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HOW TO SELL YOUR CRAFTS FOR BIG PROFITS

INTRODUCTION

There is a growing interest in old-time crafts and handmade products. Crafts fill our leisure time. They are decorative and don't cost much. Crafts include such items as gift baskets, quilted comforters, lovable dolls, pottery, ceramic sculptures, jewelry, toys, stained glass, etc.

The development of craft fairs, shows, and stores is an indication that there is a huge and hungry market for the craftsman.

Perhaps, you have been creating beautiful handmade items that appeal to everybody, and enjoyed it as a hobby. Maybe you have made something and given it away as birthday or holiday gifts and yet feel like making more.

You've had patience working on them, become an expert in the skills and truly had fun. You truly enjoyed the excitement and creative challenge.

Perhaps you are not fully aware of the income potential your craft or hobby has to offer. In addition to providing you with extra income, it will give you a feeling of creative worth, when you see a public demand for your efforts.

There are many people who are constantly searching for new, imaginative, and decorative items for their homes and offices. This can be a unique opportunity for you to go into business.

An increasing number of craftspeople are using their skills and artistry to set up their own profitable business, often starting spare-time in their own homes. Making and selling your own craft is a profitable business venture. It offers the opportunity to work at home part-time, and, with a low expenditure. The initial expenditure includes the cost of the materials and equipment needed. You can turn your hobby into a profitable small business. Most people admire skilled handwork and love anything with a touch of “country”. If you can turn out attractive, well-made products, and offer them at a reasonable price, you can sell them successfully.

If you're willing to invest your time, money and effort this business is for you. You will have to bear the initial raw materials costs. You'll also incur marketing and overhead expenses. These include the cost of printing your business cards, advertising, phone bills, stationary supplies, registration fees for crafts, gasoline for selling trips, etc.

Would you like turn what you make into cash? Would you like to sell what you make for profits? Are you intrigued by the idea of starting a profitable business in your spare-time, doing what you love to do?

If any of these questions fascinate you, then this article will show you how you can make it happen. You will learn the many ways you can make money with your craft. This article presents clear, detailed instructions on how to sell both locally and through mail order.

You'll learn how to get started, about financial requirements, how and where to advertise, how to price your merchandise, about the pitfalls to avoid, about filling orders, to follow-up, etc.

If you follow the instructions outlined in this article, you will be able to take your craft to a store and say, “I made this. Do you want to buy it?” You don't have to have experience in selling. It can be an extremely profitable venture if you take the right steps.

THE BASIC NECESSITIES

You need to select a name for your business. Select a name you'd like to operate under. Make sure your business name ties in with what you make so that it will tell people something about you or your business, that is, Mary's Dolls, Mary's Decorative Crafts, Creations by Mary, are all good examples of names that tell something about the business. Having selected a name for your business, contact your local city or county clerk's office to file a fictitious name petition. Make sure that no one else has registered the same name in your area. Find out details on this when you register your fictitious business name. You will probably be required to have it published in a local newspaper.

Once you have registered your fictitious business name, open a business checking account. It is very important to keep your business transactions separate from personal ones. Use your business account for all your business expenses and receipts.

This will enable you to maintain accurate records. Accurate records are very essential for tax purposes and they will help you evaluate how your business is doing.

You need printed letterhead and business cards. These little touches can make your business look more professional and help produce sales.

You need printed business cards when selling to stores, wholesalers, at swap meets, etc. Professional-looking printed materials will help convey the desired image of your business to your potential customers.

Before having anything printed, decide what image you want to communicate to your potential customers. Then, have your printer and designer produce professional-looking materials for you.

You can have your business cards and letterhead done in plain black and white, or in colors. Your business cards act as your introduction to potential customers, and will serve as their connection back to you.

WHICH CRAFTS WILL SELL?

Any craft item can sell. There is no established formula to determine which crafts will sell well, and thus produce profits. But, there are some guidelines that can help you evaluate its potential. Before you offer your craft item for sale, determine the market. You have to define the market for your merchandise. Find out exactly the place and time when your product is popular.

Visit local craft boutiques and consignment shops. You'll get an idea of what is currently popular. Read magazines and other publications about crafts and hobby. They can be useful in stressing new and current trends in the craft business.

