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Start a Handmade Business

Lesson 17 of 39

Customer Communication

Kari Chapin

Start a Handmade Business

Kari Chapin

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Lesson Info

17. Customer Communication

Lesson Info

Customer Communication

We're going to talk about a clear shipping policy that is pretty important. This is something that customers really want to know. Hopefully the online venue you choose has a section where you can go to talk about your shipping, but some things that you need to know. And yes, thank you, everybody for turning into your workbooks. This is something that I think is actually this is one of the times when our page numbers are a little bit off, but when do you ship? How much is your shipping? Do you require insurance for your buyers? If so, you need to let them know right away. How long does it take you to ship if you only ship on tuesdays and thursdays? Let people know that more than once I've written to someone to say, hey, I bought this on sunday, and I'm wondering if you've sent it yet because it's friday and I felt like it would be here by now, and they say, oh, I only ship on saturdays, so I'm shipping it tomorrow and then I think are all rats. But had I read they're shipping policy tha...

n I would have known, so be very clear about how and when you shift, I have a plan in place in case something you send is lost or damaged. The worst time to try to figure out what to do with a lost or damaged item is when it has become lost or damaged and you've never thought about what you would d'oh possibly so sort of have some sort of contingency plan or some kind of thought flow going on in your mind before that actually happens to you are you going to offer full refund and somebody never gets what they ordered? Are you going to send it out again? Are you going to say too bad so sad sorry you know what? Whatever you're going to dio know what it is in advance so that you can state it clearly not get caught where as khun say with your with your pants down but like so then I changed my mind, but then I posit along so you don't want to be like surprised like would now have to figure out this big thing, so don't do that. Um will you ship overseas it's getting more and more expensive all the time and overseas customers, no matter what see you are over are constantly apologizing to their customers saying it's really hard for me to ship tissue from australia? I've got a gorgeous pair of shoes from a hand maker in australia and um she sent me a lot of emails saying I'm sorry it cost so much I'm sorry across the lunch and it's not not our fault because I don't think she said the postage rates I don't think she really had anything to do with that and she was really clear with me about how much it was going to cost and it was worth it to me she had showing me enough value in her photographs and her item descriptions that I was willing to pay that as a part of getting getting her awesome handmade shoes keep track make your shipping easier for yourself keep track of your repeatable shipping fax if you have the same size product and use the same size box in this you know that you know how long it generally takes to get somewhere safe that information so that you are not constantly reinventing your own will which happens a lot when we start out and now you can do a lot of your shipping from home you can get a special scale printout your postage you don't think the commercial on television says they show a woman in her story and she says I never have to leave my store now and I think what when I had a story was like yeah I'm taking a walk to the post office so I find that that's like a funny thing that they would say like you never have to leave again you can always stay at work but so make things easier on yourself by starting now to keep records of how much time something takes what supplies you need and how much it costs you did to send something so that you're not starting over each time you want to do it communicate with their customers about your shipping I love nothing more when I get an email from a seller that I've bought something from that says, hey, I sent that out today it was just like, make something in my mind say, oh, four days from now I'm going to receive that curry necklace I cannot wait, so if you if that sounds like something you want to dio, then go ahead of people appreciate it but know how you're going to get in touch with your customer and if they write to and say, where is my item trying to write them back as fast as you can if they already feel like they're waiting for something to arrive in the mail, I'm trying not to make them wait for your response if you can. And then the other big thing about shipping because shipping is one of my least favorite personal parts about selling things online is I don't like the shipping part. I don't like the way things I don't like to find a box, you know, I like make this make it really hard on myself because I've never developed a routine, so I'm going to make that one of my intentions set up a little shipping station and my own studio to help make that part of my job a little bit easier, but if you have a routine, of course you are going to have an easier time communication policy so this isn't necessarily something that you might post, but it is something that you need to know what you want to do and how you want to handle communicating with people. How are you going to communicate with them? How are you going to continue that conversation is actually about a way to look at it because your communication has already begun before you've ever said a word to them before they read a word of what you have to say in an item description they have seen your branding they've seen your banner, they have seen your photographs, they've saw some sort of information somewhere that brought them to your shop, so you have already begun communicating with them. So how are you going to keep that conversation going once you have them on the hook as a customer? And I know how you're going to do that if you're going to answer emails within three days always imminent the answer emails within three days we really consistent in the way you talk to people and if they have questions and you're getting the same questions over and over again, this is what I mean by learning from your communications if you're getting the same questions over and over again from people than then you might want to consider building an faa q page and that means