Helping you understand your craft business activities
Many people enjoy making hand crafted products as a hobby and some would like to generate an income by selling what they make.
If you would like to develop a craft hobby into a craft business, it is important to consider whether there is sufficient demand for what you make, if you can sell what you make for a profit and how you are going to find your customers.
This site has been designed to help you find fairs to attend, venues to book, suppliers etc. It is a good idea to sign up as a member and then to list your crafting details.
Your product choice will depend upon what your craft skills enable you to make and what people want to buy.
Good places to look for inspiration include craft shops, gift shops, relevant magazines and at craft fairs. Also you could ask friends and relatives what things they would consider buying. If you attend craft fairs, in addition to seeing the craft work of others, you might make useful contacts in the craft community and find new craft materials suppliers and additional outlets for your work.
You might decide to improve a product that already exists or develop something new, to meet an opening in the market. You could enhance your existing set of skills and expand your product range to meet market demand. Craft courses are very popular and learning something new is always a bonus.
Pricing requires you to include costs such as craft materials, insurance, tools, packaging, distribution, stationery, utility bills and the amount you pay yourself for the time you spend working on the business. You should also take account of any tax that you will have to pay. You can find many of the things you need in the craft supplier section.
Once you have calculated your unit cost and compared it to the going rate for similar craft products, you can decide how much you are going to sell your work for.
For example, it may cost you £10 to make a finished product. You could set your wholesale price at £20 (the price you would sell it to a shop). The retail price may be double your wholesale price, in this example £40. If you were renting a stall at a craft fair and doing the selling yourself, you would sell at the retail price not the wholesale. This would then cover your selling costs.
Too high a price could make you less competitive and reduce sales, whilst too low a price could increase sales but reduce profits and even cause your business to run at a loss. Your aim should be to find the right balance, which provides you with a good cash flow and a healthy profit. By reducing your costs or improving your productivity, you could increase the profits needed to invest in the growth of your business and help with finances during any periods of low sales.
Often people start a craft business because it is what they enjoy or it is based on knowledge they already have. This is good because you will have a passion for what you are producing and be able to demonstrate and discuss your work.
Market research is the process of looking at what people want to buy and in what quantities, to see if you will be able to meet your requirements.
The Internet is probably the best source of information on just about everything. The UKCraftFairs site has many thousands of members and concentrates solely on craft, you could also look in:
You can do your market research yourself, popping along to a local craft fair is a very good start as you can talk to people already in the business of selling what they made.
It is often the case that people want or believe that they must raise finance to start a business. However, this may not be the case and you will need to pay back, any money borrowed. This can put a strain on any profits you may be making and you may find yourself over stretched and working hard for the lender.
If at all possible, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be". Work within your means and think your way past the need to borrow money. Build your business with hard work, honesty, friendship and loyalty, rather than debt.
If you borrow money from a friend or family member then you may find that the money goes and you are unable to pay it back and so the friendship goes to, "For loan oft loses both itself and friend, "
You will need to decide the structure of your business, there are three to choose from:
You will need to keep good records of all transactions, money in and money out. If you are not great with organising money, make sure you get help and advice from an accountant or book keeper. They should save you more money than you pay them and will leave you free to focus on your work.
Effective marketing will make potential customers aware of your work and therefore increases your chance of making sales.
Many craft people choose to use this site to promote themselves. Below are examples of exhibitors who have chosen a promoted membership level for their craft:
If you provide work of good quality at a competitive price this could lead to repeat business. Marketing your craft work will be made easier if you have a clearly defined range of products to offer potential customers and a strong brand identity for your business. If you sell your work through retail outlets they will want to position your product line in a particular section or department and will increase the cost of your products to cover their profits.
To create high quality, engaging video marketing content to help you stand out from the crowd. Event and venue promotion, brand and product marketing, corporate and broadcast. You could create content yourself, hire a friend or relative or go down the professional route. We can recommend Kingsley Creative who are based in our South London office but can work around the UK. You would need a budget of a few thousand for this type of work.
A good place to market and sell what you make is at craft fairs. Fairs have the advantage of enabling you to meet and talk to existing or potential customers and get feedback on your range of products. Take a look at the Selling at craft fairs section of this page or search for craft fairs in your area.
As with all businesses, you will need to take out insurance, public liability as a minimum.
Keeping business costs down is one of the most important aspects of your daily thought process for running your business. One thing we like to say to ourselves is “for ever pound we spend; we have to earn two”. Keeping your costs down will help with profitability, cash flow and save time. That said you will need to spend some money in order for your business to grow, the key here is not to go cheap but to buy well. Value for Money (VfM) is name of the game. Never base a purchase decision only on price. This is equally true both for your business and your personal spending (which has a direct impact on what you need to pay yourself).
