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So you're handy with your hands and you've decided you would like to start a crafts business. You will do best with your business if you focus on one type of craft. For example, even if you knit, sew, and paint woodcrafts, you are best choosing one of those crafts as your business. Moreover, if you can be extremely specific, i.e. painting wood jewelry boxes, you can carve out a specific niche for those seeking that particular kind of good.
Brainstorm the different kinds of crafts and products you would offer in your crafts business. When starting out, limit yourself to producing only a few different items. This will do two things - first it will allow you to perfect the product, and second, it will help you to keep your starting costs down.
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Don't Forget to Plan
Don't neglect to create a business plan for your crafts business. Determine who your ideal market is, what your goals are, who your competition is, and project what your startup costs will be. You will also want to determine what sort of business entity you will operate as for tax and legal purposes. Will you need to patent any of your ideas? How will you do accounting for your crafts business? Take time to carefully plan the details of your business while you build your skills.
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Let's get the dirty work out of the way first. You will need a way to keep inventory of your products and supplies. You will also want to take into account all business expenses and all business income. There are many accounting programs (even some free ones) to help you do this.
One place where many crafters stumble is in pricing their work. Many crafters either underprice their work or overprice their work. Here is a good way to figure out how much you should charge for each item: Add cost of materials plus labor cost plus the cost of any overhead. For example, if you make earrings to sell, and the materials cost you $20.00, the time you put in was about 2 hours (@10.00 an hour) and you used about $5.00 of overhead (see this helpful worksheet on pricing for a discussion on figuring out your overhead), then the wholesale price of those earrings would be $45.00. The retail price of the earrings would then be multiplied by two to reach $90.00.
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Advertising and Selling Your Work
If you want your business to grow, you will need to invest some time and money into advertising and marketing your work. Beyond the yellow pages, there are many ways you can advertise your craft projects for sale:
- Open a Twitter Account and Tweet about your new products.
- Build a FaceBook fan page for your crafts business
- Write (or have someone write for you) a press release and send it to relevant print and online resources
- Create a website
- Sell on Etsy or Ebay
- Host a blog (either write it yourself or hire someone to ghostwrite entries for you)
- Place an ad in your local magazine or newspaper
- Place ads on Craigslist
- Leave business cards in cafes
- Join networking groups
- Network with other crafters
- Offer classes
- Tell everyone about your business
- If you make wearable items, by all means, wear those items!
- Participate in crafts and art festivals
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Finally, when you run your own business it is vital that you get serious about time management especially if that business involves crafts that take a while to make. Make sure you brush up on time management skills. Keep a calendar and keep a task list. Plan what you will do each day. Try to group errands. Make sure you exercise and eat right. Take care of your wrists - it will be difficult to craft if you get carpal tunnel. Above all, enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy.