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How to keep your craft store in business

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How to keep your craft store in business
October 12, 2018 Family Restaurants 3 comments

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.

Self-motivation
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.

Want to start your own craft business? In this blog post - Fiona Pullen; Founder of The Sewing Directory, author of Making & Marketing A Successful Art & Craft Business and contributor to our recent blog post (How To Reach Your Goals - 7 Simple Strategies) shares her tips on getting started in the crafting industry.

Here are some of the key points she recommends when starting a new craft business:
 



In this harsh economic climate and an oversaturated craft market, it is quite a challenge to run a successful craft business. I thought I would share the lessons I have learnt in the 9 years or so that I've been running my business in the hope that it may help some of you.

I’ll start by telling you a little bit about myself and how/why I started my business. I was a stay at home mum after having my son James and after a year I was getting very bored! Once maternity pay stopped I realised that I needed to earn some money, but I didn’t want to put my son in full-time childcare to go back to work so I decided I needed to think of something I could do from home.  From what I have observed, this seems to be one of the common reasons for women entering the craft industry.

I started out working for my mum designing and running the website for her dressmaking business and then I spotted a gap in the market.  There was a growing interest in sewing, yet highstreet sewing shops were disappearing and people didn’t know where to go to find supplies.  That combined with a surge in online stores and increased use of the internet led to the idea of a sewing directory.

I researched the idea from home for a while and then realised I was going to need funding and business support.  I applied to the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Program and fortunately was accepted.  This gave me access to a one-week intensive training course covering business basics and a start-up loan to get the business off the ground.  They also provided a business mentor who I could turn to for advice during my first 2 years of business.

Research

The Prince’s Trust taught me one very important thing, that research is critical!  I thought I had done plenty of research before I went on the course but it was nowhere near what was actually needed.

You need to clearly identify your target audience – approximately how many of them are there, how will you be able to reach them, what kind of money will they be prepared to spend, what will they expect from you?

You also need to ensure you research your competitors (please note this does not mean copy them!). Who are your competitors, what do they do well, what do they do badly, what will differentiate you from them?  Learn from their strengths and weaknesses, be inspired by them and try not to duplicate their mistakes.

Thirdly, you need to research your costs: contact suppliers and find out how much your materials will cost you, contact magazines/websites/blogs and find out how much an advert will cost, how much will it cost you to get a website, what are the sales costs for selling through an online marketplace like Folksy, Etsy, Not On The Highstreet etc?

Research how you are going to raise the money to start, the best loan rates and terms, grants, savings etc and don’t forget to work out how you will pay it back in the event that the business fails.

Ensure Your Business Idea Is Financially Viable

Once you have researched all your costs you will be in a position to work out whether your business is viable.

Calculate the cost to produce each item in materials, factor in any overheads and most importantly factor in your time! This is the one area that many crafters tend to forget. Your time has a cost, how much cost is up to you.

If you genuinely love what you do and don’t want/need to be paid much more than minimum wage then cost your time out on minimum wage. If you expect to be earning £20 an hour then you need to work out what that will make your final product cost and whether you will be able to sell at that price.

Once you have decided your business idea is viable, and you can find a way to source the initial capital, or if you are going to build up slowly with a low outlay please don’t forget to factor in the fact that you will probably not be making money from the day you start.

I’ve seen people struggle because they have forecast that they will be earning x amount per month, but failing to realise that it takes several months to build up a customer base and to establish regular sales. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as making a product, listing it for sale and then waiting for the money to roll in. You need to promote your products/shop/service continually to keep a steady income coming in.

Support

There are many agencies both local and national who will help you with finance and support for starting a business. I was lucky enough to fall within the criteria for the Prince’s Trust (aged under 30) but most local councils offer help and funding, plus there are local agencies such as Venture Wales who I did some marketing courses with. If you search the internet for ‘business support’ followed by your town or area you will find your local one. Most of them offer free training courses, networking events and some offer a mentoring service or the chance to have a one on one meeting with a business advisor.

