Lots of people start off having fun making paracord bracelets, keyrings, etc. At first making them for themselves until they have too many different bracelets to wear, then offering them to family and friends, until they reach a saturation point too. They still want to keep on paracording as it’s relaxing and fun, however buying supplies can also become expensive. This is where you start to think about selling what you make.
The purpose of this post is to make you aware of where you can sell your creations and help you focus on creating something that is more saleable in an growing and over-saturated market place. I regularly see people posting in the various facebook paracord groups saying that they are struggling to sell bracelets online as there are too many people doing it. Now this is true if you are making simple cobra or fishtail bracelets with plastic buckles and the reason why is because anyone can make those, they’re fun to make and can be churned out quickly. I’m not saying don’t make these, because there is still a market for them, but you’ll be trying to stand out against a crowd of thousands online.
Lets take a look at the various target marketplaces where you can sell paracord:
Local Craft Fairs
Throughout the year you’ll find various local craft fairs happening in your area. You need to book in early to get a table and there’s a cost for having the table. Once you’ve paid for the table whatever profit you make is yours, however if you don’t sell anything then you could loose out.
You’ll need to make a variety of bracelets in a range of colours and sizes (if you’re using buckles rather than adjustable styles). Do your research on sites like Pinterest to find ideas for how to layout and dress your table for the best chance to stand out and attract customers. We’re now in the territory of hessian material to cover the table, PVC pipe or wooden display stands and cute antique wooden crates!
I’d always recommend displaying your brand logo (if you have one) and your social media links in a prominent way, also giving out business cards or postcards to help you to build a local brand awareness. I’ve seen some stands give away free sweets to attract more people to their table, then once they start a dialogue with a potential customer it’s harder for them to just walk away (the psychology of guilt).
For your first couple of craft fairs don’t expect to sell huge amounts of stock. It’ll take you a while to get into the swing of things and know what style of product sells best.
Local Sports Clubs / Schools
If you’ve got kids who play team sports, or even friends or families kids, then you’ve got an ideal local captive audience. Find out what their club colours are and set about making a range of bracelets using those colours. Then take a couple of samples into the club and ask if they’re ok with you selling them, offering to donate 20% of profits to the club is always a good way to get a yes.
Unless you’re taking custom orders where you can get the wrist size and style that people want to buy in advance, then I’d recommend not using buckles as you’ll have to make lots of different sizes (although an adjustable metal shackle partly solves this). It’s better to go for something like the adjustable Mad Max style closure which allows it to fit pretty much any size wrist.
Para Buddies are another popular item with sports teams if you can get the colour combos right, as well as keyrings, as parents will want to display the team colours and support their kids.
You will find that eventually you reach saturation point with a particular club and will only really be able to continue to sell there if there are new people join, if there are public promotion events you can attend along with the club, or if you’re really creative and bring out a new style of bracelet, etc. which will make people want to buy another item from you.
eBay / Etsy
This is where the market is most saturated. Doing a simple search for “Paracord Bracelet” on either website will return hundreds of listings, most of which are very similar. This is where you need to stand out the most. Don’t just create a lots of basic cobra bracelets, take pictures of them on the kitchen table with your phone and expect them to sell, they won’t.
To get sales on these marketplaces, you need to create unique and eye catching designs, stand out from the crowd, use hand crafted beads, add micro cord stitching and above all else take a GOOD product picture.
To take a good product picture, use natural window light, an uncluttered background and unless you’ve got a very good phone, use a camera and remember that practice makes perfect.
Take a look at what other people who are selling well on these sites are making and look at their product shots for inspiration on how to style and take yours.
With these types of marketplace, you’re trying to appeal to the casual shopper who is quickly looking through lots of listings and needs yours to stand out above all the others. You’ll find that you’ll struggle to get repeat customers, therefore building a brand on this sort of site alone will be very hard.
There are a couple of ways that you can sell your paracord creations on Facebook. The first is to be yourself and post pictures of what you make on your Facebook timeline so that people you know can see what you make and potentially buy items.
You can also post as yourself to the various local marketplace selling groups. As I’ve said before, it’s all about standing out from the crowd, create eye catching creations, offer to make them to order so that you don’t need to keep pre-made stock and can get the fit perfect for the buyer, also this allows them to customise the colours, style of buckle, etc. which is often very appealing.
The second way is to create a page for your business, come up with a logo and branding and promote your page as often as you can, either on your timeline, or on other Facebook groups. It’ll be a slow start, but as you build up a following you’ll find that orders start to come in. Eventually you’ll be able to get quite a hype up over new designs and be able to engage regularly with you fan base and find out what they like more and which direction to take your creations.
This is the most visual of all of the platforms. I’d only recommend trying to sell on Instagram if you’ve got a good eye for taking product pictures and you’re willing to take them often and post regularly.
There are many different paracord artists who sell exclusively on Instagram and are really successful. You can see some of them in the Showcase articles on our site. It’s all about creating something unique, something that most people haven’t seen in the shops or on eBay, etc. We’re talking about custom one off hand made works of art here. And a quick glance at the Showcase posts will make you realise that it’s also about gorgeous photography too, with interesting and creative backdrops.
If you want to quickly build up a fan base on Instagram, you’ll need to post good looking content regularly. Use a good set of hashtags and make sure to follow as many people who may be your target audience as you can so that you get follow backs.
If you’re willing to be creative and work at it, you’ll have a lot of success with any of the market places above. I’d recommend going for a mix of a couple of these, making sure to focus on one at a time, take your time and build it up as you go, you don’t want to overstretch yourself.
The information provided above is only a rough introduction and starting point. We will be going into more depth with a series of future articles, looking at each market place in turn and giving you more detailed advice.
Our last piece of advice is to above all else make sure that you’re having fun and keep on paracording.