yahoo groups.

When I finally set up my website, I also added a sign up box for those who may have found my site by just surfing and wanted to be added to my mailing list too. ”

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Thanks for that Laura Lynn! Mailing Lists are a great way to stay in touch with your customers as you can notify them of new products and special offers, and remind them to pop back and periodically visit your site. Best of luck with your Teddy Bear shop.

If you’d like some groovy exposure for your site and you have some Craft Business wisdom that you could share with us, click here for more details ;)

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Setting up an online Craft Business Shop by Felicia Haywood


Vampire Rabbit; one of Felicia’s cute and quirky soft toys (they really make me grin!) .

Check out Felicia’s other cute critters in her Etsy shop Fluffy Flowers.

Read her lovely blog here.

Felicia says: “The first step in setting up an online shop is often the one that folks tend to skip. But it really is the most important thing that you can do to avoid painful times down the road.

Maintaining a shop is work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The first step to setting up shop is to define your goals. You get to decide what you want your shop to be like. Do you want a fun place to share your crafty goodness? Or do you want a place where you can sell lots of items to make some real money? Or do you want something in between? Deciding early how you want your shop to fit into your life will help you to keep it in check and prevent it from sucking up more of your time than you’re willing to give. Deciding will also prevent guilt from settling in if you haven’t updated your shop in a while or sold anything.

It’s easy for family and friends to say “you should sell your stuff”. What these kind folks don’t realize is that it really is a tremendous amount of work to set up shop. There are endless new skills to learn from photography to technology. Then you’ve got to fit in time to promote your shop and of course make your craft. Deciding just how much time you want to invest will keep things in check. And when things become overwhelming it’s time to step back and evaluate, bringing your goals back out for a scrutinizing review. From there you can make adjustments, scaling back or working harder, depending on your goals. Keeping your goal in mind will ensure that other parts of your life stay in balance. Your family, friends, and other responsibilities are just as important to a whole and happy life.

How you decide to run your shop is entirely up to you. Make it a part of your life that makes you happy.”

Thanks for that Felicia! I have to agree running a site is a labour of love, and setting goals and planning is essential. Best of luck with your fun shop.

If you’d like some groovy exposure for your site and you have some Craft Business wisdom that you could share with us, click here for more details ;)

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Ask YOU the Craft Business Expert…

One of the things that makes the online Crafting Community so huge, successful, and special is the willingness of it’s members to share ideas, knowledge and be so supportive of each other. For me, crafters are one of the nicest bunch people to hang out with and work for. So with the spirit of sharing in mind I think it’s important that we get a chance to hear from YOU, the other Craft Business owners out there who will no doubt have your own tried and tested craft business tips and golden nuggets of information that you use to make your business grow and make your crafting life easier.

I would love to hear from anyone who is setting up their own craft business, or has run their craft business from 1 to 1 million days. You could share with us any one thing that is Craft Business related. For example you could give us the low down on things like:

  • how you set up your website
  • how do you approach boutiques/galleries/websites to sell/market your products
  • how do you get new customers
  • how to source supplies
  • how you get your inspiration
  • how you fund yourself
  • how do you do your paperwork
  • how you get a business bank account
  • how you sell your products
  • how you motivate yourself
  • how do you set up a market stall
  • how do you take/edit your photos
  • how do you balance time between family and crafting
  • what do you blog about
  • how do you package your products
  • Absolutely anything that you think would be helpful to other people who want to run, or are running a Craft Business…

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(pic credit: boffin dept.)

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You can make your post as long (not super long please!) or as short as you think is appropriate, and in return for kindly sharing your Craft Business wisdom with us you’ll get some free exposure for your own site/shop/blog to a whole horde of eMoms readers (which is something not to be sniffed at!)

So don’t be shy, everybody has their own way of doing things, and there is always something else to learn.

Please contact me via the form page (click on my name ‘Lisa’ on the drop down menu) and:

  • share a piece of your Craft Business wisdom
  • give your piece of Craft Business Wisdom a title
  • include any of your links to shop, blog, etc.  I will then write everything up giving you all of the well-earned credit! Thanks! :)

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Etsy as your Craft Business – this week’s fave Etsy shops.

