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Author Topic: making money with your own arts&crafts  (Read 8357 times)
hassMysteria
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« Topic Start: November 14, 2007, 09:19:24 am »

does anyone on here make a business out of selling their crafts and such?

I am thinking of doing this over the web but it just seems like there is so much competition online that it would be hard, and possibly in vain.

I'm also not quite sure what I could offer....or how much money I would need to really start up...and how I would go about starting up and so on. There may be some festivals and such that would be neat to sell at if I got the hang of all this online first to spread the word of my goods.........but getting there...how does one do that?

I have a strong urge to earn some money since I am in school and Chris (beau) is the only one working at the moment....and noone will hire me b/c of tattoos/appearance ...plus I think I could potentially stick with something like this for a much longer time and find it very fullfilling and help me become a happier more stable person since I would fill I was contributing NOW ...instead of feeling I will only be able to contribute financially LATER...after school.

any tips? advice? on how to start something like this? How should I get awebsite going....I can make a website, but is something like geocities or yahoo a good vendor for selling one's own crafts/art....or would purchasing a mor eprofessional website and building it myself be better.....or should I wait to do that?

I'd rather not sell on eBay....can't stand the place!

*listens*
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« Reply #1: November 14, 2007, 09:31:45 am »


I'm not doing it yet, but I do intend to try and get a little extra spending cash that way once I finish a few more pieces.

And you might not like ebay, but I think something like that for small amounts makes sense, if only as a tester.  You don't want to set up a whole lot of stuff and outlay a lot of cash only to find out that no one wants it!  Better to start small and see if there's any demand.

Look around online for what is and what isn't for sale.  What do you want to make?  What are you good at?  What could you stand doing over and over again and dealing with stupid people wanting exactly that only blue, no, green, no, blue, how about a mix, well what do you mean you don't have it in stock?

I would really suggest doing a few smaller (in time and energy, not necessarily size) pieces and seeing if there's any demand.  Don't sink a lot of time, money, and emotional commitment into something until you can see if it's worth the bother.

And remember: you can always scale up or down.  You don't have to go from 0 to 50 all at once.  Start slow and see what works and what doesn't.  And be ready for rejection - because whenever you put yourself out there, it's not going to work as you'd hoped.  It never does.
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« Reply #2: November 14, 2007, 09:49:34 am »

And be ready for rejection - because whenever you put yourself out there, it's not going to work as you'd hoped.  It never does.

always prepared for rejection.  Tongue

well I'd love to start a simple list of items to sell. I can make dolls (and I could even add stories and personalities for each doll)....if I can take some time to get better at making candles, I can do that as well along with selling prepared incense, soaps and oil perfumes.

I could also offer to do hand-written invitations,etc. in a few select calligraphy alphabets.

I can also make some awesome candy! !...but I'd probably not wanna do that to sell just because I'd probabaly eat it all  Cheesy Grin

hmmmmmm....I could possibly let people tell me a description of a doll they would like made and offer custom dolls like that.

I am just concerned about money to start out with...as of now...I have none readily available to be spent on anything other than groceries and rent. I miiight be able to take out a small loan just to get supplies to start with, and for if I need to buy more supplies if anyone buys anything!

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« Reply #3: November 14, 2007, 09:54:47 am »


That's a WIDE list.  I'd pick one or two things and go with that.

Probably the custom dolls.  There's always a demand for dolls.  There's already a lot of soaps, incense, candles, and that sort of thing.  You'd need to do something to stand out in that field, and that's hard.  Go with something that you can start off as a stand-out.  The more what you're doing is already done by other people, the harder a time you'll have making it stand out.

Again: you can always add later.  But if money's that tight, you don't want to start off with a huge outlay and then find out that it's not selling .. and be stuck with all that inventory and debt!
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« Reply #4: November 14, 2007, 09:55:28 am »

And you might not like ebay, but I think something like that for small amounts makes sense, if only as a tester.  You don't want to set up a whole lot of stuff and outlay a lot of cash only to find out that no one wants it!  Better to start small and see if there's any demand.

 it's not going to work as you'd hoped.  It never does.


