Most crocheters, at some point in their crochet journey, will wonder if they should sell their creations.
With cooler weather rolling in and holiday craft show signage popping up all over town, you might start thinking about the possibility of making some extra money with, or even building a business around, this awesome talent you have.
But how do you know if selling is worth your time?
And if you decide it is worth your time, how do you find your target market? Is it your family and friends? Or strangers perusing craft shows? Or online shoppers in their pajamas?
Before I pivoted my business to become a designer, I sold my creations… and I’ve tried it all. So to help you sort some of this out, I’ve listed 4 of the most popular ways to get started selling your creations (friends and family, craft fairs, facebook, and artisan sites), along with some of the positives and negatives I believe come with each market, and tips to help you decide which one is the path for you.
Here we go!
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Market #1: Friends and Family
This is a really, really common place to start a selling journey… which is why everyone’s doing it!
Think about how many of your friends have started a home business over the past decade. You know who they are, because they’ve been taught to start building their business on – you guessed it – family and friends.
Positive: If you have a supportive family and friend base, this is an easy and encouraging place to start! Chances are, they’ve already been bugging you to make them something. If they truly support you, they’ll understand when you excitedly tell them you are starting a business and can make them that item for XX amount.
Negative: It may be a great place to start, but no matter how supportive they are, you cannot sustain a business on orders from family and friends. They may be the ones who know you best and love you most, but it’s not their responsibility to keep you in business. And, side note, no one wants the awkwardness that comes when a family member never gets around to paying you.
The Verdict: Should you sell to friends and family? If you constantly have people you know hitting you up for your latest creations, then YES! But remember, don’t rely on this as a long-term business solution.
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Market #2: Craft Fairs
Ahh… craft fairs! Some crafters swear by them and even boast of making a living with them; others have nothing but disappointing experiences. (I could do a whole blog post on craft fairs alone, but I’ll save that for another time.)
To sell in this market, you need to have built up an inventory of products. It can be lots of fun, but labor-intensive. Here are the pros and cons:
Positive: Craft fairs are social events, and sales-minded people love the interaction with potential customers.
Negative: Finding the right craft fairs to participate in can take some serious research; otherwise you might spend many, many hours building up an inventory and end up barely selling enough to cover your table fee.
The Verdict: Should you sell at craft fairs? If you already have more crocheted creations than you know what to do with, you’re confident that the people attending the show are your target market (hint: not bargain hunters), and you love customer interaction, then YES! Otherwise, craft fairs can be a bit of a shot in the dark, and that’s a lot of time to put into something that doesn’t make you much money in the end.
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Market #3: Facebook
Local buy/sell/swap groups have popped up all over Facebook, and chances are, your town has one. Facebook introduced its own official version with “Facebook Marketplace” in 2016.
Positive: Selling in a local Facebook group can be a quick way to earn some cash. You can sell made-to-order (alleviating the need to build up a time-consuming inventory), and if no one responds to your sale post, you haven’t lost anything.
Negative: Selling locally online is often where you have the most potential for failed transactions and disappearing customers. Unlike with craft fairs (where the transaction and delivery of goods is instant) and Etsy (which protects sellers by charging customers up front), you are on your own in this market and will need to put your own safeguards in place so that you don’t end up with finished items and no payment.
Verdict: Should you sell on Facebook marketplaces? This can be a great place to collect orders, as long as you’re willing to come up with a plan to protect yourself from people who ask you to make something and never pay up. (I am a huge advocate of taking money up front!)
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Market #4: Artisan Sites (Etsy, etc.)
Crafting has experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, enabling Etsy to become a household name. The way Etsy has developed as a platform (the good, the bad and the ugly) could also be a whole other blog post, but as it stands, Etsy remains a way for crafters to potentially reach a global market that they never could have found on their own.
Positive: For the most part, people shopping on Etsy aren’t bargain-hunting. They know they’re on an artisan site and are usually prepared to spend accordingly. They also know that art takes time, so selling your creations made-to-order (meaning you don’t make it until someone purchases it) is common.
Negative: The sheer volume of sellers on Etsy can feel completely overwhelming, and in order to compete in those search engines, care has to be taken to ensure that your product listings are beautifully photographed and well-described. There is a wealth of information out there about how to show up in Etsy searches, but it’s a time-consuming learning curve that Etsy doesn’t make any easier with its frequent operation changes.
