A Craft Industry Analysis

The Craft and Hobby Association in 2011, released results of research into the U.S. Craft and Hobby Industry. You may be surprised to learn that the craft and hobbyist’s contribution towards this industries net worth is approximately $29 billion, double the $14 billion first reported by Craft Organization Directors Association (CODA) in 2001. A surprising figure to emerge from this research (even to us avid craft enthusiasts) is that over half of U.S. households acknowledged engaging in a craft activity at least once per year.

When we unpack that $29 billion net worth figure we get a clearer picture of who it is that loves their hobby. Woodworking was the front runners in the top 10 craft sectors by spend, coming in at $3.32 billion with 16.8 million individuals engaging in this activity. I myself have some lovely bookends purchased at a local Sunday market that have clearly been lovingly produced by one such woodworker.

Since the internet revolution every industry engages in analytics and who wouldn’t want to have a picture of their client base so savvy marketing campaigns can bring a little more of that dollar value into the business. And what an impressive dollar value it is. The artists among us, thought to be 21.1 million households, spent $2.6 billion on our passion. The jewelry making and beading craft accounted for $2.3 billion with 14.7 million people crafting earrings, necklaces, bracelets and broaches etc. Over 18 million households engaged in Scrapbooking and other paper crafts spending $3.3 billion preserving family memories and turning photos into family heirlooms. The crocheting hobby injected $1.062 billion into the industry via 17.4 million strong crochet fans. That’s a lot of towels getting topped.

Crafting wreaths, historically a symbol of strength, and in Christianity a celebration of the festive season, made it into one of the top 10 favorite craft activities with 11.6 million engaging in this activity. This is not a once a year only at Christmas craft as wreaths are also used as wedding headdress in many different cultures. Incidentally, wedding crafts injected $803 million into the U.S. craft economy.

With speculation that the global financial crisis is responsible for providing this boost for the craft industry Hobby Lobby’s Eileen Liffick attributed an increase of people attending craft shops or online craft sites looking for ways to create craft for their families without spending a lot of money due to the current economic conditions. Ms Liffick says that “not only are people saving money, they’re making it. We have many people selling these items making extra money”.

What was previously a much loved hobby is now a means of saving the family money. “People are looking to create something special, something homemade. They want to help others save money, while making a little extra for themself”. The fabric department’s business has at least doubled in the last three years because of the economy with people trending back to earlier times, making homemade items for themselves, as a gift, or for a fun family activity. Industry concentration has increased over the five years to 2011, as large national retailers take market share from small independent operators.

Despite the impact of large scale business successful craft businesses are popping up everywhere seeking to share in the crafting industries net worth of $29 million. Crafting is a convenient work from home business and respected cottage industry. Approximately 81.2% of total craft industry operators in Canada are estimated to be businesses without paid-employees (non-employers) in 2011.

It’s now easier than ever to publicize your business and get recognition without spending a fortune doing so using a variety of free and low cost tools and resources from marketing on the internet to craft shows and everything in between.

Craft shows bring resources and new techniques to the end user providing an unequalled opportunity to present craft and hobby ideas and products and services to this cashed up audience. The hobby and craft association reported attendee registration at one particular craft show up 40%. In the “buyer” category alone registration was up 48% for this same show planned for 2012 in Anaheim.

Craft Pavilions showcase what’s new in crafts reaching craft and hobby enthusiasts far and wide. Stall holders sell products in a popular, vibrant market place that attracts tens of thousands over the course of the event. The bonus to the community is far reaching as these tens of thousands of attendees require accommodation and spend money on food and drinks in the vicinity of the event.

Peartree Solutions produced a report on the profile of the Canadian craft industry (2003) highlighting that Canadian craft, recognized internationally for its quality and distinctive character, was at the time considered to be a growing and vibrant collection of individual craft persons, studios, enterprises, media guilds, public and private galleries, retail and wholesale shows, and organizations. The industry in 2001 had generated $727 million in economic activity which including over $100 million in exports.

