It’s not unusual to turn a hobby into a business, and that includes crafting. If you have ever thought about selling your crafts or turning your crafting love into a part-time or full-time business, here are things to consider in how to start a craft business.
Research the Market Demand
If you’re looking to start a craft business, make sure there’s demand. Are people thrilled to get your crafts as gifts? Have people offered to buy your creations?
Here are two ways to research a craft business. Go to craft shows. Or browse craft marketplace websites like Etsy and Handmade at Amazon. See what’s already out there in your niche. Look to see if your items fit into an existing product category (there’s likely demand), but there aren’t a gazillion sellers selling very similar items (too much competition for the same thing).
Differentiate Your Product Line
Differentiate your products from the competition. For example, there’s probably a lot of handmade kids’ clothes already out there. But you could “niche down” even further by making kids’ clothes out of sustainable fabrics, like Conscious Kids Clothing has done. Then you appeal specifically to that niche. Ways to differentiate include materials, quality of workmanship and unique designs.
Know Your Customers
Define your ideal customers. In the example above with sustainable kids’ clothing, the ideal customers are environmentally conscious parents. If you hand-turn wooden pens, you might target those looking for small gifts as well as professionals who are image-conscious. Defining your ideal customer will guide you in how to display your products, create enticing product descriptions, decide which craft shows to attend, and more.
Choose a Name with Strong Brand Potential
Pick a business name that appeals to buyers and communicates what you sell. Don’t get too obscure. Pick something with meaning and strong brand potential -- catchy is good. Be sure to check the name’s availability. An attorney can guide you through the legal process to secure your business name.
Reserve Your Online Assets
A website is recommended, even if you plan on selling in person or on a large marketplace site. At the very least a website adds credibility and a way to contact your business. It can also operate as a secondary sales channel. Register a domain name to match your brand name. Then set up profiles in your business name on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that are popular with your target audience.
Source Quality Materials
Making products is different from crafting for fun. You need a reliable source for materials -- and a lot of them. Some brands like Darice and Warehouse Craft Supplies offer volume discounts. Or you might opt to go to a retail craft store at first until you can justify bulk supply purchases. Know your material costs inside and out, so you can make a profit.
Develop a Selling Strategy
Figure out the selling approach YOU are comfortable with. If the thought of spending three days at a craft show sounds like punishment rather than a joy, look at alternatives such as selling at an online marketplace site. You could also set up your own ecommerce site -- two popular and affordable platforms are Shopify and BigCommerce.
Practice Your Product Photography
Great photography is essential for many craft businesses these days, due to the importance of social media and ecommerce. You’ll likely take your own pictures at first. Get the best camera you can and put together a clean backdrop with good lighting. You can purchase product lighting equipment from companies like B&H or SHOTBOX. You could also outsource photography to a professional.
If any part of your business includes selling online, consider the shipping. Prompt and reliable shipping plays a huge role in getting good customer reviews. So compare prices and find a shipping provider, whether you go with USPS, UPS or FedEx. Then invest in good packing materials to avoid breakage.
Share Your Story
Consumers shop with independent artisans because they want something unique they can’t find elsewhere. But you can provide even more “uniqueness” by sharing your personal story. How did you get into your craft? Are your kids or family members involved? Do you support any causes with your profits? Share this on your website, on social media and elsewhere to create an emotional appeal to build a loyal community following.