There is also a wealth of support online; I’ve listed a few of the sites I’ve found useful below:

A few of the sites are for Welsh based agencies as that is where I was based when I set up The Sewing Directory, but the information is useful wherever you are based.

Most business support agencies or websites will be able to give you advice on raising finance.  Many local councils are trying to encourage new business start-ups so are a good place to start.  There are agencies/charities who will give grants, you can get loans from banks or even from family members.

The one thing I would advise is that if you can do it without taking a loan then do, having a loan hanging over your business creates a lot more pressure. It can also be disheartening when every penny you earn for the first few months/years goes straight back out onto your loan.

However, do bear in mind what I said earlier, that it can be several months before you start making money so you need to make sure you have enough money put aside to survive those first few months/first year.


Accounting

Firstly I would like to point out that I am not an accountant, my advice is based purely upon what I have learnt in the last year running my own business.  I would highly recommend the Inland Revenue courses on starting your own business and submitting your tax return. They are free and are very useful, plus you have the chance to ask questions. Contact HMRC to find out when your local courses are or do one of their online webinars.

Accounts are one of those things that people dread so they tend to put it off for as long as possible. I really do not see the point in this as it only makes it harder when you finally get to them. How will you remember what the mystery £6 transaction is on your account a year later? 

I started out with intentions of balancing my accounts every single month, and of course, that didn’t happen. However, I do make sure I do it every 3 months, that way when you come to the end of the financial year, it isn’t half as daunting.

If you are relatively up to date with your accounts it will be easy to submit them early in the new financial year.  There are two benefits to that, firstly you don’t have the worry of having to do them at the back of your mind for months, and secondly, it gives you longer to pay your tax bill.  Also don’t forget to register as self-employed when you start your business, the details of how to do it are here. It’s a quick and easy process and it ensures you pay your national insurance contributions.

If you spend a fair amount of time on your computer, as I do, then I’d highly recommend putting your accounts into a spreadsheet and update it every morning or evening.  I tend to update mine both late morning and late evening so it is constantly up to date.

Also as a little motivating factor, the first sheet of my spreadsheet has just 4 figures – total turnover, total outgoings, profit for the year to date and current solvency.  It’s nice to be able to open the file and see how much you have achieved so far that year.

For my receipts, I have a big box folder that I store physical receipts in and an e-mail folder for online receipts. If my laptop is off I put paper receipts in the laptop (between the keyboard and screen) so I remember to enter them onto my spreadsheet before filing them. You can find various bookkeeping, cash flow, invoice templates for free online.


Craft Insurance

Many crafters aren't aware that they need insurance, and often don't know what type of insurance they should be looking for even if they do realise that they should be insured. Below you can find out the types of insurance you should be considering if you run a craft business and details of where you can purchase them.

It may seem tempting to keep costs down by not being insured, especially when you are only making a very small profit on your business.  However, if for instance someone was injured by one of your products or tripped on part of your craft stall at a market you could be looking at thousands in damages.  So for the sake of what often comes to less than £100 a year you can get peace of mind.

There are 5 main types of insurance that people running a craft related business need to consider: 


Product liability – If you supply products then you are responsible for any injury to a person, or damage to their property, which may occur as a result of the use of your product. Product liability insurance can meet the cost of any claims that arise.

Public liability – Public liability covers any injury or property damage that occurs to a member of the public in connection to your business.  If for instance you teach sewing and someone in your class sustains an injury or someone trips over some goods you laid out at a craft market this is the insurance you need. It can also be used to defend any claim made against you as well as for compensating any injured party.

Tip – Many craft fairs won’t let you have a stall unless you can show them your public liability insurance certificate.

Tradesman Insurance - You can often find that if you don't have traditional retail premises that tradesman's insurance may be a better fit for your business. This can provide cover for your tools, your premises and any potential liability that may arise.

Professional indemnity – If you give advice as part of your business (if you are a business consultant or a craft teacher) or offer a service (like social media management) you need professional indemnity insurance to protect you from any claims of professional negligence.

Employer’s Liability - If you employ anyone to help you with your business then you need to have employer’s liability insurance. This protects you from any claim from employees who say there were injured or became ill as a result of their work whilst in your employment. This insurance is compulsory in the UK and you must have a minimum coverage of 5 million pounds.   

