Advice Wanted and Some New Items

I did my 2nd proper craft fair on Sunday, and I don’t know if my expectations have been too high, but this one didn’t go very well either. I was lucky enough to cover the cost of the stall by selling quite a few greetings cards and felted soap, but apart from some nice comments and a lot of people stroking my felt pieces, there wasn’t much real interest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the last fair I talked it over with my girlfriend and with others on the forum, and came to the conclusion that my stuff isn’t instantly recognisable as handmade felt or even made from wool to the average person, and also that people need encouragement to see the versatility of items. In preparation, I made some felt using lots of natural wools with locks and texture to make into Diary covers, and lots of display cards with info about all the items and ideas for uses.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m kind of stuck now knowing what to do. I’ve spent the last few years trying to find a way to possibly eke out a livingΒ  and establish a business from felting/fibre art. I do have limited opportunities because of health problems; I don’t have the time or energy to promote/market myself on Facebook or other social media and do all the ‘networking’ needed, either online or in real life, and can’t get out and about. Even all the work involved in listing for etsy and having to go out to post any potential sales (not that experience has shown there would be many) seems like a lot of wasted time and effort for little return. Also, because of not being financially secure, I can’t just take risks and keep wasting time, energy and money on trying new things which ultimately fail. It’s really quite demoralising too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne thing I have learnt is that when people are looking to treat themselves or others, they don’t want ‘practical’, they want silly, frivolous or a bit of luxury. So, novelty items, gimmicks, things that are trendy at the moment (moustaches, owls, 50’s whimsy) or at a push, felt scarves, seem to win over well made and affordable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, now I’m stuck with a load of diaries which will soon be out of date – I could always put notebooks in, but notebooks are even more practical; lots of camera cases, which are useless because everyone has a smartphone with a camera on; and lots of pieces of felt which everyone agrees ‘would look great on the wall’ but can’t think of anyone whose wall they could buy it for πŸ™‚

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, does anyone have any suggestions where to go from here? Is anyone the owner of a gift shop selling artisan gifts who wants to pay me a living wage for well made items? Or maybe I should cut up my phone cases and make lots of greetings cards or just start felting cosies and covers for everything I own and stop inflicting my tat on the world? πŸ™‚

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll suggestions gratefully welcome, especially humorous ones!

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53 Responses to Advice Wanted and Some New Items

  1. nanacathy2 says:

    Your answer could be jewellery. Make your felt into pendants, brooches and matching earings. I have noticed at craft fairs this jewellery stalls always have crowds round them. What is more you don’t need much felt per item. Good luck and don’t give up.

  2. You have just described the problem that all artists are facing right now. If I had the answer, I would use it myself. You are not alone. I have gone back to painting for the most part. Commissioned portraits of people and pets are what people are interested in, they have no appreciation of handmade fiber art.

    • zedster66 says:

      I had my paints out again recently too. Maybe some of the suggestions will be useful for you πŸ™‚

  3. Felicity says:

    I understand that it’s not very encouraging… I know that I’ll not be able to earn much with selling my felt. It’s not only about sales it’s about how many items you could produce as well!
    Example: ! want to earn Β£300/month. Suppose I can sell my piece for Β£25 and get Β£20 after all expences deducted. It means I need to produce at least 15 items of selling quality every month. Could you do it? I couldn’t. You could use different figures and still I know that I am not able to produce (I am not talking about seling yet!) enough stuff to sell and earn proper living… I hope anyone proves me wrong!
    If you are not discouraged my math above – what I would do. I would change the inventory and stop making daily necessities. We need to find smth which stands out from the crowd, especially for fairs where people come for fun mainly. Your pieces are truly lovely! Have you tried to sell them on ETSY?

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Felicity πŸ™‚
      Yeah, the time/effort it takes to produce something is a large consideration, one of the reasons I’ve tried to be versatile, like selling e-books, trying fibre packs etc. It seems the only people making a real living teach workshops. I do have an etsy, but I had stuff on there which was relisted over and over and never sold, tutorials sell occasionally, but actual items don’t.

