Here's 5 Things You Should Do Before Selling Your First Candle
I remember the feeling very well: the excitement, the rush of motivation to just jump into it with both feet, the increase in endorphins when daydreaming about all the possibilities of my ideas. I know that you want to start right now and the thought of waiting any longer is absolute torture.
But before you sell your first candle, there are a few things you need to do first:
1. Test your candles
Yep…I’m a broken record, I know. But it’s so, so important. And the more horror stories (or posts on social media) that I see that involve someone who starts selling before they have tested their candles, the more I need to reiterate this. Even though you probably know this as a “no-brainer”, sometimes our rush of motivation to just “get it done” can make us speed through this vital part of the candle business process.
Our candle business starts with our product. Having a good performing candle is not only imperative for the safety of the consumer, but it’s also how we keep customers coming back because it’s such a great candle!
2. Make sure that you know how you are going to ship your candles before ever listing them for sale
This is another mistake I’ve seen (and made myself at one point) and it only leads to headaches.
Before you sell your first candle, make sure that you have figured out how you are going to ship out your candles to the customer. Do you know how it will be packaged? What about which box(es) to use? What about how much you will charge the customer? There’s a lot to know but it’s important that you take the time now to become comfortable and confident with shipping out your products.
3. Get business insurance
I cannot tell you how many times I have had people question if they truly need business insurance.
The answer is simple: do you think you need car insurance? What about health insurance? Insurance is there to protect you financially just incase something happens.
Admittingly, I started selling for six months prior to getting business insurance (or a business license, yikes) and I would not recommend it. Especially if you are starting off as just a sole proprietor, you need to make sure you are protecting yourself because you never know what can happen.
In addition to this, you should be making sure that you have everything set up legally prior to selling (seller's permit, license, etc.)
4. Have a marketing strategy
All too often I see many candle business owners creating a product, putting it on etsy and then getting discouraged when they don't make any sales. As candle makers, we are really good at the creative part of business, but sometimes it can be hard to dive into the business side of things.
To give you some food for thought, try to think about the "who, what, where and how's" before you sell your product:
Who are you selling to? Identify your target market.
What value are you bringing to them, or what problem are you solving?
Where are they? Do they spend their time on instagram? Browsing a certain hashtag or maybe they are apart of a niche facebook group? Maybe they hang out at wineries or local paint n sip's?
How are you going to get your products in front of your target market? SEO? paid ads? Direct mail? Online influencers?
Once you has established your target market, what they need, where they are and how you can get your products in front of them, then you will feel much more confident in your candle business.
5. Give before you sell
This one may sound counterintuitive....what do you mean? You want me to just give away my handmade candle that I spent so much time on?
Yes, yes I do.
But it's for a purpose. Think of it as paying for feedback before you sell to a real customer. You need to get feedback from real people (you know, non-candle makers). You need people to test your candles who are not going to scrutinize every little detail. The kind of people who don't know what the heck "hot throw" means but they will tell you "it smells so good I can smell it all the way down my hallway from my kitchen!"
And you think "good, that means the hot throw is excellent!"
We as candle makers can focus too much on the tiny imperfections of our candles, this is why feedback from our friends and family can be invaluable. To clarify, this doesn't mean that you should be giving away all of your candles for free. In this case, you are giving to receive feedback in return so essentially you are paying them for a service.
Wait there's more
This is not an exhaustive list of everything you should do before selling your first candle, it's best to get with a business attorney, local CPA to discuss any legal and tax things you need to set up prior to opening shop.
You can watch my Youtube video to see a video version of the blog post where I go more in depth on these topics.