Welcome to Episode 33 of the Craft Seller Success podcast. Handy hints to help you save time (and money!) in your craft selling business.
Listen to the 10 Easy Ways to Save Time in Your Craft Selling Business podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.
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To see the other episodes available – Craft Seller Success Podcast Main Page
This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number Thirty Three – 10 Easy Ways to Save Time in Your Craft Selling Business
Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts
Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.
Yes, it has been a long time since the last episode of the Craft Seller Success Podcast. Episode 32 came out in July 2019, so nearly a full three years ago. And what a strange three years they have been!
I stopped publishing new podcast episodes back then because I was struggling to get them done alongside running my own 3 online stores and various other projects.
But I missed it. And I have been regularly getting messages from people who have discovered the podcast, asking when I will make more episodes.
So… I am back. Though things will be a little different.
From now on I will not be posting episodes on a set schedule. But I will create one when I can. If you are subscribed to one of the podcast sites, or the Tin Teddy Blog, you will get notified when each episode goes live. And you can of course listen to previous episodes at any time.
The other difference is the episodes may not all be the same sort of length as before. Some will be, but others will be shorter. This will allow me to continue to put content out, without struggling to find the time to be releasing podcast episodes on a regular, scheduled basis, as before.
I will put one out whenever I get the chance. It may be once a fortnight, it may be once a month, it may be less often.
So, without further ado, let’s get started on the first of the new podcasts.
1 – Look into buying postage online.
As well as online discounts, you may also be able to cut down on trips to the post office, saving a lot of time.
Check with your local mail services to see what options are available. You may be able to buy your postage from some online marketplace sites, such as Etsy.
Handy Hint: Buying your postage from Etsy can help maintain Star Seller status. This is particularly handy for sellers with lower priced products.
Be sure you understand the dimensions and weights that affect the prices. Weigh all products, including the packaging.
A simple digital kitchen scale will work well for most craft products, and is very economical. Here are links to the type I use. These are affiliate links, so if you go on to buy the items, Amazon will pay me a small commission for sending custom their way. This is at no cost to yourself. Thank you.)
If you sell internationally, be sure you have completed any necessary custom forms or other paperwork that is required. If you are not sure what you need to do, your postal service, marketplace site or an online selling forum should be able to help.
2 – Keep things very tidy
Spend a few minutes at the end of each working day tidying your work area, supplies etc. Keeping everything organized will save significant time in the long run.
It is amazing how messy a crafting area can become! Well that is the case in my house. And once it is messy, things start getting lost, broken or confused.
At the end of every day (or working session) I always make sure my worktable is clear and tidy. And the tools I have been using are back in their proper places.
When new supplies arrive, I put them promptly away. Everything has its own home, in a labelled box or container.
Finished products are always placed in a specific area, ready to send out.
3 – Reassess your products on a regular basis.
Be on the lookout for product lines that take a lot of time for the amount of profit you receive.
As your business grows, you may benefit from removing these particularly time-consuming lines, and concentrating on the proportionately quicker lines.
You could reintroduce the slow lines in quiet periods where you have more time for them. Or you may want to deactivate them at very busy periods.
I also recommend keeping an eye on the supply costs of your products. Supplies can go up in price, and a product may no longer be as profitable as it once was.
4 – Create snippets for replying to emails and business enquiries.
Typing the same thing over and over is an unnecessary waste of your valuable time.
The market place or shop site you use may have a snippet feature that you can use. If not, you can create your snippets in a word processor and save the file on your desktop. Then copy and paste when needed. It will still be quicker than retyping.
There are macro apps that you install in your browser and they let you insert blocks of text with a few keystrokes. These are another option you may be interested in.
Common snippets that craft sellers find useful include:
- Details of the last posting times for Christmas or other holidays
- Instructions for returns
- Care, assembly or maintenance instructions for your products (these should also be included with the items)
- Information about using your products commercially (for people selling digital products, supplies etc)
- Details of upcoming craft fairs or other events that you will be attending
Create snippets for any questions you are receiving on a regular basis.
If you find you are repeatedly getting the same questions asked about your products, consider adding this information into the listings or FAQs. This should stop at least some of the queries.
5 – Always plan in advance what you are going to be doing.
Spending a few minutes writing a to-do list for the day has shown to save 4 or 5 times as many minutes later on.
Some people like to write a physical to-do list, and cross off the items as they do them. Others prefer a digital version where you click or delete finished items. There are lots of apps available to help you too.
Most craft sellers feel there are never enough hours in the day, and always a long list of things to do.
Scheduling when you are going to do particular tasks can definitely help. For example:
9:00 – check messages and orders from overnight, print new order receipt
9:30 – work on open orders
12:30 – lunch – listen to Craft Seller Success Podcast
13:00 – write social media posts for next week
13:30 – pack up orders, print postage, put in post
15:00 – print any new order receipts, work on open orders
17:00 – tidy worktable, make dinner
You don’t, of course, have to stick to your schedule. It is for you, no one else can see it or will mind if you change things up as necessary! But having some times, even if they are roughly sketched in, can help a craft seller keep on top of their work load and still find time to relax.
6 – Listen to podcasts or audiobooks whilst crafting or traveling.
This is a great way to get some learning in. Of course, I am going to recommend listening to the Craft Seller Success Podcast. There are lots of episodes on different aspects of selling crafts online and off.
