10 Ways for a Craft Business to Make Money (during the pandemic)
Some craft business owners have seen a significant drop in sales because of 2020’s pandemic. Others have seen only a slight decrease, while some have seen an increase.
If your business’s revenue has dropped and you’re looking for new ways for it to make money, consider the following 10 ideas:
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure here.
1 – DIY KITS
Create crafting kits that allow others to make your designs.
For example, if I typically create and sell completed wreaths, I could define the steps to make a spring wreath and in one package include the printed instructions wreath-making materials.
This lowers the price because you’re not spending your time making the items. The lower price point may be more appealing to shoppers than the higher price of a completed wreath.
Many people are also exploring their creative sides while stuck at home. A DIY kit helps you make a sale even when shoppers are thinking “I could probably make that myself”.
Instead of them having to figure out how to make a product, steps to follow, where to buy materials, etc. you’re offering everything they need in one package.
Buying everything from you will reduce their shipping fees (because they don’t have to buy materials from multiple businesses and ship multiple packages; everything comes from you in one package), and reduces the number of packages they must disinfect before bringing them into their home.
You make a sale and the customer has a fun project to keep them busy while quarantined!
Take this one step further and create a subscription craft box; each month sending subscribers a new craft to make.
Subscription boxes are such a great product to sell because they allow you to sell multiple items in one order, and they ensure repeat orders (because customers sign up for subscription boxes to pay for and receive them each month).
You can fill the box with supplies you purchase at wholesale prices, which you would then mark up to retail prices so you profit, and then all that’s left for you to do is come up with the design for the finished product and to define the steps the customer must follow to get the same result.
Here’s a helpful article on how to start a subscription box: How to Start a Subscription Box Guide
And here’s a great place to sell your subscription box: CRATEJOY
2 – TEACH
Although you may not be able to hold in-person classes, you can use your phone, camera, or computer to film videos that share your expertise.
You would charge each student a fee to watch your instructional videos.
For example, a jewelry maker may teach others their silversmithing skills.
As with any product or service, to make your classes successful, you should be offering something others aren’t.
For example, there are many people teaching jewelry classes online, but one may target a different type of student. The jewelry maker may target:
>> Parents and teach jewelry classes for kids; adapting the tools and materials they use
>> Teens and teach slightly more advanced skills.
>> Retirees who may not be as tech-savvy and haven’t signed up for online jewelry classes because they’re worried they won’t be able to figure out the basics of getting set up and accessing the classes
Or perhaps they may teach a specific jewelry-making technique or how to make a specific type of jewelry (e.g. an engagement ring) that others aren’t tackling in their classes.
When creating videos to teach a skill, you don’t want to wing it. Nobody likes to watch a video of someone rambling on and taking 20 minutes to explain a 5-minute lesson.
Plan a script, the steps you’ll be explaining, the camera angles you’ll shoot, the room you’ll film in and time of day to get good lighting, and create a written document that students can reference as well; including a supply list, affiliate links to those supplies (so you make money when your students purchase supplies from another business; covered in the next point), and written step-by-step instructions.
Your craft classes don’t need to look like they were shot in a movie studio but they shouldn’t be unprofessional if you’re charging for them.
3 – BECOME AN AFFILIATE
If you’re teaching a craft, you can likely find suppliers that have affiliate programs, which means you earn a commission for selling other business’s products.
The supply list of tools and materials needed to create the craft project you’re teaching, would include affiliate links to each supply. Affiliate links track shoppers coming from you so you get paid for any sales made.
For example, you might sign up to be an Amazon affiliate, find supplies for your project on Amazon, and then share those supplies with your students, using your affiliate links. When people click those links and buy, you earn a commission on each sale.
You may even find affiliate programs that allow you to promote products that align with your business, but don’t require you to teach a craft or sell crafting supplies.
For example, if I have a wreath business but my wreaths aren’t selling, I may find an affiliate program for a business selling interior decor items (e.g. art, photos, or candles). I’d be promoting products that target the same market my products target and offering options for shoppers who aren’t interested in buying wreaths at this time.
Someone who purchased a wreath last month likely doesn’t need one this month. However, they obviously have an interest in decorating their home and may need new candles or art for their space.
There are all types of affiliate programs and many ways for you to share your affiliate links.
Keep in mind, sharing one link, one time, isn’t likely to result in sales. You must have an audience (e.g. Pinterest following, or newsletter subscribers, or website visitors, etc.), and a way to continuously grow that audience so there are always new eyes on your affiliate links. Then you must share those links multiple times and continuously share new links promoting new products in order to increase your chances of making sales.
4 – CREATE AN AFFILIATE PROGRAM
You can also create an affiliate program for your business and have others help sell your products.
If your products aren’t selling because they’re not in-demand right now (e.g. travel products), setting up an affiliate program probably won’t bring you a return on investment until your products are in-demand again.
But if your sales have slowed simply because you don’t have as many eyes on them, getting others to help you promote them to their audience may bring sales back up.
