You can start selling crafts online in a huge number of ways. You don't even need to sell finished, physical handmade products to build an online business based on your craft skills.
There's a good chance you're coming into this idea of creating an online business with a creative concept already in mind.
Be warned: You should be very careful with your early assumptions.
Your initial concept may seem compelling, but you need to do your research before diving into this project. Take the time to explore a few different ideas, so you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your online business idea and can choose a concept that has a good chance for success.
Really, you can start selling crafts online at any time of year. I thought July was a good month to explore this option because, if you decided to launch a handmade business around this time of year, you probably quickly discovered you've missed craft show application deadlines.
If it will be a while before you can sell at shows, you'll need to know where to sell crafts beyond art shows. Building an online business can be a good alternative to get your business off the ground.
Here's what we're going to look at, so you can build a smart action plan to start selling crafts online:
You're going to put in a lot of time and effort to create an online business that's profitable. Before you commit all of that time, do some research to make sure your new project has a good chance for success and your time will be well spent.
1. Let go of any assumptions you have about selling crafts online.
Maybe it's just a quirky characteristic of my friends, but anyone who has ever asked me about starting an online business always starts with big assumptions about the type of business they want to build. They usually tell me excitedly about a cool niche they love, and then I learn they haven't done any market research. So I pour them a glass of wine and show them how to research their ideas.
I don't want to squash my friends' dreams, but I do want to make sure they're doing all they can to set themselves up for success.
Building an online business around something you love can be great. Your deep knowledge and love for your craft business concept will shine through to your customers. It will help you stand out from the competition and commit to keep working through tough times.
However, passion about a niche is not enough. You need to do some research to determine whether your business concept has a realistic chance for success.
Launching an online business without first researching your options can lead to big mistakes that are tough to fix.
You probably have an idea about what interests you and where your skills lie, but you can't possibly know if your online business idea is your best, most promising option until you do some research.
Even if you already have an established business selling crafts in other, offline venues, you'll benefit from doing some research. You can start with the foundation you've already built offline and take it in several different directions online. You'll never know which is best unless you explore your options.
The niche you choose is the foundation of your business. Other elements of your online business - like how you monetize - can change more easily as different opportunities arise, but your niche is tough to change.
You want to get this decision right the first time.
Do yourself a big favor and promise yourself you won't fall in love with any specific business concept until you have thoroughly researched your options.
2. Choose a few potential niches to explore.
If you explore a few niches at a time instead of just looking at a single niche, you'll reduce the risk of falling in love with a single business idea that may not be the most promising option for you. You'll also be able to see how the potential opportunities vary from one niche to another, which can help you make a more informed choice.
The niches you explore can be vastly different, but they don't have to be. For example, you may have your heart set on developing an online business around your love for origami. You could explore that niche, but you could also explore the larger paper craft niche. I haven't run the numbers, but I'm sure you would find very different challenges and opportunities within each niche.
Just ensure the niches you explore are topics you know well enough to create something valuable and original. The most successful online businesses offer something that's high-quality and original.
3. Check the supply and demand for each niche you're considering.
What is supply? Supply is the amount and type of competition in the niche - the online businesses that are already active in your niche.
What is demand? Demand is the number of people who are searching for that particular topic online - the size of your target audience / customers online.
An ideal online niche has a large enough demand (people searching for information) to sustain a business but a small enough supply (other sites competing for the same audience) that you - a solo entrepreneur with limited time and a modest budget - can compete.
If your niche is very small, demand will be too low to sustain a business unless you sell very high profit items. On the other hand, if your niche is too large, you won't have the resources to compete with bigger businesses. You're looking for that perfectly on target spot that's not too big and not too small.
Before you commit to building your business, you need to make sure it has the potential to be profitable. Exploring potential ways to monetize your niche before you get started will help you determine if there's money to be made.
4. Understand that some online craft business niches will monetize better than others.
Some niches are just more profitable than others.
I know online business owners who get mountains of visitors every day and struggle to make much money because their niche just doesn't lend itself to monetizing well. And I know bloggers with respectable, but not huge traffic who make a great income because their topic is very well suited to monetizing.
You know that cliche, "Follow your heart and the money will follow?" Don't believe it for a second. If you intend to make money selling crafts online, you can't simply trust your heart to lead you to a profitable business concept.
I prefer Alfred Adler's advice. He said, "Follow your heart but take your brain with you." You can do something you love, but make sure you ground it in research that gives you a realistic view of the potential for profit.
5. Explore possible ways to monetize your online business.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can earn an income online using your craft skills. You can start with what is often the first and obvious choice for handmade business owners - selling crafts online. That is, selling your physical handmade products online.
But there are plenty of other ways to make money online using your creative skills. You owe it to yourself to spend time exploring your options.
You could sell: digital products, tutorials or patterns, courses, or books. You can even make money giving away your ideas for free online as a craft blogger and make money with advertisements or affiliate programs.
I've outlined several ways blogs make money to help you start your research.
Building an online business is a huge project. The longer you work at it, the more you'll develop routines. But when you're starting out it's easy to get overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. If you create a solid plan, you'll be able to tackle the project one step at a time, stay on track, and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
6. Create dedicated work hours.
Contrary to what the big website builder companies would like you to believe, building an online business is not fast, and it isn't easy. You'll need to spend a lot of hours working on your online business, and one of the best ways I know to make sure that happens is to create dedicated work hours, and stick to them.
If you need to, set clear boundaries with the people in your life who are most likely to interrupt those work hours.
7. Create a dedicated work space.
Creating a dedicated work space is the other important step that helps to ensure you actually get work done.
Sure, you can curl up with your laptop anywhere and work - that's one of the beauties of having an online business. I've been known to work at the kitchen table when my kids are out of school for the summer. But I also have a small office space, and when I'm in there, everyone - including me - knows I'm working.
You don't necessarily need a huge work space. But if you can carve out a dedicated spot in your home where you can work comfortably and quietly, I think you'll see the results in the form of better productivity.
8. Create an outline for your online business.
You're diving into a huge project, but if you plan well and lay it out one step at a time, you'll get through the work and build a solid foundation.
You don't need to map out the entirety of your online business at this point. Honestly, your business will evolve over time and plans will change. But do lay down a plan for the first tasks you need to complete and when you hope to get them done. That type of planning will lay the groundwork for your online business.
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I've told you what to do, but you might be feeling a bit unsure about how to move forward because I haven't told you how to do it.
These are all big and important questions that require more than a single blog post to explain adequately, so I'll tell you where I learned almost everything I know.
The company I've worked with for over 12 years to build my own online business is SBI. It is the single resource I would recommend to give you answers to all of those questions and tools to create an online business whether you're looking at selling crafts online or becoming a creative blogger.
It's not free, but it's competitively priced compared with the majority of products that are promoted for new bloggers. It's a complete package that gives you all of the tools you need to build your website, and all of the education you need to learn how to get visitors to your site and build an online business.
You may not have heard of SBI because they don't spend their money on splashy and expensive advertising. They've grown a great community simply by word of mouth from people who use and love the company.
If you're curious, you can learn more about SBI here.