Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I go back and forth

currently my preferred logo
About a lot of things.  But--in this case--about selling things I make.  For me, the idea to sell started out as a fun way to make money.  We all do that, right?  We see something, make it, and think, "That was so easy and cheap!  I could sell these and make a small fortune!"  And then of course after I make the second one I'm sick of it and never want to see another one again.  Or I get side tracked and want to make something else.  Or I go to pick fabric for the next one and go through that whole "well I can't use this fabric yet because I might use it for this other random thing I've been thinking I might maybe make for the past two years" thing and then I get hungry and then I go eat a brownie and then Olivia wakes up and then we go for a walk and then Bryan comes home and then it's time for dinner and then I can't remember why there's fabric all over the bed.  I'm not the only one who does this, right?

But somewhere along the way my mindset has shifted.  And I'm not sure what it's shifted to.  Status?  I think that's what, but I feel a little dumb saying it.  I've been thinking about this a lot lately (again) because, for whatever reason, I've been thinking more about trying to open up shop (again).  Those of you out there who have ever tried to sell anything handmade will understand.  There's just so much more that goes into it than an hour at the sewing machine and posting it online and--bam!--it's sold and gone.  There's trying to pick a price and wondering if it's too high or too low and--will somebody like this fabric?--and then waiting for good light to take pictures.  Not to mention trying to decide what to make in the first place.

I think there are people in the world who think, "I'll make this and then I'll sell it" and they do and it's as simple as that.  But, thus far, I have not been one of those people.  So to be honest, I'm not really sure how to make it all work.  So the prospect of selling my wares excites me, but it also overwhelms and discourages me at the same time.  Is anyone following me here?  Please say yes.  Please tell me I'm not the only semi-talented person in the world who can't get sales to work like (in my head) they should.

But back to selling for status.  I think if you've ever made something by hand and then thought about selling it you've had the inevitable crisis set in about not knowing how much to sell it for.  I've read some interesting (and probably really good) formulas for how to calculate how much to charge for handmade goods.  But what if you don't know how much the materials cost in the first place?  What if it was just some random stuff you were doodling around with from your stash?  Or--worse yet--what if you know in your heart of hearts that nobody would ever pay as much as you would have to charge in order to cover the cost of materials and the cost of your time and skilled labor.  Again, I think there are people out there who just know how to make it all work, but I'm not one of them.  Maybe someday I will be, but definitely not yet.

And so, if you know that (at least for now) you can't charge enough for it to be worth your time and money, then why sell at all?  The answer: status.  The knowledge that people buy your stuff.  People like your style.  You.  Are.  Legit. 

Although apparently I'm not.  Haha.  No, I have sold things I've made a number of times.  But not consistently.  And it just hasn't really felt like a real thing to me in my endeavors thus far.  And I don't really know why, but it's one of those things I think about and want to do.

So I have a little plan.  (We'll see how long I stick with it.)  I'm going to make things "to sell" when I feel like it.  And put them in a little box or something.  And then when there's enough, I'll try and open up shop.  Maybe online.  Maybe at a craft fair of some sort.  Please give me good advice.  Please wish me luck.  And maybe, just maybe, ask for my signature in case I'm famous someday.


Unknown said...

I am SO WITH YOU on this. I can make ANYTHING and enjoy making it maybe a handful of times ... then the same, I get distracted or bored. NEXT!

What I've finally decided to do ... this year ... is make OOAK things and post that way. Sure, I'll get custom orders but I won't be making the same darn dress over.and.over. I'll have a lil' this and a lil' that ... soon. Also, I have friends who own boutiques and want my stuff. I don't want to feel like a sweat shop worker, so I take things leisurely and don't list them in my etsy shop ... again, ooak. That's how I deal. That being said, I have an apron to make (sigh, so.over.those.) and need to run. LOVE your blog! and your train of thought.


Unknown said...

I certainly think your talented :) I've semi thought about opening up a little shop...but soon decide that I don't have time, and I so much enjoy making things just because...

Polly @ Pieces by Polly said...

I totally understand. I've thought about selling things. People have offered to buy projects I've done...but I can't charge enough to make it worth my time. The only things I've tried to sell are appliques...which are very fast...and the stamped washers that had very little supplies gone into them...and I still didn't feel like it was worth my time...especially since I can make REAL money scoring SAT's and stuff that pays a lot more per hour. Crafts are a cost effective way to give gifts, but not make money...at least for me. I don't want to spend all my time making gifts for other peoples friends and family...I want to make them for my friends and family. I'm just selfish that way.

Summer Myers said...

Hi Katie. I don't know if you'll remember me, but we were in the same ward...and same activities committee, I believe...freshman year, and I've been stalking your blog for a while via Erin Tanner's.


Holy cows, yes, I feel your pain. I've been running a small business (finedoodles.com, if you care to see the details) for a little over a year. It's not crafty (though it's arty) and it's not Etsy, but I've been killing myself over pricing ("Who cares if it took me ten hours to make, no one in their right mind will buy this for $35!") and marketing and everything for months. I had to make my husband in charge of pricing because I was no good at giving myself a fair wage. And the surprising thing is that even after several price raises, I'm still selling. People like you and I are extreme penny pinchers, because we're young and our husbands are students and we have tiny kids. But other people don't think like us. They see things they like, and rather than think, "Hey I could make that by myself for a tenth the price," they buy it. What I'm trying to say is don't shortchange yourself. Get a little publicity going. I'm shocked at how well our zero-dollar-budget marketing campaign has worked. Get featured on a few blogs, get in one magazine, get on OhDeeDoh, and bam suddenly you're flooded with so many orders that you have to raise prices just to stay afloat. I'm not making good money yet. Far from it. But I'm not just doing it as status, and I don't think you are either. It's an investment. In our sanity as stay-at-home moms with our need to have some tactile evidence that we're productive, in our future as money-makers and family providers, in our talents.

Anyway, that's what I think.

-Summer "Used to be Hopkins but is now Myers, yes Myers as in the boyfriend she had freshman year while you were dating Bryan" Myers

Summer Myers said...

Oh, also I have some fantastic books that I think you would find very helpful. "Marketing to Moms" and "Selling Your Crafts." Totally good if you're trying to do serious business.