PRICING

When you price your craft, you have one major goal; that is, to maximize your profits. Set the price such that it will be high enough to cover your costs, and low enough to produce large volume of orders. Add up your costs. Then add your profit to it to arrive at the selling price.

When you experiment with prices, you will find out that there is a lower limit below, which a person may hesitate to buy. If the item is priced too low, the customer may think that something is wrong with it. He may feel as if the item will fall apart in a short while.

You should price your product carefully because too low a price can send messages that the item is cheap, while too high a price or over-pricing can hinder sales.

To be sure you're setting a fair price, check other stores that carry the craft you make, or similar items. Compare them and price yours accordingly. Bear in mind the total amount of money and time you invested in the production of the craft. Once you have established a price for your craft, you can adjust it depending on how it sells.

SELLING YOUR PRODUCT

There is no better way to turn your work into money than to sell it. Selling what you make can be a fun and exciting experience. Many people travel to remote places in search of interesting and unique craft items. There is a huge and hungry market for the craftsman's products. If you have craft items to sell, this market is available to you.

Deciding where to sell your work plays an important role in turning your talent into money. It has a lot to do with how successful you will become in the crafts business. There are numerous outlets for crafts; these include: Craft fairs, swap meets, home parties, stores, wholesalers, and through mail order.

CRAFT FAIRS

Craft fairs are among the most popular outlets for creative items. Craft fairs happen when a promoter gathers craftsmen together to exhibit and sell their work. They are often staged in shopping malls, parks, and buildings.

A fair can be any size, ranging from a few dozen booths to over a thousand.

Usually, the organizers provide the booths and chairs. In return, they will charge you a registration fee.

Fairs can have a seasonal or holiday theme. A popular trend is to hold the fair in conjunction with neighborhood celebrations, holiday events, and ethnic festivals. This helps to draw larger crowds, thereby enhancing these events. They give a folksier atmosphere to these festivities.

Hundreds or even thousands of buyers show up at a fair. Each has one purpose, and that is, to look at and buy the handiworks that are on display. Even though individual crafts change with the items, craft fairs continue to flourish. There are open and juried shows. In an open show, you are welcome to come and participate. The crafts are not scrutinized and therefore, there is no guarantee that they will all be of similar quality.

In a juried show, you can enter after a panel of judged has accepted your work as the type and quality desired for a particular event. Due to increase in size and attendance of craft fairs, many producers find it essential to jury the submitted applications.

This process enables them to regulate the quality of the crafts, and also limit the number of similar ones. This practice can hinder the craftperson's chances of approval but, if chosen, they are assured that product quality will be consistent.

Investigate Each Fair

For most people, the primary goal in attending a craft fair is to make money. A thorough investigation of each fair will give you an idea of what might be expected in terms of costs, profits, and quality of other crafts.

Such an investigation will help you determine if a specific fair will prove worth the effort. The following guideline can prove helpful to you in your investigation.

Find out if the fair usually takes place at the same location or changes location.

Find out the attendance record. Does it draw a large crowd? The more people show up, the greater the chances to make a profit.

Some fair promoters will provide table rental and you pay the fee or it may be a part of the cost of attendance.

Find out in advance if there is any entry fee and how much it is. Also know what the fee is for.

Find out if the fair organizers do any kind of advertising. Without advertising, a large number of people will not know about it. Find out if there has been any correlation between increases in advertising costs and rises in attendance.

If the fair occurs outdoors, do the organizers provide alternate dates in case of bad weather?

Find out what the ratio of helpers to craftspeople will be. Usually, helpers are provided to assist vendors with any problems occurring before and during the show.

This guideline can help you to select the fairs that could be the best market for your crafts. If a conflict arises concerning fair dates, you can compare the advantages of each one, using this guideline.

Supplies You Need at a Fair

The following are the basic necessities you should have when you attend a craft fair: staples, pencils and pens, eraser, notebook, receipt book, calculator or adding machine, business cards.

Bring a lot of your business cards. Your business cards will do a lot of advertising for you. Bring lots of change so that you won't inconvenience buyers or run around looking for change from others.

You can bring some lists of your product line (all the crafts you sell with prices, ordering instructions, and order forms. You should bring a lot of this. You should hand these sales materials to customers who are indecisive so that they can order later. They will fill in the required information (usually name, address, item ordered, and amount enclosed), and mail them back to you along with their remittance.

