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Crafty Business Week Articles Wrap Up

We hope you have enjoyed all the great articles this week about craft businesses. In case you missed anything, here’s a helpful list of the articles for the week:

Craft Fair Info
Craft Fair Lessons and Tips
Craft Fair Tips
How To Make a Memorable Product Tag
Articles about Craft Fairs and Shows

Blogging Info
Blogging Tips for Crafters
Types of Blog Commenters
Articles about Craft Blogging

Crafter Interviews
Mark Montano
Rachel Johnson from Swap-bot
Steff Bomb

Selling Online
Tips for Listing Items on Etsy
Etsy Newbie Tips
Articles about Selling Crafts Online

Social Media for Crafters
Setting Up a Facebook Fan Page
Social Media for Crafters

Better Your Business Articles
Photo Tips for Crafters
Promoting your Crafty Business
Materials for Promoting Your Crafty Business

Do you like these types of articles? Did you find them helpful? Would you like to see more articles like this? Please let us know, we love to hear what our readers think!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Crafter Interview – Steff Bomb

Reported by Simone Collins

Today I’m sharing an interview with Steff from Steffbomb.com. I had the pleasure of meeting Steff last year at Renegade and pretty much fell in love with her plushies immediately. Steff is an Etsy seller, as well as having her products in stores for retail purchase, so she is full of experience as an owner of a crafty business.

Crafty Business Name: Steff Bomb

Where can we find you online? My website, Steffbomb.comEtsy store, Twitter and my Facebook Fan Page.

P9110920

When did your business begin and why did you started?
Owning a business was completely unintentional. An important part of the story is that art and drawing were always my life, but since I’m self taught and never went to college having an actual career in art never seemed plausible.

I started sewing when I was around 21, not clothes or anything useful, just a bunch of shapes with eyes, limbs, and pointy teeth… it was all totally for my own personal fulfillment. I made some and gave them to friends and my roommates at the time, then started trading with a few artists friends. A little later the owner of my favorite store in Philly (Jinxed Philadelphia) asked if I would sell them in his store. Word-of-mouth spread, and more stores began to contact me. It all progressed so smoothly, before I knew it I had a small business and I didn’t even realize it. I still consider myself to be extremely lucky in every way.

Mr. Lertchman

Sometime in 2007 I realized that this was my chance! I was given a small window of “art career” opportunity, so I grabbed it like my life depended on it and worked like crazy to make my unrealistic childhood dream a reality. That year I saved up all of my money and mass produced an asparagus plush, called Mr. Lertchman, which was sold by a distributor to stores around the world. That opened even more doors for me and I was asked to be in an art shows for the first time ever. That in itself was mind-blowing. In July of 2008, I moved from Philadelphia to Chicago. September 2009, I gave the 9-to-5 world the heave-ho, quit my day job, and took on sewing full time. Everything keeps growing. It’s very easy to get caught up in the frenzy of my day to day but not a moment goes by where I don’t say to myself, “damn, this rules”.

Tell us about your business.
It’s plush things. Inanimate objects with faces, mostly foods (let’s be real here, eating rules). It’s hard to describe because even though it is art you don’t want to say “art” because that can come off as kinda snooty, so I usually just say “toys” because that sounds more fun, and hopefully people will acknowledge the amount of hard work that goes into it on their own.

Describe your typical day.
Pretty much everyday I wake up at 8:30/9am, hug my cat, eat breakfast, then sew forever until my hands fall off. Once in a while I’ll throw in a shower, a workout, or a trip to the post office, but that’s the basic outline of my life.

What keeps you motivated?
My unbridled passion for eating and paying rent. Just kidding. Half kidding. This is going to sound extra super barfy but I love this, every bit of it. I used to daydream about being in art shows with people I admire, making my own stuff and having exactly the life I have now. It’s literally the only thing I’ve ever wanted, and that is motivation enough for me to give this everything I have.

What keeps you on track with your business? Tools? Tricks?
The only trick I have is to keep my business as simple and as organized as possible. I have a file system for invoices, emails, and tracking numbers but I am still figuring things out as I go along so the less complicated I can make everything for myself, the better.

