Selling crafts online is a great way to make money on the side while indulging in your creative streak. Here you’ll find everything you need to know to start selling crafts online that you have lovingly made at home.
Selling Crafts Online – How To Make Money From Your Handmade Items
Selling Crafts Online – Tips To Help You Sell
The list of what you can sell online is endless. Cushions and blankets, pictures, artworks, pieces of furniture, greetings cards, festive decorations, ornaments, pottery… if you can make it, there will be people out there looking to buy it!
With the right products, selling crafts online is a sure fire way to earn yourself a steady second income
There are two means of selling crafts online. You can either buy pre-made crafts in bulk from a wholesale supplier and then on-sell them at a higher price (just like traditional retailers do), or better still, you can take advantage of the increasing demand for homemade products and make your own.
Why selling crafts online makes sense
There are many benefits to selling crafts online as opposed to through retailers or in person:
- Online marketplaces tend to take a much lower cut of your profits than traditional retailers
- Online marketplaces can set you up with your own online shop (but you don’t need to worry about complicated code, web hosting or e-commerce – all that stuff is done for you)
- Your customers can be based anywhere in the UK, or indeed the world!
- Online marketplaces attract keen buyers of handmade arts and crafts
- You get to deal with your customers direct, meaning you can receive feedback on what people like about your products and what would make them more appealing.
- If you establish your own website with more information about your products, you can use SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to improve the number of people finding out about you.
- Once your business gets going, you can buy ad space online (such as on search engines like Google, related crafts blogs and publications etc.) much cheaper than in print.
What you need to set yourself up
Before you start, make sure you are properly set up to sell your crafts online to customers from around the world:
- Do your homework – find out whether there is demand for your products, who your competitors are, where the best places to sell them are, how much you should price them at and so on.
- Materials – work out what materials you will need and budget how much they will cost you, how you plan to source them and where you will store them (it is generally good to buy in bulk, as you can get bulk discounts).
- Pricing – compare your research on what similar products sell for, and then work out your costs and profit margins. Include materials, your electricity, phone and internet costs associated with your business, and include a decent margin of profit.
- Business credentials – if you plan on selling your products as a business, you will need to register your business with HMRC and establish how you will pay taxes on your profits. In time, you’ll also need a business bank account, a website, and a business name. Selling as a hobby may be possible without paying tax, and is probably better when you first start out and test the market for your products. However establishing a business allows you to tax deduct your costs.
The Design Trust is a valuable resource for anyone planning to sell crafts online.
Marketplaces and stores for selling crafts online
Knowing where you will actually sell your wares is a really important part of your set-up. This will allow you to tailor your products to suit the market, find a niche where you have no competitors and maximise your sales opportunities.
No technical knowledge is needed to start selling crafts online with most of these sites
You can go for general marketplaces, or to more specialist sites devoted to particular types of crafts. To maximise your exposure, why not look at both? After all, the more chances people have to see your products, the more likely you are to make sales.
General marketplace websites
Here are the best general sites you can use for selling crafts online (i.e. sites that sell other things as well as arts and crafts):
What is it? eBay is an online auction and retail site. You can hold auctions for your products and/or list for them sale at a stipulated price.
What can you sell? Anything. eBay has virtually everything you can think of for sale, from homemade gifts through to houses!
How much will it cost to sell items? This depends on whether you sell as a private seller or as a business, and also whether you sell by auction or fixed price. eBay charges a small insertion fee to list your products, and then a final value fee on all your sales. You may also be entitled to regular usage discounts and free listings when you first get started.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? You can join eBay’s list of “Special offers” which changes on a regular basis. By selling through eBay, you also benefit from the SEO eBay uses to promote products for sale through its site.
How popular is it? eBay is the largest site of its kind in the world, with millions of regular users across the globe.
Pros: eBay is a great way for testing out your products for sale, and gives you access to a huge number of potential buyers.
Cons: Because eBay sells absolutely everything, your products are competing against a huge number of other sellers. Your products can get lost among the huge volume of items for sale.
TOP TIP: Check out our guide to selling anything on eBay. You’ll literally be able to sell ANYTHING!
What is it? Amazon is an online marketplace, selling products from a huge range of retailers, big and small.
What can you sell? Anything.
How much will it cost to sell items? There are two types of sales. The Basic package lets you sell within 20 product categories, at a cost of 75p per item plus per-item seller fees. The Pro package costs £25 per month plus per-item seller fees and gives you access to all 27 product categories and an array of business support services.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? The Pro package includes services such as promotion and gift services, the ability customise your shipping rates and access to order reports.
How popular is it? Amazon is the world’s largest online retail site, with millions of registered users.
