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How to have a successful craft business

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How to have a successful craft business
March 01, 2019 Carefree Crafting 1 comment

Businesses are generally more difficult to start at first, but in the long-term can be much more profitable and do not require much work in the long-term when compared with a standard 9 to 5 job.

Businesses with more of an online presence have lower overheads compared to their brick and mortar counterparts. And with the proliferation of digital tools, you increasingly have the ability to automate much of your business, which means you can earn more passive income.

Among the various types of businesses, craft businesses are ones that require minimum dependency on others and external resources. Hence, if it is your first time starting a business and you are interested in crafts and handiwork, craft businesses would be the perfect for you.

Here are 11 of some of the easiest and profitable best craft businesses:

1) T-Shirt Designer

This is quite easy if you are interested in such sort of stuff. Designing T-Shirts is easy if you know what the current trends and demands are. You can have quotes and pictures printed onto T-Shirts, and then sell them off at a higher rate than you bought the bulk from. If your designs are really unique and attractive, then people will flock to your T-Shirts business and even recommend friends and family to buy from you. The only real requirement here is you being able to design good and creative designs on the T-Shirts and the T-Shirts themselves too must be of good quality.

2) Toy Maker

This does not only mean creating toys in the traditional sense as in building toys from scratch from nuts and bolts. Instead, you could be creative and create toys from existing materials you already have. Or perhaps you could create masterpieces from standard toys. For example, you could create fantastic and spectacular pieces of architecture from Lego, or perhaps an awesome Hot Wheels racing track. If it really is that impressive, people will definitely buy it from you. And of course, you could sell off old toys by revamping them and turning them into brand-new, but it all will definitely require some craft work and imagination to work out.

Read Also: 5 Easiest Ways To Earn From Home

3) Clothes/ Fashion Designer

This craft business is main-stream and you might have to compete with big brands in order to make it. But with enough imagination and creativity, you really can design clothes that beat out the local competition. If the designs are good enough people will definitely buy from you and recommend you to others, especially if you are offering your clothes at a lower price than the competition.

4) Woodworker / Wielder

Both of those are similar. The only difference being that a woodworker works with the wood, whereas a wielder with steel. Of course these two skills require a lot of work to attain and some inherent talent, but if you enjoy doing it, then you will definitely be able to create a much profitable business from selling woodcraft and steel craft to people.

5) Costume Designer

Who doesn’t love a good costume? Costume parties, Halloweens etc. all require a good costume. While there are plenty of standard costumes available in the market, creating new ones that are unique will definitely spark interest from the public, and they will be interested in buying them.

6) Painter:

Starting this business doesn’t require a lot of capital for you. If you are painting as a hobby, you can earn good cash by transforming your side interest to business. If you have ever hired a painter and given away large sum for his labor, then you’ll surely concur that painting business is highly profitable. Not only having the option of painting houses or wooden furniture, if you have the skills of painting or sketching the features of your customers or requested faces then undoubtedly your earnings in this business can reach towering heights as people are willing to spend lots of money for their sketch or a picture.

7) Karaoke Studio:

Karaoke Studio business promises a lot if you have good music taste. Here people can come and spend an exceptionally decent times singing to their most loved tunes. All you need to have is an admirable stockpile of melodic songs. The music business around the globe is one the biggest business due to the affection and adoration for music by the people. So you have good chances of earning large amount of money as there would continue to be music lovers no matter what.

8) 3D Printing:

A business very uncommon and in its early stages, you have superior possibilities of earning handsomely as there is less competition in the market. Once you purchase the 3D printer and build setup, you can print possibly everything or anything i.e. natural scenery, celebrities, slogans or any pattern which is a trending market need. The income would be huge indeed.

Read Also:9 Ways to Expand Your Business Online

9) Bag maker – Best Craft Business:

Hardly around the globe will you come across the type of ladies who do not carry hand bags as it has become a basic need thus making this business that never goes into extinction. You do not need your bag making business to be specific to the female gender.

Instead you can adventure into making different types of bags for men, women and even school going children. The trending designs of Football clubs can be imprinted on the bags as there are huge number of football fans around the world. Things you can produce are innumerable and this business market is quite vast.

