Figuring out how to get money with a disability isn't easy when you're unable to work a regular job. But if you enjoy working with your hands from home, there are options available to you including selling crafts online!
Now, I'm not going to sugarcoat things, engaging in creative and artistic pursuits like crafts isn't the easiest way to earn an income so if that's your goal, check out this article instead.
But if you're passionate about making crafts and have the confidence to persevere through rough times, you'll stand a good chance of building a rewarding side business that'll last you for years to come.
In this article, I'll show you how to get started making money with crafts step-by-step and reveal the best online marketplaces to sell your work.
Are you up to the challenge? Alright, let's get going!
HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING CRAFTS ONLINE IN 6 STEPS
Step 1: Choose Your Product
- Your first task is to pick a craft that both interests you and which you think you'd be good at doing, like jewelry-making, sewing, crocheting, painting, drawing, knitting and much more.
- Search for products selling well in your chosen niche by visiting seller pages on Etsy.com (the premiere marketplace for selling crafts online) and clicking on 'Sales' links...
If you can't find products selling well in your niche, don't waste time, choose another craft instead!
Because it's easier to sell products people ACTUALLY want than what you THINK they want.
To give you a better idea of crafts selling well today, here's a list of the current best sellers according to the Craft and Hobby Association:
- Food Crafting
- Jewelry Making
Now, don't feel like you have to pick one these five crafts to do well, plenty of products sell in other niches too, as you can see from this list of best selling items on Etsy.
- Thousands of artisans sell similar products which makes it especially hard to stand out from the crowd (I mean, can you really tell apart one cinnamon candle from another?) That's why it's important to come up with a unique angle for your product.
Let's take an example…
Say you want to sell hand soap. Well, that's pretty generic as is but not if there are in the form of video game controllers like Nintendo and Xbox...
See what I mean?
Step 2: Create Your Product
Most customers that buy handmade products appreciate quality over cheaply-made, mass-produced items and that's why it's important to sharpen your skills before creating anything. So, if you have any doubts about your skillset, enroll in one or two courses at Craftsy to learn what you need to know.
While dreaming up a whole product line is admirable, it's best to start small and concentrate on 1-3 products maximum when starting out. Once you're successful selling those, you can think about branching out.
Now you're ready to create your product! So, depending on what you're making, gather all your raw materials, work your magic, and test out your product for durability once you're finished.
Also, make sure to factor in packaging as part of your creation process. Things like wrapping, boxing, personalized notes, business cards, coupons/discounts all play a role in creating a great customer experience.
The irregular and intimate quality of things made entirely by the human hand. – Willa Cather
Step 3: Take Product Photos
As an online seller, photos can make or break your business so here are some basic tips to get great shots:
- Use natural lighting; avoid using a flash
- Use simple, non-distracting backgrounds (plain white is always safe)
- Capture your product in crisp focus using multiple angles
If you're not comfortable taking photos yourself, hire a pro or at least a friend with some photography skills.
Step 4: Create Your Online Shop
The best places to sell handmade products for new sellers are trusted e-commerce websites where customers already shop like Etsy, Supermarket, and Zazzle.
Now, it might be tempting to sell your products on several platforms at once to get more sales but it's not a good idea if you're short on manpower. Start with one marketplace and build from there.
Here's how to do it…
- Come up with a catchy name for your online shop using a tool like this.
- Get a professional logo designed. You can find some decent, inexpensive designers on Fiverr but 99designs is a better option if you have the money.
- Select a marketplace to sell your products (see below for my company comparison chart).
- Create an account. Visit the website, choose a username/password, fill out the basic information and read over and agree to the company's terms and conditions.
- Complete your profile. Here's where you can set yourself apart from big-name retailers and other sellers:
• Upload a nice picture of yourself
• Provide a little background information
• Explain your product and why you make it
• Explain your creation process
Try to come across as personable and relatable in your writing and incorporate personal stories if possible!
- Create your product listing.
First, come up with a keyword-rich product title using the website's auto-fill feature which shows phrases often searched for by customers.
Next, write inviting descriptions with as much information as possible, including size, weight, materials, special care, custom orders and shipping information. Visit other seller pages for inspiration in case you get stuck!
Lastly, make good use of tags to get more traffic to your online shop.
- Set pricing.
I'm sure you agree that spending a week to make an item that sells for $40 isn't time well spent. Instead, you want think assembly-line — a systematic product creation process where your goal is to produce as many products as possible in the least amount of time. This way, you pocket enough money to make the process worthwhile.
So, let's take a hypothetical example…
Let's say it takes you one hour to create your product and you want to pay yourself $25 per hour for your labor.
The next thing to do is factor in costs for raw material, customer packaging and shipping (advertising also comes into play but that's later down the road). Let's say your total cost works out to $10 per item.