Most of us will already know that Etsy is a wonderful resource for newbies who want to go into craft business for the first time, and many sellers have made a great success of selling through Etsy alone. Etsy shops are easy to set up, attractive, easy to use, they attract lots of customers, and best of all there is heaps of help and support for sellers.

This week I am going to start reviewing my 3 fave Etsy shops every week on a Sunday or Monday. I will be reviewing the Etsy shops from a Craft Business point of view rather than just commenting on yumminess of the products that are sold. This means I will be looking things like:

  • the photography
  • the product descriptions
  • the mix of products
  • and signs of marketing activity such as other websites or blogs

To kick off I’m starting with an old favourite:


Green Cameo Necklace by Nico

Seller Name: Nico Tirona

Etsy shop name: It’s your life

Website/Blog: It’s your life presents…

CraftBoom! says: “I have always loved Nico’s eclectic mix of products, she sells sewn goods, jewelery, and supplies all which have a sense of style which is all very Nico. This is important because it makes her range products cohesive as a collection. Her photography is absolutely delicious, it is both clear and very vintage stylish (again in her own style, which makes the images stand out form the crowd). Her product descriptions strike a good balance between being both very informative and enticing. As for other marketing activity Nico writes a nice blog which is mix of her personal goings on, and what she is doing craft business wise (see this pic of her work desk!). She is also sells through boutiques, other webshops, and she is in the process of building her own shop site.Phew!”

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Computer Mobi by Leah.

Seller Name: Leah Pellegrini

Etsy shop name: Leah’s Glass Creations

Website/Blog: Leah’s Glass Art

CraftBoom! says: “Leah’s shop was on the Etsy Front page today and her colourful fun glass caught my magpie eye. I went to her shop and found the above cool computer mobile (I’m a sucker for most things which are both beautiful and useful). Leah’s photography is clear attractive and consistent in that the sizes are similar, as are the backgrounds (which I think makes a web shop look cohesive and organized). Leah’s glass art is both fun, quirky and useful, and there is a good mix of prices so there is something to please most budgets. Her product descriptions are both informative (she has written down dimensions or shown product against items so you can get the scale), and she writes in a friendly style which I think is enticing. As for other marketing activity Leah has her own website, writes an entertaining blog, teaches classes, and sells through shows. Phew!”

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Heart by Heart by Kelly Rae

Seller Name: Kelly Rae

Etsy shop name: Kelly Rae Roberts

Website/Blog: Kelly Rae Roberts

CraftBoom! says: “Kelly’s artwork is lovely and dreamy, as are the photos which are clear and consistent. Her product descriptions are very informative and she successfully communicates the high quality of the media of her products to the reader. As with so many other Etsy sellers you can tell in the product descriptions that Kelly cares about the art that she sells. As for other marketing activity Kelly has her own informative website, writes an warm and friendly blog where you can learn more about the artist (which is a great way to further connect with her work) and she writes about her personal goings on and her art work in progress.

Do you have a fave Etsy shop that you would like put under the spotlight? If so please comment on this post to let me know :)

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Crafting Heroes Interview with Meg McElwee Pattern Designer

Here is another fabulous Crafting Heroes Interview hot off the press. I am really loving these interviews. Like you, I am finding them so inspiring and full of great advice on how to run my own business. For those of you who don’t yet know, I asked the lovely readers of my other blog to vote for their favourite Crafting Heroes and LOADS of them responded, it was great! There are more wonderful Crafting Heroes interviews on the way and this one is no exception…

This time the spotlight is on the talented (and very busy!) Meg McElwee. Lots of you will already know who Meg is from her fantastic blog which is chock-full of crafty inspiration and help and advice on how to use Montessori techniques to teach children (her little students are sooo cute!). Meg has started her own Craft Business selling her own line of very pretty and very useful sewing patterns. You might like to know the Meg has also written a wonderful post on how to go about publishing your own patterns (the link was sent to me by Melissa of Fehrtrade). In this interview Meg shares with us her experiences of starting up and running her Craft Business.