There are lots of other podcasts to do with crafts, craft selling, marketing, SEO and other useful subjects.
Etsy have their own podcasts, which are a great way to keep up to date with changes on the site. If you sell through a different marketplace site, check to see if they have also have one.
I am rather a fan of Audible, but there are other audiobook suppliers too. There are audiobook versions of many, many popular books.
I listen to Audible books every day. I listen to a lot of books on business, marketing and SEO. I also enjoy learning about other subjects that may inspire future product lines.
You may have the type of craft that you can safely do whilst watching tv or movies. I like to knit whilst I watch travel documentaries. Many craft niches have some processes that are somewhat mechanical. So having something that is not TOO stimulating and attention grabbing on in the background may make the task easier.
- Winding yarn, unravelling things, basic knitting and crochet
- Simple hand stitching
- Cutting out simple things
- Painting base coats
- Sanding things
- Opening lots of split rings, threading large beads
- Putting items into packaging
BE VERY CAREFUL – if you find yourself becoming distracted, or making errors, turn off the tv!
7 – Make use of digital tools on your computer, phone or tablet.
For example, alarms, calendars, reminders, social media publishing tools, email filters
Even basic phones often have built-in features that a craftseller could find useful. And most modern phones can download more apps – often for free.
Voice activated systems such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri can be used to make notes, play audio books, set alarms and much more – all whilst you are still crafting away.
Here is a link to a previous blog post about some of the apps that I use to help me run my craft business. I will be doing a more indepth article in the future.
8 – Premake products during quiet times.
Stock up by pre-making the products you know sell well. I create plenty of my best selling Halloween and Christmas lines during the quieter summer months. Then when the busy season kicks in, I can get some orders packed up and out the door extra quickly. This not only helps save me time when I need it, but customers LOVE to get their items as soon as possible!
If you sell personalized or customized items, can you make part of the items in advance, to save time when things get busy?
A friend sells beautiful knitted Christmas stockings. Each has a name knitted into the top cuff. Of course, she can’t knit the whole stocking in advance, as she has no idea what names her customers will want.
During her first year of selling, she had to close her shop early as she couldn’t handle all the orders coming in.
Here is her solution. During the summer months, she knits up lots of stocking bottoms. She stops at the point where the name will begin. Then she puts the stockings on stitch holders, and stores them.
Then, when an order comes in for a stocking, she grabs a mostly-finished one, and knits the name on the top.
For a very seasonal business like hers, this is a game-changer. She can now handle far more orders each Christmas than when knitting the whole stocking to order each time.
Is there something similar you could do for your shop in quieter times?
9 – Batches can be quicker, per unit, than single items.
I make my items to order. There are some colours and options that are more popular than others. So when I get an order, I will often make more than I need, in the colours I know sell. Then I have some on hand for the next order.
I find that making 10 of an item at once does not take as long as it would take to make, say 5 lots of 2. The time taken to gather supplies, tools etc (and put them away again) is the same no matter how many are being made.
I also organize my open orders so that I do similar tasks together. So I often cut out a few orders, then assemble them all, then pack them all. Rather than always doing each one from start to end before another.
I always pack my orders one at a time though, with nothing else on my worktable but the one order I am packing right now. I need to prevent orders getting muddled up. This is a very real danger when one has many orders for the same, or very similar products.
10 Going slow can save more time than going fast
You may be reading that headline and thinking “You what?”. But it is true.
Rushing can result in errors sneaking in. And then you need to fix or redo the task. This not only wastes your time, but can also waste your supplies.
And there are few things more annoying than having to cut out an again because you used the wrong fabric, or cut them the wrong way around.
No matter how busy you are, it is important to stick to your procedures and take care as you work.
Use boxes, bags, files etc to keep orders and supplies separate whilst working on more than one at a time.
Be sure you are putting supplies and tools away after using them so they do not get lost, muddled or damaged.
If you have supplies that look very similar, be extra careful never to keep them apart from each other. For example, different weights of yarn can look very similar. Be sure to replace yarn bands, relabel them, or place them in designated areas so you don’t muddle two balls up.
Double check every order before sealing the packaging, and buying postage:
- Is the name and address on the package the same as on the receipt?
- Are the products in the package exactly what the customer requested? If you get orders for multiple items, consider using a packing list and ticking each item off.
- Are you sure you have the right postage option. If the customer asked for priority and you have given them standard they will not be happy.
- Running a craft business requires us to think about our time management. We also need to look for ways to save time and be more efficient. But is also very important that our customers are getting exactly what they ordered. Plus you need to maintain a high level of customer service and professionalism.
So look at how to save time… but don’t rush!
An incomplete or incorrect order, two orders getting mixed up, sloppy packaging, wrong postage and so on are all quick recipes for unhappy customers, returns, refunds and bad reviews.
If you would like to more hints and tips on saving time and time management, check out episode 18 of the Craft Seller Success Podcast – Time Management for Craft Sellers. You can listen to the podcast, or read the full transcript right here on the Tin Teddy Blog.
So that’s it for this episode. I hope to be back with the next one very soon.
Thanks for listening. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.
Until next time, bye
The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy.
Featuring Deborah Richardson
Original music by Matthew French
Helping craft sellers to sell their crafts.