So you have spent time making something, its gorgeous, everyone admires it, says how clever you are and why don’t you make more and sell them. You’re happy and confident in what you have made and you’re really looking forward to making some more and maybe making some money.
Yes, think about it.
Yes, get excited and dream of your first sale.
BUT don’t make the first mistake of then spending time comparing on the internet to see what everyone else is doing, how much they are charging etc. It will really crush you before you start!!
I had made a few of my own Quilted Rag Bags after seeing a really basic tutorial on the net. I couldn’t afford to waste fabric, especially at the price it is, so I bought quilt covers and sheets from charity shops, and when I found out how much the proper batting was I substituted it for wadding, which is more than half the price. I sold quite a few bags to friends and family and through a small gift shop. So I knew the bags were popular and people were willing to buy them and happy to be seen using them. I thought ‘my own craft business’ selling my bags through fairs, shops, the internet, nothing would hold me back.
The next thing I did, which was a BIG mistake, was to look at other peoples Quilted Rag Bags on Etsy, Folksy, craft forums, Amazon etc. I wanted to see how much they charged and what sort of designs were on offer. They all looked fluffier, prettier, lots more expensive and, what I thought, better made than mine. That is when the ‘no-one will want mine, so I will stay in the shadows and carry on selling to people I know’ kicked in. And that is a feeling that is so hard to shift. A lot of the internet fuels that feeling, and I think that is why I am where I am now. I am trying really hard to change my thoughts and attitude, I will make my business work even if I starve whilst doing it.
I have been crafting for years, but taking a look on the net at other people’s creations my confidence reaches an all time low. After a long time of making this mistake I have started to think differently. And no longer look for inspiration on the net. If I do any research it is for new techniques and how different people are using them. I look for ways I can do it differently, or how I can use something else to make it quicker or easier. I know I am not good with colours, a colour wheel makes me cold, but I make things in the colours I like or fabrics that I have to hand. They are my creations, individual, one of a kind, unique and not the same as anyone else’s.
Once you get in the mindset of ‘this is my creation, I spent time and love doing it, now I want to sell it to someone who will appreciate it too, regardless’, it gets a little easier. One person out of a 1000 might like it, 1000 out of a 1000 might like it. You only need to sell it to one person. Then, if you love making your items like I do, you have an excuse to make another one!!!
How I saw things and changed my thoughts regarding my rag bags:
I found that most other rag bags on the net were made in the USA, the country of quilting! Their makers names, culture, where they live and most of them have been brought up in a quilting family, added so much to their descriptions, whatever their item was. Who wouldn’t love a traditional quilted bag from the country of the quilting origin? Gt Yarmouth Norfolk UK is a long way from that. But mine are made differently and to my own designs.
They have beautiful cotton fabrics. These are very hard to find here in the UK especially with pretty small patterns. Unless you order from the net. Which can be expensive if you include p+p, which would add to your sale price when the item is finished and ready for sale. And I would rather see and feel the fabric before I buy. But then again mine are made from recycled, vintage fabrics, and are one of a kind and unique.
They are able to buy any type of batting, which helps with the fluffing. Really expensive. I can order from my local shop, but I want it now!!! If I order from the internet again p+p costs and time. So I would rather find something available, easy to use and a lot cheaper but give the same overall effect.
Think of all of these sellers having the same worries as you have, and the same lapse in confidence. They took the plunge regardless, so have I, you can too.
If you did give in and research your craft item on the internet, and you saw beautiful examples that you believe you could never compete with keep these things in mind:.
They have probably made and sold hundreds (makes me think of factory), so everything is perfect. Or do they have other people making them for them?
They have spent a fortune on equipment and materials. Check out their prices could you afford one?
They have degrees in allsorts. Their profiles make you look incompetent. But does that make them a better crafter?
They can spend all day on one item and not need to sell it as they are well off anyway. ‘I am doing it in my spare time, as a full time mum’. ‘My husbands a solicitor, manager, CEO etc’. ‘My studio in my 4 acre garden!’ Just check their ‘about me’ link. It is surprising what you can find.
They have been lucky enough to think of something that no-one else, up to now, has. For instance a simple, quick decoration. I kick myself every time I see something like that and think why didn’t I think of it, or why didn’t I let the world know I did that years ago, but never thought to sell it to the world as I didn’t’ think it would be interested.
They have probably hired a professional photographer, which can cost oodles of money. But what does the item look like when you get it in the post? Unless you order it you will never know, but you know what your items look like. I know that photo’s from my home town look beautiful, blue skies, blue sea, green landscapes, whereas without a certain lens and a degree in special effects, it would look completely different.
Go for it:
Have a go, ignore what anyone else has done or what you have seen others do, you are as unique as your craft, if you love it and want to share it go for it. You can either sink or swim life is too short for ‘what if?’
I keep imagining the internet as being at least 100 rag bag shops being on one street, there will always be just one rag bag from anyone of those shops that stands out from the crowd. It could be mine!