Where to Sell Crafts Beyond Art Shows

Wondering where to sell crafts other than art shows? Spend some time researching other creative and art business ideas that don't involve setting up a tent at a craft fair. 

By Lisa McGrimmon | Published May 20, 2020
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Ever wondered where to sell crafts other than at art fairs?

While plenty of handmade business owners are normally heading into a busy craft show season in June, there are many reasons why that might not be an option or even the best direction for your company.

Strings of beads for jewelry making. Text - June Where to sell crafts beyond craft shows.

You might be looking for alternative creative business ideas.

Maybe you've just launched your business, and you realize by the time summer rolls around, most craft show application deadlines have passed. You won't be able to sell at shows for several months. In the meantime, you need more ideas about where to sell crafts to start growing your business.

Perhaps the idea of selling at art fairs is not at all appealing or realistic for you. You want to build a creative business, but you don't want to spend your summer weekends standing in a craft tent.

Or you might be a pro at the craft show circuit. You love it, you're good at it, and it's an essential part of your business. But you want to expand your business and create multiple sources income, so you're in search new ways to sell your crafts.

To all of the creative entrepreneurs who want to know where to sell crafts other than shows - June's action plan is for you.

Where to Sell Crafts - Beyond Art Shows

This month, you're going to explore different types of creative businesses to discover a variety of opportunities that might be a great fit for your goals and priorities.

Here are the options we'll look at for building a creative business without selling at craft shows:

  1. Selling crafts online - Ways to sell your physical handmade items online.
  2. Making money online with your ideas & digital products - Ways to earn income online using your creative skills but NOT selling a physical product.
  3. Selling crafts in person - Places to sell handmade items other than craft shows.

1. Selling crafts online

There are loads of ways craft artists can use their creative skills to build an online business. For July, I've created an action plan solely dedicated to learning how to start selling crafts online. This month, though, we'll look at the many different types of online businesses a craft artist could develop.

If you want to sell crafts online - that is, physical handmade items - a key decision you'll need to make is whether you'll sell on your own site or a third-party marketplace.

Get Down to Business:

Consider these options. There are links to help you learn more about any of the options that interest you. 

1. Selling your handmade products on your own site: I'm a big fan of building your online business on your own site that you own and control. Yes, there's a lot to learn when you're getting started, but it's the only way to truly own your own online business and avoid being completely left to the whims of another company.

Learn More: Take a deeper look at the pros and cons of Online Craft Sales on your own site vs. craft marketplaces.

2. Selling your handmade products on a third party marketplace like Etsy or Amazon Handmade: Handmade marketplaces make it easy for you to set up an online shop - no technical skills required.

They also carry the benefit of trust and ease of use. Customers know and trust the company, so there's less concern about making a purchase. They probably even already have an account with their payment details entered, so they can buy with just a click or two.  

The down-side to selling on marketplaces, though, is you don't really own and control a business you build on a third-party site. Customers belong to the marketplace, not your business.

Learn More: Check out Etsy's guide to opening an Etsy shop to learn more about selling on the popular handmade marketplace.

3. Building your own site AND selling on a third party marketplace: You can have the best of both worlds - controlling your own business, and benefitting from the trust shoppers have for a well-known company. Consider building your own site and putting all of your marketing efforts into promoting your site that you own.

The combination lets you capitalize on trust and ease of use by selling your products on a site like Etsy while promoting and linking to your Etsy shop from your own website that you control.

Learn More: Here's why and how I use this combined strategy to grow my business online.

2. Making money online with your ideas & digital products

Any exploration of developing an online craft business and finding alternatives to craft shows needs to examine the potential to sell your ideas and digital products. You don't need to make physical handmade items to make money using your crafty skills.

I earn a commission for purchases made through links on this page.
To learn more, please see my disclosure.

Get Down to Business:

Consider these options.

4. Writing a craft book: Have you ever considered writing a book full of your original craft projects and techniques? You don't need a deal with a publishing company to sell and publish a book. A well-written self-published book covering a popular topic can earn a steady income for years.

I haven't written a craft book, but, in 2013, I self-published a resume writing guide based on my experience working as a career advisor.

Writing that book took an enormous amount of work, but it has earned a steady income over the years. It has given me a huge feeling of accomplishment. The first time I read a review that stated the reader found a job by using strategies in the book, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face for days.

My book is due for an update in 2020. I'll be using Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran to get myself up-to-date on the latest in self publishing when I settle in to do the update.

The last time I researched self publishing, I had to wade through a lot of terrible advice to get to the good stuff. David Gaughran was the one bright spot - with serious advice for self publishers.

Learn More: If you're curious about self-publishing a craft book, start with Let's Get Digital .

5. Selling tutorials or patterns: Do you get tired of hearing people saying, "I could make that myself." as they walk by your craft booth?

Why not cater to the more serious people in that group and sell patterns for making crafts or tutorials for those who want to learn your creative skills?

Carol, at Needlework Tips and Techniques, sells embroidery and cross stitch patterns and instructional ebooks on her site. Carol and I are part of the same online business-building community (SiteSell) and she's been running a business based on her crafting skills for more than ten years.

7. Creating an online course: If you want to take your instructional product to the next level, then consider creating  an online course to sell.

8. Becoming a craft blogger: You can even give away your ideas for free as a craft blogger and make money with advertising and affiliate links on your site. That's how I make the majority of my business income, and it's what Julie, at Generations Quilt Patterns - another member of my beloved SiteSell blogging community - does on her craft site as well.

Learn More: SiteSell is the only resource I would recommend for building an online business. They provide everything you need from tools to tutorials. I've been with them since 2006, and I wouldn't have my own business without them.

3. Selling crafts in person

Maybe you want explore where to sell crafts (besides craft shows) but you're not convinced building an online business is right for you. Here are a few ways you can sell your crafts or your make money with your creative skills in person.

Get Down to Business:

Consider these options. There are links to help you learn more about any of the options that interest you. 

9. Selling on consignment: Consider partnering with an independent retailer to sell your crafts on consignment. 

Learn More: Check out my series of articles about selling crafts on consignment.

10. Selling crafts at home parties: Sales parties can be a low cost, low risk way to start a craft business. They involve far less commitment and expense than craft shows and are well-worth considering if you're starting a craft business.

Learn More: If you're considering sales parties, take a look at my articles about selling crafts at home parties.

11. Participating in shows outside of the craft niche: Keep in mind, you're not just a craft artist. Your business also exists in a niche related to your specific product. This option will carry a lot of similarities to doing craft shows, but it may also open up some new opportunities for your company.

Learn More: How to find shows that are not art fairs where you can sell crafts.

12. Teaching in person: Have you ever considered becoming a crafts teacher in your community? If you love the idea of sharing your craft skills with others, this might be a fabulous way to grow your business.

Learn More: If you want to become a crafts teacher, you need to check out How to Teach It on Craftsy. The instructor, Gwen Bortner, is fabulous. I have years of teaching experience myself, but I still learned plenty from her course.

More Craft Business aCtion Plans

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