    • Auriga says:

      My first reaction was to want to take a look at your Etsy store. Can’t find a link on this blog to one. Couldn’t find an Etsy store called felt and fibre studio or Zed….

    • zedster66 says:

      Auriga, this is a collaborative blog/site, so the info for us individually is at the top in the ‘about us’ pages. My etsy is https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/FeltbyZed
      I only have ebooks and tutorials listed at the moment. Shipping is a big consideration on etsy, some people just don’t want to pay extra for items, and I would definitely be more likely to list items if there were a simpler way to do shipping rather than weigh everything and consult charts for every country.

    • pamladds says:

      Zed, Your etsy prices are great! The hard part with Etsy is figuring out how to market, apparently frequent traffic to a page gets it higher up in the order shown but when there are hundreds of pages it is really hard to get visibility I haven’t used it much myself but I have friends who are clayworkers who are finding it useless – the number of potters etc is in the millions. Links to your etsy page on every advertising possibility get some traction but it is really challenging.

    • zedster66 says:

      Yeah, it certainly works better for some than others πŸ™‚

  4. Lyn says:

    Humorous replies to grim tidings would be best, but somehow nothing funny springs to mind because it’s such a serious subject.
    Annie and I gave up craft fairs for a lot of reasons, but it did seem to us that the only people making money were the refreshments vendors and the imported novelty vendors (handmade? yeh right.)
    The people who appreciated and bought our items, were those who also made stuff themselves. (I am always happy to buy at craft fairs and I understand the real value of the items I buy).

    We did better by placing our items in a local gallery/shop. The shop had good owners who knew what their customers wanted and they kept the shop and the stock fresh. They also advertised online so customers came from away – they didn’t just rely on passing trade.
    The commission the gallery took was more than compensated by the much higher price achieved for each handmade item.

    Zed, your felted items are beautiful. I’m so sorry that you haven’t yet been able to connect with appreciative buyers.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Lyn πŸ™‚
      Don’t get me started on those selling ‘handmade’ mass produced in China sellers, or those supporting some tribe or community up on a mountain far away, our Christmas markets are full of those.
      I think I definitely would have better luck with a gallery shop, but there just isn’t anything like that round here, I wish I had the energy to go out and find them, I would if I could.

  5. sona nast says:

    I’ve found that going to fairs and watching people paw over my stuff and not buy is very demoralizing. Felted scarves are something people can relate to more easily so you might try selling those. I agree with your thought that trying to find a craft/gift store to carry your work might be a good idea. Only problem there is having to give a percentage to the store. But you don’t have to spend a weekend manning a booth. Good luck.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks Sona πŸ™‚
      I was planning to make myself a scarf soon, so maybe if it turns out well, I’ll give it a go. I think a store taking a cut would probably work out far cheaper in the end, and there’s less risk.

  6. Judy says:

    Hello zed, I have never had a booth at a craft show so i can not advise you. But the idea do sell at a art counsel gift shop or other gift shops sounds like a good idea. I know our local art counsel takes 30% for there share. I am not sure if this is the going rate or not. Does anyone know if that sounds fair or not???

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Judy πŸ™‚
      No, we don’t have anything like that around here that I know of, maybe I’m not searching in the right places.

  7. Things are hard all over but that seems to be what everyone says all the time. you know your cards sell and soap so that’s a start. I sold about 30 bars of soap this weekend. I would have sold more if I had had more. The other thing that sells that don’t make is dryer balls. just plain wool in a ball 4 to 6 in a bag sell for $20-$30. I used to sell cat balls and they sold quite well but people like a picture on them something simple like a mouse, fish or spiral of different coloured wool. People will spend on their pets. You like to make book covers maybe switch them out for little blank page books and sell them as sketch books so now they are “fun” and a great present for your artistic friend. I would add a pencil and pencil holder. Camera cases are out so change to phone cases. it is very hard to figure out what people will want. Here jewelry has to be very different to sell and you need to have a lot of it to choose from. Jewelry makers are a dime a dozen around here. Maybe we should start a discussion on the forum of what people find sells in their area.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks for the ideas, Ann πŸ™‚
      If I could find cheap sketch books, I’d certainly do that, but they are very expensive here. That’s the trouble with most ideas I have, too much investment to risk it. I listed all the alternatives the camera cases could be used for, like Blackberry size phones, calculators, playing cards, game cards, even ATCs. I wouldn’t risk phone cases simply because there are so many different sizes.
      I think I’d happily sit making felted soaps if I thought I could sell that many πŸ™‚

