Wouldn’t it be nice to turn your crafting passion into a business? You’d be joining a vital and growing marketplace with new opportunities for sales cropping up every day. In 2022 the handmade and vintage selling site Etsy sold $13.3 billion (yes, billion with a ‘B’) in merchandise. The site has 7.5 million active sellers and 95.1 million buyers. Last year alone the site had nearly 30 million new buyers. People are finding crafts in other places, too. TikTok, for instance, this summer launched TikTok Shop, a place for creators to sell their crafts and products to a live audience. And the grandfather of all online shopping sites — Amazon —now offers its Amazon Handmade which lets people shop for all things created by makers. So if you’re a maker who wants in on the fun (and profits), read on to learn how to create craft work from home jobs for you, how to choose a product to sell, start your own store, ship your goods and see your savings account grow. (Click through to see more ways to make money working from home.)
1: Determining the opportunities for craft work from home jobs
More than a quarter of all Americans are interested in DIY and arts and crafts, according to one study. But there’s a big difference between loving to knit chunky blankets and making and selling 20 of them in a month on Facebook Marketplace, Instagram or at your local flea market. Before you jump in, it helps to understand what owning a small business — and that’s what selling crafts is — entails.
Your first order of business: Figuring out if the fabulous earrings you make to give as gifts to friends would capture sales, suggests Stephanie Desaulniers, the owner of Business By Dezign, a sales and production consultancy for makers.
“My first question is always, ‘Have you checked to see if this is what something people want to buy?’ Because a lot of times we may have this idea for this amazing handmade thing, but that it turns out that it’s not actually something anyone wants to purchase,” she says.
The easiest way to check if your handmade cards will fly off the shelves is to search on Etsy to see if people are selling similar items or asking your network on Facebook. Tell friends and family you want their honest opinions, and you can ask strangers, too, if you spend time in any social media groups.
2: Deciding on pricing for craft work from home jobs
Once you figure out if there’s a need for your hand-sewn Elf on a Shelf outfits, it’s time to get choose where you’re going to sell your crafts, how much to charge and how you’ll handle payments and accounting, Wendie Veloz, a social impact strategist who coaches small business owners says.
“For example, there’s lot of places to sell crafts. You could sell them online, you could sell them in person. How are you going to monetize this thing? And then how do you define your services and pricing and are you ready and able to put in the work,” Veloz says.
If you’re looking to start small with a handful of items you may feel more comfortable selling your crafts a piece at a time on your local Facebook group or on Instagram.
Figuring out pricing takes a little more work, Rieva Lesonsky, president and CEO of SmallBusinessCurrents.com, an expert on entrepreneurship explains. If you’re selling handmade jewelry, the average markup — the difference between how much it costs you to craft an item and how much you sell it for — is between 30 and 50 percent, she says. To figure out your markup you need to factor in all your costs including crafting supplies, labels and packaging, postage costs if you’re mailing an item out – offering free shipping is one of the biggest drivers for online orders — and the cost of your time and effort.
The last consideration is often the one that people forget about, says Desaulniers. “If I have a business sewing bags and bag takes me 30 minutes to make one, I need to put a number on that time. If I was paying myself $30 an hour that’s $15 for labor costs in addition to the cost for all my materials,” she says. But there may be more to that hourly cost since you also have to figure in the time it takes you to shop for materials, come up with your designs and market and post them online.
You can find a starting point for your pricing by looking at what other people are charging for similar items, says Lesonsky. “You never want your pricing to come in at the top if you’re unknown, because nobody knows you, but you don’t want to come in at the bottom either. Because if you’re too cheap, people are going to be like, ‘Oh, that’s probably going to fall apart.’”
Pricing includes taxes, too, something that many people forget to build into their pricing scheme. If you’re selling on an online store in some cases sites such as Etsy will collect and pay sales taxes for you. (Today the online platform handles sales tax for about 30 different states.) Otherwise, you’ll need to check with your state, get your local and state tax rates, and collect and pay it yourself. The U.S. Government provides a link to every local and state tax agency here. And don’t forget you need to pay income taxes on your sales, too. Check with your tax accountant or your local Small Business Administration office for help.