Any websites or programs you use to help with your business?
I’m sorry, did you just say there are programs that help with my business? Seriously? Here I am doing everything myself like a sucker, when I could have been getting help this whole time? I need to look into this because I definitely need all of the help I can get.

What is the biggest challenge in your business?
Being only one person is hands down my biggest challenge. Between orders, commissions, wholesale, art shows, craft fairs, and more, I can’t keep up with the demand. This past year I worked so much that I ended up with tendinitis. I don’t have health insurance and I had to keep working through it, but I felt like everything became a disaster. I’m finally almost caught up from that, but I’m still two months behind on emails. It’s a tad heartbreaking when I think about. When things go awry, it can really get me down, but I all I can do is not dwell on it and get as much work done as humanly possible until I am back on track. On a similar note, I AM looking for an intern, hint hint. If anyone is interested, feel free to email me at steff@steffbomb.com…wink!

Any advice you would give to someone just starting a crafty business?
One thing that seems super obvious but I still somehow managed to overlook is how important it is to have some kind of savings. When I quit my job I had $20 in my bank account. Holy crap that was dumb.

What do you love most about owning your own crafty business?
I get to make severed limbs and hamburgers and somehow still make a living. What’s awesomer than that?!? I also get to run errands while everyone else is at work. No lines! Two weeks ago I rode to the beach, sat by the water, and worked there all day… best day ever! It’s the tradeoff for working non-stop for very little pay and no benefits.

Grumble Bun

Besides crafting, what do you love doing?
I love eating breakfast, I love riding my bike, and I love getting to hang out with my friends. I’m a pretty simple gal.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I definitely know 1000% that the better the weather is, the better my work ends up being. I have a bit of a crush on sunny 75 degree weather. Sunshine, swoooooon. As far as ideas themselves, they always happen randomly, pretty out of the blue. Most of the time it’s when I’m in the shower, while I’m riding my bike, or when I’m about to go to bed.

Who are your favorite crafters?
Amy Sedaris is totally my hero. If anyone out there knows Amy Sedaris please tell her that I totally want to craft with her and then maybe one day we can and then I can die a happy girl. Shawnimals rules and Heidi Kenney is phenomenal… if you make plush and don’t admire everything they’ve done, you’re bonkers.

Tell us about your crafting space.
It’s kind of awful at the moment. I sit on my bed and work on a not-very-sturdy card table. I recently moved my sewing machine to my kitchen table, which is a treat because it’s not in my room (already a plus) and it’s much more stable than the card table. Once I get some extra money I will rent a car, head to IKEA, and get that $50 table and $30 chair that I’ve been longing for…but for now, I’m working with what I’ve got.

If you lose your crafty mojo, how do you find it again?
I’m very stubborn and will do my best to suck it up and keep working… but I can only ruin so much work before I realize that I need to take a breather.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Where do you see your business in 10 years?
It will be a little difficult to run my business in 10 years. I’ll be too busy throwing stray cats at intruders outside of my hobo shanty… probably at a rail yard.

Many thanks to my fellow Chicagoan, Steff, for all her insight and candidness. I love to hear how professional crafters got started and her tale is inspiring. Now head on over to her shop and grab yourself a little plushie of your own, what are you waiting for? Aren’t they adorable?

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Crafty Business Week – Promoting Your Business: Materials

Reported by Simone Collins

Once your crafty business is up and running, there are things you can do to promote it so that you drive more traffic to your store, designs, or blog. Besides using social media to spread the word, you can also design or purchase products that will also help.


Here is a list of products you can purchase that will help you promote your business to get you started:

1. Business Cards
This is probably the most important thing to have for any business. It is literally your calling card. If you want to give people a way to remember you and your business, this card is the first step. You can design your own card, even make your own if you want, or use a printing service.
This online printing service not only has some very low-cost options but also offers uniquely shaped glossy business cards. You can also design your cards right on their website very easily, so no additional software necessary. They also offer additional products like labels, postcards, and vinyl banners, so all of your  materials will match. I quickly made up some mock cards that are not amazing but also only took me three minutes.
There is one price that I am personally a huge fan of and that price is free. With VistaPrints, you can order business cards for free, you only pay the shipping. This free option has limited designs and will have a VistaPrint logo on the back, but if you are just starting out, you can’t beat this price. There is an online tool for designing the card yourself, or you can choose from their designs.