The lovely Meg McElwee who (in her own words is): a “Montessori teacher, fiber artist, pattern designer, wife, and servant to two cats.”

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CraftBoom! : How long have you been in craft business?

Meg: I officially began selling my patterns in August, after many months of pondering the idea. I’m such a newcomer to this whole craft business thing! It has been a wonderfully positive experience so far.

Megs’ Reading pillow pattern makes reading easier (by freeing your hands so you can eat choccy for example) and more comfy.


Meg’s Baby Carrier Pattern. It’s so pretty and so functional, perfect for moms on the go, and it would make a great Xmas pressie.

CraftBoom!: Where/how do you sell your items, and do you work from home?

Meg: Two of my patterns, the Reading Pillow and the Mei Tai Baby Carrier, are available for purchase at my website, www.montessoribyhand.net or at my Etsy store – www.montessoribyhand.etsy.com. In addition, they will soon be available at Sew, Mama, Sew and many other online and independent sewing stores throughout the United States.

I make almost all my sales through PayPal. At first, I was selling electronic versions of my patterns through a service called PayLoadz, but I am excited to be transitioning to printed patterns.

Even though I live in rural Mexico, which prevents me from packaging and sending off orders myself, I am fortunate to have the help of my parents who live in California. Until my husband and I move back to the United States this coming summer, my dear dad, a recent retiree, is acting as my stock boy! All of my orders will be packaged and shipped off by this ex-geotechnical engineer, with my mom providing the quality control on the bow tying, etc.

CraftBoom!: What made/inspired you to go into craft business, and what were you doing before?

Meg: Oh boy. I like that “what were you doing before?” line, which implies that I gracefully waved adieu to my previous career in order to focus on my pattern designs. Ha! In reality, I juggle two jobs – by day I’m a full-time Montessori teacher in a one-room school house in Creel, Chihuahua, Mexico. By night I’m a crazy (and very tired) pattern designer, craft enthusiast, and above all, servant to two very demanding felines – one of which sometimes helps me model my Mei Tai Baby Carrier, given that I don’t yet have any babies of the human variety.

Awwwwww! Mei Tai Baby Carrier as modeled by mum and a very comfy pet cat. Have you noticed how many crafters seem to have cute pets as well?

In reality, this is a blissful and symbiotic mix. My patterns represent a melding of two of my passions: child-led, discovery-based education and sewing. It is my desire to provide sewing patterns that offer unique ways to enrich the lives of children and their families.

A big motivation for selling my patterns is the hope that I will be able to earn enough money from my sales so that I can stay at home once we have a baby, even though my husband will be bringing in those big-time bucks as a grad student!

CraftBoom!: How did you finance the start-up of your business?

Meg: I began by selling three of my patterns as e-patterns, PDF files that my customers could download directly to their computers. This worked out quite well for me, as I was able to use these earnings to pay for the (somewhat substantial) cost of having my patterns professionally printed and sold in sewing stores as real, full-sized products. I highly recommend selling your patterns as downloadable files first. It allows you to get a sense of what will sell, what instructions might need tweaking, and most importantly, it can help you set aside start-up funds so you don’t have to empty your savings account to start up your small business. In order to sell online files, I recommend using the services of Payloadz or E-junkie, which work with PayPal to safely store and deliver the files once a purchase is made.


Megs’ Reading Pillow in action.

CraftBoom!: How do you decide what you are going to sell?

Meg: I get a really good sense about what might make a good pattern by the response I receive at my blog when I post a picture of the product. For example, my reading pillow was an instant hit among my readers, as well as on Flickr groups. I knew that this would be a successful product!

CraftBoom!: When did you realize that your craft business had real potential?

Meg: I remember the morning well – I contacted Kristin of Sew, Mama, Sew about the possibility of carrying my patterns in her store. She responded with an encouraging “yes!” and my vision from that moment on grew substantially broader. It was then that I decided to have the patterns printed professionally and offer them to interested sewing retailers.

