Monday, 27 May 2013

Book Club - The Handmade Marketplace and Grow Your Handmade Business

I have a lot of books. A LOT. It makes moving house a bit tricky, but they make my bookshelves look useful, it's swings and roundabouts. I'm the kind of person who will seek out the bookcases at someone's house to get a better idea of what they're really like. That's why I distrust e-readers, people hiding themselves away where I can't judge them for owning the whole Twilight saga. You are what you read.

Since I have so many, particularly of an art/design/craft nature I thought I might share a few recommendations with you from time to time, use my ex-Waterstones-WHSmith bookseller skills to help you find the perfect book for you and sign you up to a pre-order of Harry Potter while you're here. Do you have one of our loyalty cards yet? You'll earn one point for every £50 you spend, with each point worth 0.25p, so it soon adds up....

This week I have been going over the finer details of my business with a view to widening my customer base, gainign new stockists and so on. Of particular help in this task have been these two publications by Kari Chapin.
Kari is a business coach who has worked in marketing and publicity with various arts and non profit organisations, and has a passion for handmade and creative businesses. The first of the two books, The Handmade Marketplace, is a great guide to starting out in the craft and handmade sector. As well as her own advice she draws togther a wealth of other designers, makers and business mentors to share their expertise in the industry. 
The book covers the absolute basics, like setting goals and defining your business, branding, pricing your work, advertising, using social media, preparing for a craft fair, selling online and in shops.
It's a brilliant book if you are just starting out in the handmade sector, or if you're just thinking about it. It breaks down everything you need to think about before you begin, and provides lots of real life examples of people who have taken that route, what they did and what they might do differently.
One of the things I love the most about these books is the use of hand drawn type, because it takes me back to that other great literary institution, The Babysitters Club books (particularly the Summer Specials), classics.

The second of the two, Grow Your Handmade Business, is the most relevant for where my own work is at this moment. Presuming that your practice is that bit more established this book takes you through the underpinning that will enable your business to grow, from setting long term goals, budgeting and time management to expanding into employing staff, securing premises and staying within the law.
Using the same concept as the first book, this is full of testimonies and advice from other creatives, business professionals and mentors. In additon this book is a bit more 'interactive'. I've read through once cover to cover but my next task is to go back through and, with a dedicated notebook handy, try out the goal setting/visualisation/business planning exercises.
Again, it's not ust about content, this volume being a bit better laid out and easier to follow than the previous one, and also having some wonderful papercut chapter openers by Jennifer Judd-McGee.

I'd really recommend both these books, though one or other might be better suited to where you are now, but they're both great to dip in and out of and pick up a few tips and inspiration when you're in a rut. Because they're aimed specifically at the handmade community they stick to the relevant aspects of running a craft based business which is a bonus, though some of it is less relevant to a Brit reader, like State sales tax and so on.
If you fancy getting yourself a copy most high street book shops offer a free special order service so if they don't carry them in stock you can still get your book and support your local bookseller in the process!

The Handmade Marketplace: ISBN 1603424776
Grow Your Handmade Business: ISBN 1603429891

Has anyone got a business book they rate highly? I'm always looking for more ways to fill my shelves!

1 comment:

  1. Hey hi! I was on the chat on twitter about blogging. Just wanted to thank you for the books recommendations, definitely gonna need to read those!


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