This is a collaborative post by Ellie Jo with tips on starting your own online craft business.
Starting your own business is getting easier and easier with hundreds of articles online outlining what you need to do to make business’ profitable. What if you’re looking for something smaller, however? Less ambitious, maybe? A business fuelled by love and love alone. Maybe you had a DIY wedding and you made all of your own favors, or the moms at the school are asking you for your vanilla cupcake recipe. Lots of people are starting to support makers so that they get unique gifts that nobody else has. Starting your craft business can be a great way to turn your passion into a paycheck.
How to Start an Online Craft Business
Start With What You Love
It is easy to be passionate about something you love, and it’s even more beneficial to spend your days making something you enjoy for the enjoyment of others. Craft and ‘niche’ products are increasing in popularity, so find something unique to make and sell, but not something too ‘out there’ like a bottle opener with a mustache comb attached (Why would that even be a thing?) Maybe it’s wedding favors with handwritten labels, giving a customer’s wedding that special touch. These things can be incredibly therapeutic to make. Try to think of something with a unique twist before pursuing the passion more. You can also invest in cheap sticker printing, if you want to add your name or branding.
What Does Running a Craft Business Involve?
There can be a number of tasks when it comes to running your business, and the work undertaken can vary on a day-to-day basis.
Some of the activities are likely to include:
- Purchasing ingredients and negotiating with suppliers
- Making and developing new products (The fun bit!!)
- Marketing your products
- Keeping track of sales
- Keeping business records (orders, costs, bills etc)
How Much Does It Cost?
Starting a business doesn’t need to be expensive, particularly if you’re looking to operate online, and you’re starting out small. There may however be some start-up costs involved.
For example- the costs of materials. Following on from the example of baking cupcakes, this is not just the ingredients, it’s the mixing bowls, the mixers, the cake pans etc- which will only need to be replaced after the natural wear and tear of a year or so usage. The cost of ingredients is where you want to work on your negotiation skills- gain exclusivity with a trusted supplier to get them at a lower cost for buying wholesale.
You may want to spend some money buying a spot at a flea market and selling your products there- which may be a good way to start your business and gain loyal customers.
Starting Your Empire Online
If the idea of sitting out at craft fairs doesn’t appeal to you, you could always take the business online. It is inexpensive to start a website, or there are many other sales opportunities online for craft businesses- Etsy for example. It’s a crafting ‘marketplace’ where customers who are already interested in buying home crafts are already on the lookout for their next purchase. Here, you could create links to your very own shop. You can even set up some website domains for free!
You’ll need to think about safe ways for people to be able to pay for the products you have in offer, too. It’s easy to set up a PayPal account to use solely for your business, but that is not always a hacker-proof method of taking payments. There are ways of taking payment using identity verification services from the UX experts, who will ensure that all transactions are completed safely. This ensures the correct identity of the customer, for your reassurance, and for the reassurance of the customer putting their card details online.
Approach Local Companies
Maybe there is an independent coffee shop down the street that you enjoy going to. Try talking to management there about the latest recipes you’re working on. Also, offer to bring in samples of your products for them to taste. Sell the idea to them that they will be supporting a small local business. Then point out that they will be reducing the mileage of the products they are selling. This will be a unique selling point for both your business and them!
Think Future Forward
While starting small is an option, it is important to make sure you think of the future. Many huge corporations started at home, and are now multi-billion dollar companies and household names.
To market your business, consider using social media and possibly using Facebook advertising agencies.
Be flexible in your approaches-expect financial pitfalls at times, but don’t let that discourage your vision for the bigger picture!
Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.