  8. pamladds says:

    Many of us are swimming in the same pond!! Craft fairs are demoralizing because they do not usually generate enough income to make it worth it. Lots of admiration but that doesn’t keep anyone of us in cat food! Joining an Art’s Collaborative (or whatever the grouping of artists with a store front is called in your area) often makes more sense. Publicity is collectively done, different strengths are recognized and the work requirement is not usually onerous. Social media is a way to get “stuff” out there and doesn’t have to be too taxing. If friends will repost it really is easy. Not sure how much it generates though.

    I have also found that “Sweater Soaps”, affordable gimmicks are what sells. So much for my (and your) artistic leanings!! Don’t give up though!!

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks Pam πŸ™‚
      I had a similar thought actually, you can really swap the ‘Ooh’s and ‘Aah’s and ‘lovely work’ for a loaf of bread however genuine they are πŸ™‚
      I’ve known for a while that I’m going to have to move to somewhere more ‘arty’ to make anything of my felting and all the suggestions about gallery shops and art groups has confirmed it.

  9. I like your work, if I were you I would transform all the cases in a little house for cats sewing them, or a big rug with crochet. Things are dificult, people take care of their money.
    A good thing to do is to take a look at Pinterest you will find different things, some felt and also art garments, yhrtr are some great ideas!!

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Monica πŸ™‚
      A felt collage cat house is actually a really good idea! That’d be very colourful and unique!

  10. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Zed, as I’ve said before you are very creative and your work is excellent. You have certainly helped many of us on the forum learn new techniques and encouraged us to try new things. I think you’ve received a lot of good advice here and you’re not alone. I know it’s probably overwhelming at the moment. As for the book covers, any antique book stores in your area? People who love old books may appreciate a special cover made by hand. Don’t give up, your work is too good! Perhaps try looking at it from a different perspective.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Marilyn πŸ™‚
      I think the trouble with where I live is, it’s right by the city centre, so we literally have nothing but a few shops. I did toy with the idea of making paperback book covers, I use one I made, but again these are all different sizes. I’d be happy to make custom ones though if anyone asked!

  11. ruthlane says:

    OK – you asked for it. Here’s a joke. An artist, a doctor and a lawyer all won 1 million dollars. When asked what they would do with the money, the doctor responded, “I’ll pay off my debt and buy a new car”. The lawyer said “I’ll go on an around the world trip and buy my wife expensive jewelry”. The artist said, “I’ll keep paying my art fair booth fees until I run out of money.”

    I would love to sell your work at my store. The problem would be all the importing business that I don’t know how to do. But I do think that your work would sell better from a gallery/shop. Perhaps the camera cases could be converted to small zippered pouches? I have sold quite a few fabric/felt pouches with zippers. People use them for many different things. I have also sold a lot of fabric/felt covered notebooks. And the thing I have sold the most of, thousands in fact, are the cat balls/toys. I don’t put any sort of decoration on them, just have a variety of colors. And I have been selling those for years.

    I think the only way for a person to make a living selling fiber art/felt is to have multiple sources of revenue stream including teaching (in person and online), selling online, selling at galleries/shops, selling e-books, and whatever else you can think of. It takes a lot of energy and it is hard work. It also takes a long while for your work to get noticed. Many times it takes going to a craft fair for 3-4 years in a row before people start buying from you. I know this is true at the wholesale markets. Although it seems some people have instant success, most don’t. It is just getting up every day and putting one foot in front of the other and not giving up. You have to take what you learned from your “failures” and apply it to the next attempt.

    So now that I’ve blathered on for way too long, I hope you’ll put this behind you and take the next step. “Fall down 7 times, stand up 8.”

