Handmade entrepreneurs typically classify themselves as creatives, dreamers and visionaries. As handmade entrepreneurs, we know these characteristics make it easier to go through the product creation phase of business. However, creation is not everything.
Handmade entrepreneurs fall in love with their craft, create the most beautiful products, and then have trouble selling them. They struggle even though their products are the best quality and are both needed and wanted by their market. However, these creatives simply don’t know where their market is or how to get to them.
If you are one of these entrepreneurs, then today’s topic is especially for you.
It is important to understand the many different places you can sell your handmade products. This will help you know which platform(s) your target market is using so you can sell there with confidence.
Today, we are going to share four places where you can sell handmade products. We will share both the pros and cons of each selling platform and talk about which target market uses it. We hope, after reading this post, you will bring your business to the right places and win at selling!
4 Places to Sell Handmade Products
1. Art Shows
Art Shows consist of smaller indoor shows, larger outdoor fairs, or top level Junior League shows. These can be a way to get your feet wet selling your handmade product.
Art shows are typically less expensive to get into and can get your business a lot of exposure. However, you have to be careful to select the shows where your target market is going!
- Easier to get into
- Lower overhead costs
- Keep all your profits
- Potential to bring in large income in short amount of time.
- Highly trafficked & lots of exposure
- Engaged Buyers
- Easy to get feedback on products.
- Specific markets are not targeted, so you may not find your target market.
- Waste of time if you do not make your desired sales goal.
- May have to travel = Travel Costs
- Market can become too flooded with your product, lowering sales.
- Sales affected by the weather.
- Older Generations (Senior Citizens)
- Occasional young stay-at-home-moms
- Exception: increased younger generation attendance at holiday season.
- Younger Generations (Couples/Families)
- Occasional older customers (Grandparents usually)
Do We Sell at Art Shows?
We sure do! Kitsch ‘n Whimsy first started selling ONLY at art shows back in our early years. We stopped for a period of time because we were burnt out (and selling big somewhere else). However, now we are back at the shows again!
Art shows for us act as a supplementary income source. We like to have multiple streams of income so we can grow our business all around. However, we found that selling at art shows only wouldn’t bring in enough income without a ton of sacrifice. As a mom to a little one, I didn’t want to be traveling every weekend. Therefore, we sell at art shows as well as online.
2. Trade Shows
Trade Shows consist of both industry market expos or gift markets. Trade Shows are much more expensive to get into than art shows, but have a greater chance of making big income! Also, they are usually a more targeted market.
For example, if you sell glassware geared towards weddings or newlyweds, then attending a bridal expo will get you directly in front of your exact market! Similarly, if you sell something that can be sold in a gift shop (or retail store), attending a gift market will get you in front of retail store owners!
- Targeted market – you can choose the show based on your industry.
- Highly trafficked, so lots of exposure/marketing
- Engaged Buyers
- Easier to get feedback on products
- Longer show duration (hours and days), so more chances to make sales.
- More expensive to get into.
- Sometimes, you have to give the show a percentage of your sales.
- Longer show durations (hours and days), so miserable if not doing well.
- Higher chance of having to travel to attend.
- Need a LOT of product to sell.
Expo and Trade Show markets are much more targeted. They are based on consumer interest and will give you a better chance of targeting market you want for your product industry. (I.E. Bridal Shows, Home Shows, Pet Shows, Beverage Trade Shows, Etc.)
Do We Sell at Trade Shows?
At this time, we have not sold our Kitsch ‘n Whimsy products at an expo before but are considering trying one in 2017.
We have had experience in selling at trade shows through another family business. However, the trade shows we attended were in the Convenience Store market, not in our Kitchen/Home market.
We are looking forward to trying this new selling platform this year!
Retail has a few different areas to sell your products: consignment, wholesale, and local businesses. You should keep in mind that you will have to drop your product prices to sell them to retailers. Therefore, your profit per item will also decrease.
Selling in retail does help give you more legitimacy as a business, but you have to be careful to still make a profit! You also want to be sure your product is perfectly understandable to the customer, otherwise it will sit on the shelves and never sell! Clarity is key!
- Company is viewed as more legitimate.
- Get in front of buyers eyes daily.
- Helps to increase awareness of your company.
- You don’t have to spend time selling direct to customer. (Store does that for you.)
