If you love to create— sew, paint, glue, knit— and are looking for some extra income, it’s natural to begin thinking about how to start a crafting business.
Sounds simple enough, right? You create things and then sell the things you create.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Especially if you’re looking to make legitimate income from this crafting business.
Thankfully, we’ve got a whole lot of tips to help get you started from the very beginning. By the time you’re done reading this post, you’ll have a great idea of how to start a crafting business of your very own.
Read on to learn more!
Do the Research
Before you can get started on your crafting business, there’s a good bit of research you need to do. If you’ve got a creative mind, research may sound like it will suck your soul dry, but trust us. This step is a critical part of starting a crafting business!
What’s Your Niche?
If you create, you’re an artist. Artists rarely enjoy being put in a box. A niche can feel like a box. So do you really have to do this step?
Don’t think of a niche as a box to cramp your creativity. Instead, they are parameters to create within that will make you more successful.
Finding your niche is going to help you stand out. The more niche you can get your crafting business, the quicker you’ll make sales because the people finding you will know exactly what they’re looking for.
For example, if you search “bridal veil” on Etsy, there are over 66,00 results. If you search “elegant bridal veil,” the results go down to just 6,000.
Take it a step further by searching “elegant bridal veil with lace details,” and there are less than 1,000 results.
What’s Already out There?
How do you find your niche?
Start by brain-dumping everything you enjoy creating. Make it as specific as possible. Don’t write “burp cloths.” Instead, write something like “cursive monogrammed burp cloths.”
Keep writing until your creative well has run dry.
Then group similar ideas together and start doing some market research. What’s already out there? What markets are saturated? What keywords come up with tens of thousands of results?
You don’t want to add to the noise; you want to stand out!
When you find a group that looks like the market is there but isn’t saturated, start narrowing that down to a small set of related items to get started.
What Financial Investment Will be Needed?
At this step of starting a crafting business, make sure you’re including everything you’ll need to spend money on. Here are some things to think about:
- craft supplies
- subscription services (Canva/Adobe/etc)
- furthering education
- shipping supplies
- website fees
Once you find the ballpark number, it’s time to get the money together.
If you don’t have it already available, you could go get a business loan or credit card. Crowdfunding is also an option since you will have some sort of product to share with supporters once it’s fully funded.
Clarify Your Brand
Now that you know what you’re planning on selling, the next step is to clarify your brand.
What’s Your Business Name?
There’s power in a good name. That’s especially true when starting a crafting business.
It will set you apart from the crowd, tell potential customers what you’re about, and act as a solid foundation for the rest of your business.
When you’re learning how to start a crafting business, it’s imperative your business name clearly states what you sell.
However, make sure it’s not too specific or too broad.
Let’s say you’re going to start selling painted journals.
An example of a name that’s too specific would be “Sally’s Painted Journals.” What if you get a couple of years down the road and you decide to branch out to a new craft?
Potential customers may get confused when they visit the “Sally’s Painted Journals” page and find painted Christmas ornaments.
Odds are good you won’t stick to the first craft you make for the rest of your career. Leave yourself space to grow and change.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a business that sells painted journals named “Sally’s Designs” is far too broad. What is Sally designing?
A proper name could be something like “Sally’s Painted Creations.” It’s clear enough to get across what’s being sold but not specific enough to prohibit growth.
After you’ve figured out what you’d like to name your crafting business, put it into search engines to make sure there’s not already another business with the same name.
Say you’ve settled on “Sally’s Painted Creations,” and you discover another one on a site like Etsy. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to start from scratch.
You could simply make it “Sally’s Painted Creations Co.” or add a last initial like “Sally M.’s Painted Creations.”
How Will Your Brand Look and Feel?
A good business brand will make you feel something. Colors, fonts, taglines, and logos are all important to think through when learning how to start a crafting business.
Think about a brand like Apple. Everything they do evokes a feeling of crisp, clean, and simple because of their sleek designs and simple color palette of mostly black, white, and silver.
Brainstorm the adjectives you want used to describe your fledgling crafting business. Words to consider would be:
Once you’ve decided on some adjectives, research how you can evoke those feelings in potential customers.
Who is Your Target Market?
When thinking about how to start a crafting business, it’s important to know who you’re starting it for!
Creating for everyone is really like creating for no one.
The more narrowed down you can get your target market; the easier it will be for them to find you.
Write down everything about your “perfect customer.”
- How old are they?
- Are they married?
- Do they have kids?
- What do they do for fun?
- What’s their job?
- How much money do they make a year?
- What’s their biggest pain point in life?
- Where do they live?
- What’s their stage of life?
After you’ve got the characteristics of your “perfect customer” nailed down, it’ll be much easier to design your brand and offerings based on them. This way, they’re more likely to be attracted to your business naturally.
Make a Plan
You know what you’re selling, and you’ve got your branding down. Now… how will you actually get your crafts into the hands of your customers?
