Step 4: Set up a production and shipping system
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Now we get into the nitty-gritty of the process. How are you going to make your items and ship them?
You don’t want to be reinventing the wheel every time an order comes in. Instead, have systems in place for how you receive and process orders. Your system will depend quite a bit on your item and your personality, but here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Will items be custom-made for each customer, or will I keep an inventory?
- Should I schedule a certain time of each day for making crafts?
- Do I have any marketing materials such as brochures or sales flyers to include with the shipment?
- Will I ship every day or only certain days?
- Can I print shipping labels from home?
- Where will I store my craft and shipping supplies?
Step 5: Learn business basics
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There is an art to selling items online. You need to set up your listings in a way that will make them easy for customers to find. You need to have the right lighting and photographs to make your creations shine. And if you really want to stand out, you should learn the ins and outs of sites like Pinterest where people will, hopefully, share and rave about your products.
Books could be (and have been) written on everything you need to know about maximizing online sales. I recommend you don’t worry about mastering everything at the start. Trying for perfection can leave you feeling paralyzed. Instead begin crafting and listing your items without worrying about the “right” way to do it.
However, promise yourself that each week you will learn something new about how to improve your business.
Step 6: Promote your wares
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This isn’t “Field of Dreams.” Just because you build it, er, craft it, that doesn’t mean customers will come. You’ll need to do some self promotion if you want people to find your products. Don’t expect to simply slap up a few listings or a website and watch the sales roll in.
Again, books have been written on the subject, and I suggest you head to your favorite search engine and look up “promote handmade products” or a similar phrase to find all sorts of good advice.
Step 7: Reap the rewards … but don’t forget taxes
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Now we come to the fun part – success!
Once the sales start trickling in, so does the money. That means extra cash for you! It also means extra cash for Uncle Sam.
Yes, online sales count as taxable income. It’s a bummer, but it’s not all bad. Since you’re running an at-home business, you may also find you’re now eligible for a home office deduction or other tax write-offs. The tax code is complex (and may be changing soon), so your best bet is to check in with a tax professional so you can have riveting discussions on topics such as what constitutes a hobby versus a business, how the IRS defines a home office and what documentation you’ll need for specific credits and deductions.
Are you up for the challenge? Leave a comment below or head to our Facebook page to tell us if you’ll be getting your craft on this year.