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Start a Handmade Business

Lesson 24 of 39

Policies and Item Descriptions

Kari Chapin

Start a Handmade Business

Kari Chapin

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Lesson Info

24. Policies and Item Descriptions

Lesson Info

Policies and Item Descriptions

Well, we were going to talk a little bit about shop policies it's so we talked earlier about adding your shipping policies tio your work and I think that that is a really good idea to let your customers know when it comes what what's going to happen when it comes to shipping their goods but one more thing while we're talking about pricing and selling online that I want to talk about his return policies how many of you have a return policy in place? Marlo rosalie heather kathy marlowe was lee having what are your return policies? Uh see so I'm a custom rings custom custom word customer did exist until you asked for a very specific with dates and everything sometimes um so I have a policy a re sizing policy because their rings I include one re sizing with each order on and that's just for the cost of return postage so they send it to me and they get it back at the right size if they get it wrong again they have to pay a little bit more for that service but as faras returns go if it's an ...

in stock item they can exchange it for something else but I have a sort of open return policy if they're really unhappy with it I would rather give them back their money than to have them sit and look at this piece of jewelry that they hate and I think that thoughts every time they think about how much money they spent on that so I have actually taken back custom rings on occasion when they were say broken up you know, they really explain their situation to me and I empathize with people and understand what it's like to be in a situation where you know I could really use that hundred dollars back you know? So you could you not use one hundred dollars I mean it's a couple of breaks up well I can't well I normally can't resell the ring so I do I mean I'm since its sterling silver aiken scrap it and I can recoup some of my cost so I'm not completely out everything and it's definitely not something I will dio every single time just because somebody changed their mind so it's not like in your shop yeah it's not really break up in the future yeah yeah got living my policy says custom orders are not returnable but I have broken a policy because I'm human make it about people yeah um I say if you want to get rid of your rings because you broke up just throw them over the edge of a bridge I think we're very them or something don't do not try to return them that's what I like tip I think you're a good person but what's your advice being that she's just not do that is that what you think I would say not to do that but if you're really getting a story and it's tugging at your heart strings I mean from the human element of course you want to be a good person from the business element I mean how long could it break up be between somebody getting their custom made ring and then wanting to return it are you hearing from people years later or oh no that's andi I should specify in the when I started my shop in two thousand seven I've probably actually re funded money because of that kind of thing maybe three times so it's very very rare but I don't know I like tio I like to try to keep an open mind when it comes to that kind of stuff but the policies are good to have in place for you I do believe in giving money back if the person is just not going t give up I don't think it's worth the hit to your business over eddie dollar amount for somebody who's really unhappy but I think trying to avoid being in that situation to begin with is the best strategy to take and you can avoid that situation by having really clear item descriptions being very very very thorough with educating the customer about what they're buying what it's made from what size is it how is it going to work for them? That's your responsibility as the as the business person but then I think that there's a lot of customer responsibility tio that's important to notice and I think having a clear return policy if you make one of a kind work or custom work is really important because the truth is as lots of times people can violin love with something that you've made purchase it and then wait to get their custom work in six weeks later say almost six weeks ago eight, thirteen hundred dollars for that painting but today I don't I mean new so I have a comment from online if you don't migrate diana mmc said teller that after breakup that's what pawn shops or four yeah go get your money back some other wave I agree with that. That was a good one. Yeah, that is a good guy was not here it's not your problem you're my left that part out but not your problem. I think your rings are lucky and most people who wear them probably have really incredibly strong and wonderful marriages, right? Yeah, I got great feedback from people. Yeah, actually, betsy and I made one of the wedding rings that I were I have a lot of wedding rings to the dismay of my husband looks like I just pick one, but whatever ring I like at the moment is the ring I wear in my wedding ring finger um my timing was one more thing was another great to the theme of trying to avoid, you know, and setting things up so that you have given people opportunities in place. Sandra glover clark says I ask how a customer likes it when they receive it so that I know immediately if I'll be dealing with a refund or return issue that's a great way to also encourage feedback so if somebody's right to back and says I got a lot of them so glad about it you can say like super hit the feedback button and put that right in if you would please I tried to do that with book reviews because book reviews a really important part of my marketing and how I saw my books, so lots of times people say online like I love your book I'll say great, why don't you put that into a review? We think that isn't just an opportune time to say wink wink, you can also review this class there is a reviews section that's gonna be your homework first so we owe give carry a review gives kerry ever you yes, that would be wonderful I would really like that I like to