9 Ways to Add Value to Your Craft Products
Welcome to Episode 7 of the Craft Seller Success podcast. In this episode I will be talking about 9 ways to add value to your craft products. Many craft sellers try to compete with each other on price, but there may be better ways to boost your sales and earn more profit too.
Listen to the 9 Ways to Add Value to your Craft Products Podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.
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Transcript of Episode 007
This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number seven:
Nine ways to add value to your craft products
Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts
Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.
Nowadays we are able to sell our crafts more easily than ever before. We can reach an international audience, we can showcase our products very cheaply and we can benefit from a plethora of (often free) advice and information to help us run our small businesses.
But all this convenience has a flip side. Just as it is easier for us to do this, it is easier for everyone. Each year more and more people are setting up small craft businesses. Craft magazines regularly encourage their readers, telling them how easy it is to set up on a marketplace site like Etsy or Amazon Handmade. TV craft channels encourage us to buy craft supplies with reminders that we could get the cost back by selling our creations.
Of course this means that a craft seller’s competition is growing bigger by the day. It is easier than ever to offer craft products for sale… but harder than ever to get sales of YOUR products amongst all this competition.
When reading craft marketplace forums etc, I regularly see sellers complaining that they are not getting sales. Often this is followed by statements of how they have reduced their prices, or run sales, or tried free shipping. In the world of selling crafts I would say that price should be the very last thing to try to compete on. Why?
Firstly, it is very hard to win a price war, as big supermarkets will agree. There will always be someone out there who is buying their supplies at lower prices, who is living in a country with lower overheads, who is prepared to take a lower profit, is not paying taxes or who is doing it for fun and doesn’t actually care if they make any money. I am going to assume that you want to make at least some profit from your labours. And a price war is a very quick route to seeing profits eroded to nothing.
There is another reason that price is not the best point of competition for craft sellers. If I want to buy a cheap necklace, or a mass produced tshirt, or an economy vase then I will probably go into my local town. When I shop for crafts online or at a craft show I am not looking for cheap or mass produced. I am looking for special, original, handmade, quality and exciting. I want something I can’t get elsewhere. Something that my friends don’t have. Something that has been made with love and that special “je ne sais quoi” that only handmade crafts have.
When buying online someone has to pay postage. They have to wait for the item to arrive. Then they have to trust that the item will actually be as advertised, they can’t see it for real before buying. And they may need to be home to receive the parcel or pick it up from somewhere.Trying adding extra value to your products rather than reducing prices to try to compete. Click To Tweet
They are far more likely to do all that for something that is very special. Not something they could easily get in their local town. People WILL pay for products that are special and only available from you. The trick, of course, is making sure that your products have that specialness.
So, here are 9 ways that you can add value to your craft products and better compete with others in your niche.
1 Original designs
If you are the only person selling a particular design, you naturally have quite an advantage over everyone else – as long as someone wants and finds the item you are selling.
A few years ago a friend started an Etsy shop selling jewelry, necklaces for youngsters, 11-15 year olds. She bought some pretty charms from a big craft shop chain, and made up her necklaces. But they didn’t sell. She asked me why this might be. A quick search on Etsy showed that there were dozens of people selling near identical necklaces to her. Using the exact same charms. And many of these other sellers were seriously undercutting her prices. They probably bought their supplies in bulk.
So, my friend had done a few jewellery making classes. She knew how to do some intresting wire wrapping techniques. Also, she began to make some necklaces, letting her imagination wander and coming up with her own designs. Later on, she also sourced some new charms for the tween-necklaces. She found a small Japanese silversmith on Etsy and bought from here. Very few other people would have these. Later on she commissioned her own charms from the silversmith, so hers would be unique.
Her products now cost far more than those first tween necklaces, but she is selling regularly.
If you are selling something that is very similar to many other people you naturally have a disadvantage.
2 Better materials or techniques than your competition
This is a great way to get ahead of your competition, especially as it is something that many new sellers are nervous about doing.
