How to start a handmade business brings forth many questions, a lot of research and more research. It’s a big step to take and a lot of decisions need to be made. I go over a list to help you cover all your bases before you get started.
You have been doing your hobby for ages, you love it and family and friends are always commenting on your creations. Then one day you look at your craft with a business mind, selling your items does not seem so absurd. The ideas to start a handmade business from home seem the right time. You don’t just want to share your creations with your friends and family you want to branch out to the internet world.
Time to see if your items or similar are already existing online. By using search engines such as Google, Yahoo or Bing type in your product description and see what pops up. The first page results are going to be your competitors. Look at the handmade marketplaces where you can also buy from and see if your items are being sold there. Checkout places like Folksy.com, Etsy.com. If you do find your items online you need to know how you are going to make yours different, and why someone looking at both items would buy yours instead.
Finding a name for your handmade business is very important, it will represent you, your items and your brand & this will be seen by many. You can name your craft business whatever you like but do bear in mind that you will be up against other handmade owners, think about your name carefully. This name will be with you for a long time, so here are a few pointers to consider when creating a list of names for your business.
1: Keep it short
2: Use what you handmade as one of your words in your business name
3: Remember your name is also your domain name, so having a few names will be a good idea
4: Be happy with your choice, its going to be with your for a long time
5: Don’t rush it, if you can’t think of anything you like leave it for a few days then come back to brainstorming
Use this place to check to see if your domain nmae is available: www.123-reg.co.uk – use the following as your endings .com or .co.uk
You’ve found your business name hooray, and it’s available as a domain double hooray. It’s time you make it official and purchase your domain name ready for your handmade business. But Wait. If you have decided to sell your items at a handmade market place, you may not need to purchase a domain. Only because you will be creating your store on their website so you will not need to get too technical. My only question would be, say you decide to move to your own site, will your handmade business name be available?
If you do want to buy your domain here are the places I personally use for: .co.uk use www.123-reg.co.uk & for .com use www.internetbs.net/. These places are cheap and they allow you to protect your personal information for free from online prying eyes.
Before you set up shop you need to find the people who are going to buy from you. Don’t rush this because these are the people who will be helping you make a profit from your crafting passion.
In your search engine type the following: forum:insert your subject, visit the forums that turn up in the results. See what people are talking about concerning items like yours.
Visit the communities at Folksy.com or Etsy.com and see what people are saying about their products. With Etsy look at the buyers that are selling items like you want to and look at their sales figures on the left hand side. This will give you an idea of what items they are selling over a period of time.
Use Google keyword tool, register with them first [unless you have a gmail account then you are fine]. Type in your item description and see how many people are searching for your items, why because these are your customers, and these people are already looking for you isn’t that cool.
You will need to set up a business account to receive your money from your items. Even if you are using a handmade marketplace to sell you still want to have a business account, so they can transfer your monies. The best and easiest place to use is Paypal.com, its quick, and everyone online knows who they are.
Now there’s a few ways you can tackle this step. You can go the free route and sell your items at a specialized marketplace; some will require a fee when you sell an item. It’s free because you can set up your shop with them with all the techy stuff left out. You can set up shop with a free sites like zibbet.com, weebly.com, Blogger.com.
For the paid option would be to use WordPress. It’s a free download but to get it set up you would need your own domain name and hosting which is where you would place your wordpress business site. To get hosting you can use the following places. www.unlimitedwebhosting.co.uk or www.hostgator.com. With a wordpress handmade shop you will need to set it up so you can receive payments from your customers. You simply use Paypal’s payment buttons, they are easy to create and then all you do is copy and past the code into your product pages.
With your store set up you will have to start taking those important images of your products. It’s very important that you get them looking great because it’s your pictures that will be selling your handmade items. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or have all the pro equipment so not to worry. Always keep your items simple, well lit, bright and in focus.