CraftBoom!: What things do you do to market your business?

Meg: Although my blog didn’t start off with any of this “pattern business” in mind, it has turned out to be a lovely way to get the word out about my patterns. I have a mailing list associated with the blog that I’ve put together (I use www.ymlp.com as my provider.) I’m also on Flickr, where I post my pics to various groups. Another positive tool has been my participation in various Yahoo groups and sewing forums, including my own , where many crafty mamas hang out and share advice. I’ve also written tutorials and articles for Whip Up, where I link to my website. And last, but not least, I have complied a mondo email list of quilting/sewing stores with the help of my friend, Google. This is the list that receives my promotional emails and information on how to order my products.

CraftBoom! What things do you know now that you wish you knew from the beginning?

Meg: I wish I knew how helpful all of my fellow craft entrepreneurs were! After getting over my nervousness, I went ahead and contacted them and, guess what? They responded right away and provided excellent tips and advice.

CraftBoom!: What do you love most about running your own craft business, and what do you like least?

Meg: I love getting paid for my need to create, but most of all, I love knowing that my pattern designs have the potential to make the life of family a little brighter. On the downside, I dislike dealing with certain “techy” details such as web maintenance, etc. Thankfully, my wonderful husband, Patrick, is super helpful in this arena. I couldn’t do it without him!

CraftBoom!: What advice would you give to newbies who want to start their own craft business?

Meg:

1.) Jump in, and don’t hesitate to contact other entrepreneurs if you have questions!

2.) If you want to publish your own patterns, consider familiarizing yourself with a professional layout program such as Adobe InDesign. It pays to sit down and go through the tutorial once or twice.

3.) Decide how much time you are willing to put into your business from the get-go. Time can either be your best ally or your worst enemy. If you stick to your parameters, you will be able to produce more in less time, and you will be able to maintain a balance in your life. Remember to set aside fun crafting time for yourself when you create things that have nothing to do with your business! Crafting should never become a chore.

CraftBoom!: Are you satisfied with the income that your craft business brings?

Meg: I haven’t yet reached my goal, but then again, I’m just starting. As of right now, business is looking quite good.

CraftBoom!: What are your plans for future growth?

Meg: I currently have a number of ideas up my sleeve. Sometime in early 2008, I plan to make available the next two patterns in the Montessori By Hand line – a Child’s Apron and a Child’s Painting Smock and Art Apron. So many ideas, so little time!


How cute is this Painting Smock? One of Meg’s arty students modeling the upcoming smock, just the thing to make your classmates a bit envious!

All of this depends on my plans for a future growth (ahem, I mean baby) in my belly! Hopefully the pattern sales will go really well, and the most important “growth” phase can begin!

Thank you so much for the interview Meg, keep up the good work with your yummy patterns and inspirational blog. Best of luck with everything you do. Can’t wait to see pics of your up coming little one :)


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10 Ways to Diversify Your Income as a Crafter or Artist

Wendy PiersallHi everyone, Wendy Piersall here. Although I don’t run a crafting business, I wanted to peek in between Lisa’s great posts and say hi to all of you. Sparkplugging may be my business now, but it wouldn’t be in existence today if it weren’t for my first business, the one I started with absolutely no business experience at all.

My first dip into entrepreneurship was, you guessed it, as a crafter.

Now before you go getting any romantic notions about my past accomplishments, I’m the first to admit that my crafting business pretty much failed from my lack of experience. But 12 years later, I still rely on the lessons I learned as I struggled to figure out how to both make and sell my artistic creations.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d be the one writing this blog, not Lisa. Thank your lucky stars that I’m not, as I believe she is much more entertaining than I am. ;)

My love for the crafting community has never gone away. Which is why I hope that I can drop in every now and then and share a few tips on helping you run your business – and I wanted to share some ideas with you today on how you can build up different sources of revenue.

Because if there is one thing I have found – it’s always good to keep your eggs in several baskets.

