Where to Sell Handmade Crafts
By Joshua Neil
Looking to make some extra money? There are dozens of ways to do it: buying and selling things on eBay, busking for tips, working a second job for just flogging items online: but, at the end of the day, these are temporary solutions to cash-flow problems, ones which can take up too much time for not enough result, and at the end of the day can be tiring, dead-end, and creatively lacking. For anyone looking for something more ambitious, personal, and with the scope to expand hugely, homemade products and services can definitely be the way to go.
#1 Starting Your Handmade Craft Business
Starting up your own business can be a daunting prospect: it can’t be denied that there will be some costs involved, as well as a huge amount of energy put into building up your business, securing customers and ensuring that your passion gets off the ground. We spoke to Emma Lewis, owner of Wall Word Designs, about her business selling vinyl lettering decoration. As it turns out, if you have the passion for a project, the costs don’t matter that much: “A friend gave me a vinyl lettering design as a gift and when I asked where it was from she said she made it! I loved the product and while there were loads of websites selling in America, there was nothing in the U.K- a total gap in the market, so I decided to set up Wall Word Designs”.
Finding craft ideas you love or identifying a gap in the market is the first step- while at first you might have to work around other commitments and ventures to support yourself, having a passion for your project will keep you going and push you to work at it until you’re ready for the next step. As Emma says, “I run this business alongside a 4-day week job in London. My ‘real job’ is fairly bland and while the money is good, it doesn’t use or satisfy my entire skill set and experience. This little business expands my personal development, allows me to be creative, be my own boss and brings in some extra cash. I don’t have a massive game plan, but it’s something I’m very proud of and I’m hopeful one day, it will lead to something bigger, when the time is right”.
#2 Where to Sell Your Crafts Online
Once you’ve found the project for you, found a way to make it and have handmade crafts ready, the next step is to find a place to sell them. The best immediate answer is online- cutting the costs of a physical location, such as transport, rental fees for a space or having to stand in the cold flogging your goods, selling online can be a great way to make quick, easy money, while getting your product and company name out there. While eBay is the obvious option, you’ll be competing among millions of others with the same or similar ideas, fighting to be noticed while having to reduce prices to match competitors, or experience fewer customers through being lost in the crowd.
Selling on Etsy
For those looking to make a name for themselves somewhere they’ll be noticed, eBay itself has some competitors you might want to look into: Etsy UK, an online market for anything homemade or retro- and nothing else- is a fantastic place for those looking to sell handmade items. With 12.3 million listings to eBay’s hundreds of millions, it’s a lot easier to get your products seen by a better, more relevant audience, and begin creating a company and a brand that can be recognised, supported and can attract a fanbase of dedicated buyers. Etsy does charge 20 cents per uploaded item, with a 3.5% commission after sale, but unless you’re selling super cheap stuff this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Selling on DaWanda
Other alternatives for selling handmade goods are DaWanda– while the site has only an eighth of the sellers of Etsy, and a slightly higher closing fee on sold items, it is geared much more towards European bidders, which might be a plus for those looking to expand their business across the continent.
Selling on Bonanza
Bonanza, catering to higher-end clothing and fashion, has about a third of the listings of Etsy, but no uploading fee. If you sign up, Bonanza will also add metadata to your listings for you, such as colour, brand and material information– perfect for those wanting to build their brand while minimising time spent.
#3 Other Ways to Sell Your Goods
Contact online retailers
For those looking to take their business a step further, it’s good to think outside the box, and make contacts already in the industry– making yourself seen along already-recognisable brands can have a fantastic impact on your business. Emma started Wall Word Designs online, with some ingenious marketing: “I used to build websites for a living so that was easy- I designed the products, setup a sales and manufacture process, built the website and developed some marketing materials. I then contacted other online retailers (selling wall coverings, children’s bedroom accessories, for example) and gained some accounts to sell through their websites. This took advantage of their existing traffic and I paid a percentage of every sale to the retailer”.
Other Ways to Sell Online
Beyond Etsy and other online auctions, you can market your brand on online directories (such as The Crafts Council Directory), which will come as part of a membership and direct users to your website or products) or through actual online shops (such as Notonthehighstreet.com). With all collaborations, you’ve got to make sure you do your research- how popular are they, and how much will this benefit you? How much will they charge you to work with them? How much commission will they take? What parts of the business will they handle, and what will be left up to you? Make sure you know the specifics before going into any sort of partnership.
Selling at Craft Fairs and Exhibitions
Finally, exhibitions are a great way to expand offline- being able to target and talk to customers who are there specifically to find your handmade crafts can be a fantastic, if not the best way to gain repeat custom. The Hampton Court Palace Handmade Fair is a yearly event, which while pretty expensive, can be ideal for showcasing your goods to a huge range of customers interested in your business- see their website for more details. If you’re looking for something a little more specific to your craft- or a little cheaper- a quick Google search can bring up dozens of fairs suited perfectly for you.
#4 Selling Services Online
Don’t have a specific product in mind? Aren’t good at crafts or making things? That’s not necessarily a show-stopper- for those with other talents than making handmade products, there are still ways to make good money online. Sites like Fiverr, Elance and People per Hour will let you advertise your services– whatever they are- online for strangers to find. Whether you’re a great accountant, writer or comedian, you can make a name for yourself online doing what you do best. A fantastic site for making a little bit of money, it might be difficult to make a career from it.
For those looking to dedicate themselves more to offering their services, sites such as tutor.com allow you to tutor others in your skills. Average pay is about £10 an hour, though some of the sites have a lengthy waiting list for tutors to be hired. Dedication is required, but for those that have a passion for teaching, this can be a rewarding job, giving you experience and fulfilment while doing something you love.
#5 Other Tips for Selling Crafts
Service, Service Service!
There are a couple of other tips to help prospective sellers get ahead of the crowd: First and foremost- as in any job in the world- service is the key. While there will always be new businesses muscling into your market and undercutting you in ways you can’t afford to match, nothing beats service, dedication, and customer care. Emma gives this advice: “Service! Service! Service! Over the last 5 years I have seen many repeat customers. I receive excellent feedback about the product, but above all else it is the service that they seem to be most impressed with. I respond promptly and efficiently to every customer, listening to their design requirements ‘to the letter’- and remember this is all done over email. Customers can now get vinyl lettering designs from many UK outlets, so my service is my key differentiator”.
Finally, passion may well be the most important part of a business, but alone it won’t keep that business afloat. “Ultimately a business goal is to make money. Pricing structure is vital – in terms of accounting for time/materials used to make the product, but also pricing yourself correctly for the market. When Wall Word Designs started, I had no competition and could pretty much set the market rate for my products. In the last 2-3 years, I have seen competition increase and in many cases undercut my prices. I took the decision to restructure our offering and reduce the price point, while retaining careful consideration of costs (so I still make money!). WWD isn’t the cheapest option, but the standards of quality and customer care account for that.”
How to Sell Online
Remember that when advertising your products online, you need to act as you would any other sale: ensure all necessary information is available, and have clear, enticing pictures to attract customers. Make sure all return and refund policies are clear, and know the rules for the site- that way, you’ll never experience any unwanted surprises. Do some keyword research (Google Adwords is ideal for this) and ensure when people look for handmade crafts like yours, yours is the first name they’ll find.
With the right craft ideas, you can turn a dream and a passion into a successful business, and a product you can be proud of. Making your own business will take effort, dedication, and creativity: while it’s certainly not for everyone, those who do put everything they have into it can see their ideas blossom into a successful business. With these tips and insights, all it takes is the first step.
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You may also want to have a look at our article about how to make money by buying lost baggage.