Okay, it’s 2021. The worst of COVID is (hopefully) behind us. Yet, a lot of us still find ourselves homebound and with some extra time on our hands.
Naturally, it’s an opportune time to start or grow a side hustle. And in the world of handcrafted and handmade goods, the fields are ripe for harvest.
Selling handmade items online has many benefits. The biggest perk is the ability to monetize an existing hobby or passion. After all, if you enjoy creating things, why not reap the rewards of your labor?
Humans have always been crafting handmade things to sell. It’s a practice as visceral and old as history itself.
But what homemade products sell the best? Which are the most profitable crafts to sell?
We’ll dive into data-driven insights that answer these very questions, as well as look specifically into the most popular handmade items in the DIY space.
Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced crafter looking for the next steps and strategy, this post will have something to spark your inspiration.
Before we go category-by-category, let’s establish a few helpful principles.
Validating What Kind of Crafts Sell Best
Even if you don’t see your idea on this list, don’t give up just yet. Market demands fluctuate. The surefire way to gauge handmade items in demand is to do a few simple searches.
Your three primary sources should be Amazon Handmade, Etsy, and Google. Type in a few variations of your product idea and see if any competitors come up.
For example: “Game of Thrones costume jewelry” (very specific example, there).
If you see competitors or similarly-aligned vendors, don’t be discouraged. That’s a good thing. That means there’s actual profitability in your idea. And, of course, the more competitors, the larger the attainable market.
Should You Pursue the Trending Handmade Crafts?
Well, yes and no. You need to make sure that your product idea is profitable, of course. Creating a product without an attainable market is a recipe for disappointment.
However, in another sense, you should not chase the market. If you have no experience or passion for handmade jewelry, don’t pursue that category just because it seems the most lucrative.
That said, the comprehensive list of products in this post has proven itself to be historically profitable. Choose any one of these, and you’ll not have to worry about the market drying up anytime soon.
With these caveats out of the way, here’s our comprehensive list of the best-selling crafts.
Health and Beauty Products
I don’t need to cite stats or studies to convince you that health and beauty has, and always will be, a highly lucrative market.
But with broad appeal comes the need to niche down, and niche down hard. It’s not enough to specialize in “body lotion.” To stand out, you need to target a hyper-specific persona (think “all-natural body lotion for combination skin”).
Whenever you’re dealing with health or beauty products, you need to be mindful of the local laws and regulations. You also need to be well-versed in biological reactions to ingredients and have a basic understanding of chemistry.
Your production environment needs to comply with specific FDA standards, and you’ll likely want to consult with a lawyer to tighten up your labeling practices.
If you’re willing to jump through these hoops, items in the DIY health and beauty space are among the top-selling homemade products of all time.
Some examples of top-selling handmade health and beauty products are:
- Soaps and bath bombs
- Lip balm
- Cosmetics (novelty, specialty, organic)
- Creams and lotions
All of these are reasonably easy to create and sell from your own home, especially soaps and lip balm.
Clothing and Apparel
Thanks to inexpensive design software and print-on-demand sites like Zazzle, Teespring, and Bonfire, starting a custom-branded apparel business has never been easier.
Apparel printing is a perfect handmade side hustle for those who are more creative than “crafty,” per se. If you’re a graphic designer, an artist, or have a cool idea for a shirt, you can make it a reality in less than a day’s work.
Further, custom clothing and apparel are perfect for businesses with existing audiences like gyms, bands, and local specialty shops.
Custom-printed apparel is not only a significant revenue stream but free advertising and an excellent way for your audience to connect with your brand.
Even if you’re more the entrepreneurial type than the artistic type, you can still profit from selling apparel. Just hire a competent designer on a freelance site like Upwork, pay a one-time fee for one or several designs, and upload to your favorite print-on-demand site.
Some fulfillment sites even offer dropshipping, meaning you don’t need to handle the apparel directly — it goes straight to the buyer.
If you want to go even deeper, you can look into screen printing your own clothing designs, cutting out the middleman altogether.
Some examples of custom-printed clothing and apparel are the following:
- Bumper stickers
- Hoodies & sweaters
- Mouse Pads
- Enamel pins
- Face masks (in the COVID age)
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If you check any popular handmade marketplace, you’ll consistently find jewelry among the most popular handmade items.