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Ruth πŸ™‚
      Eugh, I hate zips! It does make something more versatile though, I know. I don’t think I can get zips small enough to convert the cases I have, but I think any cases or purses I make in the future should probably have them.
      You’re right about being versatile. When I did my business plan, I planned a series of ebooks, and hoped that income from that and online sales of felt goods/fibre packs would at least help support me while working on developing the books into online classes and workshops. I think I under estimated just how exhausting it all would be, and meanwhile others fill the gaps in the market and you’re superfluous. I’m certainly an expert in what doesn’t work, so there’s that πŸ™‚

  12. luvswool says:

    Every artist recognizes what a tough going is ahead of them to make money, and yet the love of art is a passion which will not wither. There have been some wonderful replies here, and all of them have useful suggestions for you.

    If you could find a gallery, you are facing 30% to 50% as the usual selling fee. Art galleries where I have exhibited my work take the same percentage range.

    A couple of years ago, I was on a website where I sold tons of plain dryer balls and cat toys (mostly balls). But I can tell you it was NOT very fulfilling, so I stopped. Then I discovered the Forum and took a few classes, and I am a lot happier artist–but not necessarily making much money with what I am felting. I do occasionally sell items through my Etsy shop. It brings me joy when I am accepted into an exhibit, even if the item does not sell.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Cathy πŸ™‚
      I think you’ve hit on one thing that concerns me, do I really have the will to slog away at making stuff that will (might) sell when it isn’t fulfilling. I would rather spend my time making stuff I enjoy and put energy into finding the right market, I think.

  13. Don’t give up Zed! Your stuff is lovely. I had a similar problem at the craft fair I did at the weekend, only selling my felted soap, a greetings card and some flower brooches, despite several “aah”‘s at my scarves and hats (which are much more fun to make but take longer)

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks a lot πŸ™‚
      I think one thing which made me feel quite a bit worse was that after all the nice comments, at least 3 people practically promised to come back for things, and then didn’t. And the total of those ‘lost’ sales were probably almost double what I did actually sell. I don’t think people realise the effect something like that has. Sorry you didn’t do better too.

  14. Teri Berry says:

    Hi Zed, I’m sorry to hear of your disappointment but this does seem to be a recurring theme among textile artists. It was certainly a hot topic at the felting exhibition I attended on Sunday. As other’s have said shops and galleries may be a good place to start but do expect them to charge 30-50% commission and factor that into your pricing. I have come across a couple that charge Β£XX per month and a smaller % commission but have always been very suspicious of them. Another piece of advice I was given was to target fairs that have art or artisan in the title, the public seem to have higher expectations of quality and therefore don’t mind paying a bit more.
    This might not be for you if you find getting around difficult but another exhibitor said she did well speaking and demonstrating felt making to groups such as WI, she said she also managed to sell a few pieces at each of these demos too.
    I’m finding Etsy to be a bit of a mixed bag, but having just passed the 1 year mark I have noticed the number of views has increased more than 10 fold from when I first started but alas this hasn’t translated into more sales yet.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Teri πŸ™‚
      That’s another downside to not being able to spend time doing social media, I don’t know where the fairs are. I found out there was one every month about half a mile from my house, months after it had been going. It’s too expensive and cliquey for me to be able to do though (another big problem with art and crafts here).
      Lyn suggested felting demos after the last fair, and the more I think about it, the more it seems like a good idea if I did another in the same place, it only takes 10 minutes or so to make a small felt piece. Maybe felting demos and fibre packs would be easier πŸ™‚

      My etsy views are practically nothing now, 10 a day or something. I hope you have better luck there.