If however, you are a family business and not a limited company you may be exempt from this requirement.  For more information please look at the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.


Other insurance you may also want to consider is accident & sickness insurance (to help you pay the mortgage etc if you are unable to work), vehicle insurance if you use a business vehicle and cancellation insurance for shows and events so you don’t end up out of pocket if they don't go ahead for any reason.

To get quotes for craft insurance, try the businesses below:

IMPORTANT – All insurance policies have exclusions so make sure you have a good look through to understand what you are and aren’t covered for.  For instance, most policies won’t cover claims that arise as a result of your negligence, or your failure to comply with health and safety or product safety laws. Also, some of the policies may only cover selling at events and shows and not online or trading from commercial premises not from home so double check the small print.  When in doubt, ask before you buy. On that note don't forget to notify your home insurer if you start to run a business from home or it could invalidate your policy.
 

Finding Wholesalers 

Once you decide to turn your love of craft into a business one of the first things you need to do is find somewhere to buy your supplies at wholesale prices. If you continue to buy retail you will have to price your products much higher to cover your costs. Bring the materials cost down and you'll have more profit and fewer costs.

There are a few places you can find wholesale suppliers:

  • Trade magazines such as Craft Focus and Craft Business have many craft wholesale businesses advertising in their publications plus supplier directories on their websites.

  • Trade shows much as Craft, Hobby & Stitch International are a great place to find hundreds of wholesalers all in one place.

 

Presentation

Remember that you are representing your business at all times, particularly when at craft fairs, networking events as well as on social networks too. I’m not saying you need to be dressed up in a full suit at all times but bear in mind that first impressions really do count so make sure you are projecting the image you want, whether in person or online.

Also under this section, I would like to emphasise the importance of a professional looking website, especially when you are selling online.  You do not need to pay a fortune to have a nice looking website. I’ve seen many Create.net sites which look as good as those that have been designed by professional web designers.

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When designing your website make sure that it is easy for people to search and to locate what they are looking for, that your contact details are easy to find and that you use good quality images. Nothing says ‘shoddy site’ more than dark, gloomy, low-quality images. For online sales, the image is what sells your product so it’s worth the cost/effort to get good quality images.

Make sure you have good quality professional looking business cards as these often form part of people's first impressions of you when they meet you at an event.  Personally, I find Moo business cards look great and I love the fact you can have lots of different images on them.  A great chance for you to showcase your products.


Reputation

The most important thing in running a business is to focus on getting a good reputation.  A bad reputation can do an unbelievable amount of damage to your business. For most people, there will be many other companies offering the same product/service as you, so if you get a bad reputation the customer will just go to one of your competitors.

The most important factor in building a good reputation is customer service. Keep your customer updated and informed at every stage of the process.  Deal with any queries or issues in a timely manner. Treat every person you deal with using the same standard, whether they buy your product/service or not.  Just because they don't buy now doesn't mean they won't in the future, or won't recommend you to a friend.

Focus on customer loyalty. I find the most off-putting thing is people not replying to your emails or phone messages. Even if you cannot give an answer instantly reply to the email to acknowledge receipt and let them know you will get back to them soon rather than keeping that person waiting.  Lack of communication is inexcusable.

Many of us start off with the aim of replying to every email straight away but once your business starts to grow that becomes impractical. However, to send a response or acknowledgement within 24-48 hours is a reasonable aim and will help to keep your customers happy. I have stopped dealing with companies in the past because weeks later they have still not replied to my email; you start to wonder if they really want your business at that point.

Another important point in customer services is to deliver on your promises.  If you tell people they will receive your product within 3 days, and 5 days later they have to contact you to find out where it is, that will make the customer think you are not trustworthy as you do not keep to your promises. You are better to under-promise, and say it will take 5 days and deliver within 3 days than the opposite.

We all know that unexpected problems can arise that can affect your promise, but then we are back to the customer service/communication point.  If you cannot keep the promise you have made then take the time to contact them and let them know, and when they can expect to receive it. Most people still consider it to be good service, irrespective of delays etc if they have been kept updated throughout.

