Traditionally, if you wanted to buy crafts, then you’d go to a small specialized store or to a market. My grandma used to sell handmade crafts at local farmers markets all the time. That’s still the case some of the time, but nowadays, people often go online instead. I mean, you can find pretty much anything online and that include handmade crafts.
That brings us to the other side of the equation. If you can buy crafts online, can you make money selling crafts online too? Of course you can! In fact, some people have developed some pretty successful businesses doing just that. But how easy is it for someone that's never done it before, and how profitable can the average person actually be?
So, with this post, we’re going look into selling crafts online and how you can be successful at doing so.
Methods For Making Sales
There certainly is a market for crafts online, which does mean money making potential. But first, you have to make sure people know about your crafts and are able to buy them. There are two main ways to do this.
Relying On Other Sites To Host Your Crafts
The first technique is to take advantage of other sites designed for giving people like you a platform to sell. There are a lot of options out there, including many sites that specialize in handmade crafts. The most common example of this is Etsy, although there are many other similar sites out there as well.
These sites are powerful because they are specifically designed to sell crafts online. As such, they have good systems and processes in place to protect buyers and sellers. The process of creating a shop and actually making sales also tends to be pretty simple and you don’t have to worry about coding, plugins or anything like that.
By selling on this type of site you’re also targeting an audience that is already interested in crafts. After all, that’s the whole reason Etsy exists. So, you’re marketing to an audience that is already looking to buy and is interested in crafts. That’s a great thing for sales.
Related Post: Can You Really Make Money on Etsy?
Alternatively, you can also sell crafts on eBay, Amazon or similar sites. The biggest advantage of doing this is the potential audience. These sites tend to have a huge amount of traffic, which can mean many more eyes on your products. Of course, you’re also facing a lot more competition. A
The other problem is that your audience isn’t specifically looking for crafts. In fact, most people are probably looking for branded items on eBay and Amazon. So, your potential for sales could end up being considerably lower. Amazon recently launched Amazon Handmade, but this site has yet to be proven popular, which means you'll be venturing into uncharted territory here!
Selling On Your Own Site
Using sites like Etsy or even Amazon does mean less work. In particular, they already have an infrastructure in place and are often getting significant traffic. So, you don’t have to worry about managing shopping carts and payment systems.
However, others sites do tend to limit your flexibility and freedom. This results in fewer ways to promote your products and means that you are subject to a range of restrictions based on the terms and conditions of the site. Additionally, your profit margins may be lower, as you have to pay fees to be on the site.
The alternative is to sell crafts on your own website.
Doing so does give you much more control. For example, you get to design the way that your site looks and how various products are highlighted. Even if you aren't great at design, simple designs work best. People want good information and good products, not a fancy website. You could also pay $500 to $1000 for a professional designer, but I think knowing how to manage your own site will save you time and hassle over the longrun.
At the same time, you have much more power to market the site. This includes using SEO techniques to drive traffic and sales. Etsy is big, but Google is bigger. Imagine ranking on Page 1 for a term like “buy custom etched glassware online” and how many sales that could garner your custom glass businesses. Considering you can publish an infinite amount of articles on your site, that's an infinite amount of potential customers at your fingertips.
Plus, you can develop your own brand via social media and keep 100% of the traffic you get. Sending your Instagram traffic to Etsy runs the risk of them getting distracted and buying someone else's stuff!
But, selling products on a new website can be tough to start out. It can be difficult learning how to build a site, grow a brand, manage payments, inventory, returns, customer service, and whatever else all by yourself. I think it's the best strategy, but it's not for someone who tends to give up easily.
Some people get around this issue by using both techniques we discussed (other websites as well as your own). So, they may have an Etsy store and also sell the same products on their own site. Doing so requires more management but lets you take advantage of both systems. This practice can even make it easier for you to develop a reputation, which goes a long way towards supporting sales.
Strategies For Being Successful Selling Your Crafts
Regardless of the method you use to sell your products, creating a successful business comes with its own degree of stress and complexity. In particular, there are a number of individual challenges that you need to consider and overcome.
Making Products And Maximizing Your Potential
For one thing, you do have to actually make something! Now, this mightn’t be an issue, especially not at first. After all, if you’re interested in selling crafts online then you probably enjoy making them. You might even have chosen to sell online simply because you were making the items anyway.
It truly is great if you enjoy the process. But, that doesn’t mean you will keep enjoying it.
Realistically, it can be fun to create something on your own schedule based on what you enjoy. However, keeping up with demand can make the process much more stressful and can place considerable pressure on you.
At the same time, you will probably find that some products sell better than others. If this happens, you may end up having to make the same types of items over and over again. It’s easy to see how that would get repetitive fast and a bit draining.
Having to make the products also makes it pretty hard to scale up your profit. In many cases, people who create crafts and sell them online don’t have a very large profit margin to begin with, especially when you take the cost of materials into account.
The main way to increase your income would be to increase your sales. However, doing so would involve more work, as there are more products to create.
