What it’s like to run a small handmade business

Being part of the organizational process of handmade fairs and shows around Europe has taught me that running a handmade business is equal to running a small manufacturing plant. The only difference is that when you are running a company, you usually have an entire structure of employees that are all responsible for a different branch. Well, in this case, you are the researcher, you are the producer and you are the accountant. 

In order to better understand the entire process of running a handmade business, in addition, we are explaining the daily tasks and most common questions and issues that handmade owners have to deal with. This will help you decide if this is something you really want to invest your time in or you will simply stay a handmade enthusiast or a skillful crafter.

The most important conclusion from my handmade experience is: if your handmade item is small in size and weight, go worldwide! Online shopping has revolutionized the selling process of handmade items and everyone that wants to be on the top should keep up. In a way, this has simplified the selling, but it has also increased the competition. Nowadays, in order to get yourself noticed from the pile of products out there, you need to have great marketing skills or invest a certain amount of money in marketing your products. And the worst thing is that this doesn’t guarantee that you are going to make a sale, but it simply puts you on the map!

That said, here are the thoughts of some of our fellow handmade makers that will paint you a nice picture on, how it is to be a part of this world!

  • The first step of the handmade production process is getting to know your market

Even if you already have an idea of what you are going to produce it is important that you make a small research on the competition and check out who you are going to sell your products to. This literary means finding competitors that make similar products online and writing down the people that liked that specific competitive Facebook page, Etsy store, Shopify store or Instagram account. Once you have done this, make sure you get to know your audience. These are the types of people that you are going to sell to and you should focus on making products that they are going to love and desire. You might want to consider that for a successful handmade business, you won’t always design your products by your taste. You will sometimes act according to your customers’ wishes and change some color or smell, but hey, they are the whole reason your business exists. This makes compromising a whole lot easier.

  • Resolving the myth that handmade items are expensive

Once you get a general idea of what you are going to make, the supplying process comes in order. And of course, this is closely correlated to the price of the product. As you might already know, the price of a handmade item is never on the low bar. The reason for this is simple. Handmade makers never focus on the price of their materials, but on their quality. Factory products are manufactured by using cheaper materials which results in lower quality products. We value quality more than price and we value design more than our time. We are always ready to spend a few more hours on a product we make, but we will make it unlike everything else you have ever tried or seen. However, most handmade products are located in the middle price range, right next to branded products that we can easily afford and we all have in our homes or lifes!

  • The time it takes for producing one handmade item

This is a tough one and it is not simple to answer. Every handmade producer was asked this question at some point in their life. The physical production of the handmade item is only one of the steps! Other steps, some previously mentioned, require researching the market, designing the product, looking for the best suppliers, handcrafting the product, taking numerous professional photos of the product and posting only a few of them and marketing the product. As you can see, the question: “How long did it take you to make this product”, is only one part of the entire process and it doesn’t come with a short answer. For this reason, most members of the handmade maker’s society believe that the time it took for making the product is not a relevant factor in deciding the value of the item.

  • If you sell your handmade products online, you are no longer a crafter

When we start making handmade products, we all identify as crafters. However, after a while, the small group of people who worships your products is starting to increase and at some point, you are no longer a crafter. This happens when you stop waiting for customers to come to you and you start looking for them. When you start implementing marketing, you should no longer introduce yourself as a crafter, but as a business owner. Using the word crafter instead of a business owner presents you in a modest light and it is decreasing the professional perception of strangers! 

Once you start using this term, you will be seen in a different light and you will definitely feel different about yourself. Truth be told, if you are selling your products, paying taxes, implementing marketing techniques and participating in fairs and shows you are every bit of a business owner as every other.

While handmade businesses are not being fully appreciated so far, this is changing by the day and everyone gets an equal chance to thrive in this industry. I encourage you to craft when you are feeling happy, craft to find solace, craft your troubles away… I hope that you find this article informative, useful and confidence boosting.

If after reading this article you are positive that you want to join the handmade community, you are welcome to contact us, and/or follow us. We are always happy to welcome a new member into our handmade community!

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