A Guide to Setting up a Handmade Business

Choosing what to sell

As a crafter, it’s been a pretty easy decision to choose what to sell. I started with baby bibs, as I was already making them for my youngest daughter at the time of wanting to work for myself, and now I am happily making pieces of jewellery, keyrings and charms. I’m not going to sit here and tell you what to make to sell, or where you can buy products to sell. The best advice to give is that you should make what you enjoy making and sell products you would a) buy yourself; b) you are passionate about.

If you do decide to go down the route of buying wholesale quantities of products, to then sell at a retail price, depending on where you have purchased them from, you will need to allow for some of the products to potentially have faults depending on the item and also allow time for getting from the wholesaler to yourself. I would highly recommend ensuring that you have a strong relationship with your wholesaler and keep in good communication with them. Also, only advertise products as being in stock if you have the item already. Speaking from personal experience after buying from another small business in the past, you don’t want to be faced with 10 orders for a product that hasn’t arrived with you yet, because your supplier is on holiday!Legalities

Ce Testing

If you’re selling items made to be worn by infants, toys or many other items, you should check what CE requirements and safety testing is needed to be carried out in order to start selling. You want your products to be as safe as possible at all times. Should you be concerned your products don’t meet the criteria for selling then send them off and pay for a professional to test them for you – there will most likely be a fee required to carry out safety checks externally.

Registering as self-employed

Registering as self-employed is scarier than it sounds! I thought I’d somehow be hit with a huge tax bill and it terrified me. You should register as self-employed, so that HMRC know you need to pay tax through self-assessment and pay Class 2 and 4 National Insurance contributions (this is optional). To register, go to the government’s website, it doesn’t take long either, all you need is your personal details and your National Insurance number.

Insurance

You should look into getting public liability insurance. This will ensure that you will be covered should anything ever go wrong. Depending on your business, where your business is based and countries you may sell to, will depend on the type and level of insurance you need.Naming your business

When I thought up the names for my businesses, I took inspiration from my youngest daughter’s name. You don’t have to do this, you can come up with whatever you like the sounds of. Be sure to check the Intellectual Property Office that the business name you have chosen isn’t registered to someone else – otherwise you can’t have that name as it 100% won’t belong to you.

Once you have your name you can then head over to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to create your social pages, they’ll be useful when it comes to advertising.

Branding

Making a logo is the main thing to focus on in the beginning. Once you have your logo, you’ll find you’ve probably chosen to go with a few colours, which you can then use to incorporate into your web banners, headers, business cards etc.

A website I use for creating logos, web banners, headers and images for advertising is Canva – I find this so simple to use and they also have a mobile app, so you can create on the go! You can also contact a fellow small business that creates logos and social images too.

Once you’ve settled on a logo and everything else, you can make business cards. Personally, I recommend making them yourself to begin with as this will save costs. But a website I found that’s excellent quality and also really affordable is Instant Print. Before buying business cards though, think about if you really need them to begin with or not.How and where to sell

Ecommerce

I found a list of ecommerce sites: Shopify, Wix, Tictail, Big Cartel and Squarespace, to name a few. I settled on Shopify as it seemed to be in the middle cost-wise and after trialling it for 14 days, it seemed to be the best fit for me. There are built in guides when setting up your store, as I’m sure any other site has too.
I also went over to GoDaddy and purchased a domain, this isn’t vital, but I like that it gives my business a more professional touch.

Etsy

Another great place to sell is Etsy. It can be a bit daunting for a new business just starting up as there’s so many well established, and more than likely similar businesses on there already.

Well, here are some pros of opening up an Etsy store instead of flying solo:

People often trust Etsy shops a lot more than websites that have just cropped up and aren’t well known

A lot of people use Etsy, this means your products will be seen – although it may take a while for your first sale

The shop itself is super easy to set up

You don’t necessarily need your own domain

The set-up of my Etsy store was super quick, easy and pain free. Once you have set up your account and entered all of your personal and payment details, you can choose your shop name, add any logos and imagery to your shop. After that you can pop up your first product!

Posting your products to Etsy

You upload and name your product, select options as to who made it and when, add your price and description, product tags, quantities and select your shipping option – then you’re good to go!

With product tags, I found I didn’t really get the right tags until I had my shop open for a little while. I clicked on the “Stats” tab and figured out for myself to use the most common search terms as my new tags! Since then, my shop and product views and sales have boosted a fair amount.

Pricing

I somehow managed to completely miss talking about pricing, which is obviously SO important!
A nice and easy one to figure out is postage costs, so the cost of a stamp plus any packaging costs should you wish to add them onto the postage cost.
I found it worked better for me to add the postage cost onto the price of the bibs, but it’s personal preference – you may decide to offer free shipping, it’s whatever works for you.
To help work out the cost of your packaging, let’s say for example that you purchase your packaging in bulk at a wholesale price. You then will divide the price you paid by the quantity for example: £5 for 100 boxes = 5p per box.
When pricing the bibs, I had to think about the cost of the all of the fabric and the fastenings. I could’ve also added the cost of the thread used, the electric for using the sewing machine and also my time. But I didn’t, although adding the cost of your time is important, more so when you’re well established though I’d say!
So, a similar example to the postage, for the bibs I would figure out how many bibs I could make out of each metre of fabric that I purchased. Then divide the price I paid for the fabric by the number of bibs it would make.

Advertising

Advertising can be a bit scary at first – how will you get your products seen when there’s so many businesses making and selling them same?! I will be focussing on Instagram advertising

A lot of new mummies spend a lot of time showing off their little ones on Instagram, so for me this was a no brainer!
After creating my Instagram page and uploading a logo, I began following new and pregnant mummies – anyone who I thought could do with some bibs really!
I’m not saying it was easy, not at all. It was tough. It was disheartening when people would follow to unfollow, I even had “brand reps” from other small businesses who make bibs – message me telling me I couldn’t make bibs as someone else was! It’s a tough place to be and it made me gain a thicker skin and fast!
There are on the other hand many, many small business owners and supporters on Instagram – so you have to learn to ignore the unsupportive people really!

Brand Reps

Before officially opening my shop, I hyped it up over on Instagram, released discount codes to get those first few sales (it’s not really necessary though!) and advertised for brand reps myself.
In brief, brand reps are people you reach out to, to get their help to promote your brand! You can offer them a personalised discount code for themselves – and a code for their followers too, in return for them to promote on a weekly/daily basis, depending on what your terms are!

#Hashtags

I found a website that I could find out which hashtags would work best for my products and it gives you the most used/searched for tags.

Friends and Family

I was very lucky to have a few friends and family members willing to help share my posts on Instagram and Facebook. Some of them even purchased some bibs as gifts for people. Word of mouth is just as important as gaining a presence on social media. People want to see your products being used. Luckily, as Lilly was still wearing bibs, I also made some for Lilly, to take photos and share them on social media, which I found was a great help!

Overview

So, as an overview, things to take note of so you can get started are:
Knowing what to sell
CE/Safety testing
Registering as Self Employed
Insurance
Naming your business
Branding
Choosing where to sell
Pricing your products
Advertising on Instagram

I hope this helps you with setting up a business of your own and I hope you have enjoyed reading my little guide to setting up a handmade business!

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