Tuesday, January 21, 2014

May I Pick Your Brain?

I love to create. I quilt, I knit, I make bags of all kinds, I embroider by hand, I dabble in other crafts too. I have a need to create and be creative. But tell me what do you do with all the things that you create? Sure I make gifts and give some of my creations to friends and relatives and I have donated things to charities as well. But when you live in a small house and cannot keep everything you make what do you do with it all?

I got excited about opening my Zibbet Store in December. Similar to Etsy, but for a basic membership Zibbet doesn't charge any fees; you only have the PayPal fees when something sells. I didn't want to start a full time business, but just wanted to have a place I could sell some things I make and try and recoup my expenses for making the item and in some cases perhaps make a bit of money if I need to buy some supplies in the future. I was stumped as to what to charge for postage on each item. I have no idea what things will cost to mail, so I went to the USPS site and typed in a few different weights for small size packages to see what a one-pound package up to a 6-pound package would cost to mail here in the states and internationally. OMG!!! I was shocked at how expensive postage is here and everywhere. It's cheaper to send a flat rate box in most cases if the weight is over a certain amount. But international rates sent from the states is outrageous!!! I didn't know if I should sell only to the states, so I put the postage for everywhere else as well. I doubt I will get any international sales though because of the postage rates. I don't know how anyone trying to sell their art or anything else can afford the shipping costs. Plus on top of the high shipping rates already, PayPal takes their fees on the total (the item plus shipping costs together). I understand they have to make money too for their service, but then I need to charge more for shipping to cover my cost to ship or I end up paying part of the shipping costs. So the postage rates really bummed me out and now my excitement for wanting to sell my things sort of fizzled altogether. I know it takes time and I need to be patient to see if I can sell anything, but as I wait for that first sale to happen, I continue to sew and knit and stuff piles up all around me. Plus there are millions of people trying to sell what they make online or at craft shows too, so the competition is very fierce. It's nearly impossible for anyone to find your blog let alone your Etsy or Zibbet or other store.

So what are my options?

  • I can donate it all to a thrift store
  • I can have a yard/garage sale and sell my creations for pennies (where I live we have an annual May garage sale in the neighborhood and cannot have individual garages sales any other time)
  • I can pay expensive table fees and sit all day and try to sell at craft shows (tried this years ago and barely made enough money to cover the table fee, and had to haul everything back home again)
  • I can have a virtual yard sale on Zibbet and charge for postage cost only
  • I can put things on consignment at stores and probably receive garage sale prices too
  • I can toss it all into the garbage can
Any suggestions? If you create, what do you do with your creations? Do you sell them with any success? Do you only make gifts? Please, pretty please share your thoughts by commenting in the comments. Or if you do not want the world to read your comments email me or use the contact form located toward the bottom of the right-hand sidebar of the blog.

I would like to know that my creations went to a good home and to someone who will use and enjoy them.

People say all the time oh you should sell your creations, you do such beautiful work. How many times have you heard that one? If I had a nickel for every time I got a compliment about my creations I would be wealthy right now. lol!!! It's so much easier to say it than to actually sell it.

If I gave away my creations, would you pay the postage to have it mailed to you?

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19 comments:

  1. If I were writing an article, I would have said all that you did. I used to sell at Christmas craft shows ~ I did 5 at Christmas only and did quite well. Then I started making things I thought people would want to buy, not what I WANTED to make so I got out of it. Now I donate to charities that will have silent auctions and that type of thing. I'll be interested to know what your readers suggest. Since I am newly retired, I expect to be in your situation.

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  2. I have found that the online postal rates are, at times, ridiculous. I would suggest, if you haven't already, take a couple of your items to your local post office and have them give you a rate.
    Just before Christmas I had purchased a boot box filled with dvds, shipping $13.86 (that's a price directly from the post office), last week I was interested in a single dvd from the same city, shipping $11.86 (this price was coming off of the online postal rate page)! It's makes no sense at all.
    If the postage is still on the high side, then a flat rate box just might be your best bet.

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  3. Daryl....it has changed so much over the years. I have been making quilts and selling for some time. I should say; I did sell. lol The last few years, things have changed dramatically here. You might as well give them away....there are too many people quilting their own now. I stay busy hand quilting for others now. But; not to discourage you...it can't hurt to try the shop you mentioned. No harm in trying...one never knows!!