There are so many things that make custom jewelry appealing to both sellers and buyers. It’s often inexpensive. There are tons of niches to choose from (novelty, costume, fine), and they’re easy to ship and mass produce.
However, as mentioned above, a low entry barrier means high competition (this will be a universal truism for any item on this list). So niching down is more than just a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Anyone who pursues handmade jewelry must also have a deep passion for staying on the bleeding edge of trends. Do you already scour Pinterest boards for ideas and pour over sources of inspiration? Then a homemade jewelry venture should come very naturally to you.
If this sounds like a chore, it may be best to try something else on this list.
While the barrier to entry is low, the skill ceiling for jewelry-crafting is high. Depending on what kind of jewelry you’re keen on making, you may be welding, 3D printing, or smithing with expensive materials.
These are skills that can take months of dedicated practice to master.
You can also keep it super simple and create bead necklaces (an excellent option for budding entrepreneurs and children). The possibilities are endless.
There are many online tutorials and Facebook communities for handmade jewelry, so plug into a group of like-minded makers for inspiration.
Also, be sure not to skimp on product photography. Due to the meticulous and often reflective nature of jewelry, a lousy product shot can make an otherwise excellent piece of craftsmanship look amateurish.
You’ll also want to have shots of actual models (this could just be you!) wearing the product so buyers can see the items in context.
Candles are deceptively simple to make, affording them a top spot as some of the most profitable crafts to sell. Like jewelry, the barrier to entry is low, but the competition and skill ceiling is high.
And, of course, niching down is essential. Didn’t think there were candle niches? Well, think again.
Here are some examples of the top-selling handmade candles:
- Eco-friendly candles
- All-natural candles
- Beeswax candles
- Religious candles
- Birthday and novelty candles
- Votive candles
- Tea lights
- Serenity by Jan (you burn ‘em, you buy ‘em)
And candle makers are probably formulating even more varieties as I’m writing this.
Producing candles on a mass scale isn’t as onerous as a task as some of the other items on this list, making them great candidates for clean and straightforward scalability.
However, they are a fire hazard. Keep yourself protected: get insured and label your products per local laws or regulations.
Art and Prints
Just a mere 40 years ago, if an artist or designer wanted to sell prints of their work, they’d need to create multiple physical copies. Most of the time, that meant repainting a piece from scratch.
While handcrafted copies have a unique charm, this isn’t exactly a sustainable business model for people with limited time and space.
While we haven’t developed AI that can paint with human creativity and prowess quite yet, we have a bevy of tools at our disposal that make scaling your artistic works simple and easy.
Not only do tools like Photoshop and Illustrator allow artists to create beautiful works of art without touching a paintbrush, but those same programs can also scale that art to any size and infinitely duplicate it.
That means artists can sell their pieces as full-size posters or printed on tiny pins.
If you’re a creator who expresses yourself through food, there’s a profitable market out there for you.
Of course, handmade consumable goods introduce a host of hurdles, such as ingredient listings, allergen warnings, and FDA approval.
Dealing with perishable goods demands a tight inventory management strategy. SkuVault will help you track your supply chain, avoid stockouts, and ensure you’re not ordering too much or too little of your materials.
That said, items like candy, baked goods, marshmallows, and preserves are great candidates for shippable treats that don’t need to be refrigerated.
The bottom line is that everyone loves food. If you’re willing to jump through the requisite hoops and creatively niche down, it’s possible to build a sustainable business selling edible treats to customers around the country.
In addition to the goods mentioned above, the following are other great handmade (or hand-curated) items to sell:
- Rare & international snacks
- Wine & spirits
- Miscellaneous sweets
- Pet treats (see below for more on pet supplies)
- Make-at-home ingredients kits
These products also make great candidates for subscription box bundles (more on that below).
Digital products and “infoproducts” are some of the fastest-growing revenue generators online. While they stretch the definition of “handmade” a bit, the allure is undeniable.
Take just the online education space, for example. Nowadays, rather than deal with the limitations of in-person learning, subject matter experts can film a course using nothing but their iPhone and PowerPoint.
Thanks to sites like Skillshare, Udemy, and a whole host of WordPress plugins, savvy entrepreneurs can set up an online classroom and scale their expertise infinitely.
The proof is in the pudding. A recent study projected the online learning industry to be worth $325 billion by 2025.
