If you enjoy crafting as a hobby, then chances are high that you have had some lucky recipient tell you “oh my gosh, these are amazing, you should sell them!” Of course, if you have worked out how much it cost you to buy materials, then calculated your hourly wage, most people quickly realize that there isn’t a great deal of money to be made in normal craft hobbies. But, is there away?
Appreciate the value of your work
Researchers looked at attitudes of lacemakers Slovakia, and what they found seems to be pretty consistent among any crafters. Despite the skill required, the lacemakers all undervalued their work, looking at it as a way to top up income. Of course, it’s not just the crafters that consistently undervalue their work, but society generally disregards the ability to craft amazing work.
Etsy may be changing this attitude, taking artisan work, and allowing it to be sold for a reasonable amount. While it is not the only place to consider selling your goods, it is one of the biggest online marketplaces for handmade items.
Because of the way that Etsy is set up it may also be an easier option than getting enough stock together to have a stall or table at a local craft market.
What could you sell?
There is no ‘easy money’, particularly in the handmade artisan market. However, when you’re looking at taking a hobby and turning it into a money-making venture you need to look at the skills you have, and where you need to put in more practice.
The key to making a living through selling your craft is originality. Whether you create original pieces yourself, create the patterns and instructions that allow others to craft, or create the component elements, originality is the key.
A few ideas that could be used if you have the potential to develop the skillset:
- Artisan yarn: if you can die and spin yarn then there is a lucrative market
- Candles: from simple soya melts to carved pieces of art
- Facemasks: obviously a hot topic at the moment, but you need to ensure a point of difference (consider adding an AR element to the design)
- Jewelry: a fiercely competitive market, but if you make original items or use unique materials it has good potential
- Upcycle: if you are able to recycle old clothes, bottles, coffee pods, paper, the list is endless, into anything new and useful (think jewelry, quilts, rugs, etc) you have a winning product
How do I work out pricing?
Artists hate pricing their work. In fairness, most people don’t like putting a price on their labor – think about any salary negotiation you have been in. However, there is a formula to make it easier.
Firstly, write down a full list of all the materials you use, how much you use, and how much each cost. Then add a list of resources you use to make your art (e.g. petrol to get bottles from the recycling center, glue for your glue gun, electricity to run your sewing machine, gas to run your welder). Finally, work out how many hours it takes you to make each item.
You’ll end up with a spreadsheet that looks something like this:
|Coffee Pod Earrings|
|– Hooks||$ 0.10|
|– jumprings||$ 0.10|
|Coffee Pods||$ –|
|Cardboard display||$ 0.50|
|Backing disk||$ 0.20|
|Hole Punch||$ 5.00|
|Circle punch||$ 50.00|
|New Designs||2 hours|
The equipment will be a one-off cost, so you will need to distribute this cost over several sales. You will also need to consider medical insurance, general expenses and income tax to work out how many units you will need to sell to make a living.
But for our example of making earrings from recycled coffee pod containers, you will be selling each pair for at least $8.50 just to break even. You will then need to add enough to cover other expenses.
Will they sell?
Once you have gone through and priced out the base amount you need to sell your craft item for, you need to look at what similar items are selling for. If everyone else is selling their earrings for $4.50 and you need to sell yours for $8.50, you will need to ask why yours are so much more expensive.
It could be that you need to find a cheaper source for your base elements, reduce your hourly rate, or realize that your item is of significantly higher quality (and therefore this may not be the best market for you).
Before you invest too much into the venture financially, run a few trials runs. Test out your market. And as you do so, keep detailed records of how much time you are spending as well as all your costs (including any marketing, packaging or postage costs).
You need to be able to adjust your business on the fly in order to eventually upscale. But with a little research, a lot of passion, and a few long hours, yes you really can turn your fun hobby into a profitable business.