10) Birdhouses:

An extremely enchanting and famous project is a birdhouse. One should realize the fact that outdoor ventures are well known to a great degree and people are willing to spend quite a lot of bucks on buying an alluring and attractive birdhouse for their pet birds. People take great care for the comfort of their pets thus making the birdhouse one of the top selling carpentry business.

11) Content Writer:

Quite a popular business these days is content writing. You can turn your writing skills into a money oriented business if you do appreciate writing frequently. By this art,you are not only assisting in resolving the issues of the people but also earning for yourself too. Your content can target the areas of fiction, religion, cultural event, sand festivities, history, biographies, sports, storytelling, reviews of various products, video description etc.

James George

Hi I'm James George, the founder of Mind My Business NYC and author of this blog. I am an entrepreneur and internet marketer based New York City. My wish is that, this website helps you to grow your business and achieve your goals.

Interest in craft products and the people who make them is exploding in the UK.

Many people across the country want to support local makers, and to own unique, individual items that can’t be found anywhere else. If you have a passion for crafting, starting a craft business in the UK can be a great way to make your hobby pay – whether you’re thinking of it as a side project or as a potential full-time career.

What does running a craft business involve?

Running a craft business can involve a number of different tasks, and your work can vary day to day. Some of your key activities are likely to include:

  • Negotiating with suppliers and purchasing materials
  • Developing new products
  • Making the items (the fun bit!)
  • Marketing your business and selling your products, for example through craft stalls or online
  • Keeping business records
  • Filing documents like tax returns or confirmation statements with Companies House

How much does it cost to start a craft business?

Starting a craft business doesn’t need to be cripplingly expensive, especially if you’re starting with a small number of products. However, there are some startup costs involved.

First up is the cost of your materials. Finding the right suppliers and negotiating the right prices are crucial for a small business. You might also need to pay fees to run a craft stall – but you should be hoping to recoup these through sales.

You may want to set aside some cash for marketing, but remember that some of it can be done on a shoestring. Take a look at our guide to the most important concepts in online marketing for more.

Starting a craft business – step by step

So now you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to get started. Read on for our step-by-step guide to starting a craft business in the UK.

1. Find your niche

If you’re thinking about starting a craft business, it’s likely you already have a crafty passion – whether it’s needlework, pottery, dressmaking, or anything else you can imagine.

Craft and ‘artisanal’ goods are popular in the UK and abroad, but competition in the market is high. Think about how you can make sure your offerings stand out. What is it that you can bring to the craft market that’s truly unique? Do you have a special skill, unique style, or materials that nobody else is using? Try to work out your niche before you begin.

2. Craft a business plan

Your business plan is one of the most important documents you’ll write when starting your craft business. It’ll act as a guide when starting out, but you should also go back to it regularly to see whether you’re hitting your goals and benchmarks.

Just as every business is unique, so too is every business plan. However, there are some key points to cover in the document, and there are some tried and tested ways of writing and structuring it. For more information, read our guide on how to write a business plan for a new company.

3. Sort the legal side

When starting any business, there are some important legal issues that you need to sort out immediately. One of the first questions is around legal structure. Many craft businesses in the UK are operated by sole traders, but other craft entrepreneurs choose to set up limited companies. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and you should consider speaking to an accountant or company registrar before making a decision. For some starting tips, read more about the differences between a sole trader and a limited company.

As a new business owner, you’ll also need to deal with HMRC. You’ll need to register as self-employed, and file your tax return and pay your tax bill (including Corporation Tax if you establish a limited company) according to the relevant tax deadlines for your business.

 Think about insurance for your craft business

Craft business owners should consider a range of different covers.

  • Public liability insurance can protect you against claims arising from injury or loss suffered by a member of the public as a result of your business. This cover is particularly important if you’re setting up a craft stall
  • You should also consider product liability insurance, which can cover you if a product of yours causes injury or loss. Keep in mind that you may still be liable for compensation claims if you’re selling products that you haven’t made yourself
  • Stock insurance may also be important, helping you protect any stock you’re storing – which may well be your biggest asset

Simply Business offers tailored insurance for craft businesses, letting you combine all the covers you need into a single policy. Compare insurance for crafters quotes.