frequently asked questions and I have one on my website because I do often get the same questions over and over again so rather than me just writing an email individually each time now I say like thanks so much for writing I address that in a couple of other things you might want to know about my ethic you here's a link you can also develop word documents that you keep right on your file or gmail has a service called gmail canned responses I think we're getting the same e mails from customers over and over again you can have a canned response or were document that's ready to go so if somebody writes to me and says where can I buy your book? Which is a question I get about ten times a day thankfully I'm so glad so many people want to know where to buy that book but instead of me typing teach one at your local bookstore or online at the stores air from my own website I sell them there if you would like a signed copy I just have a canned response that says hey here's a list of my top five favorite online bookshops and you know google dot com you can put in bookstore and your own town's name and see if you come up with anything that you like better because people often go x you know well, you know people people like to know details so I like to give them details like google so those are all different ways that you communicate with your customer so that's important stuff feedback who likes feedback you you you you you you know I love feedback so please feel free to send me all the complimentary feedback the feedback is great and so you want to choose an online venue that gives your customers an option tow actually provide you feedback on your products and services the reason feedback is so great is it does so much work for you when somebody writes you feedback that says I love this yarn reef everybody who comes to my door gives me a compliment about the reason made cathy it's fantastic it's really high quality in my house feels so springy now or whatever it is that people might save you there's a lot of information in that sentence that can help you when you're communicating with your customer in other ways there's stuff in there that can help you write your product descriptions that can help you with your photograph somebody maybe wants to see it on the door people love seeing it on the door you know well it's a wreath so they're going to expect it to be on a door your adorable daughter can't go everywhere holding holding up reads for people but you know so showing it in the way it's going to be used and getting feedback where people are really complimenting you on that is does double duty for you there's a lot of gyms to be mined from our feet back to scripture words you can build tweets off of that sort of stuff a lot of the time of somebody oftentimes customers also give you great uh suggestions of what to do with your product that maybe you hadn't thought off you know they'll say I got this platter and it turns out I used it on my coffee table and it was amazing it was a great fruit bowl and I wasn't expecting that meanwhile you've just been saying, you know, put all your cheeses here cheese on lee and somebody else tells you know add some fruit and you're like thanks that was great so hidden spots to find the feedback are also on people social media accounts or on their own blog's so even if they were to just casually mention like you know I love having this clipboard at work if if they make custom clipboards or something and you find a spot on their website where they have complimented something you've made her done like that's feedback for your work tio that you can use then repurpose in other ways do any of you have any great feedback stories no yes kathy when I get back I tried tio put it my bog o r share it on pinterest even you know sometimes even on pinterest if people pin like my photos I might this isn't about feedback but it's kind of like that I would go back in maybe and say, well, joe thiss also works great for blood baba or you know, thank you and this might also make a anyway or I'll share something that a customer already wrote like, you know, oh and I had a customer just recently uses for graduations I don't know what's right and made share out of that someone like a new idea for you and you know, a new way to share that with your customers even if you have thought of it may be a potential buyers haven't and now you can point that out that this is a customer a customizable graduation and and I put feedback in my answers shop I know it as you know, there's a testimonial just so people know they feel good about they can trust it to work. And yeah that's called social proof and that's a really powerful tool that we can use our feedback for. So in the forms of testimonials and social proof you can put that in your item descriptions on your online shop you couldn't have that on your about page on your website you can, um really use that for so much more than just like ok, they liked it quick yes good I liked you too you know it's really feedback is of is an incredibly valuable part of running our businesses so from this part of foundation building that we've done I'm wondering if there any general questions about anything we've talked about today at all so far let's start in the studio audience if you have any in susan I will check in with folks at home they're always questions right? Leslie just in regards to feedback I did give away just to try and get some awareness of the fact that I was starting a business and the girl that won the giveaway sent me an email saying how much she liked there's like you like it could you leave a review on like page that gray and she did it in one of her comments was the there are photos didn't do it justice it was really beautiful in the photos didn't even do it justice, but but it was really encouraging that she said, you know it's really great and even better than what it shows up online, so I was excited about that and also give me a little bit of what I needed to work on this with me so you learn something exactly what you're expecting rather than well it's even better yes which is still good but what is going for that is good that's trades so I have a question from scavenger annie who wanted to know if you have any advice for encouraging feedback after an order has gone through. I asked on my facebook page but I only get a few responses yeah people don't want to leave you feedback there's not that much you can do about it because obviously you can't make them and you don't want to repeatedly ask