Records

When people buy from you, you can have them write their names, addresses and phone numbers in your notebook. This will be useful in notifying them of any other items you have added to your line.

It will also help you to reach them in case you want to send them mailings or announcements on upcoming fairs that you plan to attend.

You must collect a sales tax. Issue a receipt to the customer each time you make a sale and keep the duplicate copy for your records.

Make out a record of how your crafts are selling. This will help you determine which items are selling well and which ones are moving slow.

Success At a Fair

The way you display your merchandise has a part to play in your sales success. Your display should be strong enough to withstand any jostle. Your display must be appealing to the eye. And remember, you must make it easy for people to browse through the displayed items without feeling trapped. You will meet different kinds of people at the fair - the courteous, considerate, thoughtless, rude and careless. Be nice to all of them. Show politeness and courtesy to them. Smile and look them squarely in the eyes, and talk to them. People are not all the same. Make use of your common sense when you deal with them. The manner in which you approach the customer can encourage or discourage a sale.

There are people at fairs who will always find fault in others. They will always give negative feedback. They do not appreciate fine craftsmanship. This is part of being in the direct selling business. Don't let it bother you. Ignore negative comments from such people.

If a customer pays you with a check, ask to see his identification. Write his drivers license number and expiration date on the back of the check or elsewhere that you keep such records.

If his telephone number and address are not printed on the check, ask for them. To protect the checks you receive, endorse them on the spot, “FOR DEPOSIT ONLY”.

Beware of con artists: they're everywhere. Don't fall victim to them. To protect yourself from getting ripped off, handle the money you receive from customers very carefully.

When you receive cash from a customer, be sure to repeat the price of the item and the amount of the bill handed to you. For example, if the price of the item is $3 and the customer hands you a ten-dollar bill, you can say “that will be $3 out of $10”.

Don't put it in immediately with the rest of the money until you have given change to the customer. A con artist might say, “I gave you a $20 bill, and you only gave me change for a $10 bill.

You can prove the fact by showing him the original bill, still resting on top of your moneybox or any other specific spot. If you put the money in your moneybox immediately after receiving it from him, it would be difficult to prove it, since you probably have a lot of ten-dollar bills. Look professional. Dress appropriately and be well groomed. Business cards and brochures will project a professional image for your business.

Finding Out About Fairs

There's probably a fair happening somewhere in your community every day. You can find out when and where the craft fairs are taking place by talking to other craftsmen.

Other sources of information include local craft and hobby magazines and newspapers. Once you have been part of a fair, you are likely to be on a mailing list that notifies participants about other fairs. Watch out for posters.

SWAP MEETS

Swap meets are good outlets for crafts. You can make substantial profits selling at swap meets. Swap meets are held regularly in almost every city or town in this country.

Drive through any city or town and you're sure to spot at least a half dozen swap meets They attract huge crowds of bargain hunting shoppers. It has been become a fast growing method of selling.

Swap meets are usually held in large open areas such as athletic fields and drive-in theaters. Some are held in-doors. This big area is divided into spaces that individual exhibitors rent for a low fee.

The spaces generally are sold on a daily, weekly, or seasonal basis. Consult the organizers for their terms and polices.

To find out where swap meets are held in your community, check newspaper ads and at your local drive-in theaters. You can also consult the Yellow Pages under the heading “swap meets”. The management and organizers will provide you with information on the rules and regulations, hours of operation, etc. Be certain that you familiarize yourself and conform to the applicable laws.

HOME CRAFT PARTIES

One simple, direct way to reach buyers of what you make is through home parties. A home party is a fun, inexpensive way to sell your crafts. The atmosphere in a home party is comfortable and friendly. This inviting atmosphere is uniquely suited to craft demonstrations and a quality product will sell itself. Home parties offer economies in time. If you want to sell your craft with a minimum of time and paperwork, home party may be the right outlet.

In this method of selling, you arrange for parties to be held by friends or relatives who in turn approach other friends and relatives and, ask if they would like to hold a party.

Under this program, you simply select hostesses and they invite their relatives, friends and neighbors to a get-together to see your product display. This party is held at the hostesses' home.

A hostess at each party will provide refreshments such as coffee and cake. The hostess usually receives a certain percentage of total gross sales from a party. You should communicate with the hostess in advance to discuss what you will do. You should plan your presentation. Display your craft items attractively. Take orders for later delivery.