4. Find your suppliers

As a crafter, you rely heavily on great suppliers. The quality of your materials might well be one of your major selling points, and you need to make sure you’re getting exactly the right supplies at the right price.

Remember that when you’re starting out, you’re likely to need your suppliers more than they need you. Similarly, many suppliers will be unwilling to offer credit to brand new businesses, so you should be prepared to front the cash for your first orders.

However, as your business grows, check in with your suppliers regularly to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. You might be able to shave off some of your costs just by asking.

5. Think about where you’ll sell

So you can make beautiful craft items – but where are you going to sell them? There’s a few potentially successful sales channels that UK craft businesses can explore.

 Wondering how to set up a craft stall?

These are becoming a fixture of many High Streets, and craft fairs are immensely popular in the UK. A craft stall can be a great way to establish your business and introduce yourself to the local community. Have a look online and find the craft fairs within a reasonable distance. Each one will have different application processes, so contact them individually to find out how to set up a craft stall at each event.

 Try selling online

There’s a wealth of sales opportunities online for craft businesses. Etsy is the best-known craft ‘marketplace’, and offers the opportunity to put yourself right in front of customers who are already interested in craft products. But you might also consider setting up your own online shop, which can now be done very cheaply – or even for free.

We’ve compiled a guide on how to start an online shop with everything you need to get started. You could also read our rundown of the top free tools for building a business website.

Approach retailers

Brick-and-mortar retailers are another potential sales route. Try starting local. Approach likeminded shops in your area and ask if they’d be interested in stocking your products. Make sure you’re fully prepared before making an approach, as sensible retailers will want to make absolutely sure that your items are of the best possible quality and, most importantly, that they’ll be popular with their customers.

6. Keep one eye on the future

Many people start craft businesses as a side project, or simply as a way of making their hobby pay. However, there’s great potential for expansion in this field, particularly as interest in craft products and their creators continues to grow.

If you’re pleased with how your business is progressing, think about scoping out potential opportunities to grow. To do this, you might need to seek funding. For expert tips on this process, read our expert guide to getting funding for a business.

Insure your craft business

You can build a tailored craft business policy. Choose from a range of expert cover options, starting with public liability insurance and product liability insurance. Run a quick quote to get started.

Start your quote

craft fair • Can you take a holiday if you run a small business? If you're setting up your craft business at home, it can be difficult to draw attention to your product. Press coverage can help propel your business to success.

Almost anyone can start a craft business but unfortunately, not all craft businesses make money. In this article, I’m going to share the most common crafts that make money. When I say “make money” I don’t just mean being able to sell what you make but rather being able to make a profit with each sale. There is a big difference.


There are many costs handmade business owners sweep aside, hoping everything will even out.


I didn’t account for most of my expenses when I made a sale.


I would sell a $50 bag and think “Yay! $50!”


Or I would finish up at a craft show for a day, selling $1000 worth of product and think “I made $1000 today!”


But when a storeowner inquired about carrying my bags and I crunched the numbers, I realized I was barely profiting as is, let alone selling at wholesale prices.


I also didn’t strategically plan my products or follow a product launch schedule in the beginning.


I would dream up an idea, run to the fabric store to buy materials (without planning out the most cost-effective way to make an item or calculating the costs per product), make as many bags as I could out of the materials I purchased and hope they would sell.


Many factors determine whether a business will be successful or not but there are a few basic factors that must be in place for crafts to make money:


1 – Profits

2 – Demand

3 – Great Product



Crafts listed in this article aren’t guaranteed to make money but craft businesses that incorporate these three elements will likely have an easier time making money.


If you don’t see your craft on the list below, it may be on the craft businesses that make the LEAST money list, which is found here:



If you’re interested in which crafts are trending, check out:





You may also be interested in:







Crafts that make money have profits.


Obviously right?


But it’s shocking how many creators don’t account for and cover ALL expenses. How much it costs to make your products and run your business will dictate how much you charge for your crafts because you must be building a healthy profit into your prices…otherwise, you have more of a hobby than a business (hobbies are still required to file taxes).


