As a creative person, the idea of monetizing your passion has probably crept into your daydreams more than once. If you keep telling yourself that this is unrealistic and you’ll never be able to make money from art, then it’s time to stop. Though you won’t get rich overnight, it is entirely possible to start selling your creations online. With time and dedication, this little trickle of extra income will grow. And with the right skills and a bit of planning, you can funnel your creative spirit into a profitable home business.
As with any business, there will be administrative work, marketing, and other dull tasks to deal with. But if you take a moment to envision yourself making a living from your art, a bit of admin work will feel 100% worth it.
So, where do you get started?
Choose your craft
Knowing what you want to sell will help you determine where and how to market your homemade goods. If you have a hobby or art form you’re already involved in, then you can skip straight to the next section. However, if you need some inspiration, we’re here to help!
Let’s start with the internet’s top-selling homemade products:
- Art prints and posters
- Journals, planners, and notebooks
- Digital designs (downloadable invitations, CV templates, and the like)
- Reusable Bags
- Customizable Items (everything from clocks and coffee mugs to pocket knives and face masks)
- Home decor and furniture
- Organic, natural cosmetics
For the first seven items on the list, there are sites that allow you to create digital designs and then upload them on product templates. You set a commission and when an item sells, you do precisely nothing! The company takes care of everything from printing to dispatch, and you simply receive your commission. You don’t even need to do any marketing to make sales (though it will help immensely if you do).
The best print-on-demand sites for digital creatives:
Note: There are other print-on-demand sites out there but they are of wildly varying quality, so we cannot recommend them with confidence. The sites above have a wide market reach, excellent creation tools, and great payment terms for creators. They will also give you marketing tools while doing some advertising for you.
For digital artists who can’t afford the Adobe Creative Suite, check out the following free, open source programs:
If you don’t have a pre-existing hobby that you’d like to monetize, then you may wish to consider assembling or sewing products at home from existing patterns. Assemble Craft Jobs is a great E-book that showcases over 250 different companies that will pay you to assemble their products in your home so that you can ship them out. Some of these tasks are very simple, while others may require some crafting skills and experience with a sewing machine. Check them out here if you want to earn a little extra cash doing hobby jobs.
Selling homemade goods on Etsy
We can’t go past Etsy when looking at this topic. The site has quickly become one of the largest online stores for homemade items, and for good reason. They have an amazing base of crafters and a horde of eager customers.
Etsy ranked 5th in EcommerceByte’s 2020 Seller’s Choice Awards, with sellers noting that it’s great for original homemade products, but not so good for vintage and mass-produced items. One seller noted that Etsy stands out from other online markets because there are no “junky items” in amongst the quality products, meaning buyers have more confidence and are prepared to pay higher prices.
Etsy offers a global reach that is growing substantially each year. From 2012 to 2019, the number of Etsy buyers shot from 9.32 million to 45.7 million. So, if you create one-off artworks or customizable designs, this is the place to be.
Tips for running a successful Etsy store:
- Get to know the website, connect with the Etsy community, and follow the site’s guides and rules
- Take beautiful, professional pictures – buyers are turned off by amateur-looking product images
- Compete on quality and uniqueness, not price (price competition inevitably leads to you undervaluing your work)
- Research and understand your target market (hint: thinking it’s “everyone” is nice, but it won’t help you reach motivated customers!)
- Use good SEO practices with your titles, product descriptions, and tags
- Go above and beyond with your customer service – prompt responses to questions, clear communication, cute handwritten notes and small gifts in packages all show customers you care
- Keep your shop fresh – new listings create notifications for people who’ve favorited your store
- Use categories to organize your products – this makes browsing more user-friendly, keeping customers in your store longer
- Create a brand presence on social media (hint: Instagram and Pinterest are great for Etsy sellers due to how visual they are)
- Consider starting a blog or YouTube channel to share information about your products and funnel more traffic back to your shop
- Document everything and always add package tracking to prevent disputes
How to set your prices when selling homemade goods online
It’s essential that you cover your costs and then add a profit margin when setting prices. However, many creatives do themselves a disservice by failing to factor in all relevant costs. You need to include not just the materials and tools you used to create the product, but also your time and your overheads (things like accounting fees, business licenses, advertising costs, electricity, and the like). A portion of your operational expenses needs to be covered by each product so that the profits you make are genuine profits.
Once you’ve factored in all of your expenses and arrived at a price per product that will allow you to cover them, take a look at your competitors’ pricing. This will help you determine a healthy yet competitive profit margin. It will also give you an idea of any unique selling points your products have that may allow you to charge a little extra.
Where else can I sell homemade products online?
- Amazon Handmade
- MadeIt (an Australian site)
- Zibbet (a paid service that gives you a standalone website along with stores on Etsy and other marketplaces)
Once you’re confident and have established a customer base, you may want to consider starting an e-commerce store to expand your reach and sell directly to customers without having to pay a commission to platforms like Etsy, eBay, and the others listed above.
Selling homemade products and tax
The great thing about starting this kind of business is that, in most countries, you’re able to earn a certain amount of untaxed money each year from your hobbies. So, until you jump over that threshold, your earnings may be tax-free. Keep in mind, the rules for this will differ depending on your region.
To see where you stand with tax, type “hobby or business for tax purposes + your location” into your favourite search engine.
I hope this guide proves useful to you in your creative endeavors. If you have any artistic friends who might benefit from this information, please feel free to share it with them.