How to Sell Handmade Crafts

It takes time, patience, and effort to create, photograph, and list handmade items online.
It takes time, patience, and effort to create, photograph, and list handmade items online. | Source

For those who have a passion for crafts, you may want to consider selling some of your work. In addition to making money, selling can lead to great opportunities for feedback, networking, and more opportunities to sell (i.e. invitations to future shows, shop owners looking for new consignment deals, etc.). However, the process can be overwhelming, especially if you're just getting started. This article is designed to give you the tools that you need to start selling.

The information in this article is broken down as follows:

  • Getting Started. Before you start selling locally or online, there are a few crucial steps that you need to take.
  • Local Sales. This section includes possible places to sell and other considerations for local sales, such as displays and promotional materials.
  • Online Sales. Decide where to sell your crafts and learn the basics about selling handmade items online.
  • What's Next? Now that you're established with your selling, how will you continue to grow your artistic skills and your shop?
  • Options to consider: Patterns and Classes. Many people who sell handmade crafts also sell original patterns and/or teach art classes.

Happy crafting and best of luck with all of your selling endeavors!

I almost always have shell bracelet and earring sales at craft shows so I make sure to stock up this inventory ahead of time.
I almost always have shell bracelet and earring sales at craft shows so I make sure to stock up this inventory ahead of time. | Source
  • Learn your craft. Regardless of what type of crafts you make, it is essential that you fully learn the skill set at hand. The handmade market is competitive, and people aren't interested in purchasing inferior products. If you are still deciding what type of craft you'd like to make and sell, there are numerous ideas out there. Consider what will you will enjoy making on a long term basis so you will have a steady supply of inventory.
  • Establish a pricing formula. Develop a formula that works for you and stick with it. Initially this will be time consuming, but once you have it set up, pricing will be easy and quick.
  • Build your inventory. Before you can sell your crafts anywhere, you must have an inventory ready. There is no magic number for this. As a general rule, I recommend having 50 items ready to list online before you open up a shop. This number will probably suffice for craft shows, but I would recommend having more.
  • Order business cards. Once you start selling, you want to get your name out there as much as possible. Having business cards is one of the easiest ways to promote your work.
  • Local sales vs. online sales. It is up to you to decide whether you want to sell locally, online, or both. There is no magic combination that works for everyone. I have outlined basic information below about both options to assist you with this decision.

This video is designed for people hosting home jewelry parties, but many of the tips apply to other selling opportunities.

Each item that you sell should have a price tag or a clear pricing sign (i.e. a collection of magnets on a board with a single price sign for all of them).
Each item that you sell should have a price tag or a clear pricing sign (i.e. a collection of magnets on a board with a single price sign for all of them). | Source
Displays with lots of vertical components will draw in customers.
Displays with lots of vertical components will draw in customers. | Source
  • Price items. Wherever you will be selling your items, you need to make sure that they have clearly marked prices. You can tag items individually or clearly mark groups of items with single prices (i.e. all of the cards in this basket are $4.00).
  • Displays. For many local sales events and opportunities, you will be responsible for your own displays.
  • Craft shows. One of the most popular options for selling locally is craft shows. Many areas often both indoor and outdoor shows of all sizes throughout the year.
  • Consignment. Some boutiques and craft stores often consignment for handmade items. It is often best to call or e-mail ahead of time to arrange a meeting about potential consignment. Bring sample items and information about your work with you to these meetings.
  • Open houses. Hosting an open house or having someone host one for you can be nice, low key alternative to a craft show.
  • Promotion. Consider both online and local promotion methods. Social media, blogs, and mailing lists are great online options. Distribute flyers and postcards in person for your shows and other events.
  • Networking. One of the best parts about craft shows and other interactive events is networking with fellow artists, both vendors and artist shoppers.
  • Packaging items. Consider how you will package sold items for customers. If you will not be packaging the items yourself, such as a craft shop selling through consignment, make sure that the shop has proper packaging materials.

