Websites with more info
....other resources (old posts, books, business templates, etc.)
Market Research
What to sell, where to sell (+advertising)
....selling raw supplies, premade elements, kits, etc.

Online auctions & "stores"
......general info, fees, etc.
.....polymer, especially
.....after auction closes
.....various problems
...other online auction sites
Your online website your own domain, web engines,etc.
Payment options (merchant accts., PayPal, etc.)

Wholesale shops, consignment shops, shows, online, etc.
Pricing & Legalities
....pricing your work, in general
... taxes, permits, receipts, etc.
....pricing when it's a hobby
....custom orders... managing time + organizing ...proving clay "strong"
....inventory ... boredom with "production" work
Shipping ... + thank you's
Full time polymer business, making a living at it
Business Cards
Portfolios,resumes... submitting slides... "professional" impressions

Publishing Articles, etc.
Negative reactions re polymer clay ("plastic"... only-for-kids' ,etc)

(see also Starting a Business for suggestions on how to get into polymer business... home or office "parties"... what to think about before starting, etc.)
(see also Owning for more on copyrights, trademarks, etc.)
(see also Shows... Demos... Teaching)



These days anyone "can do polymer" (and everyone knows the techniques or can by a little web surfing), and Carol Duvall has also made polymer clay a household word, there isn't as much incentive to actually buy our items, or to pay very much for them.

..... this means that if you want to be able to make it .at selling:

1.... raise your items to a level that surpasses what the general public can do (or thinks they can do)
..........(e.g., swirled beads, stamps and shapelets or using pearl-ex, for example, are now such common techniques that only the most secluded person will see them as being unique and have the desire to buy them)
.....your techniques and items must be original ( recognizable stamps, or simply following tutorials)
3.....your finishing also must be flawless (no unevenness, no rough edges, no unintentional assymmetry)
4.... presentation has to be incredible (packaging or online photography). Ginger

Websites with more info

Emma's tips on where to sell, how to price,. markets, etc.
Kim K's links to places to sell, etc.
More tips on selling & displaying, from the polymerclayinterest mailing group

Tory Hughes interview (business & personal philosophies and tips)
Donna Kato & others’ Crafts a la Cart home-party craft business

huge amount of free info on many topics related to having a craft or individual business, at Barbara Brabec's site (see below for her books as well):

many articles on starting a crafts business (starting, marketing, supplies)
(3 separate pages)

It's All About the Clay ..... "a brand new subscription newsletter, published monthly, devoted to turning your polymer hobby into a profit maker. We've partnered with Crafting For Dollars author (Sylvia Landman) to jam pack it with lots of what you need to know to make your clay pay. It's All About the Clay debuts June 15th and will be published on or about the same date each month. ....the newsletter will cost just $12 for the year. That's 12 issues for a buck each. " Jeanie Havel

(see also Tommie Howell's article below, under Full Time Business)

(see also: Starting a Business, for Crafts a la Cart home parties and more)

you could give online web cam demos ...see Groups-Online --or Groups-Chats if it's been uploaded
(.....these could be free or for a fee classes to demonstrate a technique, or in a series, etc.)

I checked out the alt.crafts.professional newsgroup, and oofta! :o) > > >I think I'll stick here. :o) Kind a friendlier..
I checked it out for the first time today. There was a lot of very cool info in there and a lot of troll stuff that I had to make new filters for. Once I weeded that out it was much nicer to read. Most of the posters are far more advanced on the path of selling things than I am, but I found their comments very interesting and inspiring. Checking out some of the web sites in the posts added to the experience. I think I'll keep lurking there for a bit longer. Halla


business templates

sample contracts for visual artists (require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print)
(for "business services" and for "consignment")

various types (look for Business Templates, under the "B's")

Books, tapes, etc.

Barbara Brabec is the authority on the subject of crafts business. She has written books, been on Carol Duvall, publishes a newsletter and has a website.
...I've shared all my best tips and how-to secrets to success in a crafts business at home in my various can read about them on my personal website at
...huge collection of home business articles, tips and resources there, plus crafts marketing by Barbara Brabec and others
.... also want to mention that my books feature some successful polymer-clay artists who have 'made it big.' Barbara
... Handmade for Profit ...Hundreds of Secrets t o Success in Selling Arts and Crafts, by Barbara Brabec. I was a bit skeptical until I read it through. There are even a few of our pc pals mentioned in the business card formating section. Jenni-frog
.........In Handmade for Profit, I write about Gina Casey, who sold thousands of polymer clay miniatures in craft malls for years and finally made enough money from this to open her own craft shop. In fact, she is now being featured as a craft shop owner in the 2nd edition of this book, which I am writing now for publication next fall. Creative Cash, I've written about how Maureen Carlson licensed her designs and launched her "Pippsywoggins" sculptures line. my book, Make It Profitable, Maureen and other polymer clay artists have also shared their expertise and production know-how.
...Never give up your dream. You *can* profit from your natural creativity, good ideas and know-how, but it will take some time and effort. The important thing is just to get started because you'll soon find that each new step you take will automatically lead you somewhere else--another step nearer to your ultimate destination as a crafts professional. Barbara

Crafting as a Business" by Wendy Rosen . . . .I think that book is one of the best that I've read on the subject. I'm thankful that I read it before I started doing my kaleidoscope business with some galleries. I was prepared for a number of things that I wouldn't have been had I not. I must admit that it's a lot more complicated to "craft as a business" than I would like it to be, and much more than I thought it would be when we started. But attention to detail pays off in the long run. Dotty in CA

I have Janice West’s book . . .Its an incredibly infomational book!!! <and Janice is just the sweetest thing!!!> . . .you can find it at Amazon Books . She's a wonder when it comes to thinking up new places to market your work! And some great tips for running a small business, too, even if it's VERY small.
See her interview at and a review

Jewelry Making for Fun and Profit by Lynda Musante is a good one. . . .
.....The other one that had lots of great info is How to Start a HomeBased Business by Kenn Oberrecht. Sue

If anyone hasn't seen it, check out The Crafts Report. It's a magazine ...I've been a crafter all my life, but for years, really wanted to have my own small business. I figured that if I couldn't afford to buy everything I liked, I could surround myself in fine craft by having a store. So I took classes in running a small business and read The Crafts Report. I learned a LOT, especially the business side of being a professional crafter. They have a website:
... Among other things on the website is a directory to crafts shows by state or city. Randi

The other thing is to make an appointment with a SCORE volunteer. That's the SBA's (Small Business Associations's) organization of retired (and other) businessmen who listen to your plans and offer suggestions, suggest resources or ways to go that you might not know of, etc. My advisor said "you aren't ready" and in retrospect he was absolutely right!
The wonderful man I talked to at SCORE also suggested a business loan for working capital. That would certainly help with the booth presentation, but I'm not quite ready? DeB
DH and I run a gift shop out of one of the local flea markets where I also display various items I've made. We are at the point where we need to expand the products we carry but don't have the money for it. SBA has a "microloan" program where you can get a loan of between $750 to $25,000. We were going to ask for $10,000. DH went to SCORE to get there help in putting the application packet together. The gentleman there recommended we ask for twice as much. Sandy

It is called "creative financing," so if a Bank or other lender turns you down, DON'T GIVE UP, . . .You might also try looking at the book, "Guerilla Financing", sorry, I can't remember the author, I saw it in local bookstores, as well as at the local library. est wishes, e-mail me direct if you'd like any help/advice. ---Dori

Dori, One of the authors is Jay Levinson, there is another, but I can't remember his name. Yes, great book! peg polymer

I highly highly highly recommend listening to the audio tape "Be a Dynamic Craft Seller" by Bruce Baker. See I'm not associated with him in any way, but I listen to the tape before every show. Even if you don't do shows, there is a lot of good info about how you present yourself and how you present your work. If he is ever giving a workshop in your area, GO! I was so charged after the one of his I attended, I could have sold .... popsicles to Eskimos…. It's by Bruce Baker, who does a column in Crafts Report magazine, and who also lectures on a variety of topics, including selling craftwork, displays, jury slides, and more. He's an enthusiastic, even charismatic, speaker and imparts a Lot of good information in every sentence. His cassette tape will tell you about your own body language, the body language of customers, how to phrase questions, how *not* to act, how to answer those questions that push our buttons, oh, jeez, so much info! Irene NC
I also bought the tape and whole-heartedly agree! My dilemma was why everybody loved to hang out in my booth but never bought anything. Mystery solved! I could have been the poster child for what not to do at a show. Right down to the color of my booth!/...! Anybody who is even thinking about doing a show and hasn't bought the tape SHOULD! Lorieo
... You will get the picture of what your customer sees when shopping and listening to it before every show keeps you fresh. Denise

In my explorations about making my art/craft a business I came across these sites. The first is James Dillehay . He has a free newsletter that is very interesting. He also reviews books on the topic. He reviewed this one and I have ordered it from Amazon.
... Her site is also very interesting. Author is Barbara Brabec The book is "Make It Profitable, How to Make Your Art, Craft, Design, Writing and Publishing Business More Efficient, More Satisfying and More Profitable." for $16.95 and her site is
Marsha So Cal
I have another of Barbara Brabec's books and have found it helpful. She has written a number of books about being successful in a homebased business. Dianne C.

The absolute best thing that happened to me during that serendipity of creating then selling my business was discovering a small little book that absolutely changed my life. I would like to recommend it to anyone who wants to be a better salesperson. The name of the book is: "The Greatest Salesman In The World" by George OG Mandino...Your local library probably has a copy of it too. Sam Croy

(see Sarajane Helm's words on seeing art everywhere, and using everything you know/experience for the business and practice of art, in Creativity/Formative Teachers)

Here is a website that seems to have good information about marketing handcrafted items, and also publishes a newsletter to which you can subscribe. . . .you can also look at archived newsletters:. Patti

Preston Reuther's many online articles about home businesses, doing shows, etc.

I belong to 2 online craft biz groups : is through Yahoogroups and is called acraftbizconnection
... the other is through Topica & is called professional-crafters Cathy

Old Newsgroup Posts

There is a gold mine of polymer business information in the archived posts of the polymer "newsgroup" (rec.crafts.polymer-clay). can still read these in Google's "Advanced Newsgroup Search" area
1. first, copy one of the subject lines you found (for example, on this page under "What and Where to Sell")
don’t include anything in parentheses --so spaces, exact spelling, etc, will be preserved.)
2. then click on this link: ...and fill in these 2 windows:
.....Newsgroup: . rec.crafts.polymer-clay
.... Subject:
.paste in the subject line you copied
..............................(the Message Dates window should be set already:
.Return Messages Dated ..Anytime is the default)
3. click on: Google Search on: View: Complete Thread (after results come up)

Remember that sometimes during a particular subject thread, someone may have strayed off the subject in their individual reply. If this bothers you, it might help to read the earliest responses in each thread first?
to use the Google's newsgroup advanced search area for other words, or if you don't know the exact subject title,
see Google's instructions on searching at
: )


Irene in western NC:
Market research doesn't necessarily mean noticing what *you* are selling, nor does it mean asking other people what they are selling.
JEWELRY: Go to the library and spend a couple hours checking out hip fashion magazines. What are the models wearing? Chokers? Pendants? Big earrings? Tiny earrings? What colors are trendy right now? Earth tones? Deep jewel tones? Brights? What sort of imagery? Organic-y random shapes? Representational? Ethnic? Ancient stuff? Spiritual? Art Deco? Techno?
Next time you are watching a tv show that shows the audience -- notice what the women in the audience are wearing. Pins? Pendants? Fancy hair things?
Go downtown and walk around and look at what people are wearing and what the mannequins in department store windows are accessorized with.
HOME DÉCOR: Then look at Architectural Digest or Home or HomeStyle magazine. What sort of home accessories are featured? Decorative? Functional? Natural look? Contemporary? Sleek and clean lines? Curly and froo-froo? Whimsical?
What are the lifestyle trends these days? Partying? Hanging out with the family and friends at home? Religion/spirituality? Time with yourself?
YOUR TARGET MARKET: Frankly, if you want to target upscale, professional women, snowman pins are not the way to go. Learn your market and learn what they want/like. As I mentioned on another list, my market is mostly people in their 40's to 60's, usually couples (including many same-sex couples), with no children or grown children, a disposable income, often a second home, many of them with their own successful business. This is my market, and I cater to them. It helps me focus and gives me a direction for my work.
And jeez, don't make something because someone else makes it and charges a lot for it. If your work doesn't come from your soul, it shows. It becomes just an object. Make something you love and something that really speaks to you. Of course, I am guilty of not adhering to this sometimes, but it is something we all should remember.
I recently posted to Polymer Clay Interest some tips about selling and craft shows. An important one, one I learned from Kathleen Dustin, is not to use every technique out there. You will never develop your own look. Save the cool new techniques for swaps or experiment with them until you figure out a way to incorporate them into your existing body of work. A booth of artwork using primarily mokume gane, for instance, will be so much more effective than a booth with some mokume, a few photocopy transfer pins, a bunch of cane-slice beads, and a display of teddy bear santa pins. Ya know? Also, using a dozen different techniques means never getting really really great at any one or two of them. . . . Irene in western NC

More from Irene:
(Target a market that will make you money. My market tends to be people (usually couples, many same-sex couples) in their 40's to 60's, either without children, or whose children are grown, who have disposable income. Often they have a second home. The disposable income is the important part. Learn what these people like and make it. The above might seem like selling out a little, but it's not. It helps me focus on what I'm making, and it gives me direction when developing something new. Knowing my market helped me make the decision to stop making jewelry. My customers prefer to spend the money on jewelry made of precious metals, handmade glass beads, nicely set stones. My polymer clay jewelry was sort of a whimsical afterthought for them. So I target the money they want to spend on home decor sorts of things, and that's what they buy from me.)
Don't feel obligated to use every technique there is. You'll never develop your own "look". Save those cool new techniques for swaps or for developing prototypes that you can eventually work into your line. And try to develop your own unique style. People can recognize the work of certain painters, clothing designers, potters, jewelers, etc. This can make your work collectible (and it makes a more cohesive display).
Always finish everything perfectly, front and back. Never think someone won't notice a chip or corners that don't line up. They might not conciously see it, but it will affect their perception of the piece. And *you'll* know. It's okay to use church-bazaar type craft shows to get a little experience dealing with the public, but the people who shop there are not going to spend much money.
Find high-quality, established shows. Scope the show out and apply next year. When you scope it out, look at the customers and what they are wearing, what they are buying. Notice the type of work being sold. Contemporary? Country? Don't apply if you don't think your work will fit. (This is also a good opportunity to get display ideas.)
Don't overcrowd your booth. I dropped several things from my line because they took up valuable display space. My booth looks sleeker and it's easier to see everything because it's not all crowded in there.
Stick PVC onto your table legs to make the table counter-height. Make your display elegant. Look at booths with expensive, sophisticated work in them. Check out how it's displayed. Be professional.
While in your booth, don't read, don't eat sloppy foods, don't sit and stare, don't chat with your friends, and above all, DO NOT complain in your booth, and don't let anyone else do so. (I have actually asked whiney craftspeople to please leave my booth because "I don't do negativity.") You are there to Sell! ...If you hate this aspect of selling, then don't do shows; find another way to sell your work or hire someone to sell at shows for you.
And be confident. Even if you haven't sold a thing, have a confident, successful attitude and body language. Dress for success. Smile. Stand up straight.
Have a few one-of-a-kind, expensive "show" pieces to draw people into your booth. Then have several more pieces in the $50 to $100 range, and even more in the $20 to $35 range. You'll sell more things in the lower price range, but you 'll also be pleasantly surprised how many people will buy in that middle range. You want things nearly anyone can afford, but you don't want to seem too cheap, either. IMO, that seems needy, which is not something that makes anyone want to buy. If you target the right market, you'll find they are happy to spend $100 or more on a nice piece of artwork.
Don't leave your mailing list book out for just anyone to sign; only people who actually buy. You'll go broke on postage otherwise.

And if you have a mailing list, *use* it! . . . send them postcards a week or two before each show.. . .Let them know where you will be (show schedule) , what stores or galleries are carrying your work, what new lines you are developing, new products, etc. . I have excellent mailing list response at nearly every show, because I keep in touch with these people throughout the year and they remember me. . . . You might also consider including a brief statement in your next mailing about the durability of your work and that you'll be happy to repair or replace anything that has broken. Whether anything gets sent back or not, you've let your customers know that you stand behind your work Irene in western NC

There is a saying from my husband's guitar instructor R.Fripp "Whether or not you like something is no accurate way to judge it" which seems silly at first (OF COURSE its no good if *I* don't like it) but it is arguably very true. When I used to have a store that sold wearable art, we would at the beginning discount the items we didn't love. What we found though was that if we raised the prices, and shut our mouths, the pieces we didn't like often found their buyer just as quickly or even faster than the pieces we loved. The ones I thought I should give away because they were plain old ugly often found the happiest reception at full price and actually looked remarkably good on the people buying them. Sarajane H.
. . . well, shutting up is not my natural area of expertise either! But it is a good skill to learn. My speech teacher in highschool said over and over and over to all of us young speakers "NEVER apologise for your presentation" meaning don't stand up there saying "gee, shucks, I know this isn't any good, and you probably don't even want to listen...." and it holds true in ANY public display. Put your stuff out, and if you can't pretend you love them all equally, at the least don't stand there pointing out the ones you think are ugly! If it helps, think of it as an excercise in Research and Developement...figure out what the buying public likes by giving them options and observing their reactions. Remember, its not a value judgment about YOU---its about how THEY react to the work. Sarajane H.

~I guess I prefer to sell myself. Interacting -no, no, wait, that's not the word I want-...I guess 'seeing' my customers is what I like. I can get an idea of what to make, 'I' get out more, and it just stimulates me to make more I guess! Jeanette

(re colors that sell well:) My dear friend and mentor Libby Gregory, who taught me much of what I know about beads and running a store, said "I can sell anything if its purple" and this has held true for me for more than 20 years. People love purple and then blue...other colors vary, but those are always "in" and easiest to sell. Yellow and green are tougher. Sarajane H.
I will have to try more purple then! I know blue always sells well. And I also have difficulty with green and yellow. Green isn't so bad if it's more turquoise than green. Also when the new seasons clothes range comes out in the catalogues and in the shops I always spend a day or so just browsing to look at colours and styles before I start making again for the new season. Shelley

a suggestion... I am on several quilt lists and they are always moaning that at quilt shows, they would love to purchase quilt keychains, fridge magnets and quilt type jewellery. Very rarely are these available and are snapped up immediately. Just thought someone might be interested in filling this market.... Dahn
maybe make a presentation once (or a couple of times a year) at quilt guild meetings? DB

I took my beads to a bead store, and they bought lots of them to carry in their store! Carole Dawn

I agree, it doesn't cost very much more to use sterling or gold-filled findings. They look so much nicer and the perceived value is higher. Niobium hooks, while a bit pricier, can really add punch to earrings, too. When I did jewelry, I always had a selection of hooks and my jewelry pliers with me at shows, so I could change hooks if someone wanted. I second Rio Grande as a decent source of good-quality SS and GF findings for a reasonable price. Plus theyhave no minimum order and ship FedEx 2-Day at for the same price most places charge for ground service UPS. -- Irene NC

Jacqueline Gikow's article lesson in Polyzine re how to tell Trends in design, color, technique, etc.
Popcorn site dealing with upcoming trends

WHAT to sell ... WHERE to sell
+ advertising

How do you find a market to sell your items? Patsy
....perserverance.....try your stuff in one market, then another if it doesn't work.....You just never know where or when your product might sell and trying out a whole variety of places is the way to find out........ also think outside the box sometimes
...What kind of people would be/ are interested in your products?? Fancy evening bag/ purses like you describe, might do well in a high end resale clothing boutique??? auctions work well for some and not at all for others, same with web pages, same with craft fairs and shows, you need to find your best spots. Connie

Some Places To Sell Your Creative Work (from Polyclay Newsletter):
Consignment to craft malls & rent-a-space shops
Craft consignment or wholesale to other shops (especially shops dealing with the same sort of thing)
Home and/or garden shows
Home builder's shows
Interior decorations
Art galleries
Bed & breakfast inns
Hotel gift shop
Beauty salons -- they sometimes like to show lovely little tchotchkes
Museum or historical site gift shops
Amusement park shops
Tourist and seasonal shops
A craft co-op
Art & craft fairs and shows
Open house sales
Holiday boutiques, Seasonal boutiques
Online (your website, online craft malls, auction sites like e-Bay)
Developing and selling kits
Private studios and workshops, classes
Home craft parties
Entering contests . Georgia
(some of these possibilities have separate categories below or are dicusssed on the Start A Business or Shows or Teaching page)

"niche" markets
.... often you can find a lot of success in a niche market of some kind because when someone has a particular hobby or interest, they tend to be willing to spend much more moola for an item dealing with that topic ...some savvy clayers have made a killing that way

some niche examples:
animal lovers (dog/cat/snake/horse, or specific breed) ...teapot collectors enthusiasts ...gardeners ...quilters ...golfers or other sport lovers ...campers/hikers, ...teachers ...preachers ...dentists ...musicians.... whatever!!
. way to help figure out possibilities for niche markets is to go to a service which deals with lots of interest groups, then browse the specific types they're broken down into there
...... for example, here's the main page for all of the Yahoogroups mailing lists:
..multi-message board forums are other possibilities for browsing, e.g. delphiforums, Googlegroups and USENET....or more specific ones like Do It Yourself ( or, etc.

You could then make figures, or items, or figures with items that relate to that particular niche, and get loads of possible clients.
...or you could make anything at all (box, pen, bookend, frame, pencil cup) but using a theme or colors of one hobby/profession/etc. on it (beware of trademarks, copyrights, etc., even with colors... many are quite agressively protected!).

For selling some items, you can go to events (dog shows, for example) wearing (or otherwise in possession of) some of your things

Or you can approach local clubs to do presentations/sales/advertising in their newsletters or at meetings

Or approach specialty stores that sell to those with that interest.... they may be willing to sell a few of your things, or you could make up a nice flyer to leave there

Also, it's always a good idea to check out what others are doing to see what you want to emulate or avoid, whether it's eBay, online websites, or advertisements/flyers, etc. Diane B.

eBay is a good place to reach niche markets because many "collectors" haunt it, and many people looking for specific things (there are various ways to go on eBay, from regular selling, to Buy It Now, to an eBay Store ... each with their rules and advantages, etc. Though you can't advertise your personal website on eBay if you have one, when someone buys from you, you can feel free to send them info about it with the delivery (look on the Business page for more details)

(...see also Gifts for lots of possible niche ideas)

How to find places to sell your work
.. the "best ones" for you will depend on what you make and what style your work is.
...For example, my nature-themed switch plates do well at a local upscale home store as well as a nature store. . . . Work with cultural or local references might do well at a local museum shop (they like work by local artists). You can look for shops when you go on vacation, or ask your friends and family in other cities to recommend shops.
. . . .The Crafts Report magazine also has a listing of shops seeking work. Irene D.
...I've never been in a beauty shop, but the one I go to has a line of jewelry made by a young gal, and her items seem to sell very well. Dotty
...I teach my button class at a store that also teaches quilting. It is a wonderful extension of the craft. Trina
...(see more ideas for types & sizes of buttons to sell at knitting shops or bead shops, in Buttons) person who carries some of our finished jewelry has limited space, so she has mounted the necklaces on a velvet-backed picture frame, and hangs it on a wall like a picture (about 12 pieces)...saves space, and they display well like that. BeadShark

wearing your pieces yourself (in public)
...just wearing your own jewelry, or carrying a sample of your style, etc, with something else like a polymer notebook cover or pen, is a great way to market and/or sell your items can either allow people to buy the items directly from you, or give them a business card so they can contact you
...other possibilities include keeping some of your stock in your car or purse (which you just "happen" to have with you), or keeping a more complete photo album showing what you do, styles, etc. in your car, etc.
letting others wear or use your items for free while they're around potential customers
...A friend of mine has a business doing facials, etc. I made her a necklace for her birthday and she gets so many compliments on it and people asking where she got it. Her shop is small and no room to display my jewelry but she has suggested that she wear some of my jewelry and have my cards on hand so that when her customers ask about her jewelry she can give them a card and they can contact me if they want jewelry. She can also sell the jewelry right off her body too...LOL! I think this is a neat way of advertising. She has lots of clients. I think this is a fun way to sell as she gets to wear lots of different jewelry free, and I get lots of exposure with my jewelry. Jeanette
...I would enlist the people you know in your town like the nice pharmacist lady, the fashionable hairdresser, the talkative girl at your local nail salon. taso86
... i also send my mum out to the pub in my stuff so her friends (who love my jewellery) can see any new designs.... i get quite a few orders thet way, and i even got to teach a class once becuase of it. carolinemhannon

miniatures can be a very profitable and reliable market selling miniature items to miniaturists (of various types) ...they often don't want to have to make everything they use in their scenes (and some buy all the elements they use)
.....I just want to remind people that the amount of money the public spends on miniatures exceeds the amount of money spent on polymer clay jewlery and household accessories!.... the Doll House and Miniature demograph is worldwide, and comprises one-third of the 10 billion dollar a year hobby and craft industry income!! Nora-Jean
....consider the needs of model railroad enthusiasts too
....see the long list of ideas for many things to sell to miniaturists, esp. for doll houses, in Miniatures > e-Bay, etc.

