This podcast episode is part of a 4 Part series, "How to Live Your Dream Life Making & Selling Handmade,” where we share our story as working creatives and describe the 4 things you need to do to live your best possible creative life as a maker or artist.
Now, onto the podcast episode...
In our experience, growing your business isn’t just about one thing. It’s about the perfect combination of multiple things, like making the perfect tasting lemonade. You need to know who YOU are as the maker, you need to have the skills, you need to have a plan, and finally, you need to have the mindset.
In this first episode of the series, we’re going to talk about how to identify and narrow your style and your niche so it’s clear to your audience exactly who you are and what you sell, and it feels good to you.
This is really important because:
Having a consistent style helps you stand out from the crowds, but it also helps you stay true to who you are as an artist. If your style or your niche is something that you are passionate about, you’re going to love creating it, and love spending time working on your business.
Also, if you’re not extremely clear on your style and your niche, you can’t expect your customers to understand what it is either. It’s not simply enough to make different things that you like, put them online with a price tag and hope that other people just instantly “get it.” They won’t. Instead, if you want to be a truly successful maker who makes consistent sales and has meaningful income from their work, you’ve got to hand your art or your handmade products to your customers in a nicely wrapped up little branded package, and that’s your niche.
Let’s briefly talk about what a niche is:
A niche is a focused, targeted area that you serve particularly well. It’s small and specific. In fact, the smaller, usually the better.
You might think this is the same as a category on Etsy, but it’s not.
Selling “jewelry” is not a niche. “T-shirts” are not a niche.
A niche describes what you sell, the style, and ideally, who it’s for.
Selling handmade, handmade copper jewelry with a desert boho vibe to twenty-something year old women is a niche.
Here are a couple more niche examples we can talk about.
Children’s paper party decorations
Wedding party custom face masks
Mixed media paper ephemera
DIY embroidery kits
Sarcastic Men’s T shirts
Everything you do in your business, from your product descriptions in your shop, to your business cards, to your social media posts needs to convey your style and your niche. So, how do you do this if you feel like you’re all over the place or you feel like you have more than one style?
Katie: I personally know that feeling well, I LOVE everything creative, You can just give me all of the different mediums, and I will enjoy them all. However sometimes in the past I have struggled with that because I didn’t know what my style was when every day I was creating something totally different. I would be scrapbooking one day and painting handmade shoes the next, and then doing mixed media the day after that. And while I loved them all, I did get overwhelmed and I felt like I was never making progress in my style.
Now it is okay to be multi-passionate and to enjoy more than one thing, but you want to try to be consistent in what you make, especially when you run a handmade business.
Here are some different strategies for narrowing down what you do so that you can capture the riches in the niches:
Have a consistent color scheme across multiple products. (ex. T shirts and hats, but all in pastel tones)
Photograph your varying paintings and artwork in a consistent set up. That way, even if your art is different, and this is good especially if you make one of a kind pieces, it will have a consistent feel to your customer that says that YOU are the one who made it. Photos really can make all the difference in how your style is presented to your customers.
Identify which things you’re doing that you want to be the future of your shop and which things you can see yourself leaving behind. I think this is one we easily overlook, but I hear it a lot from listeners and our newsletter subscribers. I ask to see their etsy shop and they say, “well I have these products in there but I am not planning to keep selling those. I’m planning to start doing something else.” So, here’s your permission to do what you want and do what you love. If you want to make the change do it, but don’t do it halfway. Take out the products you think are not the future of your shop or your creative work. Take the posts down from Instagram and Facebook, or move them to an archive. You have permission to do that. Now, I’m not saying you have to wipe everything off your social media if you don’t want to, but if this is the thing that’s sitting on your mind and feels like it’s holding you back from having a truly authentic style and niche, go for it.
Create a series of work that are all in the same theme. This is a great idea, as it will make not only your recent posts on instagram all cohesive, but your audience will also love seeing how all of the different pieces tie together! It is also a really great challenge for you as the creator, to see how far you can take 1 idea and make several pieces from it in the same series that are similar but all unique.
By narrowing your niche, you will begin to present a clearer image of who you are to your dream customers.
Think about the shops and artists you love to buy from or follow on social media. What do they do so well that attracts shoppers to them so they make more money and live that life you’re dreaming of? Consistency and authenticity. They’ve narrowed their style by presenting consistent work, using photos to show repetition, and they’re doing things in a series or a collection.
Narrowing your style also helps you to feel empowered as an artist because when you know the thing you do super well, you don’t feel like a fraud, or you don’t suffer from imposter syndrome as often, which I think is something every creative person has felt. So this makes sense for you both as a person who creates and also from a business standpoint.
If there’s one thing you can do right away in your handmade business, without spending any money, it’s to work on your niche and your style. It’s something that only you can do, no one can do it for you, but if you spend time on this, developing how you want to present what you do, it will pay off with amazing results.
So, that’s the first thing you need to do to live your creative dream life, make more sales, and do what you love. Next week on the podcast, we’re going to dive into part two, which is how to Make a Plan for your handmade business, specifically for your personality. We know it’s not enough to just say “oh here’s the things you need to do.” We know that you need a plan for your time, a plan for your money, and a road map to success, so if you’re into that, listen to next week’s episode!
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