At the time of this research there were approximately 14,048 craft studios operating in Canada, where 22,597 people were employed. Ten per cent of those surveyed had craft revenues in excess of $120,000. The net craft income (or earnings) of full time craft professionals averaged $17,300 in 2001, while the top ten per cent earned net income of $49,000 or more.

Southern hemisphere crafters are every bit as enthusiastic about their hobby. Australia has less than one fifth of the population of U.S. however managed to spend an estimated $250 million on art and craft materials in 2009-2010. These figures are not a true representation of the Australian craft industry however as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) define a hobby as an activity that was undertaken only for oneself or for family or friends, that is, the output was not for general consumption. If the item produced was to sell, then this would be considered a work involvement and not measured in the hobby category. The ABS survey showed that in 2007 there were 2.1 million people aged 15 years and over in Australia who were involved in Art and craft as a hobby activity.

Craft exhibitions, craft festivals, craft shows are an unequalled opportunity for crafters and retailers alike to show case their wares. “Handarbeit & Hobby” Exhibition (Cologne, Germany) was held in 2009. Thought to be the largest European exhibition of manufacturers of the goods for needlework and creativity, the exhibition attracted more than 200 craft product companies. Many companies from Mexico, Japan, Australia, the USA and other countries saw the financial benefits of crossing the globe to present their products and shore up a slice of the lucrative European craft market.

Prize money from craft competitions can be quite lucrative for the hobbyist. A winner of an award for embroidery in 2009 beat the pool of 24 finalists from 24 countries selected from 330 applicants to take home $10 000. Craft enthusiasts can compete with the best by entering craft competitions. A European quilting championship has been held annually, since competition commenced in 2002. Masters and designers of ceramics and porcelain from Canada, Russia, Spain and other countries were among the last biennale visitors to the British Ceramic biennale festival in 2009. A mosaic technique summit was organized by the Society of the American Mosaic Artists and coincided with 10th anniversary of this Society.

In a news release issued on April 14 2011, CHA Member Northridge Publishing (PROVO, Utah) announced the launch of a new craft industry trade publication “Creative Retailer,” The publication aims to provide retailers the very best in industry information and product awareness and canvas a wide variety of topics, provide project ideas and discuss solutions for common retail problems for craft retailers. The craft industry hopes that the introduction of a new trade publication is a signal that the industry has a positive future for retailers and craft enthusiast alike.

As former partners of Scrapbook Premier, Inc. and Scrapbook Business Magazine, Torrie and Kevin of Northridge Publishing will provide leading-edge programs and media support that will strengthen business practices for both vendor, manufacturers and retailers. Brian Kunz, founder and president of Northridge Publishing stated ‘”they are striving to expand the industry by building greater awareness to their many subscribers” (hundreds of new readers every month).

Craft industry statistics clearly show that with over half of U.S. households engaging in a craft activity, many, many people experience that unequaled feeling of satisfaction that comes from creating something beautiful. Nothing is as self-soothing as those stolen hours immersed in the craft you adore.

What Font Should You Use For Your Book?

One of the most common questions asked by would-be self-publishers who are intent on designing and typesetting their book themselves is, “What font should I use?”

I’m always relieved when somebody asks the question. At least, it means they’re not just blindly going to use the ubiquitous default fonts found in most word processing programs.

However, there is almost no way to answer the question. It’s like asking, “What’s the best car model for commuting to work everyday?”

You’ll get a different answer from almost everyone you ask. And they might all be correct.

I am willing to offer one hard-and-fast rule, however: don’t use Times New Roman or Times Roman. That will brand your book as the work of an amateur at first glance. And there are other, very practical, reasons for not using it. Times Roman and Times New Roman were designed for the narrow columns of newspapers, originally for the London Times back in the 1930s. Today, almost no newspapers still use it. How, or why, it became a word processing standard, I have no idea. The font tends to set very tight, making the text block on the page dense and dark.