I've sold about 20 (of my fancy) postcards so far at $14 each. Linda Goff
(see Cards > Postcards for details on making them, and how to mail bare)

for things like clip ems (to hang from purse, jacket, backpack,etc), belly swag jewelry, eye glass leashes, etc, made by stringing polymer beads (or leftover beads) into short or longer lengths (possibly intermixed with purchased findings and beads), fan pulls, etc...... in Jewelry > Misc.&Clip-ems & also Eyeglass Leashes

At one time I made magnets of people's houses - great fun, I got commissioned to do quite a lot as they made lovely custom gifts too. Sue? fact, I just sold the bed and breakfast building I have on my site to the chairman of the board for the Friends of Gettysburg Parks. Karen
... It sounds as if you're onto something that could be really big
....... I know my Mom and my Aunt (in frederick and Hagerstown, MD) collected Cat's Meow wooden buildings for years (you know, they're about 3/4' thick with stencil-painted windows/doors, some people put them above doors) . I'll bet yours are in the same league. . . . maybe you could do some national landmarks, too. Jeannie (many structures of all kinds at Cat's Meow)

I am on several quilt group lists and they are always moaning that at quilt shows, they would love to purchase quilt-themed items like keychains, fridge magnets and quilt type jewellery. Very rarely are these available and are snapped up immediately. Just thought someone might be interested in filling this
....Jennifer Patterson who does quilt pattern canes travels the country selling her jewelry at big quilt shows. Trina
....covering film canisters to make portable pin cushions from them for sewers or quilters (plus needle cases and/or polymer heads for pins?) (see info in Covering > Plastics > Film Containers)
....also buttons, pens, pins, bowls and boxes, handles of flatware etc.
...Maybe you could make a presentation once (or a couple of times a year) of potential items at quilt guild meetings??
...... or pass around a survey for items people might want you to make (after seeing some examples)? DB

This presentation idea could work for other kinds of groups which have regular meetings too... e.g:
-- weavers or other art types, non-art types like bowling leagues, sports fans, Shriners, weight loss group, hikers, bikers, etc.
...there are groups out there for practically every. interest, profession, hobby, disease/syndrome, etc.!!! DB

I think you have really hit on something great...the best part is that you can no doubt do specific subjects that people can't find anywhere else (like your dragon)... .....people are always asking for such things as frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, etc that are not "cutesy" ones that you can get in commercial molds.( I'd love a long, double winged dragon fly, about four inches long for instance. You could make one or two smaller ones too.)
....It's called "find a need, and fill it." Dotty in CA

(At school) What we've done is left out items to sell in a basket, with price information and an honor system envelope, for checks or cash. I'd ask at the office if I could leave it in the teacher's lounge for a day. If they know you at the school they're usually happy to oblige. Maureen
That's what I do, too. After 25 years as a school nurse in a large K-12 district I can take my wares into almost any school. Never had any major problems. Those guys are some of my best customers. Trina

Look for a niche to fill --mine is almost 100% selling to teachers & school staff. ...They love smallish seasonal stuff for throughout the year - for themselves, parent volunteers, their family....just from Nov.- Dec. 24, I make enough money to recoup expenses & pay for all of my personal holiday family gift shopping. KA in CA

I've found if you want to make the big bucks (or biggER bucks), find yourself a niche market.
...You have one ready made there if you work with horses (people who own animals are just big suckers for their favorite breed...there is a lovely lady who makes these Chow pendants; when I first saw them, my only thought was "who the heck is going to wear a Chow pendant around their neck???"...then I saw how much they were going for on ebay (and each had multiple bidders!) if I were you, I'd start making some horsey themed stuff and then wearing it around the stables.... you might be surprised at the response you get. Maybe some earrings or a pendant/brooch in the shape of horseshoes or a saddle? And definitely slap together some Christmas ornaments with a horsey theme... for example, check out some of the pearlex powders in bronze or gold to give it that "metallic look"! ...or use faux leather for your saddle! Karen H.

One guy I know who makes clay characters based on video game characters sells his clay sculptures at video rental stores. Connie
(beware copyright issues though when selling!!!)

Another niche market could be selling manipulables to teachers and parents for kids or kids with disabilities (counting beads, tiles with colors or pictures to match up or add pips, etc, etc..)
...more on these in Kids and in Disabilities ... more places? DB

I make a lot of jewelry, particularly bracelets, earrings and the barrettes. ....Necklaces are less popular, make some,and few pins as my sales are mainly in the summer. I made hundreds of little tabular beads as these were the most popular and tumble them to polish. This was as a result of reading Elise Winters article in Jewelry Craft Magazine. Try to make my line some how symbiotic to save money. I have no waste clay. All my ends from the beads go into making composite canes which I use in the barrettes and they are some of my best pieces. Shirley

for college students..... photo frames. I am not to sure about this but everyone I knew loved to have lots of photos. if you make them for either 3.5 x 5 or 4x6 that might also work. I wouldn't make anything too huge though. Basically because college students tend to be broke and chances are the stuff that is going to sell is the small stuff. -NF

many groups also like to give appreciation pins or other items to their workers or volunteers director of the "product party" business then contracted with me to make incentive pins (look like little tubes of lipstick she gives out when someone reaches a goal she has set for them...there are changes in the look of the pins for multiple achievement levels)... this happened after a MaryKay/Tupperware/PamperedChef director & I had "exchanged" parties... I made thousands of dollars last year this way, and could have made more if I had made enough product. Alecia

For 2001, they are saying that the gift trends will be:
Home office and computer accessories clocks decorated boxes jewelry figurines and sculptures garden and outdoor items lamps and lighting picture frames wall decor
Favorite themes to look for are: Nautical and seaside golf hobby and professional pets juvenile and baby home and hearth wildlife folk art pigs americana country cabin and lake cottage themes Moroccan, Turkish, Indian, caribbean, Cuban and Asian themes
According to the article Babies are big business. The industry has grown 470 percent since 1980. Celestial, educational, keepsake and personalization are the most popular gift theme catagories. Practical is the buzz word, meeting the needs of parents on the go.
There you have it - straight from the most looked at trade magazine in the crafts world! Thought your inquiring minds would like to know! Karen R.

(Hawaii) These "eternal leis" (flowers made from polymer clay) can be worn to work or special occasions, tied around the brim of a hat or hung in the home for decoration -- and they always look fresh. Perhaps that's why these leis are so popular. Crafters say they sell out at craft fairs and must work overtime to fill soon as she puts them out, they're sold. She actually has to hoard stock for craft fairs so she'll have enough. ...Prices run as high as $150 for a three-strand pikake lei or $125 for a plumeria lei. Crown flower leis are about $95. Most others, including puakenikeni, pakalana, ilima, rosebud and single-strand pikake are $45 to $75... leis can take 8-20 hrs each.
lesson on making a lei with puakenikeni flower:

I'm thinking of sending a flyer to the psychologists and therapists in town because a therapist friend of mine suggested (my silkscreened lamps would) be perfect for therapy-type rooms because of the soft light and unusual design. . Linda G.
.....I would also try to contact decorating companies that are searching for unique items for their rich customers. PöRRö

We were out Christmas Eve and the busiest stores we found were Michaels and a Yarn Shop! I think more people are making craft items which must also include polymer clay by the empty shelves that quickly appear during a sale.
....If this is true nationwide, then ,teaching or doing online classes/tutorials may possibly be a better way to "sell" at this time of year. Carol

raw supplies, pre-made elements, kits, etc.

I think there is ALSO a big desire for raw materials out there. . . . most from selling things related to my craft and not the craft itself. I started out trying to sell my finished clay and semi-precious pieces, and I found out (quite by accident) that the things I used to create those finished pieces sold much better than the end results. I had bought a few extra strands of stones somewhere cheap, put them up on eBay and they sold instantly. From then on, I started selling beads instead of the earrings I made from them. Same thing with clay-related stuff. I've had moderate success selling my clay creations on eBay, but . . . my business is now almost entirely beads, books-videos, and other supplies . . . except at Christmas when I go insane making custom polymer clay ornaments. Lisa

I think this would be a great idea (selling lengths of canes, . . . .esp. face canes), Sarajane. I've heard people lament that they can't make the more complex canes but would love to be able to work with them. Maybe you could show a few ways that face canes especially could be used, to spice up the interest even more?? Steve Wood, a local polymer pioneer in this area, used to sell his canes by the inch. He did a brisk business. I bought a few inches myself, but actually never used them . . . I just wanted to drool (and study them). Face canes aren't usually the ones that are mass produced either, so they should have an untapped market. Diane B.
This is a great idea for a couple of reasons IMHO...the canes available now are mass produced and made in China. They're nice enough but they are made in China and mass produced. The other is that I can see a huge range of possibilities for combinations here. If you sell to folks that are already cane builders (and I think you will), the combinations of effects possible are never-ending. If you sell to newer clayers, they can see more of what is possible in cane making. I would think you would have great success selling them in combo with classes, too. Some quesitons: will you allow the canes to be used in work for sale (angel cane?), and will your name need to be included if you do? Kim2
It was actually a lot of fun to see how other people dressed them up. As to credit, it would be nice on the faces, but not needed on the others. Sarajane

I'm interested in selling (unshaved) mokume gane canes (stacks) because I've mastered that particular form better than any of the millifiore ones. Carolyn

There is a yahoogroup mailing list called Abandoned Crafts where people sell craft supplies. Every time I try to buy anything on that list, it's already sold--so there are definitely buyers out there. Suzanne

Someone told me not long ago that she has had great luck with kits priced in the $2-$3 range. She uses "junk beads" that she makes with leftover clay with a string of hemp or other inexpensive-type cording in a zipper bag. She doesn't include instructions - the point being that the tied string necklaces of the 60's are back "in". The kids seem to grab these up because it allows them to be creative on their own. A handful of similarly colored beads with a focal bead would allow the younger crowd to have an affordable necklace. Jean/PA
... does really well at local high school craft shows (it won't do for a better show where your reputation is at stake!) I had A LOT of beads that I knew I wouldn't want to make anything with.... So I spread them all over a table grouped by general color, and bagged or tied them in small groups. Then had a good time putting them in baggies in what looked good together, like a kit but without findings or cord. Just a "Bag of Beads". I did try to put in focal beads, accents and fillers, and a couple of small maybe 5 gr bags of seed beads. They sell like hotcakes for $5, not much but a good value for the buyer and I can buy or make stuff I like with the money.
... Also, I had planned on making stretchy pearl (and other bead) bracelets. Rather than string them myself, I put them in a snack baggie with a good length of Stretch Magic, make a fold-over cardstock "Bracelet Kit" header and stapled it on. People like to make their own, and with a bracelet, they can make it the correct size for them. Jan C.

Another option for the kits is sort of "half" kits. Have the string and instructions already seperated out into kits. But let people pick out the beads, and have 2 prices for say either a 3 bead kit or a 5 bead kit. I guess it depends on how many beads you get made. ...Another idea for the kits is to include 1 center bead and 4 accent beads. The center bead could be anything that is a bit fancier such as a caned piece and then the accent beads, complimentary or contrasting colors or a simpler style, such as two colors swirled together. NF

I have pounds and pounds of junk clay that I was thinking of trying to unload on eBay, but then I figured that was silly and nobody would buy such a thing. Maybe I was wrong (since Fire Mountain Gems is now doing that...half pound for $4.50)! Lisa . . . is some of this cane ends?

What I'm realizing these days is that I make better "elements" than finished items... so it's exciting for me to see what people can do with my molds! I don't have the time or energy to explore all the possibilities- but I love to sculpt. Kathndolls

What I'd really like to do is make a book that is a 2 ring binder where you can buy new lessons every month. Like a recipe of the month club. Whatcha all think of that? Kim K. (originally in a post regarding teens)

(see also more info in these threads from old newsgroup posts --how to read them in Resources, above)
--Re: Why aren't my products selling?
--Re: Selling my work?
--Re: Help ! Selling polyclay work
--Re: idea salability advice
--promoting our product (not a spam!)
--Market Your Crafts
--Re: Creation, Manufacture and Sale of Polymer Clay Beads
--Re: Mass Produced Fimo Beads

(see more ideas and tips below in eBay > Polymer, especially)

(see more ideas about what to sell at shows esp. in Shows)

ONLINE AUCTION sites (& "stores)


auction management software is well worth it for regular auction people ... e-bay, amazon and yahoo
I recently started using Andale .
... It takes a bit to get used to if you're used to posting auctions manually but they really do cut down ad creation and posting time a LOT.
...They also track a "to do" list for you so things don't fall through the cracks, and I'm sure there's a lot of stuff that I haven't even found yet that they can help with.
...They have a sign up bonus of $20 for the referral person and new member person (you, if you try it) after 5 auctions have been posted 24 hour listing and free 2 week trial. lori

I subscribe to some newsletters that have some outstanding suggestions along with the monthly ezine I get from my superstats accounts. The links under Misc. and Learning HTML are all links I use and are tried and true. (The only reason I'm not a smashing success is due to my own laziness in advertising!! ) sunni

for many free photo-hosting websites which allow direct linking ( can be used to embed your photos into auction pages), see Misc > Putting Your Photos Online > Websites for Sharing Photos > Photosharing Websites (Allow direct linking)
...saw a hint somewhere to place several photos of your item on the sale page, but each photo located at a different photo site so that if one goes down, the others will still show up

"Artisans @ Auction" -- an Information BB (bulletin board for those who sell at auctions) (gone?)
...log of a wonderful chat, with alicia ghandi, all about online sales.....who talks at length about alot of stuff. (only for members ...insert chat_alicia.html after the polymerclay/) kellie AK
(see also more info in these old threads listed above --from old newsgroup posts -- & how to read them in Resources, above)

Miscellaneous Helpful Links:
· Search Engine Submission Tips:

· SuperStats - tracks visitor statistics, submits to search engines, guest book, lotsa other great stuff. The free version is extremely powerful. The professional version offers reports for the truly serious online seller.
· iEntry Network's Newsletters - for Web Developers, Web Entrepreuners, Sports & Entertainment, Advice, Technology and Professional categories:

· CCNow - shopping cart, charges only 9% of your sales, is a resaler, handles administration, takes charge cards, converts foreign currency, reasonably easy and quick to set up:
· PayPal - a way of sending and receiving money instantaneously using a bank account or charge card. For U.S. citizens only at this time.


general auction info, fees, etc.

I had a tremendous amount of fun with Ebay, made a pretty decent profit ...can't wait to get back to it. .....honestly I sold about half of what I listed, which is my goal, between first listing and relist. Adrienne
...As a hobby supplement I've been quite pleased with the results; even after ebay takes their cut, I make enough to cover the cost not only of supplies but of books, videos, tools, fabrics, beads, exotic papers...everything I spend on my hobbies, which includes quite a lot of stuff that's not salable. AND it keeps the beads and jewelry from piling up in the workroom until I don't have any more room for finished work! . . . I have the feeling that to make serious income, though, would require listing a lot more auctions regularly, and doing a lot more paperwork, than I'd care for. Margaret Ball
... I've been selling on E bay for a while and really like it. I like being able to make money from home and having another outlet for my art work is wonderful. I belong to a local gallery but this is a fairly small town and I can't get what I want from my work at times. Cindy
....What the online auctions *do* better for artists than maybe anything else is to drive more traffic to their websites ...and increase the number of email queries (customer base) .... all that contributes to eventual sales. Elizabeth

I found a great magazine (name?) yesterday all about ebay at Wal-mart!! ...I learned some useful stuff!! Mia
....My computer professor just last night recommended the book called "E-Bay for Dummies" to a girl wanting to start an on-line business. He says it's a great book and that using e-Bay is a great way to find out if your product will sell.... You might want to check and see if your local library has it, or browse it at a book store. ...First few chapters focus on buying (I think he said 1-7), but then rest of book gets into selling. Myra

e-bay tips.... also buying (anything) in bulk to sell later at e-Bay

loads of links at E-bay to explain what sellers need to know
...Ebay also has great live on-line can have live chats with someone that will walk you through any issues if you can't find the answer in their on-line guides (which are very helpful and I use frequently). Melinda (look for the icon near the top of the home page which says "Live Help" with a question mark added)

If you go to the main page at, then click on "Sell" in the top navigation bar, it will take you to a page for listing your items.
...On the right hand side of the page is a box saying something like "New Sellers Start Here" which will take you to a page that leads you through the steps you'll need to set up an account and start listing your things.
.. ...This page also has a link near the bottom that takes you to a page discussing the fee structures. Margaret Ball

I'm not sure I understand how Ebay works in general.... do you just post something and then hope that people will scroll through pages and pages of other items and somehow randomly come across yours and click it on and look at it? Sue
....No, most people use the search function to find things they're interested in buying ... people who are searching have the option of clicking a box that searches the item description as well as the title, and those who have a little experience do so.
......or some people know to look just for a seller's ID name too. Sarajane

There are a lot of fees to consider when pricing your items at eBay (of course, the buyers and bidders can use eBay free of charge. Sally
....there is a listing fee, and commission on the sale, handling fees such as packing and shipping, and fees for online payment.
...So be sure to take all that into account when you price your item. dazedntex
FEB 2005... eBay is about to raise their fees so some figures below may now be incorrect....and a lot of sellers are very upset (esp. for storefronts?)
they charge a minimum 25-cent (insertion) fee (...or "listing fee"?) for listing one item
.....that fee can increase depending on how much you are charging for the item and what (if any) special listing options you choose (like putting it in their "Gallery")
...if you sell that item, they also take a very small percentage of your final sale price
...the listing fees are based on the starting price, and you pay higher fees on an item that's started at $20.00 than on one started at less than $10.00.
....eBay's listing fees are not refundable, even if your item doesn't sell.
........but at least if the item doesn't meet the "reserve" price (see next paragraph), you are not required to sell the piece.. and you still have a chance of selling it for closer to what it's worth.

... if you don't sell your item the first time, you don't get charged can relist your item one more time for free
........ if your item sells that second time around, you'll get the insertion fee for the second listing back
.........if it doesn't sell the second time, you will need to pay insertion fees for both auctions (?). Sally I
... Another thing to be aware of re the fees. I accidentally checked the wrong button yesterday when setting up my auction, and that cost me $20 extra... of course that was *my* mistake. Cindy

I'm usually a buyer, but I don't get the idea of a reserve price anyway. ....Why not just start the bidding at the price for which you're willing to sell it? I just bid on a necklace for which the reserve price turned out to be more than twice the opening price -- what's the point of making people submit bid after bid until they finally figure out what the reserve is, or (more likely in my case) get p.o.'d and quit bidding? Thalassa
The recommended way to use a reserve is to make it 2-4 times the amount of the starting bid, but that doesn't provide the ideal solution for the seller and, as you correctly pointed out, it can make people feel like the seller is playing some kind of game with them. :-\ No easy way around this.
......... bidders just *hate* a reserve and will often not bid even if you tell them what the reserve price is, right in the description. So, I went with no reserve in that case, even though I probably should have used one considering the slowness of the season. It was an experiment, though... live and learn.Eliz.
...And, to get into the psychology of bidding a little bit, an item that's started at a reasonable price for the amount of work that goes into it (let's say $25) will get less attention (page views) and will likely sellfor less than an *identical* item started at $1.00. And a piece started at more than $25? Page views almost fall into the basement, much less bidding activity. Starting the item low, but putting a reserve on it that will protect your investment makes more sense... even though you do run into that problem of how much some buyers hate the reserve. (I don't like them as a buyer, myself, but I do understand why they're usually used. And there's nothing that says you can't write what the reserve is right in the auction ad, so that people aren't playing a guessing game.)
....(finished jewelry pieces don't sell well on e-Bay...) There are exceptions - some artists' work will always sell. And if the piece has something that's striking about it.... stunningly different or exceptionally well made or *something*.... it will almost always sell, no matter who the artist is. It doesn't look like the online auctions are the best way to sell original artwork, whether it's beading, clay, paintings or textiles, if you're only looking at the selling prices. Elizabeth

Using the new "Buy it Now" (BIN) feature at eBay can really give great results.
...A lot of people, like me, lol, don't want to wait until the end of the auction, or don't want to risk being outbid for something I really want, so I use that feature a lot if the price is reasonable. ...A lot of times you can get more for the item that way than you would letting it run for 5-7 days. costs extra to list your item as Buy It Now though.
...eBay's storefronts can only carry But It Now items.

E-bay also offers "Stores" or storefronts for vendors (note this is a separate website from
...the stores are not for auction items... they're all buy it now items
...the one bad thing is your item doesn't always (how often?) show up on a regular e-Bay search (I opened an ebay store when they first started) ...
.......for example, if you list a normal auction and you put polymer clay in your title, it will come up when someone types in polymer clay ...but the only way someone will find your item with the stores is if you let them know it's there (or if you develop a following). Stefanie will show up though if eBay's main search returns more than 1-20 Online Auction and/or Fixed Price items, and may show up when eBay's main search returns more than 20 or 0 (zero) Online Auction or Fixed Price items (then up to 30 store inventory items will be presented).
..HOWEVER, a red "stores" tag next to a seller's User ID (in a regular auction?) indicates that the seller has an eBay Store... can click on the tag to go directly to their store and access all their items. owners can create up to 20 custom categories for their items... and select the design for their store... each store has individual website/address.. each store has a search engine for just that store...
...I usually post 4-5 items on auction, and put the rest in my store (do auction items reference the store??).... my sales have picked up .Maria of Mar 05... cost is $16/mo for Basic (5 pages), $50/mo for "Featured" (10 pgs), "Anchor" for $500/mo (15 pgs)
...listings are cheaper and longer for stores, but other fees the same?

shipping and handling ...
...I got burned on the s/h and cost of materials by using their automatic postage function
. . . (what happened: ... shipping in "my preferences".... I was able to add a cost for materials with which to ship. The auction ended just now and ebay offered me the opportunity to send my customer an invoice. I did and got a copy as she did.... But then she went into Paypal to pay it, they readjusted it down so only postage was charged! (It was a small order to be sure, but I am not getting my large envelopes free!) ...I wrote them and am awaiting (and fuming) their answer. next time, I went through Turbo Lister, and did not allow the automatic postage thingy. Postage and handling to be figured, which is much better. Jane

I think the key to success on ebay is to find your niche and then develop a following.
.... There is one woman oneBay right now who does wonderful dog pins of polymer clay in tons of different breeds. I have been watching this woman's work on ebay for about 6 mos. now. In one week, she sold over $1000 worth of work on ebay!!!!! And this was for only a few dozen pins. But this is because she had a hot item. Her sales have slowed down just a bit, but she is still doing really well.... so I thought, hey I am going to try to sell a few dog pins too! I listed three a couple months ago and of those three, two sold. I got $8 each for them. I was hoping they would have gone a little higher. But this woman I mentioned who does so well with her dog art also started her pins at $8-9 several months ago. She is now getting anywhere from $10-21.50 as a starting bid... she had to build her reputation and a following before she could raise her prices. Ginny
the items that sell, no matter what the price, seems to have found their own niche. . . a style that they are known for
...there's always someone who collects anything you can name, and who is looking to add to that collection! when you run auctions, use as many keywords that might be collector words as as you can:
......... material, artist name, color, style and form all can be named. Sarajane

I notice that seasonal items do quite well, too. OopsArt
...Start letting shoppers see your seasonal crafts at least 2 months in advance
......even if you don't sell a thing at the beginning, they will remember you 2 weeks before the holiday!! ginger
...Ebay is very easy to get into (and become addicted to!) I've been buying/selling on ebay for over a year now and have had almost 200 pretty much flawless transactions both buying and selling. My one word of advise is wait till about October to put anything up for auction on ebay (now is the buyers market time of year!) the summer auctions hardly ever get the same response as the fall/winter auctions, mostly because everyone is out playing in the sun/ on vacations and generally not on their computers as much as in the colder months. Kelliebird
Ebay is a strange bird!!! It's really a hit or miss. One time I sell out within hrs of placing stuff up for bid. The next time nothing goes at all. Sometimes it takes the whole week for any bids to be placed and I have to sell for less than what I would like to. . . It also seems that the closer to Christmas we get the better things sell there. Eliz?
summer is a bad time of year for selling the "frivolous" things in life... people are on vacation, spending time & money pursuing hobbies, saving for back to school shopping.

