As soon as you make the decision to start selling your handmade goods online, it’s all about that first sale. It’s a huge thrill knowing someone wants what you made, and the money is nice, too. But sales are like potato chips – you can’t have just one, you need another and then another. And if you don’t get as many as you hoped in the time frame you imagined, it’s easy to get discouraged. In one week you go from feeling like a successful entrepreneur to feeling like a total failure. That’s one, tough roller coaster ride.
Obviously, you want to sell what you make but to survive the long haul, you need to open yourself up to other measures of success.
How many of your customers were happy with their purchase?
Did they leave you feedback? Did they share their thoughts on social media? Did they refer other people to your store?
Don’t just guess – measure. Use online tools to solicit feedback, scan social media for mentions or incentivize referrals. Set up goals, even if you feel like it’s out of your control. For example, 10 social media mentions by June and 50% completion rate on feedback surveys. Then, if you don’t get the results you want, you’ll be more likely to find a way to make it happen.
Building the Brand
Building a brand means being visible all around the web. Measure the success of your efforts in guest appearances and views.
“I will write one guest post every quarter.” Guest posting is a great way to reach a new audience and show off your expertise.
“I’ll generate 1,000 views in the first three months on my YouTube tutorial.” Views won’t automatically translate into sales, but they will push your content further up in search and that’s going to help your visibility.
Building Your Followers
It will be easier to get those views and the traffic if you have a large following on social media – with one big caveat – they must be targeted followers. There’s no value in spammy, bot or paid followers. You must build up an audience that truly fits your business and aesthetic.
A great measure of success could be “200 new followers on Instagram by July 1” or “25 new members in my Facebook group.”
Pick one or two channels at the most, then concentrating on building that audience. A solid following on one social media channel is a much better measure of success than a scattering of folks over 6 different channels.
And while we’re on the subject, let’s include a posting goal. A successful business posts several times a week to keep the audience engaged. 1 video and 5 Instagram posts a week – now that’s a measure of success.
If you can put a checkmark next to any of these goals in 2017, you’re a successful entrepreneur:
- My work appeared in a magazine.
- I was asked to create a custom piece.
- A celebrity bought or wore my product (bonus points if she promoted it in public)
- I was asked to teach / speak / write for a respected publication / show / event
- I published a book in my field
- X number of people attended my class or webinar
- My work is now in stores / showing at a gallery
Growing a handmade business means more than just increasing the number of items you sell each month. It’s about strengthening the foundations that will in turn take you from unknown seller to sought-after artisan.