Thursday , 13 May 2021
So what does success look like? Projecting the image of success doesn't mean making up triumphs to brag about or saying you're really busy when you're not. Here are some signs to me that a handmade business is successful:

The Look of Success

The Look of Success 

Have you ever noticed that when one good thing happens to your business, it’s often followed by several more? You may not have a sale for weeks and when you finally have one, it might be followed by three or four.  Sometimes it feels like good energy is just followed by more good energy, but there’s probably a little more to it.

Looking successful is an important part of being successful in your handmade business. Success attracts more success, and what it comes down to is confidence in your business. Since we are making a handmade product, customers don’t always know what to expect. They wonder if they can be as confident in purchasing from us as they can with their big box store. We all know the answer to that is a resounding “yes”! Most of us ship much faster and make a much better product than those that larger websites have to offer. If you project the image of success, it will inspire confidence in your customers and make them feel more secure in their decision to buy handmade.

So what does success look like?
Projecting the image of success doesn’t mean making up triumphs to brag about or saying you’re really busy when you’re not. Here are some signs to me that a handmade business is successful:

Attractive branding. If there is a polished logo and a cohesive look to a seller’s shop, I get the idea they’re a real business. If someone has invested the time and money to brand their products and create a solid feel to their shop, I assume they are selling products. I feel most confident shopping with sellers who have invested energy in making their online store front look as good as their products.

Awesome product photography. When people have great photos I assume they are using those photos to also market their products wholesale and to advertise in magazines and on websites. When someone really cares about creating excellent photos, I believe it’s because they are having success with their products. It also shows they believe in their creative vision.

New products. It may seem counter intuitive to create new products when the ones you have aren’t selling, but generating new product lines is an important part of keeping your shop moving ahead. You will most likely have some products along the line that will not sell. Learn from those experiences and plow ahead. Keep your designs fresh and add new items or a whole new line at least once a season.

New content on blogs and social media. Keeping your content going even when times are slow is a great way to show that you are still out there doing what you do best – investing time in your business! Slow times are a good opportunity to create tutorials, write about your process or give your blog a facelift. Keeping your content up to date shows customers your business is active. There is always something new you can do to invest in your business, so no time is really a slow time.

Great packaging. When you make a sale, put effort into your product’s presentation. Having a business card and wrapping items in a nice box, tissue or bag gives the buyer a sense of excitement when they open their package. I am much more likely to reorder from a seller who puts together a nice clean presentation for me, and I love a handwritten thanks. If you sell fabric items, making sure they smell good by using a scented starch or storing them with a drier sheet creates a nice first impression for your buyer.

Don’t complain. There is such a great support system of sellers in online forums, it can be very tempting to complain about a lack of sales. Remember that most of these forums are public – once you post a comment online it’s there forever for people all over the world to read. If you wouldn’t say something directly to your customers, it’s best not to post it online. If you want to complain about slow business or your frustration with your business, do so without attaching your business name to your post in any way.

What about the number of sales a shop has on Etsy?
When I shop on Etsy I don’t decide to buy based on the number of sales each shop has. Since I sell products places other than Etsy, including my own website and wholesale, I know a lot of people come to sell on Etsy after being successful elsewhere. If a shop has great product photography and attractive branding, I feel they know what they are doing and I’m happy to be their first customer. There were people who purchased from me when I had 0,1,2 sales and we all have to start somewhere.

Above all else, believe in yourself and success will follow. If you are confident in your own creative voice, your customers will feel that and believe in what you do.


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  1. It always feels so wonderful to read articles that don’t focus on intensive marketing and viral activities but take a calmer look on sales and what really lies behind: good work and our love for doing it.

  2. All so true! Especially the suggestion to not complain about lack of sales online… who wants their customers reading that?!?

  3. Sometimes “keep it simple, stupid”, is all we need to hear, lol. Sage advice, I always see something I feel compelled to share.

    The only caution I would make, and this is from experience. The smell of a dryer sheet or scented anything would give me an instant migraine, unless it was an essential oil base. I would caution against it :-)

  4. What a wonderful energizing article !!
    Thank you !

  5. Great post !! Thank you! But who’s the writer???

  6. Terrific article Anne! It is so true everything you have written and if you act and feel successful you will make appropriate choices and be successful :)

  7. I think the people at Handmadeology must live in my head. Always a post that’s right on target with something I’m doing. I say that as I am flailing in a pile of about 300 items that I have decided to rephotograph to get my shop up to par. However, just the few items I’ve been able to update have received more views, so I am convinced it is a worthwhile endeavor. Thanks for the reminder of the reward of our efforts. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with my camera. ;) Great post!

  8. Wonderful article, thank you!

  9. Bobbi helms. Fatdogbeads

    Yes agree totally. Especiallly with the packaging part. I try tomake each package look special so the buyer thinks they are getting a present. I use custom labels on the jewelry boxesand custom labels on the mailing envelopes. Remember, first impressions count.

  10. Nicely written! All of your suggestions are right on and I really like your voice in presenting them – Thanks!!

  11. Hi, I’m the writer of the article (you can find the writer profile to the right of the post). Thanks so much for all your kind comments. I’m not recommending perfuming products, but I have received things in the mail from handmade sellers that smell like moth balls, plastic containers, or patchouli. I was not a fan. I store my products with an unscented deodorizer since I sell things for pets and they have the most sensitive noses of all. One of my favorite sellers uses a light clean scented starch and I always look forward to receiving their packages. Clean is the goal, not stinky or perfumed.

  12. Thanks this was very informative to do a check list and making sure we’re going in the right direction this has been most helpful.

  13. I agree, I “buy” with my eyes first, if a products looks good from the outside then it makes me believe you took the time to create a wonderful product and makes me want to purchase the product.

  14. Good article! Lots of good advice here!

  15. Thank you for the wonderful advice!

  16. Needed this today – great points!

  17. This is a most inspiring and very good article. This was just what I needed this morning.

  18. Nice article. I find that sometimes customers seem to prefer a handmade style logo (which might not necessarily be that professional looking). I think it depends on how handmade the products you’re selling appear. If the products look far more commercial (ie Vogue style beanie hats or something), then I’d go with a commercial logo. As always, keeping it simple is the key, avoid overdecoration!

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