  • PayPal account. Wherever you will sell online, you will almost always need a PayPal account. I strongly recommend creating a separate bank account that you will only use for online transactions. You don't want to have a large amount of savings in jeopardy of online fraud.
  • Decide where you will sell. I'm sure it's not a surprise that a lot of people choose to sell on Etsy. This may or may not be the right venue for your products. Review other online venues as well as possibilities for hosting your own shop site before you make a decision.
  • Photograph your items. Are you tired of hearing about product photography from me yet? The quality of your item photos will make or break sales. I've linked some of my photography resources on the right.
  • Promotion. Some people get lucky and have lots of sales without doing much, if any, promotion, but most people (including me) have to do a lot of promotion on social media, through blogs, and in person.
  • Teams. If you're selling through a larger site such as Etsy, one great way to network and get promotion online is to join an active team and participate on a regular basis.
  • Networking. Besides teams, other online venues for networking with fellow artists include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, and blogs.
  • Shipping considerations. Purchase appropriate materials for shipping your items safely. Whenever possible, purchase in bulk to cut costs.

DIY Lightbox for product photography

  • Continue to build your brand. Allow your work to change naturally. Consider ways to define your brand and stand out from the crowd.
  • Re-evaluate on a regular basis. What is and isn't going well? What shows do you want to do again next year? Set goals for yourself and check in with them periodically.
  • Continue to grow as an artist. Seek out opportunities to take new classes, take on new challenges, and learn new techniques. If you don't already take time for inspiration, such as visiting museums, reading books, and taking other field trips, it's never too late to start.

Source
  • Making and selling patterns. This is not an essential component of selling handmade crafts, but it's a great option for many people. The most popular method is to sell PDF patterns. In addition to selling through your own web site or through a large site such as Etsy, some people opt to use a pattern download site such as craftsy.com.
  • Teaching classes. There are both local and online opportunities for teaching classes. Many craft stores, both one of a kind and chain stores, offer classes. You can also create classes for purchase online. Check out Alisa Burke's online classes for some great examples.
  • Sell teaching packages. Some artists have the interest and ability to travel and teach classes in other cities, states, etc. If this is not something that you'd like to consider, you have the option of selling teaching packages for your patterns or class structures to other individuals.
  • Publishing eBooks. Whether you are publishing a free or for purchase eBook, it can be a great opportunity to get more exposure as an artist. If you aren't interested in writing a pattern, there are numerous other craft topics, such as selling online and finding inspiration.

More by this Author


Comments 34 comments

Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Great hub with great information. So useful for crafty entrepreneurs. You write so many awesome hubs! Good idea for the DIY photo box, too. I need to work on my photos. I have too much light around most of the time when taking pics of food and other stuff. I'm looking for a good camera, too. Do you have one to recommend? Great job on this!


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

This is good information for anyone wishing to sell crafts. Makes a good starting point.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I always look forward to your Hubs. They are filled with great info and this one is no exception. My Granddaughter makes beaded jewelry, so I will pass this along to her via FaceBook, and to my followers. I voted this UP, etc.etc.


Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

I really love the opening picture. What a cute bracelet! Informative article. GREAT JOB on this one!


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is VERY helpful for someone trying to break into this business. I have learned so much the hard way. I have just opened an Etsy shop and I will read your tutorials on Etsy. Thanks so much for this hub.


kelleyward 4 years ago

Another fantastic hub Rose. You are inspiring me to start making my own jewelry! Voted up! Take care, Kelley


cloverleaffarm profile image

cloverleaffarm 4 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

Great hub packed with lots of information. May I add that doing juried craft shows is much better than a non juried show. Juried shows hand select the people, and you won't have someone next to you selling imports, or crappy crafts like styrofoam balls with glitter glue. I've done those kinds of fairs, and they aren't marketed well, and the quality of crafters can be questionable. Also, some folks call them craft fairs, when they are really vendor fairs (Sophia jewelry, Ava Anderson etc), and if you are a true artist, those shows are not for you. Voted UP +


How to - Answers profile image

How to - Answers 4 years ago from Ireland

A very interesting and informative hub. Selling home made crafts can become a profitable business. There is a lot to learn but your advice here is a very good start.

Shared, voted useful and interesting


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Excellent hub, very comprehensive and I loved the headings and layout. My niece recently started selling handmade earrings on ebay, I will point her to this hub.


anusujith profile image

anusujith 4 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

Wonderful hub. You have drawn the purpose of your caption very successfully... Voted up and shared...


