I’m going to throw this out to the general public since there are probably other makers here.
I have a handmade jewelry business; it will be 10 years old in August. I make (mostly) goth chainmail jewelry, which I admit is a niche and does not appeal to everyone. On the other hand, my best sellers (often my ONLY sellers) are my Gay Pride and Trans Pride pieces, which have absolutely nothing to do with goth or my branding, but I keep making them because that is clearly what people want. (I’m straight and cis so I do feel a little odd about that, honestly.)
I sell on Etsy, on Amazon Handmade, and on my own website (though literally no one ever visits that and I’ve had fewer than 10 sales total there in 10 years, mostly people I know personally). Also do craft shows now and then though I have cut WAY WAY back on that due to Day Job and general burnout and exhaustion. I used to sell in stores, and my stuff’s still in one store out of state, but one by one the stores have dumped me because my sales weren’t high enough.
My sales over the past 3-4 years have been steadily declining and currently are very poor. Last year my profit was a bit over $2,000 and that is it. And honestly, that was mainly due to me keeping my expenses very very low and doing fewer shows, since that can be a several hundred dollar investment per show with no guarantee you’re going to make it back.
To be honest, I’m pretty burned out on the business and my thinking recently has been, sell through my current stock and then do only made-to-order (as in, only pick up my pliers and make a piece of jewelry when someone has already bought it and I have money in hand.) Over at the other place, people have been urging me to just donate all of it or give it away, and yes I realize it is a sunk cost fallacy, but I just can’t bear to do that. I want SOMETHING for it.
I admit that my current low sales are at least partially my fault because I have not been promoting myself. Honestly? After 10 years I am thoroughly bored with my own work and have run out of things to say about it that might convince someone to buy it. I have not been making new things that might increase my interest in my own work because that’s not really the goal - goal is not to make yet more stock, goal is to sell what I have and then go to made-to-order.
Mainly my promotion has been on social media. I tried paid ads but that did not result in increased sales. I used to have an email list but one by one everyone unsubscribed - and I wasn’t spamming! I sent maybe 1 email a month with that month’s craft fairs and a promo code to get free shipping or some % off!
It’s been suggested to me to find places online where goths hang out and promote my stuff there. I did do that for a while, on message boards and such, but that literally never resulted in a sale and I felt sleazy.
At any rate: I am now determined to sell off my stock once and for all because that is going to be my travel fund for this year (and, uh, I already have two plane tickets to pay off). To do that, I am going to have to get off my ass and promote. UGH.
I am really, really, really bad at asking for money, you guys. I am out of ideas! If there are other sellers of handmade things here, I would love to hear how you promote and how you come up with interesting things to say - that also inspire people to open their wallets for you - about shit that you’ve had in your stash forever, don’t even like any more, and just want gone.
(Oh and, yes, I’ve tried sales and deep discounts. Oddly, that seems to result in FEWER sales for me. ???)