- You can direct your potential customers to retail stores carrying your products when asked where to buy them.
- Products won’t sell if they are confusing!
- You won’t make as much profit for the work you put in.
- You are depending on someone else to market and sell your product.
- If you sell consignment, you have to be disciplined in keeping up with the store owner regarding sale of items.
- Consignment shops take a percentage of your sales.
The market is dependent on the retail store you go into. Likely, the stores that will want to carry your products will be the stores already targeting your market.
Consignment stores can have a variety of customer types. Typically, the shoppers are looking for lower cost items, so be prepared to lower your prices enough to compete.
Do We Sell to Retail?
At this time, we do not sell retail.
In the past, we sold our aprons through a few consignment stores. However, we didn’t like having to keep up on the sales of our products in the stores. Especially when we also had a booming art show and online business.
We were too busy elsewhere and often dropped the ball on collecting our sales income from the store.
Since we still have a successful online and art show business, this is an avenue we will most likely not go into in the future.
Thanks to the popularity of internet shopping, there are a TON of online websites where you can sell your products. Selling online takes the least amount of startup/entry costs but does take a LOT of work to market and be seen.
Here are some of the online selling platforms and the differences between them:
1. Independent Websites – These are the websites you build for yourself! The costs to set up your own website are fairly minimal, about the price of attending one art show. Apart from the cost of website hosting, website security, and payment processing fees, you won’t have to pay any other fees for hosting your shop and listing your products.
2. Etsy – Etsy is an online shopping website that specializes in vintage and handmade products. Customers come to Etsy expecting to buy handmade or support small businesses. Etsy costs are also pretty minimal but you do have to pay fees for each item you list, each time you sell (a percentage) and for the processing fee (a percentage).
3. Ebay – Ebay is both an online e-commerce website as well as an online auction website. Similarly, Ebay charges fees for listing and selling products. The major difference between Ebay and other online shopping platforms is that Ebay allows customer to customer sales, business to customer sales, and has the option to auction items as well.
4. Amazon/Amazon Handmade – Amazon is the largest internet retailer in the world. Therefore, it is very prestigious to be a part of it. Amazon is a little more difficult to get started with and definitely more confusing! There are different types of Amazon vendors, shipping options, and shopping sections. For handmade entrepreneurs, there is a specific Handmade section just for you! It allows you to make your products made-to-order so you don’t have to worry about Amazon stocking and shipping it for you.
5. Social Media – Many of the social media channels today have the ability to sell right from the platform. Examples are Facebook, Instagram, & Pinterest. These selling features may ask you to link up a 3rd party site (like Etsy) or to list directly on their site and pay listing/processing fees.
- Easy Business Set Up
- Low Start Up Costs
- Can sell locally, nationally, or internationally
- Sales can be more passive
- You do not have to have a ton of skill or know-how to get started selling online
- Lots of business advice out there to help!
- A lot more work goes into marketing.
- Harder to set yourself apart from the competition.
- Need to stay up to date with trends.
- Harder for a One-of-a-Kind Business
- More maintenance required.
- Buyers are not as warm when not in person.
While almost every age range is hanging out online, the younger generations will be more trusting of online shops, more savvy with the technology, and will adapt easier to the newer shopping trends.
Do We Sell Online?
YES! Our major source of income comes from selling online. Currently, we have our own independent website, we are on Etsy and we are on (but not yet selling on) social media.
We have plans to further our online presence by setting up shop on Amazon Handmade and possibly Ebay too! We will also be looking into selling direct on our social media as well!
Although selling may be one of the more difficult parts of being a handmade entrepreneur, we hope after today that you feel like the sky’s the limit!
There are MANY different ways you can market and sell your products… from local art fairs to the world-wide web! And better yet, the support both locally and internationally for small business is abundant and growing.
Do you have a Handmade Business? Which of the selling platforms are you a part of and which ones do you want to explore further?
If you are looking for the next steps to take in getting your business started, check out the further reading section below. We would love to help answer your questions or encourage you on your entrepreneurial journey! Please let us know how we can do that by leaving us a comment below or email us at [email protected]
Krystal & Jodie
P.S. We would love to see you TONIGHT (Monday, March 20th @ 6pm) on our Facebook Live session. In our Facebook Live session, will dive in on a couple of these platforms and answer some of our reader’s questions. We hope to see you tonight!