Learn to Sell Handicrafts
Solomon wrote: "Have you beheld a man skillful in his work? Before kings is where he will station himself"
My grandfather used to oil paint and do charcoal drawings. He also built miniature windmills and wishing wells as front yard decorations. He sold his wares via local craft fairs and by placing small newspaper ads in his home town newspaper. He made a pretty good second income doing what he loved. Do you have a hidden talent that can be honed to the point you could sell to a handicraft shop or to other buyers of handicrafts? Why why not use it to bring home an extra income; or even build a complete, self-sustained work at home business? Making art sand crafts for others can be so much fun when it's what you love doing. Even if you don't have a skill, if you love hand made products and knickknacks, buying and selling handicrafts may be the right option for you. All you need is some sources for products and a good Business Plan.
Before you Start - Know your Market
A great way to find out how you stack up to the competition is to go and walk through a number of craft fairs and arts and crafts festivals in your area. Take a look at what others are doing and make note of the prices they charge for hand made products similar to those you plan to make or buy. Not only will you get ideas on how to present your products, you may even get a few extra ideas about other handicrafts you could make at home or locate on the Internet. You'll also benefit from seeing how other successful craft vendors promote and display their products. Be sure to ask questions! Some vendors may be willing to share their knowledge; or they may even have an interest in buying what you make.
There are several things to consider when determining whether you should set up a work at home handicrafts business:
- Make, or buy wholesale? There are numerous sources of products on the Internet and even drop-shippers who will ship individual items for you (see resource links below)
- Sell yourself or sell to retailers? Will you sell these via local craft shows, flea markets, direct mail, through retailers or sell using the Internet on eBay or using your own web site?
- What profit margin? (do a budget and know your costs before you start - don't forget costs of advertising and shipping)
- How much competition is there in your market (whether on eBay or in your own back yard)
- What's the maximum quantity you can supply to a buyer?
- How will you fulfill the orders? (store products in your garage or use a fulfillmenbt agency?)?
Sometimes the questions seem daunting but don't worry, you don't have to start selling millions of products a day to become a success at craft sales.
Making the Product Yourself
Obviously, if you already have a skill your are way ahead of the game. Even if you don't have a skill, don't despair! There are a lot of crafts you can buy and sell while you develop a skill (which we will cover later)! Contact your local arts and crafts supply store and see if they have any classes or seminars on how to make various hand-made products.
Having a work at home business helps lowers costs but there are still a number of costs you should take into consideration:
- The cost to make your handicraft: What does it costs to make a single item? Keep in mind - you may be able to make batches and save money. And don't forget, you will have to package the product and ship to the client. Take into account some of your products may break in shipping if you sell on line or via newspaper advertising. You may want to calculate a certain percentage for product replacement
- What will be your return policy? On line catalog stores have returns as high as 30%, so if you are going to sell on-line be aware of these potential additional costs.
- Will you offer a guarantee? How long will the guarantee last and what will it cover?
- Will you pay the shipping or will the customer?
- How much will you spend on promotion? Will you need product brochures? A web site? Ads for local newspapers? Even of you have a machine that will turn lead into gold no one will buy it if they don't know it exists! You must have a marketing plan to be successful - even if it's just to attend art fairs and sing in front of your booth :)
- Are there any possible liabilities with your product? For example: if you make scented candles can someone claim your candle caused them serious health problems and sue you? If so, consider taking out a good liability insurance and built this into the product cost
If calculating all these costs sounds a bit daunting, you may want to speak with your accountant or talk with your local bank manager and ask him/her where you can go for some good advice.
Buying Wholesale Handicrafts for Resale
The fact you are buying the product and not making it yourself for resale means there are a few additional things to consider:
- Will the wholesaler drop ship the product directly to your customer or will you have to store it somewhere and repackage it?
- What type of packaging is included and who will be responsible for damage during shipping?
- If the customer wants to return the product, what is the manufacturers' policy on returns and if it was drop-shipped where will the customer return it to?
- Does the drop-shipper ship the product with their label on it or will they ship with yours so the customer will return to you and not the drop-shipping wholesaler?
Obviously there are other incidentals to consider such as office supplies, fuel, electricity etc. But these are standard inclusions in any business plan.
If you have decided buying wholesale handicrafts is the option for you, we suggest you check out Worldwide Brands, one of the largest and best known suppliers of wholesale products for sale on eBay. Another way to find products for sale is to "Google" some of the following search terms:
- wholesale handicrafts
- handicrafts exporters
- handicrafts importers
- handicraft gifts
- Mexican handicrafts
- Philippine handicrafts
- Peru handicrafts
- Philippine handicrafts
- china handicrafts
Where to sell your Handicrafts
One of the top ways to sell handicrafts is on eBay. Here is a link directly to their info page on
how to sell arts and crafts on eBay eBay is just one avenue of sales, here is a list of other sales outlets:
Craft Fares and Art Fairs: People expect to see handicrafts at these types of events. You may want to set up an arts and crafts calendar to keep track of all the events in your area. The internet is a great place to begin searching for events (see helpful links below). At arts and craft fairs you have a ready market of potential buyers; not just the public, also arts and crafts buyers with their own booths. If you decide to sell yourself, be aware, your costs to set up your display booth can vary widely depending on how large the fair is and how popular. It may be wise to try a few smaller fairs and see how well your products sell before laying down a lot of money for a small booth at a popular craft fare.