Okay, now let's do some simple math…
- Equation: Labor + Costs = Rough Price
Values: $25 + $10 = $35
- Equation: Rough Price x 2 = Wholesale Price
Values: $35 x 2 = $70
Now, your profit margin should be at least 30-35% so let's work that in…
- Equation: Wholesale Price x Profit Margin = Total Profit
Values: $70 x .35 = $24.50
- Equation: Wholesale Price + Total Profit = Retail Price
Values: $70 + $24.50 = $94.50
Based on this example, your product should sell for $94.50 for which you'd make a profit of $24.50, which is slightly less than our goal of $25 but close enough.
Now, check what your competitors' products sell for to see if you fall within the same range. If your retail price is higher, consider making some price adjustments but not so much that you completely devalue your work!
Keep this in mind — there will ALWAYS be sellers who'll try to undersell you so don't worry about charging slightly more. With a good marketing strategy, it's still possible to beat your competitors even when selling at a premium price.
- Start selling.
Once everything's set up and made live, you're ready to start selling! At this stage, you want to be ready to answer customers' questions in a timely manner and monitor your activity.
Try to make a personal connection whenever engaging with customers to gain their trust and differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Step 5: Create a Personal Website
No question about it, selling crafts on a third-party platform like Etsy is the way to go if you're a new seller. But it shouldn't be your sole strategy.
For one thing, you're playing on someone else's turf where businesses get shut down or suspended for violating terms of service agreements, often unintentionally! That's a dangerous position to be in when you've been building a business over several months or years. Not to mention the lack of control over customers' shopping experience (beyond what you have control over).
That's why setting up your OWN website makes sense — you have full control over your business plus it looks more professional.
Now, it's fine to set up a website and redirect visitors to your online shop on Etsy or elsewhere when just starting out but eventually you'll want to sell your products on your own site once you've built a solid customer base. Loyal followers of yours will gladly buy from you directly!
So, the first thing to do is choose a name for your website and set up hosting, both of which you can do here for free:
The main way you'll generate traffic to your website is by writing blog posts based on targeted keywords related to the product you're selling such as:
How to make handmade soap from scratch
Supplies needed for soap making
Where to buy handmade soap
Handmade soap gift ideas
Creative ways to wrap soap
Get the idea?
You'll also want to start building an email list to engage with your customers and prospects regularly by offering valuable information, discounts, giveaways, and more.
Now, I know this is a lot to grasp especially if you've never built a website before but it's not that hard once you get the hang of it. If you want to learn the ropes, I can personally help you by signing up with this welcoming community of like-minded people for free.
Step 6: Market Your Shop
Even if you think your handbags beat Marc Jacobs', no one will know about it unless you get good at marketing so here are a few strategies to start out with…
Arts and Crafts Shows
There's no better opportunity to network with other crafts sellers than at these events, many of whom are also customers, so bring plenty of products and don't forget your business cards!
You can buy a booth space for yourself or share one with another crafts seller to test the waters first. Check out these websites to locate upcoming shows near you:
Get involved with online forums generally related to crafts as well as your specific niche (e.g., scrapbooking, drawing, etc.)
Once you become a regularly contributing member, include a link to your online store or website in the signature area of your profile to generate traffic (make sure to check the forum's terms and conditions first!)
To get started, check out these crafts-related forums:
While any social media platform can work, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are the best channels to promote crafts.
Use these platforms at least once per week to post promotional offers like discounts and giveaways and share blog posts from your website and others.
WHERE TO SELL CRAFTS ONLINE
With over a million sellers and 30 million customers, Etsy has become the go-to place for artisans but there are far from the only game in town. The comparison table below lists 12 other companies worth checking out. In case you're not sure which to join, these few tips may help:
- Make sure the company sells the type of products you want to sell.
- Make sure you agree to the company's fee structure.
- Make sure you understand company policy toward stocking and shipment of products to customers (you're responsible for all the companies listed below).
- Make sure you understand the company's payout structure.
While I don't recommend it, if you want to sell on Etsy PLUS another company, try Zibbet first as they have a system in place to easily transfer Etsy listings over to them (just be sure you're able to fulfill all orders!)
Now, you'll notice I didn't include eBay and that's because there are better known for collector's items and new or used retail items. Similarly, I left out CafePress which primarily sells t-shirts and printables.
Selling crafts online is a great way for disabled individuals to make money from home but it requires a lot of work and commitment to be anything more than a hobby.
While I hope this article gives you a good starting point, there's still a lot to learn about this business so if you're serious about selling crafts, check out this great video course.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!
Do you already have an idea of a handmade product you'd like to sell? Leave your comments below!