When one first starts making and selling crafts it is very tempting to stick to cheap materials because of a fear of investing too much into supplies which may not sell. The thing is, so many sellers are doing this same thing that there is often a flood of cheaply made products, which you are going to have to compete with.
Although it does take a bit of a leap of faith, introducing products with high quality materials can pay off. A shopper totally understands that a hat made from hand-spun alpaca yarn will cost more than one from cheap acrylic. A bracelet with sterling silver links will cost more than one with plated links. Cookies will cost more when made with organic branded ingredients than cheap unbranded ones.
Of course, you do need to clearly tell your potential buyers that you are using the better materials!
Similarly, you can get one up on your competition by using techniques that they don’t. For example, if you double knot your necklaces to prevent beads being lost if the string should break (which is very handy for expensive beads!), or if your scarves include a complex knitted lace panel that many knitters would struggle to do. Or your digital wedding invitations use your own, hand painted designs not clip art that many others might be using.
Many of the most successful craft sellers dedicate some time each week to learning new skills and techniques in their niche so they can continue to offer new and exciting products and get one up on their competition.
There are vast numbers of new crafters who are trying to make a bit of money by selling their crafts online. If you have a few years of experience under you belt you have a natural advantage. Make the most of this by continuing to increase your skill base.
3 Include extras items or features
This is a simple way to boost your product, but should be handled carefully. Adding an extra item could increase the perceived value of your product, but it is important that the extra item is relevant and desirable.
I recently saw a set of rubber stamps for sale, that I really liked and wanted. These stamps are only available with a fancy “free storage box”. The stamps atr rather more expensive than I would expect such stamps to usually be. I don’t want the storage box. I have my own way of storing stamps, thank you. So I will not be buying the stamps because I feel that I am actually paying for a “so-called-free” storage box that I just don’t want. If the stamps were less money, without the box, I would be interested.
The extra item added must increase the value for as many potential customers as possible, without putting any off – not always easy to do.
There are some extras that are quite tried and tested and worth considering.
For example. If you sell jewellery sets, pendants and matching earrings, you would probably be able to charge a higher price if they were in a nice presentation box rather than in bubble wrap in a plastic baggy. A jewellery set is very likely to be bought as a present, so the box is something that the purchaser may well see as a plus. If they are dithering between buying your jewellery set and one from another seller, not having to hunt for a nice box to wrap it in might swing them to buying from you – even if your product is a little more expensive than your competition’s.
The ideal extra is something very low priced but clearly useful. One that comes to mind is including those little rubber stoppers with earrings for sale. I mean those round rubber things with a hole in them that you slip over the wire and they help prevent the earring back coming off, or the hook falling from your ear, and the earring being lost. (pictured below) They are super cheap, but genuinely useful for your customers. When I used to sell earrings I would add half a dozen spares of these too. They are so cheap it barely adds anything to the cost of making the product, but gives it a wee boost over competitors who don’t add the stoppers.
A very similar idea is including a small hank of yarn and a couple of spare buttons with a hand knitted garment. This costs so little, but enables the customer to make small repairs in the future, if necessary – potentially extending the life of their purchase and therefore adding real value to it.
The same goes for features. Can you add a feature to your product that gives it a boost over your rivals? There may be lots of nice tablet computer cases out there, but if yours has a little extra pocket for headphones this could increase the value of your product. Or, many people are selling prints of their artwork, but if yours come with a mount, ready to frame, you add value to your product for very little effort and investment.
One extra you might be able to consider is personalization. Personalized items are very on trend.
4 Showcase them better
The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words and that it never truer than in the world of ecommerce. I am often surprised at how many times I see a handcrafted item for sale with just a single picture on offer. Pictures are your biggest chance to really show off your creations – so it is well worth using them!
Time and again I have seen beautiful handmade bags for sale online only to then discover that there is no photo of the inside. Bags have insides. The inside is just as important as the outside, really. So why are bag sellers so reluctant to show them?
Be sure to give your potential customer a good idea of what your product really looks like – all over. Three dimensional objects need, logically, at least three pictures to do this. Most items need more.