them to do something for you because then the feedback will be they send annoying e mails you can encourage it from the beginning by putting a little card or postcard in with their packaging that says I would appreciate your feedback I've bratton postcards from items I've bought in the past that have said things like I am a new business and I am trying to build my reputation if you would you know, supply feedback that be great you can also if they bought from you directly and you've had that sort of communication with them, you can just follow up with them and say I'm just checking on that and wondering how your mess they told you why they were going to wear something I was wondering how that event went how did it go if you have a picture of yourself wearing those hearings and you know you want to share that with me I'd love to put it on my blawg you can build it into your marketing through having contests you can say send a photo of you and my x y z and I'm going to collect them all here and there's going to be a big giveaway and then when people send you the photos will usually say I love it because you know they want to win and then you have some feedback that way, but otherwise if people just start leaving it, then you really can't do that much about about what you can do is get feedback in other ways by asking people you know, what do you think of this that is also feedback about your work that can provide you with information that you might need. So while you perhaps wouldn't have that in your shop because it wasn't from a customer from a sale from that place, you can still learn what you need to learn about feedback just from interacting with your community or the people who are around you who know what you make well, I thought it was cool to think about like just talk about thinking outside of the box as faras feedback defrost said his friend who sells on etsy sends all his customers random stickers for fun and that seems to trigger amazing feedback s kind of like thinking about like you said about the photos and getting that going but also just thinking about what else would be and turkey that people don't do our fun that you kind of get people to remember you and think about you write so I think that's kind of cool there's a lot of different ways to interact with people around their work and how they're thinking or feeling about it and it's good practice on one on one level because it can get you more comfortable talking about your work with people which I know is an area that some of us struggle with sometimes but the more you can just interact with people over what they're thinking about even people who are close to you those people are really honest for the most part so they're really tell you what they like or what they don't like about it or if you ask them do you have other ideas for this or what do you how do you think this would look best in a photo? I mean people want to help you people want you to succeed and so they will if you ask them for it but perhaps it's just not something people think of in general as faras you know what are they going toe spontaneously say to you you know you need to ask for the help and the support that you need and I have found that most people are really willing to give that to you heather I really appreciate in the packaging when people send thank you cards when I might something personal I love when I mean, even if they've just signed it personally, I like that extra touch because that's, why I'm buying a handmade items you don't want to feel like every other person I want to feel like they know where it's going, and they want to say thank you for purchasing and as a seller, I do the same thing I include thank you cards with my heart when I send it out, because I think that's the extra personal touch, and that encourages feedback to because they're connecting with you again with the thank you, I save all of those and write down what I buy. So when people send me a post carter are, thankyou card with their packages, I write down what I bought and wire for who, and I actually keep those in a recipe box and that's my go to place when I need gifts a lot of the time, and also I take the great cards that come in the handmade items that I buy online, and I put them all up in my kitchen. So my cupboards are discovered in postcards and thank you notes from other people and it's, just fun to walk in there all the time and see their artwork, and and what they make I really like doing that. Yeah, cathy well and that's a good I did in the thank you notes that you right, you could say, you know, that's a good place to house for feedback because, yeah, you're making that connection and your nose, and and if you'd like to share your photos, you know, but so that means to me to how do you invite someone to share a photo, say, on instagram? It's kind of knew I actually put my I didn't actually go my hashtag on my business cards now, so since so many people get you know, and it feels kind of weird to be like, you got my hash tag, but I am, I couldn't have made this is cards. And so now it's my business cards just say, you know, very cheap in my email, my website, my at, which is for everything at carrie chapman on pinterest, instagram and twitter and then I just have hashtag kerry shape and at the bottom because I really don't get it. My business card is somebody who's not interested in me as a business person, so I figured that they really want to know and and constantly just asking people hey share a picture of you in your book and they really like doing it, and if they don't tag kerry cheapen. If somebody uploads a picture of them studying with gregor, handmade business or something, I just do it myself in the comment I say thank you very much, because that's, you know how the word actually spread. So while it does feel a little weird to constantly be like carrie cheapen like wherever I go, it works and people were just communicating by tagging more and more and more so even if it feels a little weird at first it's the direction it's going in, so you might as well claim your spot now and get used to using it because I feel like it's just going to be happening more and more. But if you want people to instagram pictures of your work, it's a simple is this. You have to ask them to do it because they just might not think to do it. And you can say, like once a month from everybody who puts up a photo on instagram, we do a drawing for whatever you can try to incentivize them. You, khun or you could just simply ask them.