  15. zararooke says:

    Sad, but somehow comforting, to hear that many share the same experience when it comes to selling “felted pieces of art made with love” at local craft fairs. I have been considering Etsy, but feel I would just drown in the competion. But an online shop helps to reach a larger market, so I am going to have a go at starting my own one. There are many reasonably user-friendly options out there today, with reasonably priced “budget options” to start with. Having a blog with a link to the shop should help the marketing. At least, that’s my plan.
    Don’t give up Zed! It is “just” a matter of reaching the right buyers… πŸ˜‰

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Zara πŸ™‚
      I’ve thought about my own shop too, there are a few sites which look like they offer good layouts and deals. You’re definitely right about it just being a matter of reaching the right buyers – fibre festivals and wool fairs definitely have more of the right buyers than local craft fairs. It’s just a shame they are all in the middle of nowhere over here πŸ™‚
      Let us know when you open your shop and we can do a feature if you don’t mind answering our fibrey questions πŸ™‚

  16. This post obviously resonated with all your followers as so many have commented and had similar experiences. I think that there has been a huge increase in handcrafters and DIY’s in the last decade so there is so much more competition in the markets.
    The trouble I find is that if you discover something new that sells well, very soon every man and his dog is making them.
    It also takes away the creative spark if you have to make the same thing over and over.
    I love to try new ideas all the time so I rarely have a cohesive line of items to sell.
    I rarely make a sale, but each one encourages me and helps buy more supplies so I can keep practicing and increasing my skill level.
    Best of luck Zed, I hope you find a way to make your lovely artistic creations profitable.
    If you do, please let us all know so we can try it too.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Chris πŸ™‚
      You’ve hit on another ‘problem’ too, having a cohesive line of items. I suppose notebook covers is kind of my ‘thing’, but I like to try many things too, so don’t want to get ‘stuck’ on a particular line of items. Being known for items like scarves, hats, bags etc is definitely something which gives someone an edge, though.
      If I ever become rich selling fibrey things, I promise to let you all know! Maybe the trick is to sell $1 ebooks telling everyone what doesn’t work πŸ˜‰

  17. Nada says:

    I understand your frustraton, Zed and I’m sorry to hear that your fairs have been such a bad expereince. I was ony at two fairs and found out that people here buy only practical things: gloves, slippers, scarves, vests. I have made several mobile phone cases, eye glass cases, pods, which so far have not been sold. Mostly I sell to my friends and acquaintances. What about inviting some for coffee and show them what you do. They will probably buy something either for themselves or for gifts and ask them to spread the word.
    Also I found out that felt doesn’t sell well in summer but now, before Christmas, is the right time.
    You are so creative and should make your creations profitable. Try to use your samples – combine them in a new useful item.
    From the comments above you will find some good advice and from their comments you can see you are not alone in your frustration. Don’t let the situation kill joy in you.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Nada πŸ™‚
      My woolly vessel and my bright hat definitely drew attention, but that was it. I think practical things would sell better overall in general, in shops, regular markets, but it seems here people want something a bit more special when treating themselves. I’d put felt slippers, scarves, gloves and vests in that category, somewhat practical, but more of a treat than shop bought ones, and certainly more special than a phone case πŸ™‚

  18. Juliane says:

    Oh Zed, I don’t really know you but want to give you a hug. I think we all have felt your pain with this matter of selling what we create.

    Selling at fairs can really be a mixed experience of finding the right kind of fair: one with limited tat; one with enough publicity; one that has customers who appreciate handmade; and lastly, one that has those that are able to spend. And as Ruth mentions there is often the issue of one being charged an outrageous stall fee for the more desirable/likely events. It certainly seems that one has to ‘kiss a lot of frogs’ to find the ‘right’ fair. My experience at a wedding fair left me feeling invisible and tearful. School Fetes have been so-so and Church Halls really vary. There is a website in the UK called stallfinder which you can search through (all kinds of events so not necessarily quality crafts). Also, your local newspaper may have an events section.

    And while you are feeling understandably shaken, the Christmas Fair Season shall soon be happening. You could try to visit local fairs and see what other type of sellers are there, and how busy a fair seems. If you can, ask some of the more approachable sellers about what fairs they recommend. And while I’d be shy to ask other feltmakers, (perhaps ask the ceramicist or stained glass maker), other folks have proved less shy and have asked me about techniques and viable fairs! Honestly, I’ve had some fun chats talking about feltmaking at fairs. These discussions can lead to developing some local community of similar minds too!

