creative biz | 4 important areas to focus on when setting up shop

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 4... (part 3, part 2part 1)

In my last post in this series I gave you a brief overview of some business basics that you should be aware of & take into consideration before you jump headfirst into your biz. Today, I'm going to talk about setting up shop & I'll be covering the 4 most important areas you need to focus on.

Setting Up Shop

There are so many places online (for instance etsy.com, madeit.com.au, notonthehighstreet.com) that you can use as a platform to sell with it's not even funny & I couldn't even begin to tell you all of them. My suggestion is to do your research first. Check into them & see what they're about, what their reach is, how easy are they to work, what fees are involved etc. Here's a really helpful article about this very thing.

Another thing to consider is skipping that all together & selling from an e-commerce website of your own. This is usually a "next step" for sellers who've done well with their shops in these handmade communities, but no one's saying you can't start out this way if you want. That's totally up to you.

Let me caution you though...this tends to be a more expensive start & you have to work extra hard marketing your business because people aren't going to be coming to you. You have to go find them more-so than you would if you were selling via a handmade community.

Now...no matter where you choose to sell from, here are 4 super important areas you need to focus on & master in order to have a successful shop!

1. Products

The first thing you're going to need to focus on are your products. I've already stressed the fact that your products need to be something you love & don't mind doing over & over again. I also mentioned that you needed to be good at making them because not many people want to buy a cheap, low-quality type product.

Another thing you need to ask yourself when it comes to what you're going to offer your customers is, "Am I providing my customers with something that they want or need?". This will be a huge part of your marketing later on. If you don't offer anything your customer wants or needs then they wouldn't be your customer, now would they?

So study your market, create an ideal customer profile for each product you plan on selling, & know what solution you are offering.

2. Photos

Photos are key to selling online. You're customer isn't able to see, touch, hold, smell, hear, or taste your product so you need to show them everything you can about it in your photos. Show your product in use, show what it looks like in context to what it's used for, show how it coordinates with something else, show an close up view & a full view, show it with some props or show it alone. There are tons of different ways to style your photos. Try lots of different things. Take tons of photos.

Make sure your photos are bright, clean, & crisp looking. Read your camera manual & learn how to adjust your cameras settings based on where your photographing at. Play around with different backgrounds & settings. Remember, don't stress out. It takes practice to get great photos. My photos are something that I still feel like I need to constantly work on, but they are much better now than when I first began! There are tons of photography tutorials out there...especially if you're a part of a handmade community. One of my favorite online resources is Digital Photography School.

3. Product Descriptions

Just like I said above, your customers can't see, touch, hold, smell, hear, or taste your product so it's up to you to describe it accurately & show them why they need it. You want to create desire for you product in their minds. You want to explain to them how your product will solve their problem. Be sure to include keywords that someone would use if they were searching for your product. Describe how it feels, smells or tastes. Describe how big it is & what it's used for. Describe how it would make them feel or how it would make them look if they owned it.

There are lots of ways to write a product descriptions. Including a story is great. It really lets the customer imagine more about your product. Here's a link to a free 7-day course called How To Write Irresistible Product Descriptions. Be sure to check it out!

4. Price

Pricing is a tricky balance & something that every artist struggles with. You tend to price your products low enough so that people buy them, but then they just look cheap or the money you end up making as profit doesn't really make it worth it. First off, decide if you're doing this as a hobby or a business. If you're doing it as a hobby, then you only need to make enough money to break even, but if you're doing it as a business then you need to be making a profit honey. You want your biz to grow, right? Price your products for what they're truly worth.

Do some research on similar products. What's pricing like there? Can you decrease your costs by buying supplies in bulk? Are you charging too much for your time? Can you cut out the wholesale price all together or maybe you'd like to only sell wholesale? Play around with your numbers, come up with something that works for you, & don't settle.

Tara Gentile says to NEVER apologize for your prices. Your branding & your descriptions should be communicating the value & worth of your product. Make your price match. Check out these two posts that I wrote about pricing your products if you'd like more info...Pricing Your Products - The 411 & Pricing Your Products - The Formula.

Let me know in the comments below...

What is holding you back from setting up your shop?

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 website MeaganVisser.com & she offers fashionable & eco-friendly products for babies & toddlers in her Etsy shop, Baby Swank. Connect with her on Twitter & Facebook!