creative biz | 3 questions to help you find your niche

meagan visser of MeaganVisser.com has a fantistic five part series for us this week on running a successful creative or handmade business. this is part 2... (part 1)

In my last post, I asked you if you were considering starting or getting serious about having an online handmade business. If you answered 'yes' then pay attention because today I'm going to tell you one thing you must do in order to help your shop become memorable to potential customers.

Let's start off with a little story about my first online shop.

I started selling online 3 years ago. I was the type of person that liked to dabble in a lot of different types of crafts so I decided to set up an Etsy shop to see if I could make some money off of what I had fun doing...crafting. So I jumped in, came up with a name, made several different types of products such as ceramic soap dishes, skirts, knitting needle cases, jewelry, etc. I snapped some photos of my products on my living room floor, put them in my shop all on the same day, & then I waited to see if anything sold. Slowly but surely some things started to sell. A few of my skirts & a necklace or two. But then it all stopped. I went for months not selling anything. Talk about being discouraged! I was! I remember being so excited to tell my husband that I'd gotten my first sale. I thought this was the start of a fun new opportunity for me. Boy was I wrong!

My first mistake...

My first mistake was that I wasn't specific enough with my products! I didn't know what would sell. I just wanted to put some products out there & make money. I wanted to have something for everyone & I didn't want to limit myself. Do you know what my shop ended up looking like? One of those side of the road, hodge-podge yard sales. Don't know what one of those looks like? Well come visit me here in East Tennessee & you'll find out real quick! People take a bunch of their old junk & set it out on the side of the road with a for sale sign next to it & think that they're going to make some money & get rid of some junk at the same time. Do you think it works? Absolutely not! First of all, people don't want junk & secondly they don't want to dig through all of your junk to find what they're looking for!

Here are some reasons why starting a shop where you offer a lot of different types of products doesn't always work out so well.

  1. Customers don't remember a shop that sales a little bit of everything like they remember a shop that's devoted to one type of product or craft.
  2. It's harder to make a name for yourself & brand your business when you're all over the place.
  3. It's harder to market your products because you have so many different target markets.
  4. You're giving people too many choices which ends up being confusing & overwhelming to them.

I'm sure I could continue on, but I think you get my point.

3 questions

Here are some very basic questions for you to ask yourself before you jump the gun & open a shop that doesn't do much for you. Don't make my mistake! Plus, I have a fun little worksheet that you can print out to use to help narrow your choices down. Click here to get it!

1. What do you love? It's pretty simple really. What types of crafting do you really enjoy? What are you passionate about? What type of project makes you excited to get started? Maybe you love sewing quilts? Could you do it day in & day out, every single day? Would you still love it if you had to make 8 or more in one month or would you grow tired of it & get burnt out? What if you weren't getting any sales? Would you still love making them?

2. What are you good at? You may really enjoy making & decorating cakes, but are you any good at it? Do people rave about what a natural talent you have for it? Do people ask you to make cakes for them when they need one? Could your products compete with others that you've seen being sold? If you want to really do your best & give your handmade business a great start you have to offer unique, quality products. Your shop isn't an East TN junk sale. You have something that people want & need. You've given them something that they're proud to show off & promote to their friends. You have something you're proud to put your name on.

3. What's the competition like? I'll be honest with you. Selling online can be tough. Have you gone onto Google & typed in your product idea to see what comes up? Have you checked out the various handmade marketplaces to see what other shops are there selling the same thing you want to sell? If you haven't yet, you should! It's always smart to be aware of the competition around you. So here's what I suggest doing if you've narrowed your craft down to one thing you love doing that you do well, but the market is saturated. Study your competition & figure out how your business & your product stands out from them. How are you different? That will be your ticket to dealing with the competition.

Share with me in the comments below...

What do you love to do & what are you good at?

further reading:

Meagan Visser is a wife, mother, & creative entrepreneur living in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. She inspires moms to pursue their creative business dreams on her coaching websiteMeaganVisser.com & she offers fashionable & eco-friendly products for babies & toddlers in her Etsy shop,Baby Swank. Connect with her on Twitter & Facebook!