Pros: Like eBay, Amazon offers you access to a huge number of customers. Amazon also sells gift vouchers, which further broadens your potential customer base.
Cons: Again like eBay, your products can get lost among others.
Crafts marketplace websites
Here are the best specialist craft websites (i.e. sites that focus on selling crafts online and nothing else):
Folksy – Recommended
What is it? A UK site dedicated to selling handmade goods, with a ‘Modern British Craft’ slant.
What can you sell? Craft supplies, jewellery, clothing, accessories, cards and stationary, homeware and wedding gifts.
How much will it cost to sell items? If you pay-as-you-go, selling with Folksy will cost 15p per item listed – plus a 6% sales commission on any sales. Alternatively, you can pay by the year for a flat fee of £45 and have no listings fees (though you still pay the same 6% sales commission).
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? The Folksy blog features designers and sellers from among its ranks. You also get a dedicated Folksy URL web address and shop page – which you can personalise. So in effect, Folksy provides you with your own website (without the hassle of running it yourself). You can then promote your Folksy shop on marketing material, your social media pages etc.
How popular is it? Folksy attracts over 300,000 visitors to its website a month. The weekly Folksy gift guide goes out to more than 50,000 buyers.
Pros: The site attracts people who are specifically looking for handmade crafts. Folksy shop pages often rank well on Google searches, and there are no hidden admin or start-up fees. Having your own Folksy page also means you have your own professional looking website, too.
Cons: Not as much traffic as eBay or Amazon.
Etsy – Recommended
What is it? Etsy is a specialist international site, sectioned to cater for a number of countries, including the UK.
What can you sell? The site is dedicated to selling handmade goods and craft supplies, as well as vintage items.
How much will it cost to sell items? There is a listing fee of $US0.20 per item, and 3.5% commission is charged on sales achieved.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? Etsy has an active PR team to promote the site and its sellers.
How popular is it? As a community, Etsy has 15 million buyers and sellers.
Pros: It’s a specialist site for selling crafts online, but has an international focus – giving you a much bigger potential customer base than smaller UK-focused sites.
Cons: You’re competing with a lot of excellent shops – it’s easy to get swamped by the competition.
What is it? The site is dedicated to showcasing the unique works of small businesses and sole traders.
What can you sell? Gifts, homewares and fashion.
How much will it cost to sell items? There is a £199 joining fee, and then all sales made attract a 25% commission.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? Extensive PR and advertising campaigns generate publicity for the site and its features members/products.
How popular is it? The site claims to attract more than two million unique visitors per month (that’s a lot!)
Pros: This is one of the most well-known sites for small crafts makers and designers, and regularly advertises in the mainstream press. The site is also selective as to which sellers it will take on board, meaning there is an element of quality control which enhances the site’s value to customers. It also offers ongoing business support, but again this adds to the cost of selling.
Cons: The site takes a big bite of your sales (25%) – but the volume of sales you could make with this popular site will hopefully compensate for this.
What is it? Misi stands for ‘Make it, sell it’, and reflects the site’s specialisation in handmade products.
What can you sell? Homewares, fashion, jewellery, food, gifts, cards, supplies, vintage objects.
How much will it cost to sell items? 20p per listing, regardless of the quantity you have to sell, plus 3% commissions on sales.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? Free web domain as well as access to the site’s blog and member forum.
How popular is it? Misi reaches around 150,000 users per month and has over 6,000 sellers.
Pros: The site is one of the cheapest to use, making it a great avenue for people starting out. Also, payments are made direct to you via PayPal, instead of to the provider which holds your money until an order is complete.
Cons: Some sellers say they find the site tricky to use.
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What is it? A marketplace where people can buy and sell unique products for the home.
What can you sell? Needlecraft, papercraft, fashion, furniture, homewares, books, beauty products, accessories, food and drinks.
How much will it cost to sell items? 20p per listing plus 2.5% commissions.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? Coriandr “seedlings” are a promotional tool which allow you to embed a Coriandr mini-shop into other websites, such as your own blog.
How popular is it? Usage figures are undisclosed.
Pros: The low cost of selling is by far the site’s biggest advantage.
Cons: The website isn’t as well-known as some others, which brings down the volume of potential buyers. The main website is also somewhat clunky to use.
What is it? The Crafter’s Barn is dedicated to selling homemade wares.
What can you sell? Any products that are homemade, including fabrics, soaps, wood and metalwork, pottery, foods, ceramics and pottery, aromatherapy and floristry.
How much will it cost to sell items? Unlimited listings for £2.30 per month.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? Cheap homepage advertising spaces.
How popular is it? Undisclosed usage figures.