The Verdict: Should you sell on Etsy? An Etsy shop is easy to set up, and if you sell made-to-order, you don’t need to build up an inventory. If that sounds good to you and you’re willing to do a little research on listing visibility, then selling on Etsy (or similar platforms) might be perfect for you!
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I’m going to leave you with one last thought; something I truly believe is so important for crafters to understand. Say it with me:
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Bargain hunters are not my target market.
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No matter where you decide to sell, stop trying to turn bargain hunters into high paying customers. Don’t waste negative energy wondering why someone doesn’t want to pay what your creation is worth; instead, go out and find someone who does. (They’re out there, I promise!)
Best wishes in your selling journey!
P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment your questions, experiences, or tips below!
i like how this is written. although i am not selling now (i currently make less stuff than i / gifts / charity needs) i still have this idea in mind. i have an etsy shop and tried another local (european) site with similar profile. i did sell some items early on but it was years ago and i guess there were way less people on etsy. the local site did not bring me sales because there are too many competitors willing to work for about 1 dollar an hour just to sell something (and they have stashes of acrylic yarn whereas i only use cotton, wool, etc). i like to know what workd and what does not for other people. for me, i guess nos is best to just have this as a hobby because it gives me more freedom and i also noticed that when i was making something for profit, i started thinking about how to do this in a more productive way, which i do not like: i want to be playful and inventive and just enjoy the process, so i do nit like what happens when i think about this as a business. thans for writing this!
I am doing my third craft fair in November. So far with the space fee, I am in the profit margin by a whole 75 dollars. A lot of work without much benefit so far. This may be my last craft fair. I dont feel I am over priced and I am a stickler for quality. Customers have made comments to that effect. I wish others better luck than I have had.
I have registered for my first craft fair ever and I am terrified, what have I done ?? I don’t have enough inventory and can’t figure what to make so I’m crocheting too many different things and I feel a little overwhelmed. Reading your post today has helped me though, I will get through this and learn from it! Even though I am still terrified I have decided:
1. For this fair I will stick to crocheting smaller and quick items such as dischclothes and scrubbies, coffee cozies and baskets and maybe Christmas ornaments. Which I think will be good stocking stuffers or gifts for colleagues etc.
2. I registered to this fair because the table was inexpensive so if I don’t sell anything I won’t loose to much and there is no entrance fee for the customers. I know that the clients in big fancy fairs are usually willing to pay more but I want to start slow and get a feel on things. Which is why I don’t want to make expensive items. But I WILL NOT CROCHET FOR BARGAIN HUNTERS ?
3. Thank you for sharing a pic of your table from your 1st fair. I will definitely take pictures of other items I’ve crocheted to add to my table and display a make to order sign and I’ll print out some cards with my coordinates. It might help for the future.
Reading your post today has helped me get back on track as I was feeling low and even questioning if I should just cancel my participation to this fair and just continue crocheting as a hobby. Today I feel better ?
Girl, JUMP IN! Every experience is a learning experience, and if you walk out of it with some cash in your pocket, that’s a bonus 🙂 Good luck!
exactly – it is like paying for a workshop/crourse!
Best of luck.
Thank you Rebecca! I’m still new to the craft fairs. The first one was more of a flea market, so customers “loved” my items but thought they were too expensive and it was poorly advertised along with a hidden location. The other one wanted us to tell our friends and family – sadly most of mine live out of state, they advertised on Facebook and signs in front of the building. I found one I really want to try (it’s yearly, very popular and well advertised). They have the entire town shut down for the weekend and over 10,000 attend each year. Sadly I don’t have enough inventory this year. So I’ll have a great inventory for next year.
I Love to craft and I crochet all the time and give as gifts and everyone wants and loves them but when my Mother was alive and now we both got taken either by orders no one would take after finished and when it was my Mother I paid her and used or kept or gave away as she couldn’t afford the loss and others wanted for next to nothing to not even include cost of yarn let alone our time but now I set my price and take it or leave it. Yet you go to some craft sales and see poorly made items made and priced way above what they should be and people buy so go figure. I have alot of items made up and may try our big craft event as we are in a over 55 development now with several clubhouses and several ladies have asked so if goes well fine, so be it and if not I will continue my hobby and when need gifts I have them.
“I set my price and take it or leave it” — YES! I love this! That’s become my mantra, too. 🙂
This was VERY timely and informative! Thank you!
