Tips for Selling Crafts: Through Hard Earned Lessons

Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

Mikey, The Crochet Crowd

I am Michael Sellick, known online as 'Mikey', I am the founder and leader of The Crochet Crowd. I'm a 'hooker' at heart with the passion to crochet and play with yarn.

25 thoughts on “Tips for Selling Crafts: Through Hard Earned Lessons

  • September 16, 2014 at 5:57 pm
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    I, have a show coming up, my first. I love all your tips, and I will use them. The way I look at it, lf it doesn’t sale. I will bring it home and give it as Christmas gifts. I crochet mostly. I’ve taken three blue ribbons on my Afghan, scarf and wreaths at the Genesee County Fair this year. I’ve put a lot of time and money into my crafts, I’m not giving it away. I vote ” Bang On “

  • July 9, 2013 at 11:31 am
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    Thank you for the ideas. I have realized the same issues as a crafter of knit and crochet items. I looked for yarn sales and close-outs on different colors for scarfs and hats. Pricing is difficult when certain fairs claim limited types of vendors and then they bring other items to sell which is what I am selling. The vendor owners do not confirm that these items were not approved for this specific vendor. I look for unique patterns to also help.

  • July 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm
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    I really appreciated your article. I went thru the same thing you did and finally quit doing craft fairs. I finally realized that crafters would carefully look at your item so they could go home and make it themselves. On the other hand, non-crafters have no idea the amount of time and material that it took to make it, and wanted it for practically nothing and would get quite rude if you didn’t comply. Since then, I still do all my crocheting, quilting, and crafting that I enjoy and I give it away as gifts or donate to some worthy charity. I get satisfaction out of giving and gave up on making money from my crafts.

  • July 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm
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    Silly question, but do you have any bracelets left?? Are these the crocheted brackets like your tutorial?? Have you tried posting them on Etsy at all??

  • July 6, 2013 at 11:27 am
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    Excuse my typos I’m sing an iPad

  • July 6, 2013 at 11:25 am
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    I did a winter festival with my photography and had 11×16 prints that were matted and clear bagged for 30.00 each and no one bought them although I had lots of compliments…someone suggested I have larger prints to go over a fireplace but they don’t realize it would cost me over 150.00 to have the. Photo blown up then about that much to get it matted and more for the clear bag which is not cost effective nor can you have the choices. I didn’t make any sales at that Venus so I went the route of consignment stored and gave the owner who was my friend about 300 worth of my photography all matted and put in clear bags in various sizes and she only gave me 3.00 for one photo and the rest she now claims is her property in the store because they did not sell and I cannot have them back. So I am out all those pictures. I did a display at a library hoping that would give me exposure and while the library said their was a huge response and everyone loved my work I still did not get a sale. So now I have tons of photography prints sitting in a dresser. I now my work is great but I am worn out emotionally. Hoping that I can figure out a solution because I have student loans I need to pay off. I cannot do the large craft shows I only have 100 a month to spend on my craft. I have thought about selling my crochet items instead of photography but with arthritis in my hands I cannot produce large quantities so I struggle with finding the balance between crochet and photography.

  • July 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm
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    great info, I havent done markets for a while but had never thought of using a stool ( cant stand for long periods) I had one lady that tried to lower my already discounted price of an original designed and appliqued childs hat. She came back at the end and again tried to get me to lower my price. I thanked her and said no thanks. All items I had not sold were donated to charity after I gave up markets, there was no way I was giving it away to someone dressed in designer clothes.at the market.

  • July 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm
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    I did this for four years! I maybe made enough to buy mor supplies. Fact is you absolutely right, you can’t compete with china. But it was fun and I miss it all the time. Would I do it again, oh heck yea. Also my best venues were art shows.

  • July 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm
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    I am considering selling my crafts. Some of the items that I have decided to make are time consuming and may not sell at a price to break even. Therefore, I have decided to give the items that do not sell as gifts or to donate them to a charitable cause. I try to recycle items to lower my production cost. I plan to use my surplus of supplies that I have acquired over the years to offset my costs. I enjoy crafting so I do not mind the time needed to make items. I am not planning on selling crafts as a living but extra income is definitely a plus these days.

  • July 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm
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    Thanks for the info!! I think I’m still too intimidated to actually try to sell things I make… Although, I’m considering it a lot lately to help support my crafting addiction 😉 I, too, LOVE a lot of color… and bold colors… Thanks for pointing out that most people like the boring colors… you’re right… that’s what I normally see on people…, but I would’ve made bright things lol… just because I like it and it’s so pretty! I don’t know if I would like making boring, plain things, though… hmm… You’ve given me a lot to consider! Thank you so very much!