Flea Markets: Some flea markets have areas set aside for handicrafts and other arts and crafts. Again, you may want to visit and review the flea market and it's visitors before spending money on a sales site.
Sell on Consignment: Stores that sell on consignment pay only when your handicrafts are sold. This makes it essential you have a signed delivery receipt and statement of what was sold each time you have to deliver new products. Some stores have standard consignment contracts so be sure to read these carefully before you sign. For example: you deliver your first 12 products and the store manager (or other responsible person) signs the delivery receipt. When you return at the end of the month you find 6 sold. You can then show your delivery receipt and ask for the money due for the 6 sold units. You provide the store owner with a receipt indicating 6 units were sold and replace the 6 units bringing the total back up to 12 units on the shelf.
Retail stores: Although it can be tough to get into this market, retail arts, crafts and gift stores are by far the more popular way to sell handicrafts. Ask what their purchasing policy is and how they typically pay. If they like your product they may want to tie you into a purchasing contract. Many will expect discounts on specific quantities so have you price list worked out in advance. Where will your handicrafts be displayed? Are there a lot of competitive products in or near your shelf space? Being one of 100 similar products does not bode well for sales unless your products truly stand out from the rest in terms of quality or design. Sometimes it's better to put a few products in several smaller stores where you have more of an exclusivity than doom your handicrafts to getting lost in the crowd. Some stores will require UPC codes or insurance on your product.
Your own web site: The Internet can be a great way to sell your crafts provided you get on a site that has a lot of targeted traffic. Be prepared to wait 6 to 12 months for decent traffic unless you opt for web advertising of some kind. One way to do this is to sell on eBay and direct customers to your web site to see more options. You can also use pay-per-click advertising on Google, Yahoo or MSN. Optimizing your web site can bring in good traffic but it takes some time to get a good organic ranking. There are also some arts and crafts forums where you can help others learn your craft while having a signature that includes your web site.
How to Promote your Business
In the business of handicrafts, especially if you make the products yourself, you are the business. You specialize in a specific type of product line and you must portray yourself as a leader in the field or craft. Let people see your style. To do this you must have materials for promotion. This can be as simple as a sign outside your home or as audacious as full page ads in local or regional publications. No matter what avenue of promotion you choose, choose something. Your business will not get off the ground without publicity. Here are a few ideas to consider. You don't have to include all these in your business plan. These are just some ideas for consideration:
- Product brochures to show off samples of your work - you may want to include details about how you got started in your craft, who influenced your style etc. People love to hear about what inspires others in their art or craft.
- Business Cards to hand out at shows, fairs and retail stores
- If appropriate, have a detailed picture catalog of your works (a portfolio). From this, potential buyers may want to order variations of items you have produced in the past.
- Consider a web site to show off your products. The time and money you save simply giving out a web address versus driving all over the country to show off your products is obvious. A good quality web site can be considered a great silent salesperson.
- Look into local rags (papers), chamber of commerce newsletters, regional magazines and other publications and check the advertising costs. Be sure to consider who your market is if you decide to advertise. If you plan to sell to store owners, seek out publications you think they would read. If you are planning to sell directly to the public, be sure they will find you in an appropriate location - such as an arts & crafts section of a local guidebook or newspaper insert.
- Consider and ad on a prominent web site in your region that caters to your audience. For example if you build hand painted bird houses you might consider advertising in a gardening web site or magazine
We hope that above information will help you embark on a new adventure in the world of arts and crafts. We have compiled a list of resources that can help you learn more about this business:
Wholesale handicraft suppliers - Worldwide Brands is one of the largest suppliers of wholesale products for eBay. They include a very large list of suppliers and drop shippers of all types of products, including handicrafts. A great resource for anyone considering setting up a work at home business.
Learn about the arts and crafts business at About.com. This is a great source for an overall look at the Handicraft business. The site has info about craft shows, how to build a craft business, how to sell your handicrafts, what types of handicrafts you can make and sell, selling crafts on line, what prices to charge and more.
Sell Arts and Crafts on eBay - Specific details on how you can sell arts and crafts on eBay.
Wikipedia information page about arts and crafts - Extensive information about Arts & Crafts with links to other resources.
Sell handicrafts on Amazon - Amazon's official information page on how to sell products through their on line store.
Society of Arts & Crafts - Incorporated in 1897, this society has extensive resources for all types of artisans - includes a searchable resource guide.
List of arts and crafts shows - Magazine site that caters to the arts and crafts community. Large listing of arts and crafts shows throughout the USA.
List of festivals and arts and crafts shows from Sunshine Network - Listing of all sorts of festivals, craft shows, art shows and similar events.
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