Here are two caveats before proceeding to few recommendations:

  1. The typeface you choose may depend on how your book will be printed. If you look closely at most serif fonts (like Times), you will notice that there are thick and thin portions of each letter. If your book will be printed digitally, you should steer away from fonts with segments that are very thin. They tend to become too faint and affect readability.
  2. Don’t get carried away with the thousands of font choices available. Most are specialty fonts suitable for titles, headlines, advertising, emotional impact, etc. And never use more than a very few fonts in a single book — we usually choose one serif font for the main text body, a sans serif for chapter titles and headings within the chapters. Depending on the book, we may select a third font for captions on photos, graphics, tables, etc. (or maybe just a different size, weight, or style of one of the other two). We may select a specialty font for use on the front cover for the title and subtitle.

For 90% of books, any of the following fonts are excellent choices:

  • Palatino Linotype
  • Book Antiqua (tends to set tight, so you may have to loosen it up a bit)
  • Georgia
  • Goudy Old Style
  • Adobe Garamond Pro (tends to have a short x-height, so it might seem too small in typical sizes)
  • Bookman (the name sort of gives it away, doesn’t it?)
  • Century Schoolbook (tends to be a bit wide, creating extra pages)

You need to look at several paragraphs of each font to see what, if any, adjustments you may find necessary in things like character spacing and kerning. You want to avoid little confusions, like:

  • “vv” (double v) that looks like the letter “w”
  • “cl” (c l) that looks like the letter “d”

Such things can make the reading experience annoying.

If you ask other designers, you will likely get other suggestions, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least some of the above included in their recommendations.

You may run across some books with more unusual font choices, but there are often good reasons for it. Maybe the book is a humor book for which the designer chose a lighthearted font, for example. Such decisions should be made with care and thoughtful consideration for the effects on readability.

Never decide on your font or font size based only on viewing how it looks on your monitor. Most trade paperback books are printed in 10 or 11 point size, but some fonts require larger – or even smaller – sizes. If 12 points looks too big and 11 too small, you can try 11.5 – no need to stick with integer sizes. You might be surprised how much difference a half-point (or even a quarter-point) can make on the overall “feel” of the page.

You also have to decide on appropriate leading (pronounced like the metal), which is the distance from the baseline of one line of text to the baseline for the next line, measured in points. The result is usually expressed as a ratio of the font size in points to the selected leading in points. So, you might say you have set the body text in Georgia 11/14 or Bookman 10/12.5 (11-point size with 14 points leading and 10-point size with 12.5 points leading, respectively).

Word processing programs tend to work in decimal inches, forcing you to convert leading from points into inches. A standard point is equal to 0.0138 inches. Professional typesetting/layout programs (like Adobe InDesign) allow you to use points and picas to define all type measurements and settings. although you can also specify those settings in various other units (including inches).

Typically, book designers will develop more than one design for each book’s interior, using different fonts, sizes, and leadings. They should typeset a few pages of the actual manuscript and print them out with the same page settings they plan to use in the final book (e.g., 6″ x 9″ pages). This allows the client to compare them side-by-side and evaluate them for readability and overall look.

And don’t forget your target audience. Very young readers and very old readers do better with larger type. Books that are very textually dense with long paragraphs frequently need more leading and a wider font.

Ultimately, you have to choose based on what your gut reaction is to the typeset samples. It never hurts to ask other people to read it and tell you if one option is easier to read than another.

If you want to gain an appreciation for typography and how to make appropriate design decisions, I recommend the following excellent books:

The Complete Manual of Typography by James Felici

The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

Book Design and Production by Pete Masterson

For those who insist on using Microsoft Word to typeset books, you really should buy and study Perfect Pages by Aaron Shepard. He is the reigning guru of how to do it.

It is far better to buy professional layout software and then learn all you can about typography and how to apply those principles to book design…or to hire a professional to do for you. The latter course will leave you more time to develop a dynamic marketing plan for your latest book and start writing your next one!

Where Does Advertising Fit Into the Marketing Mix?

Many people get confused about the role of advertising in the marketing mix so here’s a simple view of where it fits in.

In the traditional marketing model, we talk about the 4 P’s

o Product

o Pricing

o Place

o Promotion

The last section – Promotion is what we mean when we say you are “doing your marketing”. It’s your communications or your actual marketing activities.

But first, let’s get clear about the PURPOSE of marketing and why you want to get good at it.

