Handmade crafts are big business, especially during tough economic times. The demand for hand-crafted goods, such as pottery, jewellery, soap, clothing, soft furnishings, birthday cards and other items, has surged in recent years. This presents a whole new world of business opportunities for artistic entrepreneurs, stay-at-home parents and anyone else with a passion for crafts. With an ever-growing choice of online marketplaces enabling individuals to sell their handmade items, there has never been a better time to start your own handmade crafts business.
Why start a handmade crafts business?
Aside from the increasing popularity of handmade goods, running your own crafts business offers a flexible way to earn money by doing something you enjoy. For stay-at-home parents, full-time carers, those living with disabilities and other people with restrictive lifestyles, it can be almost impossible to hold down a regular job. Running your own crafts business enables you to plan your work around your other commitments and health problems.
Making and selling handmade craft items is also a skills-based occupation, rather than one based on qualifications and experience. This makes it ideal for those who struggle to find a job due to lack of formal qualifications or appropriate experience. All of the skills needed for starting your own crafts business can be self-taught or gained by attending low-cost craft workshops.
Choosing your craft
If you don’t already know which craft you intend to pursue, take some time to try a few different things. Browse through the craft section at your local library, search the Internet for craft projects or try a few taster courses at a craft workshop to see what captures your interest. While it’s important to choose something that you enjoy, it’s also important to choose a craft or skill that you can use to make a saleable product.
Knowing your craft
Learn as much as possible about your chosen craft and become an expert in all things related to your business. This knowledge will prove essential in the future, especially when you are dealing with customers who want answers to their questions. Knowing your craft is also important for helping you to network with other crafters.
Developing your skills
Unless you are already well-practiced in your chosen craft, you will need to spend time developing and practicing your skills. If you have chosen to learn a new craft, it can be frustrating in the early stages, as your skills will almost certainly fall below the standards you have set for yourself. Be patient and try to remember that everyone has to start somewhere. Learning the basics and making mistakes is all part of the learning process.
Researching the market
Researching the market thoroughly is essential for the success of your venture, as it helps you to gain valuable information about potential customers, the competition and your place within the market. Find out what products are already available, look for gaps in the market and get an idea of where your business and products would fit best.
Finding your niche
Choosing a niche enables you to target a specific market, rather than aiming to break into an over-saturated general marketplace. For example, if you wanted to start a business selling handmade skirts, you could choose to make them in a specific style. Alternatively, you could choose to make skirts for a specific market, such as the plus-size market.
Defining your unique selling point
In order to stand out from the crowd, your business and products need to have their own USP (unique selling point). This could be related to your niche, the type of product you sell or the way in which it is made. It could also be related to your own personal circumstances or interests. For example, many people seek out art and crafts made by people living with disabilities. If you feel comfortable sharing personal information with the world, your own life story could be a powerful USP.
Initial set-up costs for a small crafts business are usually low, unless you require expensive tools and machinery to make your products. If you have little money to pay for materials and equipment, you can usually find second hand equipment for a reasonable price. Depending on the type of crafts you are making, you may also be able to find cut-price raw materials at charity shops, thrift stores and online.
Finding the right marketplace
There are hundreds of different places that allow you to sell your handmade crafts. Websites like Etsy, Folksy and Misi allow you to showcase and sell your items on a global platform. If you prefer to sell your products locally, you can ask local shops to sell your items for you, set up your own craft stall at a local market or ask your local church or library for a list of local craft events.
Researching the marketplace
Whether you choose to sell your products locally or online, you will need to gain a good understanding of your chosen marketplace. There are lots of resources for those wanting to sell online, with each marketplace containing extensive instructions, guides and advice. There are also plenty of resources available online for those who want to learn how to sell their goods locally. Forums are full of people who have already started their crafts business, and most will be more than willing to lend a helping hand.
Pricing your products
Setting the right price for your products is important, and will depend on a number of factors. Before deciding on a price, you need to work out how much it has cost you to make the product. Aside from the raw materials used, you will need to add the price of any related costs, such as telephone bills for talking to suppliers, delivery charges for the supply of goods, the cost of electricity used in the production of your item and so on. You will also need to factor in the cost of your time, including the time it took you to make the product, buy the raw materials and prepare your goods for sale. Additionally, you will need to take into account any selling fees that you may incur, such as the cut taken by your online selling platform or the cost of a market stall. The amount you charge for your handmade products will also depend on the marketplace that you have chosen. Researching the cost of other similar items for sale on your chosen marketplace can help you to find the right price.
Building a brand
Building a brand is the best way to ensure returning trade and word of mouth publicity. Having an Internet presence, such as a website and social media accounts, helps to foster relationships with customers and potential customers. At the very least, you need a website where you can showcase your products and explain a bit about who you are.
Taking care of business
All profits from your handmade crafts will be classed as earnings. Make sure that you keep accurate business records of all income and outgoings, as you may be asked for these at a later date. If your business becomes successful, you will need to register with the relevant authorities, so it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with any relevant laws and tax rules.