It seems more successful when you offer a whole bunch of things at one time. . . I think customers don't much look if you have only 1-2 things. Joyce
...I've actually had pretty good luck on Ebay, even though I've only been listing stuff for about a month.
......Usually, though, it seems that I don't get any bids until the 11th hour.... So, I always list my auctions for a short period of time. (3 days as opposed to 7) Christina

...If you have a reasonable 'Buy It Now' price, you could also end up selling faster that way too. Lysle (see above)

exposure on eBay is priceless....once your following is there and word of mouth gets out, your own website will go nuts!
.... alot of people don't do well on eBay because they don't have enough product or following. You absolutely have to build a customer base.
.... always have an auction going no matter how small, or what time of year ...this keeps customers coming back for a look see, and sending folks to you.
....have things that cost very little, and go up from there'll be suprised at how those small sales will bring back repeat customers to buy more, and more expensive items.
....also customer service is number 1... ginger

There is a steep learning curve sometimes at Ebay, but once you find your niche you're in. Caroly

Putting something on Ebay has been giving me fits though. I am not a very computer literate person though I have buying down pat......My weak area is selling. It just doesn't seem to want to "send" my items . ..I even downloaded Bay turbo lister. Jim
.....Turbo Lister is finicky some times. You may have to uninstall completely and then re-install into your computer. Once I did that I had no problems uploading at all. Carolyn everyone who is about to RE- install Turbo Lister.... Within the past couple of weeks (Feb 2005) , Ebay has upgraded that software so if you are uninstalling the old one, you might want to download the upgraded version, rather than re-install the older one.
..... I think the biggest part of using this software is that the "learning curve" is a bit steeper than just doing single uploads ...try playing with it off line and figuring out what button does what... and read the stuff on the help button. Sometimes that actually does give you the answer you really need. Barbe
...About Turbo much difference is there in price in using that? I thought it was some management company that did the ad for you. Little I know. Is it worth using that? Well, I mean on things that go for $10 or under? Jane

I strongly suggest that all auction sellers spend some time either buying or shopping before taking the plunge
go out there and look around, see what other sellers are doing, what they include, what you like and don't like about their auctions (e.g., I hate those "cute" animations and music--they make the loading time take forever, and if one is loading up, I leave and shop elsewhere!!).
--see what kind of notice gets sent out when you buy, whether it is easy to pay or hard....and fix your own setup accordingly. I learned a LOT as a seller the first time I bought something from Ebay! Sarajane
...... I would recommend doing research on what you want to sell, see what others are getting for it now and if there are lots of bids on those kinds of items. If you find good results, then go for it. Cindy

You need to sell smaller items on eBay first. Why?
....First, you need to build up a positive feedback profile. Many, many, many people are not willing to spend any significant amount of money on someone with less than 100 positive feedback rating (especially when it concerns international sellers/buyers). .. .by selling more you'll develop a following. Once you sell more regularly, people will get to know you or at least recognize your presence. You'll get more hits, more bids, and more competition. Candy
...(when you first start) I would advise you to spend the next couple of months building up your "feedback" .... Sign up for ebay, pick out your user ID, and have fun!
.... Buy some stuff (You'll find plenty of bargins!) and build up your feedback: (every time you buy or sell something you should leave a comment about how the transaction went...if you bought an item leave feedback as soon as you recieve the item...if you sold an item leave feedback as soon as you recieve payment). I could go on for hours about ebay and how great it is! Kelliebird
What is important is feedback...List at your wholesale (price) w/out reserve if possible, and give good service, period. Your wholesale is supply cost plus time. What you would sell to a wholesaler. don't expect to make what the big names are making and give it time. I managed to deplete my supply of inventory greatly. When people email you about your work answer them. Take the time to create HTML for your listing, it shows that you care about your work. and use descriptive titles, colors and adjectives, names that catch the eye. Adriennne

(to give the address of my auction) ....What I like to do is to actually go to the particular auction, or to my ebay seller list page that shows all of my auctions at a glance, and then copy the url and paste that in... that way, you can't make a mistake in typing.
....Sometimes for the ebay seller list page it gives you this big, long url that will wrap and not come up properly in some browsers. What I do in that instance (and so it's easy for everyone to get to), is to delete everything after my user id name and it still works. lori

....or make the long URL into a "tiny url" at http:/www./
..I usually point people to my "me" page ....because that lists all my auctions and feedback. Cindy

I just discovered that my own "My Ebay" indicates the number of people who are watching the bidding. Jane

Always include a picture (first one is free) ...and describe it accurately (include dimensions, weight if heavy, stains, holes, etc.)
...Give as much information in your description as possible about what kind of clay, size, shipping costs, etc. . . . Offer incentives like combined shipping on multiple wins. The more descriptive you are the less chance you have for misunderstandings. dazednte of the problems that might be affecting the success of your auctions. . . . When I pull up your auctions there are a lot of graphics - the background image, several large photos, etc. takes well over 2 minutes for all of the pictures to load for me on a dial-up connection. One of the Golden rules of web design is to make sure an entire page loads in under 30 seconds (and under 15 if possible) . .. or at least enough of the page to read while the rest loads. Your script all turns yellow with a white background before the background image loads, and I can't read it until the dark comes in. . . You might scale back on the number of graphics (make your images a little smaller too) just until you have a chance to develop a following... Alecia

auction templates: I've gotten notes telling me how much people like the new graphics on my auctions. Recently ebay started charging a 10 cent fee for adding graphics to each listing! I purchased templates that are done for you in html already:
... ... bunch that are appropriate for any type of auction. I bought the moon and stars one. And they're only $5 each!!! wowza's a fact that these templates do make for more sales. ..actual research has been done on it. Carolyn
... ... a lot are country style but there are others)... they also offer a hosting service in case you don't want to have to pay the ebay picture fees.... I'll save money in the long run because the templates are just $15.00 for non-members and $5.00 for members and they personalize for free! Carolyn
....You can also go to places like the (open source) site for free web page templates. Julie
....if you don't know html, you could use a program like MS Word or other word processor program that will allow you to convert the document into HTML... then would you simply copy out the code and put it in the description area while submitting a listing to eBay....(with word processor, just type what you want, format the text how you like it, even use tables, and add photos and see if they have "save as a web page" or something similar.... you can then open the page with a text editor and copy the code and use that for your listing) Julie
...... I've been coding my own HTML for some time. Julie
...I really recommend the HTML; it is very easy to create templates and then change the pertinent info, save it and cut and paste into the listing form. I used netscape composer, notepad which just shows the source code, and no other special programs. If you don't know any HTML pick up a book in the library and get an overview. It's not that difficult to figure out how it works and then you can use a WYSIWYG HTML creater and be able to recognize with the program is doing. Adrienne

There is only a .25 cent fee (higher now?) for listing to the gallery which gives everyone a pic before they actually look at your auction which can be good or bad!! ....But I only do this if my auction is for something over 10.00 or it might not be worth it. Mia

Always reveal shipping (and handling ?) charges. No one likes those kinds of surprises.
... If you want to wait to see where the high bidder lives, you can state that high bidder pays "actual" shipping, or pays "actual" shipping plus $1.00 handling, etc.
...Decide whether you want to ship internationally....if not, put "Cont.US only". CD

Try not to leave any questions in the shoppers' mind. I've seen many auctions that said "email for more details", but I rarely do that
....I guess that's one of the most important things to do: Be the shopper, note what gets your attention & what aggravates you. Rock

Offer as many payment options as you can afford . . . . I take personal checks if the person has a good feedback rating. Most sellers don't ship until the check clears the bank though.
. . . .I have paid for some auctions in cash. The seller listed that they take "well concealed cash", so I put it in a privacy envelope and put "invoice enclosed" on the outside of the envelope. So far I have been lucky with this, but I don't recommend it. dazedntex
.....Specify your accepted payments (money order, personal check, PayPal, etc), then, remind them at closing. I've gotten several personal checks, even after stating "no personal checks," so, I always recap in the email to the winning bidder.CD
....PayPal (including Premier Account) brings more bids. Many people won't bid if they can just "click" it to you. CD
...If you can afford a PayPal account do so. You make slightly less doing it that way but more and more people are using it as a means of payment. Lysle (see more on PayPal, etc., in separate category below)

(for good tips on buying polymer books at EBay, look in Books > Online Suppliers)

using categories

The whole trick (to successfully selling on eBay) is to make sure everyone understands exactly what's being offered. Lysle
....You might also run a keyword strip at the bottom of your description so folks who search on both title and description can "catch" it. Also consider common misspellings, too... Such as Sculpy/Sculpty for Sculpey. It doesn't matter if your item is not made from may be the only thing your prospective buyer knows! Also, use "polyclay," since that is beginning to be a common "shorthand." "Primo" for Premo is another one. As to identifying the item, also give a nod to misspellings - silly as it sounds, people actually do silly things like "bare" for "bear." Kelly
I think much of it has to do with the title you use. I put something up that nobody even looked at, so I did a search. Unless you have something in the title that will attract people looking for the specific item you are selling, people won't even find it. Next time, I am not even putting polymer clay or fimo in the title. Just what it is. Kim
I thought I would add that artist handcrafted works better than the polymer clay catagory for any one of a kind, non-necklace, earrings and bracelet work. I would put mike's work there no matter what it is. I have used that catagory for pins, barrettes & button covers with about 90% success. Adrienne
(when you're searching for something) In your search box, use the "NOT" sign...which is a hyphen. - . . . "polymer clay -book -video -supplies" will cut the books, videos and supplies out of your search...but ONLY if the seller has those words in the description. It will weed out a LOT however. :) Sunny

Figuring out which category is the best fit for your item is the first step.
...Here is a listing of the categories and sub-categories.

I use the Toys and Hobbies category for some things like my rods, it just depends on what you are listing. Art is another category all together, as is beads, etc. I would just try and fit polymer clay into the title and the description (so that it can be found by anyone who wants polymer) as that is how most people find it. Betty

The second step (even more important) is building the "title" of your auction. Many people (& nearly all newbies) don't use category search... they use eBay's home page handy "What Are You Looking For?" search box.

most people use the search function to find things they're interested in buying ... people who are searching have the option of clicking a box that searches the item description as well as the title, and those who have a little experience do so.
......or some people know to look just for a seller's ID name too. Sarajane
........looking for a particular seller must be done from the Advanced Search?

You can list an item in 2 categories if you want, but it doubles your (insertion) listing fee, as well as the fees for most listing upgrades (Bold, Gallery, and so on)... (however, Scheduled Listings and Home Page Featured fees are not doubled...Final Value Fees are also not doubled).

Ok, we need to find a category for our item. First pretend you're a bidder for your item.
...Go to the ebay home page search box & type in a word or words that you'd use if you were searching for your item or something similar. Find anything ? If so, check the auction out, make note of how old it is, if there's a hit counter make note of the number of hits.
.....Also, write down the category the item is listed in (it's under the title).
. . . Let's say your item is a pair of beer mugs that you've etched horse heads on. Under your title your category would be listed as: Collectibles / Animal / Horse /Other. I'm using this as an example because I want to let ya'all know that this is one VERY heavily traveled category ! So if you can incorporate the likeness of a horse into any of your crafts, you might want to ! Rock

I had the words polymer clay in the description, but they had parentheses around them (polymer clay)... so the search engine didn't recognize it because of the parentheses. Susan

Bingo! So don't try to sell your work to other craftspeople.'ll have better luck if you sell it for what it *is,* not what it's made of
….When someone wants to buy jewelry or sculpture or whatever, the medium is not usually the first thing that matters to them. They want teal earrings to go with a certain outfit or a dragon sculpture for the nephew who collects them or, well, you get the picture. The people who do a search for polymer clay (or Fimo or Sculpey etc) are probably other p-clay users who just want to see what others are doing. Nothing wrong with that, except they aren't the ones who are most likely to buy. Irene in western NC

(see more re categories, especially for polymer items, just below)

polymer , especially

beads... I have noticed sell well but usually if they are made from intricate canes....they will not buy what the can make themselves
..... I noticed the bidders can tell when you are not selling your best.
...beads do very well period, start there (if that is what you do) and be reasonable a good job and then add the more expensive pieces when your feedback goes up.
....Also, work on offering unusual and quality items (button covers, barrettes, pins, hairsticks come to mind) ...keep trying and persevere. …
I've had success selling bead lots, but the bas relief beads I make (that occasionally sell right off my neck as finished jewelry) go begging. . I'm beginning to think that putting finished work in the "contemporary jewelry" or "ethnic jewelry" classifications is more to the point. Kelly
...I've heard from several sources that finished jewelry pieces don't sell well on e-Bay. One of my friends makes beautiful necklaces with beads (glass, mostly - no polymer) and dichroic glass pendants. She was getting ready to start selling them on e-Bay until she was told (and discovered to be true) that she would make more money selling the bead components separately. So much for the economic value of artistic talent ... So it's not just the bias against polymer clay -- although I do think that exists (and with some justification -- there's some pretty terrible PC work out there -- although come to think of it there's also a lot of crappy lampwork out there and glass hasn't developed a stigma). It's just that e-Bay attracts people who want to do it themselves, rather than people who want finished pieces. Thalassa

And canes sell like crazy too!!!
...I think that there is a solid market for well made canes. Give as much information in your description as possible about what kind of clay, size, shipping costs, etc. and the suggestion of using the "buy it now" feature can really give great results. dazedntexas

My most expensive item, and the one with the most bids (9) sold for almost 27$. That was my first auction and it was my filligree bottle. Mia

see above for seasonal items, which always sell well (try to begin showing 2 months in advance though)

I wonder if anyone has made the same observations I have re: selling their finished work in an ebay auction. It seems to me that unless you're a big-name polymer artist/crafter, your work, no matter how good, stands a pretty poor chance of receiving a bid.
...The items that really get the action are the raw clay, supplies, books, and videos. That would imply to me that the main population that visits this site is us poly-clayers, ourselves. Elissa
I have sold a ton of clay books and supplies - a number of times getting more for a book than I paid for it - which is great! They sell very well on ebay but that's because most of the people doing a search for polymer clay either work with it already or are interested in beginning to work with it. I mainly make whimsical figurines with polymer clay. Thalassa
I have also listed some items on E-bay that I thought were a competitive price and received no bids at all. I had as much as 70 hits on one item, but no one bid. I think you're right, raw clay, books, tapes are of interest to other pc artists, but finished work that they can do themselves are of no interest. Quite honestly, I won't buy what I can make! Lori
...clay, clay books, misc items that go with polymer seem to go before the actual pc items do. Julie aka jwisecraft
... Polymer clay supplies seem to do well no matter what the overall eBay scene looks like, but polymer clay *items* can be iffy (esp. in summer). Elizabeth

......Also, art & craft supplies of almost any kind continue to do well. If you make well-crafted beads or things that people can use in their own crafting, they will sell. Elizabeth

....see more good ideas on what to sell above in "What and Where to Sell?"

I saw all *7 pages* of listings for "polymer clay" tonight!! …I simply searched eBay for "polymer clay" and got almost 400 items. Mercy, what an assortment!! From the exquisitely beautiful to the exquisitely ugly. …I was thinking that if I were to list something for sale, I would definitely leave the phrase "polymer clay" OUT of the title. "Handmade pens" or "Hand-crafted pens" would appeal to me more than, say, "Polymer clay covered pens". . . . (looking around) was a good lesson (for me) about how to present anything I'd list on eBay in the future. Miracle

I don't use the "Polymer Clay" categories... I think I used "Artist's Jewelry" for the last two Mike B pieces that I put up, and I can't remember the two before that. Contemporary Jewelry might be a good option, as you suggested. I'm not convinced that the category of the piece has much to with whether it sells or not, when it comes to handmade pieces - but that might be because I don't do category searches for polymer clay items. I just search on the words. When listing, I don't use the PC category, though because many people will dismiss PC out of hand... the thinking goes something like, "If it isn't lampworked, it's not a *real* bead." I do try to make sure that I put "polymer clay" in the title, because many people do not click on the link that searches "Title and Description," and get search results on the Title, only.
Another thing that can be important is the theme of the piece... if it has iris in it, for instance, the word "Iris" should be in the title. If it's a unicorn, it should have that word in the the title, etc. Some things have many collectors, so you want to make sure that the searches by title will bring up that word.
>For example, I have noticed that some of our more popular pc artists -- ie, Mike B. -- had pieces up that I thought were exquisite. Yet they just didn't command the bids that I thought they deserved.<
....Well, most of that was my fault... first, summer is a bad time of year for selling the "frivolous" things in life... people are on vacation, spending time & money pursuing hobbies, saving for back to school shopping. Polymer clay supplies seem to do well no matter what the overall eBay scene looks like, but polymer clay *items* can be iffy. Buying on eBay took a big plunge in June, though bidding is up, now and improving.
......Then, I didn't have the best possible pictures posted in one of the auctions... photographing these metallics will make you crazy, because you just can't get the beautiful mica reflections depicted accurately .... In daylight or house lighting, the mica reflections appear much too harsh. Good pictures are absolutely essential, selling jewelry.
...Another mistake I made was starting his pieces at $1.00 and no reserve... bidders just *hate* a reserve and will often not bid even if you tell them what the reserve price is, right in the description. So, I went with no reserve, even though I probably should have used one, considering the slowness of the season. It was an experiment, though... live and learn.
...If you're wanting to gauge the market, or if you are not particularly concerned with the final selling price, you can play with the low starting price and no reserve price. But, if you will be crushed if a piece closes with only one or two very low bids, better to start it at the lowest opening bid that you will be happy with. Be sure to figure the estimated eBay fees and packaging costs into that starting price. If it doesn't get that bid, you've only lost the listing fee, and if it only gets that one bid, (as so many items do, these days) you've still made a sale that you're happy with. eBay can be nerve-wracking, but it's also a lot of fun, and I've "met" people from all over the world. It's been pretty cool! :-) …Elizabeth
...Gosh! I hardly ever put polymer clay in the title (beads being the exception), but I listed under polymer clay in jewelry for jewelry, and under handcrafted:artist's offerings or something like that for pins, hairsticks, button covers, buttons, barrettes and such.
..... I know when I do searches I have the entire site searched so I'm not sure how big a difference it made. Adrienne

When you run auctions, use as many keywords as you can: material, artist name, color, style and form all can be named
... so be sure to use words in your item title and item description that people might be looking under
.......use words like polymer clay... jewelry...bead...pendant...your (business) name...techniques like faux jade or millefiore...color... descriptive style, or whatever applies to your item. Sarajane

(see more re categories, just above in "Categories")

after auction closes

One good piece of advice re doing auctions ...keep good records. Adrienne

Contact your buyer quickly after the auction is closed for most success and good customer relations. Lysle

And never forget just plain ole good manners. ...People just want to be treated like if they have spent a dollar, that dollar means 10,000 to you, just like any good retailer. ginger

remind the winning bidder at closing about your accepted payment options (money order, personal check, PayPal, etc) . I've gotten several personal checks, even after stating "no personal checks," so I always recap in the email to the winning bidder. CD

Take advantage of Priority Mail. The product arrives faster and packaging materials are free (you can order them online at and have them delivered to your home. The video tape size boxes are perfect for mailing canes in.) dazedntex

Another thought re shipping materials. ....If you go to your local supermarket and ask to speak to the person who stocks the drug side, you can get great small boxes for free. The ones that cosmetics come in are perfect. You would just need to know when they get shipments in so you can be there to get the boxes before they are crushed. . . . You can also usually get packing peanuts for free from them if you need them. dazedntex

insurance ...I just wanted to share something with those of you who sell your handmade polymer clay objects and for those of you who purchase on Ebay. I have purchased several items from different people on Ebay. I've never had a problem. Most of the time I spend the extra 85 cents for insurance. For some reason and I don't know why I (probably) forgot to purchase insurance with my last purchase. Of course its always that one time when I forget that something arrives broken. The person that sent the "object" didn't package it as well as she had in past auctions..... I immediately e-mailed the person and let her know that my auction had arrived broken. Of course she was gracious about telling me that I could probably glue it with super glue but that was all that she was going to do. So...sellers...please offer insurance and buyers...for goodness sake spend the extra 85 cents because it will be well worth it in the end. The gal did not remind me to insure the piece ...Libby
From what I have been told by the post office (and my mail delivery person) the insurance is primarily for packages that are lost in the system and never delivered. I might be wrong, but this insurance doesn't cover improper packaging by the sender. Mamadude
...This is my policy---If it is something that I made and was one of a kind and worth at least $35, I insure and get signature required and most of the time double box the item. This is for my peace of mind. I had rather have something lost that is worth five times more than something that I made. I really feel for you with having problems with something you made. . . .If it is something under $30 and I did not make it, I insure only if I am paid by buyer for insurance and they request insurance. If over $30, I pay for insurance out of my profit just so I don't have to worry. Jeanne R.

various problems

Watch out for non-combined-shipping for ordering/winning more than one item !
...I had purchased from the seller before, so I was under the impression they always combined shipping. Not always so. Can you say "read the fine print?" For seven of the 9 auctions I won, somewhere in all their gabbing it says shipping is $4.99 per auction, no combining, no expensive mistake.... Tonja
...I routinely ask if sellers will combine shipping if it doesn't state it already. But anybody can slip up especially if they've dealt with the seller before. Betsy

one of my biggest pet peeves as an eBay (or other auction) seller is when buyers tell me, (after I leave negative feedback, and relist the item!) that they couldn't complete the transaction because their computer died. Hey, that really sucks, but it doesn't release you from your obligation to complete the auction! Even if your house burns down you still have to pay your bills! Go to a friends house or even the library, set up a free email address at Yahoo, log onto eBay and find out what you won (they make an eBay page called My eBay that makes that very easy) then email the seller to let them know what's going on for goodness sake! Man, do I get ticked at the "sorry, I couldn't email you because my computer died" emails! Sally

If someone leaves you an unjust or inaccurate rating:
...go back to e-bay and make a counterstatement. You are allowed to do that when a bad comment is made that isn't true. DottyinCA
.......the best thing is leave a professional response, not an emotional one.
...before I would answer her feedback I think I would drop the person an email asking if they had originally understood what they were receiving and/or what the terms were... Denita can also check *the person's* feedback - some people are just hard to get along with... then shrug it off. Pat

Jan R. reports that e-Bay suspended her as a seller when some reported as "spam" the polymer clay "mailing list" message she received as part of the mailing list. She tried to explain to e-Bay that it was not spam, but simply a message inside the mailing list (which is not illegal), but they didn't seem to want to understand the circumstances...DB
This is how I feel and I am the (polymerclayinterest) list owner. If you put something on Ebay and want to share it with us---clay related, please send me a email and I will send it out for you. That way you will not have a problem. ..We are interested in sharing and I feel that is sharing. If you don't want that kind of mail, delete it. I will put up a heading FOR SALE EBAY so you can delete it. Marty

You know you can contact eBay and let them know that this person is taking (descriptive wording) from your website
....they will check it out, and remove the listing if they find any wrong doing.... EBay doesn't like it when people take from other listings, and websites, or copyrighted stuff. Punky

....My problem with eBay was when my puter was down ( I had 4 successful bids).. Natch, all the bids went into default. I don't blame them for deleting my account, but my roomie lost his also. It took about 15 emails over a period of 3 months to get his reinstated. Kim2
I've had problems with eBay, too (as a seller). I paid my bill, but they lost all record of the check -- they cashed the check, but lost all record of it. I had to get photo copies of the check from my bank ($30.00 fee). I e-mailed that to them but they say they can't open attatchments. So I mailed a copy of my check, and then they lost that. Plus, they've added late fees because my account hasn't been paid. I lost the entire Christmas season and they still don't have me re-instated. Pooh. . . Bryd

When I went into my account at ebay and wanted to change some of the settings for notifications, I found out that ebay has a setting at the bottom for allowing telemarketers to contact you and also allows them to have your mailing info so they can send you direct mail through the post office. This is so sneaky again.... To fix this, if you are a customer or seller at eBay, go to: My eBay - then Preferences - then Notifications and emails from eBay: Change my notification preferences (Turn on/off the emails that you receive from eBay)... this is where I found it. Linda Bohrn

....."phishing" schemes ...I received an email that said I needed to "verify my E bay info,"or my account would be suspended. This is FRAUD, according to E-bay (they will never ask for this info).... Can you imaging if I actually gave them all the info that is on this form?! . . . really upset me that I was targeted for this fraud. Cindy
...I get these all the time, supposedly from ICQ, from Yahoo, etc.. ...If you click on the URL in the message, the password box pops up and you are supposed to put in your password to (supposedly) make sure that you are still active in that account. What it really is, however, is an attempt to get your password and ID for that account. ....The message they send to you mimics the actual host they are trying to emulate. Some of them are very good, even in the fine print in the message. I have sent these to Yahoo and ICQ and have been assured that they would never send a message like that, nor request that you "re-activate" or "verify" your account by putting in a password requested in that manner. Send the message to your service provider and if they are asking for a password, but DO NOT enter it. Carla
...also watch out for unsolicited offers to "help you sell your items"

OTHER Online Auction Sites

There are auction sites at Yahoo and Amazon (?)

I also highly recommend selling on, which is eBay's answer to Amazon, (they don't charge the seller as much as amazon does). I've sold over $575 in books,etc. that I had lying around the house, in about 8 months. Very easy money! Melinda
...there you can sell books/text books, music, movies, DVD, electronic things and games. . . .

I have sold things at You might want to try that for you auctions. I think it's a little more expensive than ebay. But it is only hand made art and crafts. I think the last Jewelry Crafts had an ad that lets you list your first item for free. Nanette

There's another site that isn't getting much action right now. How many have tried kaleidoscope? It's easy to read and easy to post your items. Kim2

Actually, I think you can list anything craft-related, there. I saw a whole bunch of hand-crocheted things a couple of times, so I'm sure you could list hand-made items. I've also seen hand-stamped artworks and crafts there. And there weren't any listing fees the last time I looked - or Final Value Fees, either. The only things you'd pay for would be "Featured Auctions" and such. Might be a good place to start off - though it doesn't have a millionth of the traffic that eBay has, it's also a very specialized/targeted market. :-) Good luck! Elizabeth

Everybody has heard about e-Bay auctions....set up originally to be a place to buy and sell Pez dispensers. There are other auction sites on the 'net, however, and Just Beads is my own favorite. You won't find shoes, or magazines from the '50's, but you can find some extraordinary beads! Just Beads is a site created BY bead lovers FOR bead lovers, and its is a select and focused marketplace that is growing steadily...with some extremely cool beads and beading supplies. Many glass and polymer bead artists are finding it to be a receptive and appreciative market.
Its easy to get set up as a buyer or seller there, prices are great, and bead artists may also wish to apply for a spot as Artist of the Month. There is also a lot of information to be had there--about beaders, bead societies, bead shows and events, bead books, and more. Visit to see what is currently available! Sarajane Helm

At Polymer Clay Central, we have opened our PCC auction site!!!! We are running it FREE for as long as we can, as Erwin has managed to get Free Server Space and Free Software, and what better way to promote Polymer Clay than to offer up an Auction site that doesn't cost you anything!!! We are hoping that all the glitches are out of it. I know there was a lot of testing going on, but if there are any, please email the - the email link is in the Auction Site!!! Please read all the User Agreements and FAQ, and trust our Privacy policy! We respect all, and this is freely offered to help promote polymer Clay and to help all those who are interested!!! We would like to welcome Polymer Clay auctions as well as Supplies, and Rubber Stamps, Jewelry, tools, Rubber Stampers, Beads, Bead Artists, etc.... All Hand crafted Jewelry and gifts as well as Rubber stamps are welcome. All the Rubber Stamps Companies are welcome to post Auctions to promote your business and sell your stamps and supplies. ...Here is the link to the Polymer Clay Central Auction (must be a member of Delphi or PCC before using??)

