handmade business marketing
Image by Kasaa via Flickr

Seven years ago, I started my own handmade business, and three years, later I quit my day job to do it full-time. And whoosh! Just like that, I started getting a flood of those questions. But mostly, I got two: How did you do it and what do I do next?

In answering these questions, I’ve learned one thing: everything comes down to marketing, which is basically defined as sharing your handmade goodness with the people who will love it.

After the initial set-up of your shop, nearly all your questions come back to that simple fact — how do you get your gloriousness into the hands and minds of people who want it? Pricing your goods, navigating retail vs. wholesale, writing copy, taking photos, ordering business cards (glossy or matte? This picture or that?) — all comes down to marketing.

Of course, a lot of crafters are pretty uncomfortable with the idea of marketing. So, I’ve spent the last four years thinking about, writing about and digging into the marketing of  many, many handmade businesses. And I came up with a little equation for answering nearly every question you have.

Your awesomeness + your people = your smart, effective, non-icky marketing.

If you’re ultra-clear on what your awesomeness and what your people want, and where those two things meet up, you’ll know what to do.

Let’s look at it a little bit closer:

1. Your awesomeness – the thing that makes what you make extra-special. This is your vision, your color sense, and your attitude. It’s your words, your photos, your designs. This spark of you-ness separates your thing from all the other things kinda like it. When you can talk clearly about this and share it with others, half your marketing is done.

2. Your people – the people who will love your thing when they find it. These are your buyers, your celebrators, your friends. It’s their language, their favorite colors, their wants, needs. If you know where they are and what they want from your thing, the second half of your marketing is done!

When you combine these two things, you can make all kinds of decisions – from your price to the places you sell your goodness, from the craft shows you attend to the labels you use.

Everything can be filtered through these two variables, because all of your marketing needs to both:

  • —Highlight what you offer
  • —Be interesting, useful, and/or appealing to your right people.

Until we dig into this more, you can start to look at everything you do (yes, everything!) through these: filters. When you review an ad, write a description, or take a photograph, as yourself two questions:

  • —Does it highlight and proclaim the gloriousness of what makes your thing special?
  • —Does it matter to your customers? Does it speak to exactly what they care about most?

Even when you’re busy, overworked, or overwhelmed, you can ask these two questions about any decision and you’ll be moving towards more effective marketing.

To prove how easy this is, let’s try it right now in the comments. Answer the above questions about whatever is in front of whatever marketing question you’re struggling with. Then, join me for my upcoming CreativeLive class, Marketing for Crafters.