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  4. I wasn't aware of the postal costs to send abroad until I recently received a gift from Australia and another from the UK. I was pretty shocked it cost so much. When I sent a gift back it was equally expensive. I had hoped to do giveaways on my blog but if the postal charges are so high it won't be possible. I started selling my things from home and got customers by word of mouth. Most of my customers come to me, order and then come and pick up their goods. I've also started a FB page that works just in the country I live in and anything I sell from there the customer has to pay the postage. They order what they want, I take it to the post office to check the postage then tell them. Once the money for the goods and postage has been sent to my account I send the goods to them. I also sell my table toppers and runners in a furniture shop run by my friend. I give them the price I want and they add a percentage for themselves. It does take time to get yourself known out there and even when you do it's not a regular income you can count on every month but it's good for making enough to support your hobby and still be able to put some aside. Sorry I can't be of much help. I wish you success and please don't resort to your last option of tossing it in the garbage can. I just recently put my prices up and told my friend if they sell they sell and if they don't then I will have the pleasure of my own crafts around me.

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    1. So glad that you mentioned the furniture shop. A year or so ago I was thinking about possibly trying to sell some items in local shops. Boutiques seem to draw a clientele that appreciate and will pay for handmade or just homemade items. I went in to 4+ local shops and simply asked if they had any locally made products. Some did and said they always try to sell local made and some said they had tried with no success. One store said they had never had anyone approach them with a local made product but would be interested. If I ever stop procrastinating and do make a hobby profitable I will look to local stores first. I do know that some will make you vouch to only sell at their store so that they can market it as exclusive or some jazz like that in order to draw in customers and boost sales. I must confess that I had this idea from a friend that had sold items through a local shop for extra cash. I live in a fairly rural town in the south and this was the response I received. I have no clue if it would be better or worse in a more urban area. *You might not be your market, don't price your items too low!*

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  5. Hi Daryl,

    I wish I had a solution for you. I used to make things for craft shows and went with a friend. The things I thought were lovely, like tiny handmade (by me) baskets made into pincushions w/cross stitch (made by me) on the surface, didn't move at all, but the kitschy plastic canvas coasters sold like hotcakes. One Christmas I made some heart ornaments made of cinnamon and applesauce. They smelled soooo good. One woman came up and said, "oh, we made these with the Brownies last year!" I wanted to say "B****, go away", but I just smiled. I often wonder how some of the Etsy sellers can charge so comparativelly little for postage. It's a mystery. Let me know if you come up w/a solution.....8-)

    xo Linda

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    1. Thanks Linda. Since you are a no-reply I am responding to you here. I don't want to make things just to sell them, but to have a place I can sell things when I have no more room in my house and to be able to continue to create. I suppose there is no perfect solution and we are each different and the situations are different too. So I will try to sell some things and probably donate most, since selling at any price is not easy to do. Hard to set a price for my handmade things that show I value my work and what I do when nobody wants to buy what I do at any price. So (hopefully) most will be sold in the May garage sale. I won't even recoup enough money to pay for my material costs, but that's life.

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  6. You have over 400 followers. You could offer your creations for sale on your blog...to start with. Yes, your followers are most likely crafters as well, but we all have different desires for creating. There are a LOT of things I see and want and would be willing to buy simply because I don't have a desire to make them myself. In answer to your question, would I be willing to buy something for just the price of postage...hell yes!...what a deal! Postage online is rounded up to the nearest ounce or pound (depending on the weight you enter). A digital scale would give you an accurate weight which in turn would give you an accurate postage rate. Online postage calculating is not higher priced than at the post office. It's just that the PO weights and charges based on exact weight.

    We all need to keep in mind that all these social media outlets gather like-minded people. Our blogging friends will be kind. Our very loyal blogging friends will be even more kind. Comments aren't always truthful but are always kind. People will say they love something, but when it comes down to it, they may not love it enough to pay for it. The best paying following is a young generation. They want to hold and take home everything they see that they like. Us older generation have gotten over that need. But when I want something bad enough, I'll pay the price. The problem is, I don't want much these days that bad. As you said, the house is full.

    Bottom line....you have to be making something people want to buy. This is more than you probably ever wanted to know. lol Wishing you luck!

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  7. I have a houseful of projects, too, but I never think to sell them. They'll end up going to my friends or family, or I'll probably donate them. You make beautiful creations so I can't imagine people not jumping to pay the postage to get them. Great comments above...ditto to them.

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  8. I totally understand Daryl. My cards also pile up even though the cost can be way less depending on the style of card and dimension, but at the end of the month it sure adds up. I also used to do a monthly giveaway on my blog and it turned out to be more expensive so now I just do them every so often.

    I tried the fair thing too but no one was willing to pay the $3.00 price on a card but yet again some one will buy a Hallmark card which is printed for over $5.00 it can be frustrating but I've started to put packs together and I'll give them away to close friends or family so I don't have to mail and I can purse my cards.

    Great comments and suggestions from the ladies above, I was thinking you could advertise on Facebook:) Good luck my friend:) Hugs

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  9. Hi Daryl, Just a couple of tips. I have been selling fabric on-line for over 8 years. Postage is less expensive if you print it through paypal. I started on a well know site, eBay, then I added etsy. Not many people have heard of your site. Consider adding etsy.
    The other thing I would suggest is to change the name of your store. It needs to be simple. Something people will remember.
    I sell internationally and my customers expect to pay that for shipping. They know it when they buy it but if they want it they have no problem with the cost.
    I would also try selling things on your blog. Maybe a weekly special item.
    Do not give up. You just need to market more, let people know where you are and how to find your store. I wish you all the best.

