Step three: Set up your shop
You might be happy to sell your creations through word of mouth, but if you want to make some real cash, an online shop may be the way forward.
Etsy is a popular platform for do-it-yourself creators, and you can register to make a profile on its website.
Once you’ve signed up, you can click through to the “Sell on Etsy” section, where you’ll be asked a couple of questions about what you want to do on the platform – for instance, when asked what brings you to Etsy, you can select “I’m just starting to sell for the first time ever”.
It will then offer you help and advice on things like how to get discovered in search, how to choose a business name and build a brand.
Naming your shop is an important step in the making of your business – regardless of how big or small it may be. The key is choosing something that’s memorable, and related to the product you are selling. Puns can be fun, but should be sense-checked with someone else first to make sure you haven’t missed an inappropriate meaning.
As part of the sign-up process, you’ll also need to select your shop location, the language you want to use, and currency. To receive payments, you will need to link a bank account and a debit or credit card to your Etsy shop.
If you want your products to carry the “handmade” label on Etsy, they’ll need to comply with the platform’s rules – items must be designed and created by you, although sellers are permitted to work with “production partners”. Those that were handmade by someone else cannot be listed with the label. To use the “vintage” label, items must be at least 20-years-old.
Etsy also has strict rules regarding copyright and intellectual property laws, so be careful if you are inspired by things such as TV shows and films.
Finally, one last piece of admin that admittedly isn’t very fun, but is vital to get right, is sorting out your delivery and returns policies.
Other selling platforms to consider
The British Craft House is an alternative to Etsy, offering a platform for creatives and artisans to sell. The marketplace has an application process to ensure that all items are handmade in Britain.
Depop may be a little fashion-forward for some, but many sellers on the site make money from homemade crocheted items. Signing up is simple, and you can do it through the app or the website.
However, given its reputation as a cheap place to buy second-hand and vintage clothes, it may be more difficult to see original items and command high prices.
If you feel ready for the big leagues, you could register with more expensive selling platforms such as Amazon. The sign-up process online is similar to Etsy, but Amazon charges £25 a month plus VAT to sell on its platform, which will eat into your profits, but might allow you to access more potential customers.
Step four: Make your products look good
Displaying your knitted goods in clear, well-lit pictures is key to persuading a browsing customer to purchase them. They don’t need to be of professional quality, but they need to show your crafts in the best way possible.
After all, selling via an online marketplace, rather than a physical one, means photos are all customers have to go on when considering a purchase. They can’t pick your items up to give them a full assessment, so your imagery needs to aim to do that job for them.
The consensus is that plain, light-coloured backgrounds work best, and if you are including more than one shot, a picture of someone using or modelling your product can help buyers imagine themselves owning it. If your items are for children, remember not to use any images of them without their parent’s permission.
You’ll also need a short description about each product, which should include what it is, what it’s made of, what size it is (if applicable), and maybe even some extra information about how you’ve made it – this will confirm to customers that it has genuinely been handmade.
It can also be useful to include details such as how to care for and wash the items, as well as how they could fix them if a small part broke – for example, if you’ve included a replacement button.
Make sure that everything is spelled correctly and reads well. You might ask a friend or relative to check it over before you post, or use an online service such as Grammarly to look for any mistakes.
Finally, you’ll want to collect as many positive reviews as you can – and the key to that is having good communication with your customers, and making sure they receiving anything they’ve bought in good time.
Some sellers will also add decorative touches to their packaging, perhaps wrapping items in tissue paper and including “Thank you” cards. The better your reviews, the more likely you are to make sales in future.
Step five: Don’t forget the taxman
In the world of tax, starting to make money from your side hustle counts as a new source of income and, as such, you might have to pay tax on what you earn.
If you’re only selling a few items, and end up with profits of less than £1,000, then you probably won’t need to do anything, as you’ll be covered by the £1,000 Trading Allowance.
This has been set up precisely for those who make a little extra cash from their hobbies, or by selling unwanted clothes.
If you sell more than this, you’ll need to register for self-assessment (if you haven’t already), and declare the income as part of your tax return.
If it’s just a case of you working by yourself, selling items as a sole trader, then you can add your profits as self-employed income and you may have to pay National Insurance contributions and income tax.
Regardless of whether you’ll need to submit a tax return for your knitting income, it’s good practice to keep track of your prices and how much you sell, alongside any business-related expenses.
You should also store the records for five years after the relevant tax submission deadline, should any tax questions arise.