How to Start an Arts and Crafts Business

How to Start an Arts and Crafts Business

As a creative person, you know how crafting can bring added joy to your downtime. Whether it’s printmaking, quilting, crocheting, or creating other handmade items, artistic talent is a skill that you can make work for you—and you may wonder how you can turn your passion into an arts and crafts business.

Creative crafters like you have turned their hobbies into money-making side hustles or full-time businesses. With some research and creativity, you can get started and open your own craft business.

What to know before starting your business

Before diving headfirst and opening a new business showcasing your line of unique products, consider the pros and cons. A realistic assessment provides a well-rounded foundation to help you get started on a path to becoming a successful crafting entrepreneur.

Pros of starting an arts and crafts business

As with any major decision, composing a list of positives and what you stand to gain can help place things in perspective. Some pros of a craft start-up include:

  • Earn money doing what you love. When crafting is your passion, you can make money doing what you enjoy.
  • Work from home. Given the type of business, you can work from home or anywhere with portable crafting supplies.
  • Have flexible hours. As a crafting business owner, you call the shots and can work when your creativity and energy are at the most productive.
  • Decide on your own product line. This is your show, and as the boss, you can choose your own distinct line of craft products.
  • Use your creativity. Gain even more fulfillment and happiness and take your creativity to the next level with a full-time or part-time arts and crafts business.  

Cons of starting an arts and crafts business

Despite the solid list of pros, you can find cons as well. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and definitely shouldn’t put a stop to your business plan. A cons list can add realistic commentary and help you understand hurdles to overcome. A few cons of starting your own arts and crafts business might include:

  • The transition to a business can be expensive. While you may have all of your initial craft supplies at your fingertips, the added fees of starting up a shop can be pricey.
  • It might take a while to be profitable. Ask any small business owner, and you’ll likely find that the initial investment takes some time to recoup.
  • The market is competitive. Craft items are a hot market, and new products frequently pop up, making the crafting industry a highly competitive marketplace.  

How to start an arts and crafts business

The following steps can help you take a lot of the guesswork out of starting your arts and crafts business.

  1. Decide on the products and services you’ll offer. Choose the product lineup or service types to offer.
  2. Research and study the competition. Perform some market research and learn how other craft businesses similar to yours perform.
  3. Create a business plan. Outline your business's what, when, how, where, and why.
  4. Calculate a budget. Knowing your expenses can help you spend wisely.
  5. Come up with a catchy name. Give your business a memorable name.
  6. Get any necessary permits. If required, apply for any local permits.
  7. Choose the right suppliers. Choosing wholesale suppliers or bulk purchasing can help offset your overhead costs.
  8. Improve your online presence. Share your story and build your audience online.

1. Decide on the products and services you’ll offer

Deciding what products to sell will depend on several factors. For crafters just starting out, consider smaller crafts with lower production and shipping costs. This can help save time and money as you start out, freeing you to focus on understanding other aspects of creating a business.

Another way to narrow your product and service offerings is to consider key questions:

  • What craft projects inspire you?
  • What is the market demand?
  • What is the supply cost?
  • What is the asking price?
  • What is the ideal place to sell your products and services?

Knowing what you can realistically deliver can be of significant help in deciding on the best products and services for your arts and crafts business.

2. Research and study the competition

Once you know the products and services you’d like to create and  sell, you’ll want to perform some market research and check for any oversaturation in your niche. This time and effort can help you understand how to stand out from the competition.

For instance, let’s say you make incredible, long-burning scented candles. If you do a quick search on an online craft shop such as Etsy or visit local craft shows, you can see many crafters like yourself selling hand-poured candles and learn how they market their products. Of course, you’ll want to differentiate yours from theirs, but this study can give you a good idea of where to start.

3. Create a business plan

Use a business plan to outline your business goals and the steps needed to get your arts and crafts business up and running. This might be a simple outline or more complex and detailed document. The plan is strictly to help keep you organized, so there is really no right or wrong way. However, most start-ups find that a well-thought-out business plan becomes an important foundation for success.  

Within the business plan, you can create a roadmap for your craft business. Many business plans begin with an executive summary or mission statement. Here, you describe your intention and goals. You can also include a description of your products or services and your plan to compete in the marketplace.

The financial aspects of your business are important components of your business plan. Include information like any startup costs, projected expenses, and sales.

You can get help from an experienced professional who can turn your idea into an actionable business plan.  

4. Calculate a budget

When calculating the budget for your craft business, include any funding, expenses, and income—and keep this separate from your personal funds. A separate business checking account can help minimize any crossover between personal and business finances.

Anticipating extra expenses aside from the usual costs of supplying your hobby is an important consideration. These may include the costs of packaging, shipping, marketing, payment servicing, and quarterly tax payments. To make sure you’ve covered all the bases in your business budget, you might consider engaging a freelance accountant from Upwork to help with structure and calculations.

5. Come up with a catchy name

Pick a name that communicates your business products, appeals to your buyers, describes your products, and is easy for people to remember. When you come up with a catchy name for your business, consider how it may work if you expand your products and services down the road, and check if anyone else is using that name. You can find this out by visiting your secretary of state’s website.

A branding professional can help you craft a business name and build your brand identity. Find a branding services pro by exploring Project Catalog™.

6. Get any necessary permits

To operate legally, get the proper state and federal permits and business licenses required to run your craft business. These can differ depending on your location and business structure and may include licensing to operate a home-based business, licensing for an ecommerce business, or permits for a brick-and-mortar storefront.

A business consultant can help you check off the boxes and ensure you’re all set to open your business.

7. Choose the right suppliers

In the beginning, you may get by with the supplies you have on hand, but eventually, and hopefully, you’ll need to restock. Purchasing your inventory of craft supplies through a quality wholesaler or buying in bulk can help you get discounts and make a profit.

When looking for the right suppliers, consider quality, customization, lead time, cost, shipping costs, and other factors related to your craft. You’ll need to practice good inventory management, not only to help you reduce overhead, but also to ensure you do appropriate accounting for tax purposes.

8. Develop an online presence

Whether you’re operating a physical craft store or selling crafts online, creating an online presence can help build your visibility for your business and gain the attention of potential customers. You can achieve this by creating social media accounts and developing an online shop.

Social media posts can help get your name out to the public and guide them to your online store. You can either purchase a domain in your business name and develop an e-commerce website or join one or more of the many online marketplace sites designed just for arts and crafts business-minded people.

You can often find artists on social media sites, such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Invite your friends and any craft organizations and share product photos, stories, and video content of your process or latest product. Research and include hashtags and engage with potential customers in the comments section. This can help boost your online presence.

If the thought of social media marketing or website design seems overwhelming, get help from a social media pro from Upwork and create an effective online campaign for your arts and crafts business.

Crafting the right business

Aligning your passion for creativity with starting the right arts and crafts business can help take your hobby to the next level so you can begin making a profit. The creative market is an excellent choice for talented people. This outlet can give you the leverage and flexibility of designing a business around your unique skill set, all while doing what you enjoy.

Get in touch with the freelance community on Upwork and get started crafting your business today.

Upwork does not provide legal advice, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze the laws that apply to their business endeavor.

Each state’s laws are different, so be sure to consult a local attorney so they can explain your state’s rules and regulations to you before making a decision.

This article does not address all tax issues for crafters, and you should not rely on it for legal advice. We strongly encourage readers to seek tax advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

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How to Start an Arts and Crafts Business
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