Be confident and ask guests to book parties. Guests who show interest in your product or those who placed orders will likely want to host parties. Each party will produce new hostesses for additional parties.

It is advisable to collect a deposit, especially on custom-designed or personalized items, in order to discourage later cancellations. To do well in home party selling, you should be able to generate the confidence and perseverance needed to run it successfully.

SELLING TO STORES

You can also sell your crafts to stores. Selling to stores is lucrative. It is a huge market that includes both small stores, and large department stores.

SMALL STORES

Small stores come in different forms ± boutiques, craft stores, gift shops, etc. Small stores are everywhere. Wherever you see them, write down the store names and addresses.

You can also find small stores by intentionally searching for them. You can locate them by looking through the yellow pages of the telephone directory. They can also be found in the advertising sections of local newspapers.

You see them every time you drive around in your city or town. Pinpoint every store in your locality that sells crafts.

Contacting The Store Owner

If you don't approach the stores, they will not know what you are selling. And you will never sell anything to them. You must let them know about your product if you want to sell to them.

You can call on the phone and then make an appointment to come to the store or you can drop in. Most buyers would want to see what you are selling. Therefore, take samples of your work with you when you visit a store. When you make a personal approach to a store, dress neatly. Look professional because you are on a business visit. When you go to an area where there is a cluster of stores, visit one after another. As you do so, be sure you note which ones you will revisit.

Leave your business card with each store owner you approached. If he is not buying today, he may want to contact you in the future to place his order.

Making Contact By Phone

When you phone a store, ask to speak with the owner or buyer for the store. If he is not in, ask for his name and when he will be in. Don't waste your time and energy talking to others about your product. The owner or buyer for the store is the person you should speak to about it.

Phone again at the time you were told he would be in. When you reach him, tell him what you have. Tell him it is handmade and emphasize that it is quite unique in comparison to other items of its type.

Tell him that it will interest him. Request an appointment to come in and show him your samples. Find out how many and what kind of sample items he wants to see. When you speak with him on the phone, avoid any situation that will lead him into commitments. At this time he has not seen your work. It's only when he sees it that he can decide whether to buy or not.

Getting him to say “yes” before seeing your product can lead him into false images about your product. And if he says “no, you are at a disadvantage already.

Because of this, you should let the buyer make his decision about buying when he sees your product. Aim at getting there instead of trying to get him to say “yes”.

What To Say

When you make a personal visit to a store whether as a drop-in, or by appointment, tell the owner that you are a craftsperson making a specific craft. Emphasize the reasons why your craft will be suitable in his store. If he is interested in what you are selling he will place his order, If he is not interested, ask him if you can come back some other time.

DEPARTMENT STORES

Department stores are good outlets for crafts items. They're always alert for new products, especially unique ones. They will give a trial to your craft if it interests them. You can achieve maximum sales success in the department store market if you follow the appropriate procedure.

Drop-in calls may be fine for small stores but if you are planning to call on department stores, you should phone for an appointment. Find out the stores' buying calendar. Call on stores that your product fit into the line of merchandise they already carry.

Find out the name of the specific buyer you should speak to ± apparel, jewelry, shoe, home furnishings, etc. When you phone, ask to speak only to the buyer. The switchboard operator may mistakenly connect you to the wrong place. This happens sometimes. You may be connected from one person to the other. If you have patience, you will eventually be connected to the right department.

Buyers are hard to reach. If you fail to catch up with the buyer, don't leave a message. Find out the best time to reach him. Keep trying until you get him. Tell him what you are selling and request an appointment to show him samples.

Project a professional image when you contact the buyers. You don't want to leave any doubt in the buyer's mind concerning your ability to produce and deliver an order on schedule.

Your personal appearance plays a big role in projecting a professional image. Dress well and be well groomed, in a manner that is appropriate for the atmosphere of a department store.

It is also very important that you get there on time for your appointment. Be well organized and ready to present your product. Also be aware of and learn the business terms and forms that apply to this transaction. In your presentation, emphasize the uniqueness or rarity of your crafts. A buyer may be interested in your craft but if you cannot produce them in large quantities, he is not likely to buy. This is because your craft will have to be distributed to their other branches.