--there is a long list of ideas for things to sell on e-bay (in Miniatures)

I guess I prefer to sell things myself. Interacting -no, no, wait, that's not the word I want-...I guess 'seeing' my customers is what I like. I can get an idea of what to make, 'I' get out more, and it just stimulates me to make more I guess! Jeanette

Your Own online business Website

Erum's business website design tips and newsletter (from her Dots and Dashes site) --great tips on what to do (and not do) if you are contemplating or already have a site for selling your items) (articles on considerations re creating a first business website, how to keep customers, etc.)
Erum's guidelines on what to think about when designing a website (from which you're selling especially)
Sunni's many links to helpful links for beginners to online selling (gone to her new website,
Alicia Gandhi's primer on selling from a webpage:

Watch out for unsolicited offers to help you sell your items though (...see details below in "Misc... & warnings")

I have a website, but do not find I do the majority of my sales through it (for that I do wholesale and consignment)... a website is more helpful as an "electronic portfolio". I sell just enough through the site to cover hosting fees for it. Laurel

I think exposure on eBay is priceless.... once your following is there and word of mouth gets out, then your own website will go nuts.
.... A lot of people don't do well on eBay because they don't have enough product or following. You absolutely have to build a customer base.
.... Always have an auction going no matter how small or time of year. This will keep your customers coming back for a look see, and sending folks to you.
...Have things that cost very little, and go up from there'll be suprised at how those small sales will bring back repeat customers to buy more and expensive items.ginger

BOOKS: "Starting an Online Business for Dummies" covers pretty much everything you need to know about starting and running an online business. has a number of reviews about it....another good thing about looking for books this way is that Amazon prints a list of similar titles.
So, if this one doesn't tickle your fancy, there is:
"The Unofficial Guide to Starting a Business Online" or "The Neatest Little Guide to Making Money Online " to check out.
...And beware of websites that give out information on starting an online business.... As you've already discovered, a good portion of them are basically just trying to get your money. There are a few that give genuine, usable information, but I prefer a good book as it will have much more information in a much more digestible format. Gabe

There are a number of ways just to get your photos online (including creating your own domain-website... # 5):
1. ..."photo-sharing" websites are created specifically to display photos in a simple format; some may allow captions underneath, and most a place visitors to leave messages; some of these are free (but usually come with banner ads) or have a small yearly fee (see listing of some of these photosharing sites in Misc > Putting your Photos Online)
2. ...some service providers offer a certain amount of free web space to their customers
3.....some mailing lists (like Yahoogroups) offer some space for photos
4. ...or you can create your own website by using a free or small-fee special website which acts as an intermediary and allows others to create websites on their space.

....(some of these may not allow selling from the site though?)
....they vary in how easy to use they are... how much space you'll have... the formatting they offer... their reliability and even longevity, etc. ...I don't know if any of them are completely free nowadays though (the free ones, and maybe others, usually put advertising on your site) aware of long URL's you may have to accept with some of them too

5. ...the most expensive way is to create your own website on your own domain... you'll pay yearly for the domain name, and monthly for a "host" to support it, but it's totally yours
.........(especially if you choose the domain option, you can either write your own HTML for the site, or you can purchase website creation software to help you to do it without the HTML).

Publisher is a bit more expensive (than $25-25) but does a lot of nifty things, like making fast and easy webpages without any need to know much about making webpages (it doesn't get too much easier than this, unless you hire it done). Barbe

Search Engines ... how they find you:
...web sites are found through some thing called meta tags, any HTML editor will ask to describe the site ...if you say polymer beads, then every search engine when a person types in polymer beads will have your site as a choice. Nancy
...Alas...this is no longer true . . . Most search engines nowadays (not all, but major ones) tend to ignore meta tags these days, due to the practice of "keyword spamming". ....Instead, their algorithms rely on scanning the text actually on your page, and especially the text in the various level tags (indices give greater weight to text contained in titles)... and "keyword heavy" URLs can also help page rankings.
...Also, unless they find you through a link from another site, chances are you'll be indexed quicker if you submit your URL through the link at the various search engines (Google and others are penalizing or banning sites which have used auto submission s/w, so it's best to hand-submit.) ....When you submit your URL, you'll have the chance to "suggest a category", and sometimes, descriptive text. If you can suggest a relevant "new" category, it can help your site get looked at by an indexer in a timely fashion.
....For the latest and greatest on SEO ("search engine optimizers"), check out Danny Sullivan's .Laurel.
........"Many SEOs provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted. However, there are a few unethical SEOs...." (more info from Google on those: )

I am learning html and using it to link to PayPal at my site. Soon I'll be able to have anything I have for sale linked to paypal... selkie
....You might also want to have the item added to a shopping cart instead of being bought separately, since a visitor might want more than one. Tina

Your own domain

Setting up a website with your own domain name (instead of setting it up through an intermediary) is usually preferred, if possible.
....I think just having the name recognition factor is a good reason to have your own domain name. ...e.g., if you go by "My Polymer Creations," having a domain name of would make it very easy for people to find you again. It also comes across much more professional than a long web address that is hard to remember.
....also if you sell your things on eBay, you can host your own images that way and don't have to pay extra for an image hosting (photo sharing) service. Julie

To actually have your own website & domain name, however, you'll need to register a domain name first (for example --one which no one else has yet claimed; I think we originally paid around $35 per year when we registered, but now it's often cheaper (as low as $8?)
(...note that the totally free registrars usually put loads of advertising on your site)
..... do be careful NOT to sign up with a registrar service which just "rents" the name to you (that may not be obvious however!).
(...see more info on getting your own domain BELOW.)

After registering a domain name, you'll need to select a web host to actually provide the service of getting visitors back and forth to your domain-website.
...It might help to think of your domain-website as a property you've purchased out in the country. Web surfers can only get to that site if you have arranged "transportation" to it; this is provided by a web host you hire and pay a monthly fee to (that is, if you don't want to do it yourself which is technically challenging). The fees charged by various web hosts, the quality of their service, and the extras offered can vary widely though ( won't need the higher levels that big businesses need). The web host's "transportation" can be speedy or slow (bullet train vs. horse-and-buggy), it can be roomy or small, expensive or reasonable, reliable or not-so,
helpful when you need help or not, etc.)
... a "good" web host should NOT make you use a specific piece of software to develop a site (they may offer a site builder as an option, but if they require the use of one, it's probably better to look elsewhere. ...and they should be ad-free. Laurel
....and every "paid" host should offer at least one normal "POP" account and also e-mail aliasing (forwarding mail sent to your domain to an e-mail account of your choosing). Laurel

Two good online forums for finding out the plusses and minuses of various web hosts you're considering... Laurel
... and
some web hosts which have been recommended:
....Here's some that might interest you - I've had good to excellent experience with all of these: is pretty good too. $7.95 month, I think. More storage space than I will ever use, and decent support. Larry - I've got three plus years with them on four (soon to be five) sites and only two glitches that lasted more than a few seconds. . . $10/mo for 50 GIGS of bandwidth, one GB of storage and more services than you can shake a stick at.
- I went on Irene's recommendation for this one recently for our mirror site...super cheap ($8.00/mo) and lots of services with them, too.
(.....the two above have lightning-fast customer service and zippy, reliable servers) - great for small personal sites, very cheap - $5/mo, I think . Elizabeth
...If you do a search for "web hosting" on Google, you can find quite a few low cost web hosting companies.
..........then look also on the right side under "sponsored links"; quite a few low cost ones advertise their prices right there. Julie
....(see below in Domains for free hosting with domain purchase, and also for URL Forwarding from cheap domain to free ISP page)

Shopping for all these services can be worse than shopping for a new long distance or cell plan though!
..... their basic prices are only one thing to consider because some will put ads on the site, not offer e-mail, make you buy your own site builder templates, etc., give different amounts of space, etc., etc.!! Diane B.

domain registration (& domain registrars)

help on finding a good domain registrar (...remember, you probably don't need an expensive one unless you're a large business): (comparisons)

Domains are cheaper these days, you can get one for as little as $7-$8 a year, with no cost for the initial registration (you can get them even cheaper if you buy for multiple years)
...then you just have to pay for web hosting which is relatively minor as well (you can get hosting for as little as $2 a month --see above)
....and if you have MS Word, you can save documents as "web pages as well, so the cost really isn't prohibitive any more. Julie

I use 000domains (an open SRS registrar)
or namecheap (an enom registrar) run by a small businessman...e owner will personally answer support e-mails. And its the cheapest registrar I know of. You also get free URL redirecting and/or framing and free e-mail forwarding.
.....I know joker and ghandi are 2 other registrars who "sell" names (rather than renting them).
.... I use personally because they have the cheapest prices I have found.
I believe merely rents names.

At you can get a domain plus free hosting for $15.00 per year. (you can find cheaper domain names... but the ones I've seen don't include free hosting.)
....However, anytime you use free hosting, be aware that the host puts ad banners on or pop up ads on your site, and this looks unprofessional.... I recommend spending another $15 for directnic's "banner free" hosting option (that comes to a total of $30 per year). I haven't found anything 'ad free' that beats that. Gail in FL (you get only 20 megabytes of space though, and must pay for any site builders, etc., if you can't code your own)
...Another suggestion is to use a domain registrar that offers URL forwarding. What this means is that you register your domain and use the control panel at the registrar to "point" it to your free ISP space (so when someone types in, it takes them to ....You only want to do this when you want the very cheapest option. Laurel

(this was written before the rental/owning of domains happened? (see just above)
Could you recommend agencies with which to register your domain name?

I use for ten domains - $10-12/yr, good privacy policies, they don't spam and they provide prompt and accurate customer service when I've had occasion to need it.
. . . . There are other small "mom-pop" type registrars out there that are just as good.
. . . .I have a list of domain registrars recommended by people on other mailing lists at . . . Personally I use and have registered several domains with them over the past two or three years. What I really love about their service is that they keep reminding you that your domain is about to expire. They even send you notices after it has expired ... in the waiting period in case you want it back. For me that is great as I find it a pain to keep checking up on the expiry of every domain. Erum
.....We also recommend going to (no sellers now?) and choosing your local geographic area. They are a registrar that does not directly deal with end users and that page takes you to resellers of their service. Very reputable to deal with. This company also comes highly recommended for resolving domain disputes and other issues that come up.
.....I would definitely recommend staying away from the one that registers your domain name for free, though - saving $10/year isn't worth all the advertising you have to accept in order to get that free domain name. Stephanie G.

WARNING re domain registration... and your renewal payments to registrars

Be careful when renewal for your domain name is even close to its due date...
....It is much easier to transfer a domain name to a different registrar if there is more than a year left on the current registration; it is very difficult to transfer within 90 days of expiration.
...A domain name can be nefariously "stolen" in several ways . . . .
..... Until a couple of years ago, all domain registration was done through a company called Network Solutions (since acquired by Verisign). They had a monopoly on the industry and dealing with them was awful. Their customer service was terrible and there were a lot of complaints. The decision was made to deregulate domain registration and establish and oversight non-profit known as ICANN.... As a result you can now get a domain registered for a decent price and you can pick and choose who you want to register your domain. ....BUT Verisign is very unhappy about losing their monopoly. ...they keep trying to steal other companies' customers away
.......Here's one thing that can happen:
My domain name expires this week and Verisign wanted $94.00 for three years. So I just transferred my domain name to and they charged me $36.00 for 3 years. Quite a savings! . . . The only problem is that the transfer will take 7-10 days, and Dotster recommends transferring your domain at least 2 weeks before the expiration date. Of course, Verisign didn't send my notice until 7 days before I expire! I guess its just another way Verisign forces you to use their service. Maria
....They have quite a few unethical practices and are currently trying for another have exclusive rights to a Waiting List Service which would effectively eliminate competition from other registrars. If interested check out Dotster's CEO letter to ICANN Letter to Chair of WLS Task Force: and a petition to ICANN over how you feel about this issue:
.......the San Diego guild website was highjacked this way and now has a new name. .... What we had to do was to use a .net instead of a .com. ( ) is their current url. Dotty
....There are a number of services that can help you get your domain name back after it has been taken like this. Often you need to go back and make sure there was no warning anywhere that the domain was up for renewal. You can find out who took the domain which company they registered it from and who is hosting the domain as well. Depending on how reputable the companies you can try and get it back. Be sure to have information showing how long you have had the domain and that it has been in continuous use. Stephanie
...A link I got for ICANN directly: This is a faq on Domain Name Dispute Policy. Check this out for more information on how to protect yourself from stolen domains and under what circumstances you can dispute to get your domain back. Stephanie
.....If anyone loses their domain name, there are internet companies that will redirect your email or web visitors to your new site and give your new address. They notify you that someone (with their names and email address) is trying to access your site/email. Before they give your information to the visitor they ask your permission. This can be helpful when you change email addresses.
Once a domain has been stolen there is not a way to get a redirect. Changing the information yourself will allow you to do redirects if done before it is stolen. This redirect for e-mail will work but not for an actual domain name...This is often why having a domain stolen is such a big deal.
... The only way to protect yourself from this is to check your renewal dates and renew well in advance.
.... Also it can be difficult to switch domain registrars. Be patient and start the process well ahead of time. Switching to another registrar from Verisign if often very difficult. Stephanie

About the time the domain registration monopoly was due to end, Network Solutions (now Verisign) changed their terms of service. You were no longer "purchasing" a domain name. Rather, you were merely renting the name for the duration of the registration period. There were many reasons for this. . .folks were making huge amounts of $ re-selling names and NetSol wanted a piece of this.... so they started to "not release" expired domain names, and began reselling them themselves (by simply renting them to you rather than selling, they could choose to not "renew your lease" when at the end of the rental period.)...It is much easier to transfer a domain name to a different registrar if there is more than a year left on the current registration; it is very difficult to transfer w/in 90 days of expiration.

PAYMENT options for your items
CreditCards, & Shopping carts, & PayPal & other

(for suggestions on insurance when sending packages, see above in "E-bay" --almost at the end)

Erum's article, links to internet financial transaction sites, and her list of what to consider when choosing one:

(see also more info in these threads from old newsgroup posts --see info on how to get to them in "Resources," above)
--Re: What about checks?
--Re: Web sales options? ??
--Knuckle busters & terminals... was considering an e-business
--Considering an e-business (this one also deals with credit cards)
--Credit card problem

Shopping Carts & Merchant Accounts

For accepting payment by credit card, you can use a merchant account, which can be set up with your internet provider, or you can use internet services that provide similar features but without many of the associated costs ...Erum

I researched the heck out of this before I chose a merchant account. I ended up going with Novus. Like you, I use a knuckle buster at shows and then enter them into a software program when I get home. Novus handles Discover card, and they act as the middleman for Visa and MasterCard. I pay less than 3% for Discover charges, and a little over 3% for Visa and MC. I did pay close to $300 to get set up, between thesoftware, application fee, etc.
...what's a knuckle buster?... it's a manual credit card swiper (many people don't feel they're necessary though, because although you don't get a signature, it's the same as filling in the info for a phone credit card order)
....Yes, PayPal is cheaper, but I don't think 3% is all that much either, for the ability to take credit cards. At my last couple of shows, over half my sales were charges.
Would those people have bought anyway if I didn't take credit cards? Maybe some would have, but I know many would not. I find a lot of people aren't carrying checkbooks with them anymore. People fool themselves by pretending they won't spend money when they go to a craft show by only taking enough cash for admission and parking and lunch. Then they see something they *must* have. If you think you are paying too much for your merchant account, maybe you ought to research another? Or work that cost into your overall pricing structure. Irene NC

Mal's e-commerce you the option to accept credit cards, and PayPal, money orders, COD, checks, etc.
...With their free version, you can"add simple Buy Now buttons to your product pages and your customers can fill out an order while they browse your website. Configure the cart to collect card data and save it for processing later.
...Or, with a Premium account, link directly to a number of big name payment processors."

Would you share more about your shopping cart? ....Do you have the premium cart? If so, why? ...How does the owner of the shopping cart make his $$ when the cart is free?... If a merchant were to accept only Paypal, would she need to use a shopping cart like the one you use? Dianne C.

First, to answer your questions: I have the premium account with Mal's because I used their free one for a while and thought it was time for me to express my appreciation for the excellent service by paying for it. How he makes his money is somewhere on the web site, check the FAQs.
... I think PayPal can provide you with "buy now" buttons, but you'll have to check with them.
...Random comments: I like this shopping cart because I am HTML-savvy and was able to code it myself.
...I find people are *far* more likely to buy something if they can just click "add to cart" instead of having to email their order.
...I have a credit card merchant account, so I do my own processing.(If you use PayPal's cart, I suspect they process the sale immediately. I like that my cart does not because often a customer will add to an order or I may have to change the shipping rates, etc.Irene shopping cart. . . .I've used it on PCE's sites for about three years now and it's been great!
...(We've had an occasional email notification fail to reach them, but all the order info is backed up on a secure server, which is what they mostly rely on for order information, anyway. . . .a few days ago, there was a few-hour glitch with sending out the notification emails, but that's the first problem of more than a few minutes that's ever been reported to us. It's been a very stable and reliable service for a very busy site.
...I haven't had to learn cgi scripting to write our own cart and that alone makes it worth its weight in gold. *g*
...if I had a small business with a small range of products or if the cart were only going to be used a few times a day, I wouldn't hesitate to use their free service.
...We use the premium cart though- mostly because it's a busy store and we didn't feel that it was fair to consume the enormous server resources that we do without paying also comes with the option to use a program called mOrders (a customer data manager program that's just fabulous! That alone is worth the $54/year.) Also with the premium service, the mals-e branding is removed from your shopping cart.
...Other than those points, I believe that the free service operates exactly like the premium.
...Everything is done with html tags - and the mals site will even write the tag for you. You fill in the blanks for each item - your user ID #, the description of the item that you're selling with this particular "Buy Now" button, how much it weighs, its price and what page you want the customer to return to when they click on "Continue Shopping," and a little program writes the html tag. You copy and paste it in to your html page and it works. You can fully test your buttons and links to the cart from your own home machine before you ever upload the cart-equipped site to your web host.
.....You can also get more complicated with forms that allow the visitor to select different options, colors, sizes, etc. It doesn't take long to learn and it gives you more flexibility when coding a page and eliminates a ton of the little "radio buttons" that could otherwise be scattered all over your site. (For instance, if selling Fimo Soft in small bricks and large, beneath every color chip on your Fimo Soft page, you'd have to add a button that would sell one 2oz block, another button to sell a box of 8-2oz blocks, another button to sell a 12.5oz brick and another button to sell 3-12.5oz bricks. Four buttons with each color of Fimo Soft. Much easier for the visitor to select a quantity of a particular color and size and click "Submit." JMO, though.)
... The owner says that there are quite a few of us who pay and that keeps him in new servers and more connectivity as he needs them. He's a fantastic software writer, and I think he does this mostly as a hobby. Very nice guy and funny, too.
...There's a forum on the site where you can get a lot more info - and Mal Stewart sometimes checks in and answers questions, too.
...If a merchant were to accept only Paypal, would she need to use a shopping cart like this one?
..........No, you could use PayPal's shopping cart if all you take is PayPal. . . using another shopping cart like mal's just gives you the option to accept credit cards (processed in real time or not, as you choose), PayPal, money orders, COD, checks, etc. Elizabeth

I was going to use paypal but I think you have changed my mind. I can certainly see the advantage! Carolyn

Erum's article on accepting credit cards without a merchant acct. (gone?)

PayPal ...& ProPay, CCNow

Starting off with just Paypal will allow you to postpone the expense of a merchant account. Will you lose possible sales to buyers who don't want to use paypal? Possibly, I don't know... Gail in FL

ProPay... I just checked and it is $35 to open an account. Sounds good to me. Trina
.... Do you know what the charges are when you use it? When selling, there is also a 3.5% fee and $.35 per transaction. That might be something to take into consideration when pricing pieces. Lori
....Does this mean that you can use ProPay to accept credit cards at craft shows? Just write down the buyer's credit card info when they buy and enter it on-line later?
Exactly. You can sell anything, anywhere -- even a yard sale -- and accept cc payments. You enter the information at ProPay when you get the chance. . . .As for customer information, I record their name, address, cc number and exp. date, as well as their email address -- for notification of charge. Be sure you explain to them that their cc bill will state they made a purchase from whatever your email address is. This is because ProPay uses your email address as your identification.... It used to be free, but is well worth it, if you ask me. Charlene
I’ve been using ProPay for over a year and am definitely satisfied with it for the volume of credit card sales I have. And that is correct. The fees are 3.5% of the transaction amount plus a flat fee of 35 cents per transaction. That more than PayPal (2.2% and 30 cents) but I think that it’s worth the benefit of being able to tell your customers you will accept credit cards. I try and encourage PayPal among my customers since it costs me less, but I like having the flexibility to take CC #’s when necessary. Lisa

i use CCNow and am tickled pink with them. they charge 9% of each sale and during Nov/Dec only 8%. they handle mastercard and visa, do the money exchange from one country's currency to another, and handle the customers complaints. when someone places an order, CCNow buys the product from me. CCNow sends me an email telling me where to send it and how much my share of the sale is. when i mail the package, i notify CCNow and they release the funds into my account. when the next pay period rolls around, they pay me. my personal choice was for EFT (electronic fund transfer) direct into my account. i have not heard of any class action suits nor how the stock (if any) is holding with CCNow. i only know the women who recommended me to CCNow have been with them a couple years now and have never had any problems with them. Sunni

Pay Pal --alternative to accepting credit cards, for payment:
...... I’ve done a lot of online selling in the past year or two, between eBay and my web site, and I have a few opinions that (I hope) may help:
1. In order for a customer to pay for an item with PayPal he or she must also have a PayPal account. Not everyone does, so if this is the only method of payment you accept, you may be losing customers.
2. I don’t have any experience with CCNow (other than having bought a few items from stores that use it recently). It seems to me that this is a better choice if you don’t want to discriminate based on whether or not the customer has a PayPal account.
3. There are other credit card processing options. I use ProPay ( You basically only need somebody’s credit card number and expiration date, you fill in all of the details, and it charges the credit card, placing the money in your account. This is a really great way to accept credit cards, especially if you don’t have a huge volume of orders. You have to enter the information manually for each sale, but the fees are considerably lower than they are for setting up a merchant account the traditional way.
4. You might want to take a look at Mal’s e-Commerce ( which is a site that provides a wonderful customizable shopping cart for your site for FREE. Through it, you can accept all kinds of payments, including PayPal and credit cards, so you can do both. I have mine set up to accept PayPal, Credit Cards (they just collect the numbers for me via a secure site, and I process them manually through ProPay), and a few other options that boil down to the customer paying me later, either through a money order, check, BillPoint invoice, whatever. You (or your webmaster, if you’re not doing this yourself) need to know a bit of HTML for the initial setup, but it’s pretty simple if you’re at all computer savvy.
5. Keep in mind the fees. All of these credit card processing services cost money. I’ve found that in generally BillPoint (eBay Payments) is the least expensive, followed by PayPal, and then ProPay. It does depend on the transaction amount, though, since some use percentages and some use flat-fees, and some use a combination of both. I prefer PayPal mostly because it’s easy for me (no manual processing) and one of the cheapest methods. So I state right in my shopping cart that I prefer to be paid via PayPal, but I’ll also accept the other methods. I hope this has been helpful! Lisa

I believe that there should not be hesitancy in using PayPal if set up the way that we do it for sales on Ebay. We have two bank accounts. We give PayPal (and BillPoint) the account number to only one account and that is the one that we have all our deposits made into from our sales. We go daily into that account and transfer the money out to our other account (which PayPal does not have the account number) so that no one would ever get much if by chance someone was dishonest. Even this could be done say every time you receive notice that PayPal has deposited $100 into your account--or even $1.00. I believe PayPal is insured as well up to $100,000. We've been using PayPal for a long time and I can tell you that it is like having a personal bookkeeper. Always a record of your transactions. BillPoint's system is not so easy to verify and maintain. I'm a PayPal fan! Jeanne
Exactly the way I use it. I have $3+ in my Paypal account, and $13 in my special paypal account at my bank. The balance is always transferred to my regular account anytime it reaches $50. Anyone who wants to risk major prison time for $50 can have at it. Kelly

At first, I was Miss Suspicious when an egroup member introduced PayPal to us. Now I use PayPal regularly and think it is terrific. I just received an exciting email from PayPal that said in part, that next month they will begin offering its services internationally. For those of us who do business internationally, this is great news! Dianne C.