3: Creating a marketing plan for craft work from home jobs
Visuals are most important when selling crafts, so make sure you’re taking lots of photos and posting them online. If you’re selling in an online marketplace you’ll also need a solid description that includes measurements, dimensions, colors, and weight, depending on what you’re selling.
If you’re selling in person — and Desaulniers says all crafty sellers should be somewhere in person at least once a month to talk to potential customers — you want to have a way for people to find you again. Lesonsky suggests buying business cards, flyers or other takeaway items to hand to people. “If they pick up a little piece of paper, like on a heavier stock from you, they get home and there it is in their bag, they’re like, ‘Oh, okay, I’m going to tell my sister about this place.” You can also have a poster or chalkboard that lists all your social handles and ask people to follow you even if they don’t make a purchase right away.
Word of mouth, Desaulniers says, is another crucial marketing avenue. “I always say, it has to start with your hot audience — friends and family who are going to recognize what you’re doing and share it. Everyone in their circle of friends has that one friend who talks about everything amazing that they find and then everyone else goes and buys it. You want to tap that friend to help you,” she says. And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn everywhere you go online or in real life, she adds. “You have to be super, super loud about what you’re doing when you first start out because people don’t know.”
6 women who cashed in on their crafts
Discover how real women made it work:
1. Craft work from home jobs success story: Laura Pizzirusso, 52
After having surgery years ago, Laura Pizzirusso‘s doctor said she couldn’t do anything for a few weeks, so she took up scrapbooking. “I used the leftover paper to make cards for family and friends — they loved them so much, I decided to start a business, Handmade Papercrafts by Laura. About a few years later, I decided to add personalized ornaments to my offerings,” she explains.
“I did a lot of research to make sure I was making ornaments people wanted and that would stand the test of time. Then I sourced materials in bulk online to make sure I could make a profit. I decided to sell personalized traditional plastic ball ornaments as well as flat ones made with ceramic tile or wood. All of my designs are original (like my ‘2020’ ornament with a toilet paper roll design for the zeros), but sometimes I buy a commercial license for additional designs,” she says.
“I post photos of the ornaments on my Facebook page and on Facebook tag sale groups, as well as Instagram, and I also sell them at craft fairs during the holiday season. The ornaments sell for between $10 and $15, and I make around $1,000 during the holidays alone — money that pays the bills and goes back into the business to buy new equipment and supplies!” — as told to Julie Revelant
2. Craft work from home jobs success story: Sandy D’Andrea, 65
About 10 years ago, when Sandy D’Andrea’s mother was sick, she came to live with her, and D’Andrea quit her job to care for her mother. “I was under a lot of stress, so I started making jewelry — something I had loved to do as a teenager — and gave some of the pieces to the hospice workers to thank them. Then I learned about Etsy and decided to start a shop and see if I could sell the jewelry. I called the business Jewels for Hope and decided to donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. When I made my first sale, I was thrilled,” she says.
“I had no idea how to start a business, but my friends gave me books and I did a lot of research. I also joined The Artisan Group, an organization that gave me information about growing my business, and later, helped me get celebrities to wear and promote my jewelry. At first I bought supplies at Michaels, but then learned that I could get a better price buying them wholesale.”
“I make earrings, rings and bracelets, and use Swarovski crystals, gemstones and beads. I also make cuff links, bottle openers, money clips and diffuser bracelets for anxiety. I sell the jewelry on Amazon, my Etsy shop and in 10 retail locations.”
“Making jewelry allows me to be creative and help others. I make a full-time income — money that goes back into the business or pays for extras like dinners out with my family.” — as told to Julie Revelant
3. Craft work from home jobs success story: Laurena Emhoff, 53
“I’m a daughter of immigrants, so when I was a child, our family didn’t celebrate Halloween. When I had my daughters, I couldn’t wait for them to dress up. But when I started to look for girls’ costumes, I found that they were not very interesting and poor in quality,” explains Laurena Emhoff. “Since I know how to sew, I decided to make my daughters’ costumes myself, and I also made costumes for family and friends once they saw what I could do. I sold a few on Etsy as a hobby and creative outlet, but as my sales grew, I decided to start my business, Bailey & Ava, which I named after my daughters.”
