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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin {Book Review}

The Handmade Marketplace
How to sell your Crafts Locally, Globally, and Online
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There are an unlimited number of reasons that you would have the desire to create. Whether it’s that you grew up crafting, you love to save money by creating something yourself, or if it’s just relaxing for you.
For me, I didn’t craft much when I was younger. When I got older and discovered all the beautiful things that could be handmade, I was hooked. I bought a sewing machine, and taught myself to sew. I bought yarn, and tried to knit, although I wasn’t good at it. I then switched to Crochet, which I was a natural at. Now I have ventured into all things handmade. I crochet, sew, scrapbook, and make jewelry.
My point is: There are so many things that you can do. SO many items that are just begging for you to try.
There are so many craft blogs, fresh and modern craft books, and so many crafty people, that you can obtain ideas from.
When you start feeling ready to take your hobby to the next level, your self esteem is just going to radiate positive energy. When someone chooses to buy something you made, there is nothing like it in the world. The demand for handmade items is actually quite high in today’s market. If your ready to take that step, now is the perfect time to take your chance.
The Handmade Marketplace is a book like I’d never seen before. It is a business guide for crafters to live by. Like our Craft Bible =) It is not just another boring manual that goes on and on about telling you how something must be done. This is an actual crafter explaining what she and tons of other well known crafters done to get where they are today.
As a crafter, I know how hard it is to get a business of the ground. I’ve been trying so for close to 3 years now. I’m still not in the limelight all the way here, but is shouldn’t be very long until you see my designs come out of the water.
When you’ve gone to flea markets and craft fairs and wondered just how they pulled it all together, now you’ll know. You’ll soon understand what happens on the other side of those tables and what it involves.
Kari Chapin first shows you her collection of creative people and their websites so you can gain further inspiration and see how they are making it in the craft world. People such as Emily Martin of the Black Apple, Holly Becker of Decor8, Matt Stinchomb of Etsy, and Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of Craft Sanity. Most of these people I had already heard of, so if your getting tips from people who have already made it and are showing you the way, how can you go wrong?

