Selling Homemade: How To Make Money From Your Creative Hobbies

Selling Homemade: How To Make Money From Your Creative Hobbies

Those who like to do handicrafts, make jewelry or are creative in another way usually want the works and products created in the process to be seen and appreciated. Traditional sales channels such as street markets, flea markets, or the corner shop can still be sensible options today to sell your handicrafts. But the Internet, in particular, offers a multitude of opportunities to present and sell self-made products: from unique handicraft platforms such as Etsy and online marketplaces such as Amazon Handmade to social media and easy-to-set websites with an online shop.

Find out more about the most critical ways even beginners can sell homemade products online.

Basic questions

If you want to sell homemade things, you should consider which online and offline sales channels and platforms best suit you and your products. It would be best if you asked yourself the following questions:

  • How many people can I reach with a particular sales channel?
  • What does this distribution channel cost me (effort, listing fees, commissions)?
  • How much time do my sales activities take?
  • How much do I want to earn?
  • And finally: Do I still enjoy my hobby even if I do it professionally?

They were selling homemade online – the pros and cons.

The Internet offers many opportunities to find buyers for a wide variety of things – worldwide. But it is not always necessary to go online with your products. Especially those who sell handmade items should also feel at home in the “real world.” Street markets, flea markets, the corner shop – and wholesalers for larger quantities – often offer excellent opportunities to present your products to an interested public. What are the pros and cons of selling online and offline, respectively?

Differences between selling homemade items online and offline

Traditional sales in shops and on street markets as well as online sales demand resources from the seller, above all in the form of time and money: In the first case, money for the presence on-site (e.g., stand fees) and time for the corresponding sales – and discussions with customers. In the case of online sales, the sellers need time to provide information and maintain the relevant platforms; for the posting of homemade goods on online marketplaces, commissions or monthly fees are usually charged. Both types of sales also require that one deal with customers’ wishes on the one hand and with the competition on the other. 

Online sales: beginner-friendly, with its own rules

There are several good reasons why online trading has increased significantly in recent years, regardless of crises or other external influences. Selling handicrafts online is a cheaper, faster, and comparatively easy way to address many potential customers. For those who are already well on the market offline with their self-made products, online activities offer new opportunities to open up new groups of buyers. The key to success is understanding how sales decisions are made in the online world – and based on this, giving customers the information they need to make their decisions.

The following ten points should be noted in this context:

  • The more correct and precise information about a product, the greater the buyer’s confidence – and the more likely it is to be bought. 
  • The more specific and personal information you reveal about yourself as a seller, the more likely you will be trusted and have better customer loyalty.
  • Solid and well-known brands stand for reliability and security. This is one reason why many people, despite some criticism from “online giants” such as e. B. Buy Amazon.
  • Personal advice is also essential on the Internet: Be “tangible” and allow customers to ask questions about the product. Answer them as soon as possible.
  • Build a fan base, invite your regular offline customers to follow you online.
  • Communicate your successes: the more people trust your products, the more trust you will be shown. Make sure you have a certain degree of exclusivity with homemade items.
  • Look for good reviews in online forums. Some reasonable goodwill and flexibility may be better than insisting on your rights at any cost.
  • Get to know your online customers, for example, through analysis tools such as Google Analytics.
  • Also, try to get recommendations from customers online.
  • Try to control your sales channels as best you can. With your website or your online shop, you can secure a certain degree of independence from online marketplaces and their conditions.

You can find detailed information on this topic in our article Selling Products Online: 5 Steps to a Successful Internet Business.

Easy entry: Selling homemade items via online marketplaces

Online platforms are the easiest way to sell handmade items quickly and with little effort. The world’s best-known online marketplace for creative entrepreneurs, arts and crafts, jewelry, and handicrafts is Etsy. For a symbolic listing fee of less than 20 euro cents and commissions per item sold, “millions of buyers in Germany and “worldwide can be addressed.

However, the disadvantage of significant online marketplaces is that the competition can be extreme in certain areas. For this reason, you should consider testing several platforms at the beginning and then relying on those with which you are successful. When it comes to selling homemade things, you should take a closer look at the following online platforms:

  • Etsy – arguably the world’s largest marketplace for creative entrepreneurs and handicrafts
  • Amazon Handmade – Amazon’s handicraft division
  • Storenvy – an online marketplace with plenty of room for your shop ideas
  • Productswithlove.de – for regional products, focused on the DACH region
  • Fairmont – especially interesting for fair trade and organic products

You can find detailed information about these and other online marketplaces for homemade and handicrafts in the article Etsy Alternatives: You Can Sell Here. General information about Germany’s most critical sales platforms can be found in the article Selling online: Germany’s eight best online marketplaces.