    Another way to meet a likely audience may be through doing Open Studio. Is there a scheme in your area? It can cost something and needs to be booked 3/4 of year in advance., But, there may be the opportunity to exhibit your work in a group show, have a page on the Open Studio website, demo feltmaking at an exhibition, and have people visit your studio, I did it first two years ago when my studio was my kitchen, so it need not be an elaborate location. Many people came out of curiosity of what was felt. Some came because they wanted workshops. A few even bought a hat.

    Sorry to go on and on. It’s all a learning experience. Your feltwork is beautiful!!

    • zedster66 says:

      Aaw, thanks Julianne πŸ™‚
      I’d forgotten about stallfinder, thanks for the reminder. The fair I did actually was the Christmas/Winter fair 😦 A few people asked if there would be one soon, I don’t think they realised that was it. Actually, the fibre artists, felters, woolly types were all very nice and helpful and a couple told me in July that they found the Winter fair better, there was no feeling of competition, so don’t be afraid to talk to others in future, apparently we’re all nice πŸ™‚ I don’t think we have the studio thing around here, I work out of my kitchen too, but it’s something to remember for the future.

  19. Leonor says:

    Ok, here’s my two cents (and please bear in mind I’m not an expert by all means!)

    I know you’ve mentioned you don’t have time to advertise in Facebook and social media, but do try to get a bit of time to do so. A post a day, or every two days, is all you need. Mind you, it’s not like a blog post, it’s just saying hello and sharing a bit of your makes, and such. People love living vicariously, and a lot of them love knowing how an artist spends their time πŸ™‚ I’d say 90% of my sales come from FB, and believe me, the effort is well worth it.

    You mention craft fairs haven’t been very good, but you’ve only been to two, so that’s hardly a good sample, is it? πŸ™‚ Was it the same fair, was it in the same region? What kind of artists sold there? What was your stall configuration (did it encourage people to approach and not feel intimidated?) What did you wear (was it inviting, meaning people would feel comfortable talking to you?) Did you work whilst at the fair, so people could see what you do?
    I know these seem like a lot of questions, and I’m not saying you don’t know how to sell at a fair, but let me give you this example: I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show three times during the last event, and there was this woman selling beautifully intricate pieces of jewellery. I looked from afar, yet I never, ever approached her. Not many did. She was wearing black, from top to bottom, with a huge, intricate hat as well, and very heavy makeup. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see her as the widow at a funeral! She was always sitting, and never made eye contact unless approached verbally. Did she sell much? I highly doubt it… Again, not saying this is you, Zed, just giving an example of a situation where a seller might say “I went to this busy fair and no one bought from me.” πŸ™‚

    Look up this page on Facebook: Handmade Lives. She gives advise to small handmade businesses, and has a blog you can read!

    I’ll be honest and say I don’t agree with you when you say notebooks aren’t a good idea because they’re “practical” – make them fun, claim they’re for the artist friend of the buyer (suggesting people to purchase items for is great) and see what happens. Someone said to add a pen holder to the ensemble, I’d say go for it. And it’s not that expensive, either – I make notebooks for fun mainly, and I make them all by hand. so instead of buying them and adding the covers, why not do a couple from scratch?

    My last advise: again, social media. Look up likeminded artists on Facebook and Instagram, with interaction you end up getting new perspectives and, who knows, even pairing up with another artist at a fair?

    Sorry for writing so much πŸ™‚

    • lovefibre says:

      Thanks so much for mentioning Handmade Lives, I hadn’t come across it and it looks very helpful. The first post I read seems particularly relevant to this discussion, https://handmadelives.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/getting-back-on-track/

    • Leonor says:

      Handmade Lives has quite a few out-of-the-box ideas πŸ™‚

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Leonor πŸ™‚
      And don’t apologise for writing, so much, it’s nice you took the time πŸ™‚
      I started to read the link Fiona left, I just had a quick look over, but it looks like a great post. The collecting/analysing evidence is a good part, I have done that, I certainly know what doesn’t work!
      I’ve done two ‘proper’ fairs. The first craft sale I did was last December at the LGBT centre Christmas dinner, it was just for an hour, but I sold more items and made more money in that hour than I had all the previous year on etsy. That encouraged me to actually try the first ‘proper’ one. I thought the experience would be worth it to learn what people liked, looked at or even bought, even if I didn’t sell much that day, and it did teach me a lot.
      I know all my responses sound negative and that it can seem like I’m lazy and not willing to give anything a go, but I really have tried a lot of things. I’m not lazy, I have ME/CFS so even thinking can be physically exhausting. I’ve tried many things to try and discover something I can do and enjoy and not get exhausted from it, I’ve tried many things too to try and make a living from those things, but I am limited by not being able to go out, try different events, go to different shops, make contacts etc. And I know I could do those things online, but that too is exhausting and difficult for others to understand how much so.
      Thanks again for all your ideas, it certainly gives me something to think about and will help others too.

  20. shadyrr says:

    Zed – This reminds me of signs I have seen saying “Starving Artist Sale” – unless you are a crafter/artist you don’t appreciate the amount of time, energy and monetary resources that go into creating an item. Many people love our work but think it is over priced or are looking for a bargain. My husband does beautiful woodworking and has been asked many times to make a copy of something he has made for me or another family member – when he calculates his time and supply costs – the price is to high for the customer. Also as someone else said when it is repitition of the same item it is no longer rewarding.

    Are there any churches, clubs or organizations in your area that would let you post a message stating that you are available to teach classes and sell Kits to complete the project. Maybe there is a shop nearby that has a bulletin board where you can leave business cards. Also girl or boy scouts troupes are usually looking for someone for a program. If the children like what you are doing the parents may like it and want more advanced classes. We have a local yarn shop that has knitting classes and is starting to offer felting classes too.

    Classes show the time it takes and the cost of the materials and may encourage people to purchase completed projects from you.

    Anyway the point being that if one person tells another person and so on you can build name recognition in your area. I know of two people who did this and built a network of interested people and then had open houses the first part of December and sold tons of items.

    Also use some of your pieces to make backpacks – kids and adults both use them. Or use them to make bags to be attached to a handicapped walker (that one makes me smile – can imagine Grandmom’s smile with pretty bag hanging from her walker). Here in the states anything out of High School, College or Professional sports colors sells well. Since the inserts for your books can be expensive – sell the inserts separately – then the customer can choose linned, unlinned, etc. Bible Book Covers are also popular. The long fingerless gloves look perfect to protect one’s arms when pruning roses or other thorny things. Some of your small samples can be used to make collars for water bottles (keeps the condensation from dripping on you).

    And finally – you mentioned an show being to Uppity or something like that for you – You are an extremely talented person/artist and you and your work can and should go anywhere – Ignore the people that make you uncomfortable and focus on the customer.

    This is probably too long but I so admire your work and want you to be able to follow your dreams – hope you can figure out a marketing strategy that will increase your customer base.

    Sending best wishes – Frances

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Frances πŸ™‚
      That is very true. I think someone recently posted on the forum about every item that’s made not only took time, money and effort, but was also made with the hours of failure and trying and learning. But put better than that πŸ™‚
      I’m not well enough to do a lot of those things, I wish I could do classes and would probably be upto the occasional one, but can’t guarantee I’ll be well on any given day so would hate to let anyone down.
      The fair where people are a bit uppity also costs a fortune, probably to keep us riff raff out πŸ™‚
      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Frances, and for all your suggestions.

  21. lovefibre says:

    I hope to come back and read all the comments properly but I second what Cathy said about about jewellery – I had a stall at a Textile Festival over the weekend, and I have a line of brooches made with big cover buttons which I sold more of than all the other things put together – some are felted and some are woven but people were choosing mainly by colour. Also the second day I wore one of the brooches and I did sell more that day though whether it had an influence I don’t know. Other than that I sold mostly cards. If you do make scarves, even though you won’t sell as many, they are a big boost to the self esteem and the bank balance when you do sell one! I only sold one of mine but I could see people did like them so I will be putting them on Etsy. I can rarely do a show because I live so remotely and there are quite limited retail outlets here as well so I’m going to try and make Etsy work for me. I think a lot is in how you promote it yourself, though I know that’s time consuming.