CONSIGNMENT SELLING

A consignment shop is a popular outlet for crafts. Under this method, you leave your product (crafts) in a store, but do not collect any money until something is sold. Then you receive your own share of the money.

The storeowner takes a fixed percentage of the sale price once an item is sold, and returns the balance to you. The element of risk is shifted to you. The risk you face is the possibility of your work not selling.

Do be cautious when you sell on consignment. Deal with those of whom you can keep tabs on what's happening in their store, and on their whereabouts.

Make sure that you and the person you are leaving your merchandise with, have a signed consignment agreement. This agreement should cover several important items including pricing, commission, payment dates, insurance, how merchandise is to be displayed, and what to do with unsold merchandise. Keep a copy of the consignment contract.

Set up a record keeping system to keep track of what you sell to stores on consignment. Also keep a record of the money you receive from each store each month.

WHOLESALERS

Wholesalers are merchandisers who buy large quantities of goods and resell them to small and big store buyers. Selling to wholesalers is another way to sell what you make. Only you cannot reach all the potential buyers of your work. You will find it profitable to let wholesalers take over some of the job of selling your craft to the many small stores. By selling to wholesalers, you are indirectly reaching a large number of buyers that you would not be able to reach alone.

When someone buys, or sells, your craft item, either retail or wholesale, he must originally buy it from you. This purchase may be direct or indirect, but every one of your craft item sold will have come from you.

If you sell to wholesalers, they will be purchasing from you and selling your craft product to the general public. Even if you sell wholesale to other wholesalers and they turn around and sell your product to other dealers at wholesale prices, the purchase was still originally made from you.

Some wholesalers have showroom where they display all their merchandise. These types of wholesalers are called stationary wholesalers. Store buyers come to the showroom, browse around to see what is available and buy in dozens if they decide to buy. The store buyers bring their own trucks and pick up their own merchandise. The other type of wholesalers are called traveling wholesalers. These ones travel from place to place. They carry their merchandise in their trucks and make their rounds to retail stores, selling as they go.

It is important that you work out a plan for the wholesalers to give the same prices to all stores. Wholesalers often have a standard mark-up on prices. It can be embarrassing if a buyer discovers that there is a discrepancy between the price you're selling to stores. If the prices are different, the buyer will see you as a dishonest businessperson.

Certainly, you will make a smaller profit per sale than you will if you are selling retail or to stores. But because you will be making so many more sales at one time, your total profit per sale will be larger.

When selling to wholesalers, your prices must be low enough to allow them sell at a 50% (or more) discount to stores and make a profit. When you sell to wholesalers, you do both face direct competition and you make a profit on every item sold by anyone, anywhere, no matter how large or small.

MAIL ORDER SELLING

When you produce a craft that is unique and cannot be readily found in retail stores, you should consider mail order. But it has to be lightweight to make a good mail order product. Bulky or large craft would not be suitable as a mail order item.

To sell your craft by mail, you must provide enough capital to cover the costs of printing, mailing lists, advertisements and postage.

Go to newsstands, bookstores and public or school libraries in your area. Look for publications that carry advertisements about crafts. Study the ones that contain items similar to yours. Study the ads to get an idea of how to write your own ads. Write to the publications in which you desire to place your ad. Ask for their advertising rate and other pertinent information. When you receive the information you requested, place a small ad with them.

If you ran a classified ad, you would ask interested readers to send their requests for more information. When they respond, you would follow up with your sales literature.

Your follow-up package should consist of a sales letter, a circular, an order form, and, a reply envelope. If you ran a display ad, you would include a coupon that must be filled out and returned to you.

Whether you use a classified or display ad, be sure to key it so that you will be able to know which publications are profitable: so that you will continue running your ads in them. Then you will drop the ones that did not pull well because they will not move your craft.

Key your ad by using a letter to indicate the name of the publication and a number to indicate the month of publication. Add the key next to your name or address in the ad copy.

McCall's Needlework and crafts is one of such publications that carry mail order ads on crafts. It contains a lot of ads and creative stitchery, needlepoint and embroidery items.

When you advertise, tell the truth. Do not exaggerate on any aspect of your craft. Be honest in telling about its construction, quality, performance, price, etc. You will be violating the laws if you misrepresent your craft in your advertisements.