read reviews on a lot of what I purchase online is dependent on the reviews I read, so I happened to be a review leader and user and I really appreciate them and you can often find some good nuggets of information even in your reviews or feedback that isn't quite positive so I've learned some of the changes that I did make for the second edition of the handmade marketplace came from feedback and reviews that I had gotten from readers things that they felt were missing things they felt I had gotten wrong things they wished I would have talked about more all of that stuff no matter how it makes me feel personally which is like this uh I put that through my business filter of like okay here's something else that people want for me this is an opportunity for me to give somebody something else that they want so while it hurts a little bit it's also exciting because it's another chance to do something different or to do something better so love that love fresh starts and second chances so return policies are really important and it's and it's important to know what your return policy is before someone tries to return something. So I want to be pretty clear about that. The time to think about your return policy is not when somebody is banging on your email inbox saying give me my money back that's not the time to try to figure out if you're going to do that how are you going to do that? Why are you going to do that? Think about your return policies now and get that in place and then make them clear to people and if somebody is ordering are really significant item from you something customers something that's going to take you a while to d'oh while you're negotiating that deal because hardly anybody just puts in teo a website like guess could be this custom thing without asking any questions when you're having that conversation with them about what you're going to d'oh for their dollars make sure that alerting them to your return policy is a part of their decision making that they understand what they're getting into and what the consequences our if they end up changing their minds is there any good stuff online about that or any fun stories? Because people have great return stories I mean let's give him last second to takeoffs and overtime overtime stories so before we get into the rewriting of the descriptions which is stuff that is touched on everything that we've talked about right now I will say that the action items for your shop policies aaron page eighty two of the workbook and that is done for you list of things to dio and then there's a page free to write your general reflections from our day together because I'm finding it so hard to believe that it's almost the end of day two about you tomorrow are all you guys going to cry I'm sorry to say but I just can't wait for that no good air you gonna cry? I and not much of a crier let's do some over unders I'm happy crier so I might but I am the weird person who's like what that's that's a great news I like I don't know of general emotions are a little bit click click like I just kind of turned him off so so we'll see but if I get really happy tomorrow if you guys make me happy for any reason if you want to aim for that, then I will definitely lover like like a baby. So anything coming from online? We don't have any funny stories yet over had just talked about I allow returns and refund their money up to three days after the they received items they are responsible for paying the return amount they return shipping the return shipping that's another good way to protect yourself. So unless you deal in a really large volume it's not usually beneficial to her company to offer shipping discounts or free return shipping or anything like that because that really only works for people who who saw a lot of volume. So I wanted to talk a little bit about where you work and what your space is like and how you stay organized because that makes a big difference tio how easily it is for us to package and ship are items and what that's like does anybody have any great workspace tips they could share? Mine was the bin so that was taken don't try to double up on the bin advice yes I like to leave a clean space when I'm done creating so then when I walked back into my studio I'm not like I got a clean first before I create because I want to walk in there I'm in the mood on so I try to leave this space cleaned up and everything most everything is behind a curtain and covered s so that you have to see it I mean the cupboards aren't organized but when the door shut umbilical great a cleaner procrastinator so my house is generally spotless because I'm usually avoiding something so I really cleaning a lot when I'm procrastinating but when I'm working it is it's really so much better for me to be able to sit down and work without worrying about straightening the space because that's absolutely away that I avoid things I also for a long time had a special closet and my house where I kept most things and I also once had a china cabinet where I kept most of my supplies and then at a table in front of that which made it a lot easier for me to just put things away and start over great so were there any general questions on anything that we've talked about so far in this segment no okay, we're going to go backto item descriptions, which is something that I really wanted to talk about in our first segment today but way had so which good conversation around other things so I didn't descriptions are covered in the work but back on page fifty one so flip back because I love it for you guys to be writing and, um working on this for yourself a cz we go through it what I've done is I've asked kathy if we could rework one of her item descriptions not because anything was particularly ah miss with her original description but because she has ah product here that I think we can all relate teo and I wanted to bring you up so kathy, could you please come up with your adam come up to this table that I have here? Great great oh, a plate stand so this is cathy cash I crafts this is one of the kinds of items that you make would you please tell us about this item kathy it's a five by nine coup part that I used will blend felt and it has a felt flowers and it has monograms of a couple this happens to be me and my husband