Starting a crafting business is a dream for millions of people. You’re likely already passionate about a certain craft, whether it’s woodworking, cross stitching, etching glass, or something even more obscure. If you could enjoy yourself while spending time on this hobby, then make a profit when you sell the finished products to your customers, you’d probably be happier than you are at your current job.
That said, it’s practically impossible to create a successful crafting business from scratch on a whim—especially if you have no prior entrepreneurship experience. There’s a lot of competition out there, and if you’re not prepared, you may not be able to make a profit, let alone scale enough to sustain a full-time salary for yourself.
So what exactly do you need to build a successful craft business?
A Checklist for Craft Businesses
These are the things you’ll need to acquire or develop before you can be successful in selling crafts:
- A workspace. If you’re going to get serious about crafting on a large scale, you’ll need to have a dedicated workspace. The increased volume you’ll face with customer orders necessitates a space where you can stay focused. Depending on what you have already, you could customize or modify an existing room of your home, or build an outdoor shed where you can do your work in peace. Having a focused workspace will be good motivation for you to continue.
- A target audience. Who are you trying to sell to? If you try to make a product that everyone loves, you’ll likely get lost in the crowd. Instead, it’s much better to have a narrowly defined, specific target audience; that way, you can adjust your messaging and your creations to appeal to those demographics. Once you’ve made a selection, work to get to know them. What products might they be interested in? Have they bought crafts like yours in the past? What do they need, and what are they currently missing?
- A place to sell (or many). Next, identify one or more locations where you can sell your goods. This will partially depend on your target audience, which is why that’s important to define first. Platforms like Etsy have become quite popular, but expect to pay fees for each transaction you make while using the service. You could also focus on selling your products in person by attending craft fairs in your area.
- A competitive advantage. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of other artists trying to make a living in your defined niche. If you want to succeed, you’ll need to have some key way of differentiating yourself. Depending on your goals, that may mean selling higher-quality products, catering to different niche interests, or selling your products for a lower price. If you’re stuck on what your competitive advantage could be, look at how your existing competitors are positioning themselves. Is there an angle they’re currently missing?
- Initial stock. Before you start selling, it’s a good idea to build up significant stock of your most important products. That way, if and when you start making more sales, you’ll be able to ship them out quickly. You’ll also be able to invest more time in your marketing and advertising, since you won’t have to create every product from scratch. While you’re at it, take some photos so you can show them off in your product listings.
- A website (and social media). Even if you plan to use a third-party website to do most of your selling, it’s a good idea to create your own website. There, you can show off your personal brand and give your fans more details about your work. You’ll also be able to sell your crafts with lower (or nonexistent) fees. Make sure you also have a social media presence.
- A plan to scale. How are you going to grow your business over time? There are several potential strategies here, including building up a community on social media and forums, or employing marketing and advertising strategies to build brand recognition. There’s no single “right” strategy, so choose a tactic that makes sense for your brand.
Crafts as a Business
If you’re simply interested in making a few extra dollars with your crafts as a hobby, you don’t need to go into this much depth. Just be aware that your profit margins will be slim, at best, and you may not see many sales. If you want to be successful, and treat this as a legitimate operation, you’ll need to adopt the mindset of an entrepreneur—and come prepared with a full business plan.
Whatever your goals are, keep working on your favorite crafts and perfecting your skills; you won’t regret it.