Readers Tell About Their Experiences Selling Crafts
Readers talk about selling crafts and describe how they started their craft businesses, what has worked for them, and what has not worked.
Selling Hand Knit Items - Little Knits
Victoria Petryszak Sonoma County, CA
I began crafting small knitted items about 2-3 years ago when I found I was always sitting around waiting to pick up children from lessons and had time to start a project and finish it within a day or two.
Knitting small items allowed me lots of flexibility with creative designing and using one item to inspire me to create an offshoot item. For instance, small bags became cell phone holders then they became pouches, then they were felted and embellished and became evening bags...I loved how I could experiment with yarns and colors and textures and have this wonderfully portable project to pick up and work on.
When I completed a "batch" of work, I would take the items to a couple of retail outlets that specialized in handmade goods (toys, clothing, accessories) and they usually took them on consignment.
I did not expect to make "big money", because it can be difficult to make money with some types of handcrafted items and have the time and labor really reflected in the price. So, if I spent 5-6 hours on a piece, I may be able to ask $25 or $30 dollars for it. Not a lot of money if my time and materials are factored in.
If I were to expand this, I would have to find piece-workers (this is why everything now is made in China) and then I would be able to mass produce and could possibly make money if I could keep labor and materials costs down.
Personally, I would rather have full control of the process and make one-of-a-kind items and charge an amount that is reasonable. So, perhaps this is not a typical business plan, but it allows me to keep on crafting and know I can make a little money from time to time.
That's not a spelling error in my title. I really believe that I have a calling to produce, market and sell crafts. I have made and sold all types of crafts, but I have really concentrated on door wreaths and yard art.
Yard art was always an interest of mine, the simplicity of design and work, and wreaths have a strong market during the holidays. Maybe with the two of them I have finally found a full time job with my crafts. And the best thing about utilizing these two crafts is that the displays are similar and can be quickly set up no matter where I am.
I have had my husband put hinges on found doors so that the wreaths can be hung as they would be in a normal setting and he also hinged four lengths of 5 foot picket fence that works great for the yard art (or silhouettes as they are sometimes called.) The silhouettes just pop off the fence and the doors are all painted unique colors to keep the display fresh and interesting.
When competition is strong I know that my displays make a huge difference. With these easy to set up displays and a great product success is just around the corner or maybe at the next craft show.
Cheryl, I love your title.
I used to work as a career counselor, so I spent a lot of time helping clients find their "vocation". I agree with you completely. Crafting is a vocation!
You Can Sell Crafts Online Even if You Only Make One Craft
Here's a hat from my site on ETSY!
Some crafters, like me, only want to do something once! (I have sooo many ideas in my head, and only so much time in this lifetime to do them... you know... "so much to do... so little time!")
Others, like my sister, want to learn to do one thing, and then that's all she wants to do, over... and over.... and over!
Well, either way, you can still sell your crafts online!
Millions and millions of people are on planet Earth, and even if you only sell one thing, you can sell it over and over and over! And it will only cost you 20 cents to do it! Yep!! That's what I said, 20 cents to find out if people want your stuff!!! All day, every day, (I even had sales on Christmas Day, if you can imagine!!!) people are buying something online.
Here's where the 20 cents comes in! ETSY is an online marketing company who hosts shops for people. (And no, I don't work for, nor get compensated for, promoting Etsy... I just love them that much!) And they only charge you 20 cents to post up to 5 pictures of your item in your shop! There is no membership fee, no sign-up fee, nothing, it's all free, except for the 20 cents for listing the item, and a small transaction fee of around 3.5% when you sell the item. They do all the rest, they send the order to PayPal, who collects the money for you, and then deposits it into your account, and then send you the order. You charge the customer for shipping in the listing in your shop, and PayPal collects that too! Could it be any easier than that?
Wait,... I will answer that:"Nooo, I don't think so!"
I am currently married to a man in the Navy, which means being moved across the country for his job. I planned on transferring where I worked, but got pregnant and decided to stay at home instead.
I am due in a few months and have been bored just sitting at home. I decided to try and find a business I can do without being on my feet all day long. There are plenty of work at home moms out there, and I figured I can do it because I happen to be crafty.
One day I was in WalMart looking at their fabrics when I realized that I could make cloth diapers for my baby AND sell them online.
It was difficult to get started, but so much fun. I make cloth diapers out of different materials (such as wool, flannel, or fleece), as well as bag and wipes. There are supplies you would need to get started, although for the most part, they can be found at any local craft store.
Even though disposables have been around for a while and everyone loves them, cloth diapering is making a come back. There are tons and tons of work at home moms selling their diapers online.
My advice would be to advertise like crazy. Make sure to set hours and to get away from it all when you need a break. Make it fun and there is no way that you can fail.
Starting with fun Christmas aprons, during July, with fabric that I had purchased the day after Christmas, my business in crafting was launched.
Sewing has been a part of me my entire life, but with the kids grown and no grandchildren yet I had let my machine get lonely. I also wanted to try supplementing my income.
Aprons seemed a fun and smart choice. They require specific sizes, and they are not very expensive to make or for the customer to buy. So the stitching began.
This was followed by learning to take photos of them. I find a real model or mannequin shows the shape better than lying on a floor or on a hanger. Watch for shadows (including you) in the pictures.
Selling venues I tried included ebay, etsy and finally building my own site. I have began flea markets and now with a group of other crafters hold open houses. Still on the list to try is craft parties.
Most important is developing a schedule for working on the projects, keeping in mind this is your new job. An example may be Monday sew, Tuesday photograph items, Wednesday update online sites, Thursday shop for materials.
Keep a budget in mind and determine what you would like to earn and what are the steps to get there. Many craft fairs have high booth fees, so plan on visiting as many as you can to get a feel for the amount of traffic and if you think they would stop and look at your items.
Keep booth, website, work areas tidy. You will feel better and more productive.
Kaylene, I completely agree with your comment that setting up a good schedule is key to getting things done. Unfortunately, I struggle with this one, since it is not really in my nature. I am convinced, if I could set up a workable schedule, I would be much more productive.