What Will You Charge?
If you don’t read anything else in this entire article, please read this section!
Too many times, artists just starting a crafting business focus on making their items “affordable” so they’ll sell easier. It’s a good idea in theory, but probably means you’re not making what you deserve to make as a creator.
When pricing your items, there are several things to take into consideration:
- Cost of craft material
- Your hourly rate
- Packaging materials
- Overhead— Things your business needs to run, like advertising, photography, website fees, etc.
- Markup— You need space to offer sales/discounts while still making the money you need to make.
There are many different theories as to the most effective way to price your items. It’s going to vary based on what you’re selling.
The bottom line is there’s a fine line between pricing to sell and pricing to keep your business sustainable. Learning to walk the line is imperative when figuring out how to start a crafting business.
Where Will You Sell?
Choosing where you’ll sell your goods is a big deal when deciding how to start a crafting business.
In-Person Craft Sales
Selling your items in person is an excellent choice if you’re starting a crafting business with a lot of pre-made items. You can spend a chunk of time creating items and then take them all to something like a flea market or Christmas village event.
Pinterest is full of ideas on how to set up your space. Remember, customers need to be attracted to your display before they’re going to take a look at your wares.
Here are a few quick tips:
Make sure your items are clearly priced. If left unpriced, you’re likely to lose customers because they don’t want to ask how much something costs.
Stay standing as much as possible. It makes people feel like you want to be there and you’re more approachable.
Have business cards readily available. People may not need what you’re offering right that moment, but if they know where to find you, they can purchase at a later time.
When you think of selling crafts online, you probably think of Etsy. Since 2005, they’ve been the leader in online creative sales.
The biggest pro for Etsy is that the customers are already there. When people are looking for something handmade, they’re going to shop there first.
The interface is easy to use for both the shop owner and the customer, and setting up a shop is pretty straightforward.
Etsy also makes it easy to reach out to customers with automated and personalized emails they’ll send out on your behalf if someone favorites an item or puts it in their cart but doesn’t purchase it.
The biggest con to Etsy is the fees. The fees are always changing, but at the time of writing, Etsy takes 6.5% right off the top of every sale you make. It also costs $0.20 for each item you list in your shop.
You’ve done your research, you’ve clarified your brand, you’ve made your plan, and now it’s time for the next step in learning how to start a crafting business. Start selling!
How Will You Market Your Shop?
Just starting a crafting business isn’t enough. You won’t sell anything if people don’t know you exist! A solid marketing plan is crucial to the success of your business.
How you choose to market is going to depend on the amount of money you can budget to go towards it.
If money is tight, there are plenty of ways to start a crafting business that won’t break the bank. Social media is a great way to begin getting your shop’s name out there.
Create a page on Facebook or an account on Instagram where you’ll list your items for sale or link to your Etsy shop, invite your friends and family to follow it, and get started that way.
You can also list items for sale in local marketplace apps like VarageSale or Facebook marketplace.
If you’ve got some money to put behind marketing and you’re selling online, sites like Etsy make it incredibly easy to market. Simply fill out their form, put in your info, and your items will be pushed to the top of people’s search results.
If you want to sell in-person, too, get space at craft fairs, school fundraisers, and places like a Christmas Village. The more people see you out and about, the more your shop’s name will come to mind when they’re thinking about shopping for what you sell.
How Can You Make Your Customer Experience Special?
Making a customer’s experience special is a facet of starting a crafting business that can be easily overlooked. Simple extra touches can make repeat customers!
Think about your final presentation. If shipping, what’s going inside the box? What can you add that will cement your brand in their mind?
Toss in a 3×5 branded thank you card with a handwritten note. Design some stickers with your logo and include them in every purchase.
If you’re selling in person, how are you giving them their purchase? Do you have a branded bag? Maybe you offer gift wrapping?
What’s going to make you stand out from the competition?
Sure, these things cost a little extra, but if they make someone a repeat customer, they more than pay for themselves.
Where Will You Track Your Finances?
Last but not least, we’ve got to quickly talk about finances.
It’s critical that as you’re starting a crafting business, you set up good financial habits from the beginning. You need to keep track of your receipts, what you spend on your business, and how much money you make.
If you’re good with spreadsheets, toss it in a Google Doc file. You can take pictures and upload receipts to Expensify. If you want to really get into it, use a program like QuickBooks Online to keep everything on track.
Take the steps from the beginning, and you’ll be able to walk into tax season with peace of mind.
Wrapping Up How to Start a Crafting Business
Starting a crafting business doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it may feel. Take these steps one by one and get out there and start crafting!
Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t blow up right away. Keep tweaking, keep learning how to start a crafting business, and keep creating what you love. The right customer is out there, and when you meet each other, that’s where the magic happens!
Check out our Crafting Page for some more inspiration!