With just a hint of irony, the tech-reliant ecommerce industry is one of the best markets for old-fashioned, hand-crafted goods. As we dive deeper into the 21st century, more online shoppers are looking back to rustic styles and homemade products — which sell better now than when they were the norm!
Ecommerce is a way to make money doing what you love, a great opportunity for artisans, craft makers, chefs, and designers. If you’re looking for inspiration on what’s selling and what’s in-demand for 2021, here are the 9 best handmade product ideas for online stores.
1. Bath Bombs and Homemade Soaps
Bath bombs seem to be a breakout product of 2021, having a strong holiday season in 2020 with interest still on the rise. They’re not traditionally thought of as artisanal goods, but since they’re surprisingly easy to make at home, a savvy seller can take advantage of their recent popularity.
Although you’ll have to go up against high-end brands, you can use low pricing and niche angles (i.e., eco-friendly bath bomb) to stay competitive. There’s also plenty of styles, colors, and scents to choose from, so be sure to give yours a unique and personal twist.
It’s also worth mentioning how well homemade soaps tend to sell. With a variety of different techniques, ingredients, and scents, there’s plenty of room for personalization as with bath bombs. Handmade soaps aren’t so much a 2021 trend as they are an evergreen product — we’re sure they’ll still be a reliable seller next year, and the years beyond that.
2. Lip Balm
Lip balm is another breakout for 2021, although they were selling just fine before as well. As with bath bombs, soaps, and candles (see below), there’s plenty of flavors and textures to choose from, making it easy to be unique.
You can make your own lip balm at home using beeswax and natural oils, and by doing them in large batches you can cut costs. Homemade lip balm is perfect for sellers of beauty products, an ecommerce staple that’s always in-demand. They’re also a great way to improve your personal branding, with lots of room for customization, even if you mostly sell goods from bigger brands.
3. Raw Materials for Jewelry and Crafts
As we mentioned in our post, Best Product Sourcing Strategies for Artisans and Craftspeople, one of the hardest parts of selling handmade products online is managing supplies. Especially if you’re creating custom goods, you need a wide range of materials on-hand to be prepared for any order.
That’s leading some vendors to switch to a B2B model and sell crafting supplies directly to other online vendors. In fact, the second-best Etsy shop, Yakutum, sells raw materials for jewelry: clasps, studs, ring settings, earring hooks, chains, beads, and charms.
For some craftspeople, selling jewelry components can be more cost-effective than actual jewelry. Not only do you need fewer ingredients, but you don’t have to worry about appealing to niche tastes or styles.
4. Natural Snacks for Pets
Pet products generally sell well online. So do natural foods. Combine these two niches and you have something a lot of buyers want, but not a lot of sellers offer.
In the U.S. alone, pet food production is a $26 billion industry as of 2019. While an independent seller would struggle to compete with the giants like Purina or Whiskas, the niche for natural, organic pet food still has openings.
If you’re somewhat of a food scientist, you can make and sell your own brand of pet snacks to health-conscious pet owners.
Candles may seem like an oversaturated market, especially with more and more people looking to work from home. But here’s the thing: people that use candles always need more candles sooner or later.
If you manage to break into the right niche and avoid all the competitors, candles can be a profitable online venture. They’re easy to make and consume quickly. The key is to find the right market. What separates your candles from everyone else’s?
Consider using unique ingredients or scents, or even a custom option so shoppers can personalize their candles.
6. Jewelry and Fashion Accessories
Another evergreen ecommerce niche, jewelry and fashion accessories are some of the easiest wearable products to buy online because there’s less concern about size or fitting.
Creative sellers can add a personal or unique style to their creations to build a customer base of like-minded shoppers, but you don’t need to be an artist. Even something as simple as a flannel hair bow can sell well. Another popular option is customized jewelry, built around input from the customer, such as incorporating a specific picture or made-to-order images like a school mascot. For inspiration, check out BigHead Custom.
7. Hand-drawn Stickers
Stickers have been trending on Etsy since 2018, presumably because they’re easy to manufacture and cheap to sell. Again, with a little customization — in this case, using hand-drawn illustrations — you can tap into its prebuilt niche.
Following the same system as the other entries on this list, you can give customers the chance to personalize their stickers, allowing you to charge extra and expand your customer-base into specialized territory.
8. Rustic Home Decor
Handmade vases, inscribed glasses, personalized pillows, wood-carved signs. The home decor industry has always been a mixed bag of products, and for customers with rustic sensibilities, it’s a haven for homemade goods. If your handmade products appeal to certain tastes, they’ll have no trouble finding a new home.
The range is wide for this group, from large wooden furniture to tiny garden statues. While that diversity may make it harder for you to find your niche, it also gives ample space for you to specialize in the items you’re passionate about. If you really enjoy making toilet paper holders that look like sheep, you do you.
Specifically, farmhouse signs (decorated wooden planks hung by string) are doing well recently. Cater the message on them to suit your audience, whether it’s something generic like “eat, pray, love,” or something more ironic.
9. Handmade Journals & Scrapbooks
Last but not least, handmade journals and scrapbooks are still popular after trending a few years ago. Indicative of the current “old-fashioned” trend, journaling is making a comeback among younger shoppers, not to mention that digital planners lack a certain appeal for customers who still write by hand.
Homemade journals and scrapbooks scratch this itch for many customers. The look and feel of the book matter just as much as its practical function, maybe even more, so the more decorated or stylish your homemade books are, the better.
To dive deep into this niche, use leather-bound books — the leather aesthetic perfectly epitomizes the rustic style. To dive even deeper, using customizable leather print; you appeal to both the old-fashioned trend and the personalization trend.
Conclusion: Where to Sell?
If only the success of your homemade craft store depended on the quality of your products. Sadly, even the finest craftspeople can go into the red if they fail at the business aspects of ecommerce. Aside from marketing and outreach, you have to find the best channels for artisans and handmade products.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published March 2020 and was updated in February 2021 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.