Mailing List Method

You may want to expand your mail order craft business by employing the mailing list method. This is a quick way to reach your prospects. Study this technique by testing with small mailings. When you get some experience on how it works, then you can engage in massive mailings depending on the results you are getting.

Purchase the names for your mailings from a reputable mailing list firm. When you contact a good source to purchase from, request names of proven mail order buyers of crafts. You don't want names of people who have never bought crafts before. Avoid names that are outdated.

Mailing list firms advertise in magazines and some newspapers. They can also be located in the telephone directories of most large cities. Tell them your needs and they can help you select the appropriate list for your craft.

After you have obtained the names, mail your sales literature directly to them. Your mailing package should include a sales letter, a circular, and an order form and a reply envelope.

Filling Orders

When you receive orders, send to the customer what you advertised otherwise the Federal Trade Commission would be after you. Fill orders promptly, or notify the customer of the delay and offer him an option to cancel for a full refund or accept the new delivery date you specify.

If the buyer does not accept the new delivery date, you are required to cancel the order and refund him his money. If the buyer does not respond, it is considered that he has agreed to the new delivery date.

PUBLICITY

As a craftsperson, you are using your skill to produce something that is of interest to people. But, they won't know about it unless you tell them. Maybe your friends and relatives know about your work, but other people who are likely to be interested in it also need to know about it.

This can be accomplished by the use of publicity. It's free. It is an effective way to promote your craft at no cost to you. There are numerous newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and radio and television stations in this country. They do the job of publicizing whatever will interest their audience.

Newspaper and magazine editors are especially interested in this type of product. They are always at alert to get interesting material to print. They print the news release in the editorial columns of their publications.

You can write about yourself and your craft and submit it to the editors of several publications. Your release has to be newsworthy.

First, get some publications that are suitable for the kind of audience you'll like to reach. Study their editorial columns to determine the compatibility of your news release with their editorial needs. Also, study the writing style.

Writing Your Release

Limit your copy to one page if you can. Your release should be written in the following format.

Type the release double-spaced on your company letterhead. Leave enough margins for the editor to write notes. Type your name, address and telephone number of the person to contact for further information. This is placed on the top of the page.

Type the words “NEWS RELEASE” prominently across the top, below name and address. Indicate “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”. If it is not for immediate release, then state when the information is due for publication. Include a short, catchy headline in the center of the page. Type the headline in bold letters.

Your lead paragraph should be limited to about three or four short sentences that will immediately capture the reader's attention. The lead should contain the five W's - who, what, when, where, and why.

Include the most important information in the beginning and the least important at the end. That is, write it in the order of descending importance.

Write a letter to the editor stressing the uniqueness of your product, description of your product and the benefits it offers to the buyer. Also, include a photograph of your product. A 5×7 black and white glossy photo is generally used.

If you feel you cannot write a good release, then hire a professional copywriter to prepare it for you. Look in the yellow pages of your telephone directory for a listing of copywriters. Some of them work with advertising agencies and public relations firms.

Once you have contacted one that you want to hire, tell him your needs. He will tell you how he can help you and how much it will cost you. If your material is printed, it will be well worth the price you paid.

Contacting Editors

After preparing your release and selecting the publication that will be most receptive to your product, you're ready to contact the editors. Find out the appropriate editor's name, so that you may direct your release in a more personal fashion. If your release gets to another editor in the same office, it may not be directed to the right editor.

You can bring your release in person, or send it by mail. But, before you do so, phone the editor to find out if he can use the material. If he wants to see your material, go ahead and send it. After a few days, call him to find out if he has received it. If your material is printed, send a “Thank-you” letter to the editor. He will remember the gesture and perhaps give a favorable consideration to your material when next you send in some.

PURCHASE ORDER

Purchases generally are made by using purchase orders. It is the acceptance of an offer. If a buyer purchases your craft item, he will fill out the purchase order. He will give one copy to you and retain one. Normally, you will get the original top copy.

When you receive a purchase order from a store, you should acknowledge it. You can do this by either immediate shipment of the order, or by sending an order confirmation that specifies when later shipment may be expected.

A purchase order basically, has the following information:

  1. Date of order
  2. Order number
  3. Department number
  4. Date to ship
  5. Cancellation date
  6. The price and terms
  7. Vendor (that's you)
  8. Packing and shipping instructions
  9. Item description and quantity
  10. Buyer's signature

The cancellation date is simply a date that the order is discarded if your shipment has not arrived. That is, a date after which the buyer may refuse to accept the order.