“To get the business off the ground, I decided to create costumes I could easily replicate. I sourced the materials from the fashion district in Manhattan, then found a wholesaler at DG Expo, a trade show for small designers. I also discovered small sewing shops that bring in people to sew the costumes. I primarily sell handmade princess dresses, wands and crowns, as well as superhero costumes for girls. I market the business on Instagram, in Facebook groups and with Facebook ads, but my biggest sales still come from Etsy.”
“Designing costumes is such rewarding work! I love to see photos of the kids in their costumes and know that it makes people happy. I earn between $3,000 and $10,000 a month, which goes back into the business, pays for travel and allows me to make donations to the Birthday Party Project, a nonprofit organization that hosts birthday parties for homeless children and those in transitional living facilities.” — as told to Julie Revelant
4. Craft work from home jobs success story: Deb Mellema, 59
When her then 30-year-old daughter said she was excited about this cool new thing she’d seen on Pinterest called “macramé” (a crafting technique that uses knots to create various textiles), it made Deb Mellema laugh because she’d grown up doing it! “I’d never mentioned it before, and she was shocked to learn I knew how,” says Mellema. “At her urging, I made a wall hanging for her family’s home. Her friends loved it and started asking if they could buy one from me. I had longed to do something creative that gave me flexibility to spend time with my grandkids, so I quit my job and started MacrameNest.”
“I set up a craft room in my house, reacquainted my hands with the knots I once knew, learned new ones watching YouTube videos and pored over my old books and patterns. I set up PayPal and Square (a phone attachment that enables credit card transactions), designed business cards and found organic, soft cord I love on Amazon. My daughters helped me with social media and setting up on Etsy.”
“I work 6–8 hours a day making plant hangers and wall hangings that I sell for $10–$110 on Etsy and at craft fairs. I earn around $500 a month, money I’m saving for a full kitchen renovation and to help support nonprofits I love.” — as told to Kathryn Streeter
5. Craft work from home jobs success story: Tara Raposa, 44
“As a paralegal, overseeing a busy staff, my job was stressful. So to unwind at night, I taught myself how to crochet. I figured it was an activity I could do near my husband and stepsons in front of the TV. People from work and church learned about my crochet skills and started asking me to make baby gifts for them. So I began making blankets, stuffed animals and clothes to match their theme requests: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Chicago Cubs, Dr. Seuss…I had a knack for re-creating just about anything, even without a pattern,” explains Tara Raposa.
“I was crocheting every spare minute and loving it, so I started a Facebook store called ‘TLCreations and Crafts.’ I got so busy, I joked, ‘Am I going to need to use vacation time to crochet?’ But the activity was soothing. And I was thrilled when my hobby earned me $300 extra that month. I never spend money on myself but I used that cash to buy some pampering products.”
“Now, years later, I’m still deriving so much joy from this self-taught hobby. My best-seller is crocheted personalized baby dolls, where customers choose the colors for hair, eyes, clothing and shoes. Mine are up to 18 inches tall and cost $35 including tax and shipping. I just received my largest order to date — worth $185! Kids love receiving dolls that look just like them, and with each new custom creation I try to outdo myself!” — as told to Lisa Maxbauer
6. Craft work from home jobs success story: Shannon Pigeon, 51
“Soon after I left my corporate job to spend more time with my husband, I met a woman who’d hired someone to make an apron from her husband’s dress shirt, and she wasn’t happy with how it fit,” says Shannon Pigeon. “She knew I could sew, so she asked if I could help. I wasn’t an expert seamstress, but I knew I could. Plus, there are plenty of YouTube videos and blog posts on how to do it, so I had resources.”
“I did a good job, and I realized there was a market for specialty aprons! So I decided to start my own business, Birdsnest Productions. I created a business page on Facebook, posted pictures of my products and crossed my fingers.”
“My friends were some of my first customers, and once they spread the word, my sales increased. To make the aprons, I use old shirts — my friends bring me their husbands’, and I buy from resell shops like Goodwill, for no more than a few dollars each, which helps the environment and keeps costs low. One woman, whose grandmother had passed away, brought me a few of her treasured blouses. I made aprons for three women in her family, who cried tears of joy when they saw them.
“I can make an apron in less than 2 hours, and I charge $30 apiece. This extra money allows me to buy ‘just because’ gifts for my wonderful husband and splurge guilt-free at the craft store.” — as told to Marla Cantrell
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