Last year saw a massive rise in popularity of people learning a new craft. This was mostly due to us all being stuck in the house with nothing to do during Lockdown!
Some people have made the decision to go one step further with their new skill, and start a business with it. For some people, this has become a necessity due to losing their jobs as a result of the Pandemic.
One of the most important things that needs to be considered when starting a craft business is whether the craft you have chosen is profitable enough for you to make a living from it.
In this article, I will go through the most profitable crafts to sell in 2021. I will also give you some advice on how to make your craft business more profitable where possible.
You may have been to a craft fair in the past where there have been stalls selling items at a ridiculously low price. More often than not, their stall looks more ‘natural’ rather than a professional set up . These tend not to be businesses. They are usually people who just like doing it for a hobby and fancied a day out. These types of stalls drive me mad to be honest with you as they don’t charge enough for their products which has a knock on effect on other traders.
What is Profit?
Profit is what income is left after you have deducted ALL of your costs. You have to work out what your profit is for everything you make. This is so important as firstly it will tell you if you are actually making any profit. If you aren’t, you need to either change the way you are working, or find a new niche that will give you a profit.
When working out your profit on an item there are a number of things you have to factor in.
I will use one of my own products as an example-a dog collar.
I have to pay for the hardware to make the collar (the webbing, buckle, ribbon etc). this comes to £1.40 for everything I need.
It takes me 10 minutes to make. Theoretically, I pay myself £10 an hour so that is £2.00 labour
I add on 50p for things like electricity for the sewing machine, cotton thread and a small extra piece of ribbon I add to the collar. This figure is probably slightly overestimated, but it is better this way than to underestimate.
I charge the customer for postage and packaging so I don’t need to add anything on for that.
My total costs to make a dog collar is £3.90. I sell them for a minimum of £8.00, depending on size, so I make a minimum of £4.10 profit on each collar that I sell.
My profit used to be a lot less than this when I first started out as I wasn’t knowledgeable enough on how to find the best prices for my supplies. Plus, I wasn’t charging enough for my products.
The key to making a profit is to make sure you have the best possible prices for what you need to make that product. This will sometimes mean having to buy things in bulk, but that is how you get the best prices. You also have to be pricing your items correctly. Selling handmade items too cheaply can sometimes have a detrimental effect as people could think they are of a lesser quality.
What are the Most Profitable Crafts in 2021?
There are 2 things to consider when looking at what the most profitable crafts are for the year; the type of craft, and also what type of industries are always the most popular where you could create something.
RELATED ARTICLE: BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CHOOSING A CREATIVE NICHE
The most popular craft related industries tend to be more or less the same each year:
- Home decor
- Parent and/or child
- Celebrations, eg, birthdays
What sells well on Etsy?
Etsy is used by millions of people around the world, both as sellers and as buyers. I have 2 shops on Etsy; DOG CHARMED which sells handmade dog accessories, and DOG COTTON’S FABRICS which is a supply shop selling fabrics.
Dog Charmed has been on Etsy since 2017, although I didn’t start taking it seriously until 2019. I am in the top 1% of all Etsy sellers with this shop, and, as of now, have had over 5700 sales worldwide.
Dog Cotton’s was only opened at the very end of 2020, so as of now it’s only 4 months old. It has made over 250 sales which is great for a new shop.
I have had a look at the top 100 worldwide Etsy shops to see what each shop sells. The information is from ERANK and it is based on the number of sales a shop has had. This isn’t 100% accurate as a few of the shops have closed down, but it will still give you a good idea of what type of shops do well.
Out of the 100 shops, 33 of them sell craft supplies and tools, rather than the finished article itself, eg, fabrics, beads etc.
21 shops sell paper and party supplies; greetings cards, party invites, stickers, planners etc.
11 shops are jewellery shops.
9 shops come under the Home and Living section which is anything from candles to seeds for your garden.
6 shops are wedding related.
The remaining 18 shops covered art and collectibles, bath and beauty, accessories, clothing and phone cases.
Out of the 100 shops, 3 didn’t seem to be open anymore.
The top selling shop across the whole of Etsy is based in America and sells stickers for things like planners and journals.
In the UK, the top selling shop sells jewellery charms and beads. Second is a shop that sells wedding and baby shower supplies and gifts (a lot of which can be personalised), followed by a sticker shop.
