Beat the Copycats to the Profits with ‘Handmade’

We’ve talked before about selling art and hand-made items on eBay – usually in terms of promoting items made by other people and offered to you on a trading assistance/ commission-only basis.

But, have you ever considered making items yourself to resell on eBay, or having other people make quality, high profit items for you? If not, you could be missing out on particularly easy profits. This is why:

» Most handmade items offer high profit margins and low production costs, with the heaviest investment being time spent creating the end product. Most handmade items can be made from low cost materials and because they’re unique and available solely from the maker or their representative, sellers can pretty much charge what they like for their work and expect to receive at least three-quarters of their asking price by adding a Best Offer button to their listings.

  • Competition is low to non-existent for most art and craftwork items. That’s because few people have skills or experience to create items other people want to buy, so a talented artist or craftworker can very often corner the market for specific items.
  • All popular products attract copycat sellers, but mainly for mass-produced products, and only to a limited extent for handmade creations. The exception is where makers create products from freely available patterns and designs which other sellers source to introduce similar products. Use an original design, one you’ve created yourself, had created for you, or have taken from a low circulation publication now in the public domain and is unlikely to be copied on eBay.

What sort of products are we looking at here? And how do you acquire, list and price those items for maximum profits? You do it like this:

» Aim for really unusual designs that can’t easily be copied by other sellers. So a fancy hand- crocheted christening dress based on an intricate hand-written pattern found among the belongings of a long-dead Victorian lady is less likely to be copied than another gown created from a pattern in the public domain and available to all and sundry on CD on eBay. By comparison, a simple shed handmade to your own simple design can very easily be accessed by rival sellers and reverse engineered – copied without breaching copyright – by virtually anyone with a ruler and pencil to hand.

Have experienced designers create patterns and blueprints for you. Make sure they under- stand the design will become your copyright and cannot be copied by others. Get designers to sign an agreement to this effect.
Begin with most popular handmade items currently selling well on eBay, then move into testing more unusual, unproven ideas later. Most popular right now are: candles, jewellery, hats, T-shirts, dolls’ house furniture, limited edition prints.

»  Short of ideas for your own unique handmade products? Attend a few local craft shows and study goods selling well for other artists; visit a few websites featuring work available from artists and resellers; look for books featuring designs and actual patterns for art and craftwork creations. If a book is in the public domain you can use the designs without breaching copyright rules (but then so can everyone else, so at least try making a few changes to patterns and plans discovered in old books and magazines).

» Match your products to complement goods already selling well online, such as by creating clothing for a popular make of doll, or creating cases for today’s best-selling mobile phones.

» Items handmade to order – called “bespoke” – are one of the few products that can be offered for sale and money taken before the items are actually in existence. Otherwise, marketing something that doesn’t exist can be classed as fraud and land you in serious trouble.

What better business to run than one that attracts orders and money before you even set work on sourcing or creating your product? What better business than a product that can generate hundreds or even thousands of pounds in orders before the creator even buys materials to make the end product?

In fact, today I discovered a variety of eBay sellers offering goods that are either partway to completion or haven’t even been started yet.

Alongside those sellers are numerous others with hundreds of handmade items listed in their eBay Shops and achieving regular sales of each.

There’s little room here to go into detail about these products and their designers, but including sellers’ eBay IDs will help you research products you could also create or have created for you. They include:

» eBayer lgnaauctions offers tapestries of famous artworks, such as “Girl With a Pearl Earring” and achieves sales of several thousand pounds plus for items still in the creation process. These products are stunning and it’s an idea any skilled needleperson with patience could emulate.

» Key “OOAK” into eBay’s home page search box (it stands for “One Of A Kind”) then choose “Dolls & Teddy Bears” from the dropdown menu alongside. At the right side of the following page, click “Price: Highest First” from the “Sort By” menu. That’s where you will discover a large variety of handmade dolls and teddy bears, also dog and cat creations, and prices ranging up to several thousand pounds. One or two sellers I found selling their goods OOAK include messages such as “This week’s auction is for” and “This month’s teddy bear creation is”, suggesting they are creating just a handful of items each month, and maybe having someone else make those products for them. With plenty of artists and skilled craftworkers available today, many who don’t like marketing their goods, I’m sure finding a handful of people to create handmade and OOAK items should be no problem for our readers.

» Choose great role models selling handmade and OOAK items. Most prolific sellers tend to have their own eBay shops and can be identified by keying “OOAK”, “handmade” or other suit- able wording into the search box at:

These are potential role models I discovered today:
Fairy Sparkles Fairy Doors
LissyKate’s – 7,800+ items, mainly fancydress and dancewear
Beautifullyhandmade – 3,750 items, mainly miniature dolls’ house accessories
Red Ribbon Cards – 1,675 designs for hand- made and personalised cards for weddings and anniversaries.

Note: the above are shop names, not eBay user IDs. Find those people and their listings by keying their shop names into the search box at:

Include search words and phrases most commonly used by your potential buyers at the start of your eBay listings…

Or they might not be seen by casual browsers because in some cases, eBay does not show a listing’s full title in search returns.

As an example of how this works to sellers’ advantage, let me tell you about vintage prints I remove from vintage books about dogs, especially by popular artists like Louis Wain, Nina Scott Langley, Cecil Aldin, and numerous others. Once removed, I mount these items and sell them as prints on eBay.

These prints sell very well on eBay and that’s why I search daily for new books to add to my inventory. But because there are so many artists whose work fetches high prices on eBay, I don’t have time to search for illustrators by name. So I key in “dog illustrated” into the search box at eBay and then search through “Books, Comics and Magazines.”

There are some great books there and usually while scanning I will spot the most popular artists’ names in the listings, so I don’t have to spend far longer searching for individual artists by name. So, if you want your listings to jump out and grab casual browsers on eBay, you should include the search terms most frequently used by your target audience early in the title because eBay does not always show all of the title in search returns.

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here