I've been using paypal for a few months..but only three auctions. (bought something using it, and sold two auction items... ) I've been very happy with it so makes that "end of auction" stuff go SO much faster! I have a personal account, because I only post auctions sporadically...and you can start that way, but if your incoming money goes over $100 a month, they will then ask you to upgrade to a business or premiere account as I understand it. Jules

I’ve been using PayPal for all of my business purchases and getting 1.5% cash back ­ it’s great! And all you have to do to be “preferred” and get the cash back is not advertise any other online payment method in your auctions. Piece of cake. Lisa

Another feature I particularly like about my PayPal Premier account is the MasterCard debit card I have - I use it at the post office, and for buying supplies and it's great! Teri

I also use PayPal as my main way of accepting payment for auction and even private sales. It's quite fast and inexpensive. At this point I am signed up for the personal account, which lets you sell up to $100/month with no charges. Since I don't do all my sales that way, it's been great. Then I e-transfer the money into my bank account. If my volume goes up I'd probably upgrade to a business account. It's quite easy to refer people so they can sign up. I don't bother trying to convince anyone of the security or anything.
I also accept checks (10 days) and Postal money orders. Bank money orders are treated the same as checks.
To me, not taking advantage of the technology is like pushing your car instead of turning on the engine.
I also sell through and they take care of all the details. Their commission is higher than Ebay's so it probably works out the same. They also take care of transferring funds to my bank account. Jacqueline

You might be able to get better help from PayPal re the problems you're having with your account if you call them at their toll free phone # 1-888-221-1161. I had a problem a while back and the only way I could get any answers was by calling them. Emailing didn't get me any answers. Julie

I called PayPal yesterday and got started with my setup. I chose the option with no terminal and a slightly higher rate (2.79%) since I do all mail-order and won't have any cards to swipe anyway. The difference in rate is so small that it would actually take $100,000 in credit card sales before the terminal paid for itself - I don't expect to be doing THAT kind of volume any time soon! I figured, since it didn't represent any value in convenience, I wouldn't bother with it. (If I did shows and things, that would be another story - I'd want the terminal then, probably).
I'm looking forward to dumping ProPay. They were a good way to get started, but I'm getting a bit too big for their limits, and their rates are somewhat higher than this company, too. Not to mention the pain in the neck that manual entry has become. Lisa

People who won't take paypal because of the fees are silly, I think.
A regular credit card merchant account costs at least $25 a month, and you get to make so many transactions... and I think if you make a certain ammount of them you have to start paying extra. There are months I take in $300 or more through Paypal and it hardly costs me $10 in fees.
Here is the fee for a Paypal premiere acct (that is if you get over $100 a month from others, if you make over $3000 in a month fees change by a few pennies). Per sale, 2.9% + 30¢, that's still only $3.20 for a $100 sale. Now what does sort of suck is that if you are selling on ebay, they already have your fee for listing the item, and then they take 5.25% of the high bid at the auction close for up to $25, and 2.75% for that part of the current high bid from $25.01 up to $1,000. But if you are not selling big ticket items we're usually talking $1 or $2 total between ebay & paypal. Discord

Paypal will do wonders for your sales, people like to pay right away so they can get their item faster. . . . Roll the cost into your product because you can't charge your customer a service fee to accept a credit card, or you can stick with the other service from Paypal where the customer has to pay from their Paypal account or from their checking account. The fee that Paypal charges you is less this way, but you are also risking losing sales. dazedntex

--I know I use Paypal all the time and I love it. But to play a "devils advocate" here's a website you may want to check out. ...just some more info. Maria
--A "verification" process will need to be completed after $2000 (or possibly less) is spent for basic (unverfied) members, or no withdrawals can then be made (money can come in though)
.... they keep sending me emails asking me to verify by providing a checking account....I am asked to give an ATM card number plus my four digit pin! ..I would never share my pin with anyone! Emily
....what they're really asking for is your 4-digit Extended Use Number
........There are clickable help links all through the process at PayPal that explain, for example, what the Card Verification Number is and why they ask for it. I think you might find them helpful if you went through the process slowly and clicked on the help links. Sarah (see sev. more relevant questions in the list at bottom)
...Yeah, Paypal got a little bigger and the problems have increased a bit. ...May I suggest that you contact your bank. They will be able to give you that code even though it doesn't appear on your statement. ustina
...After umpteen e-mails later complaing, (with canned responses each time), I gave up... but tthen my husband opened a paypal account and received those special number in his statement no problem/// in the small print I read (no idea if it still holds true), that you can't open an account if you close an account!. . . What finally worked was that I scanned in my bank statement and edited out the information I didn't want them to see husband downloaded some fax software for me and I sent it off as a FAX. This eventually did get a response from them and I got it all sorted. But it was a real pain. Shelley
... it seems there are a lot of differences between the US and European Paypals, because I have always found it to be very easy here. DocSarah

see more on PayPal, etc., especially when using EBay, above in Auctions > E-Bay

WHOLESALE to shops ... CONSIGNMENT to shops... Craft malls
+ shows"middlemen," etc.

sample contracts for visual artists for "business services" and for "consignment"....(require Acrobat Reader to view/print)

Emma's tips on wholesaling in various ways (and more)

tips on finding the best craft malls

tips on selecting the best spots at craft malls (or craft boutiques), and keeping the contract as short as possible (always talk to the Manager or Assistant Manager because they are the ones empowered to make deals)
.......Spring may be best time to get into a craft mall because seasonal sellers will have left and they may have deals or good spaces open.

tips on craft malls and online craft malls on craft malls from the point of view of the mall owners

(see also more info in these threads from old newsgroup posts --how to read them in Resources, above)
--Consignment lessons learned
--Re: My first consignment-finally!

--Consignment, galley and wholesale mark-ups. What to expect. (boring)

--selling jewelry, galleries, etc.
--Re: Presenting to Galleries
--Re: selling in catalogs

Approaching the Owner-Buyer-Manager

....also wholesale vs. consignment

1. For consignment, you leave your items at a retail shop and *you* set the retail price
....if the item sells, there's usually a 60/40 split of the retail price (with most of the consignment I've dealt with) ...the store keeps 40% of the retail price, and sends you 60%-. Irene NC

........ if your product doesn't sell, it's returned to you
2. there are also "craft mall" shops, but they charge a fee to rent space to you by the month... you set your own retail price (which you will get all of if sold ... no split))
.......and you display any number of items in your "booth" (which will fit)... money for any item that's sold will be sent to you (usuallly monthly)
...When you sell outright wholesale to a shop, however, the store buys from you at your wholesale price and *they* set the retail price, whatever amount they want. Most double the wholesale price they've paid you and also add a bit to cover shipping. Irene NC

HOW TO FIGURE a 40% - 60% split:
(Say you had something you wanted $10 for. If the store owner multiplied by 1.4, then he/she would get $14 for a selling price --that would mean you got 10/14ths or 5/7ths, and the shop owner gets only 2/7ths of the total.... not exactly a 40/60 split.) the number 1.666 works --why?
...... if you take the a $10 item and multiply it by 1.666, you get a selling price of $16.66 (so, you get your $10, and the store owner gets $6.66)
...... If you divide the $10 you get by the total sales price of $16.66, it comes out to 60% for you, and 40% for the owner.
.......The formula is basically the percentage you get (60%) times the unknown selling price (call it "x") equals the amount you want ($10). this case then ,. .60x = $10.... then divide both sides by .60 to get "x" ... so x = $10/.60 (which is $16.67). Larry

(marketing my work to shops and galleries)... I prefer to wholesale, but find that more owners want to consign goods instead. Laurel

As far as consignment goes, I no longer do it.
.... If the buyer likes your work and thinks it will sell, they should have no problem buying it.... I have NEVER had consignment work out well for me... I don't think owners respect your work as much as if they had puchased it. Ilysa

The one consignment gallery that has our (higher end) work takes a straight 50% of the retail price, and the others buy outright. We charge them half of what our retail price is. (we set the retail price by the way.)
.....At the moment we only have one consignment gallery. The rest are all paid for upon delivery.
..We don't sell at a place where you rent space anymore. There was way too much theft and these places do not have insurance for theft so it's a complete loss for the artist.
......the consignment gallery we have, however, is insured, and if a piece is stolen, they still owe us fifty percent of the retail price.
...(If you want to keep more of your retail price, then the craft shows might be the way to go, but we have never made as much money from them as we do from the galleries... and we have to sit them, rain or shine, and pack up, set up, and tear down and tote home.... I do enjoy doing them however, because I share the booth with two or three other polymer clay artists and usually only do these about twice a year). DottyinCA

There's another point in selling through a retail store. When the owner buys your product (as opposed to doing it on commission), he will naturally try to sell what he has put money out for. ...whereas commission work is filling the shop owner's shelves with no cost to him. Jane S.

Although I would like to move into more wholesaling, I currently do almost all of my sales via consignment at several art shops.
.... Most of my shops are associated with local arts centers. This is important to me in that they enjoy community support and generally you can count on them to be honest, well run, etc. since they have a staff and board of directors to answer to. And they also don't carry cheap import stuff at the same time. They are committed to selling artist's work as a service to the artist and to the consumer.
.... That said, the split I get in various locations varies. Generally, I believe that the principle of consignment is that you maintain the risk in selling. If it doesn't sell, they give it back..... They assume none of the risk they would if they buy outright at wholesale. Therefore, I think it is fair to assume that you, the artist should also get a higher than 50-50 split.
........ Most of my consignment contracts are for 70-30 (artist gets 70%). Some are 60-40 and one is even 75-25. (unfortunately that's one in a not-so-affluent community, so sales there aren't so heavy, either.) ...That said however, I also have work in my own community's art center and they only offer 50-50. But I feel I have to accept that because I need to be involved with and represented at that location. It's a matter of community pr. Patti K.

It's best when you can visit the stores you deal with in order to check up on how things are displayed, ask what's selling, see what other merchandise is carried. Patti

If, after 6 months, you haven't sold anything or not very much, you might want to pull it and try somewhere else with a different market, different price points, different aesthetic style for the shop (i.e. contemporary, folk, trendy, classic, etc.) ....... Art work isn't one-style fits all, and shops that don't have a specific identity are probably less effective than ones with a strongly defined style.) Patti Kimle

Many people are too casual about just "selling my stuff"...... If you sell things, you are in business.
... look like you can be trusted to make quality goods, and to stand behind them ....for example, shop managers seldom will see you if you just pop in with things so make appointments, bring things in a professional looking display, etc. Sherry

BE ORGANISED!! ...When you take your work to the shop for the first time, assuming it is sale-or-return (see below in Wholesaling, for "Sale and Return") ,
.....The store keeper doesn't know your stock like you do. And to be honest a lot of them dont WANT to! they just want to make sure the right price label gets in the product and that they sell it. .....You should set the retail price and the sale or return price that they pay you when the item sells.
.... The price they pay you must cover your overhead and a little extra, and the retail price should be roughly double, as that is the kind of mark up they want. In fact many stores see 100 per cent mark up as the absolute minimim!
... make a list for both you and the store owner listing EACH item, with a good description and have a column showing its sale or return price and the retail price. I also have columns saying "left" "sold"and "returned" that way I can check off the product on the list when I return and see if the item has sold, the store owner wants to keep it there another month or whther I shall take it back and give a new item in its place. Have a place on this list that clearly says how many items in total you a re leaving, collecting etc.
...... Each of these lists I sign myself and I also make sure the store owner signs it too. Dont be embarrased to ask them to sign this form - after all you are leaving valuable stock in their care, if they have a problem doing so, they are probably not worth bothering with - any reputable store owner will find it professional. I have had problems in the past with one store burning down! having that signed list meant I was covered on their insurance policy and got my stock payed for, If I had not had that, I would have not been payed anything! Emma
Just make sure that if you leave something with a store on consignment to see if the items will sell, you have the store owner/manager sign an inventory slip that states the items that you have left and the price that you will charge him/her for them. Be prepared to leave a copy of it with the store, too. That way when you come back in two weeks, there is no "confusion" over what you left behind. Ginny B

You must do all the thinking for the store owner if you want them to look favourably on carrying your work. They jsut want to sell the products, they dont want to have to work out prices for you, work out what packaging it needs. You must do that. Emma

You can have control over how your work is displayed at shops and galleries if you bring your work ready to display.
.... I provide earrings and pins hanging on cards on a rack. You can make the racks, buy racks, or make your card size ready to fit the store's rack. Your cards will have information about the piece and your name and state. Which allows a shopkeeper to place a price on the card, not on your work!
....If the items are not suited for a card, and you want a nice price for your work, my experience has been that sales increased when I invested in gift boxes. In this case black pin stipes (matte paper, shiny can scuff) from Rio Grande, for an average price of $0.35 each. My necklaces and bracelets are priced between $40 and $70 so that puts the 35 cent box into perspective.
...Each piece I make is showcased on the white cotton in the lovely black box, and it shouts: gift!
.....a box provides protection for the piece to be stored in after the sale, as well.
....These are not fool proof. I have had to visit my shops frequently to inspect my work, and have had dumb experiences too - like finding someone else's earrings on my rack while my work was in the back room being inventoried for weeks.... Although I have had nice experiences with great shopkeepers, I have dealt with a few stinkers too. Mona

I did that type thing, renting a booth or space, both in California and then here back in New Hampshire.(I wouldn't do it again for it was not successful).
...when I was about to quit the CA boutique, the manager actually made a straight deal with me: no monthly rent, just a percentage. Jane S.

Jacqueline Lee taught me not to bring stuff "in a shoebox" when making a sales call to a store
.... she invested in the black plastic trays from Rio (or other sources)...they stack and fit into a black carrying bag
....she makes foam inserts then covers with fabric, and pins her work onto inserts. This method is great if you are making lots of sales calls, and protects your work in transit. Mona
(see more on product containers and displays above in Product Containers ...and in Shows > Display)

Give them printed information on your techniques and products, which they can leave on the counter or give to customers.
....... on the whole the store keeper is NOT prepared to learn how to explain "millefiore," for example to their customers no matter how impressed they are with the end result! Emma

Firstly ALWAYS work out your costings before going anywhere! the price of your peice is determined by your material costs, your labour costs and your profit margin - and that will give you your Wholesale price! even if you sell your own work to customers yourself, you should set a retail price that is roughly double that. Not always possible I know, but that is the bare basics of how to price work. there are some good websites around covering these issues more comprehensively however. You cannot walk into any shop and expect the store owner to set the price. That would make you look unprofessional and also would not result in the CORRECT price for your work. Emma

Things to consider re pricing:
..... You pay for shipping in consignment arrangements, so work that into your overhead.
..... What happens if a piece is lost? Stolen? Broken? In consignment agreements, the store generally does not take responsibility for these situations.
.... By what date each month will the store send you a list of what's been sold the previous month and a check? Irene NC

If they want to put them out to see if they sell, tell them that if they take them that way (sale or return), they'll have to pay more than if they buy them directly from you to sell - that's the usual way, since the risk is less they pay more.
. . . Don't forget that most shops will at least double the price you charge them, so consider if you think your stuff will sell for that much or conversely you can afford to sell for so little. Crafty Owl
.....If you offer "Sale or Return" (see below in Wholesaling), make an appointment to return in a month or whatever period you choose..... When you return, have your list with you and do the stock take of the items yourself and mark what has sold. This should be in agreement with the store owners records if they keep them, although by this point you are SO professional often they trust you and let you do ALL the thinking and just hand you the money! Emma

However you agree to have a selling arrangment, be sure you have an agreement in writing -- even if the store owner is a "good friend". --shoe

The gallery that represents me ...has set up a fantastic relationship with me.
... The owner has asked me to demo at almost ever art show they have, she makes calls to all her regular customers whenever I show up with new items, she keeps my clay book on her counter to show anyone interested in my work, and she runs the video tape of an HGTV show I did a few years ago on making our large kaleidoscopes whenever she has an open house.. . . I am so very grateful for all of this. . . . DottyinCA

mostly wholesaling

some advantages of wholesaling: While you won't make as much money on each item when you sell wholesale, you do sell more on each order and your products go on much wider display.
.... You are becoming a bigger fish when you wholesale and you will learn much more about the business you are in than those who don't
..... Don't be discouraged if you can't go right out and wholesale your products. Keep trying...many more proposed "deals" fall through than are ever struck.

After weighing all the options I was given (consignment & wholesaling), I sold them to her outright. I guess this makes me a wholesaler now. We have a few consignment stores in Hawaii, and the terms vary from 70/30 - 60/40. I decided to sell them simply because that was, well, simpler, and she paid what I was charging at the craft fairs
...... She marked them up 30% and they are doing well enough that she ordered more, plus it's getting my name out to a different type of customer.
.... I did agree not to sell this particular item at any more craft fairs in 2000, but will have a sample at my booth with information on her shop, so she gets more publicity also. Pat

What do I have to be careful of with wholesaling to a shop?
....Being taken advantage of by a store owner. .....Set your own wholesale prices and stick to them.
...Also do not get sucked into the thinking some of them have of large quantities = less cost per bead. (they still take you the same amount of time no matter how many you make or the stores buy). . . play up that your beads are handmade after all, and take precious time and energy to produce. Julie W.

(usually) I prefer to sell outright to stores and galleries.
.... My (return) policy is that I'll take anything back within 90 days for *exchange* as long as it's in resaleable condition. After 90 days, I'll take it back for exchange but will charge a 10% restocking fee. Knowing that they can send stuff back and get something else makes a store's buyer more willing to buy outright. I know I can sell any of my work at a show or to another store. Irene NC

Even if you decide to sell direct to shops, it is still a good Idea to go in casually once a month and see how the stock is selling. And hopefully get more orders! Emma

I find it very helpful to scout out the appropriate stores (see if I can visualize my work displayed there, see what else is there). Sarajan

A trick I use to determine if my items would sell at a partciular shop is to go there wearing some of work
...if anyone behind the counter mentions them, then I have a chance to present them with a card, ask for one of their cards, and ask when is a good time to call the buyer for an appointment.
... If no one says anything like "Oh those are interesting beads," then there is almost no chance that I will be able to sell things to them, even if I make an appointment
.... ....I've noticed that this holds true more than 90% of the time for me, so now I pay attention to it! Sarajane H

I always take some stock with me when I go (not just samples). That way if they like my work they can buy it right away and I walk out of the store with a sale.
.... I have done this at stores and galleries across the country, and it works real well for me as well as the store (If they have open display space it gives them the opportunity to fill it right away.) .
...As far as the amount of stock to take, I usually take what I have made, and if they want something else I offer to bring it back or ship it within a certain time frame. The way I feel is if the buyer likes your work, they should be willing to take a chance with a few pieces and then if they do well they will order more. Ilysa

You should never do cold-calls - don't just pop into a bead store and ask if they're interested. Act like a professional and chances are that you will be treated like one. . . . First scope the place out and see if your work would fit. Call ahead and make an appointment. . . . show up with samples and a brochure , or at least samples and photos with a *price list.* The store owner has a lot on her/his mind and tomorrow, they won't remember exactly what it was they liked about your beads, much less how much they cost. Irene

I think you can "cold call" on shop owners and ask if you can make an appointment to see them. I find that works very well. Just ask who the owner is or ask who is in charge of purchasing and quickly explain that you make jewellery or ornaments or whatever and would like to show them your work. Iysa

...ask the name of the buyer or manager (ask in the store if you're not interrupting a salesperson or telephone when you get home)... later contact the buyer and ask if you could set up an appointment.. . . .If you have a brochure to leave at or mail to the store, they sometimes like to get a preview before you meet with them. Irene

Sometimes cold calls can work out though... just don't be disappointed if that doesn't happen and you need to ask to make an appt. for later.

Many wholesale buyers do not like wholesale minimums, and they still want to pay wholesale prices for buying only a few items.
.... I will sometimes agree to wholesale small amounts as a "special introductory offer", saying that I'm confident that after they see the quality of my products, they'll be comfortable purchasing them in larger amounts. However, I make it clear that this is a "special intro offer", which I will not repeat.
....I do not wholesale to folks who want wholesale pricing on like $50 of merchandise, as my prices are so low to begin with, I don't feel I'm getting a good return on investment. Laurel

I find that if you offer a "Sale or Return" (same as "consignment") basis, you can bet your bottom dollar they will take your work! I far prefer to offer Sale or Return than to sell my stock to a store outright. .
...This is an advantage to you also. If you sell your work outright then if they have not sold it after a month or two they will reduced the price just to get a return on their investment and they sure wont order from you again. BUT with Sale or return you can rotate the stock. You may take a couple of months to find exactly WHAT stuff sells well in THAT shop. . . . And no-one gets to see YOUR work being sold off cheaply!
.....Or worse still, they display it badly and you have NO say over it once they have bought the stock. With sale or return you can take a far more active role in display, etc. Ilysa

When I sell to stores, I offer to exchange, dollar for dollar, anything that doesn't sell. This gives the stores the confidence to place orders with me, knowing that they won't be stuck with something that isn't selling. Irene

(I want to) take some of my things to some local shops that I think might be interested in my items. My question is, should I take things packaged and ready to sell on the spur of the moment? Or should I just take samples? If you take things to sell, how many of each item would you take? Does any type of 'packaging' work better than others? Nanette
...Take samples with you that you can leave there!!!!! That is the way i do it :) And let them think about it for 2 weeks to see if the customers are interested in them. OOPS what i mean is this :) You leave the samples there for 2 weeks so they can show them to the customers and see if they are interested! And after 2 weeks you call them to ask how they are doing and if they want more? and then you let them pay you!! I do not have an idea about packaging because my shops all handle that themselfs :) Ria
I would take samples, but packaged as if to sell so they see the whole thing. Most will want to keep them for a while for consideration. .
. . If they want to put them out to see if they sell, tell them that if they take them that way (sale or return) they have to pay more than if they buy them directly from you to sell on - that's the usual way, since the risk is less they pay more. . . . Don't forget that most shops will at least double the price you charge them, so consider if you think your stuff will sell for that much or conversely you can afford to sell for so little. Crafty Owl

Another idea that i have had recently is to take a display over to a local store and let them borrow it for a week to see what type of feedback they get from their customers...... its especially nice for people reluctant to take in more work/products to their store.
..... some of them have 'tried' everything and found that much doesnt move the way they had hoped. it does get your foot into an otherwise closed door.... june-marie

all kinds of hair ornaments may be sold on consignment for you by owner-operated hair salons (probably not franchised ones tho)... Meduza

I think it's hard for beginners to wrap thier minds around that whole wholesale price thing... thinking that THEY must take a loss on thier end in order to get a nice low wholesale price. NOT! It really took me a while to get it, I must say. Retail is whatever a shop is going to sell your work for! Figure up your wholesale like Lori suggested... and then double it for your resale. If you want to sell at shows at a wholesale price that's fine... as long as you're NOT also selling to shops. Because then you set yourself up in competition with those places... and it makes your work seem like it must be overpriced there.. . . I sometimes will bring my wholesale down a bit for a bulk order, maybe knock off 10%... only because it means I have a guaranteed sale... I can spend my time working on that order and ship it right off for money in the pocket, rather than working on that same amount of pieces and having to pack them off to show after show, selling in drips & drabs. But even then, I make sure I'm getting paid for my time. Joanie

At the very least, most stores that I sell to extend a 10% discount plus no tax as I have a tax id (for other items in their store). Some sell to me on a true wholesale basis too. Julie W.

I see on some excellent PC sites that people's items are sold in galleries and shops all over the country. How do they find these places? Surely these people don't travel all over the country looking for buyers to sell their items. Sue
...You can find galleries (for selling your work) in the Crafts Report magazine - every month they showcase a couple of them, and there's a listing of shops seeking work, too. Irene
...Every time you go on a trip somewhere, scope out the shops to see if they'd be a fit for your work. If you have time while you're there, call them and make an appointment. If you don't, find out whose attention to send a brochure to, and do it when you get home. Irene

When doing wholesale shows you really have to investigate them before signing up. I did a show at the Atlantasmart because it was a cash and carry show not only order writing and there was nothing there but imported stuff. There are several companies that put on wholesale shows but they are not all easy to deal with. Rosen group for example (Buyers market of American Craft) is probably the most unprofessional group of people I have EVER encountered! George Little managements good shows are waitlist only and ACC shows you need to sign up for almost a year before the show that means they have over $1000.00 of your money and you have to wait a long time before the show rolls around if you get accepted. They certainly don't make it easy for you to get started wholesaling. (There is an online website called which I am on (see ). You pay over $500.00 and you get a site on their website and only people with a tax # can access the site .I wish you a lot of luck I just wish it was easier to do). . . . . Ilysa

tips on online craft malls (and regular craft malls)

I've been approached by HSI Online to become one of their online sellers...their selling points sound pretty good....featured product placement, possible spots on QVC, etc. The thing that makes me a little nervous: in order to start the process, they require a sample of my work with an invoice showing the wholesale price and $500 for a year's membership. (?)I hate to be stupid or overly suspicious, but I know absolutely nothing about letting others sell my work...does this sound like a standard deal? I'm doing pretty well on the Web . . .
I think the first thing you should ALWAYS do in situations like this, where you're not familiar with a company that's approaching you is write back to them and request references. Any reputable company that does business of this nature should ALWAYS be more than willing to accommodate such requests - afterall, they are soliciting you for your hard work and money and would request the same from you if the situations were reversed. This is sort of like your "credit check". If they are reluctant, snotty or generally evasive in responding to this most basic of requests for more information that should IMMEDIATELY raise warning flags about doing business with them.
Secondly, do a little sleuthing of your own. One thing you can do is check with Network Solutions or any other domain registration service (whois) and look up how long the company has owned their domain name, what company it is actually listed as the register, current contact telephone numbers, etc.. And of course the obvious method of checking with the BBB to see if they have any negative comments or issues pending against them should be part of your detective work as well.
There are certainly company's out there that legitimately solicit artisan work for their wholesale galleries, etc. And $500 annual fee for such a service is not unrealistic/over-the-top. is one such company with a fairly decent reputation established for itself so far.
However - just like you'd research for a show, fair or consignment shop - check how well placed your money would be with such companies. HOW do they promote? HOW MUCH of your fee is going towards general promotions and do the promotions they offer support YOUR audience. These are just some of the questions you'll want to keep in mind when considering signing up with anyone in this sort of situation.
And one last time, I can't stress the point enough - its feedback from others already using the service that is really your most valuable asset in these situations. If you can't get any feedback from others who have already signed up and been using the service for a period of time, my personal advice and opinion would be to simply steer clear of them. Lyrael
...Jan, that's another good point. Wholesale firms/galleries/listings tend to expect a much higher level of production and turnaround also, so one would indeed, need to decide how "big" they wanted to grow their business and/or how many hours they planned to put in. A point I hadn't even thought about actually. Lyrael --This is an amazing concept and I think it's going to work, there are all kinds of artists who advertise, there is a fee for this, I"m sure that's how they make their money, but it probably pays for itself in sales!!! You need an id and password to get into the main section, but RETAILERS especially small shops who want different kinds of crafts, can come in and look around and find the type of crafts they want and then contact the artists! The photography is topnotch, the brochures are topnotch! They take their brochures to the big shows etc... It seems to be a very interesting way to get your merchandise seen by retailers from ALL OVER the country! And you don't even have to go set up a booth or drive half way across the country! ...there area couple Polymer Artists who are selling there, I know Judith Skinner is in the brochure as is Pierette Ashcroft. It also contains some incredible jewelry and glass work!. . . I"m struggling because I don't have slides and there is a special that waves some of the fees and part of the first years costs for artists . . . I like the fact that you can give a turnaround time, which means you can make your own pressure!!! Just gotta make sure you give yourself a good turn around time! Leigh
Thanks for sharing the wholesale crafts site. I have looked at it, but it's not in my budget at this time. I am currently starting to list mystuff on It's along the same lines, but not quite as big as The best part is that it's free. I put 5 items up about two weeks ago and I've already had a few inquiries. It was very easy to set up. And you don't need professional pictures. ...I have heard good things about So if you go with them, please share your experiences with the rest of us. Alicia
I have been on since January 2000. I think the site is very nice and the staff is professional and willing to work with you. I have even advertised in the buyers guide that they publish twice a year. However I am not impressed with the amount of sales I have received for the money I spent. I have received a ton of people wanting catalogs but very few follow through. I recently took my third order since being online with them and have finally covered the fees. I really like the whole idea but like I said the sales just aren't as plentiful as I had hoped. Plus I have received a ton of people trying to solicit other things to me and they had found me on WSC so that means a lot of unqualified people with tax #s are able to log on and see my work and wholesale prices. I don't know if I will renew my service, I still have 5 months to go and I will see what happens. The concept is great, that is what intrigued me enough to spend the money.. . .I make mostly functional housewares using polymer clay. I do not make any jewelry. Most of the people I have talked with are not making very many sales if any, and one is in the polymer clay jewlery category.... I have not heard of anyone writing alot of orders, but I have only talked to about 10 people. There is one lady whose business is called Paper Scissors Rock and she says she does well. But her work is featured on the main page of the site...It is an expensive endeavor. I paid over $500.00 for the year and over $300.00 for the buyers guide. One thing I don't like is that they change the (fee)... ALL of the time.I do not think this is fair. ...they were letting people sign up for $395.00 a year...If you call or e-mail WSC they will give you a temporary password so you can check out the whole site. They have message boards between artists and artists, also between artist and retailer. They are something to check out because they let you know what the people involved on the site are experiencing and if you have any questions you can post it there. Ilysa

