Craft Businesses that Make the LEAST Money

Where there’s a will, there’s a way and even if a product doesn’t typically have high profit margins, someone, somewhere can find a way to make it profitable.


This article is NOT stating that you CANNOT make money in these industries; it’s simply stating that the following products/industries tend to have lower profit margins.


If you build a strong brand, create a unique angle, target the right market and create demand for your products, you can charge higher than average prices, increase profits and earn more money.


If you’re curious about the craft businesses that tend to make the MOST money, check out:


And if you’re wondering which crafts are trending, check out:


Below are the craft businesses that make the least money due to lower profit margins.



Fingers and hands can only move so fast so it can be difficult to lower production time. There are certain processes, tools, machines, etc. that can speed up the time it takes to sew an item or mix and pour a large batch of candles but with knitting/crocheting products by hand, there’s a ceiling in terms of how fast you can turn out products.


It’s also a tough industry when it comes to finding a unique selling position. If you make a red knitted scarf, there are likely thousands of other businesses also offering a red knitted scarf. It can be difficult to put your own spin on most knitted goods. Check out:


Simplifying patterns and products or finding great wholesale prices for yarn can help lower production costs, while building a strong brand can allow you to raise your prices.


Knitting/crocheting items such as toys can open up more options for a USP, however, stuffed animals/dolls/etc. are considered children’s items…which brings me to my next category…




I put this one in because of the detailed regulations children’s products must follow and the testing products may have to go through. Extra care must go into sourcing materials that are safe for children, ensuring pieces are properly secured so they don’t cause a choking hazard, etc.


Wondering about other laws small businesses must follow that can drive up operating costs? Check out:




Bag making typically requires several steps, which increases labor time. Material costs can also add up, as most bags require hardware (e.g. zippers, snaps, strap slides), may use materials such as leather (which may also require a heavy duty sewing machine), stabilizer, etc.


A skilled sewer offering limited styles and purchasing materials wholesale can lower costs while a strong brand and USP allows a maker to charge higher prices. Making one of a kind bags means each new style involves a new pattern and learning curve, thus increasing labor time.




Fashion is a competitive industry and “fast fashion” has become a little too popular with people preferring low prices over quality. This makes it more difficult to earn a healthy profit as a small handmade business in the clothing industry. Purchasing tank tops/t-shirts and screen-printing images and designs on them can keep costs low but there must be a high demand for your screen-printed designs (and they can’t break copyright laws).


Sewing blouses, pants, jackets, suits, etc. requires several pieces and steps to complete. It also requires a lot of accuracy and skill to be sure the clothing fits properly.


Techniques and tools that speed up production can increase profit margins as well as offering items that require less time to sew such as circle skirts (or loose fitting skirts), robes, pajama bottoms, bathing suit cover-ups/ponchos, etc.




Quilts require cutting, aligning and sewing multiple pieces of fabric, which makes them very labor intensive. The size of the quilt, number and size of quilt pieces, cost of fabric used and speed of sewer all vary but for a queen sized, traditional quilt, sewn on a domestic sewing machine it’s generally around 20 hours. Multiply that by the hourly wage you should be paying yourself, include the cost of materials and add profit, and it’s easy for a quilt to be worth over $1000 retail. There are people willing to pay a higher price for a quality quilt but they may be harder to find.




Woodworking is a beautiful craft but requires a lot of time to build and finish one piece. There are people willing to pay for quality woodwork but they’re fewer and farther between than those who want to run to IKEA and purchase a dresser for under $50. Again, branding and a strong USP can convince consumers to spend more on quality handmade products and finding a niche can help you target a different type of customer.




Intricate and detailed beadwork used to create designs and patterns on purses, jewelry, clothing, etc. requires many hours to string hundreds of beads together to create a pattern or design. High labor costs can make it difficult to price items at prices consumers are willing to pay.




Designs embroidered or cross-stitched onto fabric using colored thread or yarn require many stitches to create a design and when making each stitch by hand, those hours add up. Thickness of thread or yarn and a less detailed design can speed up production. Needle felting is another popular craft but one that’s also labor intensive.




Again, don’t take this list as a rule that you can’t make money selling these crafts, you just need to find the right market, USP and branding that allows you to charge prices that increase your profit margins.


You may also be interested in:


If your craft is a hobby and not a business then numbers and profits may not be as important to you.


But if you craft for business then you MUST be making a profit. Too many crafters aren’t crunching their numbers or pricing their products to get paid what they’re worth.


You deserve to be paid for your time! If the product your making isn’t selling or profiting enough to pay your wage, you may consider exploring a new product, technique or adjusting your prices.

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  1. Not sure how long ago this was written but it’s worth mentioning that photography doesn’t exactly meet requirements for a low cost business anymore. The vast majority of successful photographers spend a large amount of hours editing photos before print. And if they are shooting often enough, will outsource their editing. Which of course adds significantly to production cost. The time spent on a wedding for example, will easily double with editing time included.

  2. Made Urban says:

    Hi Naomi,

    Thanks for commenting! That’s a great point and I agree, selling a product such as wedding photos can have high production costs due to editing time and only being able to sell those photos once.

