When you think about a list of things to make and sell for profit, you may think it’s all about traditional crafts. But crafts are just a small percentage of the types of DIY businesses you can start. And you don’t need to be particularly creative or skilled. You just need a passion to make good products and find the right target market.
- DIY in the Digital Age: Things to Make and Sell for Profit
- Crafts & Handmade Goods
- Beauty, Health and Cleaning Products
- T-Shirts and Printed Merch
- Home Decorating
- Artwork & Photography
- Digital Products
- Awesome Things to Make and Sell for Profit: Next Steps
DIY in the Digital Age: Things to Make and Sell for Profit
There may not be anything more American than our craft traditions. It’s why we have thousands of craft fairs during the holiday season. It’s one of the best and easiest side businesses to start, mainly because it’s a labor of love to share your hobby with the world.
But we live in the digital age. You’re not limited to selling your goods at craft fairs, farmers markets or county fairs. You can sell your DIY products online all year long and you don’t have to be a tech wizard to set up an online store. In fact, there are many platforms that let you open up eShops for free!
And it gets even better. You don’t have to make anything yourself. Let’s say you’re a graphic artist and want to sell custom t-shirts. There are services that let you sell custom products without investing any money upfront! You simply sell your stuff and they do the rest. You can even create digital products (ebooks, videos, graphics, etc.) and sell them from a blog or free site.
Basically, I’m saying that anyone can find something interesting on the list of things to make and sell for profit. You don’t have to be a craft wizard or DIY master. You just need to have a great idea and the passion to get started. Let this list of things to make and sell for profit show you what’s possible and spark your own business idea.
Crafts & Handmade Goods
Ever since Etsy gave crafters the ability to open their own online craft shops, crafting has evolved from beloved hobbies to a bustling industry. Although there are thousands of crafts to choose from, they are five basic categories of crafts:
- Textiles: any fabric, wool and yarn craft (embroidery, knitting, crocheting, quilting, felting)
- Paper: including papermaking, origami, calligraphy, and decoupage
- Decorative: including metalwork, stenciling, and stained glass)
- Fashion: jewelry and clothing (hats, mittens, belts, handbags, etc.)
- Functional: anything that doubles as a functioning piece (pottery, utensils, and furniture)
Shannon Broder sells her Custom Silkscreen Pet Pillow on her Etsy store. She’s tapping into the huge pet industry and offers something unique and personal. A great crafting idea!
You have a few different choices when it comes to selling crafts. You can sell locally (craft fairs, farmers markets, co-ops) or you can sell online. And selling online includes setting up your own eCommerce site or joining a larger marketplace like one of the following:
Beauty, Health and Cleaning Products
DIY products are all the rage right now. Not only are they are eco-friendly, but many work better than any store bought brand. And I know that personal and cleaning products are a weird category. Think of them as recipe products where you whip up a batch of your amazing products with common household ingredients.
- Bath bombs and body scrubs
- Soaps and shampoos
- Balms, salves, and oils
- Cleaners (glass, all-purpose, bathroom, etc.)
- Laundry and dish soap
- Cleaning supplies (cloths, scrubbing pads, etc.)
Joybilee Farm lets you shop from the farmer’s market all year long. Among the many incredible products is this Goat Milk and Honey Soap:
You can sell your scrumptious products locally and even host spa parties. And you can sell most personal and cleaning products on Etsy or any of the other craft seller platforms (see list above).
Who doesn’t love to show off their families? Not only does it save precious memories forever, it’s literally the perfect gift for parents, grandparents and even pet parents! Along with many customizable family crafts, you can consider making:
- Slideshow making
- Event keepsakes (wedding, births, etc.)
The Backporch Shoppe sells a lot of different personalized items, including ornaments to commemorate a couples’ first holiday together.
While you can sell personalized family products on sites like Etsy, don’t limit yourself. Think about weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions. Local holiday craft fairs and wedding fairs would be great places to showcase your items.
T-Shirts and Printed Merch
You have so many options on this one!
Since cheap t-shirts can be found anywhere (even Walmart sells cool licensed merch!), the idea is to build on something different. Create unique and custom products that you can’t get just anywhere. And one of the best parts is that you can start this business without investing a dime. When you’re wondering what types things to make and sell for profit, custom merchandise is now open to anyone with a creative eye.
