What craft should you sell to make money online?
You can watch the video, or read the post below.
Having too many different types of products that have nothing to do with each other is a sure way to fail and to suffer from the dreaded “Dollar Store stigma”, so the real question is: how do you decide what you should sell? I’m going to give you a framework to help you decide. Think about a product you’re considering selling and follow the steps and you shall find your answer!
We are going to do this in 2 parts because there are 2 key ingredients to selling handmade online and making money from it:
- People need to BUY which means we need to make sure there is a demand. We’ll cover how to make sure that’s the case and we’ll also talk about how to use trends to your advantage.
- You can profit from those products and scale your business as easily as possible without working 100 hours per week.
First, we want to learn about the market. What do people buy? Will your idea sell? Let’s look at a few factors here:
1 – Interest
We need to make sure that there is a demand for the particular product that you’re thinking of selling. I know it sounds a little bit obvious, but it’s crucial. Are people interested in what you want to sell? Are they searching for it? If no one is looking for it it’s going to be very hard to get enough traffic to your shop so you can actually make a sustainable income from it.
You can gauge interest by using a few practical tools (that are also mentioned in the free workbook):
- Google Keyword Planner tool – it’s a free tool that Google offers where you can go and type in a few keywords around the product you’re thinking of creating and selling and see how many people are actually searching for that online each month. You’ll quickly see if there is demand or if it’s really not something that interests people that much.
- Marmalead and eRank – just as Google Keyword Planner tool, those two will be helpful if you want to see how popular your potential product is on Etsy. Both tools have a free trial you can use to do your research.
- Hashtags on Instagram – literally just going on Instagram and trying to find hashtags around that product. If you’re selling something like a macrame wall hanging for example, you might want to type in: #walldecor, #wallhanging, #macrame and see how many people are using this on their pictures and if it’s something that seems to be of interest or if it’s a bit hard to get higher numbers of images and engagement on those type of pictures.
2 – Competition
Are there any competitors for your products? If so – great! Do they seem to be doing ok? Great! Most people fear competition, and yes, it can be scary, but it’s actually a good thing. It’s someone else testing your idea for you and saying: “hey, yes, there is a market for that, I’m doing okay here”.
Let me repeat: if there is NO competition it’s most likely a sign there is no demand for that type of products rather than you having a stroke of genius and inventing something no one thought of before.
3 – Trends
Most categories of handmade products you’re considering selling will most likely never go out of fashion: people will always buy ceramics/pottery, they will always buy artwork and printables, they will always wear knits… and the list goes on.
What’s important (as long as you confirmed your idea with step 1 and 2) is less so the category of products you will make but what they will look like. That’s why if you’re asking yourself: “are mugs selling better than baby socks?” – honestly, it depends on what you make them look like! I wouldn’t worry about the trends in categories of products, in fact, if anything I would stay away from it – you want to have a business now and years from now.
Trends that DO matter:
- Colors (Is green trending? Purple?);
- Patterns (Are we doing flowers this season or polka dots?);
- Textures and materials (Is velvet in this season or out? Are people looking for more vegan leather options?);
- Themes (unicorns, pirates, etc.)
To help you with your research, you can look at:
- Google trends;
- Etsy trends and reports/forecast, for example Etsy trends for 2019;
- Stationery trend magazine;
- Pantone color of the year;
- A simple “color trends YEAR” “pattern trends YEAR” “wedding trends YEAR” search will give you a lot of info back.
Summing up PART 1 – It’s important to make sure people are searching for your products to make sure you have visitors to your shop. Competition is a good thing. Research the trends rather than worrying about the category of product.
While picking your products, you also want to look at which ones will be the most profitable. There are no bad products to sell online, but some products will be easier to sell at a higher profit margin and allow you to scale your business faster without working hours and hours and hours.
1 – Two personal questions
The first step is to actually ask a couple of personal questions, and the first one is: are you any good at it? As in: are you good enough at it to sell this craft professionally? I ask this question for two reasons: one is because if you want to make money from it you need to be able to offer a product that’s good quality. For example, I can create a wallet, but I’m sure the stitches would fall apart in a couple of months, and it wouldn’t really be sustainable as a business. I’m sure that if you’re reading this, you’re good at your craft, but I just wanted to remind you of that.
The second reason I ask is because the quicker you are at creating that product, the higher profit margin you’re going to make because it will take you less time and time is something that comes into the pricing equation as the labor cost.
The second question is even more personal: are you happy to focus on that product? You will make a lot of them so pick something you enjoy creating. Again, I feel like I’m stating the obvious, but there is no sustainable business if you can’t do it for the long term because you don’t enjoy it. If the answer is “yes!” – great, let’s keep going!
2 – Decision guidelines
This is the last part, so congratulations on coming this far! If you are still stuck and unsure what you craft you should sell to make money online, let’s look at the profit potential of the products:
- Is it’s reproducible? Although you can sell one of a kind items online it is much harder to sell a lot of them and to scale a business with them rather than with ready to ship products that are easily reproducible. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if you want to sell OOAK (one of a kind) products, but it’s worth noting that it’s not as easy.
- Is it time-consuming? Products that take hours and hours to make are going to be harder to sell because they will come at higher price points. Again, absolutely not a red flag, but something to consider.
- Can you easily offer upsells and downsells and build collections in this category of products? For example, if I’m looking at selling pottery I can sell plates, mugs, bowls, jugs and all types of things. If someone loves this particular pattern on a mug they might also like the plate and therefore buy several things rather than just one, which means bigger order and more profit. It’s always interesting to start thinking about the type of collections that you would be able to build within the category of products.
- Size and weight of your item – again, it’s not necessarily a red flag, but it is easier and cheaper to ship something like a postcard in the mail than it is to send a wooden chair to a customer.
- Can you get repeat customers easily? Some industries do really well without getting repeat customers, for example wedding rings. Hopefully, no one is going to come back for a second and a third and fourth wedding ring, and it’s an industry that’s thriving, but generally speaking it’s good if you can find a category of products and a niche where people would come back to your store for more because they loved what they’ve purchased from you so much. A good example for that are lip balms and things like that because if I liked that lip balm, it was great for my lips and it smelt amazing, I’m most likely going to run out of it and come back to you for another one.
- Seasonality – is this item going to be easy to sell only in the winter and then I might struggle a little bit for sales during the summer and spring? Is it something that people are looking for at any time during the year? Of course, the second one is better. It doesn’t mean that you can’t sell a product like a knit that only sells in the winter all year round because there are actually countries like mine here in Australia when while you guys in the USA are in the winter, we’re in the summer – and vice versa, but it is easier to sell products that are being searched for and that people want to buy any time of the year.
PHEW, that’s it my friend, I hope these prompts and guidelines helped you decide which product you will be focusing on selling. Of course, it’s ok if you don’t score perfectly on everything, it’s just there to guide you. If you score badly on ALL though… please reconsider. Don’t forget to download your FREE workbook and get access to a whole library for makers and handmade shop owners!
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