COVID-19 and your handmade business (coronavirus)

In this week’s post, I planned to talk about the ins and outs of applying for a trade show stand as a handmade business. With the impact of coronavirus now very much being felt in the UK, I thought there were more useful things I could share with you.

Understandably, a lot of handmade businesses are worried at the moment. I'm one of them. I’m worried about the inevitable drop in sales and losing the momentum I’ve spent the last two years painstakingly building. I’m worried about the uncertainty of the situation – how long will it last? How much worse will it get before it gets better? Don’t even get me started on the overload of information on social media. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet for my anxiety.

It's easy to find yourself feeling totally overwhelmed. With overwhelm comes indecision, and that's not helpful for you or your business. Here are some things we can all be doing to give our businesses a fighting chance of returning to “normal” when the word has calmed the F down:

  • Get up-to-date on your accounts: It’s something we all put off until absolutely necessary, but accounts aren’t just for HMRC. They help you understand the financial health of your business. Are there any areas not working well? Now’s the time to scrap it! Are you making more than you thought in other areas? Work on a plan to develop this part of your business!

  • Calculate your profit margin on every single product in your range: If you haven’t done so already, you should work out how much money you make on each product. Etsy has a great article here explaining it in more detail. If you’re thinking of going into wholesale, you will need to know your profit margins inside and out so that you're still making a profit when selling at trade prices.

  • Do a stocktake: If you can honestly say that you know how much stock you have in your craft room or studio, then you're a better person than me. It took me two full days to do my stock take last week.

  • Research new stockists: Use social media to research and engage with prospective new stockists. Build a relationship with them by sharing their social media posts and stories. Everyone needs a cheerleader at the moment. Just #dontbeadick and approach anyone to buy your product right now.

  • Set up a mailing list: If you have your own website/blog, you might want to think about creating a mailing list so that you can send newsletters to potential customers. There’s lots of different Apps you can use so take a look online and choose the one that’s best for you.

  • Update your SEO: Update your website SEO and your Etsy product tags. These changes usually take around 30 days to have any impact so now would be a good time to think about future celebrations like Father's Day.

  • Set up a business account on Pinterest: I listened to an absolute banger of a talk yesterday by Mrs Social aka Vanessa Rinaldi. Did you know Pinterest is the second largest search engine after Google?! No, me neither! If you don’t already, you need to start using Pinterest for your business. About two weeks, ago I started regularly adding pins to my business account. I’ve gone from 1k unique monthly views to…18k and counting. It’s an incredible tool to drive traffic to your online shop and/or blog.

  • Open yourself up to new things: Yesterday, I did something totally out of character when I dialled into the Resilient Retail Summit lead by Catherine Erdly from Future Retail UK. In the space of a few days, Catherine managed to pull together 17 speakers over a three-day virtual summit to speak to small businesses about all of the things we can do during this frankly insane time to help weather the storm. I’m genuinely blown away by the content I heard yesterday and I’m looking forward to listening back to the talks from today. I *think* you will be able to access the content by setting up an account here. If you have any problems, let me know and I will get in touch with Catherine.

  • Adapt your products: If you sell greetings cards, can you offer to write the buyers message and ship directly to the recipient? If you sell DIY kits, promote these to your followers as they'll want something to keep them busy!

  • Last, but not least, keep posting and be present on social media...if you are happy to. You don't need to be all "sell, sell, sell". Let's be honest, you should be doing that anyway! Show your workspace, your design process. Talk to your followers about how you're feeling about your business.

I know you'll have other priorities aside from your business right now, but my hope is that you can see that you're not totally powerless and there are positive steps you can take.

If you have any suggestions, please share them below :-)

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