Getting Started Selling Your Crafts

Author: Eileen Bergen

Getting Started Selling Your Crafts
By Eileen Bergen
The Artful Crafter

Until recently crafts were usually sold locally or, at best,
regionally. Now you literally have the whole world at your
fingertips! Some of you may choose a gradual progression from
selling to friends, to selling at fairs and shows, to retail
selling … and so on. Others may decide to jump directly from
selling within their circle of friends to the worldwide Internet
market – the costs are low enough that this is surprisingly

My first career was as a special education teacher. After 15
years of teaching I earned an MBA degree followed by CFA
(Certified Financial Analyst) certification. After 15 years in
finance I was a vice-president and portfolio manager of a major
insurance company before I was downsized. Tired of the rat race,
I opted for early retirement. Looking for something to do with
all my free time, I started crafting and am now making a nice
supplemental income from it.

As a crafter and a businesswoman, I feel I have some valuable
insights into the craft business that I can share with you.

Getting Organized
to Sell Your Crafts for Profit

At some point in your progression from crafting for fun to
crafting for fun and profit, you go from handcrafting individual
items for yourself and friends to filling quantity orders for a
broader marketplace. That’s the time to take a very business-like
approach to your craft business. This needn’t be daunting. You
don’t need an MBA or management experience – just a bit of common
sense. If you’re going to do this for profit, you need to under-
stand The Four M’s:

1. Meet your market;
2. Minimize your costs;
3. Maximize your selling price; and
4. Market the heck out of your product.

Simple, right? But very few people get it. Look at the high
failure rate for new businesses. It takes effort to be successful,
but the task is hardly impossible.

Traditional craft retailing methods are what most crafters use to
get started. They're the easiest way, especially if you don't
know if anyone will buy what you make.

I believe that there is a market for any well-made craft, whether
decorative or useful. In this era of mass production, when it
seems that every store in every mall sells the same things, hand-
made, unique or handy crafts are more appreciated than ever.

The problem facing many crafters is how exactly to go about
selling them, or more accurately, finding paying customers. The
fact is that there is an awful lot of competition out there.

My own business got jump-started by my “circle of friends”. My
friends noticed and liked my calling cards and began to ask me to
design and make cards for them. Starting with just Broderbund’s
Create-a-Card program, I was soon earning a nice supplemental
income in just a few hours a week. It probably helped that I was
retired and live in an area dominated by retirees. But I think
that everyone has a “circle of friends” either socially or at

Of course you don’t want to impose on their friendship by making
a hard sell, but rather use or display your crafts in front of
your friends to see if they draw any interest. If they do and if
they’re priced right, you’re on your way to craft retailing for

If your “circle of friends” market starts extending to friends of
friends, you’re probably ready to tap the general marketplace of
craft retailing.

Most crafters are aware of the periodic craft shows put on by
local groups or even by the local Parks Departments. These
usually cost little or nothing to join and should give you a fair
idea of whether there is any broader interest in your craft. What
better way to jump into craft retailing?

There are also organized craft shows that tour the country, most
of which charge an entrance fee for participants. Check your
local papers, especially the free shoppers, for information about
upcoming shows

Another venue for craft retailing is at the localflea markets that
spring up in every community just about every weekend. Again the
entrance cost is usually minimal. The only other thing you need is
a little marketing savvy.

With a little cost and some effort, you will be well on your way to
knowing whether there is a market for your craft. Once you know
that, you can move on and think about other ways of selling, such
as in galleries, on consignment, on eBay or from your own website.

All these methods and more are discussed in great detail on my
website,http:// Come visit and see what
you can do to become successful in the craft business!

By Eileen Bergen
The Artful Crafter

About the Author

Ms. Bergen has had a varied career, first as a special education teacher and than, after getting a MBA degree, as a vice president of a major insurance company. For the last eight years she has been creating and selling her crafts.


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