Another important thing when dealing with other businesses is to make sure you pay your bills on time.  Once you get a reputation for being a late payer, or as someone who is difficult to get money off of, you will find several companies are no longer willing to deal with you.  I find the easiest way to keep on top of bill paying is to pay them straight away if possible, then you don't have to worry about missing the deadline.

One other quick note on this subject is to remember that comments you make on your blog/Twitter/Facebook even when relating to personal things still reflect on your business.  Many of us use these platforms for both personal and business reasons so you have to remember your customers, as well as your friends, can see your updates.

Be careful of the language you use, and the topics you choose to discuss as they could put off potential customers.  You are best off presuming that everything you put online is being read by potential customers.


Dealing With Problems

This point ties in very well with the point above.  As noted before, problems do arise and they can adversely affect your business.  Your supplies might not be delivered in time, meaning you cannot meet a delivery deadline.  A cheque might not clear when you expected, leaving you unable to pay an invoice. These things happen to the best of us and are often beyond our control.

What matters is how you deal with it. Communication is the key, contact the person awaiting the product/payment, explain the problem, apologise and let them know when they can expect it.

I’ve found the sewing/craft industry to be full of very friendly, supportive people. If you have a problem, try asking for help. If you can’t find a particular supply etc ask others in the industry and you will probably find there are many people who will be glad to help you.  Hurdles are there to be overcome, you just have to think about how you will get over them.

If the problem is one of your customers, they are unhappy with your product or service, keep a professional manner, stay polite and let them know how you will resolve the issue.  Bear in mind that negative comments circulate a lot quicker than positive ones, particularly since the advent of Twitter and other social networks. The last thing you want is someone tweeting about the awful service/product they received from you.  Even though it may leave you out of pocket giving a refund to an unhappy customer can often cost you a lot less in the long run!


Keeping Motivated

I won’t lie to you, running your own business is very hard.  There will be days when you wonder why on earth you even bothered.  Some days you may be up working until 3 am, see comments on Facebook criticising your work, not get paid for a job you have done, have a customer poached by a competitor etc.  Running your own business is an emotional roller coaster, you will have good days, you will have amazing days, but then you will also have really bad days.

The main thing you have to do is remind yourself why you are doing it. If you are running your own business so you can be at home with your children, focus on that, if it is to pay for a few holidays, or even to pay your mortgage, keep thinking about that. No matter how bad things get it is all a learning experience, even if your business fails you will have gained invaluable knowledge from running it.

It pays to take stock every now and then, summarise what you have achieved turnover wise, number of sales, hits to your website, social networking fans etc.  Take a break from the day to day details of the business every now and then to step back and look at the bigger picture. This really helps to motivate you when you look over your past successes and don't dwell on any current issues.

You also have to learn to prioritise and accept you can’t do everything.  When it all seems overwhelming, make a list, move things into an order of importance and then feel proud of yourself as you tick things off.  Don’t panic if you don’t get everything on the list done (I have things that have been on there for years!) just think of what you have achieved with the things that you have taken off the list.



In Summary, Here Is What You Need To Consider When Starting A Craft Business:

  • Research Your Market - Initial research is critical to success. By finding out about your target market, competitors and costs, you can make informed decisions for the long-term.

  • Ensure Your Idea Is Financially Viable - Once you have done your research, you can start to plan what to price your items at and what costs you will incur. Don’t forget to factor in your time!

  • Seek Out Support -There are a number of initiatives across the UK that aim to support startups. By seeking out their help, you can access a wealth of resources and potentially acquire grants and loans.

  • Focus On Your Accounts -The government provides courses on how to do your accounting on the HMRC website. Keeping on top of your accounts can save you a lot of stress ahead of deadlines.

  • Cover Yourself With Craft Insurance -Many crafters aren’t aware that they require insurance. Make sure to protect your business with all the necessary applications to stay above board.

  • Find A Wholesaler - Rather than pay retail prices for your materials, you can buy them wholesale to cut down on your costs. This gives you more flexibility when it comes to pricing your products.

