Case Study: A Candle Shop

Recently, shop owner Tony of Candlekraze reached out to ask if I had any advice for him. I took one look, realized he was selling candles, and started to type a mile-a-minute. Typically, I do not offer advice on an individual basis, which I explained to Tony. I told him that if we turned his request into a case study, I’d give him very specific advice and allow my friendly readers to add their input.

prettyy candles from red envelop, featured on hostess (with the mostess) blog

If you love candle-making, it’s a great business choice because there is a HUGE void of candles on the Etsy marketplace, which leaves a wide opening for success. Please take a look at the top sellers in the candle category on Craft Count:

Top 9 Sellers in Candles on Etsy

That list is supposed to be 100 long! This means that only 9 sellers on Etsy have made more than 1,000 sales in the handmade candle category. If that’s not an opportunity, I don’t know what is!

So, what I’m going to do for Candlekraze is take some advice I’ve offered on the blog and apply it to Tony’s shop.

Before we begin:

Tony, I told you that branding was important, and I think you should hire a professional to design a logo for you, and make labels for all of your products. Second, I think you should get a more basic container(s) with lids. And third, you will absolutely have to improve photography to make the candles look more desirable, and less homemade. I think these are 3 basic investments you must make, and these three things have to be in place before you’ll see success. To help guide you through this new venture, you can:

Choose role models and learn from their experience.

I love candles, and role models for Tony were the first thing I started to think about. Choose the role model businesses (I recommend off-Etsy brands) who have the reputation and customer base you strive for. The businesses you admire then become real-life mentors who have all the answers for your industry on their websites. I can think of a few role model businesses for the candle industry, but for the purposes of this article, I’m going to just choose one: Yankee Candle.

Customers love Yankee Candle, and I’m one of them. They have the scents I love, they’re long-lasting, they make great gifts, and they’re reasonably priced. You can aim to make customers say the same about your candles.

Next, you ask yourself some basic questions about your role model. Considering Yankee’s success, how does their brand represent their company? How do they photograph their candles? Why are their pictures appealing? What do their policies look like? How and where are they finding their customers? What are you doing better than them (in other words, why should customers want to shop you when they can shop them)? What are they doing better than you? How does their “about” page read?

Show Me the Love

This blog is all about how to make a living doing what you love. I know that I spend a lot of time talking about how to generate sales and revenue, but that’s because I already assume there is true love in your craft or artwork. Before I started Marketing Creativity, I wrote a more personal blog and I had this to say about the Energy Shop:

With These Bracelet, I Thee Share

That post holds the real of secret of my success. I genuinely love what I do, and my products, descriptions, and photography reflect that truth.

Start with the Basics

Successful handmade sellers offer a professional experience for their customers. So Tony, if I were you, I would go back to the drawing board right here. List what you’ve already made for sale, but create a plan for a more professional image. Your customers have got to trust you, and they might buy if they can see and smell your candles at a craft show, but online you’re going to need more sophistication in your photos and listings.

People don’t mind a handmade candle, but they do mind if it looks homemade. What I’ve suggested absolutely takes an investment, but if your candles are high quality and smell good, it’s an investment I’m sure will pay off.

Therefore, Tony, I know you have a busy schedule so I suggest you ask yourself if you have time to invest in and nurture a growing shop. Never underestimate your customers. If you don’t take the time to write proper listings, customers are not going to trust that you took the time to create a high quality product.

On this blog, my readers are typically looking for next-level advice (paid advertising and other marketing techniques). However, I do have a free report available that has a lot of suggestions on how you can improve your listings:

How to Convert Item Views into Items Sold! 

In closing, if Tony’s in love with candle-making, I believe he has an opportunity ahead of him. If you’re willing to invest a lot of time, all your heart, and a little bit of money (my suggestions for candle containers and professionally designed logo would cost approximately $750 to start) … there’s a giant opening for a run-away success in this market.

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