I keep seeing and hearing this a lot...

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by LaToya, Feb 6, 2019.

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  1. Feb 6, 2019 #1

    LaToya

    LaToya

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    I keep crossing posts saying that there is not a lot of money in soap making because there is too much competition.

    Am I the only one who feels that only you (and maybe your higher power) have the power to change that mindset? I honestly feel that if you perfect your craft, and have your own uniqueness about it, there's no telling how high you can soar. I'm just being honest. What do you think?
     
  2. Feb 6, 2019 #2

    shunt2011

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    It depends on many things. Have you visited any venues in your area? Here there are 4-5 soap makers at each show. Farmer's markets here have 2-3. I've been doing this long enough and have found shows where I've got a base of customers. It took several years to get that though. Customers want to see you regularly at these venues. Even getting into many venues are tough if you are new. I only do shows that are handmade and are juried. You can certainly get lucky but if you talk to most soap makers, they certainly aren't making a living off doing it. I'm still working full time but enjoy doing my shows and have a lot of dedicated customers who make it worth my time to continue to do this. Shows are a lot of work and take a lot of time plus some are really expensive to get into.

    Many who jump into selling are very new and started this great hobby but found it isn't a cheap hobby. So they start selling and most don't stick around long.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
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  3. Feb 6, 2019 #3

    dixiedragon

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    I would say it's not EASY money. Sometimes people come on here with the idea that they'll whip out a few dozen bars of soap, sell them for $5 each, and make a quick few hundred bucks. The main barrier to making sales isn't perfecting your craft or having your own "uniqueness" - it's finding customers who are willing to pay for that. I would love to see some numbers from some of the people who sell here regarding how much they make from craft sales, online sales and wholesale accounts.

    Sales is less about quality and more about connections and networking. Quality is important for REPEAT sales, but you have to make that FIRST sale.
     
  4. Feb 6, 2019 #4

    jcandleattic

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    ITA with both Shari and Dixiedragon, it's not easy money, and it's not a cheap hobby/business. It takes lot of upfront money for supplies, and a long time of selling, at venues/online/other outlets to build up a costumer base.
    In my instance even longer to build an online base. (my online base is basically non-existent because i just do not have the time needed to dedicate myself to my website/social media/online presence) my online sales will spike right after I do a show, but dwindle down shortly after because of the aforementioned lack of time and there's nothing "new and exciting" to see on my website so most of my regulars will wait for me to come back to the shows to purchase.
     
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  5. Feb 6, 2019 #5

    amd

    amd

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    You also have to consider how many repeat customers you need to have a profitable business. The majority of my repeat customers purchase 10 bars a year - at $5 per bar, that $50 gross income per customer. (People can only use so much soap.) Take out COG (cost of goods), insurance, website fees, show fees, etc. and it takes a lot of repeat regulars to be profitable. It takes years to get that stable customer base so that you're not relying on random sales. Not everyone who buys from you will be a repeat customer, you hope they will, but most won't.
     
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  6. Feb 6, 2019 #6

    Hendejm

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    I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. I will also add that finding your niche and creating a brand identity that hits on all fronts, across all platforms. It isn’t enough to have a great product - you have to have great packaging, great message, consistent branding, have a web, print, social media, and word of mouth program that drives your brand home.
    Example:
    - Soap website that clearly identifies your brand ( sexy, feminine, sweet, old fashioned, etc)
    - Facebook, YouTube, twitter, instagram, Pinterest, etc with consistent and regular messaging aligned with website
    - Flyers, business cards, discount coupons, etc with consistent and regular messaging aligned with website
    - encourage online reviews of your product across all web platforms
    - create a Soap Club to encourage repeat business
    - encourage referrals by offering discounts
    - partner with wholesale accounts that closely align with your brand identity. If you don’t want to sell cheap soap -don’t sell to Walmart. If you want to sell $5 soap - sell at craft fairs. If you want to sell $8 soap - sell at high end Farmers Markets and exclusive boutiques and home decor stores.

    You need to have a target customer in mind. You cannot make it in any new business by simply creating a product and hoping people will buy it. Create a fictitious customer and give her/him a name. With every purchase of materials ( or website, etc) you make / decide if that’s what your customer would want or need. If your customer is:

    Sally, 35 years old, 3 kids, works part time at Williams Sonoma, likes to bake, belongs to PTA, starting a recycleing program in her town.

    Sally probably likes:
    Organic
    Natural
    Products that are gentle on earth
    Instant gratification
    Likes higher end products
    Is a foodie

    So what will be some things that you can bake into your product design that aligns with Sally?

    Recycled packaging
    Natural ingredients
    Nice packaging
    Simpler Design - not too frilly
    Simple and expensive ingredients
    Food additives in soap (coffee - oatmeal - etc)

    Now your marketing message is all of those things above. If it doesn’t align to your core customer - don’t make the product. Don’t advertise “lowest price” if you don’t want that customer. Don’t do fancy swirls and high top soaps if you don’t want that kind of a fussy customer. Keep your messaging in line with your product - shout it from every platform available - regularly and consistently - provide great customer service....those are the things it takes to be successful. And of course have a great product.