aag! now I'm wondering more about how to set prices? I think for me it'd be a good starting place with just the dolls...and I could probably just start out with making several different ones and setting up a store on myspace and/or ebay. and like you said...if anyone bites...then I could add more stuff slowly...I do tend to try to jump in too far at times....and I think it would be good (and a lot less stressful) to just start out with the dolls! Cheesy

just now figuring out which materials would be best and most economical at the same time...........with the dolls I have made before I have used old rags and ripped up clothing,etc..............I don't think anyone would want to buy a mangled old pair of sweatpants! haha
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« Reply #5: November 14, 2007, 10:01:13 am »


aag! now I'm wondering more about how to set prices? I think for me it'd be a good starting place with just the dolls...and I could probably just start out with making several different ones and setting up a store on myspace and/or ebay. and like you said...if anyone bites...then I could add more stuff slowly...I do tend to try to jump in too far at times....and I think it would be good (and a lot less stressful) to just start out with the dolls! Cheesy

just now figuring out which materials would be best and most economical at the same time...........with the dolls I have made before I have used old rags and ripped up clothing,etc..............I don't think anyone would want to buy a mangled old pair of sweatpants! haha

A lot of craft stores sell grab-bags.  Or fabric remnants.  Look for the cheap stuff, you'd be amazed at what you can find!

I (heart) craft store grab-bags! Cheesy
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« Reply #6: November 14, 2007, 10:08:48 am »

A lot of craft stores sell grab-bags.  Or fabric remnants.  Look for the cheap stuff, you'd be amazed at what you can find!

I (heart) craft store grab-bags! Cheesy

you just made me think of something that could be really awesome for the dolls to make them maybe a little more unique....I could buy an assortment of different stones to sew into them as their 'heart' .....each stone having it's own energies and such could influence the story attached to the doll!!

oo! I'm getting excited!! if my car was running today I'd be off to the craft store! haha! Cheesy
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« Reply #7: November 14, 2007, 11:35:19 am »

does anyone on here make a business out of selling their crafts and such?


Check out etsy.com .  It's a virtual marketplace for crafters of all types.  Even if you don't want to sell there, it will be a good place for you to get a feel for what others are doing with your craft.  How are the packaging it?  How much are they asking?

Good luck!
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« Reply #8: November 14, 2007, 11:47:48 am »

does anyone on here make a business out of selling their crafts and such?

I am thinking of doing this over the web but it just seems like there is so much competition online that it would be hard, and possibly in vain.

I'm also not quite sure what I could offer....or how much money I would need to really start up...and how I would go about starting up and so on. There may be some festivals and such that would be neat to sell at if I got the hang of all this online first to spread the word of my goods.........but getting there...how does one do that?

Ok, this may be a long post, but....  yes, I do sell crafts as a business (two separate businesses in fact, one mainstream, one more specialized).

eBay is not a good venue for crafters who want to make a profit, since everyone seems to treat it as a bargain basement outlet.  Running your own website can be expensive in terms of both time and money.  If you're wanting to test the waters online, I'd suggest a site like etsy.com, which is handmade goods only, has an incredibly high traffic volume, and isn't expensive (relative to some of the other crafty sites). 

The problem is that the competition is fierce and you have to market yourself.  No matter where you sell, tell people about it... your family, your friends, your co-workers, store clerks, anyone who will listen, because word of mouth is very helpful in the early stages.  Advertise as much as you can (even if it's just posting flyers locally).  Most of all, make sure your product is something that stands out.  Certain markets are saturated and to make sales, you have to be incredibly unique.  Also, keep in mind that, when the economy is weak, people are more likely to buy things that serve a function of some sort, rather than something that's purely decorative. 

A lot of crafters operate "under the board" which I would strongly advise against doing.  Selling crafts, even part-time online, is legally considered a business.  Most municipalities/states require that you obtain a business license, charge sales tax, and pay income taxes on your earnings.  Also, sales of things like food, bedding, clothing, and toys are subject to both state and federal laws.  For example, one of the things I sell are quilted throws and in addition to a basic business license, I have to get a specialized license from my state to sell "bedding", which must be tagged per federal requirements to be legally sold (which adds a couple hundred a year in business costs).  If I wanted to sell quilts for children/babies, there's a whole other set of federal regulations that I'd have to adhere to.  It's really quite a pain.

Yes, people do ignore these laws and regulations, but let's say that you sell a doll "under the table" and gods forbid, a child gets hurt by it.  Not only do you face potential civil lawsuit from the family for damages, you could face federal charges and fines because you've failed to label the doll per federal requirements, face fines if you sold the doll within your state without charging appropriate sales tax, and face additional problems from the IRS if you aren't reporting the income you've earned from the sales.  I don't want to scare anyone, but to sell crafts legally in the US isn't just a matter of slapping them on a website with a For Sale sign.  You have to do your homework regarding local, state, and federal laws and requirements for anything you sell!  While they don't cover everything, Barbara Brabec has a couple good guides out that give the ins and outs of selling crafts. 