Ch.1 Setting the Scene for Success
Before taking your handmade business anywhere, you need some insight on setting goals, building your craft space or room, and welcoming inspiration in all forms. To be able to create such beauty, your going to need a space where you can just pull it all out and get to work. Your husband or whoever you share a living space with isn’t going to be thrilled when they find yarn scraps and sewing pins on the carpet.. Or that you have taken over the kitchen table with fabric scraps, jewelry, or decoupage.  You need a place where you can sit for long amounts of time, and feel comfortable.
This book inspires you to look at a single image and find 5 ideas to make just from that picture. When you are taught creative insight, your mind is constantly open to the colors, shapes, and shadows of the world.
It’s an amazing book overall, and you will not see life in the same manner after reading it. I had never taken a journal and placed it in my purse and just wrote down what inspired me, when it inspired me, and what came of the idea. This is a great idea though, because you are creating something that you can take a look at when your stuck and need an idea.
Ch. 2- Branding Your Business
When you have a handmade business. the brand of your business is very important. The Handmade Marketplace shows you how to take a unique look at what you make and what you want to showcase in determining a name. Such as: you don’t want to name your business --- jewelry if you also crochet. What you do and what you make needs to be clear to your customers and potential customers. “Your story is your brand” as Matt Stinchomb of Etsy says “You need to figure out who your audience is and speak to them about what interests them.”
It took me a long time to to choose the name “Made.By.Jess.” I know this might sound odd because it is such a simple name, but I wanted something snazzy at first. I went with Lime Green Dreams the Studio but it wasn’t catchy enough for me.
There are certain things you must do before naming your business and this book will get you on the right track.
Ch. 3- Establishing Basic Business Practices
Making your business legal is tougher than what most crafters think. This chapter breaks it down for you so it’s easier to understand, What kind of business are you? Sole proprietor, partnership, Limited Liability…etc.
Whether you should do your own accounting and bookkeeping or hire someone to do it for you.
Recordkeeping- How important it is to keep every single receipt for everything you buy, sell, all the bills you pay for 7 years.
Collecting Money- each state has it’s own rules when deciding how much taxes you should charge to the customers. Here we have a 6% sales tax but you also have to pay city AND county taxes as well as state.
Pricing your work may be the most difficult thing you have to choose. You need to factor in how much you pay for materials and then how much you want to pay yourself hourly. Handmade Marketplace breaks down pricing for you so you are not nervous when talking to customers about how much something is.
Hiring help helps you factor in whether you need to  hire some help or if you can make it yourself due to the expenses of having someone work for you. If you can afford it, or if you can wait.
This book has already taught me so many things that aren’t online or well known to starting out crafters. It was amazing to see how many things you can add to  your tax deductions.
Ch. 4- Marketing Basics
Besides pricing work, marketing will be one of the other hardest things to do when starting out. This chapter defines what marketing is, because it’s important to know who your targeting before getting the word out about who you are and what you do.
Essential Marketing Materials
what you need to further get the word out about your business. Business Cards, Flyers, Posters.. etc. Draw attention to your business in the right way.
Ch. 5- Your Craft Community
As with any new job, you need to get to know who your co-workers are, so getting to know other crafters is essential to your business. Whether starting in a craft community or store front, you might just find someone who has the same interests as you and make fast friends. I’ve already met some pretty amazing people in some of the communities I’ve joined. These are people that I wish I had known longer. These are people I can relate to. These are online communities, but it doesn’t seem like these are not people that I don’t actually know offline.
These are people that will let you lean on them when you need help, that you can ask questions, get guidance, and support each other. Just when it becomes your time to help make sure you always lend the hand. Karma is a big thing in the blogging and crafty communities. Someone always could use some extra advice and someone always has the advice to give.
Ask and most of the time you shall receive. You need to know how to re-do a hem? Someone may know and can give you the answer you need. Someone else may need to know something you know the answer for. Getting these connections are important and a very wise decision on your part. It will help you personally and professionally.
Ch. 6- Blogging
Needing a web presence is a must when crafting. This is the easiest way to reach more people and market yourself for free. The number of people you reach online can be unbelievable. You’ll make new friends as well as gain new customers. The Handmade Marketplace defines the difference between blog and website and which would be better for you. It also explains how to be a successful writer and how to find your voice when writing.
The book helps  you choose between designing your blog or hiring someone to design it for you. It breaks down common blog and website terms such as Dashboard, HTML, RSS, and more. Shows you how to get the most out of your online presence. It comes back to the Karma thing. Follow blogs your interested in, comment, receive awesome tips, and most will return the favor.
Ch.7 Advertising and Publicity
Getting your work out there is hard work. You can’t just post a picture and price and hope someone will find it. You need to know how and where to advertise. This chapter breaks down the main essentials of finding customers. There are so many different types of advertising that is hidden that they show and explain.
Ch. 8- More Online Marketing
Podcasting isn’t something that I know a lot about, but after reading what this chapter has to offer, it’s something that I want to look into. So if you need help, no worries, Handmade Marketplace has you covered..
Social Media-There are so many social networking sites available
Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr
and more but this chapter breaks down the basics of each and gives you tips on being successful and getting the most out of your social media networks.
Part 3- Getting down to Selling
Ch. 9- The Craft Fair Scene
What to know about craft fairs, How to find fairs to attend, and how to decide which ones to attend to get your business out there and make the most of the opportunity. There is an application process for attending fairs and you find out in this chapter everything you need to know about meeting the requirements for the application. Then it shows you how to prepare for the fair if your accepted and how to handle the rejection if you aren’t.
Ch. 10- Selling in Online Stores
Finding an online shop isn’t so hard these days, you may just need some time for settling in and getting comfortable. You need to evaluate each one and decide how you feel within that community. You’ll find some really awesome tips on how to evaluate these marketplaces and a very helpful checklist on things to look for.
Setting up Your Online Shop
Branding comes back into the picture here. You need a shop that you can customize, where you can interact with potential customers and make your shop unique to you and your business.
This chapter also helps with writing product descriptions and taking beautiful eye catching pictures.
Ch. 11- Selling in Brick-and-Mortar Shops
Being able to contact owners of boutiques, consignments, and other stores comes with it’s own set of issues. If your shy or just need a brush up when pitching your items, and getting your foot in the door. This chapter will amaze you to the very end.
It shows you what you actually need to know before getting in the door to talk to someone. That way you are on top of your game and as professional as they come.
Ch. 12- Getting Creative
Other selling options and opportunities.
When you’ve mastered the art of selling online, consignment, wholesale, and craft fairs. The Handmade Marketplace STILL has ways for you to earn new income selling handmade goods.  Ideas such as trunk shows, joining a co-op, House Parties, and more. This isn’t just giving you the idea, they show you how to master it.

What an amazing book. I loved every single chapter and every single paragraph. So much advice, so many different ways to do everything. So many ways to make it in the craft world. This is a book for crafters everywhere.
Disclosure: I was sent this book to review from Storey Publishing. I want to thank them for the opportunity to work with them. This is my honest opinion of this book. Receiving items to review didn’t change my perspective on the book. It was just really amazing.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.

This post was written by:

Jess is the creator of Stylish Southern Mama + Southern Rambles. She is a freelance writer + designer, Social Media Marketer, and Journalist. She has 2 amazing kids, Aidan and Adisyn, and has been with their dad Adam for 12 years, and has 2 amazingly adorable dogs; Harley + Cheyanne! :)

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