    Sitting at a craft fair and saying hello to people passing by is not a business model. Creating all different types/styles of soaps and hoping someone buys them is not a business model.

    Creating a collection of products that align with your core customer and never deviating from it is what will bring you business - your core customer will refer you to like minded people who will love your product. Creating a consistent brand message and hammering it home across all channels along with a great product will begin to create a business that can be self-sustaining and viable.

    The notion that the soap market/field is overpopulated is nonsense. If your product isn’t selling it is because of:

    1. Quality
    2. Selection
    3. Availability
    4. Brand identity (or lack of it)
    5. Not connecting with your core customer

    Price is NOT a consideration as to whether something is successful or not. Reaching a customer that will pay the price for your product IS important. If you are selling your soaps at a craft show and your core customer doesn’t shop at craft shows- how do you expect to sell any soap? Why are you trying to sell your soap there? Also - do you think The Walmart customer wants a $10 bar of soap? Of course not. And Walmart knows this and as such - they don’t stock/sell high end soaps.

    Where is your customer buying? Online? Whole Foods? Boutique Shops? Find a way to reach your target customer. And guess what? Once you target the boutique shop, Whole Foods, etc - the competition isn’t nearly as crowded because that customer doesn’t like too many choices - they believe their brand loyalty to that retailer has weeded out the types of things your core customer doesn’t like. Make sense??

    Edited to add:
    If you think your customer will only purchase 10 bars of soap from you in a year - then build gift boxes and baskets with your products for them to give as gifts. It’s builds your brand and customer base and best of all - the paying customer is doing the work for you. They give the gift box to their friend (potential customer) (maybe for $50 and doubling what your customer spends in a year) and giving you another potential customer to repeat the process.

    Sorry for the long rant - I believe now, more than ever, you can be successful with your own handcrafted soaps. There are so many s venues available to the entrepreneur that weren’t available 10 years ago. If you think and try to build a business with an antiquated and outdated business model, you deserve to fail.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
  7. Feb 6, 2019 #7

    dixiedragon

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    Good post from Hendejm! IMO, if you don't have some sort of web store - Etsy or your own page, or something else - doing craft shows is almost a waste of time. You won't be able to gain any traction and each craft show is basically trying to make a cold sale.

    I think that Hendejm's post was excellent - but I don't think you have to START off knowing the answers to those questions. But you need to know that those ARE the questions and be moving towards answering those questions and making those decisions.

    Craft shows are also an investment of time and money. You have to book shows months in advance, and pay a fee. You have to make sure you have inventory for the show. You have to get you and all of your stuff to the show. You need a tent. (Though some shows do provide them.) You will need tables, shelves, table clothes, a chair, etc. You'll need a place to stay the night if it's not local. If your car won't hold all of that, can you make two trips? They are also physically exhausting. My mom is retired and does some (she makes wood turned things). She is EXHAUSTED afterwards. Now, she is in her 60s. But if you have a full time job, a craft show means leaving early Friday to set up, spending hours doing set up, spending 8+ hrs on Saturday and/or sunday manning your booth, then spending hours breaking down. Mom's first show, it took 4 people 2 hrs to break it down. That's 8 man hours.
     
  8. Feb 6, 2019 #8

    Hendejm

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    Excellent point!! That is where you transition from a hobby into a business. Either is fine and totally acceptable but having a business but running it like a hobby is a recipe for failure.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
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  9. Feb 6, 2019 #9

    MarnieSoapien

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  10. Feb 6, 2019 #10

    Hendejm

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    In my prior post I used the example of Sally - my target customer. But it doesn’t have to be high end. You could develop a target customer named Bonnie!

    Bonnie is 27 year old mom of a newborn baby. She works full time at Target and also drives for Uber part time. Her husband is military and overseas st the moment. She eats fast food between jobs and picking baby up from daycare. She shops at Aldi,Walmart, and some online.

    Bonnie probably likes:

    Convenience - needs it yesterday
    Price - she can’t afford expensive things
    Fancy - when she has a chance to relax she likes something pretty and smells nice
    Durability- the things she buys have to work. And maybe work double or triple duty to make it last.

    So you would design a product that:

    Is available online - like Amazon or Walmart.com
    Sell at church fairs or craft fairs
    Offers a buy more/save more message
    Has extra cleansing power
    Gentle for baby’s skin
    Maybe has more Fragrance in it or has some fancy swirls
    Is priced right - $3-5 dollar range


    Now design your product and your messaging to reflect those things and do t deviate. Make sense?
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2019
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  11. Feb 6, 2019 #11

    MarnieSoapien

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    Hendejm! For the love of... Stop following me!
     
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  12. Feb 6, 2019 #12

    Hendejm

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    haha! I though you were following me...lurking in the corner!
     
