Thanks to a range of cool gadgets and software tools, it’s easier than ever to make money by starting a craft business. If you want to start a gig on the side, and have a special ability like sewing, paper crafts or design, all you need is a solid focus, a few inexpensive tools, an online store or a stall at a market, a few product ideas and you’re up and running.
Tools for crafts to make and sell
Here are some of the best tools and software for crafts to make and sell. Some are readily available from South African department, craft or computing and electronics stores, while others may be sourced from a specialist importer like WantItAll.
Silhouette Alta 3D Printer – This is a 3D desktop “printer” that uses special filaments to create three-dimensional designs. It uses Silhouette software to work.
Glowforge – This is also an electronic cutting tool, but it uses a laser instead of a blade to make the cuts. It can cut as well as engrave things such as wood, metal and plastic.
Adobe Photoshop – This software is a “raster” graphics editor. It edits images made up of pixels. If you have downloadable crafts to make and sell like graphics, designs or photographs, then Photoshop is your best friend. You can use it to make works of art, as well as edit photos.
Adobe Illustrator – This software is a “vector” editor, so instead of using pixels, it uses mathematical vectors to create graphics. You never lose quality no matter how many times you resize it. If you’re creating fonts or cut files (for the cutting machines above), you’ll likely start your design process inside Illustrator.
If you’re a crafty type of person, you might have some of these tools at home already.
Ten crafts to make and sell on the side
Now you just need to pick the type of crafts to make and sell that you want to turn into a crafty side hustle.
- 3D-printed items.
- Laser-cut or engraved shapes.
- Wood signs.
- Planner stickers.
- Hand-drawn graphics.
1. 3D-printed Items
Product ideas: Pendants, earrings, ornaments, keychains, toys or statues.
Tools: Silhouette Alta 3D printer & software, plus printer filament.
2. Laser-cut or engraved shapes
Product ideas: Keychains, acrylic blanks, embellishments or engraved leather gifts.
Tools: Glowforge, and blanks to engrave or cut, plus the graphic design itself.
Product ideas: These can be handmade, or print on demand.
Tools: Silhouette/Cricut, Screenprinting kit, graphic or cut file for the shirt design.
5. Wood signs
6. Planner stickers
Product ideas: Stickers for planners, or gifts for children and adults.
Tools: Silhouette/Cricut, sticker paper, graphics to print on the stickers.
7. Hand-drawn graphics
Product ideas: Graphics and clip art packs, illustrations, cut files for cutting machines.
Tools: Illustrator, Actual pen and ink, paintbrushes, iPad Pro with Procreate software.
Product ideas: Fonts for personal or business use.
Tools: Illustrator, Font Forge or other font creation software.
Product ideas: Art prints for home and office, organisational printables.
Tools: Illustrator, Photoshop, Canva.
Product ideas: Custom embroidered textiles, handmade clothing, bedding and toys.
Tools: Sewing/embroidery machine, commercial use designs/patterns.
Once you have chosen your side hustle, you’ll want to get your new biz online. You can create an online store to sell your products directly or sell through a marketplace like Bidorbuy or both. Even if you sell on a marketplace, you should get the domain name for your business because you never know when your side hustle will become your main thing.
Create a website to let people know your latest news and deals, and gain the ability to collect e-mail addresses. GoDaddy Website Builder makes it really easy to get your crafty physical product side hustle started. It offers customisable templates for arts and crafts businesses.
This article has been adapted from an original piece by Sarah Guiliot.