The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin

I recently picked up a copy of “The Handmade Marketplace: How to Sell Your Crafts Locally, Globally, and Online” by Kari Chapin and read it in the hopes of combating a recent streak of epic slacking. I found it the old-fashioned way, I went to a bookstore and Chapin’s book stood out on the shelfm so I took it home. It was written recently, a huge (essential) plus, and the style of the book seemed to express a certain “not only for boring crafts” kind of vibe that I liked. Her tone was conversational as well, which is my preferred style when reading how to’s of any kind.

On the whole the book is an excellent overview of the world of selling handmade goods, there are tips on a very wide range of topics, from setting up online stores to branding, craft shows to taxes, photography to press kits (one of my favorite sections), and the list goes on. Because there’s so many topics in a book that’s only around 200 pages nothing is gone into in too much depth, but the book is a great jumping off place. I read it slowly, over weeks, going over one or two sections a night and using it to help focus and inspire me. I’ve had a business for years and years, so I treated it as a refresher course, and while I skipped some sections, I didn’t skip many.

I do wish Chapin had gone into more detail on the many online venues available for sellers, she really only recommends Etsy. My article is better (yeah, I said it) and it only covers three sites. Flickr was touched on as a great marketing tool, but she fails to mention their shockingly strict terms of service when it comes to linking to shops and even blogs. Chapin advises you to link in your profile, but doesn’t tell you what will happen to your account if you link in individual photos. A little more information in these areas, specifically some detailed, practical advice, would have been nice. A pros/cons table for a half dozen of the major handmade sites would have been invaluable.

Interestingly enough a decent amount of attention is given to advertising, both online and in print, whereas almost every handmade seller I’ve even seen comment on it has said that advertising isn’t worth the money. All that aside, the book is a great overview and really written in a charming way, I highly recommend it as a starting point for anyone thinking of starting a DIY business, and I even think it’s a good read for those of us who aren’t new to the game. In fact, now that I’ve checked “write this article” off my To Do list I’ll be loaning my copy of the book to my best friend!

For those who have read it, I’d love it if you’d leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

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