How to Sell Handmade Crafts
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!
- 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.
- 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.
Product Photography Resources
- Product Photography: How to Tips for Cropping Photos
This article is about how to tips for cropping photos for product photography. It includes before/after photo examples for concepts such as too much space, how to display hanging items, and how to crop for models and mannequins.
- Etsy Listings: Tips for Photos
This hub has a number of tips for Etsy listing photos including poses, angles, backgrounds, size comparison, macro, and more. I have included additional resources as well.
- Backgrounds and Props for Product Photography
This hub is an offshoot of my product photography hub that focuses on backgrounds and props for product photography. I include over 20 different aspects to consider with photo examples for each.
- 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.
- 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.