  • July 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm
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    Excellent, excellent information! I’ve made items for craft sales for many years (30?), and have learned a lot of the lessons you mentioned. I often stand up at a sale, usually while working on an item I plan to sell. If folks look at me when I say “Hello”, they will usually stop to see what I’m making (“You can crochet standing up?!”) and look at my merchandise instead of just walking by because I’ve made it interesting. I’ve also had the experience of people asking me for the pattern for the items I have for sale, because they’d like to make their own! I don’t bother to be angry about that any more, but just wonder at “the nerve of SOME people”! Pricing has always been a stickler for me, because there is no way in a primarily small town and rural area to sell some things if you charge even a 50 cents per hour of work on a fun, but labor intensive item! People who don’t knit or crochet don’t have any idea how much work is involved in making some items, especially if they can buy something similar, but not handmade, from China! I think many crafters will benefit from the information you’ve provided here. Thank you!

  • July 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm
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    Great info!

  • July 5, 2013 at 12:12 pm
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    I have had issues selling as well.

    I make Amigurumi, most popularly small green monsters that are Cthulhu like. Depending on if its sold threw the physical store that gives me a little shelf space or online the price is different. In store its $10 online its $15– why the price difference? Packaging, shipping cost almost $5 depending on how far away I have to ship. I have gotten complaints that the ‘toys’ are to small to be worth $10/15 and I am always polite and offer a 100% refund if they want to return it (no one has ever took me up on the return) which means I would loses out on shipping twice if it was mailed.

    I actually talked with one of the ladys who was in the store at the same time I was, and over heard her telling the owner that my Amigurumi where way over priced, and I explained why I price like I do.

    I don’t get whole sale prices on my material, but I do factor out how much it cost per foot of yarn that I am working with and how much I used into the price. I total up how long it took me start to finish to make the project, most are roughly 6 hours, if its a patter I know well it can some times go faster, if its a complex patter or has a lot of pieces that need to be crochet then attached those can take 8-10 hours. What this lady wanted to by was a Dalmation that I had hand felted spots onto, she said it looked like the dog she had growing up but the toy was so small she didnt think it was worth $10, when I told her from start to finish that Dalmatian took me roughly 12 hours (I put in 98 spots) and all the work that when into make it she seemed shocked, she actually over paid me ($20) she didn’t realize that it was a one of a kind hand crafted item she had just assumed it was poorly made with the cheapest quality material and that is what alot of people think. So I had some info cards printed up to ‘inform’ people about the process and work put into making the items I make.

    Now I also have people telling me I need to up my prices, that I should sell for $15-20 instead. I would love to do that I am just happy crafting, so long as I can make my money back on materials and have a small profit I am happy. I price depending on how much I would pay, and I am a penny pinching stingy old bat. I have found that at conventions more people overpay for my items telling me to keep the change, it always surprises me and I know then that item will be treasured and it makes me happy, but I am just as happy to not sell to someone who offers me $5 for something marked over $10 because I know if I let them have it, it will not be a treasure to them but just cheap junk.

    So in the end, what I learned-
    1. Know your material costs
    2. Decide what your time is worth
    3. Know your market (if you need to inform them have a pamphlet/flyer/sign or business cards)
    4. Know how much you (or a good friend who is penny pincher) would at top dollar pay

    I also learned that even if my items didnt sell at 10 I would just keep them, and still keep making them because it makes me happy. I have actually give quite a few toys away to kids for free because I could see their eyes light up the second they saw them, and the look on their parents faces usaly read ‘I am not paying $10 for that.’ One of the times I gave one way the kids Dad brought him back thinking he stole it while he was at the shop with his mom, I explained I saw how much he loved the toy and knew he would treat it right so I gave it to him. The dad thanked me, and a few days latter the store owner called me to say he came back and bough 2 more and over paid enough to cover the cost of the one I gave for free. So dont let people get you down if they dont want to pay what your asking that is ok because there is someone out there who will love it and treasure it just wait.

  • July 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm
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    Thanks for all the info!!! I have gone thru EXACTLY the same thing with my ruffle crochet scarfs. But the absolute worst thing that happened to me AT MY OWN SHOW was a new crafter/vendor came over to my table and started asking questions like how long have I been crocheting, where did I learn, have I been in business very long, etc. She made me her friend and mentor (I thought.)
    She even bought a scarf from me. Two weeks later she was selling them on Facebook for half of my price!!!!! I had to drop my price just to keep selling, even though my yarn quality was much better than hers and more expensive.
    My advice: other crafters will and do steal your ideas and under sell you and steal your customers. Don’t give anyone your material sources or show them how to make something.
    I’m still selling. Still dealing with frustrations. But I’m also having fun and making money.
    You have to be very thick skinned to be in this business and make money. Keep your chin up. It can be done.