- Find a service that allows you to create affiliate links (Google “affiliate tracking software” to research which system is best for your business and products)
- Determine how much commission you’ll pay affiliates
- Create tools (e.g. promotional images and text) they can use to help promote your products
- Spread the word and start getting affiliates signed up
Some additional things you may want to consider are:
- Creating policies/guidelines to determine who will be approved as an affiliate
- Creating a helpful “how to” or “tips” guide for promoting your products
- Affiliate policy that outlines how affiliates can and cannot promote your products (you want them to stay on-brand and you don’t want anyone tarnishing your good name)
5 – SELL SUPPLIES
If your craft room is full of craft materials, you may be able to recoup some costs by selling those materials to other crafting businesses.
This isn’t a long-term revenue stream, however, if you’re not sure when your craft business is going to start up again, selling supplies you’ve already purchased can help you recoup some of those costs.
You may turn selling supplies into a long-term revenue stream if you purchase craft supplies at wholesale prices and resell them to make a profit.
This strategy would go hand-in-hand with creating DIY kits or teaching your craft. You could set up an online store listing the supplies you have for sale, and direct students there to buy the supplies needed in your class. You may even offer a discount on supplies to those who sign up for your classes.
You could also look into dropshipping. This would mean you set up an online store listing supplies, but you don’t actually purchase or carry those supplies. You only pay the business that produces those supplies when you make a sale on your website. From there, the producer of those supplies would ship them directly to your customer.
Wayfair is an example of a dropshipping business model. Wayfair does not have a warehouse storing all the items they have listed on their website. They’re simply sharing photos of other businesses’ products. When you buy an item on Wayfair.com, Wayfair then pays the business that produces that product and gives them your shipping address so they can ship the item directly to you.
This type of business model is lower risk because you’re not paying for supplies up-front. You only pay when you make a sale.
6 – BLOG
If you write about your craft or a topic your target market would be interested in and post articles on your website (or a blog), you can display other businesses’ ads throughout those articles and earn money each time a reader clicks an ad.
>> if I sell products that are environmentally friendly, I may write articles on how to reduce your carbon footprint.
>> If I sell products that are fashion-forward, I may blog about fashion trends
>> If I sell products for new moms, I may write help articles on the topic of motherhood
These blog articles also give you an opportunity to make affiliate revenue.
For example, let’s say my handmade business sells burp cloths, which target moms. I would start a blog and write about topics new moms would be interested in. One of my articles may be on the topic of pacifiers and how to choose the right one for your baby, the different features and benefits each pacifier has, and the top 10 pacifiers based on customer reviews.
I would then create affiliate links for each pacifier I mention in my article. When a reader clicks one of those links and purchases a pacifier, I will earn a commission on that sale.
This won’t be overnight money. It typically takes months or years to build a successful blog that attracts enough traffic to generate revenue from ads. But, if you already have a website or blog that gets a decent amount of traffic, put effort into growing that traffic while you’re taking a break from creating.
If you don’t have a website or blog yet, it may still be a good idea to start one now. Although you won’t see immediate revenue from it, it could be a good revenue stream down the road. The sooner you start, the closer you are to earning money.
Blogs are similar to handmade businesses, you have to know your target market and find a niche so you’re not competing with millions of other blogs.
For example, there are several blogs and websites teaching people how to make jewelry, but a new blog may capture readers by teaching people how to make a specific type of jewelry other bloggers aren’t covering.
7 – VLOG
If writing isn’t a strength of yours, consider creating videos.
A similar tactic can be applied to video as blogging; create videos about a topic that interests your current target market, upload those videos to YouTube and earn ad revenue.
8 – FREELANCE WORK
Consider the skills you’ve acquired to start your business and make your products. Are those skills others will be willing to pay you for?
For example, let’s say you had to refine your graphic design skills to make products for your stationery business. All kinds of businesses hire graphic designers and may be willing to pay for your graphic design skills.
Or perhaps you’ve built an impressive following on Instagram and consider yourself an expert when it comes to Instagram marketing. You could offer Instagram marketing services to other businesses.
9 – WORK WITH OTHER VENDORS
Now is a good time to come together and for small businesses to help support each other.
Consider which products may complement yours and look for other handmade business owners you may be able to “partner” with to help promote and sell each other’s products.
If you know local vendors, you may consider joining together to create “care packages”.
For example, a variety of makers who create baby products and live in the same city may make a plan to create a care package or basket for new moms.
Let’s say I sell burp cloths. I may reach out to 4 other vendors who create reusable diapers, onesies, teething rings, and baby blankets, to see if they would be interested in including their items in my “new mom basket”. The price of that basket would reflect the price of each item included (or slightly less if each vendor is willing to reduce their profits in hopes of selling more).
I might ask each vendor involved to create 10 products so I could make 10 baskets.
We could then meet up in a space that allows us to keep a safe distance while gathering all the products to be included.