The most profitable crafts to sell are the ones that cost less to produce (lower cost of materials), and aren’t too time consuming to make. This doesn’t necessarily mean that some crafts are not worth taking a risk on. You have to research your suppliers for the best prices to bring your costs down. There are also ways of working smarter to speed up the production times. There could also be an opportunity to pivot your business in some way. I did this with my 2 businesses. It is a lot more economical to buy my fabric in bulk, but unless I’m making bandanas for horses, it’s a lot of fabric for a dog accessories business, so I decided to open a fabric shop as well. This works perfectly for me as I pay once for my fabric but sell it to 2 totally different markets.
Understandably, the most profitable crafts to sell also tend to be the most popular crafts on sale. This means there is more competition out there. If you have a unique twist to a popular type of craft, you could be on to a winner.
Top 10 Most Profitable Crafts to Sell in 2021.
1 – PRINTABLES.
These can take many forms- planners, calendars, invites, colouring pages for both adults and children, business trackers, art work etc.
They can work in 2 ways. If selling online, they can be sold as a downloadable PDF. This way makes it the most profitable way by a mile. Once you have created your product, you don’t need to do much else apart from promote it. You just upload your product to your selling platform, and then when someone buys it, it automatically downloads to the customer.
If selling offline, you will obviously need to do the printing yourself before an event so you will need a decent printer for this. It will also use a fair bit of ink if printing a lot of things, as well as paper or card.
I would personally just stick to online with this as it keeps the costs right down. A lot of things can be designed on platforms like Canva for free. If you are a professional designer, you might be already working with something like Adobe, which can be quite expensive, but worth it in the long run.
For those of you who are complete novices at printables, Suzi, from STARTAMOMBLOG has a brilliant course called PRINTABLES BY NUMBER which is worth having a look at (that is an affiliate link which means if you were to sign up, I would get a small commission at no extra cost to yourself). She also has a brilliant free course all about setting up a blog!
2 – JEWELLERY.
An extremely popular form of craft, as there are so many different styles, as well as different occasions to make jewellery for. Beaded or charm jewellery can be very profitable if you find a good supplier. The quality needs to be just as good as the price.
You will usually see multiple jewellery sellers at most events. A good event organiser will make sure there is a varied selection of different types of jewllery on sale.
3 – CARDS AND INVITES.
Greetings cards are always very popular, and the quirkier the better! There is a website called PRINTED.COM where you can send them your designs and have them made into many different things. Cards being one of them. You choose the size and quality of card etc.
Invites, especially personalised ones, are very popular on platforms like Etsy, where the customer just downloads them once they have approved the design.
4 – SEWING CRAFTS.
There are so many different niches to choose from! A hugely popular one over the past 12 months has been face masks, for obvious reasons. Anything that can be personalised always sells well online. If selling at an event, it’s very common to take orders for anything personalised and post to the customer when ready.
5 – ARTWORK.
Like with sewing, there are many different niches to choose from. When I have seen artists at events, they tend to specialise in a certain niche. For example, at a dog show, you will see artists who can take commissions for pet portraits.
6 – CROCHET.
Crochet falls under the needlework niche, along with knitting and cross stitch. The reason why I have included crochet as one of the most profitable crafts this year is because it is the quickest of the needlework niches, and it has grown massively in popularity over the past few years.
7 – ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS.
This is a niche you don’t tend to see much in articles like this, but it is a really good craft for making a profit with. The flowers can easily be bought wholesale which brings the price right down. They can be used for many different things as well-artwork, wreaths, traditional bouquets and arrangements etc. I have seen gorgeous arrangements that are a bit quirkier which have been in things like colanders or lovely wooden boxes that make really lovely ‘new home’ gifts.
8 – STICKERS.
This just had to be in the top 10 as stickers account for quite a few of the top selling Etsy shops for the past 2 years.
Journals and planners are really popular at the moment. All of the successful sticker shops cater for people who love this hobby. Obviously a good printer is needed here, but once you have your designs sorted out, it’s just a case of print and then post!
9 – HAIR ACCESSORIES.
Children’s hair accessories are always popular, and they are very cheap to make as they mostly consist of ribbon. Being able to personalise or make colours to go with school uniforms are a real bonus here.
10 – PHOTOGRAPHY.
If you have a talent for taking a good photo, you have lots of options for what to do with them. One of my favourite ever stalls I have seen at an event was at a dog show. A photographer was taking photos of the moment just as a dog is about to eat a treat that has been thrown to him/her by the photographer. It was absolute genius! The photos were hilarious and she was so busy all day. This is something that can only be sold offline rather than online.