So you need to make good choices but finding the best value options can be time consuming and another true quote is “time is money”, so what can you do to help make the best choice and quickly?
Asking friends and associates for advice based on their personal experience, is a good way to go. They may not always be 100% correct but it should point you in the right direction and give you food for thought. You could sign up to an advice service like Which? that do testing and comparisons on products. This sort of service has a relatively high monthly cost, so you need to way up the cost against your savings and increased efficiency.
You could also think about using comparison sites. Please remember that they will not be exhaustive and therefore any company not on the site will not be compared against. So think of the comparison as a guide, as one of your three competitive quotes. Actively seek alternatives.
One of the advantages of starting a craft business is that you can often work from home.
If you dedicate a room in your home to your craft work, you will be able to claim back part of the running costs of your home against your business.
If you can't work from home then many craft people set up a studio, gallery, workshop or shop.
You promote your business to attract genuine customers or organisations offering you legitimate products or services. These are the people who you want to find you, whether your contact details appear on a website such as this one, or in a printed publication. However you might also be contacted by people or organisations who intend to mislead or deceive you and they might even wrongly claim to be endorsed by or to be working on behalf of legitimate companies when they are not.
We would advise that you carry out due diligence when considering using products or services offered to you, particularly from organisations you are not familiar with. You could begin by visiting their website or other online presence, looking for comments from some of their existing customers and searching online for information about them.
If you are contacted by cold callers claiming to be from a particular organisation, take care if they request sensitive financial information. You would be better obtaining the organisations contact details from a trusted source and then you can contact them directly to discuss the matter further.
If you believe that your business has fallen foul of a serious deception, then you could report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or go to www.actionfraud.police.uk or contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 040506. By doing so you are helping to protect yourself and others.
"Working for yourself is a rewarding, challenging and exciting pursuit. If you are able to achieve success by doing what you love, then you may be rewarded with two of the most important things in life; time and the ability to say no."
This is just a guide and you need to make sure you think about what you are doing and research thoroughly in order that you make the right decisions for you. You should take professional advice before spending your hard earned money on things that may or may not have a positive return.
Producing art to sell at craft and other events is popular with exhibitors and customers.
Artists use a varied palette to produce there work:
Artists may choose to create prints of their works. This is a good way to create additional revenues from original work. The prints can be created in limited runs and the original kept or sold by the artist.
Prints should ideally be mounted, backed and bagged, so that the purchaser needs to simply purchase a frame. Picking A size (A4, A3, A2 and A1) mounts will help people to keep the cost of framing down. Artists should sign and number their prints.
Artists can also produce gifts and greeting cards from their work. These can be very popular at craft fairs.
Most artists will work from home in a dedicated space but a significant number will rent an artists studio. The choice is often determined by the size and volume of work produced and the potential benefits of having a studio near to your salary or exhibition space.
Many artists will supply the work framed, others will organise a frame of your choice or sell you the work unframed.
The boundaries between craft, art and design are rather blurred. Artists can produce a wide range of saleable items, that could be placed into multiple categories.
Artists need to be pro actively diverse. For example, if they are working as a studio artist they could run courses during the summer months, or they could teach in colleges or other venues. Alternatively, they could work as illustrators.
Areas of light tone can be balanced by areas of darker tone and small shapes near the edge by larger central ones.
The colour wheel has twelve parts and can be used as a guide to contrasting and complementary hues. The wheel uses the primary colours (red, blue and yellow), secondary (green, violet and orange), compounds which are a mixture of the primaries and tertiaries which are between the primary and secondary. Saturated colours contain no white, black or complementaries.
The opposing elements of a design are contrasting. Examples include the hues appearing on opposite sides of the colour wheel and light and dark tones. Contrast disrupts unity in a piece of work and should be used with consideration to the amount of discord required.
The elements in a work of art or design that you chose to emphasize are called dominant.
The illusion of perspective can be created using gradations of tone from light to dark and colour from cool to warm.
The use of similar elements, such as shape and hue, can be used to produce harmony.
The use of related elements which reinforce the theme of a piece of work can help to create a sense of unity.
When you first start your craft business, you may not have thought in any real detail about how you are going to organise your finances. This is often because it is a hobby or an interest, that you are testing the water with. Perhaps creating enough stock for one craft fair to see how things work out. If things go well, you will want to do more.
One way to accept card payments online, is to sign up for a PayPal business account. You can start accepting credit and debit card payments instantly. You will also have a range of merchant banking tools to use. As there are no setup fees, it can be a good way to get started.