Social media as a success factor

Initially, social media like Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest weren’t made to sell things. Even so, this works very well in many cases. So good that Facebook, for example, has set up its marketplace for classified ads. Facebook also offers the option of setting up your shop to present your products on Facebook and Instagram. The sale can then also be completed through your website.

In principle, social media should be viewed as an information and communication hub rather than a sales platform, although they can play a decisive role in initiating business: They are an excellent means of gaining awareness, keeping in contact with regular customers, building a fan base and to provide them with the latest information.

When using social media to sell self-made things, it is crucial that you do not violate the rules of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram & Co., but learn to use their mechanisms and functions successfully for yourself. How many people see your posts depends primarily on the algorithms of the respective medium. Good content and a large fan base are essential to reach as many people as possible with your messages. When it comes to selling products directly on social media, there is no getting around paid advertising in many cases. This is usually cheap, and the target group can generally be narrowed down according to areas of interest.

It is ideal for retailers and producers if sales are initiated via social media, but the actual sale occurs via their website. In this way, the retailer or producer retains control over the customer data and can address customers via other channels in compliance with the relevant data protection regulations.

Your website – your shop: The basis for maximum independence

If you want to test whether your homemade products are popular on the Internet, you will be able to get by with online marketplaces and your own social media pages at the beginning. However, if you plan to sell homemade online regularly, you cannot avoid having your website (preferably with your online shop). When selling self-made handicrafts, jewelry or handicrafts, a separate Internet presence is required, among other things. Of central importance to you for the following reasons:

  • Your website is your business card, image brochure, and sales platform in one.
  • You alone determine the appearance and content on your website and in your online shop.
  • They act independently of the frequently changing terms and conditions of large platforms.
  • Your website is the basis for controlling all your Internet activities.
  • With direct sales via the online shop on your website, you do not pay any commissions to the major platforms – your earnings belong 100 percent to you.
  • You can link directly to your website and online shop via social media.

Creating your website with an online shop is no longer a significant challenge. With good website builders, you can design your website quickly, inexpensively, and without any knowledge of web design or programming. You choose your Internet address for your website and then select a design template that suits you. You can then quickly and easily design your website based on this template. Good providers of website construction kits have extensive online shop templates and functions available for this purpose.

How much can I sell without registering a business?

Anyone self-employed in Germany and who operates commercially must also register a business. Contrary to what some might think, there are no allowances here. So if you want to regularly sell self-knitted sweaters, carved figures, or pottery vases online, you also have to register a business. This also applies if you offer services. The legislature then speaks of commercial activity. The following factors talk (according to the Income Tax Act) in favor of commercialism.

  • Independence: You do not act on behalf of others but determine your work yourself.
  • Duration: You perform once and want to sell homemade online regularly.
  • Intention to make a profit: You want to claim a profit for yourself by selling your goods.
  • Participation in economic life: everyone can see and purchase your goods.

Exceptions only apply to the liberal professions (doctors, journalists, architects, …) and so-called primary production (agriculture and forestry).

However, the small business regulation is not influenced by the business registration. Anyone who made less than 22,000 euros in sales with their business in the previous year and probably not more than 50,000 euros in sales in the current year will receive bureaucratic relief (as of June 2021). Above all, the sales tax liability and the sales tax advance notification are no longer applicable for small businesses.

How do I register a small business?

A small logging business is simple and is often already online. To do this, contact your local trade registration office. On the one hand, this specifies the fees (usually between 15 and 60 euros processing fees) and sets the form in which you have to register (online, by post, on-site). It does not matter whether you write a small business or a “normal” trade. The process is always the same. Certificates are required for some professions, but smaller craftwork should not be the case.

If you have registered with the trade office, this will pass the information on to other places. The tax office will contact you to assign a tax number to your business, and associations like IHK or HWK will also take up your business. If you only sell your self-made items on a small scale, i.e., generate only a tiny amount of sales, the latter should not incur additional costs, as both associations grant tax exemptions. However, you should urgently find out about possible prices from the branch responsible for you in advance. As a small business, there is no need to enter the commercial register.

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