Five ways to profit from your passion
1 Be innovative
Creating innovative products that will wow your customers is key. Competition is stiff so it is important to set yourself apart. Research existing sellers and their products to figure out what you can offer that is new, exciting and fresh.
2 Invest in photography
Poor photography is one of the biggest barriers to achieving sales success. There is no point having great products if they aren't displayed in the best possible light. Style your products in a well-lit setting and take several images to display them from different angles.
3 Be personable
Sharing details in your personal profile, such as your ideas and inspirations, is a good way to build a connection with customers. We all like things that have an interesting history or a personal element, so include any stories in your listings.
4 Go the extra mile
Good customer service is a major draw to buying handmade products so it is crucial to go above and beyond expectation. Take time and care with packaging and engage with your customers. Is it for a gift, for example? Is the recipient male or female? This interaction shows you care and makes the customer feel special.
5 Engage with social media
Engaging with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and blogs may seem like hard work but it really does pay to dedicate time to the powerful (and free) marketing tool of social media. It's not a case of shouting the loudest or most often; be interactive, start or respond to conversations and avoid only posting when you add new products.
Handmade sites - our pick of the best
New York-based Etsy launched in 2006 and now has more than 15 million members and 875,000 shops worldwide. It is free to join and costs just $0.20 (12p) to list an item for four months, or until it sells. When an item sells, you pay a 3.5% fee on the sale price.
Sheffield-based Folksy launched in 2008 and is now the biggest marketplace focusing exclusively on UK designers and makers, with 9,500 shops and 2.4 million visitors in the past year.
It has two-tier pricing: a pay-as-you-go model, which costs 15p plus VAT per item to list and 6% commission on sales, and a new 'Plus plan'. This costs £30, including VAT, for a year with unlimited listings and the same 6% commission on sales.
Launched in 2011, London-based Seek and Adore is the newest and smallest addition to the market, with just over 100 sellers.
The site handpicks professional designer-makers who produce a consistent and high-quality range of work. It costs £180 a year to join, which can be paid monthly, plus 25% commission for each sale.
Membership includes benefits such as a marketing and PR service; access to discounted-rate photographers and one-to-one mentoring and training.
Launched in 2006, it currently has around 35,000 different products from 2,000 designers and manufacturers. Partners are handpicked and can apply to join by having their wares reviewed by the team.
Successful applicants pay a one-off joining fee of approximately £700, plus VAT, and commission of 25% on each sale.
Members enjoy coverage through email promotions and pay-per-click advertising campaigns on Google and Yahoo, as well as marketing activity in the national press and on TV.
Invented by a Frenchman in 1954 and ironically introduced in the UK on 1 April 1973, VAT is an indirect tax levied on the value added in the production of goods and services, from primary production to final consumption and is paid by the buyer. Its levying is complex, with a number of exemptions and exclusions. For example, in the UK, VAT is payable on chocolate-covered biscuits, but not on chocolate-covered cakes and the non-VAT status of McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes was challenged in a UK court case to determine whether Jaffa Cake was a cake or a biscuit. The judge ruled that the Jaffa Cake is a cake, McVitie’s won the case and VAT is not paid on Jaffa Cakes in the UK.