If you are accepting a cheque at a fair, make sure that it is secured. Here is one of the good reasons for having a business account. People can write a cheque in your business name rather than a cheque directly to you.
The basic thing to remember with any business is to spend less than you make. So, keep track of what you are spending and what you have earned. If you don't the numbers will start to blur. Else, where you thought there was profit, may actually be a loss. This is one place where the business account can really help. If you only use the one business account for all your earning and expenditure, you will automatically have an easy to analyse list.
Having a simple list will help you look back a review your spending. This could really help you increase your profits in the future.
If you want to get started how much money do you need? Money for your business can only come from two sources either you or someone else. If you are financing yourself, you can be a little over generous, make sure you are going to be able to give yourself the money back. If you a borrowing from some else, hopefully they will ask you enough questions to make you think about how you are going to pay them back with interest.
There is an art to borrowing money. You need to keep your borrowing at the correct level. Too much and all your profits will be eaten up by interest payments. Too little and you may not be able to function effectively.
You can use a Visa debit card for example and therefore not need to have a separate credit card. You could have an overdraft or take out the credit card if you need a form of credit. Always remember that every time you use credit you loose some of your profit. However, some credit can be good and make sure that you can honour your commitments.
You should always check your bank statements for errors and to keep yourself aware of all the transactions.
|BGC||Bank Giro Credit|
|BSP||Branch Single Payment|
|CHP||Payment by CHAPS transfer|
|CUI||Centralised Unpaid In (Unpaid Cheque)|
|CWP||Cold Weather Payment|
|DPC||Direct Banking by PC|
|DR||Account Overdrawn or Debit Item|
|DWP||Department for Work and Pensions|
|ERTF||Exchange Rate Transaction Fee|
|NDC||Non Dividend Counterfoil|
|POS||Point of Sale/Debit Card Transaction|
|SBT||Screen Based Transaction|
If you are running a very small business and do not have another income you may not need to pay any tax. However, you will need to show that you are not earning enough. Alternatively, you may want to start something bigger or are running a local fair or a craft club or even setting up as a craft supplier. If you expect you will need to be paying a sizeable tax or other bill it can be a good idea to have an reserve account set up, that pays you a little interest. It also keeps the money you need to cover potentially large payouts, on one side. This will help you to avoid a cash flow crisis.
Many people just start, taking a hobby and using it to earn a few pounds at a local fair. Others may have a business plan and a full time business in mind. Which ever end of the spectrum you are, it is vital to be organised and to know your goals.
Your goal could be to make a profit, earning enough to go on holiday or to earn a full time wage to support your family.
We believe that having a business bank account is part of the getting organised process. You may be using a trading as name and having the business bank account will mean you can receive payment both in your name or in the name of the business. Both your incomings and your outgoings will be from the same bank account. You do not have to have a business bank account but it really does help. You may choose to use your personal account but quite quickly the accounts will be difficult to manage.
Where you are going to store all that money you make from selling your products or service. Also, how you are going to pay for material, table fees, craft insurance and travel etc.
Business bank accounts are more expensive to run than a personal account. You should be able to get free banking for the first couple of years. However, when that runs out you will have to pay. It is worth thing about your product and where the back fees.
With craft businesses being easy to start and easy to move between hobby and business, you could be fooled into the
You may want to bank online to save yourself time and effort but may also need a branch to go into.
Choosing the right bank for you is important and it is a personal choice. We had a choice of two major banks that had branches near to where we lived and had online banking facilities. We chose to have a business account with the same bank we had our personal account. It made transfers very quick and easy and meant we only needed to deal with one bank.
You can shop around for good deals, i.e. longer free period, more interest etc. However, remember that these offers change all the time and what is a good deal today may not be a good deal tomorrow.
Selling your handmade work at a craft fair or other event is a skill and like any other skills you will need practice and potentially training.
If you are an exhibitor, you should firstly add your listing to the site. With all the details including a product picture, organisers will find it easy to see whether you fit with the event being run. This can save you and the organiser a lot of time.
Before trying to sell your work at a craft fair, visit a few craft shows. This will enable you to see the quality and range of the work being sold by others.
You will also be able to speak to exhibitors and decide the type of fairs which might be the best place for you to market and sell your products. Consideration should be given to the number of visitors to each fair, the costs involved in exhibiting your work there and the quantity of goods that you will have to sell in order to make a profit.
You can check your pricing, quality of presentation and range.
Use the craft fair Search page on this site to find a suitable fair. This may be a small fair where you do not have to pay a lot for a table, so that you can get feedback. It may be local, so that you do not have far to travel and are able to ask friends and family to come along to both buy from you and give you feedback.
If the fair you would like to attend is very popular, you may need to visit the fair in advance to find out more about how it works, perhaps meeting the organiser in advance to find out what they want from an exhibitor.
