How to Test the Market & One Month Recap

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Hosted by
Maria Laurin

Thank you for tuning in to episode 4 of the Handmade CEO.  I am sooo thrilled to have gotten the first month of podcasting in the books and I’m beyond grateful for all of you who have tuned in.  It’s been amazing to hear the stories that I’ll be sharing with you in the next few months.  And don’t be shy about sending me a message, I would love to feature you or your bestie.  By subscribing and leaving a review, you’ll help others find this show.   Since this is the last Wednesday of the month, I’ll be doing a quick recap and share some key lessons learned. Next week I’ll feature a new guest. 

As you may recall, one of the many reasons for wanting to start this podcast was to share the voice of those who pursued a less than traditional route to earning income.  Most of these stories are centered around an artist that is handcrafting their career.  It doesn’t matter how big or small the business; the courage to take that initial step to create income from a natural skill is what I wanted to highlight.  It’s empowering to know that you can earn money from a passion either as a side hustle or as a full-time career.  Listening to the journey that led to a business is not only exciting, it’s also encouraging.  

Most stories begin with a passion, not a degree.  One of the biggest excuses I’ve heard when I’ve suggested to a talented friend that they too should sell their items is that they tell me, but I didn’t go to school for this.  I completely understand this rationale, but if I buy a handmade scarf from Etsy, at a farmers market, or anywhere for that matter, I never ask the maker if and where they received their knitting certificate.  Some of my favorite purchases have been from local artists without certificates or degrees in what they are selling.   

passion over degrees

One of the best quotes is, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”  Although it’s origin is highly disputed, we can all agree that this is a powerful message, and teaching you to fish or, at the very least, encouraging you to try it, is what I aim to do.  Grab that idea, gather some knowledge, and learn to be vulnerable!  If you can be encouraged enough to try something new, you’ll discover the freedom of knowing that you’re able to generate income on your own.  And that my friend, is what I wish for you!

This month I shared my journey with Willow and Bee, and we also met Susie and her business The Speckled Loon.  Susie’s journey, as well as mine, isn’t that uncommon, and yet, a lot of people overlook the obvious opportunity.  We both have a common thread in our stories in that we created items, shared them, then decided to start a business selling these pieces.  I started making rosaries and jewelry to fill a need, and that led to taking requests for custom rosaries and eventually opening up a store.  Susie created home accessories to fill her newly remodeled lake home, and once she posted pictures of her new space and decor, she started receiving interest and orders for her creations.  If you find yourself in this scenario, the beauty is that with little effort, you know your pieces are likely to sell if you decided to make this your business.  In a seemingly painless manner, you tested the market and received a great response.   You’ll want to hang on to this idea since we’ll circle back to it in a bit.  

Once you’ve established that your idea or product is something that people want to buy, it would serve you well to take a step back and gather some vital information. Create a brief description of the item, what it includes, your process, and what sets you apart from others.  Once you’ve established value, you can now name your price.  This allows you to set boundaries and explain the quality of your work.  It also creates a mutual set of expectations.  You’ll want to repeat this process with each new piece that you create. 

how to test the market

This last tip is closely related to the first one on testing the market.  If you can avoid this pitfall, you’ll likely save yourself a great deal of time and money. The thing you must keep in mind is that you most likely, although it would be reaaally nice, don’t have the Midas touch.  Not every idea will be golden.  In other words, don’t forget to test the market with each new design.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the emotion of someone liking your items, and you might even think that anything you make will likely receive a good response.  But, take it from me when I say that not everything that you make will be a home run, hot seller.  Creating from the place of wanting to produce inventory usually leads to buying a boatload of additional supplies.  The last thing you want to do is create pieces that no one wants.  If you go this route and find yourself with an overabundance of unwanted items, you may begin to question your new business.  At this point, you most likely forgot that you tested the market with your first few pieces, albeit accidentally, but none the less you did.  

Susie explained that when she creates a new design, she takes it to a craft fair first to see if it’ll sell.  If it doesn’t sell, she won’t put that item in her online shop.  One of the best ways to grow your offerings is to ask your customers what else they would like to see.  In some instances, your very own customers will ask you to make an item that will become a big hit.  This was the case with the request that I received for an American Girl Doll bracelet.  I created the item for my customer and listed an extra one in my shop.  This bracelet has proven to be a big seller, and it started with listening to what my customer wanted.  I promise there will be a lot less doubt and heartache in your business if you can remember to test the market with each new design or idea.  

So there you have it, my friend, a brief discussion on the best way to tiptoe your way into a handmade business and my dream of encouraging you to take that first step!  

And in other news, I just launched the Handmade CEO Facebook group, and I would love it if you could stop on over and join me.  I’ll post the weekly podcast episode so you’ll be able to keep up to date.  

use code 10YEAR

As a reminder, you can still access past offers from this month in the show notes.  I’m running a sale at willow and bee in celebration of 10 years in business, and The Speckled Loon is offering 20% off your order! 

The Speckled Loon
use code MYLOON20

Lastly, be sure to connect with me on social media…I would love to be friends.

Let's be friends!
Let’s be friends!

Join the millions of people already learning a new skill on Skillshare.  Skillshare offers thousands of classes, all taught by experts.  These Handmade CEOs took their talent and created a class to show you how to develop a new hobby or passion.  You’ll be amazed at the options!  From learning how to draw on Procreate to iPhone photography, I know you’ll find something you’ll love!

2 free months of skillshare premium
2 free months of Skillshare premium
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