I went into business with a friend. We did similar work, but I didn't know she had taken shortcuts. Where I would double back through my beads and knot the ends, she just ran her thread through the last three beads. Customers came to me to complain that her jewelry was falling apart and wanted me to fix it for them. I passed it all on to my friend, but my reputation was ruined in that area. She ended up losing money after having to repair her shoddy work and when tax time came up, she refused to help me with the bookkeeping. I had to file papers to the effect that we were no longer affiliated.
...My advice is not to go into business with a friend. It may sound harsh, but it's just like lending money. The problems involved can ruin your friendship.
...If you do choose to go into business with a friend, make sure you have a business agreement or contract that is notarized. Kim

I got involved in a co-op, back when I was doing beadwork. Knowing nothing about business, what was fair, what percentages the shop should get, etc., I got screwed big time. I worked the shop once a week, found out later that everyone else worked once a MONTH. Then I learned that the shop was taking 15% of sales from everyone else and 20% from me. To top it all off, I came in one day to work and the shop had closed down. I could see all our stuff in there and there were notices to vacate the premises on the window. The owner's number was disconnected and all our stuff was sold at auction to pay for the bills. The contract I signed turned out to be worthless because the "owner" of the shop had used a fake name. Now I KNOW the reputation of the shop and have my paralegal friend check it out first. Kim

Your (whimsical gnome-like figures) are just too cute, I love them! I really think your market place is in these areas though: Ski Country Colorodo (Winter Park-Aspen), Santa Cruz California,-San Fransico California, Seatle, College town Oregon, Ft. Lauderdale Florida, Dallas Texas,-Greenville, or Downtown wharehouse district Specialty art shops in Manhattan-New York-along the Village, Independant shops, coffee houses. :o) Love these places. Everywhere I have traveled they seem to hold an abundance of raw talent for the plucking.
. . . Other than that, I agree with whoever said your figures would be great fo clay animation pics, shorts. So, that would introduce you to the 'canned film festival' crowd I would think. The reason I suggest these places imparticular is because they are big on exclusive and animated. Also, they are some what more helpful in getting reproduction happening....for a fee. Also, believe it or not *very* worldly. Easier way to get product viewed by a world wide audiance, besides the web. ... Look over the web for these places, then narrow it down within these locals. (see also Wayne the Dane's and other sculpting boards in Sculpting)
Yellow Pages work. I miss the big city. I'm not sure where you are, but know that college towns and cities with large libraries have sections that hold nothing but phone books. Ahhhh, life at your finger tips. Then find those places on the web. Send photos, or one or two, and a web link. It's an option. This is how I sold all of my stuff. Consignment art/coffee/independant shops are awesome !Lynda :o)


If you print your own inkjet business cards, you can spray them with clear acrylic spray and that will help to seal them. It helps keep them from running. Marty

To create business cards:
-- buy business card paper at office supply stores and print your own on your printer. Gail FL

-- get them made at Kinkos and similar print shops
-- get them made's one place (you can choose from their designs, fonts, etc., or you can upload your own image to them):

Kathleen Amt had standard paper cards with small canes slices on her work on each card. Cassy

Why not do some whole cards in clay, and send them out to companies or shops you would like to do business with...sort of a marketing package. a polyclay card and a cane or a bead attached so they can see WHAT the clay is if they are not familiar with it! Otterfire
....and also for special customers ...And I think everybody would do well to have one as part of any display they have at an art fair or exhibition, etc.Sherry

I love the transfer idea ... Why not make an inkjet sheet of designs for your cards... backwards color photocopy ...then paint the entire sheet with liquid clay... bake, peel off (wash off) the paper... pass the whole thing through the pasta machine with a sheet of clay for backing....slice apart, and voila! Donna

make your own business card holder:
..or cover a metal-mesh or other type of stand-up business card holder
......(I use the plastic business card holders from Staples... one of them can be baked (you have to do a test. Trina).
......or glue on baked sheets or embellishments after baking them (with epoxy or E-6000?)
......or make a clay "couch" which holds business cards (....see many of these in Miniatures > Furniture)
....Annadara's very fancy sculpted underwater scene which holds business cards
.. or cover a closable business card case ... Lisa Pavelka's lesson,1789,HGTV_3239_2932966,00.html

I used my Dremel to cut uniform holes in each of my business cards, then and inserted a clay piece on the card
. . . I use a small clamp to hold a bunch of cards together then drill the holes through them all. This gives me cards with all the same hole position

If you cut your clay a little longer (when making liquid clay transfers for business cards as above), the longer strips make good bookmarks, which is also a nice promotional item to pass out as people would have a daily use for something with your name on it! Kristy
....I advertise my art classes by making bookmarks side is artsy-fartsy, the other side is my ad..... (it's all hand-drawn with markers, then i use packing tape to "laminate" the bookmarks, and add a hemp twine loop).
...... i put them out at independent art supply stores, libraries, etc.
......... if there's a table, i put a jar full with a label on it ... if it's a bulletin board, i make an envelope by folding an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of heavy paper in half and stapling it down the sides, then tuck about 10 bookmarks in at a time. far it's been 3 out of 10, which is pretty good for advertising. but i've also had requests/commissions even if people don't take the classes. mellybeanTC

(If you have a website or photosharing site where your work can be seen,) folks will find your website address through "offline advertising" as well.
....for example, folks may check out your website after picking up a business card or brochure at a show, after seeing your work in a publication, after reading an article about you, etc.
...That's why you should put your URL on everything you can, including hang tags for your merchandise. Laurel

PORTFOLIOS-resumes...submitting SLIDES + "PROFESSIONAL" impressions

You might want to create a "portfolio of your work"... could be the works themselves, or a few pieces supplemented by photos of more
....Also an "artist's resume" can be good too just to list the history or breadth of your work (possibly including other artistic or business experience), etc.
...They wrote asking if they could feature one of my entries on their publicity fliers.
.......You know, of course, to add this to your portfolio or artist resume.
..Also try to get an advance copy of the ad so you can laminate it and display it in your booth. This should boost your sales! Irene in western NC
Be sure and keep any magazine or other articles you may have written as PR for your portfolio (if you have or develop one) so clip and have both articles in plastic so it will keep well. Dotty in CA
...A website is actually more helpful as an "electronic portfolio" to me than for sales (I sell just enough through the site to cover hosting fees for it... otherwise I do wholesale and consignment)... Laurel

info on slides, prints, film, processing, when photographing craft items

I went to Lark Books yesterday to meet with the editor. (I got to see a black-and-white photocopy version of the book layout. Cool!) One of the things we did was go over all the slides we received for the gallery. This is the first time I've ever been on the receiving and choosing end of this. Wow, my eyes are opened wider than they had been!
First impressions mean a LOT.... The letters and notes that accompanied slides ranged from *none* to *hand-scrawled* to *nicely handwritten* to *typed or computer printed.* Guess which seemed most professional? At least the nicely handwritten ones indicated care and pride.
....The clear plastic sleeves that many slides were in can tell a lot, too. Dirty and scratched sleeves were a turn off. That was an immediate prejudice against the work inside. Care and pride. Or lack of it.
And finally, oh, I almost hate to mention this, but it's important!
.......Several slides showed Excellent work, but the slide quality was so poor that it could not be considered for inclusion in the book. The biggest problem was the backgrounds. Carpet, fabric, crumpled paper, etc., are not good backgrounds. They detract from the piece, for one thing, and for another, it would make the background of that picture different from all others in the gallery.
...... If you must do your own photos, for heaven's sake, go to a photo shop and buy some background paper. And maybe, even if you do your own pics, for the really important ones, like for a book submission, or the next polymer clay calendar submission, or art show juries, it would be worth getting four or five pics done by a pro. Irene
...for those of you thinking of hiring a pro photographer:
(see also Photography > Slides/Transparencies for info on obtaining the required slides for some submissions)

Digital cameras create pixels that create quality problems when projected from a slide. Although you can get good prints from a 3 megapixel camera, you need a camera that has minimum 5 megapixel capability to hope to get reasonable slides....and even then if you're shooting slides for the big time use a skilled professional and another camera. I've been trying to learn to shoot my own work...and it's tough!... mine... tend to lack the crispness and WOW factor that I suppose practise makes possible. nokomis1

If you decide to use glass (over your work), take photos of your artwork without the glass in the frame. I had a professional photographer try to photograph over ten pieces for me and the glare prevented her from getting a good picture---and she is a top notch photographer and specializes in photographing artwork. At least she did not charge me! She told me that it is very common that artists do not install glass until after photographing. I tried the non-glare glass, but all the photos took on a weird color. Jeanne

digital versus SLR cameras and photography:
(see more on photography in general in Photography)

...interesting article about looking at slides from the jury's point of entry, not for publication, but informative anyway
...from a gallery owner's point of view:

On the other hand, I think there is a difference between wanting "perfection," and wanting a professional-looking product ....and in my opinion, time and timing is usually the difference. I think you can tell the difference between a piece that was either rushed or thrown together, or one that the time taken to finish it professionally, patiently and with care.
...Sometimes the finishing techniques are just what is needed to get that extra little professional feel,
...and a lot of times knowing when to stop fussing before you get to that point of overworking the piece.
Polymer almost DARES you to rush since it's so easy to do quickly and so dang exciting to see the results! I notice the quality of my pieces starting to fade within a line when I catch myself starting to rush and have to stop myself and refocus, or take a break . . . Lori


(for most info oncopyrights, patents, & trademarks info, see Owning)


I dug through my old Crafts Report magazines and found a guide to pricing in the May 1999 issue. Interesting stuff. I recommend reading the article if you can, to get the full scope, but here's the basics, which will give you plenty of food for thought, I'm sure.

The first thing is the cost of materials. Since this is a tangible thing, it can be figured out. Shane (of Shane's Angels) once suggested weighing a finished piece and determining how much clay was in it to determine the cost. You can also eyeball it and estimate whether you've used an ounce of clay total or whatever. You can also determine the cost of jewelry findings or clock mechanisms, etc. All it takes to do this is some math. A pain in the butt maybe, but once you determine how much each pair of earring hooks costs, you can record it somewhere and you won't have to figure it again until your cost changes.

The next thing is the time for your labor to make that piece. Okay, we all know to charge for that. But how do you figure it? I bought an electric analog alarm clock (Goodwill - $3). I set it to 12:00 and whenever I sit down to work on a specific project, I'll plug it in, then unplug it when the session is done. I'll do this for every aspect of something – from conditioning the clay to putting on the price tag. To determine the price of production pieces, I'll make a set of six or ten or a dozen and do the division to figure out the time per piece.

Remember, too, that if you are running a business, you will have to pay a number of taxes --federal, state, and social security , and that ends up being a third or more. Note that self-employed people have to pay a delightful "self-employment tax" since they don't have an employer to contribute to the system.
If you pay yourself $10 an hour, then at least $3 or $4 of that is going to taxes, and you'll wind up with a "take home pay" of only $6 or $7 an hour. Adjust that accordingly.

And here's the part that I never ever included but it's so important -- the cost of "doing business". How to determine that:

Get out your records for the past couple years. Add the total you spent each year on everything that is not raw materials.
....booth fees, business related phone calls, displays, tools, bags and boxes, tissue paper, business cards, hang tags, auto expenses, hotel for out of town shows, publications, classes, postage, every single thing that is a business expense.

Okay, now how many hours do you work at this in a year? I have no earthly idea, personally. Sometimes it seems like I work 20 hours a day. But I thought that 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year sounded reasonable. Maybe more, maybe less, I don't know, but I had to start somewhere. So that's 2,000 hours a year.

Remember, that 2,000 hours isn't necessarily all spent on making things with clay. Consider the time spent doing other things
...uploading images to your web site, researching new techniques, researching and experimenting with new styles and new imagery, the time it takes to place an order and put it away once you've received it, the time you spend at a show, the time you spend *driving* to a show, the time you spend cleaning your work area, and so on.

Divide your hours into the $ figure for your expenses and that gives you an **hourly cost of doing business.**
.... For me, I was surprised that all of those expenses worked out to almost $4 an hour. I had not considered this at all, and therefore have not included it in my pricing strategies. So. If a piece has, say, $5 worth of raw materials in it, and takes an hour to make, and you charge $13/hour for your labor (since you've gotta kick into the social security system), and your cost of doing business is $4 an hour, that makes $22. And that, my friends, is the *wholesale* price, the price you would charge when you sell it to a store. (They double it, making the retail price $44--and that doubled price is what you should charge at a show since undercutting your stores is a major no-no.)
**(Later Addendum:) I think there is a flaw in this pricing strategy. The amount to charge for the hourly cost of doing business should be determined by dividing the yearly expenses by the number of hours one spends actually *making* stuff.
Using the formula as I originally wrote it applies the hourly cost of doing business to non-production hours also, and leaves that amount uncompensated. If anyone wants to yak about this further, I'm glad to hear other opinions and get other input.

Not included in the above:
- business insurance! (what if someone falls down in your booth and sues you? remember we're in America {most of us}! or what if your van full of your work gets stolen from the hotel parking lot? theft insurance on your car doesn't cover the artwork inside.)
- health insurance
- profit (not your wage, but profit for your business to grow! you don't want to buy a motor for your pasta machine from your wages; your wages are for groceries and the rent and your *living expenses.*)
- retirement plan (IRA, etc. 'cause if you think you'll be able to live on social security, pardon me while I laugh)
All of which are important and *should* be included. These add a couple more bucks to that $22 wholesale price.

This might seem really far out, but re-read it, and you'll see the sense in it. It makes me realize how dreadfully we all probably undercharge for our work. So personally, I'm planning to do some time studies this week.
... I know that what the market will bear has something to do with pricing, also, so it might mean that I have to look for better quality shows where customers expect to spend more money.
Anyway, hope this is helpful to someone. Typing it all out helped me to understand it better. Irene in western NC

Selling beads: . . . Look at what the bead owner is selling and compare to the size and workmanship of yours. I'd say, depending on size, between 95 cents and 1.50. Charge higher if the bead is a focal bead, charge lower if the bead is a spacer bead. Deirdre
I sell simple swirl beads about 15 to 20 mm, for .25 cents each. the store owner then resells them for .50 This is wholesale mind you! That means that she must spend at least $50 when she orders from me. Beads with canes or applied canes are much more. Please check out my bead page for more prices. The prices on my web page are *retail.* And I wouldn't wholesale beads that have been tumbled and varnished. Too much work to wholesale them! Cindy

If you're selling at a show, and want to MAKE MONEY, I would suggest a "generic line" of animal breeds.
.... I would charge $20-30 for a large one, and $15-20 for a small one. That should at least cover the price of your booth. .Karen Hardy

For the custom/commissioned pieces: I would say $50-75 for a small (hand drawn pet pendant) and $75-100 for a large one (and perhaps 20% off on additional pendants commissioned on the same picture/order).
....Don't undersell yourself - it devalues your art . . . My favorite line when asked how much I charged was "As much as I can ask for with a straight face".
...Remember YOU CAN ALWAYS DROP YOUR PRICES later... you are not locked into anything.
. . . And (remembering a similar bad experience of mine) you do NOT want to find yourself sucked into making 1000 custom pendants for 15$ each, you'd be making more per hour flipping burgers (and at least there you'd have a health plan!). Karen Hardy

As was noted in a previous post, many new sellers underprice their work in order to make sure they get sales or recognition or whatever. When I saw that my pieces were selling I slowly raised the price to nearer the 'worth'.
Times to raise prices:
...If you can't keep up with your sales, it's time to raise your prices. As a rule of thumb in business, 20% of potential buyers should reject your items due to prices being too high...that's a hard one to swallow but the sales of higher priced items should make up for what the 20% of lower priced sales would be.
...Lastly, raise your prices if the market will bear it. As time goes on, I believe you are also selling your time and expertise in a different way. Much like an experienced accountant or lawyer charges a higher rate for a tax return that takes 15 minutes to enter into the computer. If they were still new they would be earning the time it took to figure it out and learn it...they don't lower their prices when they get it down to a science.

I've been selling a particular group of my beads to a person for two years. I was told at the time that I would get recognition for them when they were sold... That never happened. And I've since realized that these particular beads are worth three times the wholesale price I was selling at.. (but how can I change the price now?)..Cindy
...It can be hard to raise prices when you feel you had a (previous) agreement. If you raise your prices you do run the risk of losing their business, so only you can decide on that note. (I don't have that problem as I have changed my lines frequently, therefore, new pricing with each new thing.) I'm not sure how you sell to them, that is, website, store, etc, but I could see letting them know the next time they want to order or even proactively contacting them with something like:
"Hi So-and-so. I would like to thank you for your business over the past two years. We have gone through some exciting changes here at 'name of business' and would like to keep you apprised of our new pricing. As we were growing our business we were able to offer our beads below wholesale. However, as we have grown and expanded we have found it necessary to offer our items at the actual wholesale prices. Below is our new pricing structure. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, and we look forward to working with you again."

changing prices: Ive had my biz for about 10 years now, and at the end of every year I go over all my stock & see if anything needs to be raised or lowered. If I sell ALOT of something, then I may raise the price a little. Or sometimes I raise the price if the item is one I dont particularily like to do or more complicated. And if I heard alot of comments that a particular item was too expensive, I may lower the price a little if I can & still make a profit. . . . My point is when I do this at the beginning of the year, my shops all seem to accept this as the normal price increase most businesses have to do. When I do mid-year, I sometimes get more flack about it. cathy

re clientle know that I stand behind my work and if there is any breakage due to workmanship I will fix it no charge
......if they drop and break something they will bring it back head hung low and request a repair job and usually insist on paying (and I let them) and then usually order as well. Some of the repairs and actually created new designs! I had a customer that broke an arm off of her elf. She was crushed and did NOT want a replacement I added a cast to his arm (she had lost some of the pieces) and it still hangs on her tree today!!! Jan

There are actually a few pc'ers out there creating cake toppers. I have done four or five. ( ) I agree with your statement...."(charge) at LEAST as high as one of your sculptures"!! Definitely!! I found myself spending even more time than my average figurine due to the detail that was included.
I charge based on size and time. I give a price "range" to the customer - (i.e. - it'll be a minimum of $45.00 if all goes quickly - and a maximum of $XX.XX) This is especially good if I've never incorporated the types of articles that they are looking for so I don't know how long it will take me. Most of the time I end up charging mid range of the prices I've quoted.
There is a pc artist that creates absolutely BEAUTIFUL wedding toppers....great likenesses of the bride and groom.....and the fee is $500.00 up I believe (
I have charged $50.00 up to $250.00. Most of the brides I've worked with have been thrilled that the prices were not "out the top" and affordable in the wedding budget.
...I have put the bride and grooms on wooden bases and then saran between the base and the cake.....there was one cake that had 7 different "sculpts" that had saran under each one. And one bride and groom were on a metal candle base (white...with small frillie edging). You can also create the figurines on wooden dowels to be placed down in the cake and then removed after the festivities.
I stress to the bride on the phone and in person and in writing that the items need to have an FDA approved barrier between the cake and the clay. (boy I wish the manufacturers would get the clay FDA'd be soooooo much easier!) Hope this helps. Jan
...Check out for Lisa Calhoon's more personalized cake toppers. Kim2
(see more cake toppers in Gifts > Miscellaneous)

Do you think I should charge rounded figures such as $10.00 ....or somthing more like $9.95? (esp. at shows)
.....Think of yourself standing at a show, making sales....and making change. Metal change is heavy, and it takes time and attention to I try and price out the change, and charge an even $10, for example, instead of $9.40 or anything like that. Sarajane

(see also more info on pricing in these threads from old newsgroup posts --how to read them in Resources, above)
SUBJECT LINES --copy out exactly:
Re: story on pricing
Licenses (was story on pricing)
Re: The Business of PC - Reclining Sales in General??? (sic)
Re: Transparent Fimo Projects (formula for figuring prices)
Re: [clay-polymer] market research and selling (^full text of this post below)
duplicate? of Shane's post on pricing
prices, pens
bead pricing...

pricing when it's a hobby

I keep stumbling on the issue of when to charge for my work since I do this polymer clay stuff strictly as a hobby
… When it comes to family and friends and me giving them presents for birthdays, holidays and the like, there's no dilemma. But when a close friend or family member says they'd like to buy something from me for someone they know...
Do you say:
A) "It's my pleasure to simply give you whatever you'd like. Afterall, it's so much fun to make and I'm happy to know others might enjoy it. If they really like it, it'll be good public relations, a potential basis for a later sale.
B) "Well, I'm happy you thought of my work. Since you're ____ [a friend, family, etc.] I'll only charge you my wholesale rate, which for this piece would be $."
C) "Great. Just select whatever piece you'd like and compensate me with whatever you think is right."
D) None of the above; something else... What do you do? Desiree

I would select none of the above and give you a choice of two answers...
a) I make things only as a hobby, but here is a list of polymer clay artists who sell art online.
b) I make things only as a hobby. I would love to have you over and show you how to make the very item that you'd like to give. It is always special when the giver makes the gift.
c) Certainly, I would be happy to make an item for you to buy. The cost will be [Cost= cost of goods sold + time to make item ($8 per hour min.) *2].
d) Let's go to the [insert name of local art gift shop or of next local art show] and see what we can find. Dianne C.

Sometimes friends and family tend to take advantage of us when it comes to this (asking for our work for free or at great discounts).. Sometimes it is intentional, and sometimes they truly don't even give it a second thought and think it's something that they have a right to do... I don't know why, because I would never go to them and do the same... When my mom or pop or mom or pop in law see something of mine and want it for themselves, I am more than happy to just give it to them with out hesitation, but when they come to me and say that I want this for a gift for Mary( the neighbor) or Bill (the neighbor's dog) etc.... I sell it to them at full price. They were going to go out and buy something anyway and I don't think they would go to Wal-mart of the local mall and ask for a discount on any of their items because it is a present for one of their friends, neighbors, etc... The same goes for friends and other familymembers...
. . . .This goes for friends, relatives or irate customers. We still do have customers the come up to us at a show and say " Will you do any better on the price?" This drives me nuts...This is what I would like to say to them... ( and probably never will...)
Customer: Will you do any better on the price?
Dave's response: Sure, but let me ask you something first... Would you take less if your boss said to you "Bennie, I know you've been busting your butt all week working long hours, skipping lunches to get the job done, missing out on family gatherings to please the customer, but would you take $150.00 this week instead of your normal $210.00??? "
Can you all tell I've been thinking about this long and hard..?? Dave

Well, I'm fed up... I used to give the shirt off of my back, but now that I'm crafting/sculpting as a business everyone wants something for free, andnow, this is my paycheck. . . Last year, I worked 7 days a week working a full time job and doing shows on my days off... I would come home from work and go directly to my work shop and work another 4 to 6 hours a night... Maybe If I stressed that to them first, they would not even think of asking?? Dave

… listen to your own spirit and go with what feels right …if you feel cheated the exchange wasn't good…its ok to ask your self WHY does this situation make me uncomfortable … it helps you look at that balance… its important to have an balanced exchange of energies…maybe there is something they do that you value money for the clay fund .... paint and wallpapering the dining room can be fair too . . . many folks don't value what they don't have to pay for. . . those folks just give what you give them away, or trash it, and some of those folks don't even wait till you are out of the room. . . many folks have found if they charge too little compared to what others are asking there must be something wrong with what you are selling. . . Faun

Taxes (sales + income)... Permits, etc.
(more in other sections here too, esp. Full Time Business )

What you DO need when you sell your stuff is a "re-sale" permit.
....That means you'll have to charge sales tax to your customers (or include that amount in your selling prices) and later report that amount on a regular basis to your state.
......But you can also use that sales tax license to keep from paying sales tax on the items you buy to create your crafts with. So it is a WIN WIN situation.
...There are services that help you get a tax ID number from the IRS for a fee.. . but you can get one directly from the IRS without paying a third party to do it for you. Gail in FL

Too many people are very casual about "selling my stuff". If you sell things, you are "in business" . . .
...If your business is small enough, MAYBE your state and the IRS won't care, but it takes remarkably little (depending on your state and you other income) to cross over the point where you are breaking the law if you don't file taxes. Check into this before you get very far along.
(The benefit of being a "real business" is that usually you then qualify to buy all your materials at wholesale, and you have nice juicy tax deductions!) Sherry B.

