Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Guide to Crafting for Profit

By Misti Sandefur

You already know how to make crafts and it's something you enjoy, so why not turn your love of crafting into a business. It's not as hard as you think it may be to turn your crafts into cash, and if you follow the information in this guide you'll be making money with your hobby in no time.

There are a number of ways to make money through crafts, and it's up to you to decide which ones you want to do. You can sell your crafts to the world with a Web site, set up a booth at your local mall or at local festivities and craft fairs, or contact consignment shops in your area and have them help you sell your crafts. You can choose just one of the options above or you can choose from more than one, but making the decision will depend on how much you want to make from your hobby, and how much time you want to spend crafting.

No matter which option or options you choose the one thing you should have is a business name. When searching your brain for a creative business name try to at least have three to choose from in case one or two of them is already taken. For some ideas you could go with Jane's (replace with your first name) Creations, Little House of Crafts, Crafty Hands or etc. Once you've made your choice your next step will be to obtain a business certificate. A business certificate will include your business name, location of business and etc. You can obtain a business certificate by contacting the county clerk in your town.

Creating a Web site

Instead of forking out big bucks to have someone create your Web site for you, you can do it yourself. There are many software programs that will allow you to design your own Web site with little or no HTML knowledge. A program I use and recommend is Coolpage (http://www.coolpage.com). Coolpage is free to use, or later, if you desire, you can upgrade for more features. I used the free version of Coolpage for about two months to get a feel for the program, and to see if I liked it. Then, after two months, I upgraded to Coolpage Webmaster for $79. I upgraded because one, Coolpage was inexpensive, and two, the program was simple to use.

When creating your Web site you will need a digital camera so you can take pictures of your crafts and display them on your Web site; pictures sell better than words. A simple, inexpensive digital camera should do just fine to start.

Other than pictures, your Web site should also include ordering information, pricing (how much each craft costs), guarantee policy, delivery information (approximately how long delivery will take and how the craft product will be shipped), contact information, detailed descriptions about each craft product and information about you. You should also provide a way for consumers to order. (Paypal is the number one payment service most businesses choose.)

Upon completion of your Web site your next step will be to go live with the Web site you have just created, but before you can go live you need a domain name and a Web host. Domain names don't cost a whole lot, and if you search long enough you can find some hosts that will offer free domains by purchasing their hosting service. Yes, there is free hosting out there, but your best bet is to pay for hosting, and here's why: Free hosting places annoying pop-ups, banners and/or other advertising on your Web site. Paid hosting does not place annoying pop-ups, banners or advertising on your Web site, and paid hosting also makes you look more professional. Paid hosting can also be inexpensive (under $10 per month), just be sure to read the terms of service for each hosting provider, and choose the one that will be right for your craft business.

Selling from a Booth

Selling from a booth can be profitable too. You can check with your local malls to price booth space if you think this would be your cup of tea, or if you'd prefer you can rent booth spaces at festivities and craft fairs around your area. If you choose to sell your crafts from booths your state may require certain licenses and/or permits, so be sure to contact your local civic office to find out the requirements. For example, some states require a Transient Trader License for selling crafts in a mall.

After deciding where you want to set up your booth, your next step will be to contact your local mall and/or city council office to find out how much your rental fee or fees will be. Yes, you can (if you want) run a booth space at your local mall and also at local festivities and craft fairs around your area. However, you can't be in two places at once, so if you do set up at festivities and craft fairs too, you'll want to close down your space at the mall on the days you'll be set up in a different location. You'll also want to take into consideration which location you think will be the best for that day. For example, if there's a Labor Day festivity going on in your area, but you think the mall will draw in more traffic because of Labor Day then run your mall booth instead, but if you believe the Labor Day festivity will have a larger crowd than the mall will then close down your mall booth and set up at the Labor Day festivity. Since you're from the area you should be able to determine which location draws the bigger crowd based on the previous year.

While running your booth, you can always work on your crafts when business is slow. I've visited many malls in my area, and usually the people behind the craft booths are always doing their hobby while running their booth. They will stop what they're doing to assist customers, but once everyone leaves their booth they continue crafting again. I even paid a visit to one booth where I was interested in the craft the gentleman was doing, and he took time out to show me a little about working with leather. The gentleman not only showed me a little about crafting leather, but he also told me what tools I would need to get started, and about how much it would run me to learn the hobby. The point to this story... if you do run a booth and find someone taking an interest in what you're doing, offer him or her a little demonstration by showing him or her what you're working on and how you do it. You can also give that person advice on what they will need to get started, and about how much it will cost them to buy the basic supplies. Being friendly and helpful may not make you a sale, but it can pay off with "word of mouth" referrals.

You main costs for selling from a booth may include the rental fee for the space, a couple large folding tables to set your crafts on, a couple comfortable chairs, crafts that you've made with your own hands, price tags, business cards to give to consumers visiting your booth, and a cash box and calculator.

Selling on Consignment

The only cost you should incur by selling on consignment is the cost of making the crafts -- a cost you already incur while doing your craft hobby for pleasure. Your first step will be contacting store owners and convincing them to stock your crafts in their store for a small cut of the profit. In other words, if the store owner agrees to place your crafts on their shelves they will earn a small commission (one you both agree on) for each craft product they sell for you. This is a small price to pay for doing something you already enjoy doing, and it will allow you the time you need to make your crafts at home while someone else does the selling for you. Every so often (weekly, monthly or etc.) you'll return to each shop that sells your crafts to collect your money.

These are only a few of the ways you can turn your love of crafting into a profit. There are many other things you can do to make money with your creations, but if you haven't got the time to research all the ways then the ones mentioned above should help get you started. Happy crafting and happy selling!


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