“The PURPOSE of marketing or it’s biggest task is to

persuade prospects to visit you online or offline so you

can present your offer. Done well they come waving their

credit card and ready to buy so there’s no need for hard sell.”

Whenever and wherever you get in front of your potential market is your marketing opportunity – you are communicating or getting your message across.

You could say this started as far back as Babylon when the Town Crier was the only delivery method! They went around town shouting out to people to go to the marketplace and you went to the marketplace with your goods to “present your offer”.

With the invention of print and other technologies you now have a smorgasbord of delivery methods or media to reach people such as

o Print – newspapers, magazines, catalogues, newsletters

o Phone, mail, fax

o Radio & TV,

o Internet – through websites, blogs, social networking sites, email, video & Audio podcasts

o Teleseminars & webinars

o Mobile media – Blackberrys and mobile or cell phones

o And lets not forget in person public speaking and networking

Now that range adds a level of complexity. But choice is good and you don’t have to use all of these but they are available to you.

In any event you’ll either be speaking or writing. Simply narrow down what makes sense for you and your business and use your strengths to work out a plan.

JUST remember the marketing principles remain the same no matter the medium – so the PURPOSE of your marketing is still the same. To persuade prospects to visit you online or offline so you can present your offer.

So where does advertising fit into this?

Advertising is simply a subset of your marketing activities it’s the SALES function when you make the sales pitch or “present your offer”. This could be verbal or written in all the same media you use for your marketing communications. What adds to the confusion is sometimes big companies use image based ads for awareness so the “sales pitch” isn’t obvious.

But the primary purpose of advertising is to SELL.

So you create ads in one form or another and get them in front of your audience.

Small businesses can’t afford to waste money on image advertising that is designed for the masses to promote a well known brand. It simply isn’t designed to sell, NOW.

What I do and recommend is Direct Marketing which is based on one-on-one relationships and uses proven direct response advertising techniques instead of mass advertising.

The purpose of a direct response advertisement is to get a response, NOW! Which means these ads actually ask the prospect to DO something.

Whether you’re building a list, selling a product or service, an appointment or even something you are giving away – you still need to “sell” it to your prospect. And ask them to take the action you want them to take to move them through the sales process.

In a nutshell, advertising is a subset of marketing and direct response marketing and advertising is the champion for small business.

6 Important Aspects of E-Commerce Websites

Web development is an intricate process as there are multiple aspects to keep in mind. There are several things to consider like appealing design, user-experience, performance and easy navigation. E-commerce website development is a challenging process. Discussed here are certain important qualities that every e-commerce site should have.

Responsive Design:

Smart phone users are growing constantly. Most of the people prefer to shop online. It is due to this reason that a virtual shop should be responsive. It should be able to adapt itself as per the screen of the gadget in which it is accessed. Right from the basic navigation to checkout and payment, every platform of e-shop should be made available to the mobile phone users so that people on the move can buy.

Should Support Guest Checkouts:

The users should be able to create an account to book orders and purchase. A follow up communication often leads to future sales and hence this aspect of e-commerce website is important. Notifications for the upcoming items lead to the sales and hence a virtual shop should have this feature.

Site Search Feature Must be There:

30 % of the customers visit e-commerce sites to search for the products. It is important to ensure that the search functionality should be there in the site. Auto complete features help the users to find their popular products. Also, the visitors should be able to narrow their search in several ways.

Security is Important:

All the e-commerce website should support SSL to encrypt the information requires to remain secure. This is so because the payments are done through credit cards and the bank details are furnished. If your site is not secured, customers will not purchase from you.

Should Contain Multiple Modes of Payments:

People like to pay as per their convenience. It is due to this reason that ever e-commerce website should have multiple modes of payments including the most commonly used Cash-on-Delivery method. Most of the customers run away from the sites that do not have COD payment mode.

Should be Well-Optimised:

With an increasing competition for selling products and services online, there are more people than ever that are in the race. If you cannot be found easily on the search engines, you will be at a loss. An e-commerce website should be well-optimised and easily found. A majority of people leave your website if it does not load easily.

These are a few important features that an e-commerce website should have. If you want to have a roaring online business, you need to hire a reputed and reliable website development company that can take care of all the important aspects.