Can I sell DIY crafts online and make money?
Updated: Dec 11, 2021
DIY Crafts And E-Commerce:
Making money online is simple and common in today’s COVID-19 age. Anybody can post something online and rely on some sales. To make money selling your crafts online full time, the production process needs to be scalable. If you can't scale your production, you may not be able to make enough money to live on?
Let’s say you are knitting hats to sell online. You’ll be fine until you’re selling more than 10 per day. How many hats can you really knit every day? Can you get 15 or 20 hats per day? Is it worth it to hire other people to help knit your hats? Probably not, that would increase overhead dramatically. DIY crafts may sell well, but your biggest challenge will be scalability. How will you make a full-time income with that business in the future?
You can develop a great brand and an audience but you will quickly run into a problem
knitting enough hats as the demand ramps up. If you’re going to make something yourself to sell online, you must be able to make many of them every day. Otherwise you will work full time, but possibly not make full time money. Your price has to be somewhat competitive to attract customers, even if your product is superior.
What if your product is seasonal? That would work well if you make the product all year round and then you’re able to sell out during the summer or during Christmas time. That’s might not a bad idea.
If your craft sells for a high price, (like a quilt or handmade furniture) you are probably make enough money even with low sales volume. But if the product is too unique, you may not find enough demand. It’s better to have a blog with a highly dedicated audience who reads a lot but doesn’t need to buy very much to support your income.
You can sell separate things as a bundle. Your customer could not buy them all together except from you. If you’re selling a “kit” to make a functioning toy airplane for example, you can buy glue, popsicle sticks, wing material, hobby motors, and the propellers. Then you put it together as a “kit”. You may be able to make 1000 “kits” per week which should be quick enough to keep up with demand for quite a while after you start the business.
That is a way to make money online and keep up with demand. As long as you don’t have to put the airplanes together before you ship them out. You may be able to make an income doing just that.
Reselling An "Improved" Product
Let’s say you’re selling picture frames. You could buy some generic picture frames, redesign them, then resell them for a higher price because of the unique design you’ve created. That design would have to be something you could make in just a few minutes. In other words, a solid color, a stamp, something where you can put tape across the picture frame, paint the frame a different color on both sides of the tape, then remove the tape and leave the strip in the middle untouched (the original design of the frame). You take beads or fake jewels (or something) and glue them to the frame in order to make a more intricate design on the frame.
That could work but the picture frames are only an example, you could probably think of many other products that you can edit slightly then turn around and sell it for a higher price. If you can edit a product in two minutes or less, you could crank out 30 per hour after work, while watching your favorite tv show, so that is scalable and profitable.
It is important to verify demand for a product before you start creating it to sell it. Selling a product, no matter how great it looks, is not going to work if there is no demand for the product. You might want to research your competition and pull data from Amazon and Google in order to verify demand for the product.
If you are not seeing at least 300 sales, per seller, per month, it is probably not a profitable product because that is only 10 sales per day which is considered a minimum if you’re making $10 profit per product. If you’re selling a picture frame, it may be difficult to remain competitive with that kind of a profit margin.
Using A Supplier For Your Crafts
You might want to look at buying customized inventory that is pre-assembled from the supplier. Your time may be better spent negotiating with suppliers and trying to get a lower price, rather than making it yourself. Most suppliers will negotiate with you, but that is a subject for a different blog post.
Customizable Products You Can Order In Large Quantities
Let’s say you are selling trophies. You can order the trophies on Alibaba, or some such supply website, many at a time. There are several websites where they will do engravings for you and send them to you. You can usually tie in your order flow with those websites to send your orders to have them sent to your customer’s house automatically rather than ordering the engraving manually for each order. That product may offer a $10 profit margin and remain competitive if you get your inventory for cheap enough.
Coffee mugs, custom T-shirts, and other customizable products are great examples of a similar business model that would work as DIY products for selling online. Many internet companies exist that can tie into your website order flow and send the product directly to your customer “from your company”.
Your Biggest Challenge
We have presented several ways to make money on Amazon or with a blog/e-commerce website, but all of them present their own unique challenges. Your biggest challenge for all of them is order fulfillment, which will keep you small until you quit selling the product or find a way to fulfill the product automatically (like using FBA). We understand many people have a passion and they want to share that passion online. Creating a product as a form of expression, then selling it, is a different business model than what people are using to “get rich” selling online.
It is unlikely that your hobby will make you a lot of money if you're using a “fulfilled by self” business model. When combining capitalism with your passion, it’s best if you don’t need it to support you right away. If you love making your crafts, let selling them be an after-thought. Do what you love. Shameless capitalism is not for everyone. Finding demand and fulfilling that demand is not the purpose for every product. If what you want is a boutique website, that's what you should do. Having a boutique website can be fulfilling, but do it because you love it, don’t try to live off the profits.