I build the sales tax in when selling an item.
.... "Sales tax is included in the price" is something you must say if you do this, and then figure it backwards at home from the total (if you have say, a total of $1000 sales , then subtract your percentage of tax.
...Always pay it too... This way your change is mostly dollar oriented, and can be done quickly, not counting out pennies....38, 39, 40.... Sarajane

The advice I was given as to when I went to the Sales Tax office was to play down the income that you hope to receive. Make it look like you are the little old lady who is making a few trinkets for sale as opposed to a dynamic business woman who is going to set the world on fire.
.... If and when you DO become a big business you can make necessary changes then.

Btw, a business license is something else entirely, and is something a bit tricky.
..... I have never had one. Basically, I do not have people coming and going from my home. My business is done via e-mail or US mail or at craft shows.
..... I realize that some counties and or cities still require a business license for even this type of business.
.... But my neighbors are not affected or alerted to the fact that I have a home business. It is just one more piece of government intervention that is so unnessary IMO.
....How will anyone even know that you have a small cottage business? Unless you have daily deliveries, trucks picking up items, people in and out at all times of the day and if you can keep it low key and do not make a nuisance of youself, you should be just fine.
........ I did hear that one local artist decided to get a business license and even though she had the same type of business as I have, the city made her post a sign that said that anyone that wanted to protest her getting a license could speak up. That is legal and definitely the neighor's right. Well one of her neighbors decided that there would be too much traffic, parking problems and people coming and going, etc. so it was dragged through red tape. She did not get her license and now cannot do business out of her home and the city knows about her so they can check on her. Do not expose yourself to too much scrutiny.

NOT profiting for awhile can be a good thing tax wise.
....You can show a loss for 3 years without anybody saying "Boo" at the IRS--and you can continue to show a loss without downgrading to "hobby" status AS LONG AS YOU SHOW YOU ARE MAKING A SINCERE BUSINESS EFFORT. This translates as doing several shows, placing an ad, teaching a class--any actual attempts at doing business. Save the paperwork, always. Sarajane

Save every little receipt---breakfast out on show day, table rentals, supplies, paper for your informational stuff like headers and cards, postage for mailings, printing, cloth covers for the table, lemonaid you drink at the show, displays, and EVERYthing, down to the thumbtacks and staples.
When you do your Schedule C (profit and loss in business) at tax time all these things are deductible, and if you show a loss, it decreases the amount of OTHER taxable income in your life.
This is NOT cheating--this is the legal way business run. You can bet that ALL big businesses take as many deductions as they legally can. So save those receipts! Sarajane H.

SAVE EVERY RECEIPT: It adds up quickly...even if its $.32 for a stamp, or $1.00 for copies at Kinkos, save that receipt, and get a box or accordion file, or some big baggies, and SAVE them in one place. At the end of the year, do your taxes, or get them done (that's a deduction too) and deductions are balanced against your gross sales--then there's a smaller amount on which you have to pay income tax. With a loss, you get to balance it against your OTHER income (should you/ your spouse have some) and it sure helps with the final numbers. The Earned Income Credit (EIC) that our family gets back is the money I have to invest back into the business--the rest goes to support us. It pays to do the paperwork, and to do it in the proper timeframe. And if a New Bohemian like me says so, you know its true!!! I don't advocate compliance lightly! Sarajane

GOING SOMEWHERE is "business" too
... Always have something polymer with you to show off; carry it or wear it, have a picture in a notebook-- you never know who you'll run into--and have business cards AT ALL TIMES.
...NEVER go on vacation without stopping at the local bead store... you can write off the expenses if its business, so make an appointment and make some sales....or trades! There have been many times we have rolled into a strange town with 5 dollars to our name and a suitcase full of beads, and sold enough somewhere to be able to afford food-gas-lodging and keep going till the next sale. And times I've traded the necklace or pin I'm wearing for other beads/art. I've also found a chestful of beads to be a powerful litmus test at stores---go in and browse, casually displaying said frontage...if they mention my beads, there is a chance they'll buy. If they don't say something, 9 times out of ten, you can't sell 'em a thing. At least thats the way I've found it to be over the years for us. Sarajane Helm

This is a little known IRS weirdness---you cannot count mileage from point A (home) to point B (the show, a sales call, ie--work) but only from pont B to C and from there on out... So, on your way to ANYWHERE on business, stop at a store or Post Office or other business destination near home, buy a business thing (stamps, a bottled water for the show, mail some letters--any business thing) and count your milage from THERE to the work destination, making it A--home, B--PO or store, C--show/sales call, whatever. Otherwise they will disallow your mileage. Sarajane H.
Sorry to be disagreeable, but I find this a little hard to swallow. Is this a recent change? I have read business deduction stuff pretty thoroughly in the past, and don't recall ever coming across anything about this. I do know one of the changes for this year is that one can no longer deduct the cost (or per diem allowance) for on-the-road food for *non-paid* help. Irene in WNC

If you are out of town for a craft show, you can usually take a preset allowed amount for that day of meals with no receipts. This is usually more than what I actually spend if I save my receipts. I do not know positively whether if in town food is deductible. It might be, but I personally would choose to not count it.
On the other hand, if in town and you actually have a business lunch with a fellow polymer clayer and discuss your business techniques, progress, doing business with them, there is a certain amount allowable.
I just break all of my expenses down and give them to my accountant with info as to how many days in hotel, and then she figures the food allowance.
But best advice on all other expenses for doing business---SAVE RECEIPTS. And if any doubt that you might forget why you purchased ten cases of hairspray and you are not a hairdresser, make a note for your own records. I once made hundreds of mini dried rosebud ornaments and then used hairspray for sealer and even though I spent hours doing this, a year later I thought to myself--what the ??? is with all of these hairspray receipts. Jeanne

I'm pretty good at keeping receipts, but need to write on them what for...and also record mileage, etc. DeB

Does anyone take the cost of classes off of their taxes? Kim K
...I think I do. My husband does the taxes and I list my classes under Education. Trina

I have a tax-related question - What is the amortization period for the capital equipment you use? . . . need to know over what period to amortize my equipment expense - pasta machine w/motor,> food processor, and convection oven. Irwin
I'm not an accountant and do not even do my own taxes, but can tell you that in all of my businesses, anything that cost less than $100 is used as an expense for that year completely. No depreciation. Just an out-right expense. Anything more than $100 then it can be depreciated over the approximate number of years that it should be of value or in use. The IRS> has its own guidelines for some of these things. If your pasta machine died the first year because you were selling so much that you worked it to death, you could still buy another and expense it out for that year. Jeanne R.
...Jeanne's right, but I think the amount over which you *must* depreciate is even higher than $100. The IRS has a web site (, I think) and I've found answers there on several occasions. Irene
...This is what my friend at HR Block says too. . . . Almost everything in the way of studio tools was under $100 except the oven, but it was a gift, and the computer stuff, which is also a shared family thing so it doesn't count. Sarajane


custom orders ... managing one's time + organization
+ other misc.

pricing custom-commissioned pieces .... protect yourself:
...custom orders should always be written out and signed
...they should also have a clear provision that if the customer changes the design (or number or date, etc.), there will be a cost involved!
...there should also be a date by which refunds will not be given (especially in the event that the work has already begun). Penguin Trax

Can someone out there give me some advice on how to handle a large custom order.
I was recently in a craft show and got a custom order request for 100 of my small clay figures. I have never gotten an order that large and I am not sure how to handle it. I would like a deposit of at least 1/3 or 1/2. What is the common practice on this? I intend to use an invoice as a receipt (with a copy for myself)indicating the amount and balance due. ...Veronica
My small business was a construction contracting firm, but I think the same principle would apply. We ask for the cost of the materials as a down payment. That way even if the customer changes his mind or does not pay the remainder of the costs, YOU will be able to pay for your material at least. Also, it means the customer still owes you enough to give him the feeling that he has some assurance of getting the job done. Also, on a large order for a stranger, you might divide the project into thirds. Deliver and get paid for the first third before you begin the rest of them. That way, if the customer defaults payment, you will not have wasted as much time and material. Particularly if the figures are being mailed, this would be a good way to keep from losing the entire order if the package should be lost or damaged. You might even want to do it in smaller batches if the figures are large. Darlene

I would say $50-75 for a small (hand drawn pet pendant) and $75-100 for a large one (and perhaps 20% off on additional pendants commissioned on the same picture/order).
....Mainly, don't undersell yourself - it devalues your art .
. . My favorite line when asked how much I charged was "As much as I can ask for with a straight face".
....Remember, it is not the end of the world, YOU CAN ALWAYS DROP YOUR PRICES later. You are not locked into anything
. . And (remembering a similar bad experience of mine) you do NOT want to find yourself sucked into making 1000 custom pendants for 15$ each, you'd be making more per hour flipping burgers (and at least there you'd have a health plan!). Karen Hardy

I have been requested to put my pen to the subject of figure sculpture commission fee recommended policies. So, here goes, based on my experiences. Everyone feel free to chime in with their additions to this attempt at helping all of us in the business of making our love of figure sculpture pay.

1. THE DANE's present policies with sculpture clients in the resin model figure kit hobby:
A: You must ask yourself how much your sculpting time is WORTH? How fast you are per hour. An ugly question to anyone who loves what they do. The number of years at sculpting often naturally increases the speed of an artist's hourly productivity. Years ago I often felt I needed to charge more and I did! Looking back it took me more time to do the work than it does after 8 years at commercial commission work. So, I charged more in the past than I do today, which seems rediculous, but until my reputation as a top notch sculptor is out in the business world's eye for about 4 years, I will continue to offer a more inexpensive commission fee to companies that I know can't afford more (the Garage kit crowd). My speed is UP now plus my quality or the objectiveness of my eye is at a more professional level. Thus the works I do tend to get repeat clients. I am willing to put all myself into each & every job regardless of the commission's payment level. It's MY REPUTATION that counts first. My present resin figure kit commission fees I do are from $175.00 for 120mm to $800.00 for 1/6th scale sculpts.
B: Payment terms I use with my clients. a: 50% downpayment before work begins or monthly installment payments if the poorer client is willing to be dependable. Companies are required to pay installments over a 4 or 5 month time frame ($200.00 monthly). The important thing is to give a money value to your commission up front so the client sees a money value for the commission. Never start a commission without some type of intial payment. Remember that the client is under no obigation to pay you until they have already begun paying you. Once the money flow begins the client is commited to you. That is most important whether there is a verbal or written contract.
b: Always receive final payment BEFORE shipping the finished work to the customer. This practice already presupposes that that the customer has approved the finished work by video tape or photos. It is always a good practice to keep the customer updated with pictures of the work in progress for their input while changes can easily be made.
C: Be careful of too much input from the client using pictures or video if they are inexperienced at judging sculptures. This can ruin a project and should be held in check if you see the client making judgement calls that are not right. Honesty and truth hold sway here, not egos. Your client will respect you for this, if they are worth their salt.
2. Larger Companies have deeper pockets and should pay more. The minumum commission fee for a 12 inch sculpture for a larger company for a beginning sculptor of good quality sculpts is $1200.00. As the artist's reputation rises the smaller companies and private clients will drop off, if they are knowledgeable and are looking for cheap payment commissions from artists. Many small Garage kit companies are looking for beginning breakthrough sculptors who will work cheap or for trade. Larger more serious companies ill pay the extra fees to get better products in their lines. Quality sculpts and efficient timely sculpts raise reputations. This takes time to happen in most sculptor's careers. There are some folks who rise overnight, but these are rare.
It is always desireable to have a written contract for business relationships. The garage kit companies dislike contracts out of legal inexperience and fear of legal reprisals. As a result I don't use contracts with my clients. I consider my payment policies as safe preventive measures for unscrupulous clients. You must learn to research your clients' business history in advance to any Agreements. Don't be afraid to politely drop a client that acts or says inappropriate things. Use your judgement and bouch strange incedents off of more experienced sculptor freinds. When doing business without contracts, like I do presently, if you run into shacky situations with clients, it is always to your advantage to KNOW HOW TO WRITE IN A LEGAL FASHION. This will make clients sit up and take notice that you are legally informed, which you SHOULD BE! KNOW YOUR COPYRIGHT TRADEMARK LAWS (see Owning) as they affect you and your work whether The sculpture is original in concept or not . KNOW THIS! No matter what you sculpt (media related or original) designs or likenesses of private or known individuals; you can sculpt anything you want, but if you are PAID and/ or reproduce this piece for SALE, you are either the owner (original work) of the design/likeness or you are not (AKA someone else's likeness if not considered A PUBLIC FIGURE). Legal liability can wipe out your possessions, so KNOW THE LAW. In areas of likenesses of public domain characters the client needs to research the LATEST legal ownership backgrounds for a project. One never knows when older public domain designs or likenesses will be bought up!
4. The artist's copyrighted ownership rights for original works:
B: It is ALWAYS BEST to retain ownership of a piece of your created artwork and LEASE OUT THE REPRODUCTION RIGHTS FOR A CONTRACTED SET PERIOD OF TIME. In cases of private commissions the artist may elect to still retain reproduction rights of a piece for future investment while the client may own The original piece. This is an artist's best retirement plan! C: The small resin model kit companies almost never want the artist to retain any reproduction rights and consider the commssion fee as their right to reproduce said artwork in perpetuity. The older model companies know about artist's ownership right and wisely will make the artist sign a contract after purchase turning ownership rights over to them for indefinate reproduction rights.
D: Larger companies with a media related set lisence for a known design or likeness, may offer you reproduction ownership after their licsence runs out, if you request this, but don't bet on it
E: Big money wins law suits! Only companies with deep pockets can or will WIN legal contests! So, beware of so called legal democracy in action!
I'm not sure about certain practices in the doll market world or the toy sculpting world, so you others must add to this advice for the benifit of us all! Sincerely, THE DANE

I've been keeping track of how much time I spend actually in production, and it's not nearly as much as I would have thought!
....So many aspects of my business take a lot of time --writing (books, articles), website maintenance, processing orders, packing and shipping orders, making and returning phone calls, following up on a jillion things --anyone who has a business knows what I mean.
...It turns out that the administrative stuff takes as much time --sometimes *more* time-- than actually making stuff with clay. Irene

BECOMING MORE FOCUSED + MORE ORGANIZED now, I spend less time on the computer for one major thing. I do participate in a couple of discussion groups, but I've learned to skim pretty well and I don't reply to everything I want to.
......When I get orders, I don't promise immediate shipment -- I don't want to drop everything to make the order, so I work it into my production schedule
..... I ship only once or twice a week, which means I can sit down and process a bunch of orders at once.
......I do my other paperwork once a week, instead of whenever I have a few receipts.
......I try to make all my phone calls in one sitting.
......I use a whiteboard to keep track of what I need to be making to fill orders, or to prep for a show or other selling opportunity.
......I've organized my studio to be really efficient. I'm fortunate to have enough space to have stations for various tasks. I also clean up at the end of every work session
......I also try to plan what I'm doing the next day, so when I get down to the studio, I can jump right in.
......Every Sunday evening, I spend a few minutes with my weekly calendar and write down what I need to do the following week.
......(Trust me though, this doesn't mean I operate at optimum efficiency all the time!... I don't always use my methods properly, but at least I know what I *should* be doing most of the time.) Irene
... I really go into production mode just for time management. By the time my items are numbered, signed, inventoried, recorded and then photographed, it can take a whole day. ...Then to put them on the net takes more time. ....Oh, all the hang tags or packaging, and keeping track of shows or Galleries, when to deliver, when to pick up..... I like to do the e-mail stuff while waking up with cup of coffee and later while watching news,. I so agree with your take on how much time all that stuff takes away from our art! Dar

Anybody know where I can find a template for a "certificate of authenticity"? lorieo
....I am not sure what you need, but Microsoft has a great Template Gallery, nearly all of it free. I downloaded a "Template Gallery" at the Microsoft Products, the Office Products Site. . . . You'll see all kinds of things, so look for the Template Gallery; I think you can look at each of them and decide which to download. If the link doesn't work, try, then choose Office on the Products Line. ....I found what I needed in the Template Gallery under "Staffing and Managing and Motivating employees." Kay

A co-op sounds like an interesting idea - I've never heard of an art-supply store done that way, but I'm sure it's possible.
...Here's an idea that might work. - Find a framer (framing always seems to do well) and a couple of production suppliers like someone who does hand-made paper. Maybe also there is an art supplies supplier that would let you hook up as a distributor so you wouldn't have to have a huge warehouse ...A one-stop, multi-functional art place might be better if you are in a small town. Jacqueline

showingpotential customers the sturdiness of clay items
...If you see your customers, or have an online presence, it might be a good idea to show some clay pieces which have been through the washer and dryer a number of times... that should convince them of the sturdiness of polymer clay
...or you could show some of them being flexed or dropped
...don't use Sculpey brand though, or maybe even FimoSoft if thin to demonstrate this though ( Premo, FimoClassic, Kato, Cernit would be fine)
...(and be sure to attach any pinbacks, etc., with clay)

I just received an e-mail saying they were "interested in helping me sell my jewelry".... I assume this is just another spam mail, but don't know for sure... Judi
....One way to check out this kind of company (..or just about any web-based or brick-and-mortar service or product!) is to go to (and put the name in the search box)... it's a great place to hear other people's opinions on them. ... Marie in CT
...for one explanatory caveat on that particular company, check out this message: can also do a search for the name at Yahoo
......and at the Better Business Bureau


how do you keep inventory? I make everything from jewelry, to home decor, to anything else I can stick clay on or make with clay! I was thinking 1 for earrings, 2 for sculptures etc. and then having, for instance, 1-00, 1-01, 1-02, etc. Jeanette

... alphabet and digit: Earrings, for example all start with "E" and the date follows, plus a, b, c, etc. A pair of earrings made on New Year's Eve 2000 would be e123100a, the second pair e123100b, etc. Then I bake a piece of the cane used or just scan it ...and put them all in a notebook. If you prefer colors or names, that can be done easily, too. The 3 pieces I made for my friend Caroline are all named for her. caroline-t-1 for Caroline's thimble #1. Have fun and keep all receipts! Kim

Soooooo 10-013 would be metallic gold in color, fish-hook ear wires and the thirteenth pair of them I had made this year. Irish Red

boredom with production of same items

I don't like to make PAIRS of things, let alone a production line! But everybody is different! Sherry

Personally, I like production work. I know it will sell, and if that's not motivation enough, it's also a good zen sort of thing. When the muse isn't there or the one-of-a-kind piece just isn't happening, I know I can produce something that will make me money. My hands know how to do it, so I let them go while my mind works on something else. . . . Production work is not a dirty concept. It is a huge part of what allows me to be financially successful with my artwork, and that success allows me to experiment with more one-of-a-kind stuff that doesn't sell as quickly because it costs so much more...
Set aside one or two days a week - write it on your calendar - for experimenting with new ideas. I often use the production work time when my mind is free, to think through projects I want to try when I get to that day on my calendar. Irene S.D.

(see more in Creativity & Inspiration)


As for packing (and your sculpts breaking) , I'm wondering if you use Sculpey clay at all; it seems to account for the most breakage in sculpts. If you do use Sculpey, do you use armatures? ...that seems to be a good first step.
....When I want to mail something breakable (I don't do large sculpts though), I'll use a combination of packing peanuts, large/small bubble wrap and also those "bubble bags" of air (or make my own by blowing into ziploc bags --see just below),
...or shredded paper (I knew those leftovers from the trash can under my paper shredder would be useful some day!), ...or excelsior
...wadded or twisted newspapers .... plastic grocery bags ...or a towel, etc
. . . . I may also cut special shapes from compressed foam blocks (I have a hot wire cutter, though for straight cuts a serrated knife works; sometimes the foam is from boxes I've received, sometimes in sheets from Home Depot, etc.).
.... If it's really fragile, I'll pack a small box , then pack that in a larger box as well. I don't know if that helps, but it's my 2 cents, anyway. Diane B.

** for shipping, especially delicate items, I like to use ziptop bags (reasonably thick ones) with air in them (sort of like custom bubble bags or bubble wrap) to cushion items and/or act as filler between them.
....To do that, I stick a straw in the bag, zip it close as much as possible, blow up the bag, then quickly pull out the straw and zip the bag all the way up (tightly). The closed bags hold air well if there's not a huge amount of stress on them.
.....The bags can also be left not quite blown up all the way too, so that you can nestle something into the side of the partly blown up bag (from the outside), and even wrap or tape them together. Diane B.

Another thing I like to use is empty plastic bottles (for water, soda, juices, etc.) with their lids screwed on. They're stiffer than the ziptop bags, but great for filler, and are a bit softer (and cheaper) than other things... and they won't compress during shipping like wadded paper, etc., can. Diane B.

Angela's lesson on packaging her figure sculpts for shipping (with lots of large bubble wrap, cotton batting, and packing peanuts)

i ship everything delicate in shredded newspaper. i have had delicates break at the small extensions like vines, tails, ears with packing peanuts ir bubble wrap. with the newspaper i have found it better to lay the item right in the shredding. sunni
........A couple of people have mentioned using newspaper. ...I advise against this! Newspaper ink makes everything dirty for the recipient, yech. ...the exception would be some of the glossy-ish ads (from department stores, office supply stores, etc.) that come in the Sunday paper. Irene
....for the less delicates, i put them in plastic baggies.
....for the more delicate items i wrap them in an attractive swatch of material, or place them in a handmade box of wallpaper.
....if i have it available i also use styrofoam and carve out a form fitting hole with a fork and pocket knife. sunni

Packing peanuts tend to settle down during shipment, and with very heavy objects like my heavier pottery (between 25 to 75 pounds) the peanuts do break down some as well. Dave
...packing peanuts are great but can be hard to store...Shellie
...I found that too until I began storing mine in a tall, squarish, plastic garbage can...we used to use those for garbage until our city delivered special ones which can be lifted. Usually I have enough peanuts from receiving boxes in the mail, but if I run low I buy a package from the packing store for a few bucks and pour it into my can. I cut a plastic bleach bottle to function as a scoop with a handle, and leave that in the peanuts, but a margarine tub or something else would work too. I use that general area to store all my bits of bubble wrap, excelsior, etc. too. It really keeps all the stuff contained and the mess down. Diane B.

I'll also mention this - packing materials, especially paper, and also the box (which is paper too) absorb odors..... If you smoke, you should not smoke near your packing materials or the person who gets your package will be greeted by the smell of stale cigarettes when they open the box. Irene

Thank You's. . . .It' is always (good business practice) to take a few extra minutes to include a note of appreciation and thank you. Whether, as in your case, to explain the situation or just to simply say THANKS! It's just darn nice & courteous.
........ A bit off the subject....I have gotten quite a few things off eBay in the past few years & I'd say 75% of them do not include any type of note~~~grrrr!!! I realize it does take time, but c'mon! . . . I know it's tough to always take the time to put something in.
........But I know I am more likely to buy from someone again if they have noted their appreciation. I once got something off eBay & they sent some extra little goodies.. . debbie
...I'm so grateful to my customers and I really need to thank ALL of them. caneguru
... I had a little form letter set up when I was doing sales a lot. When my auctions went out, I got an inexpensive stationery set from WalMart (fine linen, I think $2 for the notepad and $2 for the matching envelopes), printed "Thank You" on the envelope in a pretty font, then dropped their information into my standard letter (something like "Hi! Thanks for bidding on _whatever__, and congratulations on your win!"...Then I briefly mentioned how to leave feedback, and that I'd left feedback for them (which I did before I mailed things out), and asked them to check my auctions. nae

Product Containers

RioGrande has 3 different catalogs and one is called Displays and Packaging. . . . nf
... also

see Boxes & Envelopes for templates and ideas on making all kinds of small boxes (even using wallpaper or other fancy papers)
...I just remembered, that Print Artist has a craft section in which you can print out all kind of fancy boxes, even put your own graphics in them!!! YOu can even get the older versions to work and do the same thing if you can find an older version cheaper!! Leigh

I always make a few boxes at a time. . .
...I then cut out a piece of cotton batting for the bottom.
...I had a stamp with my "business" name made at Office Depot for $4 and stamp the inside of the lid of the boxes.
...I also bought regular business card paper (card stock) at Office Depot (for my homemade business cards) but also use the same card stock to attach my pins, earrings, and barrettes to (I use my pin tool and punch holes in the card or use a hole puncher for the barrettes).. . . I stamp my business name on the top of the card. katbyte

try Rio Grande (for small boxes to enclose sold items)- I got some 3x3x1 boxes in a nice forest green color . . .. Ginny B.
...The plain "kraft brown" boxes from Rio Grande come out to be something like between .18 -.25 each I think .Lyrael
They already have the cotton in 'em. Ginny B.