    Your work is lovely and I hope you find a way to market to the people who can afford it.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Fiona πŸ™‚
      There are a lot of really great suggestions in the comments, it reads like a complete guide to marketing yourself and finding opportunities πŸ™‚
      I might get the chance to make a scarf or two this weekend, fingers crossed. It definitely is a lot about promoting yourself, and having something which sets you apart, even your remoteness and the romance of it could be a selling point for you, it kind of makes your items rare, if that’s the right word, not easy to just go out and buy etc. Your scarves are gorgeous πŸ™‚

  22. lizseville says:

    I don’t want you to give up. I love your work as it is and I think there is something about doing your own work and not what is commercial. However I do feel that some of your pieces would make lovely art work or framed in triptych frames and maybe those would sell. Are you going to the right fairs? Who knows? I suspect felt never sells as well as knitting but when I looked at the French equivalent it was going for much higher prices reflecting the labour involved and the art component. Could you find a print publisher for your books? I’ll think hard anyway and send you any ideas I have as I do know
    exactly what you say! Xx

  23. lizseville says:

    There are a couple of thoughts I have about venues. Will mail you.

  24. Ginger says:

    Reading this post made me sad as you sound like you ready to give up on felting as well as craft shows. I love your work and I love that you continually experiment. I learn things from you that I never would have tried. So regardless of your craft shows, you are an inspiration.
    Regarding craft shows, I’ve done a lot of art shows, mainly with mixed media/assemblage and I will tell you that it isn’t just fiber that isn’t selling. I consider my shows as a way to get my name out there, and if I sell enough to cover my booth fee, in my book it’s a win. I would recommend you do one of the shows you did in the past again next year, as people may search you out that were there last year.
    Selling is a lot about marketing, as other people have noted. People won’t know that you have an Etsy shop unless you waive your hands around and shout it from the rooftop (or facebook it/blog it,etc). If you are going to do a show, email everyone you know and tell them. Even if they just show up to say “Hi”, you have some moral support, and they may forward your email to someone they think may be interested.
    As far as the items you make, that is a whole separate can of worms. I guess I would recommend trying four products and having maybe three of each type, put them on Etsy/or in a craft fair, and see if one is more popular or gets more attention. Maybe the camera holders can be business card holders? Maybe the journal wraps can become iPad protective sleeves? Maybe you can mount a particularly lovely piece to a black canvas for wall art? I do have a friend that sells bunches of felted soaps. There is an artist on the internet that sells felted and embroidered stones for a tidy sum and has a following. When you post a new item on your blog, you could put a price on the post and have a link to your Etsy site to make it easy for people to buy it. Nanacathy2 commented above that jewelry booths are usually crowded, which seems to be the case where I live as well, and it is also the number #1 category for sales on Etsy. I am thinking of making some felt jewelry myself as well as felted “wrist cuffs” or wide bracelets. Your felts would look great as a wide bracelet.
    My main reason for commenting is to let you know that I love your felt, whether it sells or not.

    • zedster66 says:

      Aaw, thanks so much for your nice comment, Ginger πŸ™‚
      I think I find it difficult and frustrating really on a couple of levels, I’m restricted in what I can do mostly because I have ME/CFS, so even knowing what might work there’s always a weighing up of whether the effort will be worth it, or will I again be left with a mountain of stuff no one wants. Also, I’m restricted to how much I can earn with my benefits too, so while I want something to be succesful, and find out what that might be, I’m not in a position to take advantage of it. I’d love to do fairs, and go to gallery shops and markets etc, but I’m not up to it. There’s just me, my granny trolley and public transport. You are right about marketing, you really do have to jump in with the shameless self promotion. I did join Facebook, so maybe next year if I can get on a ‘Permitted Work’ scheme again, I can take advantage of that more. Thanks again for your encouragement πŸ™‚ I like my felt too, and to be honest, I’d rather enjoy it and it not sell, than to make stuff I don’t like doing, just in the hope it might πŸ™‚

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