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.
Today on the podcast, we’re going to talk about some of the most important skills you need to really be successful selling handmade online, how to identify what skills you need to improve, and where to start!
I (Katie) will start by telling you how I improved my own skills as an artist. I have always been a self taught artist, which I do think is awesome, I am a very self-motivated person and love learning things myself by experimenting.
However a few years ago I knew that I wanted to learn a lot more about oil painting in order to refine my art skills, and really grow as an artist, especially my fine art.
There was an online course by one of my favorite artists that I had been eyeing for a while. It was priced higher for an online course, but it was year long, intensive mastery course, and was comparable to going to an art school in what it teaches you and I was really really interested in it.
So I did it. I signed up, I invested in myself and my skills and I learned a freaking ton. I look back at some of my oil paintings before I took the course, and how they are now, and I can see such a difference in how my style evolved and how many technical skills I’ve gained.
It was absolutely worth it to invest in myself and take an online course.
There are some specific Skills Needed for Success as a Handmade Seller online. Now, we’re not all great at everything, all the time, which is why we have to learn how to improve our skills, right? Still, if you truly, truly want to have meaningful income from your handmade shop online, you need to have these skills we’re going to talk about.
Here are the 4 Critical Skills You Need to be Successful with a Handmade Biz:
Photos, photos, photos. This is like one of the top things of all time you need to excel at online. Why? Shopping online is a visual experience. People make their decisions based on how they feel and photos can make them feel good about your product or it can make them feel uncertain about your product.
And, different platforms require different types of photos. You need to use a different set of photos on Etsy than you do on Instagram because the algorithms and expectations are different.
If you’re someone who struggles with product photography, you probably want to make it a goal of yours to improve your product photos. Now, you can accomplish this by paying a photographer which can get really expensive, or invest your time in practicing and maybe take a course on this subject.
#2 Writing & Marketing
The next critical skill you need to really sell a ton of products online is knowing how to write product descriptions. This isn’t really that hard but it’s like a secret door you’ve got to figure out how to unlock. Once you know the formula, you’re golden. But how do you get there?
I see this as a common mistake among handmade and small businesses. They just describe the product from the perspective of themselves, the maker, when the truth is, the product should be described for the perspective of the buyer. How will it make them feel? What info will they need to make their buying decision? What problem does your product solve for them?
If you’re getting good traffic to your handmade business online but you aren’t converting views to sales, you’ve identified a skill you need to improve. Writing your product descriptions and social media content so that it actually speaks to your customer.
#3 SEO & Keyword Research
If you feel like you’re doing all the things right and it’s just like a black hole out there and nothing’s happening with your shop traffic, it’s likely a keyword and traffic problem. You need to strengthen your keyword skills.
Now, real quick, if you’re like what does that even mean???
Keywords are the way the internet helps you find the thing you’re looking for. So when you type something into google like “lavender scented candle” that’s a keyword. Your goal as a seller is to improve your search engine optimization or SEO so that the keywords your customer types in match the keyword tags and phrases you have on your website or in your online shop.
Keyword research is a bit of a learning curve but it will set you up for long term success because - and most people don’t realize this - the longer your keywords are out there, once you’re using the right ones, the longer they build your ranking. What you do in your keywords now will help you for the next 1-5 years. Seriously!! So, consider learning and improving your keyword research skills now for your long term success.
Finally, the skill you need to develop no matter what you sell and create is consistency.
You need to be consistent in everything that you do. I’m talking about how often you post, and I recommend daily or at least a few times a week, You need to be consistent in the photos you take by having them all with similar lighting and styles, and you need to be consistent in your creative work.
One of the things that I learned in the online course I took about oil painting that I mentioned earlier applies here as well. I learned that in order to really refine my artwork and to create a style that people can recognize, I needed to stay consistent in my process, and that that is how my work will stand out. Doing the same thing over and over is not boring to your customers, I promise, It creates a vibe and an aesthetic that they look forward to seeing.
You have to learn to be okay with repetition.
We want to encourage you to identify where it is you personally need and want to grow. This is a big, exciting step, and a way to help you get where you want to go with your handmade business.
If some or all of these critical skills we talked about in this episode - product photography, writing & marketing, keywords & SEO, and consistency are skills you want to improve on, This is exactly what we teach you, and really break it down for you, in our online course, Dream, Create, Sell.
Katie is teaching how to really find your style and your niche...
We also teach step-by-step how to find and validate keywords to get your products SEEN.
And, finally, we also are giving you copies of our daily and weekly workflows that help us stay consistent and not go crazy in our etsy shop.
So, that’s the third thing you need to do to live your creative dream life, make more sales, and do what you love.
You need to identify what skills you need to improve on.
Next week on the podcast, we’re going to dive into part four, which is how to change your mindset about running a business. Because once you have the right mindset, literally nothing can hold you back. We’re going to share the action steps you can take to help you stop feeling overwhelmed about all the tasks and things to do, about money, sales and pricing, and instead how you can focus on your work, be more productive, and already be living the life you dream about. It’s 100% possible for you to live your best creative life.
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