and it's very soft untouchable and its commemorates uh wedding or an engagement or happy marriage and it could be placed on the wall or used I'm in a wedding or a reception ok and I know that we were passing the surround earlier. Did everybody have a chance to take a look at it? Great. Great. So, kathy, I printed off your description and world you confined this and kathy's, etc shop cat shy crafts dot com cct s h y crafts dot com and kathy lomas justice so far I mean sixty five sixty five dollars and your original description. I'm going to read it out loud here says celebrate a special couple with this modern floral monogrammed while he perfect for wedding to core with the bride and groom's initials and in a lot of notes on it so I actually covered up some of these letters here is like what? Um a black felt background makes the colorful flowers prop the monograms aircraft from mustard fell the five dimensional and colorful blooms are made out of cream peach, pink and rose felt this would make a wonderful engagement, wedding or anniversary gift when ordering, please tell me what initials you would like in the comments section that's your product description so then you have the details here. It's five by nine it's made of wool blend and wool felt its hand cut in hand sewn felt flowers comes with a ball chain for easy hanging and covered is covered on the back with cotton fabric so is this the ball chain so somebody would hang it up front that chance when they want to take it up. Okay, so I groups didn't see that represented in your photos. Your friend isn't the item which I looked through. So do you think we can improve on that description? Yes. Ok, great. So what we're going to do is we're going to go through a checklist of items tio things too, including your items, descriptions. And you have actually hit most of these. You have described the color very well. You've described all the colors that was great. You gave us the size that was five by nine. You told us the materials, any additional information your item needs, like suggested uses. You have said here that it's a wall hanging that's really what you told us, but when you described it to us verbally, you gave us a lot more information than what was in your product description when I asked you to tell me about it, who actually told me more than what you have available in your etc shop and sends you can't talk to each person who's interested in buying your crafts personally, let's, try to get that information that you verbally told us into what people see when they're buying it online, because you had a lot of good stuff there, okay? Um, let's, see, right, your additional description items here, what kind of things do you need to think about when you are describing, like jewelry or something else that you saw, like a painting? Heather there's a lot of details that you would need to include when you're trying to sell a mixed media art piece, I'm sure, and a somebody sells bath and body products. I mean, now you need to list all of your ingredients, people have allergies or sensitivities, or might only want incentive things, and if they're not, including all of those kind of details into your product descriptions that can really hurt your sales and cause returns, or people questioning what you're buying and affect your feedback. So wei have taken a look at kathy's current copy, and what I did is I read that copy and wrote down all of the descriptive words that she used in her writing. She used modern, colorful, five dimensional color and wonderful to describe her items when she wrote her description. Three dimensional ok, I was like, wow, I mean, that's, kathy later what had things? Because maybe there's some mike outer space qualities that that I don't know about that I just trusted you, so I wrote that now you're, like, way smarter than me and you, something that I didn't but when I read your feedback cathy if you want to know the words your customers on just one page of your lots of feedback do you want to know what they say about your work good they say that it's high quality that it's fabulous that it's amazing craft handwork someone called you super cute your quality was mentioned over and over again almost everybody who buys from you and leaves you feedback says something about the high quality of your work somebody gave one something that you made is a gift and said the recipient absolutely adored it it was called beautiful again well made someone said superb impeccable amazing and then stunning and then I was tired and reading great things about cappie that was a wonderful wonderful stuff those are all great ways to pull into your description writing your customers are doing their work for you everybody wants to buy something that is superb impeccable amazing don't you guys I totally want to buy something that's like that your customers are telling you what is so wonderful about your work and what makes this so special did you know that uh e did you know that that was a tool that you have now? Well I don't know that for you to use when you're writing your item descriptions so I think that it's amazing all of these different ways that our feedback as hiding valuable information first that makes our job easier that makes writing to your ideal client easier because they're interested in things that are like this. These are words that are important to them. These are the kinds of things that they want to buy and they're telling you what words to use when you write your descriptions so I think that we could crowdsource this I did this product description and figure out how we could make a better so when I was doing it right here in the beginning you say celebrate a couple with this modern floral with this modern floral monogrammed while hanging perfect for wedding to core with the bride and groom initials so I think just wedding to court what else going to be used for it's a memento, right? So you have a lot of information there it is wedding to core. But how would you how do you see somebody using it at a wedding as the core? Would they have one on each table? Would they have it at the entryway to the wedding? It's five by nine how would somebody actually used it as two core at a wedding? Maybe the entrance of the reception they would have, like a where they put