I would then compile the baskets and be responsible for shipping orders. Each vendor would do their part to market the baskets to their audience and would get their portion of each sale. For example, if the teething ring costs $10, that vendor would receive $10 when a basket sold.
A similar idea could be applied online. You could reach out to vendors from around your province/state or even country. They would have to ship the items to you, instead of meeting up.
Or, you could simply create a digital version of the product online and then when a basket sells, each vendor would be responsible for shipping their item directly to the customer. The customer would still receive all the items in the “new mom basket” but they would simply arrive separately.
The benefit of working with other vendors is that you’ll get new eyes, and more eyes, on your products.
An even better plan is to create a subscription box.
I love the idea of subscription boxes because they’re convenient for customers and they ensure repeat sales because the customer signs up to receive your box each month (or you may have a quarterly subscription, or whichever frequency you decide upon).
Let’s say I have a stationery business. I may create a quarterly subscription box with greeting cards for the 3 upcoming months, calendar for each month, a notepad, and a goal sheet. Each quarter I would ship my subscribers those products but in an updated theme. For example, Quarter 2 may have:
>> Greeting cards for Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, 1 birthday card and 1 blank card (for housewarmings or baby showers, etc.)
>> One-page calendars for April, May, and June
>> Spring themed notepad and goal setting worksheet
You can work with other vendors to fill your box
I may work with another handmade business that creates pens, one that creates stickers, and one that creates notebooks to fill up my box and add more variety.
You can also purchase items wholesale, instead of working with other vendors.
I may buy pens in bulk on Alibaba, only paying $0.50/pen but charging an extra $4 to include it in my subscription box. How about those profit margins?!
- Here’s a good article on how to source products for your subscription box: 7 PLACES TO SOURCE PRODUCTS FOR YOUR SUBSCRIPTION BOX
- And here’s a helpful article on how to start a subscription box: How to Start a Subscription Box Guide
- And a great place to sell your subscription box: CRATEJOY
10 – PIVOT YOUR PRODUCTS
Consider if your crafting skills can help you make a different type of product if your current products aren’t selling.
Here’s a long list of product ideas based on how people’s habits have changed during this pandemic.
For example, a woodworker may have built their business making one-of-a-kind furniture pieces but with money being a bit tighter for many people, sales may have slowed.
However, those people still appreciate the qualities of handmade wood products and are likely spending much more time at home. They can’t go to restaurants so they’re likely cooking more. They may need wood items such as:
- cutting boards
- knife blocks
- spice rack
- serving trays/charcuterie boards
The woodworker would continue using their skills and materials, and even their target market. They would simply adjust what they offer.
Have a look over this article to get an idea of how consumers’ habits and behaviors have changed during this pandemic and how that has influenced their purchasing.
Then consider products you can make that are a fit for their new way of living.
I hope everyone is staying healthy, physically and mentally. Your business CAN get through this. It may require some thinking outside of the box and putting different effort in than you have in the past, but where there’s a will there’s a way.
Share in the comments if you’ve seen a drop in sales and how you have, or plan to, bring them back up.
Thank you so much for reading!
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!
Thank you for such a well-written and informative article! I’m a sewist that upcycles menswear into fun & funky fashions for the eco-conscious woman. I’ve pivoted to selling non-medical face masks. Eventually the demand for masks will slow down or, more likely, will be taken over by large-scale producers. I’ll pivot again. This article will certainly help me when the time comes.
Thanks for reading Sophia! I’m so happy you found it helpful. “Pivoting” seems to be the theme of the year 😉 It’s great to hear you’re open to pivoting and adapting as the world and consumers change. I think it’s essential if a small business is going to survive this year. Keep up the good work!
Hi, I love your website. It’s full of many helpful articles to get a business off the ground to expanding an already existing business. With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing in our country, this article provides useful information for entrepreneurs to take their business down a different avenue to generate an income.
Thank you for the information that you share with all of us.
Thanks so much for reading Terri! It’s certainly a unique time so I thought I would share some unique ideas 😉
Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement in this article. I’m using this time to rebrand. I’ve been reading your materials on the importance of brand identity and how to stand out. I’ve redesigned my logo, revamped my display, and will be launching a website soon. This is all things I wanted to do, but didn’t have time. I’m also using social media BST local sites to list products since the local shows are cancelled. My biggest challenge was figuring out how to photograph my products (Jewelry). Thanks for the continued advice!
I have found a blessing in an increase of sales, because, now that my calendar is virtually empty, I have the time to process my orders much more efficiently. The turn-around time is quicker, the payments are flowing better and the pressure to be places has disappeared! I am happy, and busy while waiting to return to schedule.
Hi Marion, that’s amazing to hear! It sounds like you’ve been able to make several improvements to your business. Keep up the good work!
Fantastic articles, really finding your information super helpful. At 54 and starting my jewellery Upcycling business last October I have had to learn so many new skills. Your guides are really well written and give fab advice. Thank you