If costs are high, product prices must cover them and craft businesses can end up pricing themselves out of the market or spending more than they make.


There are costs directly related to making your crafts (materials and labor) as well as indirect costs that are just a part of doing business:


At the end of the month, if the money spent on your business is more than money made from selling your crafts, your craft business doesn’t make money.


Therefore, the odds of making money are higher for craft businesses with low costs or costs that don’t eat up profits (you can have costs of $1/product but if the market only allows you to charge $2 for your product, those costs are low but still eating into profits).


Some crafts that make money due to lower costs are:




When working with items such as beads, threads, wire, leather, etc. material costs can be kept fairly low. Getting into high-end silver and gold can increase your costs but most consumers understand the value of 24 karat gold or sterling silver and are willing to pay more for the better quality.


Some jewelry making techniques can drive labor costs up, so it’s important to hone your skills, find processes that speed up production and not spend too much time in a month coming up with new designs that require a learning curve.




Art supplies aren’t cheap and creating a painting isn’t typically a quick process, so if you make and sell original art, you may not be able to make a lot of money unless you build a name for yourself and can charge a premium price. However, if you make an original piece of art and then transfer it to other mediums, one piece of art can be sold over and over. Prints, digital copies or art applied to merchandise (e.g. mugs, t-shirts, etc.) can have lower costs and higher profits.




The startup costs may be high but once you have a good quality camera and accessories, it’s simply your time to take the photos, edit, have them printed and sell them as pieces of art. If your craft involves developing the film or only being able to sell copies once (e.g. to a bride who hired you for their wedding), costs will be higher as more of your time is involved.




Making soap may not be as profitable in the beginning but mastering processes, reducing labor time, and buying ingredients in large quantities at wholesale prices, reduces costs per bar.


Most soap businesses drive profits through volume so for a soap making business to be profitable selling $6 bars of soap, they must sell several bars per month. Craft shows are a great platform for selling high volumes as craft show shoppers are usually very comfortable spending around the five-dollar mark.


Wholesale is another great sales channel for soap makers because one retailer can place an order for several bars of soap each month. Retailers will look for a unique product and great branding.




Many crafts can be made through sewing and some of those crafts can make money. It’s dependent on the type of material used and how many items are cut out of a meter of fabric. In most cases, you can’t purchase fabric for less than $5/meter so if you can create two or more products from one meter and very few notions, your costs could be low.


You also must factor how many steps are required to sew pieces together. Several pieces often mean more time cutting, lining up, pinning, sewing, ironing, etc. and will raise labor costs. There are certain sewn items that are on the CRAFT BUSINESSES THAT MAKE THE LEAST MONEY list, so not all sewn crafts make money.




Supplies to make candles are fairly low cost, as are your overhead costs, because you don’t require a big studio or high-priced equipment. So candle-making can be a craft that makes money. Once you melt your wax and mix ingredients, you can quickly pour the wax into several containers with wicks, in an assembly line manner, so labor time can be kept low for each candle. Containers can be an important aspect of a candle and its price so put the time into sourcing jars from a wholesaler to get your costs low.





Crafts that make money can also be successful because of the industry they fall under and the constant demand for their products.



Here are some of the more popular industries that create a platform for crafts that make money.




The wedding industry is estimated to be worth over $53 billion in the US alone (source). People are continuously getting married and requiring:

  • Wedding attire
  • Hair accessories and veils
  • Wedding party gifts
  • Invitations
  • Decorations
  • Food
  • Photographers
  • Etc.


If you can follow rule #1 and keep your costs low and profits high, you may be able to produce crafts that make money under the wedding category.



Not only can costs be kept relatively low when making jewelry, but it’s also in high demand. It exceeds $70 billion in the US alone. (source)




Globally, the general apparel market is valued over 3 trillion dollars, with womenswear being the most popular (source). If you can find a way to keep your costs low and sew tops, bottoms, outerwear, etc. there is certainly a demand for them.




With a growing interest in home décor, the home décor industry is estimated to grow to $664 billion by 2020 (source).


