When I started my calligraphy business, I didn’t know who I was going to buy my work! A friend of mine saw a sign I had created and asked if I was selling them and I thought, sure, why not? That friend didn’t even end up purchasing my sign, but when I posted my first two signs on Facebook, they sold right away. One of my business started to gain momentum; I would have several people reach out to me to ask for advice. There were repeat questions that would cycle through such as:
- Where do you find clients?
- How do you get your product in front of people you don’t know?
- How do you sell without selling?
So much of this journey is still trial and error. I do not have all the answers. But I can offer what I’ve learned thus far and hopefully, that will help you step into the next leg of your journey!
Where do you find clients?
At first, most of my clients were friends and family! It does help that I have quite a large community that I am connected with. These beloved men and women are the tribe that I run with, that encourage and support me, and helped fund this little side hustle when it first launched. Some people think that just because you sell to your friends and family, you don’t have a legitimate business yet. I beg to differ. If anyone should be your biggest fans, it should be the people who love you! And if you make a client out of them, they have circles they belong to as well! Friends and family is the most organic way for your business to begin. As you start your business, you should exude with the excitement, mission, and vision of where you’re headed. And those who can see it will jump on with you or at least help be the wind in your sails. These are the very people who could be your best advocates to spread the word! I had a lot of custom orders from friends and family at first. These would be the first wave.
Then, there was the second wave. This wave included friends’ of friends. People I didn’t know personally but got my number from a family or friend. This second wave gave me hope that people may actually like my product and not just because they love me! This second wave also included people from my past (we are still friends on Facebook!). They reached out to me because I would continually post my work on social media. The first wave gave me the pictures I needed to get my second wave.
Now, where do you go from there? Well, there will be cycles of waves as they come. Word of mouth. These first few waves kept me busy for a bit. But once things started to slow, I had to start thinking about how to reach people who were not connected to me in any way. Setting up a store, marketing, advertising all come into play at this point. The key here is that you should be taking pictures of all of your work along the way so that you can use those pictures to do this next portion!
Set Up Shop
Etsy was what I’ve found to work for me best. Some people like Shopify. Some people love having their store on their website. You’ll have to figure out what is best for you. I prefer Etsy because I feel like so many people already head to Etsy to find gifts and handmade items without me having to do any marketing. If I open my shop on my own website, I would have to do some heavy marketing to get people to find my site. As long as I have great descriptions on Etsy, people can see my Michigan mugs just by searching for Michigan Mug. If someone searches Michigan Mug on google, I can’t guarantee they’ll find me!
There are a few other places that you can sell your DIY crafts:
I researched and paid a fee to participate in various craft markets in Michigan. Out of the 5 I went to, 2 were successful. It was a TON of work (boosting inventory, packing, hauling, setting up and tearing down…). I have to admit, after the first year, I couldn’t see myself do this sustainably. For me, I prefer creating and selling as orders came in. The stress of boosting inventory before a market was too stressful for me. However, I know SO MANY people who go to local markets FULL TIME and find great success with their DIY crafts! Over time, these crafters find the best markets that bring the right clientele and it sustains them through the winter. It’s incredible!