I have been crocheting for 40+ years. For the last 7-8 years, I’ve participated in the annual employee craft fair at our hospital. It’s wonderful fun! I have a perpetual inventory, as I craft all year long; it’s my therapy! I get to sit and stitch while I socialize with customers and other vendors. (Many of us barter between each other – if I want a large pumpkin roll – delish!- I trade for a hat/scarf combo. We both win!)
We are a close-knit community that values creativity and community involvement. To that end, every year we (my two daughters and I) put together a 35-gallon tote with items for the various homeless shelters. It fills a need and lets people know that they are valued for simply existing.
The craft fair is my only real ‘selling’ time, but many people I work with will contact me for specialty items or baby gifts. It’s all for the love of Crochet~!
I’m so glad you’ve had such fun experiences! That pumpkin roll sounds amazing…
with exception of the Facebook market the others very much describe my crochet journey. First I crocheted what I love and started selling to friends and colleagues. About 4 years ago I started craft fairs, and yes it takes a lot of trial and error to find the good ones. And even those aren’t good all the times, but I genuinely enjoy them. Also I figured out that I’m doing best during the holiday season, hence January to August I create my stock and as of September I’m on the road again. And then came Etsy and Ravelry; I design and crochet animal pillows but shipping the finished product from my home country is very expensive, so the next step on my journey was pattern creation. Selling now physical product at local craft fairs and pattern world wide is a perfect combination. I totally love the evolution I went trough and absolutely took my time for each step. There is no way forcing success , especially since it’s still (and most likely always will be) a hobby.
So a long story short, do what you love!
Anne, exactly! As long as you love it… why not? <3
Great advice! Thank you for your thoughtfulness in posting this.
You’re welcome, Sherry!
I should have read my comment before I sent it. I was saying I hate the work involved with Etsy. I tried it but don’t like the computer thing. It’s frustrating.
Makes me think selling my crafts is a waste of time but all you said was true. Personally, I like to craft but not sell. But it’s true, I have a house full of crafting. Perhaps I should take up traveling. I like your blog though. It give me some insight as to what is most likely profitable. I just had to work involved with Etsy.
I don’t know if I’d call it a waste of time overall… but I do think a lot of people end up feeling that way. Hopefully this post will help us to avoid the red flags so that we have more good experiences than bad! (And I agree… setting up listings on Etsy can be sooooo tedious sometimes)
I’ve been busy making several of your patterns and am going to set up in an area of one of our local hair salons. I plan to price it to cover my expense plus a little extra. If it doesn’t sell, I’m all set for Christmas gifting, which, by the way, is one of my most rewarding things about crochet. Thank you for the helpful tips.
That is a GREAT idea!
Thank you. My main problem is what to sell them for. I have seen people post different things, but i’m not sure what is the correct. Have you written a blog on how much to sell your items for??
I haven’t (yet). There are a LOT of opinions about this. Many people use the formula 3x materials, but that’s not a hard and fast rule and I never followed it. Honestly, I used to price mine at whatever I felt made it worth it for me to make it. 🙂
Thank you! I did my first craft fair last year, and it was very labor-intensive. I did ok, but I won’t do it again. Thank you for your insight into other ways to sell. Much appreciated!
You’re welcome, Amy!
This post is beyond helpful and informative. I so needed to be reminded that bargain hunters are not my target market. Thank you for saying it so clearly! I’ve been a long-time follower, since the Little Monkeys early days, and I’m regularly inspired by your talent and artistry, all provided so generously. I’ve made many of your patterns (usually as gifts) and everyone loves them and always comments on how modern and un-frumpy they are. My most recent project was the Malia bag, which I sized up a little to use as a grocery tote. The cashier at my Trader Joe’s happens to be a crocheter too, and couldn’t stop raving, so I referred her to your blog.
You are so sweet! That just makes my day 🙂 So glad to have had you along my journey!
I have considered selling on Etsy but was surprised to find out that they send you tax documentation. I admit that I am intimidated by that prospect. Also, in my current full time job I have to notify them of secondary employment and I have been reluctant to take that step. Any thoughts?
I’m not a tax expert by any means, so be sure to do your own research, but I do know that you don’t have to pay income tax until your sales hit $400 for the year. Otherwise it’s considered a hobby business (and I wouldn’t consider it secondary employment at all). Here’s one helpful article I found: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/self-employment-taxes/selling-on-etsy-your-taxes/L27I196Wu
Thank you!!! I’ve been debating on selling my work, but based off of this, I’m going to give it a try!
Even if it’s just low key, starting out small may be beneficial. Thank you again!!!
You’ll definitely gain lots of experience! Good luck!