Crafts that make money under this industry may be:

  • Wall décor (art, signs, clocks, etc.)
  • Textiles (pillows, bedding, throws, rugs, etc.)
  • Furniture




Products that help us look and smell better are always in demand. It’s a $445 billion industry (source). Crafts that make money under this category may be:

  • Haircare
  • Skincare
  • Makeup
  • Perfumes & Colognes
  • Deodorants
  • Etc.


It’s important NOT to make any “drug” claims when selling bath & body products, such as “reduces wrinkles” or “treats acne”. Visit this article to learn more:




I’m someone who doesn’t mind spending money on my pet to keep him happy and healthy; obviously many others feel the same. It’s an industry that consistently grows every year and was at $66.75 billion in 2016. The following pet categories may produce money-making crafts:





You can’t just start making any of these products and expect to make money. You must come up with a unique idea for your art, candles, jewelry, photography, sewing or soap and make it great.



a) Great products make consumers feel they’re specifically for them

Crafts that make money target a specific customer and their specific wants or needs. It may solve a problem, like the $55 water bottle mentioned in this article or feel like it was made to be a perfect fit for their: style, body, personality, humor, etc. You must know who you’re selling to, what their problems or desires are and create a product for them.



b) Great products are different from what other businesses are offering

If you offer something that’s in demand and isn’t offered by every other business in your category, you’re more likely to have a craft that makes money.


If I come across gold hoop earrings, a red knitted scarf, or a bar of soap at a craft show, I don’t feel compelled to purchase if the vendor or product doesn’t offer something different from what I can find in any mall or through a quick search online.


But not being able to find a product like yours anywhere does not necessarily equal sales, nor should it always be viewed as a positive. 


Being unique andin-demand makes the world of difference when it comes to sales.


Inventing a “yoga mat that never has to be cleaned because it wicks away moisture & sweat and naturally deodorizes and sanitizes itself” is a unique product you “can’t find everywhere (or maybe even anywhere?)” and would likely be in high demand.


Creating necklace pendants out of Barbie parts may be unique but NOT likely in high demand.


Don’t mistake “no one else is selling it” as a good thing, as mentioned in 3 MISTAKES HANDMADE BUSINESSES MAKE WITH THEIR USP (unique selling position). And don’t assume your USP has to come from your products. There are several other aspects of your business you can play with to stand out…especially if you’re offering a product that doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room (how many different ways are there to make a scarf? Perhaps a scarf business can stand out through amazing customer service, or donating a portion of profits to an important cause, or where wool is sourced from, etc.).


HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY explains, in detail, how to define your USP and the FREE email challenge BEAT LAST YEAR’S SALES  has some key lessons on perfecting your USP as well.


Think about what’s going to make your products or business different and if that element is important enough to consumers that they’ll choose you over a competitor.



c) Great products make customers feel value outweighs price

We feel good about purchases when it seems as though we’ve received more value than we paid for. If we feel we were tricked into buying something we don’t need/want, purchased something that falls apart once we get it home, or spent more than we feel it’s worth, we won’t buy from the business again. And repeat business is an essential part of sales and success.


Value comes through in everything we do, so make sure it’s not just your products that are great, but everything that surrounds them as well.




Don’t see your craft on the list? It may be on the craft businesses that make the least money list, which is found here:


To find out which crafts are trending for, check out:



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Etsy lied to us. They didn’t mean to.

Other businesses contributed to the misinformation, too. And we bought it.

We believed them when they told us we could run a successful business with babies on our hips, or after we put in 50 hours at the day job, or by picking up our creative pursuit in fits and starts interrupted by the occasional product listing or Facebook post.

We believed them when they told us the most important part of succeeding with our creative businesses was, appropriately, creating.

But as many successful creative business owners have discovered over the years, it’s just not that simple. The drive to create earrings and necklaces in the wee hours of the morning is not the same thing as the drive to create a thriving business. Dedication to your craft is not the same thing as dedication to the craft of creating a business, brand, and platform.

Those makers and designers who wait for the dream to arrive that companies like Etsy have made popular in the media are not those who succeed. The makers and designers that succeed are those who have discovered that building a craft business—with all the time and energy spent on marketing, administration, strategy, and sales that entails—can be just as fun and creative as their chosen craft.

