How To Sell Crafts Online: Picking A Craft To Sell
I think most folks don’t put a lot of thought into picking a craft to sell when they decide to start selling handmade crafts. They probably already make something that their friends like and they give as gifts, handcrafted jewelry, crocheted hats, maybe they even sell them at the local church or school craft sale, so it’s natural to think that’s what they’ll sell. An assumption is made that if they can make enough of them of them and offer them for sale, that people will buy them just because they’re there. I’m not even sure that would be true during high economic times and I know it’s not true now.
There are things to consider when selecting what craft you’ll make to sell and it isn’t necessarily your experience with it. I do think you should have a passion for it and feel connected to it in some way but it could be something you haven’t tried yet. When I decided I was going to take a risk and start selling handmade online, I had never even touched polymer clay but I banked on it, I did a ton of research about working with it. I took the time to look at all the techniques and types of work that could be done with it and I filtered out of that the things I loved. And then I took out the clay. I worked with it and tried a few things, I even made a cane once, knew I wouldn’t really click with it but I did try. I tried a lot of things, my early pieces were all over the board in terms of style and construction. I had a lot of fun and learned intuitively what I liked and didn’t and what I was good at. I had a clear passion for working with it and it was clear early on I could have a chance at selling my polymer clay work. I loved it and that shone through in my work.
There are other things to consider, though, when selecting a craft to sell online
- are supplies readily available?
- can you afford the supplies?
- does the market exist for this?
- is it an overly competitive market?
- do you have the work space needed?
- do you know your target customer?
Some supplies can be very expensive or difficult to get and if that’s the case then maybe you need to look at a different craft. Some products may be too ‘niche’ in which case the market may not exist to support your product in the marketplace. Other markets may be too oversaturated with intense competition, in which case you will want to develop your product and style to set yourself apart. That is very true for handcrafted jewelry and if that’s your chosen craft, I seriously recommend putting a great deal of thought into developing your style, learning design concepts, and breaking away from the crowd by producing seriously unique and awesome one of a kind stuff that folks just can’t get elsewhere. Do you have the space in your home to dedicate to a permanent work space? If your chosen craft requires a great deal of space for work or storage, that’s a big consideration, not everyone has space just laying around.
Do you have an idea of who your target customer is? This is something that will be more prevalent as you fully develop a unique style but you have to have some kind of focus to start with, are you making baby clothes? barbie clothes? barrettes? men’s tie tacs? Cool guitar straps? pet fashion? You can’t make every craft and you can’t make crafts for everybody, and you’ll never really excel at what you do and develop a great, unique style if you try, so set realistic goals for yourself and allow yourself the time and ability to focus so you can be great and make an awesome, stand out product.
People who are buying handmade are also participating in an experience, if they wanted to shop a school or church bazaar, they would be. They want to be oohed and ahhed by shopping handmade, so your shop should be that sort of experience. Putting a shop together involves a lot of things, like great photography, branding, a logo, but it also involves cohesion. That’s another reason why you need to focus on specific products and not try to make every craft for everyone in hopes of finding that something that will sell. Shops that look like an online garage sale don’t do well, so your online shop should look like a specialty boutique, and you are only going to get that by focusing your product line. And trust me, it’s a lot easier on you emotionally to focus and narrow your products in order to develop something truly unique than to try and figure out what will sell. I see people bouncing off the walls trying to figure out what will sell, making one thing after another, none of it having anything to do with the other, and none of it selling. They spend their time worrying what people want, instead of figuring out what they do best and developing a style unique to them.
I have a theory. When what you make comes from you and you love it, you didn’t make it with the idea that others will like it, but just because you thought it would be great, that comes through in the end result and people will love it. Because your feeling for it brings it all together in a way that worrying about other’s liking it simply cannot. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. One more reason you need to have a passion for your chose craft =)
4 thoughts on “Picking a Craft to Sell”
Thank you for your generous, excellent, helpful and well thought out advice. Guidance from someone like you who is already making a success of their crafting business is so valuable!
(((Anita))) Thankyou sweetie =) I tell ya, I’m looking around at others and how far they’ve come in such a short time and not sure I’m as successful as I feel, but I see so many out there just struggling for their first sale, it’s heartbreaking for them, I know it is. If just one person reads these posts and gets a better start or gets the confidence to start over, that would be awesome.
I found your blog through a Google alert I had set up for “craft business” or something similar. Lucky me! I am so excited to meet another polymer clay artist! Actually, by an even bigger coincidence, I too decided to dabble in polymer clay after the initial decision to start selling my own handmade creations. I had honestly never worked much with poly clay before but, like you, I read and researched and played around and developed my own style of cigarette case wallets. (My mother also creates jewelry for our shop.)
Our shop is fairly new. We opened our Etsy shop on Jan 10th, only a couple of weeks after starting our Facebook page. Our Etsy sales numbers are miserable- only one sale- but we’ve managed to make 5 custom orders (3 for our cigarette cases) now so I feel as though things are starting to pick up. I worried for a while that the difference in my mother’s and my style would ruin the cohesiveness of my shop. But, as long as our products maintain a bohemian, earth-inspired theme and we continue to put our hearts into what we make, then I believe we’ll be just fine with slight variations between our individual styles.
This was a great post! I definitely agree that many new “professional crafters” only go forward on dreams of making things, making money and working from home. They don’t realize that you need to create something truly unique in order to achieve the most success- and they also do not realize all the time and energy necessary to market your products and find your ideal customers. Instead, as you mention, they think they can make lots and lots of random things with no cohesive style and their supply of things will create a demand.
Wrong. Just. So. Wrong.
Gawd, I ramble…anywho, thanks again for the great post. So glad I found you- looking forward to following you!
I wish both of you much luck! I am planning more detailed posts about exactly what I did to market myself at a later date and exactly how I take my photos, too, among other things. I don’t know if you will find those helpful, but I know every bit can help.
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