The Pros And Cons Of Selling Handmade Products

If you possess a craft skill, you may be considering turning it into a business. In fact, you may have already successfully sold a few of your creations. There is definitely a big market out there for handmade products – they are typically more unique than machine-manufactured products. And there are definitely advantages to selling handmade products instead of machine-made products. However, you also need to be aware of the drawbacks. This post lists some of the pros and cons of selling handmade products so that you can determine whether this is a good business venture or not.

The pros:

Low startup costs

Compared to manufacturing a product using machines, a handmade product business can cost a lot less to launch. While you may still need to invest in various tools, you won’t need to buy expensive automated machinery or pay upfront fees to a third-party manufacturer. This could save you thousands in some cases. If you don’t have a lot of money to launch your business with, a handmade product business could be a good option.

Full personalization

While modern machines are allowing greater customization, you don’t have quite the same freedom to fully personalize each product as you do when handcrafting a product. Some handmade products aren’t products but individual art pieces. This includes items like handwoven rugs, wood sculptures, paintings, crocheted soft toys and handmade necklaces – each one may be completely different to the next. Being able to make each product different can stop you getting bored of your product, and it can also allow you to easily personalise it to customers’ needs if necessary without having to learn how to program machinery.

Low environmental impact

Handmade product businesses typically have a low carbon footprint. Machinery typically consumes a lot of energy. When you make products by hand, this isn’t the case. You also have more freedom as to which materials you use and may not order them in such large bulks, reducing emissions from shipping. It’s worth noting that many customers buy handmade products because they are greener.

The cons:

Increased manufacture time

Individual handmade products take a long time to make. You could find that you have to put a lot of hours in just to create one product. If you make products to order, it could be important that customers give you enough time to manufacture the product. If you get lots of orders, you may even have to create a queue system. In some cases, it could take you a month or more to get around to a product and make it. Not all customers will be willing to wait this long. Machine-made products are advantageous for this reason – you can fulfil orders much more quickly (in some cases, by the next day).

Reduced long-term profits

You may find that you make much less of a profit in the long run by handcrafting products as opposed to using machines. While machines are expensive to set up, you can churn out batches of products much more quickly, allowing you to make a quick return. With handmade products, you need to be setting prices that make up for the hours spent making your product, as well as being able to cover the cost of materials and any other business costs. All in all, they need to be high enough to make a return, while also not being so high that you scare off customers. In most cases, your profit margins will be much less than they would be for a machine-made product.

Limited scalability

You can only make so many products in a certain amount of time, which means there is a limit as to how far you can grow your business. You may be able to train an apprentice or even a team of craftsmen to help you manufacture more hand-made products, but this also means being able to cover their wages. Overall, growth is likely to be much more feasible by adopting machinery. This could include switching out handmade embroidery for commercial embroidery machines so that you can embroider more clothing, or using electric saws to cut furniture to size so that you can build more furniture. There may be ways to partially mechanize manufacture so that you’re still doing some handcrafting. However, you may find that you cannot legally market your product as ‘handmade’ once you start doing this and you will need to specify which parts are handcrafted.

Should you start selling handmade products?

A handmade product business can be ideal if you want to start a green business on the cheap. It can also be a good venture for those who want the freedom to personalise their product instead of having to create identical copies. You do need to be patient when building these products and you do need to realise that your profits and growth will be limited. Only by becoming exceptionally skilled and well known will you be able to increase your prices and make more money (or by finding other streams of income such as workshops).

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