When you contact an organiser via the site, they get a link back to your listing.
Get confirmed as exhibiting at a fair, and your picture appears on the event listing which help to market you and helps people looking for events too.
Event organisers may have a strict policy of handmade goods only. If this is the case, you may need to supply an example of your work and or photographs of what you are intending to sell.
When people go shopping at a craft fair, they like to see high quality crafts. Event organiser also appreciate your effort to make something beautiful.
Think of your craft table as a small retail business. You will need to look into your legal requirements, like insurance for your products, to cover your liabilities and perhaps staff (paid or volunteers).
If you are booking a table that is 6ft by 2ft/3ft then you will need a base white tablecloth of approximately 70/108 inches which will give you about an 18inch drop all round. You can then get a second smaller long rectangle cloth to go in the middle of table 70/70 perhaps. This second cloth could be a colour compliments your overall look.
Whilst building up your business and developing your customer base, you should consider selling at a small number of fairs. By having a range of goods at various prices, you could sell larger numbers of less expensive items and a few more expensive items. Many people prefer to purchase goods using credit cards rather than cash or checks. Having a merchant account that enables you to take credit card payments will reduce the chance of you missing out on potential sales.
If the venue has not set specific tables then you may be able to choose a good table before others arrive. You will also be giving yourself enough time to setup, so that you are ready to sell as soon as the first person comes through the door. However, it is better to not stress the organisers by arriving before they have said you can set up.
Setting up your stall at a craft fair can involve a lot of work and during a busy day you will probably want to take refreshment breaks. Consequently you should consider going with a friend or relative who can help you.
Useful things to take with you include a calculator, stands on which to present your work, chairs to sit on and bags that your products can be carried home in. You should also take a sufficient quantity of your craft products with you for expected sales.
Make sure that you have clear signs that say what you sell, how much things cost and your contact details.
If you do not price your work clearly, people may walk away rather than asking the price.
Make sure that you display your products in a way that can be seen from a distance. Rather than having your work laying flat on a table, stand it up so that people do not need to walk right up to your table to see what you do.
Selling is a skill and you can get carried away. If someone is interested in a product, sell that rather than giving them lots of other choices. They will just get confused.
Smile, look happy, engage with people as they go past. If you have not done well in the morning, do not look unhappy in the afternoon, that may be when you make the most money.
If you can work on your craft at your table, people will be interested and ask you questions. Starting a dialogue with a potential customer, will lead to more sales. You will also be able to work during any quiet time to help build up your stock
Keep your area looking as good as you can. Clean up after people, rearrange your display once you make a sale. Think about what people will see first when they walk past your table.
Attend a fair more than once. People will get to know and trust you.
As well as selling your work at craft fairs, it is the perfect opportunity to speak to both existing and potential customers.
If possible you should get business cards and contact details such as email addresses from people with which you could build mailing lists, to let people know about new products and fairs that you will be attending.
You should take marketing material with you that you can distribute to customers. Put one in every bag you hand out with a sale.
Listening to feedback from people that you meet at fairs could help you to develop your product range to meet demand.
After each visit to a craft fair you should calculate how much profit you have made.
By finding out which products earn you the most money, you can adjust your production accordingly. With experience you will be able to decide which fairs are the most profitable for you to attend and schedule them into your calendar.
It is also worth considering how many sales you make as a result of your marketing efforts at each fair. Not just the sales on the day. If you get a regular customer from visiting a fair, it will help your business to grow.
Not the channel 4 television program but an important consideration on your part. In affect you are in the retail sector and exposure to the volume and quality of customer is vital. You are not going to get it right every time but when you do, it will give you the best possible chance of success.
Think about where you will be located and how that will improve your chances of a sale.
A lot of people would like to have a go. If your product is one that could be made into a kit, why not sell them to people who visit your stand but do not want to buy the finished product. You can brand your kit and include your contact details so that you can either sell them the finish product or more kits. It is a good way to get round the objection "I could make that myself".
Over time you might find that demand for your work begins to exceed the quantity that you are able to produce on your own. You could then increase the price that you charge for your work until supply and demand reach a balance that you are comfortable with.
Alternatively, if the nature of your work makes it a viable option, you could employ others to do some of the work.
Whatever your decision, it is important that you maintain the quality of the work that you sell to a standard that your customers have come to expect.
The content of this page should be used by the reader as a general aid to help point you in a direction that may or may not be good for your business. As with all advice you should always seek second opinions and make your own mind up about the potential benefit to you.
Although carefully selected and in our opinion of value, some of the external links are affiliated, meaning that the site may recieve a financial benefit.