Both you and the buyer set these receiving dates.

TERMS

You will see the word “TERMS” on the purchase order form. It indicates the method of payment. Sometimes discounts are allowed, in order to induce early payments of invoices, when credit is allowed. Some examples are as follows:

Net 10 days means that the total bill is due within 10 days after receipt of the merchandise; no discount is allowed.

3% 10, net 30 means that 3% of the total bill may be deducted if paid within 10 days, otherwise the total bill is due within 30 days from receipt of the merchandise.

This is usually written 3/10 net 30.

2% E.O.M. means 2% of the total bill may be deducted if paid by the end of the month.

2% 10 E.O.M. means 2% of the total bill may be deducted if paid by the 10th of the month following shipment.

Net means no discount allowed. Payment should be made on receipt of invoice. Usually, shipments received after the 25th of the month are due on the 10th of the second following month. For example, if your order is received on August 15, the payment will be due on September 10. This means, you get paid by the store, on September 10. Then the store is entitled to a 2% discount. On the other hand, if your order is received on August 27, then the payment will be due October 10.

PACKING SLIP

Whenever you ship an order, send a packing slip with the package. A packing slip contains a list of the items included so that your customer will count and verify what has been sent. It looks like an invoice, except; it indicates only what is in a particular box. If you need five boxes to pack an order, you must send one invoice in a separate envelope, and five packing slips, one for each box.

You can purchase standard packing slip forms at your local stationary or office supplies store.

INVOICE

When selling to big stores, you will need an invoice. Although small stores may not care about an invoice, it is a means of keeping a record of the transaction. An invoice is an itemized list of goods, which have been shipped to a buyer, often with a request for payment. It states the quantity, description, price, shipping charges etc. Your invoice should include:

  1. Your name or business name, address and telephone number
  2. Your customer's name and address
  3. Where the merchandise was delivered (if different than your customer's address)
  4. How the merchandise was shipped (Parcel Post, UPS, truck line, etc.)
  5. Date of invoice
  6. Date shipped (if different from date of invoice)
  7. Shipping charges
  8. Customer's purchase order number
  9. Amount, showing sales tax separately
  10. Terms of payment (Net 30 days etc.)
  11. Invoice number

Whenever you make a sale, give an invoice to the customer. Give the original invoice to the customer and retain the duplicate copy for your records.

A customer may request two or more copies of your invoice. Some wholesalers and big stores require several. Large concerns have accounts payable department, purchasing agent and receiving department. Each of these departments is sent one copy of the invoice.

A firm that has branch stores may request that additional copies be sent to the head office. Some companies need an additional copy of your invoice to include in the envelope when they send you a check, so that it takes the place of a remittance statement.

When you get a request for additional copies of your invoice, make one copy and keep your duplicate copy. Whether you send the invoice in the carton with the merchandise, or you mail it after the package is shipped, write “Invoice Enclosed” on the outside of the envelope.

Invoice forms are available at office supplies stores. Buy the type that comes in book form so that when you issue out one, the duplicates remain attached to the book. When you receive payment for an order, make a note of it.

STATEMENT

A statement is a summary of all transactions during a month's period for a customer. It shows billings, payments and balance. Usually, a small store will pay you when your craft is received.

It may be unnecessary practice and a waste of your time to send statement to a customer at the end of the month. But if the customer requests it or if there is something wrong about the customer's payments, you should send a statement to the customer.

It will help the customer see that all his payments have been properly credited and that the amount owed coincides with your figures. In order words, a statement will help the customer clarify his records. Another situation that will warrant sending a statement is when a customer is falling behind in payments. You can use a statement as a reminder. In this case, the statement should include the past due amount, and a written notice, such as “A friendly reminder”.

SAMPLE ORDER

Occasionally, a buyer will request your order to be a “sample order”. This is used to try in one store, maybe the main store, in order to see how it will sell. If the results prove successful, the buyer will purchase for their other stores. When this happens, write “Sample order” on the form you send with the order.

SHIPPING INSTRUCTIONS

Shipping instructions give directions on how to pack and where to send the items. They may ask you to pack and label the items for each store separately, then put them together as one shipment.