Class Description

Most artists and crafters are easily inspired to create new work, but getting inspired to build a business that shares that work with the world can sound like a much more daunting prospect. Kari Chapin, author of The Handmade Marketplace and Grow Your Handmade Business, is ready to teach you everything you need to know to break into the online marketplace and share your work with the world.

Kari will help you determine the online sales venue that’s best suited to your handmade goods. You’ll learn about the pros and cons of both selling through an existing online marketplace (like Supermarket or Etsy®) and setting up your own independently-operated website. You’ll also develop the optimal marketing strategy for sharing your products with the world, from social media to blogging to branding and packaging. Kari will cover essential best practices for running a successful crafting business, including confidently setting price points, creating media kids, acting as your own publicist, and much more.

No matter what you make, this course will give you the confidence to see the things you have to offer as uniquely valuable to customers, the inspiration to take your work to new heights, and the foundation you need to ensure your business’s success.



Kari Chapin's course, Start a Handmade Business, was a game-changer for me. Her content was presented in such an accessible, engaging, easy-to-digest, and oftentimes hilarious way. At the same time, she did not sugar-coat things. Having a handmade business is a job and requires work. I love that she emphasized that fact. Not only did she give the nut and bolts of how to start a handmade business but spent a lot of time on the emotional component of being an artist trying to sell her work. Her guests (Skype and in-studio) were well-chosen and showed the rapport she has with her community. This showed that she lives what she teaches. The interaction with the studio audience and online community was integral to the course because it showed real-life examples of business owners at varying stages in their career. (I was so lucky to be one of the studio audience members. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity!) This class was a comprehensive look at handmade businesses that everyone from fledgling businesses to more established businesses can benefit from. I highly recommend this course! Thank you Kari for sharing your mind-blowing wisdom and warm and fuzzy heart with us! And thank you CreativeLive for having this awesome resource for the creative community! --Cathy Pascual,


Well, it's been a few days since the course and I am still pumped. Kari said a few things in particular that I needed to hear and I'm so grateful for that. I have been involved in the facebook group she put together and I am so happy about that. It's an awesome resource and my fellow creatives have been very helpful and encouraging. I totally recommend this course to any creative entrepreneur at any stage in their journey. Plus she is cute, funny and has just the right amount of snarkiness. I so enjoyed it!

a Creativelive Student

I loved this course with Kari Chapin! Her wealth of information delivered with such an honest and funny voice was refreshing and inspiring. I have accomplished things in the last few days that have languished on my to-do list for a year or more, largely due to this class. Kari is very down-to-earth and just plain adorable! I highly recommend this course for anyone creative who has or wants to have their own business.