Selling a teddy bear? Your visitor will want to see a full body front view, the back view, a side view, a close up of the face, a close up of the paws if they have detailing, at least one shot that has something in it to show the scale of the bear and a close up of the label. This last bit is very important if you sell to the EU as having a label to show the toy has been CE tested is a legal requirement, so reassuring to the visitor.
Selling a pendant? Be sure your visitor gets to see the front of the pendant, close up, a shot of the full pendant, including the chain, a close up of the fastener (this is an important one as many people have strong preferences over necklace catches so will want to see it before buying), a picture of the back – yes, even if the back is plain metal and not exciting.
Remember that if you don’t show the back of something there will always be some people who will assume that this is because you don’t WANT to show the back, because it is perhaps messy or ugly. Show it, remove any doubt. Include a shot with something to show scale – for a pendant you may want to have a picture of a model (or mannequin) wearing it.
I know that I have bought pendants in the past and been disappointed when it has turned out to be smaller (or bigger) than I imagined, or hangs too low on me, or just doesn’t look right. Add a picture of the item in use and you help your visitor out on this. And you want happy buyers, right?
5 Brand them better
If you listened to or read the Craft Seller Success Podcast number 5, Branding for Craft Sellers you will probably remember that I discussed many of the ways that good branding can really give a craft seller a boost.
One of these was that good branding can really make a product look more professional. People will pay more for an item with really nice branding on it than a near-identical piece without. The branding reassures them in multiple ways.
Adding labels, hang tags and other branding to your products can be done economically. A simple box with a nicely printed label of your brand name and logo can look lovely. And will cost pennies (especially if you buy things in bulk etc). You don’t need to add all sorts of expensive elements.Good branding can really increase the perceived value of your handmade craft products.Click To Tweet
Let’s imagine you add a professionally printed hang tag to your patchwork bags. The tags work out at 20p each to have made for you. You include a picture of the tag in your product shots. And you increase the price of the bags by £1.
That is a very easy 80p profit increase. You have increased the perceived value of the bag because now it is nicely branded. Your potential customers will therefore be happy to pay more for it. Which means you make more money per sale for very little effort.
Those were, of course, just arbitrary numbers. Depending on your particular niche you may find that adding nice branding can allow you to charge a much higher price than you were before.
Don’t forget to include the branding in one of your product pictures if selling online, and maybe mention it in the product description.
If you haven’t listened to Episode 5, Branding for Craft Sellers, may I recommend you do so as I go into this subject in far more detail there.
6 Market them better
No matter how great your products are, if no one knows they exist then you will not get sales. It is as simple as that.
As I said at the beginning, there are more and more people out there selling their handmade creations. Many of those sellers are very experienced at their particular craft and their products are fantastic. However….
A significant number of crafters may be fantastic at making their products, but lacking knowledge of retail and marketing.
Putting time in to researching marketing can really pay off and can definitely add value to your craft products.
Today we have so many great options for getting craft products out there, many of these are super low cost or even free. You don’t need scary investments to market your products, but you do need to know how to do so… and, of course, to actually get on and do it.
Marketing is a big subject, and will be discussed in detail in many of the upcoming Craft Seller Success Podcasts.
7 Describe them better
This is another quite quick and easy way to give your products a bit of added perceived value. Many craft sellers have rather minimal descriptions. Sure, we all know that online shoppers live busy lives and may appreciate short, concise soundbites of information. But is that really true? Think about how you shop online. If you are a savvy shopper, and I will assume you are, you probably want to be sure of what you are buying. You want to feel you have properly understood what the item is all about. You will also compare with other, similar items, before deciding who gets your hard-earned money.
Make sure that anyone viewing your product is very aware of why this is the product they should buy.
We are talking USPs here. USP stands for “unique selling point” or sometimes “Unique selling proposition”, but don’t think that this means that your USPS must actually be unique. I sometimes think of it more as “unusual selling point” where unusual means literally, not like the usual.
