How to Create a Small Arts and Craft Business

Three Parts:Planning Your BusinessChoosing the Sales LocationOther Considerations

Turning your artistic ability into a business isn't always the easiest of endeavors. Putting a price to creativity can seem daunting but it is vital if you intend to make money from your art and craft. If you can see yourself in the dual role of creating and selling, running a small arts and craft business may be just what you're looking for by way of an independent source of income.

Part 1
Planning Your Business

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    Start planning. Decide what you're going to make or do. This must be chosen on what you're really good at doing and know that you can continue to reproduce reliably and with a high standard of quality. If this means that you need to take classes, then you'll need to include this in your planning. Things that you might consider making or doing include:
    • Paintings, drawings, sketches, etc.
    • Sewn, stitched, embroidered items such as clothing, toys, miniatures, knitting/crochet, blankets/afghans/throws, quilts, slippers, cushions/pillows, miscellaneous household items, bags, etc.
    • Pottery, ceramic, glassware (including blown glass) and molded items.
    • Leather or pleather items such as bags, wallets, belts, shoes, etc.
    • Paper craft items such as cards, stationery sets, covered boxes, pen holders, origami, etc.
    • Lighting items such as lampshades, light shades, specialist lights, candles, lanterns, etc.
    • Jewelry, beaded items, hair accessories, body art, etc.
    • Grooming/beauty/hygiene items such as soaps, body lotions, face/body cleansers, loofahs, heat pads, bath bombs, gel, etc.
    • Items specific to a particular need, such as pet gear, cake decorating supplies, hair accessories, wall decals, and the like.
    • Baked/cooked items such as candies, chocolates, bread, etc., all with that "artisan" touch or made the "old-fashioned" way.
    • Books (hard cover or ebooks) about your skill.
    • Teaching your skills in any particular art or craft. You could set up class times for teaching others how to make the amazing things you sell.
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    Work out how marketable your products are. If you're already making items, you'll need to assess how sales worthy they actually are. It is one thing to make items suitable for end-of-year gifts for friends and family, who will be polite and love what you do regardless of quality and utility; it is quite another thing to produce items people will actually pay for. You'll need to assess how marketable your art and/or craft items are by checking some of the following things:
    • Is there a current demand for your objects, products, creations or services? How do you know this? Do an online search of such sites as Pinterest, Etsy and eBay to see what is attracting attention and potentially selling well currently.
    • Do a visit to local craft selling stores and art galleries to see what is selling at the moment.
    • How durable, useful, beautiful, unusual, etc., are your creations? Consider who else is competing in your area and whether you're either offering something of greater value or more interest, or whether you're diversifying the field sufficiently for you to capture new areas of the market without being out competed by someone else.
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    Decide where you will make your items. If you don't already have a workshop or space, you'll need one now and it'll have to include some form of storage for your creations. If you don't have storage space, you'll need to consider having some off-site, somewhere secure, dry and easily accessible (and, of course, affordable).
    • Your workshop needs to be kept distinct from your daily household happenings, so that you treat it as a serious business endeavor.
    • Try to work in a place of no to low cost to begin with; you can decide later whether or not it is financially viable to move into a place that costs money to rent.
    • Some places that might be suitable for a workshop space include: A spare room, a treehouse, a cabin, a shed or a mobile home in the yard. Customize the space to how you need it to be.
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    Plan your budget. Everything must come within a budget that is manageable and possible. What start-up funds do you have? Are you borrowing money from family, friends or the bank? Do you already have funds set aside in your own savings? You need to know what solid financial base you're beginning from and then you'll need to know how to reconcile that with your ongoing expenses and paying back borrowed amounts. If you cannot work this part out yourself, get hold of someone who has a great head for numbers and is willing to help you for free at the start (perhaps give them some free creations as payment).
    • Consider getting an accountant early on, to assist you with the financial aspects and to stay on top of things.

Part 2
Choosing the Sales Location

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    Decide where you'd like to run your small arts and craft business. This could be done from home, with a small room, workshop or stall dedicated to a retail business. You would need to comply with local laws regarding sales in a residential area and some places won't allow this, while in others, it might be the norm (such as a country town or a farm). If you wanted a standalone shop, you'd need to find one that is affordable. Some other options include:
    • For a beginner, it is often best to find a store that acts as a consignment or cooperative sales place for many artists selling their wares; this keeps down the costs for you and broadens the shopper base as shoppers are attracted by the wide variety of goods on offer.
    • You could sell your items online rather than in a physical space, using sites such as Etsy or eBay, or opening your own standalone shop site.
    • You could sell items at a regular market stall or at specialist art and craft markets/fairs that aren't as regular but are a big deal when they are held. You'd need to include transport and stall table/banners/covers/shelter requirements as part of your market planning.

Part 3
Other Considerations

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    Consider whether you'll sell alone or with others. If you can manage creating and selling in the time you have available, then you can do it alone, at least at the outset. However, if you find that the sales eat into your creating time or that you have such a large volume of sales that you can't do this alone, then you'll need helpers. Options include:
    • Hire some friends to help you. This step is optional. If you do want to have some people working, ask them and if they want to be paid pay them a bit of the profit made.
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    Consider what tie-ins you'll produce. For example, you may wish to run an email list for interested buyers and regularly update them with new products, stories about your craft journey and perhaps link to a regularly updated blog related to your art and craft business. Remember that this will add time to your work but it is often an excellent, non-intrusive and useful form of marketing that readers love, especially when given the choice of reading your blog in their own time and way. Always be ready to answer comments or questions whenever you use interactive media to promote your sales.


  • Make sure you make a lot of the items, as people may want to buy more than one of it, especially if it is clothes or knitted items.
  • You need to be financially literate as well as creative. The two are not mutually exclusive but if numbers do your head in, just get help and stop sweating it. People have strengths in different areas, and that is perfectly fine. Just team up with the right people.


  • Running a business is very different from making things for friends and family. Be prepared to have to do market research and to adapt your productions to suit what people are asking for, not necessarily what you want them to buy.

Article Info

Categories: Buying & Forming a Business | Selling Arts and Crafts