    However, my article is referring to more of a craft business selling photography as art. Prints can be sold over and over and photos can even be used on merchandise such calendars, stationery, greeting cards, etc. so the editing costs are spread between multiple sales.


  3. Rae Elliott says:

    I make wind art / wind chimes. Is this a good medium to sell at craft shows? Thanks in advance

  4. Jane Patton says:

    I was wondering if you could talk about making and selling stained glass suncatchers– glass and supplies are expensive to buy and find customers really like my work but many say it’s too expensive to purchase. Often times, I’m just getting my expenses covered without charging much for my time. Any suggestions appreciated. I find selling on Etsy is challenging as well since their costs have increased as well as cost of mailing since you have to double box it to prevent breakage. Thank you

    1. Andrea Nixon says:


  5. Just learned that my craft business is number one on the list of businesses that make the least money 🙂 Still, I was able to rise my sales this year — thanks to you, Erin! You helped me find my USP, and I completely overhauled my visual presentation and brand design. It works great at markets, where the visitors can experience my brand and story with all senses (including sheep sounds from a small mp3 player under the table 🙂 ). However, my products don’t sell well in local shops, and that brings me to an additional issue I wanted to mention concerning knitting and crocheting: It is usually not seen as a craft, but as a hobby and a rather common skill. Furthermore, there are quite a few hobby knitters/crocheters who make things from patterns and sell them extremely cheap in local shops, which strongly influences the customers’ price expectations (e.g., in our local yarn shop, you can buy a luxurious hand-knitted, patterned XXL alpaca/merino/silk scarf for the shocking sum of 30€). As a consequence, the customers don’t understand why they should pay, say, 85€ for a light alpaka shawl made by me.
    As Erin said, you can’t change your customers, but you can change yourself. 🙂 My solution is to offer more entry-level products locally and find a better location for my mid- and high-priced products. Also, I will think about how I can better communicate my USP, story and level of professionality in the shop displays. Finally, I simply stopped designing and making products that anyone but the most skilled knitter/crocheter could reproduce.
    Another issue is this: I regularly meet people who, on hearing that I have sheep, make my own yarn and spin with the spinning wheel, expect that I would just love to invest hours of my time on craft demonstrations or workshops — for free. I try to explain, carefully and politely, that this is my full-time job, and that it is possible to book a demonstration or workshop at an affordable price. While I receive many positive responses, it regularly happens that my conversational partner feels somehow disillusioned or disappointed, thinking that I “only think about making money” or am “making a business model out of it”. Would they ask a smith or basketmaker to give them a workshop for free? Probably not! I think the solution here, too, is to find a way of better communicating that knitting, crocheting and spinning are legitimate crafts and a full-time business.

    1. Hi Liv,

      That’s so amazing to hear! I’m so happy my advice has helped you increase your sales 🙂 I LOVE that you have sheep sounds in your craft show booth…so clever. I would assume there would be a group of consumers who love animals and are willing to pay more knowing your sheep are treated ethically and your wool is humanely harvested. I don’t know a lot, but from what I understand, this isn’t the industry norm when it comes to wool harvesting.

      I agree with you; many people do look at knitting/crocheting as more of a hobby. Most of us do know someone who knits in their spare time and can make us a scarf, or pair of slippers. Which is why it’s harder to convince consumers to pay top dollar for a knitted scarf. They must be educated on why your knit scarves are different/better than the ones their grandma or aunt knits 😉

      I love that you’re exploring products only advanced knitters can make. That will certainly lower your competition. It will be important to conduct market research to be sure there are consumers who care about and are willing to pay for the advanced features of your products.

      You’ll find that no matter what you do/make/sell; there will always be people who want something for free and complain about you being paid for your time. It’s not usually worth your time trying to convince them otherwise.

      You may find it helpful to respond with a set price for a workshop (e.g. “I do actually offer workshops! they’re X price for X hours.”). That may help them realize a workshop isn’t something fun you can throw together on the side, but rather, it’s a part of your business.

      If you get a negative response, have another short and to-the-point response such as “Unfortunately I’m unable to work for free”, or playfully say “I haven’t figured out a way to work for free and pay my bills. So I do have to charge for my time.”

      Thank you so much for reading! Keep up the good work!


  6. Hi Erin,
    thanks so much for your reply! I love the playful response you offered for people who complain about paying for my time. It’s definitive, funny and polite at the same time!

    You are right, my particular market niche are wool products who are completely made by hand from my four-legged wooly family members 🙂 in the traditional way. But I also offer a collection of high-end alpaca accessoires made from purchased yarn. I think they appeal to the same type of customer: mostly female, mostly mid-age, eco-conscious and looking for a decelerated, down-to-earth country life style.

    Having choosen that kind of life for myself lends me credibility, and thanks to your courses and e-books, I’m able to tell my story in a more convincing way now, which includes clothing, decoration, photos and… the sheep sounds from under the table. They always create quite a buzz!

    By the way, I told a friend about the workshop issue, and we’re taking it to a higher level together! We’re going to offer workshops that combine crafts and spirituality (i.e., how to find one’s true calling in life). I’m soooo excited about it and can’t wait to start! 🙂

    Thank you so much again for your answer and your good wishes!

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