  • Present Your Business - How your business is presented can help you to develop a positive reputation. Business cards and a professional website can help your customers develop the right impression of your brand.

  • Build a Reputation - A reputation can make or break a brand. By paying attention to details and giving your customers the service they deserve, you can keep them coming back and talking about your business.

  • Resolve Customer’s Problems Promptly - Problems naturally occur every now and then. The key is to keep your customers informed on what is happening and help move towards an agreeable outcome.

  • Stay Motivated - Running a business can be hard at times. Remind yourself of the reasons that you started on this journey to keep you motivated through the highs and lows of running a craft business.


Thanks for sharing your tips, Fiona! We're sure this will kickstart the fortunes of many a craft business! For more information on these topics, and other useful advice about running a creative business take a look at Fiona's Book: Making & Marketing a Successful Art & Crafts Business. 

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The key to being successful with your craft business is to think and plan ahead. As with Many new craft sellers make the mistake of trying to start with too many ideas. You may also be interested in getting your products into local shops on.

Where to Sell Handmade Items 

There are so many avenues and places to sell your crafts to the world. 

But before you go off exploring you need to set up your online store. 

Your online store is what is going to allow you to sit at the dining table and become your own boss. 

Plenty of options to choose from these days, and a great one to go with is Shopify. They have all kinds designs and themes ready to have your store good to go on day one. 

Believe me too, the feeling you get when your website is up in all its glory is a special one indeed. 

Not that you should stop there. There’s a whole array of other online channels to sell your items through: Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, Bonanza etc. 

And having stores on different platforms gives you access to different kinds of people and customers. 

Look at like bonus potential. 

So, we got the products and the store(s) ready. All we need now are the customers. 

There’s no doubt that the first customers are the hardest to get. They don’t know you or your products quite yet, but remember this is a marathon, not a 100 metre sprint. 

Start off with who you know, the people around you: friends, family and acquaintances. 

They can quickly become your strongest ambassadors and provide critical feedback. Plus, soon enough, you could find yourself with orders coming in from friends of friends. 

Once your close circle is in the bag, you can start to draw those all-important online customers. 

There’s loads of ways you can promote your online store in the virtual world.

You can connect with local social media players and use influencer marketing to get your name out there. Some of them will ask for money, but others will just do it if they really like your product. 

Another route is to collect email addresses from those who buy your product and then start sending them newsletters. Let them know what’s going on with the store, or if you have any products on sale.  

This is also a great way to keep connected with your audience. You can give them little tips and tricks, educate them about your product and even have a little bit of fun. 

Just make sure you don’t overdo it. That could drive some of your customers away. 

So what else can you do? 

Okay, here’s a radical idea. 

But I warn you, it does involve you leaving the house a bit. 

It’s called...the real world. 

Yup, there are places out there in the real world where business sell their crafts in person.  

Now this isn’t something you have to do forever. But it’s a great way to get your name out there and allow people to start making that all important personal connection. 

Start by mentioning your product to your friends, family and neighbours.  

Then you can move onto the classics: 

-Craft fairs 

-Small boutiques 

-Local markets 

Take an assortment of your products, high and low value, and get talking to people.  

They can get the personal touch first hand, and even if they don’t buy, they may have nice things to say about you to other potential customers. 

Soon enough you’ll be getting orders coming through from your online store. 

All that hard work you put in now feels like nostalgic memory of the past. 

Growing Your Business 

“How to start a craft business” is no more. 

Time to sit back with a cup of hot coffee and listen to the evening radio.  

Bask in the knowledge that you have turned your hobby and passion into a profitable business. The dream has become a reality. 

You are your own boss, and now you can reap the rewards of something you built with your own blood, sweat and tears. 

But don’t get too comfortable. 

Because now, as the orders start rolling and the business grows, you need to make sure you keep on top of it. 

You can start with pen, paper and a spreadsheet at first. You’ll probably need a manufacturers inventory spreadsheet template too.

It’s scary though how quickly things can get out of control if you don’t manage your inventory and processes. Especially if more people and products get involved. 