Tips for taking your images: Take them in a lot of natural light, or create a light box and create your own light. Keep the space around your item clear and uncluttered. If you can, try and place your handmade items in their natural settings e.g.; if its a cushion put it on your sofa, jewellery or clothing get someone to model the item, you get the idea. Take loads of pictures so you have a selection to choose from.
Using your Google keyword planner find the words that bring back search results. These words will become your best friends because it’s these keywords that will help you to get found by your searching customers. Get a long list of keywords because you want to offer variation in your writing. For each product you handcraft you will need a new list.
Use these words in your handmade items titles, tags, descriptions and naming your images. Plus use these keywords when you start blogging about your items too. Many skip this process but if you do it from now while you are at the beginning of your handmade business journey you will be rewarded long term.
What are you going to charge for your handmade item? Many get really worried about this especially when you have been creating your items for free for so long. You have to have a pricing process so you can pay for you time, your materials to make your items and the profit to help your business grow. Don’t assume people will not pay your prices and don’t under estimate your craft.
So first you need to work out how long it takes you to create your items and what is your hourly rate. For example your hourly rate is £6.50 and it takes you half an hour, that’s £3.25. How much does it cost to create each of your items, this means breaking down your materials. For example if you use buttons and the buttons cost £1.00 for 10 and you use 2 buttons per item then your cost is 20p for those 2 buttons used. Break down everything and put them in a list for easy viewing. Cost of time x cost of materials used= break-even cost *2 or 3 = your price.
You can juggle your figures depending on your time [labour] if you do something in bulk this may cut down your work time overall, cost of materials, buying in bulk brings down prices too. Also look at other businesses creating the same as you or similar see what they are charging and compare that to your figures. Your pricing process will differ depending on what you are making, by doing a simple search based on what you make should help you find some more information.`
This section of your business is very important because you are now going to spread your message everywhere. It can get overwhelming and time consuming. Especially when you are used to just creating your hand-crafted items, now you have to create and promote. The Pre-Plan Marketing Kit E-book will help you in this area. It helps you create your business message and profile in a simple way.
Let’s get your handmade business noticed first thing first, time to set up a few social networks that will help spread your craft business message. Go to these places and open an account: Twitter.com | Facebook [set up a fan page] | Linkedin.com | plus.google.com [Google+]. Those forums we looked at earlier, the ones you found interesting, join up and get active, add your craft business url in the signature section.
Start a blog, either on the back end of your site or you can use a free site like blogger to get going. Comment on other people blogs that are doing similar to you. Why because their readers may also like what you are selling. All these places need you to get active, upload your items, tweet your new items, share tips or how to get involved and spread your message.
This is no longer a hobby and even if you don’t sell anything you see yourself as a business and so will the Inland Revenue. The most common option to take is to become self-employed; you need tell the Inland Revenue is. Then every tax year you will declare your accounts whether you have made any money or not. When you go to their site here, they will guide you though the process.
You don’t have to get an accountant, they cost money and you can do it yourself. All accounts basically show what your income is e.g.; what items you sell and for how much and your expenditure e.g.; what monies you are using to run your business. Write down everything and you are doing your own accounts.
When the financial year ends and the Inland Revenue wants your self assessment, you simple use your accounts you have produced. You don’t have to write down everything every day as long as you keep every receipt that passes through your business you can do your accounting say on the weekends or fortnightly or even monthly. When you sell your item create a receipt for your records, if you are using Paypal when you get an order you can login and print off a receipt showing costs, keep a copy for your records.
Hand-craft more items
Continue to work with your keywords
Keep your images fresh, bright,
Hand-craft more items
Update your blog regularly
Comment on other blogs
Hand-craft more items
Stay active at your social networks
Be active in your forums
Stay on top of your financial accounts
Hand-craft more items
And Enjoy your Handmade Business.
Over to you:
What part of starting a Handmade business really worries you? What part don’t you understand? Can you add something to this article?