4 Tips for Starting a Craft Business

Whether you’re a carpenter, a painter, or a jeweler, being able to make a living by selling your work is the dream. The creative industries have thousands of years of history. So why does the prospect of making a living through your craft seem unrealistic, even intimidating?

It’s fair to say that in terms of practical trades, such as carpentry or clothing manufacture, the big players have left very little room for newcomers. A small operation can’t compete with the low-cost, mass-produced offerings that dominate the marketplace.

The key to changing this was to relocate the marketplace somewhere that the big names can’t crowd out of the consumer’s attention. The arrival of platforms, such as Etsy, where sellers can cheaply market their products to a vast audience, changed the game for small craft businesses. With Etsy’s addressable market alone estimated in 2019 to stand at $100bn, it’s clear that the way people shop is changing.

Of course, the ideal situation is to sell from your website and circumvent mediators entirely. First, though, you need to get your name out there.

If you’re thinking of starting a business selling your crafts, here are a few pointers to get you started.

1) Outfitting Your Shop

If you’re setting up a shop, that’s going to mean producing much more than you have been. If you occasionally put together a jewelry piece for a friend’s birthday, that’s one thing. Making for a business means that you need to get hold of adequate production tools and consider factors such as safety.

For example, if you’re a woodworker and plan to start selling furniture, that’s going to mean a lot of time with a saw. You’ll need equipment like a professional-level workbench and agricultural dust masks to prevent you from inhaling sawdust.

Your business won’t last long if you experience an industrial accident in the first few weeks. Safety gear and quality equipment are essential to running a smooth operation.

2) Sourcing Materials

Put together a spreadsheet that outlines all the materials you need, their cost, and how much you plan to use them. It will help you understand your production costs, which is essential when determining a fair selling price.

Finding materials can be a tricky business, as well. It’s worth doing a few searches on Google Maps for supply shops in your area before ordering wholesale online.

Local businesses may well offer better quality and a more ethical sourcing process. Plus, it gives you a great selling point when building relationships with your customers.

3) Choosing Your Platform Wisely

Consider the following:

  • How much does a platform charge me?
  • Who is my competition on this platform?
  • What is the reach of this platform?
  • How well can my brand’s voice gain an audience on this platform?

Craft fairs seem an obvious place to start, but consider that they often have high costs for a stall and a relatively small customer base. Equally, selling on Amazon has high prices, and you’re facing huge competitors.

Find somewhere to make your voice heard, and you can afford to make a small start.

4) Listening to Your Customers, Finding a Balance

A good relationship with your customer base is mandatory for a small craft business. They want to know that they’re buying from someone who loves what they do and values their business — and listens.

You’ll learn by selling your crafts that there needs to be a balance between your regular offerings and your commissions. Commissions make for delighted customers and motivate the best brand ambassadors. However, they can also be awkward and require extra labor hours and ordering.

Make a limit for how much commission work you can accept — offer future ‘slots’ when you can take an order. Your regular products are the ones you can produce quickly and cheaply, so you need to keep them at the forefront.

Be Patient, Reap the Rewards

It can take time to start making money by selling your crafts. Don’t give up, though: with patience, commitment, and a strong brand voice; you’ll be surprised by what you can achieve.


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