There's more to building a creative business than simply selling at art shows. Here are 19 craft business ideas to get you inspired about alternative ways to grow your company.
First off, I want to clarify that I'm not going to write out a long, boring list of all of the different types of crafts you could create or the different materials you could work with.
I think most people know whether they are potters, or jewelry designers, or woodworkers before they get to the business building stage. Normally the craft skill comes first, then the business follows. You might decide to refine your skills, or work with a slightly different material, or use new techniques, but, for the most part, serious artisans know what skills they bring to the craft table.
Instead, I'm going to show you 19 different ways you can build a business around your particular creative skill. I think that's much more interesting. I hope you agree!
I'm going to start with some of the more standard ways to sell crafts, but stay with me, the list of craft business ideas gets more interesting as you get farther into it.
Selling hard goods refers to selling your actual handmade product, so, for example, if you make doll's clothing, you'd sell doll's dresses, shirts, pants, etc. Here are several ways you can build a business selling handmade hard goods:
This business model can be difficult to sustain unless you get creative (i.e. once all of your friends have hosted a party, you may have difficulty booking more parties). However, it can be an excellent, low cost, low risk way to get your business started.
Alternatively, if you're willing to put the work into learning how to build traffic to your own site, and, therefore having more control of your business than you do with a third party site, you could sell your crafts on your own website.There are several free options people use for building a website. I can't comment on the effectiveness of any of them because I haven't used them. I use a company called SBI for building my own site. Although it's not free (the cost is $300 per year), they provide a massive amount of helpful information about how to bring traffic to your site which isn't available anywhere else.
So, the free sites will allow you to build a website, but SBI will show you how to build a business online.
For example, if you are a jewelry maker, instead of selling finished jewelry, you might consider selling your handmade beads for other designers to include in their own creations, or you could sell silicone molds you make using your own original designs for other crafters to use in their own projects.
A friend of mine, who makes very cute handmade children's capes, recently launched her business on Facebook. She simply took a few great photos, created a Facebook business page, and invited her friends to follow her.
Shortly after she launched her page, we were talking about other ways to promote her business, and she said she's already so busy with orders through her Facebook page, that she can't look at other promotional options right now because she can barely keep up with the demand from her Facebook page.
I'm not talking about someone who is a social media maven with hunders of followers. This is a person with about 200 Facebook friends, who is simply posting cute pictures of her capes, and her kids wearing the capes, and she's extremely busy with orders.
If you're selling your own hard goods, you'll also need to give some thought into how you'll produce those items.
The big drawback for some (not all) people is that you have to create the same pieces over, and over. Some people love this way of working; for others it feels like drudgery.
Egoods are any type of digital item you can sell. If you think creatively, you might be surprised by the many ways you can take your knowledge and skill around creating a specific type of craft and turn it into a digital product.
A business like this requires real commitment because you'll need to produce exceptional, original material on a regular basis to keep your customers happy, but this business model can be quite financially rewarding.
You can take the concept of selling projects a step further and sell your knowledge about how to do a specific type of craft or work with a specific type of material.
If you're a photographer, then consider a business photographing clients. If you're a scrapbooker (paper or digital), consider a service business creating beautiful memory books for families who have lots of pictures and no time to organize and assemble them creatively.
If you make lovely handmade cat and dog beds, then you belong in the pet lovers' niche. If you make custom bridal jewelry, then you belong in the weddings niche.
The "handmade" niche will take you to some of the more obvious places (craft shows, Etsy, etc.), but if you can find a niche based on the type of people who are passionate about something your product serves, then you can find more opportunities to build your business (go where businesses in your niche go), and you can find customers who are passionate about what you do and who want your product, not only because it is handmade and beautiful, but also because it fits with a part of their self-identity.
Of course, not all 19 of these craft business ideas will work for all crafters. Whether each suggestion is a good fit will depend on the type of media you work with, as well as your resources, work preferences, skills and business and personal goals.
Don't run out and try all 19 of these business models! I'm sure I don't have to tell you that but, well, I thought I'd mention it just in case anyone was thinking of working their way from #1 to #19. Instead, if you're trying to determine the best direction for your company, take some time to think through each of the options, particularly ones you've never considered, and find one or two that make a lot of sense to you and will help you to create the type of business you really want.
What is really important if you are a potter or a metalsmith? Are there special things to consider when you start a handmade soap business? Have you taken an interesting direction with your business?
Do you have insight into running a specific type of craft business? Share them here.
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