Annabelle Carter Short is a professional seamstress of more than 7 years who sells handmade items.
You probably have imagined what would be like to live exclusively from your creations, be your boss and profit from your own business. However, how to start? How to organize your products, find customers, and sell? Most businesses don’t grow overnight, and to start a project of this sort, you will need to dedicate your time and efforts to it, even if just a little bit every day. Small steps can put you on the right track with time.
Research Your Niche and Target Audience
Handmade products are unique and have their specific market segments. You will have better success if you understand from the beginning which niche your products belong to and who is the target audience. As an entrepreneur, you need to develop varied tasks to launch a product, and this is the time for you to wear the researcher “hat.”
Research your competitors, what customers are looking for, and what they can’t find in the current market. Once you find the gap, start planning your product line.
Tips for Keeping Your Costs Down
- Negotiate! When buying your supplies, always negotiate for wholesale prices, or at least look for materials on sale. If you purchase raw materials at their retail prices, you will never be competitive enough within your market.
- Don’t multitask. You should always optimize your creative process to do the most within the less time possible. When working from home, it is common to fall into the trap of multitasking. Doing several things at the same time is highly counterproductive as you can’t give your full attention to what you are crafting. If you have to stop and restart several times, this will lead to a low rate per hour. Create a routine for work, have a particular room just for crafting, and keep yourself away from distractions, like TV for example.
Price Your Products Correctly
Consider all your costs, including supplies and your time. Yes, time is money! When you sell your product, every hour you spend crafting should be paid, as well as every material you use.
After you optimize your costs and time, it is time to set your price! The price should cover your expense and still give you some profit so that you can invest this profit back into your business and personal life. Remember to set apart your “salary” from your business profit. Don’t mix them both, or you might lose track of what your profits are being invested on.
Before setting your price, also check for your competitor's retailing practices. Try to place yourself within the price range your competitors are selling, so you can be sure you will not be overpricing your item, and people will still be drawn to buy. Also, don’t place your price too low, even if you are getting your supplies for free, for example. Always aim to increase what you’re earning and avoid undercutting your fellow makers.
Create Your Brand
Every business needs a brand, and so does yours! Branding is what will identify your products and company, it includes your logo, mission, and values. It is a signature that you will incorporate into packages, labels, shops, exhibition booth blogs, and business cards. If marketing and branding are new for you, we would suggest you educate yourself in the field. You can find several articles on the web, giving details and tips as a starter. It is okay to start small and learn as you evolve.
Label Your Handmade Products
A label is one of the things that will set your product apart from our competitors, it adds a signature to your work, and make people remember your brand. It also shows how serious you take your business. You can easily design and produce your own labels online, just adding your brand’s logo or name. Depending on your product, you might also need to add additional tags with size, care instructions, and fabric content.
How to Sell Your Products
After setting the basics of your business, it is time to market and advertise it! There are several options you can follow; you just need to identify which one is the best for achieving your goals.
1. Sell at Craft Fairs and Shows
If you are a beginner, it might feel scary to show your creations for a bigger audience for the first time. However, this is precisely what you need. People need to know you, your brand, and your products. Local craft fairs are perfect, you can have a look into competitors, check if the target audience likes your products, and if your price is indeed within the expectations.
2. Sell Locally, Where, and How?
If you don’t own a shop, you can sell your products to a boutique retailer, flea markets, pop-up stores, charity events, cafes, or art galleries. These are great options to grow your local customer base, you will just need to find the right place to do it. The proper venue will depend on the type of product you're selling, your niche market, and the audience. Maybe your craft is somehow related to coffee? Or is it something pet owners would love to buy?
After deciding what’s the best place to display your products, it is time to pitch the spot with the venue owner. Some might charge you a fee for displaying the products, others might buy from you and re-sell, or even agree on a consignment contract. Check what is best for your business and close the deal!
3. Sell on Marketplaces
There are some fantastic marketplaces which can help you show your products to a global audience. Etsy, eBay, and Amazon Handmade are just a few of the best-known ones. Each platform will charge you specific rates for selling your product, and you should consider their pros and cons before committing.
4. Share on Social Media
Handmade products are visual, and you should look for social media platforms that help you show this aspect. Pinterest and Instagram are the most popular choices since they are explicitly intended for sharing images and have an incredibly visual approach. Long texts here are not the right approach, but you can use hashtags.
If planning a paid campaign, remember to segment your audience to maximize your investment’s return. Instagram and Facebook ads allow you to define your target and how much you want to spend into a determined campaign.
5. Sell on Your Own Website
Having your own website might require a little bit more investment, but it is a great way to sell your products online without paying fees to marketplaces. There are several e-commerce platforms that offer basic starter plans for an affordable price, such as Wix, BigCommerce, and Shopify.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.