So, let’s say, you sell beaded necklaces and you double-knot them. This is not unique to you of course, many others will do this too. But not all. And even for those sellers who do double-knot, some will not think to say they do. This makes the double-knotting an “unusual selling point”, it is something that is a bit extra to the usual single-knotted necklaces out there. And as a USP, it is worth mentioning. It adds value to your products.
Sometimes craft sellers say “I don’t know what my USP is, I sell something many others make, mine have no special features.”
OK, first off, you all have one USP that you should be including. Your item is handmade by you. No one else can say that, can they? Always include this USP somewhere in your listings etc.
By the way, never assume that just because you are selling on, say, a handmade venue such as Etsy or Folksy, or because your standalone shop is called Handmade by Louise, or because your craft stall is at a handmade fair that the handmade USP is really self evident. Be sure your visitors know it. It is valuable.
In sections 1, 2 and 3 of this podcast may have already given you some idea for things that will generate new USPs for you.
“All knitted hats are from my own patterns.”
“All pots are made from local clay.”
“Silk pouch with every pendant bought”
Remember, you need to stand out from the crowd. This is one way you can easily do so.
I have a blog post with more on Product Listings when Selling Online that you may want to check out.
8 Offer discounts for buying more or grouping logically
Whilst I started this podcast by recommending you do not get into a price war with your competition, there are ways to use price to add value to your products in a slightly different way.
Consider offering a wee discount for multiple purchases, when it is logical that a customer might see this as a benefit.
What I mean is, if you sell beautiful handmade quilts, that sell for a couple of hundred pounds each, you are probably not going to get many multiple purchases. Most people will buy one quilt. Offering a discount if they buy more than one will probably not have many takers.
People do, however, regularly buy multiple bags of cookies. Or Christmas stocking filler or stocking stuffer items, or matching jewellery items.
If you sell, say pendants for £40 each, and have matching earrings for £25, you could offer a set of both items for, say, “£60”. The customer saves a bit of money by buying both at the same time and you get a bigger sale than you would if they had just bought one items. This can be particularly worth doing online where you may have set initial cost whether you sell one or more items. For example, on Etsy you pay 20c to list an item. It makes no difference if that is a pendant or a set of a pendant and earrings. Either is still 20c. The higher the item’s retail price, the smaller part of its cost is that 20c listing fee.
9 Could you upsell?
In the world of retail there is something called “upselling”. This is where you convince a customer to buy additional items that logically go with the main product they are buying – meaning you get a bigger sale.
When you buy, for example, a torch/flashlight, or a smoke alarm in a high street shop, the sales assistant may suggest you want to buy the batteries that the product requires. This is both helpful for you (because you may well actually want the batteries), and increases the overall value of the sale for the shop. Both parties win when these upsell offers are genuinely useful.
If you sell, for example, handmade candles, you could offer candlesnuffers, candleholders and other candle-paraphernalia in your shop too (not necessarily handmade of course).
There are lots of niches where having accessories or related products is an option. Just remember that if you sell on a marketplace site like Etsy or Folksy you may well be limited to only selling items that are handmade by you. If you have your own website, or sell in person at shows, then considering some upsell items could be a great way to up the overall value of each sale you make.
There are numerous ways you can add value to your craft products. Adding value means that customers will be prepared to pay a bit more for them. This is often easier and far more effective than trying to compete with other sellers on price alone.
Links to all the sites mentioned in the Add Value to your Craft Products podcast, and a full transcript are in the Show Notes on the Tin Teddy Blog.
In the next episode of the Craft Seller Success podcast, I will be talking Social Media for Craft Sellers 101. This episode will be out on the 24th July.
Thanks for listening. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.
Check out www.TinTeddy.com for more Craft Seller resources.
Until next time, bye
The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy.
Featuring Deborah Richardson and Matthew French
Original music by Matthew French
If you are finding it hard to set prices for your craft products, check out my article Craft Prices – Setting a Product Price for Craft Sellers. You can read the article or listen to the audio version if you prefer.
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