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Vicki, the light box makes such a difference! I've been using a Canon PowerShot for the last 3 years and love it. I would recommend anything in the PowerShot line. If you're looking for an SLR camera, check out the Canon Rebels. Good luck!

Angelo, I agree. This is not a comprehensive guide for selling handmade, but it should be enough to get most people started.

Mary, thanks for sharing this! I appreciate that.

Thanks Angela! That's one of my original designs.

Tammy, I have learned a lot of things the hard way, too. I would approach opening a new Etsy shop today very differently than I did 3 years ago. I'm glad that this is helpful for you. Best of luck with your shop!

Thanks Kelley! Let me know if you do make any jewelry.

cloverleaf, I definitely agree with you about juried shows and supposed handmade fairs. I have done both nonjuried, poorly advertised shows and "handmade" shows where the unique artists got shut out by the vendors. I am always careful now to read the guidelines about vendors.

How to - Answers, you're absolutely right. There is a lot of potential for profit in this field, but like many things, it takes time, patience, and work.

Jools99, thanks! I appreciate the promo.

Thanks so much anusujith!


vims003 profile image

vims003 4 years ago from india

really great hub.you have very clear idea about the technic,how we can make, advertise and sell using the latest technologies.thanks for sharing.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks so much vims003!


Riverfish24 profile image

Riverfish24 4 years ago from United States

What a fabolously detailed way of explaining! Great information and guidelines ..just awesome. Love the formatting too.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York

These are amazing tips, Rose! I love the video on how to make a custom light box for product photography. The use of vertical displays is very appealing - I love those cards (and if I ran across them at a craft show, I'd definitely stop in for a closer look)!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks Leah! A light box is such a great asset for product photography.

Thanks for the feedback about the cards and vertical displays! Every show I've done, I've increased my vertical displays, and it's always helped. The more you can include, the better.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks Riverfish! I really appreciate the feedback.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I would think that selling online would be a profitable venture. I have made a few crafts in the past but not sold them (gifts for others or for myself). You outline the steps well in your hub.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

It takes a lot of work (and some luck) to make a profit, but plenty of people do. Thanks!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, I'm glad!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Excellent hub on how to sell handmade crafts. Thanks much for your posts on this and related topics.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks RTalloni! I'm glad that you've enjoyed these articles.


nenytridiana profile image

nenytridiana 4 years ago from Probolinggo - Jawa Timur - Indonesia

I will bookmark this hub! The tips on this hub are useful. Great work randomcreative! Hopefully I would read more of hubs like this. Thank you!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks nenytridiana! I have a lot of articles up about various aspects of crafting and Etsy so take your time to browse around. Let me know if you have any questions about anything. :)


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

I think etsy.com is worth considering. It might be a good way for people to find your products online.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

BlissfulWriter, for people who are interested in selling online, Etsy can be a great option. The site does a pretty terrible job directing search engine traffic so potential customers generally have to search within the site or go directly to your shop to find you.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

I used to think that people who sold crafts led pretty chill lives, but now I know better! Making and selling crafts = running a small business.

Thanks for the practical (and useful) tips! When my friends start dreaming of selling their handmade wares, I'll be sending them this way.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

You're right that making and selling crafts does involve running a small business. Most people don't intend to get into the world of business when they are selling their crafts, but that's how it goes for those who are serious with their selling. Thanks for sharing this resource!


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

This is great advice! I'm bookmarking your Hub for future reference. I used to make designer lampshades (for my personal use), but people would see them in my home and tell me I should sell them. The timing was never right. :( I still have that seed in the back of my mind and your Hub has inspired me to revisit the possibility. When I do, I will definitely use your Hub as a resource. Thanks for the tips and advice! Voted up useful and interesting.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks Linda! I'm so glad that this is a helpful resource for you. Your lampshades sound like a neat niche. Best of luck. :)


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

This is a great hub on selling crafts...I am glad I found this as I have an idea for something to sell. Pinning this for sure.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, Carol! Best of luck to you.


thirdworldcraft profile image

thirdworldcraft 3 years ago from Nepal

Nice hub...very informative...:)


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks so much!

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