Pros: Unlimited listings and no commissions are a big draw of the site, making this arguably the cheapest site on the internet on which to sell crafts.
Cons: The site is young and still growing, having only been created as a multi-vendor site in June 2012.
What is it? Creative stores is a place for artists and creatives for selling crafts online, specifically homemade crafts.
What can you sell? Accessories, art, dolls, and teddy bears, cards, clothing, foods, needlecraft, woodwork, gifts, toys.
How much will it cost to sell items? The site charges a regular fee, depending on how many items you want to sell. Up to 25 items will cost £3.50 per month; an unlimited amount of items costs £5 per month, or unlimited yearly membership costs £39.99.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? The site is advertised to promote itself and its members. There is also a “feature store” which can be used by members to promote particular products.
How popular is it? No usage figures supplied.
Pros: The site is non-profit, and all fees go towards advertising and marketing the site. Plus if you have an Etsy store, you can easily transfer all your item details over to Creative Stores automatically.
Cons: There are no site usage figures supplied, but it doesn’t seem as popular as Etsy.
What is it? A marketplace of selected creative small businesses and designers who produce homemade and personalised gifts.
What can you sell? Cards and wraps, jewellery, pictures, homewares, fashion and beauty products.
How much will it cost to sell items? Undisclosed.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? Undisclosed
How popular is it? Usage figures undisclosed.
Pros: The site was commended by the Good Web Guide in 2013 – so it’s a positive site for your business to be associated with.
Cons: The site lacks transparency in its selling charges and operational procedures, making it difficult to compare it with other selling sites.
What is it? The site is a specialist community for crafts makers. As well as being able to sell your homemade products, the site provides a range of news, employment opportunities, and events in the industry.
What can you sell? Fashion, jewellery and wares for the home and garden.
How much will it cost to sell items? You must apply to sell through the site, with seasonal application rounds. Spaces are limited within each product type, and not all product categories may have openings when you apply. Fees are undisclosed. Alternatively, you can use the site to advertise your own personal website, by joining the directory (free for standard listings; one-off fee of £25 for premium listings).
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? A business directory, reviews list, “about the makers” section and the site also carries out PR work to promote itself.
How popular is it? Usage figures undisclosed.
Pros: Strong community feel to the site – it allows you to promote your own brand of craft products, put you in touch with workshops and classes to improve your skills and enhance your social contacts, as well as keep you posted on job opportunities should you wish to take your hobby professional.
Cons: Being selective, you may find it difficult to be chosen to sell your wares through Made by Hand Online.
What is it? Bonanza is an international marketplace, similar to Amazon. You can visit the UK branch of the site, which features UK products priced in pounds.
What can you sell? As well as a dedicated crafts section, the site has categories for selling jewellery and watches, antiques and collectibles, fashion, health and beauty products, gifts and homewares.
How much will it cost to sell items? Unlike most sites, it is free to list products on Bonanza. The site keeps a commission on sales made of 3.5% for items valued under $US500. Distribution of products is free.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? The site had an active PR department to promote itself and its latest sellers.
How popular is it? The site is rapidly increasing in popularity and has an extensive audience spanning 11 countries in North and South America, Europe and Australia.
Pros: The site gives you access to a much larger market, since you can sell not just within the UK but globally if you choose to. Its fees are also low, making it a highly attractive option.
Cons: Bonanza is less well-known than its high-profile competitors Amazon and eBay.
What is it? Dawanda is a European marketplace, with dedicated platforms for a number of countries in Western Europe. The site specialises in handmade, customisable products, although two special categories allow for industrially produced goods.
What can you sell? Fashion, jewellery, accessories, gifts, bags, homewares, vintage goods and craft supplies.
How much will it cost to sell items? Dawanda charges a 5% commission on sales achieved. There are no listing fees apart from on the German platform, which is more developed and more widely used than other national platforms.
What promotional tools are available to help you sell? The site supports sellers with PR, marketing initiatives, newsletters and search-engine marketing.
How popular is it? There are 3.4 million registered users across all of Dawanda’s platforms. The site attracts 15 million visitors and 190 million page impressions every month.
Pros: Dawanda is more popular on the continent than in the UK, meaning you can sell your crafts to a larger audience without competing with local makers.
Cons: Postage costs are more expensive for a foreign market. Also, remember that products are priced in Euros!
Selling crafts online – your views
Do you sell crafts online? Have a look at our article 10 reasons why you should start your own business, featuring an interview with Apprentice star Saira Khan.
We’d also love to hear about your own experience of selling crafts online. (Are there any good online craft marketplaces that you think we’ve missed?) Let us know your thoughts by commenting below, or drop us a line at [email protected]