These makers and designers spend considerably more time on marketing and administration. They think about the growth of their craft businesses and plan for it. They reach beyond the hope that their little business can bring in some discretionary income and envision a day when their brand is mentioned alongside rockstar designers’ brands.

It’s not that you can’t have a hobby business that brings in a little bit of revenue so that you can keep making the things that you enjoy. It’s that so often the makers and designers I talk to actually want more. That’s why they’re seeking the information they need to make more money, reach more people, and grow their businesses at places like CreativeLive.

And I have a feeling that’s why you’re here too.

You’re ready for more—even if that means confronting the misguided vision of the cute and easy indie business.

Here are 5 of the misconceptions (and lies) that are out there about creative businesses:

1) Price is a function of cost.

Many creative business owners think they can properly price their products by following a formula based on what their supplies cost and how much time they take to create. But this is just one small aspect of pricing. You’ve got to consider personal and business goals, desired brand positioning, and market influences, as well.

My 1-day workshop, Pricing Your Craft, is all about nuanced pricing strategy and how you can use the price you charge to help you achieve your goals.

2) Social media is the ultimate tool for marketing your products.

One of the biggest lies that’s been told to indie business owners is that social media is the end-all-be-all of marketing. Heck, it’s free, it’s accessible, and it’s direct. It’s also noisy, misleading, and full of other people hawking their wares. Your business needs a lot more than social media to succeed. My favorite—and most lucrative—marketing channel is email marketing.

Check out Abby Glassenberg’s workshop, Email Marketing for Crafters, to find out how you can make more sales and take more control of your marketing with email.

3) It’s all about making stuff.

The #1 complaint I hear from makers & designers is that, if they do everything people tell them to do to grow their businesses, they wouldn’t have much time left over for making. That’s true. I want you to be able to do the things you love like designing new products and making orders. But I also want you to have a thriving business and that means spending more time working on your business than creating in your business.

That said, efficiency is important. Take a look at Megan Auman’s upcoming, How to Build a Business While Learning Your Craft, to create your plan.

4) If you build it, they will come.

When all you’ve ever heard is, “Those are so cute! You should sell them!” it can feel like sales should just appear out of thin air. But they won’t. You’re a salesperson now whether you like it or not. So you might as well have fun with it! I’ve learned to love the act of selling and my favorite medium for sales is copywriting.

Check out Lisa Jacobs’s workshop, Copywriting for Crafters, for more on how you can learn to love selling through writing.

5) Every day is a new adventure.

Most creative business owners I know are working from their to-do lists, not from a strategic plan. It can be hard to look ahead and plan for the future when you’re just trying to make your business work on a day-to-day basis. Yet, your business won’t work day-to-day if you don’t know where you’re headed and why. Every part of your business should have a long-term plan for success.

Take a look at Megan Auman’s workshop, Build Your Holiday Marketing Plan, to create your marketing plan for the next 5 months.

If you’ve bought the creative business dream, there’s good news: you can run a successful creative business that allows you to make good money, create a flexible schedule, and craft products you’re proud of. The bad news is that, even though its entirely possible to get that business started on a hope and a prayer, it’s not enough to achieve your ultimate goals.

It’s time to get excited about crafting a business as well as crafting your products. It’s time to get real about what it’s going to take to create your dream and reach your goals.

I’ve done it, so can you. Join me for my class Turn Your Service Into A Product right here on CreativeLive.

Ready to tackle the challenges of selling your handmade craft projects?

Download our free PDF: Etsy 101: A Guide to Getting Started! This comprehensive collection of notes, worksheets, and slides from Marlo Miyashiro’s class, Etsy 101: Launch Your Handmade Shop gives you the tips and insights you need to launch a successful Etsy shop!

craft fair • Can you take a holiday if you run a small business? If you're setting up your craft business at home, it can be difficult to draw attention to your product. Press coverage can help propel your business to success.

Craft Businesses that Make (the MOST) Money

When a craftsperson is serious about his hobby, it’s common to speculate whether or not the hobby could become a business capable of supporting a family.

Last month, we looked at some of the commonsense basics needed to successfully turn your home craft hobby into a business profitable enough to support a family.