  1. Teach how-to classes

    No matter what you sell as an artisan, there are other people out there who would like to learn how to do what you do for their own pleasure. You can teach classes at community colleges, park districts, churches and schools, and even to a group of your less-than-creative friends. Throw in a few materials and don’t forget to charge for your time!

  2. Offer consulting and coaching to other startup craft businesses

    Although you may be a little afraid of helping the ‘competition’, I think you’ll find there are more ways to make money off of helping the crafting community rather than competing with it. If you have been running your own business for a while, consider taking on clients who want to pay you for your expertise and knowledge. Usually this kind of professional can charge between $50 and $150+ an hour.

  3. Make money off of your website or blog traffic (in addition to product sales!)

    This is my own area of expertise these days. You can very selectively and tastefully add a small amount of advertising to your site, or learn how to incorporate affiliate marketing into your content or newsletter. You needn’t be too sales-ey or blatant about it. Sometimes your site visitors will really appreciate your help in sourcing new products or services they need.

    An alternative to this would be to start your own podcast or video channel on YouTube – something I am thinking of doing for this site as well.

  4. Sell crafting kits

    I know all too well that the reason that we craft is for the joy of the creative process. But sometimes it’s really hard to make enough money to justify the time spent on a piece (but we do it anyway because it’s fun!). If you ever had a customer say, “well, I could make that for less than $XX”, then you have the perfect thing to sell to them – a kit to let them put their money where their mouth is. ;) Plus, you can hire someone else to package up the products, which can free up your time to focus on what you are really good at – creating and designing.

  5. Sell your own articles

    Never underestimate the value of what you know. Magazines, blogs, websites, and local publications all pay for good content. If you enjoy writing about your craft as much as you enjoy doing it, I highly recommend contacting publications who would have an interest in your work. A good source for more information on getting writing work is our own Freelance Parent, in which Lorna and Tamara talk about how they are building their writing business.

  6. Create and sell e-products

    Write an eBook. Do a video tutorial series. Create a downloadable pattern. All of these things may take a little time to create, but then with a little savvy marketing, they can be an ongoing source of revenue that you don’t need to think about too often. You can find cheap shopping carts (I use a private label version of 1ShoppingCart) or PayPal makes it super-easy to sell products online.

  7. Sell your scrap materials on eBay

    Ah – if only eBay were around when I ran my business… ;)

    Think of all the things you throw away. Or WORSE, that clutters up your basement and you never use it again. Cut up scrap fabric into squares, throw old beads into a few ziplok bags, or bag up your yarn scraps and make some money off of it! Megan over at eBay Selling for eParents will help if you have never sold on eBay before (though my guess is that most of you have… !).

  8. Buy and resell wholesale art and craft supplies

    Lisa can actually speak to this better than I can, but she has done a remarkable job of matching her passion for bags and getting loads of goodies for herself and other bag fanatics with U-Handbag. Bug her for a separate post on this, because I think she has so much expertise to offer on this subject!

  9. Organize your own local craft fairs

    Admittedly, this is a really big project, and not for the faint of heart. If you have never done this before, my suggestion is to start small to learn the ropes of event management. And pick the brain of someone who has run similar events before! But the reward is that not only will you learn a ton about selling crafts in fairs, but you’re also giving back to the crafting community by helping others to sell their products.

  10. Sell photographs of your work

    You may not be a photographer – but if you sell pretty stuff, chances are that people would like to look at it as well as buy it. Sites like Stockxpert & ShutterPoint take picture submissions and help you sell your photographs to the graphic design community. And it’s awfully cool to see your products on someone else’s website – sometimes they will even provide a link back to your store, which means they will actually pay you AND advertise for you!

Now, I know that these things aren’t as exciting as the creative process of making your crafts. But if you want to ensure that your business can bring in revenue even in the slow season, or if you even just want to be able to take a few weeks off, putting just one of these tips to use will help you to create a more consistent cash flow in your business, and some of them may surprise you with what they are able to add to your earnings.