People have been making things with their hands since before we had our first written language. From the first human to chip away at a rock to create a tool, to a 21st-century hobbyist knitting for relaxation, crafting has always been a central part of life. It has been directly responsible for the refining and preservation of cultures all over the world, and on a personal level, gives people endless ways to express themselves. You could easily argue that, without the ingenuity of handcrafters, human history wouldn't have happened at all.
It's easy to lose track of this in today's industrialized world, but as a crafter, you are part of a grand and beautiful tradition and you should be proud of your work. You may have several reasons to want to start an online business based on your love of crafting — maybe you just want to recover the costs so you can keep supporting your craft as a hobby, or maybe you want to become profitable enough as a crafter that you can quit your day job. Perhaps you have other goals as well, like the desire to share your work with the world and educate others about your favorite craft. No matter your motivation, you'll need the right eCommerce software and a solid business plan.
Like we touched on briefly above, crafting is so thoroughly ingrained with our lives and history that it would be impossible to list every type of craft. Many of them can be categorized, but this can also be difficult when you consider the popularity of mixed media and other ways that different crafts can overlap.
Another factor is that crafters can have different intentions for their work — some lean more toward artistic or decorative purposes, while others are more focused on creating items with a practical use. Others find a balance between both. No matter what you prefer, there's a place for you and your work in the rich, rewarding world of crafting.
We also want to point out that for most crafts, you can expand by also offering the necessary tools for sale, especially if the craft involves specialized equipment. It's understandable if you don't want to create competition for yourself, but most crafters are very community-minded and "competition" often isn't a factor since customers who buy crafts often prefer the work of a specific individual. Selling tools and resources can earn you additional income and build more loyalty by creating a like-minded community of crafters who share your interests. However, it's also fine if you'd rather focus on selling your work itself.
This is just a quick summary of crafts to help inspire you — if your favorite crafting hobby isn't listed here, don't worry: you can still build a successful business based on it, we just didn't have room for it on this page. Of course, you may also be involved in multiple crafts either independently or to support your main projects. For example, if your primary interest is jewelry, you may also be experienced in metalwork and beadmaking unless you get your supplies from other crafters. Either business model is valid.
There are several ways a crafter can sell their work online, but they can be summarized in 2 categories: on a marketplace, or on your own website.
Marketplaces provide a venue where you can sell your crafts, with the biggest and most recognizable being Etsy. These are often good starting places for beginning crafters, but they're not the best long-term solution. Marketplaces have restrictions and fees that can cut into your profits, and can make it much harder to become recognized and grow your brand as you blend into a crowd. Etsy in particular has made numerous changes in recent years that have harmed its members' ability to find customers and become profitable.
Selling crafts on your own website allows you to keep control of your business and avoid the fees and restrictions of selling on a marketplace. You'll have more options as to what you can sell (since many marketplaces won't accept certain kinds of products even if they fit the handcrafted requirement), plus you'll be able to fully customize your website beyond what marketplaces allow. Having a website also sets you apart, since many people assume marketplace sellers are only amateurs. This will help you establish yourself as an expert in your field. Finally, the reduction in fees also means you'll be able to keep more of the income your business generates.
Keep in mind there's nothing stopping you from selling on both types of platform at the same time. If you've started out on Etsy, you can leave your shop active while you build your website, and continue to sell on both if you choose. The only issue would be the fees and other limitations inherent in your Etsy sales, and ensuring your inventory is consistent across multiple channels.
When selling handcrafted products, it's vital that you ship your customers' purchases in a way that ensures they'll arrive in perfect condition. If you're making one-of-a-kind items, this is even more important, since replacing a lost or broken product won't be easy. Even if you do manage to duplicate a unique product, it's still very upsetting when misfortune befalls a handcrafted work of art.
The process you use to ship will need to vary based on the traits of the item, which include its size, weight, fragility, and others. Always make sure your packaging is sufficient to protect your product on its way to the customer. You may also need to follow related packaging laws depending on the type of products you sell — for example, handmade soap needs an ingredient list printed on its individual packaging.
Customers who buy handcrafted products often appreciate personal touches, which help remind them that they are supporting a small business and not a faceless corporation. Build a relationship with your customer by including a thank-you note, bonus item, or other small token of your gratitude.
You may already be selling your crafts face-to-face, whether you've been going to shows or conventions, simply selling to friends, or through other opportunities. Unfortunately, selling online alongside your in-person sales can come with difficulties. This is primarily due to the need to keep your inventory straight, which is especially important with unique items that can't be reproduced. No one wants to sell an item at a craft show only to discover that an online customer has coincidentally bought the same item before you could mark it as "sold" on your website!
Shift4Shop solves this problem with an integrated POS (point of sale) system that allows you to take payments in person while keeping your inventory synchronized across your online and offline sales. You can even sync your customers as well, which comes in handy if an offline customer decides to make an online purchase later.
Shift4Shop is the best eCommerce software for building and growing an online craft shop. In addition to the features we've touched on already, Shift4Shop includes hundreds of other tools covering every aspect of your business. It's easy to build a website, sell across multiple channels, build and maintain customer relationships, and more. Best yet, if you use Shift4 Payments as your credit card processor, you can access our free End-to-End eCommerce plan, which includes all our features with no monthly fee and no limits.
Unlike Etsy and other marketplaces, Shift4Shop doesn't charge any extra fees. You pay only your monthly store subscription (if not using our free plan) and the usual fee from your payment provider. With Shift4Shop, you keep more of your profits, so business becomes more rewarding!
You may be great at your chosen craft, but that doesn't automatically mean you can build a website from scratch! Shift4Shop is a complete eCommerce website builder with tons of customizable templates to help you create a website that matches your brand.
When selling crafts online, you want your customers to appreciate every detail. Unlimited room for product photos, with zoom enabled, means you can showcase every item in its full glory. Customers will be able to inspect each product and fall in love with what they see.
Customers are more likely to buy handcrafts when they can relate to the person who creates them. Our built-in blog module and unlimited page creation lets you create articles, galleries, and much more to humanize your business and catch the interest of visitors, turning them into loyal customers.
Get the word out about your business over social media, including both organic and paid marketing. Connect your store to Facebook to sell on your Facebook Shop with full inventory synchronization, create email newsletters, get listed on Google within your niche, and much more.
Shift4Shop is powered by Shift4 Payments, which sets up in minutes to let you accept credit cards and several alternate payment methods. We also integrate with over 160 other payment types so you can accept PayPal, digital wallets, and much more. Plus, we'll never impose an additional transaction fee on your store, no matter which payment provider you use.
A free, attractive eCommerce website template with an artistic atmosphere perfect for art galleries and dozens of types of crafts. A classic sidebar menu takes on a modern, responsive layout that makes every page fun to browse on all devices, plus plenty of featured items help catch interest on the front page.