Scary warnings aside, I would not invest a ton of money into it until you're sure that the product will sell.  Try starting online with a couple items and see if there's interest before you start making mass quantities of anything or doing live shows.  Crafts sales can be funny... what sells online may not go over well at live shows and vise versa (my best seller at live sales doesn't get much interest online; another that does well online doesn't do so well at live shows). 

Start small. It's easier to grow than to shrink a craft business, especially if your budget is limited. Selling online is far easier and more economical than selling live.  Doing live shows can get expensive very quickly.  There's usually a fee of some sort (here they range from $25 to over $500), plus you'll need equipment like tables, canopies, displays, etc.  You'll need to have cash on hand to make change and if you plan to take credit cards at the shows, either a "knucklebuster" credit card imprinter or electronic card machine (and be signed up for a service that will process credit card purchases).  With selling online, there's less overhead.  You'll end up paying listing fees, sales commissions, and credit card processing fees, but these are relatively reasonable. 

Anyhow, that's my "lecture" for the day.   Cheesy
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« Reply #9: November 14, 2007, 12:08:35 pm »

with the dolls I have made before I have used old rags and ripped up clothing,etc..............I don't think anyone would want to buy a mangled old pair of sweatpants! haha

Don't be so sure.  Where I live, recycling is a big, hairy deal.  Market your stuff that way, and you might be surprised what a selling point it becomes.  Wink

Remember, how you market things can be as important as the items themselves.

Brina
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« Reply #10: November 14, 2007, 12:08:48 pm »

Ok, this may be a long post, but....  yes, I do sell crafts as a business (two separate businesses in fact, one mainstream, one more specialized).

eBay is not a good venue for crafters who want to make a profit, since everyone seems to treat it as a bargain basement outlet.  Running your own website can be expensive in terms of both time and money.  If you're wanting to test the waters online, I'd suggest a site like etsy.com, which is handmade goods only, has an incredibly high traffic volume, and isn't expensive (relative to some of the other crafty sites). 

The problem is that the competition is fierce and you have to market yourself.  No matter where you sell, tell people about it... your family, your friends, your co-workers, store clerks, anyone who will listen, because word of mouth is very helpful in the early stages.  Advertise as much as you can (even if it's just posting flyers locally).  Most of all, make sure your product is something that stands out.  Certain markets are saturated and to make sales, you have to be incredibly unique.  Also, keep in mind that, when the economy is weak, people are more likely to buy things that serve a function of some sort, rather than something that's purely decorative. 

A lot of crafters operate "under the board" which I would strongly advise against doing.  Selling crafts, even part-time online, is legally considered a business.  Most municipalities/states require that you obtain a business license, charge sales tax, and pay income taxes on your earnings.  Also, sales of things like food, bedding, clothing, and toys are subject to both state and federal laws.  For example, one of the things I sell are quilted throws and in addition to a basic business license, I have to get a specialized license from my state to sell "bedding", which must be tagged per federal requirements to be legally sold (which adds a couple hundred a year in business costs).  If I wanted to sell quilts for children/babies, there's a whole other set of federal regulations that I'd have to adhere to.  It's really quite a pain.

Yes, people do ignore these laws and regulations, but let's say that you sell a doll "under the table" and gods forbid, a child gets hurt by it.  Not only do you face potential civil lawsuit from the family for damages, you could face federal charges and fines because you've failed to label the doll per federal requirements, face fines if you sold the doll within your state without charging appropriate sales tax, and face additional problems from the IRS if you aren't reporting the income you've earned from the sales.  I don't want to scare anyone, but to sell crafts legally in the US isn't just a matter of slapping them on a website with a For Sale sign.  You have to do your homework regarding local, state, and federal laws and requirements for anything you sell!  While they don't cover everything, Barbara Brabec has a couple good guides out that give the ins and outs of selling crafts. 

Scary warnings aside, I would not invest a ton of money into it until you're sure that the product will sell.  Try starting online with a couple items and see if there's interest before you start making mass quantities of anything or doing live shows.  Crafts sales can be funny... what sells online may not go over well at live shows and vise versa (my best seller at live sales doesn't get much interest online; another that does well online doesn't do so well at live shows). 

Start small. It's easier to grow than to shrink a craft business, especially if your budget is limited. Selling online is far easier and more economical than selling live.  Doing live shows can get expensive very quickly.  There's usually a fee of some sort (here they range from $25 to over $500), plus you'll need equipment like tables, canopies, displays, etc.  You'll need to have cash on hand to make change and if you plan to take credit cards at the shows, either a "knucklebuster" credit card imprinter or electronic card machine (and be signed up for a service that will process credit card purchases).  With selling online, there's less overhead.  You'll end up paying listing fees, sales commissions, and credit card processing fees, but these are relatively reasonable. 