    • July 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm
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      That’s happened to me to. it’s a shame you had to drop your prices. I would keep my prices as they were and put in your description that they are made from high quality yarn. don’t put the other lady’s stuff down though. if she’s selling stuff made from cheap yarn then the quality wont be as good and people will soon notice they don’t last as long and will prefer to buy from you cos they know they are getting something better for their money..

      It’s people like that who sell their stuff ultra cheap that undermine the true value of hand made goods. Maybe talk to her and ask her how she came up with her prices or how she’s able to sell them so cheap.
      good luck

  • July 5, 2013 at 11:31 am
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    I thought this article was very helpful. Thank you sooo much.

  • July 5, 2013 at 11:19 am
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    I hear you loud and clear. my mum and me sell handmade unique jewellery as well as crocheted bags, purses and accessories, all unique one of pieces. we were invited to a weekly indoor market, the stall was really cheap and we thought it was worth a go. at christmas we sold a little but over the past few months we’ve been lucky if we even cover the cost of the stall and thats only £10.
    We have now just stopped doing this market 2 weeks ago, as you said I think people didn’t appreciate the fact it was hand made and the time and care and creativity that went into making it. also the other stalls sold cheap tat. 2nd hand stuff, the kind of thing I’d expect to see in a car boot sale or garage sale. A month or 2 ago I went to a belly dance hareem afternoon and I was invited to take the stall. in the 3 hours we were there we sold more than we had in the past 6months and we had been there for 7hours (every week)

    Tomorrow we are going to a craft fair. it’s for a charity event but we’ve been told the stalls they are having there are all handmade goodies so I think we should fit in better there. fingers crossed.

    Thank you for this advice, I’m definitely gonna be showing my mum and implementing much of it tomorrow
    xxxx

  • July 5, 2013 at 11:02 am
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    Thanks Mikey I needed this information. It helped answer many questions I had about selling things that I’ve made.

  • July 5, 2013 at 10:57 am
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    Great tips!!!!! Hope you can share more information like this, One can never stop learning or the brain goes to mush! lol

  • July 5, 2013 at 10:50 am
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    I used to own a chocolate business. Ran it for 13 years. The first 12 were out of my home and I would sell wholesale to stores but most of my income came from setting up seasonally in malls. Love your comments above! I couldn’t handle standing for a full day at the mall but definitely made a point of standing to greet customers when they approached my booth. I often had a friend or family member come along to help – but always – conversation between us came to a halt when a customer approached. Totally agree with your comments – it’s rude if you don’t acknowledge the customer and you will loose a sale if you don’t!

    I have also walked away when shopping at craft sales simply because the vendor didn’t get off their cell phone or was too busy talking with another vendor to wait on me. All your advice above is excellent and well said! Good job!!!

    The biggest mistake I made in my business was my last year. It got too big to run privately out of my home so I took on a partner (she was my best friend at the time) and we opened up a store. It was a disaster. The business and the friendship didn’t last. Sadly. Do not go into business with your best friend! I was warned – I didn’t listen. Lesson learned.

  • July 5, 2013 at 10:37 am
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    I was wondering if you had any thoughts about etsy. I haven’t tried it yet. I have had the same experience as you with selling my jewelry.

  • July 5, 2013 at 10:28 am
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    I stopped doping craft shows for that very reason.China can make it cheaper than I could.People were passing off made in China as made in USA…I could not compete.The last straw was a woman wanted to buy a throw I had made.I had spent $40.00 on yarn and 30 hours making it.I was asking $80.00.She offered me $15.00 and when I said no she said “well I can get someone else to make it cheaper”.I then said fine go ahead you get what you pay for..I never went back to another craft show.I did try to consign my items.I create handmade one of a kind greeting cards and when people handle them they are either eating or have dirty hands.The piece is ruined.I even invested in plastic sleeves and people seem to think they need to take it out of that and feel it.I also consigned dolls and hand made throws to a store.I went there the next month and she said almost all of my items had sold.She would be putting a check in the mail the following week.My amount due was over a thousand dollars.Check did not come so I went back up there—store was closed and empty.The woman had stolen all of my merchandise.I filed a police report but was told I would have to sue her but first would have to find her.Needless to say I could not afford to do either.I love to craft but finding a way to make money off of that craft is very hard and almost impossible in my area of MI.

  • July 5, 2013 at 10:25 am
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    This was extremely helpful information as I am thinking of selling my crocheting (although I need a year just to get the inventory done right now, lol). Thanks for sharing!

  • July 5, 2013 at 10:16 am
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    Thanks hun I am struggling at the moment trying to sell my hand knitted dolls and needed this advice x

  • July 5, 2013 at 10:07 am
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    great info! that really gives me insight on how the selling process works. =)

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