Whether you are looking to make some extra cash to supplement your income or dreaming of a future of fun and freedom one way to achieve one, the other, or potentially both, is to become a one-woman/man cottage industry. The arts and crafts market is booming today – with many consumers preferring the individuality of unique crafts to the alternatives available in the commercial market. Sites like Etsy have long-since spotted this trend and they make selling online extremely easy for individuals who want to turn their hobby into a lucrative part-time or full-time source of income. So what do you need to know and where do you start?
Art or Craft?
Flair and talent are always useful. If you’ve a favourite hobby – be that paper-craft or handmade garments, your hobby has the potential to become a career. Of course, some of us are more talented than others but many arts and crafts skills can be learned if you have the time and patience. Arts and Crafts is a big term – just ask William Morris, who founded a whole movement based on the two in the nineteenth century. In reality, if art is not your strong point, don’t be downhearted, craft skills are relatively easy to pick up and most people will find a craft activity that they truly love. Start out with simple crafts such as greeting card design and creation – low cost materials can easily be found by searching for craft supplies online.
Where to Sell?
There are hundreds of online market places these days and many trade specifically in art and craft items – whether you are into crocheting or jewellery making. Research is the key when it comes to placing your products. Auction sites such as ebay may be worth avoiding though, customers on these sites are looking for the biggest discount or best deal going, using this type of site can leave you barely covering costs and time. Look to specialist arts and crafts sites and consider what type of products they already sell, what market they are catering too and the price ranges for different types of product, including the categories in which your own items fit. Also consider the competition on each site – too much can leave you trailing behind competitors – while too little may mean that there is not enough interest in your product on this site. Check and compare charges, payment options and who is responsible for shipping and dealing with returns. Some sites deal with most administration for you whilst others simply list your products leaving you to do all the hard back-office work.
When it comes to marketing your work there are two important factors that you should consider – even if the site itself is doing most of the marketing. Images and descriptions should be top quality – think about the grainy, dull and unfocused shots often found on many auction sites. Take crisp, clear, clean and quality images of your products. If you’ve created a beautiful object that should be clear from your promotional pictures! If you’re a craft genius but a camera klutz then consider begging, borrowing, stealing or even paying for some professional images from a friend, relative or professional photographer. Images are crucial to sales in the online world. Additionally, written content should be top quality, if you write it yourself get a friend to check it over, or again, consider having content professionally written. Cottage industries are all very well but in order to achieve sales in a competitive market, professionalism really makes the difference.
Creative Crafts and the Gift Market
Many individual craft and art items sold online are bought as gifts; focus your products and designs around specific times of year to make the most of this fact. Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day are all very lucrative times of year to create and market that perfect, unique gift. Birthdays (there’s at least one every day of the year) are also a staple part of the market, consider how you can customise your own product or products to make it the perfect fit for one of those special days.
One of the biggest reasons that many of us choose to buy arts and crafts items is also the personal touch that comes with dealing with the creator of the work. If the purchase is a gift (be sure to find out) consider gift wrapping it and add a personal note thanking the buyer for their purchase. In the day of the auto-email response, little touches like this can really wow your customers. Keep in touch with purchasers – if you only ship items once a week, let them know, or if you are out of stock, likewise. Handmade arts and crafts always benefit, when it comes to sales, from these small touches and will often generate repeat orders and customers.
Whatever your own special talent there’s bound to be a place for it in the world of individual and unique design. As the market continues to grow and seems to remain ever-popular that life of creativity, freedom and fun, could be closer than you think.