the guest book and ok by the guestbook aea. Okay, they could also use it in the in the wedding portrait ce they would hold it up or in their engagement ok, so you've just given yourself some product shot ideas just by thinking about it that way by taking a picture of it and I did look at your pictures and you had several pictures of it hanging up on walls and then you went into packaging photo and something else that you meet but so you're missing out on some opportunities to really make this customizable product that you saw for sixty five dollars really stand out in your photos you could easily set up a photo that has a guest book of focus book with fancy writing in it to end this in the background to show people visually what they could do with this object rather than just hanging it on the wall. So I think by merely describing it on lee as a wall hanging is limiting the ideas that your customers might have for this product so when you are boosting up your description I would include some other uses that people could have teo use with the product and I would also show them that and photos one good way to know that your product description is the gas it can be is that somebody didn't have a picture of it what they understand what they were buying did you write about it so well that without even a photograph they know what they can do with that item and they know what they're going to get in the mail that's a good test if your item product description can say answer yes to those questions, then you're definitely on the right track, particularly if you have a product that is unique, like shower art. If somebody couldn't visualize what shower art is through your words a little that would be kind of a tough sell. So pictures air obviously really important to what you do, but being able to write about it so succinctly that somebody could understand without the picture is a good product description. So here you say, good for special couples or you say, for the bride and groom, but maybe you could be less general about that and special couples because and lots of states now it's not just brides and grooms, so that would be one way to be inclusive of all people who are allowed to get married now, could it be displayed on a table or plates stand was a note I made. Well, I saw your face stands, so we're good, we're in sync there. But do you think this could also be more useful for just more than weddings? At the very end of your product description? You say wedding or anniversary gifts, but I feel like it could commemorate lots of different special occasions and sometimes just for love's sake. You know that it doesn't have to be a special date to want to celebrate or get a treat for couple that you know where for yourself as a couple. So while suggesting the wedding's anniversaries, et cetera, is a good idea, I think that that that is somewhat limiting, although it is a good idea to mention those things because those air perfect ideas but it just doesn't have to stop there. But see a black felt background makes the colorful flowers pop the monograms air cut from mustard felt can these be customized? Yes, it's my wedding colors were my wedding colors were red and turquoise, which is what, which is why my books are that color. But, you know, not once in here really is that mentioned that it's customizable. So I think that you are missing out, you say appear that it's custom embroidery, hoop, but in the item description, you just say that this is what this photo has, and then to send me your initials. So when you are writing this great product description, I think that you could talk about that being customizable. So I know from looking at your social media that you're working on a chart of all the different color felts that you use. But that's a good use of one of your five photographs so when you tell people you can choose the colors that you want this item to be they can click over to your fifth picture to say three I'm going to choose the red and that her voice that's those are the color combinations that I would like to use so adding that into your description is a really good idea um so you also say here this would make a wonderful gift it's not that it would make a wonderful gift it is a wonderful gift so this makes a wonderful gift this isn't going to make a wonder forget it is a wonderful gift so talk positive about your product and only room for people to second guess would this be a wonderful gift maybe I know they both like their names a lot you're going to go with yes so this is a wonderful gift people love monogrammed stuff you know so yes I want you to take out what? Because there's no question about it okay on then I think in your pictures you could booster item description by actually showing the back of it if you embroider you know the back of your work is important as the front of your work when you are talking to another person you embroiders anything and you him like I just made this what is the first thing and other great error does they flip it right around they're going to check your work and see what it looks like so this is a great way to make it more beautiful. I have a friend jenny who is a wonderful embroider and she puts the best contract contacting patterns on the back of her embroideries with special tags that she makes like embroider tags that say like made with love by jenny and I think that it is a good chance for you to show the value of your work by showing and photographs the extra care that you take with the back of the work because that is definitely a part of what you d'oh so I think that you can boost your description with that by showing the back of the item also so here in your overview you say it's made with the wooden hoop but under the details you don't mention that at all and sense embroidery hopes come in so many different ways I think that it couldn't hurt to add that in again so what? Anybody else have any advice on how to sell this with words only yes kathy bull you said words only that was thinking pictures, pictures okay, great leslie um I was thinking it could make a really cute housewarming gift it would be you know you could put it on your front door just in your house. This is a new home for these two people are however many people on but I was also noticing that there