“Millionaire stay at home mom makes 6 figures A MONTH selling knitted scarves online! Find out how!”
I’m sure you’ve come across headlines like this before.
These headlines promise high earnings while you stay at home creating and working on your favorite type of crafts. But is it really possible?
Is it possible to make a living selling handmade items online?
Yes, it is possible to make a living selling handmade items online. No, it isn’t easy!
Most people think they simply need to create a few products, list them online, and wait for the money to roll in. This is not true!
Starting an online business may be cheap, easy to get started, and gives you access to a much larger audience, but the fundamentals are the same as opening any typical business.
What those promising headlines don’t tell you is the amount of work and years those people put in to become successful enough to have an article written about them.
It’s not easy to start a successful online business and anyone telling you otherwise is either writing a sensational article or trying to sell you something. However, it is absolutely possible to do! It needs an investment of both time and money.
You’ll need to learn about accounting, marketing, advertising, technical info, legalities, and so on. You will need to provide people with a reason to take their credit card out and use their money to spend it on your creations.
Starting by Planning Ahead and Setting Goals
Start by figuring out how many sales you need in order to make a full-time living selling your craft. Even if you’re only looking for some additional income, this will help you get a better idea of the probability.
Be sure to keep your expenses in mind! You should be well aware of all your costs and how much you initially need to have on the side to invest in your business.
Some of the costs that may arise if you’re creating your own eCommerce website:
- A Domain Name, to be renewed yearly
- Hosting, to be renewed yearly
- A payment gateway
If you’re using a marketplace, some of the costs are either per account per month or per listing.
Regardless of what you choose, you also have:
- Bank fees
- Internet fees
- Developer and/or designer fees (if needed)
- Material to create your products (software or physical)
- The actual time spent on creating a piece
- Taxes or VAT on sales
- Advertisement fees
- Outsourcing fees
- A business license if needed
And so on…
If you spend $200 per year on your business and earn $300, your actual profit is $100.
If you have a clear idea of the average cost for a product, what you’ll be selling it for, and how much money you need per year, you can do a simple calculation to figure out how many products you have to sell to make enough to survive on. Now look back at the average time you need to create that product and ask yourself if it’s feasible or not.
For example, if it takes you a day to knit a scarf and you need to sell 100 scarves a month to make a full-time income. It can be much more difficult to do so on scarves alone. On the other hand, if you’re selling a digital pattern of the scarf you are designing, then you only have to create the product once and sell it forever.
You may be an expert at your craft, but without some basic knowledge in marketing, you may not reach your audience.
Think of a new store that randomly opened around your neighborhood, you may come across it but don’t enter. You wait until you see other people going in or hear about it.
It’s the same for the online world, if you find an online store with no reviews or sales, you may think twice before buying from it. Now imagine you own that new store, why would people buy from you?
Now imagine you get a 50% voucher or find a beautifully designed funny flyer at your doorstep inviting you to the opening of the new store. They’ll serve free champagne and snacks while you take a look around.
Would you be tempted to walk in then? Who can say no to free champagne!
The store owner may be spending some money printing those flyers and stocking up on food and drinks but they’ll definitely get more people inside the store and most probably make a few sales and build a relationship with them.
It’s the same concept for your online store, if you don’t put yourself out there and actively promote your store, people won’t find you. The internet is huge and with a large number of competitors, it may be hard to stand out. Learning how to market your store is a skill you can pick up and the results can be life-changing.
While technological knowledge does indeed help you, there are easy and free solutions that help you set things up in place.
Developers can be hired to help you figure things out or you can even outsource the entire website building. Of course, this does cost money and you should take it into consideration before going that way.
There’s a reason WordPress is one of the most popular ways to create a website. The learning curve is extremely easy and the interface is straightforward. The plugin library is extensive and there is something for everything. We’re in an age where tutorials for even the most basic things are available on the internet and with a quick Google search, you’ll be able to figure things out quite simply.
Marketplaces like eBay and Etsy also save you from all the hassle of setting up your own store but they come with fees and others things to be aware of.
One way to prevent overwhelming yourself when you’re just getting started is to pick one method of creating your store, learn about it, practice it, and set up your shop.
It’s easier than ever to start a business online these days and those technological handicaps you fear are pretty easy to overcome.
Keep Learning As You Go!
There are many other things you will have to learn about on your journey into selling online, but let things come as they happen. Learn one thing at a time and you should be fine.
Some people online make things look much harder than they really are in order to sell you their course. (Note that not all marketers are out there to scam and get you, I have taken some legitimate courses that taught me new skills, methods, and ideas)
For example, SEO is a good skill to know but the root of it is to simply understand how Google and other search engines work. Some tutorials may overwhelm you with things like “keyword research” and “keyword density” and other complicated terminology but it all boils down to understanding what your audience is looking for (sensing a recurrent theme here?).
There are plenty of skilled people you can hire to do tasks that are beyond you. Logo designers are aplenty and so are article writers. If you’re considering hiring people for their skills, take it into consideration when you initially plan your budget. Also, most mailing lists charge you a monthly recurring fee that increases with the number of subscribers you have.
This all seems hard! Why should I bother?
No one said it was going to be simple and easy, but those articles you read online are true. People DO make money with their online stores, some of them even make enough to live off of it, but it doesn’t mean that it happened overnight!
It takes a lot of trial and error to figure things out and the first couple of years you may even find yourself barely breaking even, but it’s not impossible.
You should put yourself in a business mindset. Time, hard work, and commitment are crucial for any business. The investment is long-term if you’re planning on creating a brand name for yourself.
With time, these things will start to become so instinctive that you’ll reminisce on those days you couldn’t figure out what an H1 tag means. You will pick up those skills as you go, just don’t give up easily on it.
It may seem scary and overwhelming at first with the number of things you may need to learn and things to think of but it is feasible. If you’re looking to get away from the 9 to 5 or find a way to make additional income, this is one of the best ways to do so in the long term.
With every business comes risk, so take the chance! Be that next person they write a viral article about and lead the life other people only dream of.