Have you ever had someone ask you in person, through social media or even through your own website how you make your items and/or where you get your supplies?
I sure have. And at first, I used to get mad.
How DARE they ask that! This is how I make my income. This is my job.
But that feeling was short-lived and I got over it.
This knee jerk reaction is very common among us makers. And to be honest, it’s a pretty natural response. It takes years to perfect a craft and often just as much time to find good sources for supplies. As a maker, you have learned to do what you do though hundreds of little (and big) mistakes. You’ve learned it on late nights when you probably should have been sleeping. It’s taken a LONG time to learn to do what you do and to know what you know. And for someone to just ask for it all be given to them on a silver platter?!?
But hear me out before you get too upset about it.
First, don’t get mad! Whoever contacted you loves what you are doing and thinks you’re amazing. They think the products you make are so awesome they want to recreate it or do something similar! How cool is that, you have a fan!
Also, it could be they’re just interested. I absolutely love to watch makers do what they do best and I’m always curious how something is made. It’s just how my mind works.
Say thank you. Kindness goes a long way. They are a fan of your work. They could have just outright copied you and not said a word but instead, they see you as an authority figure and wanted to see how things are done from the master.
While people might ask how to make something, I’ve found that many who attempt give up and come back to me to purchase. Being kind always has a way of coming back to you.
Remember they are not your competition. In my experience, there are a lot of people who say they want to make something but not many who actually take the time to research, get the supplies and do it. Of those, very few attempt to sell it. And of those who sell, not many of them stay in business for very long.
The people asking you these questions are probably DIYers (which many handmade sellers are, I know I am!) or just starting out and you are light years ahead of them business wise. They are not your competition or even in the same league as you.
Decide how much info you want to give, if any. It’s perfectly ok to not give out information to those who ask. Heck, it’s ok to completely ignore the message or delete the comment on social media. Sometimes for me, depending on how they ask and if I have time and am feeling generous, I’ll reply. Because we were all there once.
Typically, I am very general in my responses and talk about how it has taken years of practice to learn to do what I do. I then direct them to search online for tutorials (YouTube has tons of videos on just about everything) and general suppliers like Etsy (lots of suppliers), Uline for shipping or other very well known suppliers in my field.
Before answering those questions, take a look at what other makers had to say about their experiences. I’m pretty sure you can learn from them!
Some optional responses (feel free to cut and paste as needed!)
“I can’t divulge ALL my secrets!”
“I would tell you but then I’d have to kill you!”
“I am not currently selling tutorials on my products”
“I am currently selling only physical products and at this time do not offer patterns or tutorials on how to make the products I sell. Pinterest, Google or YouTube might be some great resources to you. Good luck.”
“I am so glad you like my work! All of my items are custom and handmade by me. I use a number of different tools and techniques. I suggest taking some time to research online, which is how I began. I’m sure you will find much of the same information I did as I was starting. Best wishes!”
“Thanks for stopping by and for being interested in my work. Honestly, what works for me and my business may not work for everyone else. I know there are some great places you can search online (Pinterest, Google, Youtube) or Facebook groups that would be much more helpful than I am!’
“It has taken me XXX years to learn how to do what I do as well as find reliable suppliers. I can tell you that a bit of time on YouTube or Google can help you find what you’re looking for. Good luck!”
“Thank you so very much for your interest! Over the years I’ve gained inspiration from many places and a lot experience from a lot of trial and error. While I can’t tell you exactly how I do things…trade secrets and all, here are some websites I found helpful starting out. (ADD LINKS). Good luck!”
“I’m so glad you like what I do! It has taken years to learn it all and perfect my craft as well as find suppliers. I can’t say much but I can say, Pinterest, YouTube, Google and trial and error are going to be your best friends as you begin learning. Happy making!”
“The techniques I use are hard to explain but I bet you can find some tutorials on Pinterest, Google or YouTube that can help.”
I am of the belief that there is room for everyone and you always get back more that you give.
What do you think? How would YOU respond to someone asking you how to make one of your items or asked where you get your supplies?