Starting a craft business and actually making money can be hard to do. There are so many factors, so many choices to make. As a seasoned crafter (one who has started many successful side gigs and small businesses focusing on a craft) I’m here to share with you 30 important things you NEED to know when starting a craft business so that you can start you off on the right foot, and hopefully avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made over the years!
I have owned and operated quite a few small businesses that revolve around crafting in the past and now. And I’ve learned so many things along the way. Over the years selling a “craft” has gone from a super niche thing, to a full blown crafters dream come true! Online platforms have been created that cater to crafters, and the “support small businesses” has really took off around the world. All this to say; there has never been a better time to start a craft business than now! And I hope this list of 30 important things you need to know when starting a craft business helps you achieve and succeed with your crafting business!
30 Important Things You Need To Know
1: Pick a name that gives you room to grow
Picking a name isn’t a HUGE deal, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly either.
People look to a company name to tell them;
- what the company is about
- what they can expect of the company
- how the company can benefit them
- level of professionalism
2: Pick a craft that isn’t overly saturated in your area
I’ve found that when someone starts a business in a smaller town or community, and people see their success, everyone jumps in and tries to start the same business.
Of course everyone is free to start any craft business they want, but when you notice more than 3 or 4 crafting businesses selling the exact same product in your community (silicone bead baby teethers, giant lawn Yahtzee, custom charcuterie boards etc) try to veer away from those ideas and come up with something new.
Because an over saturated market will yield less income and make it way more challenging to convince people to buy your product and not your neighbours.
If you do have your heart set on making something that is considered “saturated”, then make sure you stand out and offer something that is so much better than your competition, it makes people buy from you instead.
3: Go social
There are so many different options in the social media world. Which should you choose?
Platforms that focus on visual presence.
Best social media for crafting business?
- Tik Tok
People love interacting with businesses through Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and so on. Tik Tok is also very popular and many crafters are seeing great success with the fun videos they can make of them creating and showing off their craft.
I included Pinterest even though it isn’t really social. It’s a search engine. But people still view it as a social platform. Either way, GET ON PINTEREST! It’s a gold mine for exposure in the crafting world!
4: Source materials in bulk
DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT buy your materials at craft stores. Unless of course they are having a major blowout sale or you stumble across something that for whatever reason, is priced in the realm of normalcy.
Crafting stores tend to jack up their prices because they are geared toward hobbyists, and people who want to make something once or maybe twice.
But you are not those people. Don’t be lured into the magic of those shops (I adore them- and avoid them at all costs. My wallet always thanks me)
Instead find a source for the materials you need that sell in large quantities. Google searches will usually come up with great results.
5: Launch with a well stocked “shop”
I am so guilty of this. I get super excited to sell my new obsession, so I make one and advertise it to the world. Then a rush of orders come in and I find myself working into the night, weekends, and special occasions so that I can fulfill my shipment date as promised.
Please save yourself the stress and build up some inventory before launching a new product!
6: Nail the photography
As I mentioned in tip number 3, people love things that are visually appealing. So make sure your photography is nailed down.
You don’t need a fancy camera to make this possible either! Your phone probably has camera features and editing tools that are better than a lot of computer programs out there online. Google “how to use my camera editing feature for *phone type*” and there will be many youtube videos that will walk you through exactly what to do.
Post your photos on social media to share what you’re up to. Creating listings online with your own photography is also a proven way to get more people to purchase your product.
7: Make a business card
Some people say this method is obsolete, but I disagree. With my simple strategy you can make a business card work for promoting your business.
To make a business card work for your craft business include these key points:
- Business name
- Contact information
- Social media platforms you’re on
The reason I suggest not including exactly what you make is because if you’re anything like me (and most other crafters) your creativity will pull you in different directions over time, and you want your business to move with you.
8: Price items high enough that your business is sustainable
Lowering your prices is not good business practice.
There are several factors that go into pricing your product:
- material cost
- time worth
- product type
Prices vary greatly on crafted items. So do the research for your specific product. For Example;
Setting a price for a crafted item can be so difficult. Take crochet or knitted hats, in all of my selling radius (in person and online for Canadians) the maximum price a person will pay for a handmade hat is $30CA. And that is high! It needs to be a great hat with detail and maybe a pom pom or embellishment.
For my hats I like to hover at $20CA because people like using a twenty dollar bill to pay at a craft event or market. And $19.98 looks appealing online. Selling a hat that took hours to make for only $20 doesn’t seem like a good ROI (return on investment), but that is the price you pay when you sell crafted items like crochet hats.
Charcuterie boards on the other hand have a much better ROI. If you can source the wood needed from your property or find a great deal on a log, you can sell one board for hundreds of dollars. The hard work is in preparing the board, but you can make several at once to save time and energy.
So if you harvest the log from your property, mill it and place it to dry, then sand and prepare it, you pretty much have no money down besides gas for the mill or saw and electricity usage. All you’re investing in is your time. Even more simple boards (no carvings, epoxy, or special shape) sell for hundreds. Your time is definitely paid for in the crafting world.
