Are you ready to sell your handmade work?

Am I ready to sell my work?


Only you can answer that question. Facebook groups are awesome places to get peer response to your work, but they tend to be full of people who love the same things you do and they are full of awesome and supportive people who will encourage you all the way. What they are not full of are customers, people who will be looking very objectively at your work and deciding whether it is worth a purchase.


If you want to sell put in the leg-work. I cut for a year before I considered trading though I knew I eventually wanted to sell. I spent a huge amount of money giving away framed papercuts; you may say that is stupid, I called it investment. I worked out in that year that my Family Trees were way more popular than anything else that I cut, so when I established Cut By Hand I already had some knowledge about product popularity and I was also pretty good at cutting by then, and designing my own stuff (don’t underestimate the absolute importance of both those skills if you want to sell).


I hadn’t joined any FB groups at that point so I was clueless about pricing. It never occurred to me to ask others what they charged (maybe that’s something to do with the stiff upper lip) but I went on a rocky road, throwing out random figures and feeling an awful sense of guilt about charging anything.


So I’ll tell you a story about what changed that for me. A lady called and said that ‘they’ were collecting for a colleague, would I do a papercut as a leaving present for her? I agreed and as it was simple I said I would do it for £25. She seemed a little hesitant and said she would get back in touch and I was panicking that I had charged way over the odds. She did call back, and she put the order in but said they needed it within a few days. When she came to collect she looked over the piece with a fine toothcomb, and I mean she fully examined it. Finally she handed me £35 and said ‘we tried everything we could to find a different papercutter to you because we all agreed that if your price was that low your work would be awful. We couldn’t find anybody else to do it in the time frame so had to take a chance on you, but we wanted someone that was charging £70. You’re kind of making a mockery of your own business’. I was mortified.  And I worked out with the HMRC’s help how to price. I researched like Billy-O and so should you.


The simple fact is that psychologically we associate a higher price with better quality. But if you don’t match the quality of your work to the higher price you won’t ever be successful, the two go hand in hand.


Just because your Auntie Sheila and Betty down the road ask you to make them something doesn’t mean you are ready to sell as a business.


Think about it. Most people spend upwards of 6 months formulating a business plan, forecasting profit and loss, sorting out branding and stationery, filing with the HMRC and preparing to actually BE a business. There are enormous legal ramifications to running a business, are you insured? Do you know what type of insurance you need? If you don’t know the answer to that you are not ready. Do you know how to work out your profit margin? Do you know how to charge and for what? Can you price your work independently of other’s opinions? If the answer is no then you are not ready to sell.


Take emotion out of the mix. Being a business is all about your product on the surface, but it actually has nothing to do with the cogs of a business. Those bare bones are profit, loss, tax, insurance and turnover. It doesn’t matter if somebody in a FB group thinks you have charged too much, they are not your customers; they are not your business.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is no such thing as a hobbyist that sells. If you sell you are legally bound to register as a business, which makes you a business. And if you are a business you need to have some sense of what a business is.


It is not ok to wail and moan that you have set up a page and though you have 200 likes not one person has ordered, if that is the case you are missing a trick, something with your business isn’t working. Are you putting in the hours needed to network? How are you presenting your business page? I cringe every time I see somebody moan publically on their business page, your customer’s do not want to hear it. Keep that to your personal profile. Your business is not you, it is a separate entity and you are merely it’s caretaker and manager. XXXXX

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