2. Wearables
Why not be a walking billboard for your business? It’s a simple way to spread the word without even opening your mouth.

 With Cafe Press, you can upload your business logo or a design to promote yourself, then order away. If you are an artist, you can also submit your artwork for T-shirts and products, as well as another product options. Then, put that shirt on! This is especially helpful when attending a craft event like a fair, crop, or even a class. That is where your target audience will be, so why not attend for fun and promote yourself without even trying.
Create your own fabrics with this easy-to-use online service. Whether you want to design fabrics to be used for your projects, or upload your logo to create fabric for your table at a craft fair, this website is both easy and practical.  Imagine creating a cute bunting for your booth at Renegade, or making aprons that feature your own design; really, the possibilities are endless. And the next time you hit the market, be sure to take that reusable tote with your business name all over it. It’s crafty and promotional. Just look at this cute Craft Critique fabric!
3. Packaging
It’s no secret that buyers are drawn to your designs and creations but are wowed by the packaging. I clearly remember the first thing I ever bought from Etsy because it was packaged in the cutest little box with coordinating twine, and a tiny handmade thank-you note. The seller had won me over with those extra little steps.

Stickers
An easy way to add a personalized touch to your packaging is simply with a thank you sticker. At MOO you can get your logo and a thank-you message on 90 stickers for less than $10. If you are a card maker like me, you can just add one to the back of your cellophane sleeve. A jewelry creator can use one as a seal on a gift box. Want to add just a little more? Then why not add some twine and a mini card. MOO is great because they also have some great crafting ideas with their products. If you are on a tight budget, these simple ideas can be easily be handmade with just as big an impact.


Custom Rubber Stamp
If you are planning on creating your own stickers then you can definitely get a lot of use out of a custom rubber stamp. You can even support a fellow crafter by buying a hand carved rubber stamp. Even if you aren’t adding stickers to your packaging, you may have a use for a  custom wood stamp or self-inking stamp for adding your return address info to packages or envelopes. By adding your logo to this important information, you are once again building brand recognition and doing it in an economical way.

4. Digital Watermarks
Now, if you are featuring your crafts on a blog or gallery and want to protect them from being grabbed by internet fiends who will republish your work as their own, you’re going to need a watermark. This is also helpful when you work is featured on someone else’s blog, or on an online gallery because your name will be prominently displayed. It’s pretty easy to create one with a photo editing software, but if you are unsure or prefer to have a pro do it for you, there are several options. Lots of Etsy sellers offer to create one of a kind logos with or without the watermarks included.  And boy are they reasonable. There are craft bloggers who also offer this low-cost service as well.

5. Swag aka Freebies
Like I said before, I am a big fan of things that come with a $0 price tag, and I am sure there are plenty others out there just like me. So, why not put that to good use and promote your business. By choosing small inexpensive items that people would be happy to receive, customers and friends feel like you’ve given them a gift, while you get added exposure. There are also situations where you may be able to provide a company or event a freebie that would also promote your business to a larger audience. Here are just a couple ideas about what you could buy.
Buttons
A great way to spread the love is with buttons. You can either make them yourself with a button maker or order custom 1″ buttons from an Etsy seller. People love flair, especially craft buyers and sellers.
PostCards
Another great idea for an item people love to receive and would not be quick to get rid of are postcards. You can order postcards from several places online including MOO, Uprinting, and VistaPrints. You can either print them with your designs and art work on the fronts for people to use as actual postcards, or do double-sided printing with maybe a cool craft technique or tutorial. If you are a food crafter, maybe print some recipe cards. People will be happy for the extra little freebie, and even if they can’t use it themselves are very likely to pass it on to a friend.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these simple ideas and it has sparked some ideas on how you can promote your own designs or business. What ways do you spread the word about your business? If you are a craft buyer, what ways can sellers promote their businesses to you effectively? I would love to hear what you think!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!