So you’re an artistic person and you want to make some income by selling arts and crafts. But what are the handmade products that sell well?
I’m not going to make up some list of crafts or make empty promises here. Instead I’m going to tell you the plain truth about selling art and selling crafts. Read on…
Handmade Products That Sell Well Are Like Other Products That Sell Well
There seems to be this persistent idea out there that any homemade or handmade item you can make will sell well. Folks will tell you that if it’s “from the heart” then it will be successful.
That’s simply not true.
Handmade art and craft items are still products. And we all know that good products sell and bad products don’t sell. But how can you define “good” and “bad” when art is creative and subjective?
By finding out what people need and what people want…
Research Similar Products And Find Out How Well They Sell
When I say research your market I’m not talking about doing some kind of scientific survey or spending money for someone to tell you what you want to hear. I’m talking about looking at what’s selling online and looking at what’s selling at art shows, craft shows and creative retailers.
Get out there and look around!
You may go to creative marketplace sites like Etsy and look around right on your computer. Find products that are similar to what you’re thinking of making and see if there are sales. If none of the other sellers who make what you want to make are getting sales then your product idea may not be popular enough.
Go and visit art and craft shows. See if lots of people are shopping for the same kinds of things you want to make. If they are, why? If they aren’t, why? Are the products appealing, well made, high quality and durable? Are there obvious reasons why something isn’t working?
By the way, it’s not polite to “rip off” other sellers. You’re looking for inspiration, not copying.
You may also visit creative retailers. You may need to “go undercover” a bit and ask about products from a buying perspective. If you seem like a potential customers then asking how popular an item is may get you that information.
Adapt Your Designs To What Customers Want
I met a painter at a show one time who wasn’t selling very well. Her designs were gorgeous and it seemed like they should be selling like crazy. This was at a market in a popular tourist city and while we were talking a few potential customers stopped by, each asking if she had paintings featuring the local landmarks?
“I don’t do those,” she said. “I’m not selling out to make things like that!”
Okay so first, what a rude response to potential customers. And, second, how is it “selling out” when you are there to, you know, sell?
If you’re someone who wants to create arts and crafts based only on your own inspiration you may do so, but you won’t be selling what you make — teaching classes or finding some kind of art grant may be a better option in that case. But for making homemade crafts and handmade products that sell well, and to become a working artist or a working craftsperson, you have to make what customers want.
Your products don’t play by different rules in the market just because they are creative!
By the way, other painters in that same market whose works included local landmarks were selling their products. That’s what the crowd was looking for and that’s what the crowd was paying for.
Your Product Display Matters, Too
While a viable product is the most important thing, the way you display your product matters too. Homemade crafts and handmade products that sell well are also displayed well!
For online sellers it’s important to use a quality shopping cart platform. You’ll need nice photos that shows all of the product details. Photos that help customers picture owning the items themselves will increase sales. You’ll also need great writing in your listings with minimal distractions. Don’t add a bunch of administrative junk, like return policies, to a product listing! Those things are covered elsewhere in the shop policies pages.
For sellers at shows and craft markets a professional and well organized display — with prices listed — is a must. Don’t forget nice tablecloths, a clean white canopy tent if outdoors and a display that is high and angled for people to see and interact with. A few products lying flat on a table won’t cut it.
Make sure your prices are listed next to your products! People want to have an idea of the prices as they start to browse. Plus, why would you want to waste your time with customers who are looking for a different price range than what you offer?
Price Competitively But Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Pricing can be tricky. There are all kind of formulas out there about costs of goods and cost of time. Those can be a good starting point but you really need to figure out what prices people are willing to pay and then make your product in a way that can hit that price point.
Your products should be priced high enough to make a profit but low enough to match what customers are willing to pay. Your pricing should also factor in all of your costs such as online fees, show fees, etc.
If you make something that can only make a profit with a sales price that is more than customers are willing to pay then you should change your product design to lower your costs or you should make a different product.
There’s a common misconception that handmade products, art products or craft product can be sold for more than equivalent mass market products. Honestly, that is rarely the case. For most art and craft sellers competing on price is still an important part of the formula and many customers simply won’t pay more just because it’s handmade.
You Can’t Be Successful Without Regular Ongoing Sales
Remember, handmade products that sell well must be popular enough to make regular, consistent, ongoing sales. If you can sell an item once a week for a high price, but only once a week, then it’s not going to work out. If you sell at shows your products should be popular enough that you make a profit each day you are selling. If you’re selling online you should be shipping products every day by using the appropriate website selling platform so you don’t miss any orders. If those numbers aren’t happening then you should revise your product or your selling strategy.
Finally, don’t forget about quality. Your product quality must reflect your pricing and what your customers want. If you’re selling little craft trinkets for a few dollars each then they shouldn’t be made to last forever. If you’re selling products for hundreds of dollars each then they should last a long time even with regular ongoing use by the customer.
Handmade products that sell well need to be popular, adapted to your audience, priced appropriately for what customers are willing to pay and of appropriate quality for their price point! If you’re meeting those criteria you have a shot at success.