By Holly Reisem Hanna
I love fashion and home décor, but when it comes to being creative and imaginative, I’m definitely challenged. Honestly, when I think of arts & crafts, I think back to my childhood days of making pot holders and Popsicle stick birdhouses – this is why I don’t often correlate arts & crafts with working at home.
But lately, I have found some AMAZING jewelry designers, children’s clothes, and handbags on Etsy. To tell you the truth, I was blown away by how many women are working from home by selling their creative wares. This made me realize that I needed to address working at home as an artisan and crafter.
Assuming you already have the creative part down, here are ten steps you will need to take to start selling arts & crafts online.
1. Business Structure.
You most likely will be working by yourself, so choosing your business structure should be easy – Sole Proprietor. But if you are going to have a partner or a few employees you will need to decide which structure works best for you (Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or Corporation). Each structure has its pros and cons, meeting with a lawyer or an accountant can help you to determine which structure best suits your needs.
Not sure which business structure is right for you? Check out this article: Four Reasons to Incorporate Your At-Home Business
2. Naming Your Business.
If you plan on using something other than your own name, you will need to apply for a DBA – Doing Business As. You will need to research to make sure that someone else hasn’t already taken your company name. This is also a good time to look at available domain names for your website or blog if you plan to have one.
Apply for a sales tax license by calling or emailing your States Comptroller’s Office; they will be able to tell to which forms to fill out. Also as a self-employed individual, you will want to contact your local Internal Revenue Service, (IRS) or meet with an accountant to discuss taxing structures and expectations for self-employed individuals.
4. Bank Accounts.
Keep track of your business spending and sales by opening up a separate bank account for your business. Remember to save all of your receipts for business-related purchases for tax time. Using some sort of bookkeeping software, like GoDaddy Accounting or Intuit's Quickbooks is highly recommended.
5. Accepting Payments.
The easiest way to accept credit cards online is to apply for a business PayPal account. The rates that PayPal charge are reasonable and it's very easy to use. If you're going to be selling your wares at fairs or craft shows, you'll want to be able to accept payments on the go — check out this post for ideas and examples.
6. Online Store.
Set up your online store by creating a website, Etsy, or CraftStar account. Building a website is of particular importance for home-based businesses, where your site may be the only impression you ever get to make with your customers. To reach a greater audience, you may consider having a website and an Etsy store. Explore all of your options and determine what works best for you.
This post explains the various options that are available to you.
7. Business Email & Phone.
You will want to designate a separate email account and phone line for your business activities. If you create a website, you will be able to get an email address that reflects your business name, and it tends to look more professional than using a free account.
8. Take Photos.
You will need a digital camera to take pictures of the pieces that you’re selling. Try to incorporate the appropriate lighting techniques and attractive backgrounds for professional-looking shots.
Don't know anything about photography? This post has some fantastic tips for setting up your home photography studio!
Now that you have your online store ready, you will need to get traffic to your site. Start by setting up social networking profiles on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your business. Place free ads on Craigslist, print business cards, set up a blog and ask family and friends to spread the word. You may also want to inquire about renting a booth at local fairs in your town.
Need more in-depth information on how to promote your craft business? Check out – How to Promote Your DIY Craft Business
Take some time and decide how you are going to package your wares. Are your items fragile or breakable? Consider stocking up on bubble wrap, padded envelopes, and shipping supplies. Using some ribbon or colored tissue paper makes a lasting impression, and remember to include your business card and a thank you receipt/note with every purchase.
Additional Arts & Crafts Resources:
- Craft Business
- Craft Cult
- Craft Gossip
- Crafty Crafty
- Get Crafty
Real World Examples:
- Elena Adams — Jewelry Designer
- From a Trained Chef to a Jewelry Designer, How This Military Wife Made the Leap
Do you sell arts & crafts? Do you have some tips for others who want to sell arts & crafts online? Or do you have a favorite Etsy store? Feel free to let us know about your store, tips or favorite Etsy shop in the comment section below.
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