And it doesn’t just end with education. Just about anything and everything can be digitized and sold today. Think about it: there is almost no overhead, digital items can be scaled infinitely, and there’s no need to worry about inventory or logistics.
Sites like Envato have built their entire business on creatives selling digital assets to one another. These include:
- Photoshop brushes
- Animation assets
- Motion graphics
- Courses & education
- Font licenses
- Background and royalty-free music
Many times, storefronts like Udemy, Envato, Thinkific, Storyblocks, and others take care of all the logistics, hosting, and customer support in exchange for a percentage of every sale. Digital products are about as close to “set-it-and-forget-it” as you can get.
Traditional Handcrafted Products
As great as digital products are, there’s still no substitute for bespoke, handcrafted goods. A meticulously tooled leather wallet. A perfectly-beveled wooden kitchen utensil.
There’s something about the visceral, physical experience of using a traditional handmade product that’s unrivaled by even the most advanced technology.
Products handcrafted with traditional materials are rare and often expensive. This is due to the particular skill set needed to make them and their inability to be mass-produced.
Lovers of traditional tools and accessories are more than willing to pay a premium for the experience of a one-of-a-kind product. To create something worth selling, you’ll need to develop or hone your skills in one of the following areas:
There are plenty of YouTube tutorials and online courses available, but these trades may require expensive tools or even special workshops. Before diving in, be sure to count the cost and assess if it’s a worthwhile investment.
Here are some examples of handcrafted things to make:
- Custom metal tools or knives
- Wooden furniture
- Handcrafted cooking utensils
- Leather handbags, purses, or wallets
- Glass or metal art
It’s no secret we spend most of our working lives in front of a computer screen. Increasingly, there seems to be a renaissance of creatives trading in their Macbooks for miter saws. Call it whiplash from the technological revolution or an innovative side hustle.
Either way, it’s a great way to connect with disciplines practiced by humans for thousands of years — and maybe turn a nice profit at the same time.
Pottery and Clay Objects
Unlike many of the other items on this list, pottery requires an investment of both time and equipment.
Start by checking out some online pottery classes and watch the process on YouTube before sinking $1,000+ into a kiln. The high barrier to entry means competition will be less than other items on this list.
Just keep in mind the time and effort commitment it takes to learn a skill as intricate as pottery.
There’s a significant difference in value between a hand-molded planter forged in a craftsman’s kiln fires and something mass-produced for a big box chain.
Just make sure to keep your costs low by sourcing your raw materials from sites like Sheffield Pottery and keeping track of your inventory. Due to the product’s fragile nature, you’ll want to make sure you’re investing in safe packaging without eating too deeply into your margins.
Use an inventory management platform like SkuVault to keep track of how much revenue you’re generating from each channel (Amazon Handmade, Etsy, Shopify, etc.) and make data-driven decisions on how to keep your costs low.
Pottery commerce is a challenge logistically, but the rare skill plus the bespoke nature of handmade objects make it one of the most profitable crafts to sell.
The pandemic hasn’t stopped pet owners from taking good care of their fur babies — and shelling out serious cash for them, too. The pet care market is expected to rise by 5.6% from now until 2026 and is projected to exceed $325 billion.
If you’ve got a passion for pets and you’re waiting for a sign to get into this business, this is it.
In addition to pet toys and pet care products, there’s a thriving market for pet treats. And we’ve come a long way from throwing dogs our table scraps.
Several companies specialize in allergen-free, health-conscious dog treats. Even functional dog treats that brush your dog’s teeth for you while they chew.
Dog owners don’t need to be your target demographic, of course. This market has space for cat lovers, birds, reptiles, rodents, and everything in between.
As mentioned above, consumable goods introduce a whole bevy of challenges that you’ll have to navigate. Things like perishability, cleanliness, ingredient lists will all need to be on your radar. It probably couldn’t hurt to consult a lawyer about your business as well.
Some examples of handmade pet supplies include:
- Pet clothing and costumes
- Pet treats
- Leashes, collars, tags
- Food bowls
- Hygiene supplies
When people think of a music career, they probably think of living out of their car and playing shows for a daily meal.
Thanks to the high demand for digital assets, musicians don’t have to be perpetually starving artists.
