If you’ve been selling your work for a year or more, consider reviewing your line to decide if you need to diversify. The buying public notoriously changes tastes and styles. You should prepare yourself to expect changes in the marketplace. You can prepare for these changes by keeping an eye on fashion trends, home decor styles and color forecasts. Most of this information can be found very easily online. You can also do research in craft trade journals or join an industry specific organization such as a felting guild or a surface design group to gather more ideas.
Use the information that you find by thinking of how it applies to your product line. Maybe you need to add a new color to a product that sells well but is looking a little stale with the same old color themes. Perhaps there is a new electronic “gadget” that needs a felt cover that could be added to your already existing products.
Some of the reasons that will determine that you need to diversify are:
- a particular style has been exhausted, for example, the lodge look (everywhere but NW Montana)
- consumer demand slows for a particular item
- you find a new and unexpected niche
- customer’s continually ask for this type of product
- a competitor adds a new product
- you need more income
- a new trend or style excites you
- you examine your side lines and see that they could offer more profitability with more effort or changes
- you have many repeat customers, they will need to see something new to continue to buy your products
Expecting change and diversifying your product line periodically will keep your work fresh and appealing. If you find that your market is becoming too crowded with people making the same sort of items, look for intersections with other markets. Look around for other types of customers who might benefit in an unexpected way from your products. Perhaps you could sell to a certain type of collector if you made a product geared specifically focused towards that theme.
As a buyer for my store, I always look for “new” products and something different from what I’ve seen over the years. The artists who continually work to upgrade and diversify will get my attention much more readily than someone who “has the same old stuff”. I’d love to hear about how you’ve dealt with a changing market and the “fickle” buying public.