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How to Start a Craft Business

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Published on January 13, 2022

Updated on September 21, 2022

How to Start a Craft Business

Disclaimer: Step by Step Business’ content is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. All of our articles are thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team. Read our editorial guidelines for more details.

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Fast Facts

Investment range

$1,050 - $6,600

Revenue potential

$40,000 - $200,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 – 3 months

Profit potential

$30,000 - $150,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

How to Start a Craft Business

Crafting is a popular pastime for many. The list of things you can do in crafting is endless – jewelry, pottery, woodwork, knitting, sewing, painting, and on and on. If you do crafts for fun and you’re good at it, why not turn your craft into a business?  The market for crafts is huge, which is evidenced by the success of Etsy’s marketplace, which doubled its revenue in 2020 to more than $1.7 billion. 

You will face some challenges, however, when starting a craft business. You’ll need to do some preparation and information gathering before you launch. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step guide has everything you need to craft your way into entrepreneurship.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Starting a craft business has pros and cons that you should consider before deciding if it’s right for you.

Pros

  • Do What You Love – The best jobs are the ones you enjoy
  • Much Flexibility – Work at home on your own time
  • High-Profit Margins – Sell your crafts for much more than the cost to make them

Cons

  • Massive Competition – Over 4 million sellers on Etsy
  • Time Consuming – Making, selling, and shipping crafts takes some time

Craft industry trends

Industry size and growth

  • Industry size and past growth – Retail sales of arts and crafts in the US reached $1.2 billion in 2021, a 15% increase compared to 2019.[1]https://www.statista.com/statistics/247404/toy-sales-in-the-us-arts-and-crafts-segment/  
  • Growth forecast – Market analyst Statista values the global arts and crafts market at $35 billion in 2017. It is projected to approach $51 billion by 2024.[2]https://www.statista.com/statistics/1017884/arts-and-crafts-market-value-forecast-worldwide/ 
  • Number of businesses – Etsy statistics, which are reflective of the crafts industry size, show roughly 7.5 million sellers in 2021[3]https://www.statista.com/statistics/409374/etsy-active-sellers/ and 7 out of 10 sell crafts and handmade items. 
craft industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the craft industry include:

  • Pinterest predicts that the most popular selling items will be crafts including glass etching, crochet, bottle painting, and leatherworking.
  • Upcycling, meaning repurposing old items, is also increasing in popularity.

Some challenges also face the industry including:

  • People are staying at home more, leading to an increase in crafting as a business, thus increasing the competitive nature of the industry.
  • Prices of craft supplies have increased, reducing the profit margins of craft sellers.
craft industry Trends and Challenges

How much does it cost to start a craft business?

Startup costs for a craft business range from $1,000 to $6,500. The amount will vary depending on the types and amount of supplies you purchase. The high end of the range includes developing your own website. You can stay toward the low end by selling on marketplaces like Etsy.

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your craft business. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Supplies and equipment to make your crafts
  • Craft table
  • Shelves to store supplies and inventory
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corportation$150 - $200$175
Licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100 - $300$200
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup$0 - $3,000$1,500
Initial craft supplies$500 - $2,500$1,500
Total$1,050 - $6,600$3,825

How much can you earn from a craft business?

Your profit will depend on your cost to make the crafts and the price that you sell them for. This will assume that you can make items for $5 and sell them for $20, giving you a profit margin of 75%.

In your first year or two, you could sell 2,000 items in a year, bringing in $40,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $30,000 in profit, assuming that 75% margin. As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 10,000 units a year. With expected annual revenue of $200,000, you would make about $150,000.

Craft business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a craft business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • You need to be able to make unique items that people will buy and make them at a low enough cost to make a profit.
  • You will face huge competition from other craft sellers

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a craft business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research craft businesses online to examine their products, price points, customer reviews, and what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the market is missing a leather goods craft store. 

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry such as ceramics.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your products or services

Your products will be determined by what you’re able to make. Consider what variations you can make to those items and related items that you could make as well.

How much should you charge for crafts?

The prices you charge will depend on how much it costs to make them, but you also need to research what similar products are selling for. You should aim for a profit margin of at least 75%.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price point. Remember, the price you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

The target market will depend on the type of products you’re making. If you make trendy jewelry, for example, your target market will probably be younger women. You can most likely find them on sites like Instagram or TikTok.

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a storefront. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
craft business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “craft” or “crafting”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
  • Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
  • Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
  • Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
  • Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
  • Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
  • Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.

If you’ve never created a business plan yourself before, it can be an intimidating task. Consider hiring an experienced business plan writer on Fiverr to create a professional business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to craft businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your craft business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that most new business owners choose an LLC, as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your Articles of Organization, and be on hand to answer any questions you might have. 

Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Personal funding is your best bet since startup costs are low.

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Starting a craft business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level licenses and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your craft business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You can use industry-specific software, such as CraftyBase, CraftMaker Pro, or erplain, to manage your supply purchases, inventory, sales, and bookkeeping. 

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial. 

Marketing

Some of your business will come from the casual online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness. 

Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products: 

  • Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area. 
  • Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
  • Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Buy Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
  • Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers. 

Kickstart Marketing

Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include: 

  • Post a video – Post a video about your product. Try using humor and maybe it will go viral!
  • Limited edition – Offer a one-time version of your product or service.
  • Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal. 
  • Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
  • Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients. 
  • Press releases – Do press releases about new products, sales, etc.
  • Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
  • Pay–per-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to come up faster from searches. Research your keywords first.
  • Influencer marketing – Pay people with large followings to promote your product. You can find micro-influencers with somewhat smaller follows for lower rates.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your craft business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your craft business could be: 

  • Unique handmade pottery for your collection
  • On-trend handcrafted jewelry to accent your wardrobe
  • Expertly made leather crafts
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a craft business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in crafting for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in crafts. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

For an at-home craft business you probably will not need employees unless you want to hire people to help you make your items.

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Start Making Money!

Sometimes the best business ideas start as hobbies. If you’re a craftsperson for fun, why not do it for money? Millions of people are doing just that, selling on sites like Etsy, and collectively making over a billion dollars. Your talent is your best asset, so capitalize on it and turn it into a successful company. Now that you have knowledge in your tool belt, you’re ready to start crafting your entrepreneurial adventure!

Craft Business FAQs

How much does it cost to start a craft business?

You can start a craft business for as little as $1,000 if you sell on a marketplace like Etsy. Your costs will be mainly for your crafting supplies, so it depends on what you’ll be making.

Can I really make money selling crafts?

Sure! You just need to be able to make a unique product and sell it for more than the cost to make it. You won’t have many ongoing costs other than for the supplies, so you should be able to keep most of your revenue in your pocket.

Do I need a license to sell crafts online?

An online craft business is just like any other business, so you may need business licenses and permits at the state and local levels. Check with your local governments for requirements.

Where is the best place to sell my crafts online?

There are many online marketplaces where you can sell crafts and handmade items. Etsy is the most well-known, and it’s easy to set up your own Etsy store.