9: Label it well
A good quality label will help assure people that your product is well made and that you are a reputable company. Labels vary greatly depending on what you make and sell, so do your research. And try to think what company labels you admire in the product your selling.
Good labels for a small business are;
- Ink stamp
- Burned stamp
- Leather tab
- Sew on label
- Business card
- Vinyl sticker
10: Go online
Selling online can go many ways depending on how much time and effort you want to put into it. Also, certain crafts do better than others online so you’ll have to feel out the market for your exact product.
When I sold my macrame online I had a difficult time selling the items that hung on walls because it was hard for the viewer to appreciate the piece in a simple photograph.
What does sell well online?
In my personal experience I’ve seen really good success selling products like these online;
- Items that have a general size that most people can visualize (eg. christmas tree ornaments, teethers, greeting cards)
- Items that ship well and the buyer doesn’t have to worry about the item breaking or paying for insurance
- Products the buyer has to assemble themselves in a “kit” form (bird house kit , shelves, children’s toys)
- Clothing. People are so used to buying clothes online that this market is really growing for small businesses
11: Price online items higher so that you can offer free shipping
Websites like Etsy have a filter for visitors to choose if they want to see things with free shipping. This is a big deal. Not only does it entice people to buy, but it also narrows the visitor search, giving you a better chance of having your products seen.
I do strongly suggest that if you sell outside of your country, that you do “free shipping Canada wide” or whichever country you are from, and then add a fee to countries outside of your own, If you cannot make up the money lost within your products price increase.
Because depending on the country, shipping can be sooooo expensive! I have learned this the hard way. Listen to this;
I offered free shipping worldwide for a set of macrame christmas ornaments. They ship well and can pack into a small envelope. But when I got an order to be shipped to Europe, my price- even though increased to compensate for shipping- couldn’t cover the cost of shipping overseas. Shipping these ornaments ended up costing more then the actual product, so I lost money.
Lessons learned the hard way!
12: Name pieces when applicable
Naming art style pieces can work really well and boost peoples trust in you that you’re a legit artist and business owner.
It also personalizes the product and people can relate to things that have a name.
13: Go Mobile
I get really excited thinking about all of the ways you can go mobile. Mainly because my newest obsessions are mobile boutiques and rolling market stands! If your business is big enough, or you have enough inventory, you can definitely go mobile and have success!
A rolling cart gives you the opportunity to attend fairs and markets, sell on the street, and other public settings that allow you to sell. (Always check your areas bylaws)
A mobile shop is larger, and is usually built on a frame that can be pulled on the highway. These shops are a great option if your business can support it!
Both of these options can give you so much freedom. Imagine travelling around exploring this beautiful world, all the while selling your passions to people. So much sustainability here, I love it!
14: Make deals with retail shops
Getting your product into brick and mortar businesses is a great idea if you want to expand your business, and not have to commit yourself to a brick and mortar set up.
Tips for pitching your product to a business
- Clean yourself up and dress professional
- Rehearse what you want to say
- Bring in some of your product for them to see (if possible give it to them to keep)
- Give them a business card
- Focus on how your product can benefit their store
15: Niche down when attending a craft fair
I’ve realized through my own experience attending MANY craft fairs and events, that niching down can increase your sales a TON.
People tend to think a product is higher quality and recognize a business owner as an “expert” when they are selling just a few specific items.
This can be challenging if you’re like myself and make a vast range of products. (I swear I have enough variety to fill a huge store!) But try your best to narrow your products down when attending one of these events. Trust me, it will help your selling game.
16: Branch out of your local area
It’s possible that you can max out your area in sales.
Sometimes people only need so much of what you’re selling (take cloth pads, hanging log round side tables, or sewn dog bandanas for example).
To increase sales and expand your market try reaching out to stores outside of your area. OR online shops that sell to a wide audience.
17: Don’t wear people out with a constant need to sell your products
No one likes a salesman. At least not when they aren’t prepared for it.
DO NOT try to get your friends and family to buy your products all the time. Sure it’s ok to talk about your business or something exciting happening with it, but when it turns into a sales pitch, it’s sure to put a bad taste in someones mouth.
They know where to find you, and they most likely have you on some type of social platform, so they know what you’re up to. Just leave it alone, you don’t want to ruin good relationships just to make a few bucks. It will never be worth it!
18: Take advantage of seasons and holidays
Most crafters and small businesses make a bulk of their income during special occasions. Harness this power and use it to your advantage!
Run a special christmas sale, or create a “spring line” to feature during Easter and Mothers day.
Always be thinking of special ways you can utilize the seasons and special holidays for your business.
19: Collaborate with other crafters and makers
Team up with other makers in your area or on social media to expand your reach and grow your audience!
I’ve done this several times and although some were more successful than others, all of them brought me exposure.
Collaboration ideas for crafters can include:
- Private home market pop up
- Draws and giveaways
- Social media “takeovers”
- Shoutouts on eachothers best social platform
- Blog posts with URL’s linking to each others sites
- Private online market
20: Keep scrap material for future projects
Although I post a lot of information and ideas about purging, tiny house living, and keeping your home clean, I’m a huge advocate for keeping your scrap material and not throwing anything out!
