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How to Start Making Money with Your Arts and Crafts

Accessories and jewelry display at art and craft market
Olga V Kulakova/Shutterstock

While many people create just for themselves, some folks do it in the hopes of making money. Maybe you want to earn some spare change, or perhaps you’d like to turn your creations into a living wage.

No matter your goal, when it comes to making any money with your arts and crafts, there are some things you need to do to get started. Your handcrafted items and artwork aren’t going to make themselves, and they’re not going to sell themselves, either.

Pick Your Craft

You may already have a craft you do or an art style you work with, but when it comes to picking your craft, it’s about more than just doing what you like or what you’re good at. Consider the following:

  • What are the current trends in arts and crafts?
  • Are you creating something that everyone else is making?
  • What is different about your particular art or craft?
  • Where will you be able to sell what you make?
  • Will people want to buy what you’re making?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not your current projects are going to be salable. This will also help you understand what changes you might need to make. Plenty of people knit; what can you knit that will set you apart from the rest of the knitters out there?

Make, Make, Make

Person making jewelry using wire, chains and beads and other materials with craft tools
Tasha Cherkasova/Shutterstock

Once you pick your craft, you need to start stocking up on finished products. While you may do some commission work from time to time, you’ll still want some completed items and artwork to sell online and off.

Many people that do crafting for business do it as a part-time thing, which means they need to find time in their busy workdays to work on arts and crafts. Make sure you set aside time each day—or at least a couple of times per week—to work on your creations if you’re doing it part-time. If you’re crafting or creating art as your full-time gig, schedule yourself work hours as if you had an out-of-the-house job at which you needed to punch a clock.

When you sign up for a craft show or start consigning your work in a local business, you’ll want to have plenty of items to sell. Unless you want to be rushing the week before the sale, you need to have things made ahead of time.

Even selling online requires you to have products made and ready to go. When you’re selling on Etsy, your shop will look more attractive to buyers if it’s a full shop and not just a shop with one or two items available.

Price It Right

Pricing handmade items is one area where many crafters get stuck. You want to price your stuff so people will pay for it, but you also need to make sure that you get paid for not just the money you put into the products, but also the time it took you to make them.

There are many ways to calculate how to price your arts and crafts items. One of the most popular is to calculate the cost of the product (including all of the odds and ends it took to make it, like the price of beads or yarn), add it to your personally determined hourly wage, and then multiply it by two. If you start at a higher price and your creations don’t sell after a few months, you can always lower the cost some.

You may also want to do some online research comparing prices for similar items on the sites you intend to sell on. This can help you find the rates that will move your products.

Sell Online

Close up Etsy Website in laptop screen with black background

Selling online is an easy way to move your product—but it’s not quite as easy as you might think.

Etsy isn’t your only option, but it’s a good one. The thing is, you will have to wait a few months to get your first sale, as you promote and establish your business.

Before you post products on any sales site, get to know the site. Learn about Etsy’s fees (and how to set up your own Etsy shop), find out how many people are selling through Amazon’s handmade portal, research the cost of putting a store on your own website, and find out if people have had any luck selling similar handcrafted creations through eBay.

Marketing is an integral part of online selling. Get on social media and share links to your shops and to individual listings. Look for Etsy groups on Facebook, where you’ll find other sellers and shoppers looking to buy stuff.

Sell Offline

There are a few options when it comes to selling offline as well. You can consign or rent spaces at local stores, open your own store, or sell at arts and crafts events. Each of these options comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Start with one- or two-day events and get a feel for how people react to what you have to sell. See how much stuff gets bought before you sign a lease to sell in a semi-permanent space. You don’t want to lose money renting a monthly spot if your items don’t seem to sell in other settings.

If you want to make crafting for money your full-time business, you may wish to attend multiple events each month. Depending on what you make, you can attend festivals that allow vendors, or arts and crafts fairs at various events and churches. Some farmer’s markets also allow crafters.

Facebook is a great asset when it comes to finding events. Just search for groups in your area that share vendor events and applications.

Promote, Promote, Promote

It’s essential to get your name out there online and off. Social media is a great outlet. You should have a business page set up on Facebook, and be sharing photos on Instagram. However, you need to be promoting across the web, not just on social media.

Set up a website for your art portfolio or your crafting business, even if you don’t plan to sell directly from your site. Use targeted keywords, so your site shows up when people search for specific words that pertain to the things you make. Include a link to your main social media business accounts and your website in your email signature, so people can easily find you. Start a blog, too.

You should also use Facebook events anytime you’re selling at an event, no matter how large or small. Invite everyone you think may come.

Finally, make sure you’re promoting offline as well, especially if you’re selling offline. Get some business cards made. Make online and printable flyers for the events you’re setting up at. Talk to people about your business. Attend local small business meetings and networking get-togethers. You may find that some of your best customers are local entrepreneurs, just like you.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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