You've decided to start selling your crafts. Hooray! Now you need to figure out where to sell them and how to build and connect with a group of interested customers.
Selling in person at craft shows and online at Etsy are the first obvious choices (and those options are good for many people). But there are a lot of other possible venues and strategies you can explore.
As you consider each option, think carefully about whether it is right for you. One thing I learned early in building my own business is that just because an opportunity exists, doesn't mean it always makes sense to pursue that opportunity.
Some venues won't appeal to your target audience, others will draw customers with price expectations that don't match with your work (You'll really struggle trying to sell your $100 necklaces at a small church basement sale where people are looking for $10 items!). When determining how to go about selling your items, it helps to have an understanding of your target customer, the nature of the sales venue, and your long term goals for your business.
Many people dive into any opportunity available, selling their work anywhere they can rent a table. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a little trial and error, but keep in mind, the better you match the sales venue to your products, the better success you will likely have.
The first thing you need to do is find shows that you'd like to apply to and attend. You are probably already familiar with a few shows in your area, but there are probably several good shows within a reasonable distance that you are not familiar with. Here's how to find good, reliable directories that list craft shows in your local area.
If you've been to a few shows, even just as a customer, you'll know that one craft show can be vastly different from the next. Some will be a great fit for your products and expectations, others will not. Here's how to assess a show to determine if it is right for you.
Attending a craft show can be a big commitment. You'll need to pay a booth fee, create a great display, and create enough inventory for the show. With all of that invested in a show, you want it to be a big success. Here are a few general craft shows tips to help you prepare and make the most of your next show.
Generally, the better, well attended craft shows are juried. That means you need to go through a process to be accepted into the show.
Want to start selling at juried art shows? Here are some tips to help you make the most of your application to a juried art show.
Submitting great photos of your work is absolutely crucial to being accepted to the better shows. I can't stress this enough!
If you're not convinced, read on to discover why you need to ensure your photos are excellent and how to do it.
Photographing Arts, Crafts, & Collectibles is a fabulous resource for learning to take traditional craft photos in the style often used in the jurying process.
If you're not an accomplished photographer, and you want to take your own photos for applications to shows and online sales, you really need to read this book. Read my review to find out why!
There's so much that goes into creating a great booth - display furniture, lighting, color, flooring, booth layout...
You can really have fun creating your booth. I've written an entire section on the topic with links to multiple articles and hundreds of craft booth photos. You'll find all of it here.
There's also a lot to consider when buying a craft tent, and it can represent a fairly large financial commitment, so you want to make a smart choice. Click the link above to explore a comprehensive guide to choosing the right craft tent for your needs.
Be prepared, and don't forget anything when you go to your next show. Use this check list of items to bring to a show so you don't forget anything important at home!
I truly love selling at home parties. I think this is a very under-rated opportunity for selling crafts, especially when you're first starting out and want to get your feet wet and get to know how people react to your work while keeping costs low.
Don't overlook this option just because it doesn't seem as glamorous as doing the local craft shows. For the right business, there is money to be made at home parties.
Thinking about asking a few friends to host a home party? A home party can really be a fantastic way to get your craft business off the ground, especially when you're selling crafts in person.
Home parties do require the same level of commitment as craft shows (there are no booth fees, no need to buy a tent...) and for that reason, they can be an excellent way to get started.
A home party can take a few different forms, and each has its own pros and cons. You don't have to just stick to selling your finished products; there are other options that might work for you. Here are a few to consider.
Here are 4 different strategies I have used to host home jewelry parties, some worked better than others. I'll share what worked for me, and what didn't work as well.
Check out these tips to help you make the most out of each home party opportunity, and make things easy for your host.
Do you live in a place with a strong tourism industry? Tourism provides an excellent opportunity to sell handmade keepsakes of your area. Here are several strategies for promoting your crafts to tourists.
Opening up your studio to your customers is a low cost, excellent way to sell your art. You customers get an opportunity to learn more about your work and see your process, and you get to sell your work in the comfort of your own studio.
Spring or fall open studio tours can provide good opportunities to meet customers and sell your work at traditionally slower sales times. These tips will help you find a studio tour in your area, work through the application process and make the most of your participation in an art studio tour.
Keep in mind, there are industries outside of the craft industry that may be a good fit for your business. A jewelry designer might do well at a wedding show, or a potter's work could fit at a home and design show. Think beyond the craft industry to find other types of shows that could be a good fit for your work.
Selling at Flea Markets or Farmers' Markets
These venues may provide a profitable and consistent opportunity for selling crafts. Establishing a presence at a farmers' market each week allows potential customers to see your work on an ongoing basis and can help you to build relationships with those customers over time.
Selling at smaller show venues has its pros and cons. Weigh out your needs and expectations to determine if this type of opportunity is a good fit for your business.
My own experience with consignment has been completely positive. Here's what I've learned about selling crafts on a consignment basis.
Wholesale Craft Sales
Securing wholesale customers can be a lucrative option if you are in a position to handle the volume of work. Wholesale prices are typically 50% of retail prices, but because your wholesale customer is buying a larger volume, you don't have the same sales expenses as you would if you were selling directly to retail customers. As long as you have priced your work appropriately, you can still make a profit at these prices because you won't incur the same time and expense involved in retailing items yourself.
It will be important for you to determine your company's wholesale policies. Requiring a minimum purchase amount and a business number from your wholesale customer will ensure that you are not taken advantage of by someone who should really be a retail customer and is asking for wholesale prices. Some artists who sell wholesale list their terms right on their websites. Try checking websites of competitors who make work that is comparable in price and target market to your own work to get a sense of what wholesale terms are typical in your niche. This information will help you to determine your own wholesale policies.
There are so many opportunities for selling crafts online. In fact, if you sell online, you can develop products you may never have thought of.
Because there are so many opportunities, and it's such a big topic, I've dedicated an entire section to selling crafts online. Click through for plenty of information to help you start your online craft business.