9 Tips for Starting an Online Arts And Crafts Business
By: Anna Short, writer and professional seamstress.
Arts and crafts are part of a growing industry in the UK. According to statistics data from the government, the creative industries are growing fast, and they contribute approximately £101.5 billion in gross value added (GVA), just below the digital sector with £130.5 billion. In a mass production world, unique and individual items are more valued than never. People want to support local makers and promote change in the economy and environment. If you have a passion for arts and crafts, creating a business in the UK can be a great way to turn your hobby into your full-time job.
What you should expect when running an Arts and Crafts business
Although the best part of this business is the creative and production process, other tasks will be necessary for you to run your business correctly. You will need to be prepared to negotiate with suppliers, create a marketing strategy, keep business records, inventory and deal with finances and taxes. These activities will vary according to your business size, but you will probably have to deal with them at some point.
Like any other business, this will also require some financial and time investment. You don’t need to invest a significant amount in selling your products, but you should run an assessment over costs before starting it. Expenses such as materials, tools and marketing efforts should be considered and recorded so you can operate productively.
Tips for Starting an Online Arts And Crafts Business
It has never been easier to sell your craft creations, but this not necessarily means you will not need to put some effort into it and find ways to differentiate your product from competitors. Here are some tips you can use to start your own arts and crafts business.
Identify your Niche
The artisanal market is vast, including pottery, needlework, dressmaking, knitting and so on. You need to identify your niche and study your customers and competitors. Think of ways you can make your product stand out from the crowd and its uniqueness. Test your niche before and check how much people will be interested in it. You can make online surveys and present your product to your customers.
Have a Business Plan
As an entrepreneur, you need to think about all aspects of your business, from the problem you want to solve up to how you will execute it. A business plan usually contains market research, competitor’s benchmark, SWOT analysis and finances. It will be helpful not only for you to put the “idea” on paper and have a clear focus, but also to check if you are reaching your goals during the project execution.
Calculate your expenses and price your products
Raw material, packaging, your hourly rate and additional costs should all be considered before pricing your products. Remember you need to cover all expenses and have a profit over your sales. Your business growth and personal finances will depend on this.
Participate in Craft Fairs and Exhibitions
Engage with your local community and show your products in festivals and holidays fairs. Some tables and stalls can be rented between under £20 a day. This investment will assist your brand through word-of-mouth, to create a mailing list of prospects and drive people to your online platforms, including your store and social media.
To take the best of these events, make connections with other crafters, be always polite to your customers and encourage visitors to take pictures and tag you on their own social media platforms. You can also print out some business cards and give to those interested in contacting you in the future.
Create an Etsy store
Etsy is one of the most successful platforms for crafters, arts and vintage independent sellers. With 1.7 million active sellers and 28.6 active buyers, this is a great platform to show your business and acquire customers. The joining is free, but you will need to pay some fees for each transaction, shipping and product listing.
Have your own Website
Online purchases are higher than never. In 2017, e-commerce sales totalled 586.3 billion British pounds, an increase of approximately 16% from the previous year. According to Nasdaq, by 2040 is thought 95% of purchases will be made online, turning your website page a substantial investment for the future of your company.
Keep in mind you will need some extra knowledge of back-end shopping cart software. If you are not too techy and don’t want to lose too much time on researching, some subscription services such as Shopify, 3dcart and Wordpress eCommerce can offer handy features for your website. You can also build your own website template or hire a webmaster to help you with it. Wordpress and Wix also provide some made templates ready to go.
Social media will help raise awareness of your brand and drive people to your online store. Make good use of Instagram and Pinterest, because of the visual nature of these platforms. You don’t need to invest in all of them at once, focus on the ones your customers are more likely to hang and engage. Share your story, creations, engage with your customers and invest heavily on the visual aspects of your products.
Your product photos should picture the best angles of your product. Invest in a good camera, lighting and background. Some smartphones cameras can do the trick, and some professional photography kits allow you to recreate a mini studio anywhere. Don’t share grainy or low-quality photos, since it just won’t catch your customer's attention. Arts and crafts have a great appealing to visual, and you should use this on your favour.
Manage your time wisely
Work at home might seem a dream come true, but many traps can get you on this journey. Stick to your schedule, let your family know your working hours and politely ask them not to disturb you. Remember always to keep your space organized and know when its time to stop working. It is common for people not to be able to “let go” and stay hours beyond the schedule. Know your limits and don’t forget to have your time for family and leisure.