How to Sell Your Homemade Crafts Online
Many of us are always keen to find out about different ways in which we could earn extra money, especially if they are relatively easy opportunities which we can take up from home. However, some people might not need to look too far to find a fun and exciting way to make money - these days it’s possible to sell your homemade crafts online and perhaps even build up a little business around your talents and hobbies. If this sounds like you, then read on to find out all about how to get started.
Work out what you’re going to make
This might sound obvious, but you will need to have a really clear idea about what you’re going to make before you can even consider selling it to anyone else. It might be children’s furniture, it might be personalised clothing, it might even be individually designed labels for jam jars - our talents lie in a wide range of places.
One of the first things to do is to test your product on friends and family members and if possible, ask them to pass it on to others as well. Whilst it is difficult to get completely unbiased feedback from those who are close to you, you should at least be able to get a bit of feel for how your product is being received. If you want to encourage them to be more open and honest, you could design an anonymous questionnaire for them to fill in, or you could even set one up on a website like SurveyMonkey.
Once you know you’ve got a product that (as far as you’re able to judge) people would like to buy, your next step will be to road test how easy it is for you to make a larger number of them, i.e., are you easily able to scale up from making the odd one every now and then to making quite a few each week?
You will need to work out exactly how much it will cost you to produce each item (bearing in mind that you might be able to buy some or all of your materials in bulk and also that as you get more experienced with making your items you will probably get quicker at it as well).
Think about the physical space required in your home in order to store all your resources. The chances are you will be dealing with the crafting of your products on top of family commitments and any other work you do. You might be happy to drag your sewing machine out of a cupboard and use it every now and then at the moment, for example, but would this become difficult if you had to do it every day? It might be possible to convert an area of your home into a permanent work station if you can be a little creative with space.
Keep a tight rein on your budget
It’s very easy to get carried away and start investing in loads of materials and equipment before you’ve even had a single order placed. While you will want to minimise the times you have to turn down orders because you don’t have the capacity to handle them yet, it’s better to be in that situation than to have got yourself into debt buying materials that you can’t make use of because no-one is buying your product.
You can use a simple spreadsheet program on your computer to keep tracks of your costs (both fixed and variable) and at a later date, you can start adding in the income you generate from sales. Review your spending at regular intervals and make adjustments if necessary.
You will need to register as self-employed and will have to complete your own tax return if you earn over a certain amount. The following link to the HMRC website will tell you everything you need to know.
If the idea of completing a tax return or managing your own finances seems scary, you could use the services of a professional accountant, though you would obviously have to pay for this and therefore will need to allow for it as a cost.
Come up with a ‘brand’ concept
This isn’t essential, but you might be able to make your work appeal to people more if there’s a story behind it or if you are selling a range of similar crafts. If you just create one design for a cushion cover, there will hopefully be a few people who will like it and buy it. If you come up with a range of designs - in similar colours, or based around a common theme - then you will not only appeal to a wider range of potential customers, but your ‘virtual shop window’ will look much more attractive and professional.
Consider using social media to advertise your work and to tell people where they can buy it. You could set up a Twitter account to share updates about how your work is going and to advertise any special offers or promotions. You could set up a Facebook page to invite people to ‘like’ your crafting ideas and view your products. You could even set up a Pinterest page to display photos of your products and pictures of anything and everything that inspires you. If you can get people talking about your product online then it’ll drive traffic to wherever you’re selling your crafts and the more people who see your hard work, the more people will be likely to purchase it.
Stick to the promises you make
Developing and maintaining a professional attitude is vital if you are setting up your own business and even more so if it’s online, where people will not get the change to meet you in person - things can come across very differently in emails, tweets, etc. Here are a few things to bear in mind.
Once you are up and running, it will be very important to stick to the promises you make about when products will be delivered and what level of quality people can expect.
If you are creating personalised items, make sure you are very clear about the customer’s requirements.
Keep your customers up to date with delivery times by providing tracking information (if possible) once you have finished the items and dispatched them. If you are going to be late with a delivery for any reason, contact the customer immediately and apologise then provide them with a revised delivery time.
Ensure that you make any payments to suppliers and service providers on time.
Use PayPal, or another similarly well trusted payment system to process your orders. This will give customers confidence in their transactions and will provide both parties with a structured complaints procedure should it be necessary.
The best outlets to actually start selling your wares on the internet
There are probably a multitude of smaller websites where you might be able to sell your crafts online, so it’s worth asking around and doing a detailed internet search to see if there are any websites based locally to you that would be a good place to start.
In the absence of that, or if you just want to target a national market straight away, the following sites are brilliant places to set up your virtual shop. All of them will provide advice and support to get you started and Not On The High Street also offers help with things like marketing as well.
There will be some costs involved registering and using these websites, so take the time to find out exactly what these will be for you and your business. Some sites will ask for an upfront fee to join (though will provide you with a comprehensive package of support) and others might charge you fees or commissions on the sales you make. As long as you are clear about these from the outset then it’s well worth giving them a go.
This link will take you straight to Not On The High Street’s pages for potential sellers, so you can browse through all the reasons why you might want to work with them, the application process and how their fees work. You can also read testimonials from fellow crafting experts who already sell their goods this way, as ‘real life’ experiences are often more valuable than anything else.
This link takes you straight to Etsy’s page about how to sell with them. You will be able to sell a range of products, both your own hand crafted items, vintage items and up-cycled items. You’ll also be able to get in touch with Etsy’s customer support and ask them any questions you may have about joining up and selling with them.
Ebay is obviously a very well known site. Seek out the selling pages and there are really quick pages to fill in that will enable to you to upload photos and get started very quickly. They also have a comprehensive customer support section and they offer the option to chat online to an eBay representative straight away if you should need it.
So, hopefully that’s as much information as you will need to decide whether you could make some money selling your crafts online. eBay is probably the quickest and easiest place to get started and has the lowest fees, but you may feel that your products have a better fit with the a more craft-centred site such as Etsy or Not On The High Street. Whatever you decide, remember that the sky is the limit. You might start out just earning a little bit of money in your spare time, but some people have such success that they are able to turn it into their full-time career!