When money’s tight, it’s comforting to have another revenue stream to fall back on. Far easier on most people is to be do-it-yourselfers, working from home rather than holding down a second full or part-time job.
Many people earn a little extra income by making and selling crafts.
Don’t Know Where to Start?
If you already know how to crochet, knit or do macramé, you have the skills to make your own goods.
If you don’t, but you can figure out how to use a hot-glue gun and follow a pattern, then you also possess the skill sets you need to develop handmade crafts to sell.
Do a quick Internet search to look for crafting ideas, and you’ll find free ideas and patterns that are ready to use immediately. Look for patterns that you like, and then read through them to see if you have the patience to go through the steps to make the craft.
Goods & Materials
As you’d expect, there’s some startup cost involved, whether you’re buying yarn or twine or old plates, and pots to cannibalize for materials.
Rule One: Buy materials on sale. The lower your cost, the better your sales income will be. For instance, if you’re interested in making mosaic trivets, buy broken ceramic tile and plates at steep discounts. If you want to make welcome mats, look into buying recycled cottons and used natural fiber ropes.
Re-purposing used materials will almost always be more economical than tracking down new materials, especially if you need to buy in bulk.
Some Ideas for Crafts
If you’ve shopped at local craft fairs, flea markets and swap meets, you know that certain kinds of goods seem to sell well no matter what time of year it is: Some include:
• Plant holders
• Potholders & hot pads
• Lace bookmarks & doilies
• Notecards & postcards
• Trinket boxes
• Hair accessories
• Crocheted hats, mittens & scarves
Aim for the small market, at least at first. Usually small items sell well because they’re easy to carry around.
If at all possible, try to keep your price per piece under $5 and under $10 for sets. Instantly you become more accessible to a wider group of shoppers.
Also, try to make your goods functional as well as decorative. The more useful something is, the more attractive it is to other people on a budget, especially if it’s reasonably priced.
If at all possible, include any sales tax in the final cost of your crafts. You won’t have to make as much change, and counting receipts becomes that much easier.
Recovering Materials Cost
When you’re pricing goods, remember to account for your materials cost first. For example, if you make 10 potholders from one skein of yarn that cost you $2, price the potholders at no more than $2 each. You may well pay for your materials with your first sale.
Where to Vend
Obviously, craft fairs, flea markets and swap meets are easy places to start. While you’re getting your feet wet, try to split the cost of a booth with others. Also, moving around with the fairs gives you a much better idea of what the local market is like.
Look for consignment shops and antique malls where you can leave your goods on display for a small percentage of the sales price.
If you’re lucky enough to craft with a larger group, consider vending online as well. Amazon.com and eBay have made it easier than ever to establish online stores, but you’ll also incur more expenses as you decide what features and amenities to offer shoppers.
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