That’s why it’s important to make sure you have the supporting tools and software to keep you on track. Smart Manufacturing Software is one of those that helps grow your online craft business by keeping all those tricky moving parts in check. 

Then as the journey really starts, you can keep your gaze on the horizon without having to worry so much about the running of a successful, growing craft business. 

Starting a Craft Business Online With No Money

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Several Cutting for Business readers have wrote to me with the same question: “Can I change my business name after I’ve started selling products?” My answer: “Yes, but you may lose some customers along the way, and you need to plan it out well.” If you are not happy with the name you chose for your store, this article will help you identify the steps you need to take to change your business name.

6 Steps to Change Your Craft Business Name

  1. Decide on your new business name – think it through carefully, so you don’t need to change it again. Here’s my tips for naming your business.
  2. Make a list of everything that will need to be changed and a schedule of when you will change everything. This will include each social media profile, your website or store name, your logos, your business paperwork, your packaging materials, and your business cards.
  3. Change your business registration. If you have registered your business in your state or county, you can usually continue to operate under your original name by filing a “Doing Business As” or DBA with your state or county. This will vary from state to state, so be sure to ask your local SBA or contact your state or county for more information. If you don’t have a mailing list, now is a great time to start one – head to this post for information.
  4. Advertise your name change a few weeks in advance, and keep advertising it through social media or your mailing list. People access social media at different times throughout the day or week. To reach the maximum amount of your current customers or fans, mention your name change several times on your various social media outlets.
  5. Make your name change. For social media, it is easy to change your Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter usernames. If you are on Facebook, you may have selected a permanent URL and will need to create a new Facebook Business Page. If you use Etsy to sell, you can change your shop name one time. If you have already changed your name, you’ll need to contact Etsy for assistance.
  6. Celebrate your new name with your customers and fans. Again, mention a few times that you have changed your shop or store name – this makes sure that your existing customers don’t leave because they don’t know who you are. Consider celebrating your fresh start with a giveaway or sale.

Remember to be realistic about your name change. You may lose some customers throughout your name change process, but you’ll gain others. If you have a large following, a name change may be more difficult, so be sure to weigh your options before starting a name change.

Need help deciding on a new name? I’ve got tips for you in this post.

Save the image below to Pinterest to help another crafter.

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: What Should You Sell on Etsy? Handmade Product Tips - @laurenfairwx

Find out where they shop and put your craft business there. Pay a Others make special arrangements with crafters whose items they like.

Step-by-step guide on how to start a craft business

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:

>> CRAFT BUSINESSES THAT MAKE THE LEAST MONEY

 

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

>> CRAFT TRENDS FOR 2019

>> CHRISTMAS CRAFT TRENDS FOR 2019

>> HANDMADE JEWELRY TRENDS FOR CHRISTMAS 2019

 

You may also be interested in:

>> WHAT SELLS BEST AT A CRAFT SHOW

>> 5 REASONS YOU’RE NOT MAKING MORE MONEY AT CRAFT SHOWS

>> 1 (REALLY) SIMPLE SALES TECHNIQUE TO SELL MORE HANDMADE

 

 

CRAFT BUSINESSES THAT MAKE MONEY HAVE…PROFITS

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:

 

 

JEWELRY

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

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.

 

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

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.

 

 

SOAP

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.

 

 

SEWING

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.

 

 

CANDLES

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.

 

 

 

CRAFT BUSINESSES THAT MAKE MONEY HAVE…DEMAND

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.

 

 

WEDDING

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.

 

JEWELRY

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)

 

 

WOMENSWEAR

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.

 

 

HOME DÉCOR

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

 

 

BEAUTY

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:

 

 

PET

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:

 

 

 

CRAFT BUSINESSES THAT MAKE MONEY HAVE: A GREAT PRODUCT

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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how to keep your craft store in business

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: PLAN WITH ME: How I Keep my Etsy Shop & Business Organized

A business plan helps you make the business part of your craft a priority and gives you While going to the local craft store is good for the home crafter, now that.

how to keep your craft store in business
Written by Moogushura
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