It’s no secret that video, both personally and professionally, has exploded as a consumable medium. That means everyone from casual vloggers, TikTok “celebrities,” and massive marketing teams have an increasing need for background music.
(Royalty-free music, too. No one likes a YouTube copyright strike.)
While this may not be on the artistic level of a Bob Dylan protest song, it’s still a very viable way for musicians to pay the bills while waiting for their big break.
Sites like AudioJungle, Pond5, and Storyblocks allow composers and musicians to upload background tracks for royalty-free digital content usage. Fellow creators purchase a license to use the music in their creations, and artists get a cut.
And, if you’re talented and lucky enough to get into a film or TV music library, you can even get placed in popular shows on cable networks (especially relevant with reality TV shows). Every time an episode featuring your music runs, you get a check.
As with any creative venture, the barrier to entry is still high — you still need to be talented and skilled in music production. But there’s never been a better time to make a real living as a musician selling “handmade” musical assets.
Strategies to Maximize Your Handmade eCommerce Venture
Bundle your homemade items into a subscription box
Subscription boxes build upon the idea that items together are worth more than the sum of their parts. For a closer look at this topic, check out our blog post on subscription boxes here.
This strategy can be immensely profitable if you’re creating multiple categories of handmade items to sell (such as soaps and home decor), which appeal to a similar demographic.
Using SkuVault, you can aggregate purchasing data from multiple channels like Amazon and Etsy. You can then drill down into your site analytics or demographic insights in those channels and figure out the overlap of who’s buying your handmade products.
If the demographics have significant overlap, you’re a prime candidate for bundling those products into a subscription box.
Study the top performers
On just about every handmade marketplace, you can sort by category and top sellers. Do an in-depth analysis of the top-selling crafts and ask yourself the following questions:
- What crafts sell best on each platform?
- How do the makers differentiate their products?
- How do they design, package, and price their wares?
Also, don’t be a stranger. Most creators are more than happy to talk about their business with aspiring entrepreneurs. Reach out to them for a Zoom call or offer to buy them a coffee if they’re local.
Consider asking them questions about:
- Why they chose their current platform and what they like/don’t like about it
- How they manage inventory
- How they design and package their products
- Their daily workflow for fulfilling orders
- How they’ve scaled their business to accommodate growth
Insights from proven performers can save you tons of headaches, especially as you’re starting your handmade venture.
Outsource the nonessential stuff
As a creative entrepreneur, your most valuable asset is your creative skill, whatever that may be. That means menial (but necessary) tasks like tinkering with your site, answering customer service emails, and trying to figure out inventory management aren’t the best uses of your time.
It can be tough to relinquish control and delegate, but every moment you’re not doing what only you can do is ultimately inefficient.
Especially with many people still at home, building a strong team of contracted help has never been easier.
Check out sites like Upwork for reasonably priced virtual assistants, copywriters, web developers, and more. While it requires an investment upfront, it frees you up to create what your audience wants, thus increasing your time and business value.
And if you’re anything like most creatives, dealing with inventory management logistics probably sounds like a nightmare. Don’t try to manage that yourself.
Invest in an inventory management platform like SkuVault that automates and aggregates all relevant data for you, including your channel sales, in-progress orders and shipments, and when you need to restock.
A bonus of delegating these secondary tasks to others early on is that you’ll have a solid blueprint for scaling. This will come in handy when the orders start piling up, and you need to hire a team.
Even if the pandemic has merely eliminated your daily commute to and from the office, that could be an extra hour per day to invest in a handmade business venture.
Now that you know what handmade items sell best online, you should have no problem coming up with ideas.
Not only can you make money from an enjoyable hobby at a low cost, but you’re tapping into an ancient system practiced by humans for thousands of years.
Thankfully, inventory management processes haven’t stayed in the stone age. Many of the top-selling crafts on this list are simple, but keeping track of inventory on multiple channels is anything but.
Thankfully, SkuVault exists to help eCommerce ventures, both small and large, track shipments, automatically create shipping labels, and aggregate sales on multiple channels (such as Amazon Handmade and Etsy).
Whether your production facility is a state-of-the-art lab or your kitchen, we’d love to show you how SkuVault can come alongside your crafting business. Our platform will help you establish a firm foundation of inventory management that will serve you for years to come.
Contact our sales team today for a live demo.