After you decided to start your craft business, the next step is to figure out where to sell it for the best profit. Your options are broader than they once were, with unlimited venues on the internet. However, is that the best market for a handmade item?
Points to consider:
- Who are the clientele that may be interested in your product?
- Local access to customers – Do you live in a highly populated area?
- Is your creation a low cost craft, or high priced art piece?
- Does your product photograph well or is it best viewed in person?
- Are you comfortable in dealing with the public?
- Are you interested in setting up an online store and learning the best marketing practices?
Many crafts people have their fingers in a number of pies at a time! A good mix might be to set up a website for yourself, list some products on Etsy or Ebay , sign up for a few art festivals, and place your items in some local shops.
Etsy.com has made a good name for itself as an online niche marketplace for handmade creations. Some people are successful on Ebay with handmade items, but I found the final prices to be too low for the products that I was selling.
You may also want to join online groups and sites dedicated to promoting the type of art or craft that you create. You’ll receive good exposure and new connections that you may not know about.
Whether you plan to do most of your selling online or not, you should create a professional website for yourself. This can consist of a single page with a few samples, your contact info and a short bio, or it can be a full shopping cart site. Everyone expects a web presence from a commercial enterprise and you’ll find it can really boost your worldwide exposure.
Selling at Art Festivals
If you live in a larger metropolitan area, chances are you have access to many summer street festivals, art fairs and markets. If not, perhaps you are willing to travel to a promising destination. A good guide to check out to get a feel for the fairs is the Crafts Fair Guide. It gives reviews, pricing, jury info, attendance info and more. To attend most of the larger fairs, you will need some basic equipment, such as a sturdy booth (EZ Up is good!), display tables and furnishings, good lighting, etc. If you want to get a feel for this marketplace, it is possible to rent most of the equipment to try it out.
In my experience, the arts and crafts fairs provided the best sales venue for my products (quilts and tablerunners). My items were best viewed in person rather than online. I did careful research on the type of fairs that reached the demographic I was after for my product.
Jurying into street fairs can be a stressful process. You do need to be ready for the jurying process approx. 6 months in advance of the fair (sometimes longer). That means having quality photos to submit, turning in your application and fee on time and then waiting for a reply. Not all fairs require jurying, but those that don’t are often not worth the effort. An un-juried fair usually is a mix of imports, new junky products, and low cost crafts.
Selling Wholesale to Shops
Another option for selling your product is to market to local shops specializing in similar items. Some shops may be willing to take your items on consignment or may purchase them outright. Be prepared, however, that a shop owner will usually take half of the selling price. If your item is popular it may also be difficult to keep up on demand from a shop (a good problem to have!). To get started, put together a professional photo portfolio of your products, along with a couple of samples and hit the streets to do some calling. I was able to set up a great relationship with a local quilt shop owner and we did a lot of business over the years.
Good luck with your endeavors!