Why? Simple. It will save you money!
Not everything can be saved from projects you complete.. but many things can. I suggest that you save everything you can and think of creative ways to reuse your extra materials.
Do regular cleaning and organizing of your work areas and supplies, but don’t just throw it all away. Craft supplies are so expensive and you need to save all of the money you can!
21: Host a product giveaway
Take suggestion #20 and create something beautiful for as cheap as possible. Then host a giveaway either online or during an in person crafters market.
Make sure you get people to follow you on social media in order to enter the giveaway, and ask for their email so that you can send them other promotional information later on (be sure to advise people that you will send occasional emails that can benefit them below the email opt in)
Giveaways are a fun way to engage your audience and add to it. People love free things, and if the opt in is simple they will be sure to join.
(pin it for later!)
22: Be first to market
Always watch out for upcoming trends. And when they come, get your product made and out to market as fast as possible.
Being first to market makes you look like you’re the best and have the best product.
Why? Well, I guess cause you’re first. Haha, there are many reasons why, but the first is best mentality is definitely there in the beginning.
23: Invest back into your business
I’m so guilty for holding out on investing back into my business, which ends up in time lost, money lost and customers lost.
Budget wisely and make sure you set money aside to invest back into your business that you can grow faster and be more profitable!
24: Hire help, including the kids
Depending on the craft you are focusing on, you can hire out help. Even if it’s just the kids. (no I’m not promoting child labour, get outta here with that)
Kids LOVE feeling needed and like they are helping to achieve something.
One thing I like to get my kids to do is string wooden beads onto cut macrame cord. I offer products with wooden beads and they are such a pain to thread. But the kids love it!
I’ve also got my husband to help once when I had an order of 50 sets of macrame christmas ornaments… It was a lot of work, but so fun that he could help me even though he has no idea how to macrame!
Hiring out help to a paid employee is a great investment if your business can afford it. Think about the things in your business that you need help with most (taxes, material pickup, packaging/shipping, machinery and tool repair) and hire somebody to help you with it.
25: Consider teaching your skill to others
This was becoming very popular, and then completely blew up during the pandemic of 2020 and onward!
Teaching isn’t for everyone, but if you think you got what it takes, consider creating a course or workshop and show other people how to do what you do.
Be sure to look around in your area of expertise and see what other people are doing, what they are charging, and if you need to acquire any special license or form.
26: Run a sale that entices people to buy fast
This is a special type of selling strategy that you do to make people think they need to buy your product NOW.
“Limited time only” product sales can be very successful if done correctly! And the possibilities are endless in terms of what product to do this with.
For example (I’ve done this before so I know it can work), say I make 20 crochet ponytail hats in the beginning of December. I will market them and say;
“Limited time only! Only 10 hand crocheted ponytail hats left and then I am officially sold out until the new year!”
Or you can promote an item that you will no longer be making, or have run out of materials for until further notice.
Examples like yarn colours, wood species, and vinyl colour are all things that you may run out of or become unavailable from your suppliers. So let your audience know that and convince them that it’s NOW OR NEVER.
27: Always stay on brand
Say you’re the soy candle person. You live and breath soy candles and all that they are, people go to you with any and all questions about soy candles, and you have a solid customer base surrounding soy candles, then all of the sudden you go to market with childrens earrings and necklaces, your customers are going to be confused.
This isn’t always the case, especially if you are a homestead or run a shop with a “home decor” or “all things wood” theme.
But if you’ve forever been the soy candle person and suddenly show up with something random (in the customer’s eyes anyway), the buyer might lose trust in you as a brand.
Try to weave your products into each other if you do want to diversify, and make sure packaging and labelling are all matching and on brand.
28: Free advertising Vs. paid
I’ve never paid for advertising (at least from what I can remember).
But I’m not opposed to it! I only keep my advertising free because I don’t want to spend the money on it. And because people in the crafting world don’t really see a profit boost from it.
If you have a social media presence and have access to the internet and in person marketing, I believe you can make a great profit without having to pay for people to advertise for you.
29: Have fun creating
Have fun with the crafting venture you choose. Enjoy the experience. Enjoy failing and trying again.
Make things that bring you happiness.
30: Don’t be afraid
In the end I will tell you this; Don’t be afraid.
You can do this.
No one can take your passions from you.
Reach for the stars and try new things.
When you fail, it’s ok. Failing means you’re trying. And trying means you care.
Learn from your success and your failure and let it push you forward and grow as a person!
I hope you found a few things in this list useful to you and your crafting business!
I love providing helpful content to those who desire a more financially independent life, and what better way than creating beautiful things to sell to the world, in the comfort of your home.
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You have so many great tips and ideas in this post! Thank you for sharing!
Great tips! Very informative;)
So many great tips here and it’s great to learn from your own experience. Thank you for sharing 🙂
There’s so much to think about when starting a craft business! Thank you for all the great points to consider!
This is literally a wealth of information! I’m going to pin it for later so when I open up my shop I’ve got it all here! Thanks!
Great information that can be applied to more than just crafting businesses!
Thank you for the great information!