Here’s a sample of what Zazzle, an industry leader in custom online merchandise, can create for you to sell. And this isn’t even the entire list!
One of my favorite branded merch sellers is Jenny Lawson, a.k.a, The Bloggess. She has an extremely loyal and somewhat crazy following. She’s a best-selling author and no one does weird and wacky like she does. She routinely creates new items in her Zazzle shop, including this pair of leggings featuring a taxidermied raccoon named Rory.
“I added a picture of Rory, my furiously happy dead raccoon and it’s GLORIOUS, my friends. Not only is an insane raccoon staring at people on the subway, but also his hair makes it look like you have luxuriously long leg hair with glitter stuck in it. The only thing better would be if you put a really bad picture of your horrible ex on them and then walked around their neighborhood like a mobile billboard they can’t untag themselves in. Just a suggestion”
This may be the ultimate bootstrapping idea. You can set up an online shop for free and they will not charge you anything until you make your first sale! Of course, they take a huge cut but it’s a great place to start. Along with Zazzle, here are a few more to check out:
This is where basic crafting meets home design. And you’re not stuck with Primitives or even floral arrangements (although those are hot sellers!). The sky is the limit when it comes to how people decorate their home. Here’re a few ideas of what customers buy for their homes.
- Designer pillows
- Dried flowers
- Mosaic tile creations
- Wind chimes
- Wine racks
- Sports-inspired decorations
Although I’d check out the laws in your area concerning copyrights, there are a ton of sports-inspired home decor items listed on Etsy. Here’s one by Kaius And Co inspired by the Chicago Cubs.
You have a lot of choices when it comes to home decor. Many want handcrafted items like the one seen above, but you could also set up a Zazzle or Etsy shop. You could also start at craft fairs or consignment shops that feature locals work.
Artwork & Photography
In your search to find things to make and sell for profit, art and photography are an obvious choice. Maybe you’re an artist at heart but don’t want to be a starving artist. Or maybe art and photography is your hobby and you’re already making awesome stuff. Either way, why not try to make a few bucks if you live to create?
- Glass Art
- Drawing & Illustration
- Mixed Media & Collage
- Fiber Arts
Art comes in all forms. Rose Thistle Artworks sells custom needle felted creations on Artfire. This one was created from a customer’s picture of their beloved pet. Hint: people pay big bucks for custom pet items!
You have a few different choices when it comes to selling your artwork. You could sell one-of-a-kind artwork, sell reproductions, or sell stock pictures and illustrations for a fee. You could always sell art on Amazon, eBay or Etsy but here are a few specialty sites to check out.
Photos and Illustrations
Cheap. Assessable. Scalable.
That’s the easiest way to describe a digital business. It’s affordable to start, with many free and low-priced options. Anyone with a smartphone and an email address can purchase a digital product. And there is zero cost for distribution beyond the cost of production. You upload your digital product to a host (like Amazon’s Kindle eBooks) and the product is simply downloaded. You can sell 10 or 10,000 and the digital process won’t change.
Here’s a quick list of the possibilities:
- Online courses
- Web Elements (themes, patterns, brushes, wallpapers, logos)
- Guides, planners, recipes & lists
- Craft tutorials and patterns (knitting, crochet, etc.)
When you’re thinking about things to make and sell for profit, digital is a great option. And why not bundle together more than one type of digital product? Business expert Tara Gentile offers several different multimedia packs, including Quiet Power Strategy, on her website After purchasing, the customer only has to download one zip file containing all her digital products.
There are many, many eCommerce options to sell digital products. Start with this short post that explains your basic choices that include selling on a platform or selling on your own site.
- Top 3 Amazon Alternatives for Kindle Writers
Awesome Things to Make and Sell for Profit: Next Steps
I hope this list has inspired you to take the next steps towards starting your own tiny business. Here are a few other posts that can help you get started.
- Roadmap for Starting a Lifestyle Business [Ultimate Guide]
- 3 Simple Steps to Your Dream Lifestyle Business
- Finding a Business Pathway for Clueless Dreamers