This means that there will always be a cap on your potential for success. The only real way around that would be to outsource your workload. But, you’d first have to find somebody who could make the same items up to your standard. Now that you're paying an employee, the cost of the item will need to increase in order to pay them as well as yourself.
Depending on your goals for your crafts and your company, you may want to take this type of growth into account. If you don't plan to scale up, you can just take on whatever work comes to you and notify clients of longer wait times if demand increases.
Fighting Off The Competition
Competition tends to be fierce with any type of business and handmade crafts are no exception. The one advantage that you have is that your products are probably unique or unusual in some way. If nothing else, it’s likely that you’re the only one creating the exact item that you’re selling.
However, there are still a lot of different crafts on the market. Some of them will be directly competing with you, while others may even be extremely similar to what you’re creating.
For that matter, even creating something truly unique is no guarantee of success. If you did actually achieve this and get decent sales, you'll eventually find find that people start mimicking what you make. They’d also probably sell their versions at a lower price. Even just $1 difference could undercut your sales.
That issue, combined with the sheer number of crafted products sold online can make it fairly hard to get noticed. But, there are some things that you can do to help yourself out.
If you haven't got a craft in mind yet, one technique is to do some research and target product categories that aren’t already excessively full with products. For example, there are more than 6.5 million items of jewelry on Etsy alone. This includes more than 1 million different sets of earrings and more than 2 million necklaces.
In contrast, there less than 200,000 handbags on Etsy and that includes every subcategory.
That competition gets even smaller if you just look for a specific type of bag, like a crossbody bag. So, narrowing down your product type can help.
Likewise, you can look at a specific theme or style. For example, superhero movies are popular right now. There is already a lot of merchandise surrounding them in stores but people are often looking for something a little different. So, if you look for superhero bags, you’ll find that the selection gets narrower still.
Targeting a narrow audience like this can work well, especially if you pick an audience that is passionate about a given topic.
Market Yourself Effectively
Whether you are selling on your own website or on a site like Etsy, marketing is absolutely critical. Now, if you have your own site, you can take advantage of SEO techniques, while your options are more limited with sites like Etsy. Even if you don't sell your own crafts on your site, you could still use that web presence to drive traffic to your Etsy store. You can use the same techniques with social media, including Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook (including Facebook ads), and Snapchat.
There are tons of strategies for social media. One obvious one is to follow relevant businesses and people in your industry/niche and comment on their statuses. With enough followers, you can eventually do cross promotions and features with relevant peers.
Competitions where you give away free products work as well and can generate buzz. This can be a good way to get interest and you may attract new customers along the way.
I won't cover all the tactics here, but watch how the big players in your space market their products and you can glean some ideas from them!
Another Way Of Making Money From Your Hobby
Many people do manage to create a successful business selling their crafts online. Income ranges obviously, with most people fitting into the “pocket change” category, and a few wildly successful stories do turn into full time businesses. These types of businesses are not built overnight, and they often have a wide range of products offered.
However, if you like making crafts and aren't ready to turn your home into a full time craft factory, then there are other ways to use that passion to make money. A blog is a great way to get started. It's cheap, it's quick to get started, and you can do it from home at your computer.
By doing this, you still have the chance to make your crafts but you’re doing so on your own terms. For example, you could build a site where you teach people how to make their own cards, jewelry, costumes, leather goods, woodcarvings, ceramic cups, candles, or whatever craft you're good at.
With that type of site, you might include step-by-step instructions, along with photographs or even videos of what you’re doing. It’s easy to see how this could be popular because there are so many people that love making crafts. In fact, many people would rather make crafts themselves then buy them. You can teach stay at home moms, DIY dads, or curious kids. Pick your audience, pick a craft category, and start teaching!
The best way to make money with this type of site is via affiliate marketing and display ads. Display ads are like Google, Bing, and Amazon ads you place on your website. Those are easy to do with just copy/pasting a little code onto your website.
Affiliate marketing is a little different, and you can recommend specific products to make money. With this technique, you’re promoting products using special links. For example, if you're teaching people how to make cakes, you can promote a stand mixer. If you're showing how to make essential oils, you can recommend distilling equipment. Scrapbooking is a million dollar industry, and you can get in on the action by linking to your favorite scrapbooking supply stores then earn a commission from sales.
The potential here is huge, because you don’t have to take time to make the things you promote. Sure, you have to make the craft, but just one or two times for a video or photos. You don't actually have to create your own stand mixer or distilling equipment!
Plus, your tutorial lasts forever. YouTube videos and web pages don't just disappear, so if you make it once, it can get you traffic and sales for many years. Because you don't hold or ship any inventory, that means you don't have to worry about keeping up with demand on your end. That's the job of the vendor you link to!
As such, it’s much easier to scale up your income without dramatically increasing the work. Publish one tutorial per week and at the end of the year you have over 50 income-generating tutorials online.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of affiliate marketing is just getting started. The concepts can seem a little overwhelming, especially if you have never built a website before. You are probably wondering how to find companies to work with, and what products would be good to promote. How do you grow traffic to your website and what do you do if you get stuck?