I also bought about 500 brown bags at Costco for about $5.00 and stamp my name on each one. I also stamp a "thank you" underneath it.
.... I'd wrap each piece with a couple layers of tissue paper and put it in the bag, and sometimes if the customer was really enthusiastic about my work, I'd put in a business card too. (I've only just started using boxes and plan to only use them for my "better" pieces or if someone asks for one.) katbyte

lesson on quickly making small, drawstring, fabric pouches for pens or other items... could use any kind of fabric, velvet, etc., see Pens > Accessories

There are also some fold-yourself boxes at Rio Grande that are easier to store and less expensive, they are good but don't have the cotton, you can get tissue paper or the shiny grass like stuff! Leigh

If you want to package even better, you could devise a cellophane package to place it in. I'll bet you can get the wrappers at the bead store for a lot less than boxes. .....You could do something similar with tins and pens. Only use a tag with a string. Sally

Also you can save all the boxes you get, and put contact paper over them to make them look the same and use them! Leigh

Another thing is using the plastic zip lock bags that rio grand sells . . .
...I had a couple different sizes and I made cardstock inserts that I printed on my computer nad put the jewelry on that!! .Leigh local packaging store (UPS outlet, foam peanuts, moving boxes, etc) also has small zip top and non-zip top bags in pkgs. of 50 or 100...

And another inexpensive thing you can do, and still look professional, is have a stamp with your logo made - and then stamp the bags and boxes with it. Lyrael

Buy some self-stick address labels and print your logo on these and stick to the cards, bags and boxes as well. They pretty much come in all colors of the rainbow these days. Lyrael

...Packaging does make a difference, it does make (customers) come back because they enjoy giving your things as gifts in pretty packages. Leigh

Juliann's inspirational lesson on decorative tags made with existing manilla, etc. tags (she covers with many effects, but polymer ideas could also be used)

see more container ideas below in Approaching Owners-Buyers, etc.

(for signing your work, see Letters-Inks)
(for suppliers, see Jewelry > Suppliers and Supply Sources)


FULL TIME Polymer Business

Tommie Howell's article in Polyzine on interesting statistics re crafters and crafting business in the US (average profits, total industry worth, # of participants, etc.), plus some advice on how to do it (including approaching a bank for a loan)

see also more info in these threads from old newsgroup posts --how to read them in Resources, above)
--Re: Full-time Business?
--Re: Too Much Business!!!
--Re: Full-time Business? (long)
Re: What about checks?

Contact your state's department of revenue to find out what licensing you need. In NC, I have two licenses, one for wholesale and one for retail. I found the people on the phone at the Dept. of Revenue to be fairly helpful. They might even have a local office in your town. Irene

You are lucky to live where you are allowed to have your business in your home (barn). Here in California we can only have a business in an area that is zoned for it. No residential area is zoned that way. We can't even manufacture anything in our house or garage except for things deemed as art or crafts. Add to that the fact that if we do art and crafts at home we have to pay for a city business license every year. If we do craft shows we have to have a resale license, and in some cities where we want to show we are required to also have a business license for that city. Recently several of us wanted to show our wares at a museum art show in a city where we didn't live. But after finding out we each had to buy a license for that particular city, we decided not to do it. In other cases, the people that put on the show hold the city license which covers us. Dotty in CA
...It is not quite as bad as Dotty makes it sound. The resale licence is free and enables you to buy at wholesale prices. The downside is calculating and paying sales tax each year. In my city the business licence is only $50. Trina

Is anyone here actually making a living selling their creations? Vicky

I started by doing retail craft shows, and I didn't accept credit cards for the first few years. I worked part-time because I wasn't making enough with polymer clay to do it full time yet. It took me about five years to be able to quit the job and another two years before I could say I was making a living. Irene

I gotta tell you Vicky--this is my full time seven day a week job, but I am not what you would call rolling in money. My kids qualify for the reduced price lunch at school--but they also have a mom who has been at home and available for emergency schedule changes their whole lives, and they have never had to spend a single hour at a day care center. IMHO, there are benefits to being self employed that do not show up on a paycheck.
It is FAR harder to be self employed (doing anything!) than one might think--there are no sick days, no paid vacation, and no checks that show up every two weeks whether you've been working hard or hardly working, no workman's comp., no free insurance, and no one to sue if you think you've been mistreated. Also, you have to put up with "when will you get a REAL job" BS from people who are completely ignorant of all the labor one does as an entrepreneur. No one takes me to free lunch, and no one sends me out to all expense paid seminars in some other town.
On the plus side, I get to do my art, I get to improve at it rather than just thinking about how nice it would be to do it, and I have the freedom to choose when to work, what I wear, and when people give me money for my art it sure feels good. I'm the boss, even if I also make the coffee. Very minimal daily office politics to put up with, no co-workers I have to carry, no second car (and insurance, and gas) that requires me to blow my pay and my temper in 2hour commutes--I'm already here! The biggest bennie is that I really like what I do--when I get to do the art part--and I am willing to do the sales and collections and bookkeeping and sweep the office floor too, if that's what it takes to stay in business, which it does. Sarajane Helm

Its possible to make a living but it takes a lot of fine tuning of your product line to find something that sells. I pay my mortgage and everything else by selling my paintings and polymer clay items, but it took me about four years to learn how to break even. Look on these experimental years as an investment in paid to go to university and now you have to pay to find out what works and what doesn't in the craft business.
I do the big shows across the country and of course have to pay big bucks to get into them but my experience has been that customers pay to get into the show with the intention of buying quality craft items. But you'll have to start with the small shows and play around with products that you can make that people want to buy. Make it a priority to visit as many of the larger shows as you can this year and take copious notes of product ideas and booth design, etc. Your goal of $1000 month can eventually be met...I can do that and more in a single day in some shows. But don't get too excited. It can cost me $3000 for the booth, $2000 for travel and shipping, plus I have to pay accommodation and meals etc. Then there's the cost of buying supplies in quantities that allow for production of enough product to last through a whole season of shows. Most of these expenses I've had to pay upfront...hence I often live with a massive Visa bill. But I'm just not a "corporate lady" so I bit the bullet and perservered. nokomis1

(to be successful). . .Make work that is distinctive. Develop a style that is all your own. This isn't magic, it just takes lots of hard work and experimentation. Pick an aspect of something you like and then follow it further than anyone else has before. Strive to make every piece you produce have that signature look that's only yours. . . Trust your gut, not the opinions of others. Laura

The hardest part for me has been focus. you have to set aside all the "other" ideas for a while, while you develop your voice. its hard to let go of all of that. I somtimes think I would love to be making other forms and trying out new techniques. I try to set aside time every week for that. A day or a few hours to experiment. I keep a journal of those ideas and it is filling fast.... But focusing on one aspect of my creative work has really been far more exhilarating. Once you do that, let go of the distinctions of all the "ideas" and really start to do the work, you will be amazed at how it finds you. Seth

(re) the thread not long ago about whether the "fad" of polymer clay is over. Someone had asked "Is PC still an accepted medium in stores?" My reply was that I thought it was more appropriate to ask if earrings or necklaces or clocks or sculptures or light switch plates or anything esle you can make with polymer clay is still accepted in stores. ~It's what you make, not what you make it with.~ So the question maybe ought to be something like, is it possible to make a living selling handcrafted work? Irene in western NC
Oooh, Irene, you hit it on the head. There will always be a pendulum reaction--as machined products make cheap and easily obtained goods, there will be a smaller market still existant for the things that are high quality and produced by hand techniques not possible with machines. This is easily seen historically with the production of cloth and lace, as well as glass, quilts, etc. The market for cheap and easy will always be bigger, as there are an awfully large number of people, and they need/want a LOT of stuff. So nobody pays for a piece of hand tied bobbin lace for the everyday items--maybe for the wedding dress, or christening gown...not for the placemats. We have a broader spectrum than most artforms, because PC is so versatile. However, if you want to make more income than the prisoners who work the factories in China and Guatamala get, then you have to make something they can't. Then you need to find the right buyer. This is not going to be the buyer of the import cheepies. Sarajane Helm

...even if you want to start part-time...what is baby-step number one???

the simple answer is:
Make stuff. Get people to trade stuff for it, including (but not limited to) money.
Keep track of EVERY receipt and write up your own sales as well if you want to stay on the legal side of things--are there are very real benefits to being a business instead of a hobbyist. Drawbacks too....
Of course, this is only where it starts, but it IS the basis. Set value on your work, and make sure your work deserves it--strive to get better. Then charge more! Then get faster at it with practice, and you make more profit charging the same. As to all the other business aspects--state and federal laws vary.
Your local library has a ton of info on the laws and on running a business. Sarajane

As somebody who has sold SOME handcrafted work..and is on the just getting started end of things..and doesn't plan on making a living from it, but would like extra income. ...A couple of reccomendations for getting started:
1. Get a craft-business book. I like "How to start making money with your crafts" by Kathryn Caputo and Barbara Brabec's books. They make the business end of the whole thing less intimidating, I think..and also help you realize what it's really going to take.
2. Try a small, but not too small craft show. Think of it more as an experience-builder than a money making venture.
3. I've found e-Bay to be a nice place to continue to "get my feet wet" Depends on what you sell, though..beads seem to go better than finished jewelry---and I've had some luck with items in "collectible" categories. And it helps to have good feedback. I'm not going to get even close to rich from it, but it has been good practice in customer relations. Jules

treat it like a real business...a big one, too. get ledgers, daily planners, etc. Stay organized from the beginning and it will make things 100 fold easier when you expand or really, do anything! Jeanette J.

I am making a living selling my things, although my main income is not polymer clay...yet...
... We do craft/arts festivals almost every weekend of the year.. The main reason we are doing the shows if for income, but also to attract people back to our shop as well as our website... You have to get exposure to sell and bring them back for more..
...Yes, it is hard, but I would rather be working for myself than working for someone else.. . .which was sucking the life and creativity out of me...
... I am fortunate enough to have quite a few different products going for me which means I have money coming in from different items at different times of the year.. What I mean by this is that at this point in the year, my pottery for plants, and fountains are moving well along with my mushrooms and bird baths... Later in the year, my candles will be moving more than the pottery after planting season is over and people are settling in for winter.. around Christmas is when my polymer things start moving like mad along with candles and other items... The only times we have a total slowdown in sales is Jan and Feb when nobody has money..
For me, I couldn't survive with just one medium at this point in time.. Although, I really enjoy everything I do, so it is all good... It's a lot of hard work, but well worth it... Dave

I was recently visiting with a prominent polymer artist and we were discussing having a polymer business. She'd been working as a professional for 10 years or so but had only been "making a living" in the last five (I think that's what she said.) Anyway, what I realized was that even a talented artist like she is doesn't just "make it" selling her polymer creations. She is very diversified--she teaches, writes books, has a website, demonstrates and sells. She lives, breathes, walks, and talks POLYMER. And, if you look at all the other "famous clayers"---Donna Kato, Lisa Pavelka, Nan Roche--you can see that they are also doing a great deal more than making beautiful art. So, I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that one just can't sit at home creating polymer art and still make a living. You need to do an awful lot of work promoting your work--really getting out in the world and making a place for your art to be seen.. . Trish

Two comments.
1. I once overheard, at an event where both were teaching, Kathleen Dustin and Pier Voulkos saying that they would love to swap work (collect each other's wonderful art) but neither one could afford to, they HAD to sell what they created in order to stay in business. These are examples of the people who I consider the most successful in the polymer-clay specific business. (It may have changed in the few years since, but it sure gave ME pause!)
2. If you want to go pro, you have two main avenues. You go production (find something you can create inventories of to wholesale to gift shops, things that are basically "factory" made in the sense that they look pretty much alike, can be produced in quantity, have item numbers, can be reordered.) OR you go fine art, like Dustin and Voulkos (who both have done limited production-type stuff as well, may I point out), where people get one-of-a-kind stuff and pay more for them. You kind of have to develop a major reputation for the latter in order to get the prices you need to cover your business expenses, etc. (You have to be talented and GOOD!)
You can test it for yourself by doing a few art fairs, even tiny ones, but try to do several in one season. (I suggest a minimum of three.) Gearing up for that and dealing with the results, good or bad, will tell you a lot about yourself and what you really feel about all the non-"fun-with-polymer" parts of doing it as a business, like dealing with local sales tax, setting up displays (or worse, taking them down when you are tired!), writing receipts, dealing with "Does that come in purple?"), etc. Sherry Bailey

I will be getting a small space to sell my work, The only drawback to this is that I don't have any window to the street There are a couple other artists in the same building as I will be in, ----------
Congratulations! How about a grand opening to left people know you're there? It doesn't have to be the first day you're open, but shortly thereafter. If it's located in an area with offices, consider holding the opening on a Friday evening and Saturday, so you can catch the people who work in the area. For a local holiday show I do, we have as many people on Friday evening as we have nearly all of Saturday! Send everyone on your mailing list, and everyone you know, an invitation. Give your kids invitations to give to their teachers. Put an ad in the local paper - quite often, a newspaper's business section will include this sort of thing in their "business announcements" section - advertising without having to pay for it. :) Put flyers up everywhere you can think to do so. Maybe offer a discount on any purchases made that day/weekend. Include a coupon with your mailing so you can see what kind of mailing list response you get. Decorate with helium balloons and streamers or fresh flowers and candles or something to add to the "Grand Opening Party" atmosphere. Lively music! Perhaps a prize drawing - announce it on the invitation, and if they want a chance to win, they'll have to show up at the opening to put their name in the hat. Have refreshments - wine and sparkling cider and appetizer sorts of things. (People spend more if you give them a glass of wine.) Enlist (or pay) a friend to deal with refreshing the trays and picking up empty glasses during the event so you can concentrate on schmoozing. Would the other artists want to plan their own events at the same time, and you could benefit from each other's mailings? Or could you organize as a group and hold regular studio tours? (Will this be your work studio in addition to your sales space?) ! Irene in western NC

(It's sometimes necessary) to submit project ideas with visuals (to companies interested in possibly putting out one's work)...unfortunatley I cannot tell you how many times a company would say they already had something like that in the works and a year later...sure enough something suspiciously like my submission would show up with enough tweaks to make it impossible to get an injunction. ... I beat that in the end by sticking to the bigger companies ...and for the most part feel they were honest and took care of their artists. Jacqui

(see "Pricing" and Taxes/Legalities" above)
(also see Margaret Ball's comments under E-Bay above)

(see also Starting a Business for more ideas)


If anyone else is in your predicament (have accumulated way too many canes and they don't end up selling at eBay, etc.), I have a suggestion.
I teach a polymer clay class at a two month overnight camp during the summer. The girls love it! Anyways what I propose is you donate the canes, cane ends, and scrap clay. In return you get a tax deduction. I can get it for you in writing. We are a not for profit camp. Valerie

What a great idea! I'd like to add this, along with a few more suggestions for fully tax-deductible recipients, but sometimes I find that distinction confusing.
You say your camp is "non-profit," and I can see that public schools would fall into that category too (art depts), but what about others? Here are some of my guesses on places that *would* qualify:
..... Girls Clubs of America (and I guess there are Boys Clubs as well), Big Brothers or Big Sisters, Girl and Boy Scouts ...battered women shelters...homeless shelters... some? camps associated with physical or mental problems centers...senior centers associated with community centers...public-TV auctions.
Here are my guesses on NO's: most nursing homes (except maybe some that are government run?) most hospitals (but what about a Ronald McDonald house?) any private teacher (or school?)

(As Valerie said, it's a good idea to get a dated receipt for any donation too ...on their stationery would be best.)

P.S. I guess other polymer-related items could be donated as well if you no longer use them or if they're piling up around your ears (molds from that craze you went on after discovering the technique, powders that turned out to be not "your" colors, cutters or tools you find you don't use, extra work surfaces, that old small toaster oven you replaced with a convection oven, etc.) Diane B.

PUBLISHING articles, books, short books,etc.

I thought I would start this thread on just what options are available for getting published. I myself am no expert in this but figured I would at least put the possible magazines available here and if anyone else thinks of any, by all means add them to the list.
Bead and Button
Lapidary Journal
Jewelry Crafts
For most magazines the best thing to do is to pick up the magazine or go to their website and either write or email them for a set of writers guidlines. -NF

I have seen Polymer Clay articles in Somerset Studios, which is a very lovely Rubber Stamp magazine. They had an really good article a few months back about PC boxes which were textured with stamps. I think that other rubber stamp magazines sometimes have polymer clay articles, as well. I bet beading magazines (in addition to Bead and Button) would consider articles about using/creating polymer clay beads or beading on or around polymer clay objects. Cheryl

also something to think about. I think more basic projects would be good for craft mags. Thinking along the line that the reader may have never used pc before. so basic, maybe holiday inspired projects would be good for an arts and crafts kinda mag. and would get us some more newbies!!!! kellie AK

Anyone care to tell us how much one can expect to be paid for an article in any of the magazines? I can tell you that for a regular monthly three-or-four pages of polymer clay info and projects in a British magazine, I get about $160. That includes doing all my own photography. Crafty Owl

well, I knew that it wasn't going to be much pay when I went into this project. on jewelrycrafts writers guidelines on their website, it states 50-250 dollars. depending on complexity of item and how much editing they have to do. when they emailed me, they said 150-250. and that is just jewelrycrafts, don't know about the other mags. kellie AK

I think that sounds about average!!! But if you are using supplies from certain companies, they will pay you also if you get published and use their product! I know Eberhard Faber has a program if you use FIMO nad get published! I THINK amaco has one! But I"m not sure of others!!! Leigh
Eberhard Faber has no such program in Britain. I'm pretty sure about that, because I've discussed articles with their promotion / sales people at shows, and all I get is 'thanks' - if that. Crafty Owl
I know for sure that they did it here in HOLLAND
before crafty! Maybe they stopped it :( Ria

Having written for magazines for many years, . . . what I've found out is that the magazine has bought ALL rights for the articles unless you have it in writing that you sold the "First American rights only." Sad, but true. And if you demand this in writing, they will usually pass on your article.
However (if they elect to publish it again or elsewhere), there is no reason why they shouldn't at least (tell) you about it, send a magazine, etc. Except, they either don't even think about it, or they are afraid you'll make a fuss and want more money. But, on the good side. . . the magazine thinks your work was really special or they would not have used it again. It's PR for your portfolio (if you have or develop one) so clip and have both articles in plastic so it will keep well. Dotty in CA

Trina's article on tips for getting published in short books like the Design Originals series of craft books

publishing Books

I don't know if the US book market is the same, but the British publishers don't like you to have written the whole book before you approach them, they prefer to get a written outline, some kind of chapter listings and pictures of some of the items that will be in it. Then they can discuss with you how they like to have things structured, what kind of photos they'll want (and they will probably take them themselves - you'll provide the pieces, possibly stages of work etc.) and the style of writing. That's unless you are publishing it yourself! I haven't done a whole book yet, but have contributed to other peoples books, and have looked into how one submits a proposal for a book, and that's what I found out. Crafty Owl

Sometimes the selling of the idea takes as much time as the writing of the book. Get the "authors guidelines" from 3 or 4 publishers, pick the ones that do books you really like and feel are high quality. Put together a proposal following the guidelines, along with samples and pics. NEVER send in un-replaceable items, and always have a copy of written materials you send. (I learned this the very hard way). Send to your top of the list publisher only. They get snarky if you are courting several at once. Wait a little bit, but follow up to see if they got your stuff. Communicate, but don't push too often, there's a WHOLE lot of waiting involved. Be charming. Make your idea as appealing to a wide market as you can---they are interested in sales potential, period. If the first one turns you down, pay attention to the "why" part, tweak your presentation, and go on to the next one on the list. Sometimes it takes several rejections--don't take it personally. At least, don't let it stop you, even if it IS personal. And when you get a contract, READ it thoroughly. Do the best work you can, communicate often with your editor, and meet your deadlines. Be as involved as you can with each part--writing, pics (and make sure the photos are really good no matter what it takes.) . . . . A couple of other points---make your proposal as beautiful and well organized as you can manage. Use a computer, don't hand-write, label things, put them in a they said in school, "Neatness Counts!". Also, don't rely on anyone's imagination--even creative types do better with what they actually see when it comes to explanations. Also, even a good digital camera may not be good enough for reproduction in print. 35mm color slides is still the prefered thing, I find. Go for really high resolution (300 dpi or higher) which makes for truly huge files. Sarajane Helm

regarding resolution... I'd get specs from the actual publisher regarding how they want their files. I know we use fairly low-res images for the paper, comparatively (200 dpi), but even within the paper, some departments use incredibly high-res images (800 dpi). It all depends on so many factors that there just isn't a single rule of thumb. Nae

Do be very careful, no matter with whom you work. Publishers, or sponsors!! Some are more ethical and responsible than others. (That) book is done through a Vanity Press--that is a company that will publish your book, and you pay for it. There are several of these vanity press companies. I am not making any comments about that particular book, having not seen it myself, but . . .do check out all information about companies that you can before committing. Sarajane Helm

NEGATIVE REACTIONS re polymer clay

Some people reflexively disparage anything made from polymer clay because "it's plastic"
....or because the only thing they associate it with is children's modeling material (and comes in colors)

I either let people like that pass on, or I say "well, yes, anyone is able to work with oven-fired clay --even your child or grandchild.
ust like anyone can pick up a paint brush, some oil paint, and a canvas and call themselves an artist. But what does that mean? It takes years of practice and dedication to bring ANY material up to the level of "art". samala

Art is defined by what you do with a material ... not what it's made up of
. . .otherwise there wouldn't be "legitimate" art being made from paper, mud (earth clay), egg yolk and ground-up rock (frescos), fabric and animal hairs (natural and synthetic), metals crushed out of rocks, etc., etc.

acrylic paints suffered the same fate, remember? ...And now look at them.
... this seems to be a built-in reaction to many things that are different from what they've always been, or from what has been most common in one's little bit of time and geography.

Another vendor at a show said she couldn't accept my work as art or anything she wanted to own because it was plastic.
... Even after showing her the books I take with me to each show (New Clay, etc) which show the things possible with polymer clay, and describing techniques and everything, she was still very negative. So in extreme self-defense, I did two things:
("environmentally bad")
....I asked her about the earthen clay she used--removing something from the earth, pretty invasive, eh?
... And the wood her husband used to make furniture --doing his part for deforestation?
....Oh, metal-based artwork -- strip mining!
...Natural dyes -- how about disposing of the heavy metals necessary to set the dye?

Also, may I submit this tiny tidbit . . . . ALL plastics are organic! Plastic is made with, and from, petroleum. Petroleum is a variable substance created through the decompostion of plant and animal matter under not fully understood conditions of heat, pressure…(only once have I had to resort to that speech).
...what are various paints and other mediums made from?

In dealing with people at shows, newspaper interviewers, and new aquaintances I hear the same few questions everytime, and I've learned how to answer without feeling offended or diminishing the value of my work. Here is a typical dialog (I do sculpting):
"Did you make these?" ME: "Yes, I did."
"What are they made out of." ME: "They start out as a lump of polymer clay that I buy in blocks, 24 lbs at a time, and I use a dental tool to sculpt them."
*Even though they'd already asked whether I made them, they ask: "You mean you MADE them yourself? You didn't just paint them?"
ME: "Yes, I sculpted them from a lump of clay. See my signature? I never learned to sculpt, it was just something I tried one day and found out I could do. Just goes to show, you never know what you can do until you try, right?"
.... "How long does it take to make something like this?" ME: "It really depends on how big it is, how complicated it is, but mostly it depends on how well my hands are connected to my heart.. .
..."Do you have to use a kiln?" ME: "No. That's the beauty of the clay I use. It cures at a low temperature so I can use a regular oven.
. ....The best part is it won't dry out until I bake it. Its a very popular sculpting medium for sculptors because we can change our minds if we want to and we can come back to it later if we want to. If I were using earth clay like terra cotta or porcelain, I wouldn't be able to take that long.
....and I wouldn't get the detail either. Look at the lines on the fingers and toenails even on this tiny fairy. And if I have them reproduced in resin or pewter, the detail is still going to be there. Lorieo

Show some really upscale polymer work ... for example:
....The New Clay, by Nan Roche
....400 Polymer Clay Designs: A Collection of Dyamic & Colorful Contemporary Work (400 individual pieces of upscale polymer eye candy collected into one book by Suzanne Tourtillott)
..........I set up a table every Saturday downtown and sell stuff. Now I have that book to show people what polymer clay really is all about. So many people say the same sort of thing... "I never realized that there were so many people who use it to make fine art!". It makes the whole thing a lot easier to explain. It also adds a lot of value and credibility to the items I am trying to sell. If you haven't seen the book yet, there are some amazing pieces in it. James
(see more in Books & Videos)

Here are just a few "higher-end" polymer clay artists with online work:
Elise Winters
Kathleen Dustin
(Ford & Forlano) CZC (click on each to see the prices!)
Pier Voulkos (boxes --click on photo for enlargement of marquetry)
James Lehman
......(for a longer list, go here to my Overview page):

Many other "fine artists" deal with all kinds of plastics to create very high-end "art" . . DB..look up various artists, exhibits, etc....

a medium = The material or technique used by an artist to produce a work of art.
It may also refer to the vehicle or solvent with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint of the proper consistency, many available with a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy finish. The plural form is media.
Also see binder, clay, conté crayon, encaustic, feather, filler, glass, ink, mass media, metal, mixed media, new media, oil, ox gall, paper, polymer clay, stone, synthetic, tradigital, watercolor, and wetting agent.
polymer = A chemical compound made by grouping molecules to form natural or synthetic resins.
Acrylic resins are polymers in a thermoplastic or thermosetting form of either acrylic acid, methacrylic acid, esters of these acids, or acrylonitrile, and are used to produce paints, lightweight plastics, and synthetic rubbers.
Paint, clay, polyurethane, and other materials are made of polymers.
polymer clay = A modeling material consisting of finely ground particles of colored polymer, often polyvinyl chloride (PVC), held together by a binder to form a malleable clay-like medium. . . .
Finished articles are heated in a domestic oven to fire or fuse or sinter the polymer molecules into a hard, durable object...
Because polymer clays are made of self-colored molecules, making them bleed-proof: different colors do not bleed into each other when placed against each other.

(see more in Creativity, What is "Art"?, Inspiration > "Polymer clay as a legitimate art medium")