wasn't a lot of mention of the hoop and I assume it's natural the descriptor of natural would I think would be a really strong sally appeal yeah, the natural wood part I think would be I think it's a strong term yeah, yeah, I agree with that. Cathy did you have something else to put a ribbon on it show with a ribbon and shuttle far girl carried it down the aisle that's good, but your daughter to work? Yeah, she does a good job with the reeds. Yeah, rosalie, you could also in the product product description add a note to your customers asking them to send you photos of them and use because it allowed those events people have professional photographers and they might think it's cool that like oh, she might use it in her empty shops like they be flattered for that and you get free professional photography that's a great idea that's a really great idea. Heather, did you mention that the product she user from another kannami person? Where did you get did you say that felt came from another etc shop but she buys it from a hole from national non wilson so ok, so that felt itself is in hand made but I make the flowers do you have good close up shots of the flowers in your pictures there so does how intricate they're really beautiful yeah he's a really great detail but I think you can tell a lot of your story with close ups of these flowers I mean it doesn't look super he's a you know it's definitely a part of what makes your work special for sure so how do you feel about all that it's good information? Oh, the other thing I forgot to mention there was some confusion over three dimensional rushes fire dimensional and my thought was that she's talking about the fact there's five dimensional flowers on the who so you might want to say has five of these dimensional flowers and just put a couple more words in between five dimensional doesn't doesn't seem good you could call them uh felt sculpted flowers or something like that like use a different word than dimensional weight which a little bit stronger it's to add to the value of your work sculptured it's very do you have any tips from our online people anyone chipping in about writing product descriptions? I do want to take a look but go ahead well I want to thank kathy for coming up here and letting us do it how did that feel section right out of your comfort zone? Yes, I think people are just yeah just excited excited to think about this more deeply I'm realizing how important it is like kathy and just those tips about what questions to ask yourself is so powerful and thinking about the reviews and how you use those I use the checklist sometimes to write my product descriptions because it's really easy to forget a simple detail I mean you know so much about it you made it you bought all the materials for you took its picture you created it that you forget sometimes what the customer really wants to know. So looking back at the questions that you're frequently asked and reading the things that people point out after they purchased them gives you a lot of insight into the way your customers thinking and what they really want to know sometimes when we're so close to something that's really hard to see it earlier we were we were talking about valuing yourself valuing your products and how challenging that is for people but also how important it is to to save the world I'm not underpricing myself right not underpricing but also and getting out there how much value there is about the fact that it's these pieces of art are handmade they're not factory made do you see the the customer base has that been changing over time? Do you see it changing? You see it changing more rapidly where your customers are seeing the value of handmade are out there is a more opportunity right now yeah I think that the value of handmade is definitely becoming more and more parents people in a part of that has come from so many people in her community becoming stronger and stronger business people the more people who step up and lead the war the less explaining we have two dio and the more our work is respected and valued by the public in general and even just from five years ago now we have so many more store so many of us in our community have opened our own brick and mortar retail stores like rosalie you're a great example of that that we've been able to move our business is off line and on tio streets and our town's because we have put the proper value on our work to begin with so it's definitely changing I go into a lot more stores and buying that people in my town in other cities that I visit people will develop partnerships with their local grocery stores or hold foods you know that's definitely catching on you see this happening now with targets a lot of big box stores are trying to bring in a handmade element now because we have stood up for ourselves as a whole but if we don't keep it up or if we start on the wrong end you know it takes a lot longer way is everywhere way have some homework before we go away let's talk about it for your homework today, I want you to evaluate your product shots and said it's time to practice your photography skills, you're not going to get better if you don't make it a priority, so put it in your calendar and make the time to do it it's not something that you should just be thinking about doing or planning on doing this is something that you actually need to d'oh practice answering your phone using your business name that's just fun so I want you to go somewhere and just say your your proposed business name and can you guys believe that was only just this morning? Like what I feel like that was last week or something? I want you to think about your branding and how you can incorporate that into your packaging take a look at what you're using now or what you're considering buying and how that ties into the overall look and feel that you want your shop tohave if there's a big disconnect, I want you to figure out how to make it connect instead of disconnect and I want you to make a pledge to pay yourself and I want you to tweet it and what you should not hurt yourself hurt your business or her your community and one assault to support and help each other, and I want to see proof of that commitment online later today.

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.