Cottage industry? Tips on making money through your love of Crafting

Crafting doesn’t just have to be a hobby. It can make you money as well. Here are some suggestions for doing just that.

Alabama women quilting. (Image via Wikipedia entry on Quilting, CC 2.0)

BOISE, Idaho, December 8, 2016 — Crafting doesn’t just have to be a hobby. It can make you money as well. Online platforms like Etsy have become so popular that artists and crafters around the world are able to share their creations with the world, enabling them to create their own small companies and make money through their love of crafting.

Etsy is not the only way to accomplish this, of course. Crafters will find a variety of platforms through which they can sell their creations. However, finding a way to sell items is not where the effort stops. Being successful selling your crafts also involves finding a way to stand out in the crowd, work with a budget, and be the best you can be for your customers.

Choosing a Platform

Although Etsy is perhaps the best-known popular platform for selling your creations, there are other marketing and sales options that crafters like you can choose from as well. For example, you can create a website of your own, choose another platform similar to Etsy like Artfire, use Facebook, or sell at craft shows in your area.

Deciding how you’d like to sell your work will force you to look into how much you’d like to (or are able to) put into this project. Will you make everything as its ordered, or build an inventory of products and sell those? Are your products personalized? Will you have time to fulfill all of your anticipated orders and ship them out?

An online platform like Etsy or Artfire gives customers from across the globe access to your art, so you’ll need a lot of time refine your plan in ordedr to take this route. Creating your own web site/store, however, requires more work in and of itself, so you’ll either need to have the requisite tech expertise to begin with or hire someone already experienced in building a website.

Using Facebook as a platform might be fitting for your business model if your products are more local in appeal, while exhibiting your wares at craft shows will limit you to local crowds while requiring your presence as well as any booth fees involved. Research all the available options and find which one is the best fit for you and your business.

Make Yourself Stand Out

At the outset of your effort, remember: You are actually creating your own little business. Selling your crafts means branding yourself and your creations.

It’s best if you take time to find a winning name for your business, create the right logo, and trademark or copyright both to start and protect a brand that represents both you and the crafts you are creating for sale. Your new business doesn’t necessarily have to have one specific niche such as scented soaps or knitted scarfs. Your business can actually sell whatever you love making at the time. On the other hand, at least at the outset, remember that launching a too-diverse line all at once can also confuse prospective customers and confuse what both you and your brand actually represent.

Just as important as branding your business and yourself, don’t fail to check out your competition on your chosen advertising/sales platform. Find out what others are doing, how you can learn from them, what they are charging for similar creations, what’s selling for them and what is not. Focus on your photography skills and learn how to take the best photos of your products. If you do, your customers will readily respond to your offerings whether you’re using those photos for an online platform or not.

Be sure to focus on high quality creations and bring your personality into your brand. There are a hundred different potters out there, for example, so if that’s your line, you’ll need to decide what’s going to make your pottery different from theirs. This goes for any product. What makes it different, more attractive, more desirable? Maybe it’s a logo, maybe it’s lower pricing, unique subject matter, or pretty packaging. Whatever the case, if you succeed in making yourself and your product or products stand out, you’re more likely to succeed.

Stick to a Budget

If you’ve decided to transform your hobby into a real business, the idea here is not merely creating products that you love. It’s making money off those products. You’ll need to establish a budget that includes pricing your offerings not only to sell but to net an actual profit on each sale.

In determining what it really costs to make each item, you’ll need first to figure out how much your time is worth–probably more than you think–as well as the cost of materials, advertising, and additional outside costs such as shipping charges and time, booth rentals, and any state and local taxes involved.

If you start to achieve some success, don’t think you have to spend all of your profit on boosting your sales, either. There are plenty of additional ways to boost sales without breaking the bank. As with any other new experience or business venture, there will be trials and errors, successes and mistakes. Through it all, though, you’ll gradually learn exactly how to work with your small business venture to make it profitable… and fun.

But ultimately, you need to keep your inventory and accounting straight. Be sure to track everything – every expense, every purchase, every customer complaint. And also keep a record of every minute worked so you’ll have an accurate representation of your time, budget and physical effort the better to move forward with it to achieve continued success.

Customer Service

Perhaps most important of all: customer service is absolutely the backbone of any business, large or small. For that reason, when you consider the prospect of selling your creations to others, be sure you also consider how you’ll provide outstanding customer service.

Make your crafts easily accessible to your customers, communicate clearly with them, work to fix customer problems, go the extra mile for them and your sales will mirror such efforts and mostly to the good.

Also, be sure to consider your customer when you package your product. Consider creating your own unique packaging as well as adding a “thank you” note and a business card to the contents of each shipment. In short, add a little something special so that your customers know they are important to you.

Social media can also be an important tool when it comes to customer service. You don’t have to take part in every social media platform, or send out notes or tweets every day. But you should utilize at least one platform in your sales and marketing efforts and engage with it regularly. This way you can open up more avenues for communication between you and your customers. It naturally follows that the happier your customers are, the more money you’ll be able to make.

Creating art, clothing, gifts, jewelry, or designing stationary—the craft or crafts you enjoy today don’t only have to be your hobby. Crafts can make you money as well. Whether you’re promoting what you create via an online platform or attending craft shows to show your wares, you have an opportunity to transform your hobby into a real business to provide you with real income, just as long as you’re willing to take the time and make the effort. By choosing your platform, making both you and your brand stand out, working within a realistic budget, and providing outstanding customer service it’s really not far-fetched to imagine a day when your crafts can provide you with an income stream. Love what you are creating, and it will hardly feel like work, even while you’re making that extra money.

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