Friday, February 11, 2011

EB Friday Hotlist: Why People Should Buy From You and Not a Big Box Store

This week I want to talk about the indie movement in general.  Regardless of whether or not you sell online or at craft fairs or both, regardless of whether this is a hobby for you or a business or both, you are selling your items so that people will buy them from you.  Your motivation may be different from the next person, but the basic goal is still the same - sales.

Stories by vasta on Flickr
Used under Creative Commons
How do you get sales?  At the most basic level, getting sales requires 1) having a product and 2) putting it out for sale.  To make a sale, you also have to set a price for the product and pricing your work can be a somewhat contentious issue among indie sellers.  Some businesspeople lament the hobbyists who can charge less for their work because profit is not their motivation.  Some hobbyists lament that their work is seen by some as inferior because it is frequently (and incorrectly) assumed that price is directly correlated with quality.  No matter where your items fall on the pricing continuum, and no matter what criticism you receive (i.e. your prices are cheap so you must have Walmart quality items or why buy from you when I can get the same thing 75% off at Walmart) there is still a huge difference between your crafts and the similar items people buy at Walmart.

So why should someone buy a (insert name of craft here) from you as opposed to Walmart?  I can get cheap, trendy jewelry there for a fraction of the price of some I see on Etsy.  I can buy crocheted cozies, dyed scarves, and trendy shoes all in the same place without paying shipping or walking around a dusty farmer's market in the heat/cold/rain.  What makes the handmade or vintage items you sell better than the mass-produced beauties in stores like Walmart?

Stories by normalityrelief on Flickr
Used under Creative Commons license
Only you can answer that question specifically.  Maybe you've spent weeks combing over thrift store shelves and antique malls to find those perfect dresses and brooches and silk ties for your vintage shop.  Maybe you fire up the kiln every other night to finish up the pottery you take to the local market each week.  Perhaps the beads you use in your jewelry came from your grandmother, who is the one who taught you how to bead 40 years ago.  Everyone's special selling point will be different, but the point is that every indie shop, handmade or vintage, has a story behind it.  Telling this story in a compelling way is what will draw people to your shop instead of the big box retailers.

This week's suggested reading list will give you some ideas on how to figure out what your story is and how to turn that story into selling points to present to potential buyers.

Suggested Reading:

Buy Handmade: Why Buy Handmade? - Article with some of the reasons why people are choosing to buy handmade.  Check out the list of links for ideas that may help you with developing your story and deciding why your indie shop is unique.

Etsy Blog: How to Sell Your Story with Johnny B. Truant - Article with great ideas on how to incorporate your story into your item listings to get people more interested in buying your items.

Etsy Community: Etsy Shop Makeover Challenge: Storytelling - Step-by-step article that helps you define your story, develop it, and turn it into a compelling artisan/shop profile, from the talented storyteller whose YouTube video I've embedded above.

Until next time,

P.S. My six word story is: Strength is the will to overcome.  What's yours?  Leave it in the comments after checking out Suggested Reading article #3.