In a situation like this, such information as the department numbers, store numbers and order numbers should be marked on the individual packages in order to identify which store should be sent which package.

SHIPPING METHODS

The way to ship the merchandise depends on your agreement with the buyer. The ways you can ship include Parcel Post, United Parcel Service and truck. You may even personally deliver your crafts to the store, especially if it is around your area.

A specific carrier may even be designated for larger shipments. Whichever way you use, always get a proof of shipping for your records.

KEEPING RECORDS

Even though you are required to report your gross income, you are not required to pay taxes on this full amount. A wide variety of your business expenses are tax deductible. You will have to pay tax on your net earnings. Keeping good records is extremely necessary for tax purposes.

Not only is good record valuable at tax time, it is also a helpful guide to cutting your costs and increasing profits. It will help you to figure out how you are doing. Certainly, you will like to know if you are making nice profits or barely getting by.

Keeping a record of your expenses and incomes will make it easy for you to calculate your profits. Your record should be accurate and simple. With careful analysis of your record, you can tell what needs to be corrected, if anything goes wrong.

To figure out your profit, subtract the total amount of all your business expenses from the total income you received in this business. The result is your profit. Record books are available at stationary and office supply stores. Visit one in your area and purchase the record book that satisfies your needs.

KEEP INFORMED

To keep abreast of opportunities in the craft business, subscribe to some craft and hobby magazines, and newsletters. You will gain a wealth of ideas.

You will know where to buy supplies and where to sell your craft. You will get information on upcoming craft fairs, shows, and many other similar events. You will also learn the inside tips that lead to success at craft fairs.

Go to the library and read books on your specific craft. You should be able to find a great variety of such books in the library. Talk to people who are in the craft business. They'll give you valuable information on how you can improve your finished craft, thereby producing a craft that looks professional.

EXPANDING

You may have been running your business on a part-time basis. Now you should be thinking of turning your spare-time business into a full-time operation. It does not happen overnight. Expansion in this business involves making more commitments to produce more and better items.

You should reinvest your early profits into producing more sales for you. For example, if your craft is selling well by the mail order method, you can reinvest your profits into more ads. By doing so, your business will steadily grow bigger, and this means bigger profits.

Develop a line of craft items. If you have been selling one type of item, you should add several different craft items at varied prices. A person who has bought your craft is likely to buy again if you offer a line of craft items, and this is where you make the real big money.

You can now take your time to learn and improve on pricing, setting up attractive displays, and inventing ways to have an overall professional appearance.

Make every effort to produce innovative, high-quality items. Search for ways to improve on the quality of your work. Your reputation as a craftsperson is dependent upon the quality of your products. Strive on turning out items that are unique. Think excellence and you can turn your talent into a big and profitable enterprise.

SELLING YOUR CRAFTS ONLINE

You can put your crafts online. The Internet provides a powerful media for craftspeople to market your crafts. Below you will find information you need to know to start selling your crafts on the Internet.

Domain Name

You'll need a domain name for your business. Your domain name is your Internet address. It is the address that people type in their browsers to find your site. Check to see if your company name is available as a domain name. Pick a name that is not too long ± a name that is easy to remember.

Registering a domain name is a simple process. There are several places to register a domain name. Just Google “Register a domain name” and you'll find plenty of places.

WEBSITE

Your store on the Internet is your website. Creating a successful website to sell your craft is crucial.

Your website should be designed with one main objective ± to sell your products. Showcase your products. People like to touch and see products before making a purchase. Use high-quality images of your products.

Create a simple, attractive design for your website that is easily navigable. There should be no slow-loading graphics that distract and annoy people.

If you do not know how to build a site, you can hire someone to do it for you.

You will discover several offers for beginners who want to quickly and easily build a website that sells. With these easy-to-use website building packages, you don't need any knowledge of HTML.

WEB HOST

A web hosting service is a company, which ensures that your new domain is accessible to everyone on the Internet.

Choose the right webhost for your craft business. Don't skimp on this. Be willing to spend money for a reliable web host with excellent uptime record, and one that can provide you excellent technical support.

For information on some reliable web hosts, go to the above mentioned websites. Contact other craftspeople to find out which hosting services are recommended at the time you are searching for a web host.

MARKETING

Simply setting up your website is not enough. You will need to promote your website business just as with your off-line business.


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