This month, we’ll look at some tips to increase your chances of succeeding at that business.

Don’t give up your day job
As tempting as it may be to take the plunge and quit your job in order to concentrate on transitioning from a hobby to a business, don’t.

The reason is that a business takes time to grow. Seldom does a craft business start out with such a bang that the owner can support her family right away. Such things take time to build in both reputation and sales.

And, if you are lucky enough to have a day job which provides benefits such as health insurance, it would be foolish to risk quitting in the hope that your craft will bring in sufficient income to pay your own insurance. If you’re single and have no children to support, then maybe you can risk it. But if you have a family depending on you, don’t.

Besides, in this uncertain economy it would be foolish indeed to trade security for insecurity. If you have a steady paycheck, don’t jeopardize it until you are certain your craft business can replace your outside income.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t aggressively build your craft business on the side. Evenings, weekends and holidays all provide opportunities to market your craft, streamline your techniques and otherwise build your business until you reach a point where it begins to rival the take-home pay from your day job.

Living frugally
Of course, until you are rolling in dough from your home craft business, it behooves you to live frugally while you are building your business. It does no good to make $2,000 in a month selling your products only to blow $2,000 on a big-screen TV. Initially, all your profits will be needed just to grow your business. At this stage, patience and discipline are every bit as important as your production techniques.

Before you take the plunge into a home craft business, it’s always helpful to ditch the debt. Take the time to pay off that credit card, pay down your student and vehicle loans, and otherwise watch your spending. Your home craft business has a much better chance of succeeding if you’re not tottering under the load of debt from your more lavish days.

There are endless resources available on budgeting and thrift and other related matters, so I won’t cover them here. However, just keep in mind that those craftspeople who are considered “successful” in their business live within their means.

Realistic expectations
Sometimes we love what we do so much that we don’t have a balanced perspective on whether it has serious moneymaking potential. We love our craft and that’s why we have dreams of turning it into a successful business. To suggest that not enough people are interested in buying our crafts is…well, insulting.

But—trust me on this—it will save you a lot of grief in the end if you can distinguish between what can support your family, and what should be just a weekend hobby of earning pocket change at local crafts shows (there’s nothing wrong with that!).

By looking at your product unemotionally and rationally, you will be able to recognize what crafts have the potential to be built into a successful business, and what should stay a hobby.

Catering to passions
One of the most overlooked secrets to building a successful home craft business is to be able to cater to peoples’ passions. Remember this: people are fanatic about their hobbies.

Your next-door neighbor might be CEO of the local bank—it’s what he does for a living—but by golly what really makes his eyes sparkle is talking about the 1911 Model T Ford he’s restoring. He will spend thousands of dollars and endless hours of time tinkering on that Model T.

You—the craftsperson—have the potential to cash in on that kind of passion.

Because our home craft business is making hardwood drinking tankards, we learned that people who attend Renaissance Faires will spend lots of money making sure their costumes and accouterments are authentic. Since our tankard designs are historically accurate, they’re a natural fit for history buffs. Same goes for just about every living history reenactment group out there—Civil War reenactors, Medieval, Renaissance, etc. We also cater to Oktoberfests, beer festivals, Shakespeare groups, and other passionate people.

So how does this apply to your craft?

It applies in two ways. First, you must target your marketing appropriately. You won’t do well selling your handcrafted lace doilies and crocheted doll dresses at a motorcycle rally. Let’s face it, motorcycle people generally are not passionate about lace doilies. It’s not a marketing match. You need to sell things that motorcyclists love.

Second, if you can modify your craft to cater to passions, then you gain a lot of flexibility to cross-target your market. If you take your selection of handcrafted candles to a candle show, for instance, then you’re surrounded by nothing but other candlemakers. But if you take your specialty Elvis/tractor/airplane/cat/speedboat/whatever candles to events that cater to people who love Elvis, tractors, airplanes, cats, speedboats, or whatever…people will buy them.

Hate Elvis or tractors or airplanes or cats or speedboats? It doesn’t matter. Remember, if you can’t tap into your own passions, tap into someone else’s. That’s the best way to succeed in a home craft business, by tapping into what people enjoy spending money on.