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  10. I'm right there with you! I still don't do a lot of creating that is not for me or a family member, but it's getting to that point. I've been thinking about how I might sell them - now I'm thinking I may not bother! I used to buy/sell books online, and still have a few to sell, but I may run into the same problems there.

    And anytime you are ready to get rid of some of your gorgeous creations for the cost of shipping, remember me! LOL!!!

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  11. I can repeat, or I could repeat, everything said above. I live in an RV and create a LOT of items. I had an etsy shop; closed it. So many people on etsy and you have to search and search and I even get tired of looking through the pages and pages; guess I just don't want to sell that bad. I give away most everything I make, whether for gifts or to a charity. I usually take a basket of items to our family reunion and they raffle them off. Better than putting in the trash. If you find an answer that works, please share with us on your blog!

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    1. Hi Marsha you are a no-reply, so I am responding here to you. Thank you for your comment. I agree that as a potential buyer on Etsy and the like that there are millions of listings out there. Even narrowing the item down with key words like size, color, style, etc. there are still thousands or tens of thousands of things out there. No one has the time to look at them all. And while you are looking, how many more new items get listed? Just like with any business a few rise to the top and are successful at what they do while the vast majority struggle. Some people are better at marketing and they succeed selling their product even if what they sell is not that great. Others may do impeccable and fantastic work but they don't know how to market their product/creation. Oftentimes it is who you know not what you know that helps open the doors. I appreciate your comment.

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  12. I would be delighted to pay the postage to receive some of your beautiful, creative work! Remember me, if you decide to do it. I would write a post about it...maybe you could ask each blogger to write a post about a gift from you. We each have our followers who read our blogs. Maybe that would generate some sales!

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  13. This is a very interesting topic. The pleasure of creating is endless and how fortunate we are to have skills to complete our desires. It's not like we are creating for money but for the sheer accomplishment. When we are offended by the price a buyer wants to spend--or not spend--it takes all the fun away. Of course anyone would be the postage for your free hand made project. But don't lower yourself to that level. Your creations are each individual and crafted with the outmost skill. I'll be watching to see what others say.

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  14. I tried for a while selling on ETSY and didn't make very much. I have to admit that I didn't put any effort to growing my shop. I have also tried craft shows, but like you said, you barely make enough to pay for the booth. I recommend giving the things to charity. In our area, there is a group that collects clothing for school children, and I give hats and scarves to that group. There are always lots of school children who have no winter hats. I have also made blankets, hats, and scarves for the homeless shelter. They really appreciate them! I have made baby blankets for needy mothers. I had to reevaluate my projects and try to just make projects that I would wear...or a member of my family would wear. Anything else I give to charity. I think those things will be appreciated by somebody somewhere. I made a little money around Christmas time quite by accident because Hubby's coworkers asked for hats. That was easy money!

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  15. Oh My! Daryl your post is quite the conundrum for any of us who love to create and make and of course would like to sell and be appreciated. This is generations old struggles...my Grandma would make forever and be ever so disappointed when she didn't sell enough to cover the cost of the table space ($25 back in the day) and have to lug everything home. The worst was people who touched everything and wanted to know how to make it and where to buy the supplies. I might be jaded but I do not like to try to sell my things. I am terrible at telling people how wonderful my creations are and that they are getting a really great deal. I have tried all outlets of selling over the decades. Nothing pays enough to make it worthwhile. Therefore I make and give and donate. At least when you donate to charitable causes you may have a tax deduction. At my stage of life I just enjoy the making and giving aspect. Would I like to sell and make money to "validate" my worth? Yes, yes, yes! However when you actually add up the truthful cost of materials and labor there are next to no buyers...unless of course you have fabulous connections with the rich and famous. Please understand I am not a complete downer...I merely am speaking from experience. My husband always tells me, "You have to have something unique that not everyone can make for themselves." He is right. These days so many people are doing handcrafts...knitting, sewing, beading, altered art and so on. Do not let your lack of sales determine your ability to create amazing and wonderful pieces nor your self worth. We need to have pride in what we do. Pride in ourselves and our creative abilities. For me I think a "sales rep" would be helpful however that is another expense I choose not to afford. I know I have rambled on but I do hope some of it has been helpful to you dear. Peace, Joy and Creative Bliss...

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  16. I had an Etsy shop going for awhile, selling mostly vintage decor items. I was amazed that people would pay the postage on heavy items, but they did! One sale was to Greece! I think what helped was letting people know that I only charges actual postage costs and always refunded for overpayments of a dollar or more.

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