Tuesday, February 7, 2012
fighting Etsy exhaustion part lll - large batch makers
One of the best parts about making your makings in large batches - and being pro-active rather than reactive
(when you are selling your makings in small batches or one at a time)
is that it creates some production downtime - time that you can spend doing the other things involved in running your maker business.
There is more to making a business than making stuff after all.
The hardest part is that you will need a good handle on what is going to sell (sizes, colors, styles, etc - cue the crystal ball) so that you are making the right stuff or you will have lots of unsold whosee whatsees sitting around your studio (and lost time and money on these unsold makings) and sell out of the things you could be making money on.
(this is pretty much guaranteed to happen from time to time especially as your business grows, but if time to time becomes most of the time you need to figure this stuff out)
Three inventory management sites recommended to me by makers are Stitch Labs, RunInventory and Bizelo.
The amount of inventory you have on hand will vary depending on your business. One ideal way to do your batch production is to batch produce the parts of your work that are not customizable - for example with my cork test tube necklaces I batch produce everything except the images. When a customer orders a necklace I just have to add the specific imagery and wording to the existing necklace. I know a lotion/potion maker that adds fragrance to her makings as ordered.
Thinking about any parts of your production you can steamline this way while still being able to adjust your finished product later, may save you time and money.
Some tips from Etsy batch makers on working smarter and not harder include:
1. Know the popularity of your size breaks -
For example a t-shirt screenprinter might find her sizebreaks to be
2-4-4-2 or sm,m,l,xl -
so when she is producing a dozen shirts for inventory this is the sizebreak she will be screening.
This is not a guarantee that she will always be producing the right pieces but if you are working with sizes, etc that cannot be adjusted later and you take the time to figure this out, you will definitely decrease your inventory headaches.
And save time for the other stuff on our to-do lists like getting that SWAT team ready to mobilize, acquiring street maps covering all of Minnesota, a pot of coffee, 12 jammy dodgers and a fez and if you are not a Dr. Who fan and have no pop culture reference for what I am blathering about here you can skip this part.
2. Stock up smartly - take a look at how often you are doing your making, the seasonality of your business and the popularity of your items
If a store orders 4 of something and I only have 3 pieces in stock - I tell them I have 3 on hand rather than making myself crazy and holding up a shipment to produce a one-off of something I batch produce.
3. Have regular sales to clear out your excess stock - one large batch maker told me she does her batch making (about 75% of her production) one week out of every month and at production time anything that is left in the studio gets counted and overstock goes on sale - often never to be produced again
This "never to be produced again" may not be a good idea for everything that isn't flying off the shelves, but eliminating nonsellers so that you can spend your time producing new work is essential to creating a sustainable business and keeping your heart invested in what you are making which is, ultimately, a life and not just a handmade whosee whatsee -
a life that needs to allow time for things other than your makings - things like guacamole and Woodchuck hard cider (just wish these came with corks I'd be stocked), Angry Birds (it has become my number one goal in life - other than having George Clooney delivered to my door ... wet - to pry certain people away from this game - UGH) and movies at an actual movie theater rather than on your computer while you wrap beads.
"George really does look more and more like Rosemary every year", "Do they call them Hawaiian shirts in Hawaii or just shirts?", "The president is from Hawaii you know", "I hate walking on sand", "Is that the older Bridges or the younger Bridges?", "He runs like a dingbat" and "He can really do sad". I LOVED HER.
4. Get help - large batch production can make it easier to get help during busy times and at regularly scheduled periods.
Trying to do it all can burn us out ... fast. And part of giving back with our creative venture can be our ability to pass on that creative energy in the form of money to others.
I find that when I pay someone and this payment can take the form of things other than money, but when you want more money to flow in, you have to allow - with a grateful heart - more money to flow out - money is energy and needs to move after all - when I pay someone and focus on the amazing feeling that that gives me and wanting more of that, I get more of that.
Giving ourselves little finish lines helps, too. Because there is no real endzone with any of this. We are never going to arrive, suitcase in hand, hair a mess and needing a back rub .. at our final destination because there is no such place.
The maker life is about the process and the more we embrace that the more we will allow ourselves to be the world-changing, passionate, fearless (as in not letting fear stop us), wealth-creating, change-embracing, idea-generating, grateful, crazy ass artists we are meant to be!
* I like making pretty things print by playonwordart
1. shop: Xenotees
2. shop: Palomas Nest
3. shop: Somethings Hiding Here
4. shop: Monkeys Always Look
Back soon with Exhaustion Busters for One of a Kind or Small Batch Makers