Why do you think that people who sell T-shirts do so well? They modify their product to cater to many markets by silk-screening appropriate slogans and pictures. If you can do the same with your product, your sales will increase.

It’s one thing to put your spare time into a hobby. It’s another thing entirely to apply yourself full-time to a home craft business. Can you motivate yourself?

Motivation is easy to come by when you’re doing something fun like piecing a beautiful quilt top or polishing a wooden tankard for a friend’s birthday present. But will you feel the same way when you’ve been working 20 hours per weekend, every weekend, making your product? And what about boring stuff like keeping accurate records for tax purposes? What about market research? What about advertising? What about all the not-so-fun things that are absolutely necessary for a business to be successful?

When you’re at an office with a boss and a paycheck providing the motivation, that’s one thing. But when you don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder, you need to provide the motivation yourself.

If you find yourself sleeping late every day and spending hours playing solitaire on the computer rather than facing your shop full of half-finished product, better rethink your plans to go into business for yourself.

The dreaded business plan
While I won’t go so far as to say that a formal business plan is essential for a home craft business, it sure does help to have goals written down, as well as the means to achieve those goals. Somehow when things are in black and white, they’re more doable. Or, more tellingly, you’ll decide they aren’t doable. Enough said.

Act professional
It never fails to amaze me how those with a home craft business somehow think they’re excluded from the need to act professional.

Your preschooler may have the most adorable googly-voiced lisp this side of the moon, but that doesn’t mean he has to answer the phone during work hours. Just as you wouldn’t meet a client for lunch dressed in your pj’s, you probably shouldn’t answer your door that way either. And please, don’t print business cards full of froufrou and frills unless your business specializes in froufrou and frills.

In other words, when someone parts with his money to buy your product, they expect to deal with a professional. Be one.

Learn to talk
Learning to sell your product is obviously an integral part of your business. However, a surprising number of people aren’t able to talk about their product with enthusiasm, knowledge or salesmanship.

I recently attended a very large venue selling our crafts. Because of the sheer number of people that usually throng the booth, I hired a very nice young man to assist me in dealing with customers.

The trouble was, he was very soft-spoken. Customers could barely hear him, especially over the noise and chatter of the crowd. Even though he was enthusiastic to help and knowledgeable about the product, he didn’t generate any interest among the customers because he didn’t sound enthusiastic or knowledgeable. This may sound like a trivial issue, but when the difference is a show’s profit or loss, I assure you it’s not.

Learn to sell your product through speech. If you can’t discuss with animation and enthusiasm the merits of your craft, how can you expect anyone else to listen or agree? Or buy?

The 80/20 rule
The old axiom says that 20 percent of your efforts results in 80 percent of your sales. What this means is you should direct your efforts into aspects of your business that you know will bring the greatest results.

We knew a family who attempted to start a bed-and-breakfast. Superficially they had everything going—beautiful location, gracious hosting skills, elegant home. Trouble was, they directed 80 percent of their efforts into beautifying the house and only 20 percent into marketing, advertising and otherwise getting the word out that the house was open to visitors. Bottom line—they had a gorgeous place but no customers.

Had they flipped these efforts around and directed 80 percent into marketing and 20 percent into beautifying, they may have succeeded. Unfortunately, after two years they were forced to close their doors.

Dull but necessary
It’s the commercial side of things that can make or break your business. You might be the world’s greatest expert in your particular craft—I hope you are—but you must also become an expert on the dull but necessary business side of things as well.

One of these dull but necessary issues is taxes. In next month’s issue, I will feature tips and suggestions from bookkeepers and tax preparers who specialize in small home craft businesses. Because, like it or not, the tax man cometh to us all.TCR

Patrice Lewis is cofounder of Don Lewis Designs. She and her husband have been in business for 15 years. The Lewis family lives on 40 acres in north Idaho with their two homeschooled children, assorted livestock, and a shop which overflows into the house with depressing regularity.

how to have a successful craft business

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1 Comment
  • Diramar

    DiramarMarch 09, 2019 8:37 AM

    Yes, really. So happens. Let's discuss this question. Here or in PM.

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