It is possible to increase your profit margins for all of the above niches by pivoting your business.
For those of you who can only think of Ross from Friends when you hear the word ‘pivot’, I will explain…
To pivot in business means to change your strategy to attract a new target customer base. It doesn’t mean you have to stop what you are doing and start something new. In the Olden Days, it used to be called Diversification. I like to think of it as multi tasking to grow my business.
I am going to give you that top 10 again, but this time with an idea of how you can pivot (or diversify) to attract more customers and make more profit.
1 – PRINTABLES.
Design printables tailored towards children-colouring pages, behaviour charts, pocket money charts etc. Letters to (and from) Santa would be great from September-December.
2 – JEWELLERY.
The obvious one here is to sell supplies as well. Buying in bulk will give you better prices so sell some of the extra stock you have. Aside from this, you could start catering for children, or design a wedding range etc.
3 – CARDS AND INVITES. You could go uber quirky with your cards with ones from the dog etc. You could also look at making some of your most popular card designs into artwork. If you don’t already have a wedding range, think about Save The Date cards etc.
4 – SEWING CRAFTS. Sewing is such a broad subject anyway that it is quite easy to pick something else you fancy doing as well. I would always try and keep it cohesive if selling together. If you are planning on keeping them separate then you can do whatever you fancy!
You also have the option of selling any spare fabric as well. There is a massive market for fabric scraps on Etsy for crafters who do things like patchwork projects.
5 – ARTWORK.
As well as selling your artwork as an original piece, you could produce more of them by making posters or greetings cards with your work.
6 – CROCHET.
If you are a total Crochet Ninja you would benefit greatly from having a go at designing your own patterns to sell online as PDF’s. Websites like Ravelry are a great platform, and Etsy is also a really good place to sell patterns.
7 – ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS.
There are many things you can do with artificial flowers if you use your imagination. If you keep your niche to artificial flowers, you could have a really eclectic range of items, but all with the floral theme. Another possibility would be to make tutorials on how to make a display and charge for it!
8 – STICKERS.
The most popular stickers seem to be the ones to go in planners and journals. Have a look at stickers for children. I know teachers are always looking for good stickers for their pupils.
9 – HAIR ACCESSORIES.
Ribbon can be very cheap when bought in bulk so you could look at selling ribbon as a supply. You could also look into things like hairbands or head scarves for people who have lost their hair due to cancer.
10 – PHOTOGRAPHY.
Your original image can be printed off into posters or cards. You can even sell the images online to stock photo websites. If you think back to the photographer who takes the pictures of the dogs about to eat a treat, I would ask the dog owner’s permission to use the image for greetings cards. Dog Mums and Dads are always very proud if their dog gets to be a model for the day!
Photography tutorials are always popular, especially for things like how to take a good product photo.
You see, every single niche in the top 10 has another potential business strand to it. If there is potential there to make more profit with your craft, then you should take full advantage of it.
OTHER CRAFTS THAT CAN MAKE A PROFIT.
There are, of course, many other profitable crafts out there. Anything vinyl personalised seems to be very popular at the moment, as does upcycling all sorts of things, both big and small.
If you have a decent craft fair or an artisan market local to you, go and have a look around. See what stalls are popular, and what is selling well on those stalls (without frightening the stallholder by hovering round like a bit of a weirdo).
One Last Thing…
This is the biggest mistake a lot of small businesses that sell online always make. You spend ages getting your costs down and pricing everything correctly, only to bugger it all up by messing up on the postage costs!!
Postage costs isn’t a guessing game. You need to weigh your products and see exactly how much it is going to cost to post. You then need to add your packaging costs in. You also need to work out how much extra to charge the customer if they order more than one product (I have been caught out with this in the past), as it could put you into the next weight bracket. Don’t forget to look at the different postage zones around the world so the postage is correct for any international orders as well.
Don’t stress about the people that offer ‘free’ postage. It definitely isn’t free. They have just factored the postage and packaging costs into the price of their product, or they haven’t read this post and have completely messed up any profit they were planning on making. Customers will pay for postage if they want the product enough, as long as you are charging a fair price and not trying to grab a few extra pounds here and there.
If you are selling on Etsy, they will put the pressure on you constantly to offer free shipping. I ignore it. I’m not a charity. One of Etsy’s tricks to tempt you into offering free shipping is to take a percentage of what the customer pays you for postage! I am still outraged about this and it came into effect a few years ago!