Anyhow, that's my "lecture" for the day.   Cheesy

aaah! how do I go about finding out what the laws are in my state to sell dolls?! I didn't event hink of that...i don't usually care about laws, especially ones that intend on taking my money from me.....but i don't want to get sued or anything...and I could see that happenening  Undecided

also now I'm confused about how to sell anything online b/c i know nothing of 'listing fees' or credit card processing fees ...or how to find somewhere the processes credit card payments.......or how to obtain a basic business license....aaah!!!!
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« Reply #11: November 14, 2007, 12:17:28 pm »

Check out etsy.com .  It's a virtual marketplace for crafters of all types.  Even if you don't want to sell there, it will be a good place for you to get a feel for what others are doing with your craft.  How are the packaging it?  How much are they asking?

Good luck!

ooooh! thank you for that link!! seems like a pretty good place to sell....i'm going to think of some sort of plan for the most part of today.

going to see if any of my ideas are less unique than I think and check out some more of the dolls on etsy....i've already fallen in love with afew of them myself (aww..twila lemon is so sweet..) hehe

thanks again Smiley

oh...and would one advise not to incorporate my more spiritual leanings in this venture? I'm thinking that I should....but as I do really like the idea of different stones as hearts that is sort of related, but could also just be cute&fuzzy to others. what do ya think? I don't want to scare away potential buyers because of differing beliefs...so i'd probably not mention them outrightly but have good meaningful messages in the stories of the dolls I suppose....*trailsoff...*
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« Reply #12: November 14, 2007, 12:19:52 pm »

..or how to find somewhere the processes credit card payments.......

Paypal has you covered...for a price.

Brina
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« Reply #13: November 14, 2007, 12:28:51 pm »

Paypal has you covered...for a price.

Brina

oh ...duh

i'm so not as internet literate as I think I am  Cheesy (or not as awake as I think I am!!)

thanks! Smiley
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« Reply #14: November 14, 2007, 12:42:16 pm »

does anyone on here make a business out of selling their crafts and such?

My husband and I have made our living at arts and crafts for many years. We do very few internet sales, they are a pain in the butt. I can sell my items in 3 minutes at a festival and it takes two hours vis the net (getting paid, address labels, boxing, shipping blah blah). But I do know crafters who retired from the show scene and make a nice living on ebay.  I hate the place myself, but even we have a very limited ebay shop.

I know people making a very good living with candles. I know several people who hand sculpt the most wonderful dolls and they are starving artists indeed. If you want to express your art people will love to look at your stuff. If you want to make money you need to create something many people will actually buy. I know several people who just do a few shows with their paintings and if they sell one piece they are happy. But they all have another income and do not do it for the cash flow. I began the circuit with my watercolor paintings. Everybody loved them but very few bought them. I hand make the stuff, we do now, use my design and drawing skills, but what I do is not high art at all, but our gross annually is in the mid six figure range. Our net is about 36 cents, but it keeps us going  Grin

Looking 'odd' can be an asset at a art and craft show. People like to meet the artist and they love it if you fit sort sort of image that you are 'different'. Hunny Bunny and I are not your classic 'Mom & Pop' by any means and it hasn't hurt us a bit. Of course we are always have a professional, crisp turn out and display, some people will persist in thinking we are carnys and ask things like "So, do all you people travel around together?", especially newbies at Ren faires. We are certainly a bona fide business and pay all our taxes. Credit cards are very important source of income, a good machine will run about $800, but you can get started with something cheaper, but the better ones check to be sure the card is good on the spot.

We work very hard, I am writing this in haste as I have to go set up our booth at the Dickens Fair. We sell our things at art shows, crafts shows and Ren faires, because we hand make our things we do the 'A' circuit. There are various grades of shows, from flea market types to hoity toity art shows. We spend over $35k in show fees a year, but we do it on a large scale. To get the set up, tables, display, van etc will run a couple thousand dollars. But we make between $6 - $8k a weekend, although we did not begin that way.

I always incorporate my beliefs into my work. You will see many fantasy, witchy items in our booth. But I have more 'standard' things as well.

 I am happy to answer any questions, I'll be back later tonight-
« Last Edit: November 14, 2007, 01:46:40 pm by juniperrr, Reason: To link to Dickens. It is such a fun show! » Logged

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