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  13. Feb 6, 2019 #13

    Meena

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    The replies on this thread have been excellent. Many of the replies are the reasons I am not an entrepreneur, and was a complete failure at my on-line jewelry "business" I started about 14 years ago (and since abandoned)! I could not afford shows, could not afford advertising, did not know how to develop customers -- you name it. I enjoy working for others and seeing a steady paycheck because I know that that's what my internal equilibrium needs. :)

    However, I don't want to discourage you, and the real reason for my post is that I just want to throw out something that I've seen with my melinated friends on Twitter who have home businesses making products: A lot of them are making products for the niche market of other African-Americans / blacks / Moors (whichever you prefer) who are very motivated to purchase from black-owned businesses. The beauty of this, also, is you have the right skin type to test it out on, whereas I would not have the first clue of what makes a good product for you.

    I have no way to judge how large this niche is because my Twitter friends are a small subset of the population of this country, but it's a viable idea to at least pursue, on your end. You could make only this type of product, or you could also make a small amount of more 'general' soap, so that some is available for purchase by other "races" (we are, at bottom, One Race - the Human Race!), but I think -- if it was me -- that I would investigate the movement toward melinateds helping melinateds because, God knows, in this country with its baleful history, ... well, I digress. Stopping here..

    You go, girl! I'm rooting for your success, whether it's with soap or a job or however. And I want you to know that I would have bought you that supporting membership if it would do any good, but you still wouldn't be able to post in the business forum until the required # of posts and 3 months time, so ... it wouldn't get you that 'leg up' that I'd love to give you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2019
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  14. Feb 6, 2019 #14

    MGM

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    See, this is why I could never sell. Because I think, what kind of idiot would pay $12 US plus $4 shipping for a bar of soap?? And yet, Royalty seems to be doing quite well. (Don't get me wrong....I love her, I love her soaps, I love her videos and I think she is sweet and has wonderful drive. And I will never give her one red cent. Luckily there appear to be many people who will. Maybe it's that whole "millennials will never be able to afford a house so they'll buy high-end coffee and lipsticks" idea.)

    I think you'd hit the nail on the head there (BTW, your initial "rant" as you call it was a master class in marketing: informative, but also separating the wheat from the chaff. well done!).
     
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  15. Feb 6, 2019 #15

    melinda48

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    We did juried shows on the east coast for several years (metalwork, not Soap) but I will say that if you can’t set up or tear down in 30 minutes, you may want to look at simplifying your display. I know there is some playing around after you get set up but setting up should not take two hours.
     
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  16. Feb 6, 2019 #16

    Hendejm

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    Royalty Soap knows her core customer! and she makes money with YouTube videos (per click/view - adds up to about $100,000 a year! - see attached screen shot). She also partners with Nurture Soap to sell her piping kit. Add in her Etsy store and she’s doing ok!

    She is a perfect example of knowing her customer - and she markets to them heavily and directly! She never strays from her core customer.

    Link: https://socialblade.com/youtube/user/royaltysoaps/monthly

    00953955-9025-40AB-9831-33FAE82847D1.png
     
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  17. Feb 6, 2019 #17

    Marilyn Norgart

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    thanks for everybody's input in this post. I think this is just what anybody thinking about selling needs to hear.
     
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  18. Feb 6, 2019 #18

    Hendejm

    Hendejm

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    Thank you!!! I’ve had years of experience - successes and failure that make me the “big mouthed - know it all” you see today! I worked in senior management with some of the United States largest retailers - and my own business that did approx $1 million/annual sales. I’ve made too many mistakes to count - learning from them is what sets someone apart from the pack - those that just whine and complain when life hands them lemons!
     
  19. Feb 6, 2019 #19

    Hendejm

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    You CAN NEVER ASSUME that your core customer is just like you! If you do - then you are only sell to people that are like YOU! If you are ok with selling to a customer that doesn’t want to pay $10 for a bar of soap - then create something that can retail for $5 - and go after that customer. Market to where you shop, dine, get hair cut, socialize, etc. those businesses have already identified you as a customer that they want. Either sell to those companies - or mimic their brand/marketing strategies so that you can attract other customers that are like you. This idea works across all levels, demographics, price points, it doesn’t matter.

    The biggest mistake is trying to attract both types of customers - you will alienate both and sales will suffer. A high end shopper doesn’t want to shop at Walmart (usually) - and a low end shopper doesn’t want to shop at Newman Marcus. Pick a demographic - and market the hell out of it and don’t deviate. That’s why Toyota has a separate brand for luxury cars -Lexus! High end shoppers don’t want a Toyota and average car shoppers don’t want a Lexus.
     
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  20. Feb 6, 2019 #20

    Meena

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    Holy crap, $100K off CLICKS?!? That's 2 years of full-time work for me. I'll have to ask for the Entrepreneur Gene next life. I was behind the barn door when they were handing that one out. :(
     
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