Turning the love, time and effort put into a crafting hobby into a source of income nowadays is a possibility. A solid proof of this trend comes from Etsy, the biggest online market dedicated to handmade items. It has 4.36 million active sellers and 81.9 million active buyers in 2020 and was ranked the 4th fastest growing e-commerce in 2021(1). With Etsy alone, it’s easy to see how goods and services for and around a crafting hobby are a huge market. For those interested in turning a crafting hobby into a business, this article will explore some things to consider while doing it.
The True Boundaries of a Hobby-Based Business
It’s easy to fall into the thought that turning a crafting hobby into a business means only selling a crafted item. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are numerous ways to monetize a hobby and turn it into a solid business. Options such as being a business-to-business provider, teaching the craft, writing and creating awareness about the craft, and offering other ways to consume the crafted goods are viable. Thinking of a business outside the boundaries that “selling a product” usually generates could increase the profitability and longevity of the business. These qualities will also depend on the time invested in such craft.
For instance, a person could take into consideration starting a business based on vegan candles for plant-focused customers. For the open-mind entrepreneur, there are several ways to exploit this niche. This person could sell the finished candles, sell a DIY kit to craft the candles, or sell a candle-making course. If the person does not wish to dedicate themselves to directly crafting for a living, they could provide self-made, unique, or hard-to-find materials for other candle-making enthusiasts. Also, monetizing a blog around the topic could be profitable.
The Power of Storytelling
What is more engaging than a good story? Stories are illustrative, easily remembered, and create an emotional connection with the audience. This rapport is something that neither item descriptions nor expensive photoshoots can match. They generate empathy and create an emotional component that humanizes the brand. Knowing how to convey it in a way that builds a relationship with your potential customers is an art that will make the difference between a run-of-the-mill store and a special one.
Storytelling is a tactic that many big brands use but it is open to anyone. Every business owner has a story to tell. Take Mike Kittredge as an example. At 16 years old, he didn’t have enough money to buy his mother a Christmas present, so he bought enough wax to make two candles (one for his mom and another he ended up selling to a neighbor). After that, he took on candlemaking as a hobby. With the help of his dad, he set up a small store, which then moved to an abandoned paper mill. This hobby turned small business would grow to become Yankee Candle, which he sold in 2013 for $1.75 billion(2).
Of course, not every story has to be an autobiography of sorts. The stories could be about their connection to the crafting hobby, their path into a business model, or the available goods or services. A hobbyist turned businessman can approach a story in several ways. A quick way to start would be by explaining how they came about in the craft, what inspired the creation of the business, and what the brand wants to bring to the world beyond the goods and services offered.
Social Proof Sells
Beyond the appeal of a good or service, customers are strongly opinion-driven when considering buying something. A study conducted in 2018(3) reviewed online purchase intentions in older adults and students. It found that, while both groups were emotionally driven by reviews, 80% of the youth group will turn to the highest-rated option between two items that could be almost alike in terms of quality or presentation. On the other hand, 58% of the older people were driven to the highest rating; also, they were more likely driven away by a single, well-grounded negative review. In that regard, it is advisable to exhibit people’s opinions who have acquired the items. For a starting business, it is useful to highlight the opinions of those interested in the store or its goods. Making sure these opinions are genuine will help increase the reach and profitability of the business.
Anyone, given proper time and effort, has the ability to turn a crafting hobby into a successful business. Becoming invested in a business opportunity is easier and more enjoyable when it relates to a passion. Besides learning the basics of defining and running a business, having the openness to explore ways to sell and to show what you are selling is vital for success.