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How to Start an Online Craft Business

Have you ever dreamed of having your own online craft business? If the answer is yes, you’re lucky. Recently, we sat with Benjamin Stark, the Founder of Stark Creations, to talk about his knife-making company. He shared many interesting insights on starting, managing, and growing your business! Keep on reading to find out how the Stark Creations grew over the years.


Benjamin Stark is the owner of Stark Creations: an online craft company that specializes in handcrafted custom knives. His knife-making journey started when he was only fifteen years old and soon he turned his passion into a flourishing online craft business.


Stark Creations started as a part-time hobby. It has evolved into a craft company in 2015 and since then it kept on growing. Stark Creations keep its customers amazed by the quality of its handcrafted products, which in fact are little pieces of art!


He runs the Stark Creations with his brother, Philip, and shares the workload that comes from managing the online craft business.


Benjamin was kind enough to take the time to give us this epic interview where he shared his experiences.


We asked Ben many questions about the very beginning of his journey and combined his answers into a simple guide.


Let’s get into it!


Benjamin was a fifteen years old boy when he first took up a handcrafting hobby inspired by his grandpa who used to carve wooden spoons. Following his growing interest in this area, Ben decided to go ahead and try making custom knives.


Now, Benjamin’s teenage hobby is not a hobby anymore. It has turned into Stark Creations and keeps on growing every year.


He gathered a ton of experience during the years of managing his business, which he kindly shared with us. Here are the main points made by Ben.


Target Audience & Niche


Determining your target audience and choosing your niche is one of the first steps when it comes to starting a business. Although, as Ben mentions during the interview, they don’t have one specific target as their audience is quite diverse. They simply follow the trends and adapt to any changes as quickly as possible:


“ You have to keep looking at the trends or what is currently selling a lot and selling well, and then alter what you are making in turn to meet those demands.”


That sounds quite reasonable, does it?


Managing the business


Once Benjamin had enough orders, he brought his brother to help him with managing the business - now they’re growing the Stark Creations together.


Benjamin’s main responsibility in Stark Creation is the production work: he designs and creates all the knives, from the initial sketches to the final grinding and polishing.


His brother, Philip, on the other hand, is in charge of the business side of Stark Creations such as interacting with clients, packing and shipping orders, and creating Stark Creation’s promotional gear. Philip is also responsible for the visual content, which includes photos, videos, and website maintenance.


In terms of sourcing, Stark mentions that he’s getting a lot of materials, that he's later using in his work, from individuals he found on social media.


As he highlights, it’s crucial to do the research before making the final decision. However, Stark acknowledges that he took some time to find to try out different places to order from before he found the services and products he’s satisfied with:


“Once I ordered from a few different places, I kind of figured out which ones are my favorite or which ones had the best services or products.”


When asked about the dropshipping, Benjamin admitted that he regularly sends his knives to a company in Pennsylvania, where they get hardened. This way, their knives stay sharp and don’t bend. This definitely is one of the reasons why their customers are so pleased with their products!


Marketing


The main part of Stark Creations’ marketing strategy is sharing their work online. According to Benjamin, this is how they got discovered as a business. Content creation is the primary method of growing their audience and getting orders.


Social media presence


There are no shortcuts when it comes to building an engaged audience on social media. The number of followers of Stark Creations’ social media has been built over the years. They’ve been sharing the progress and processes since the very beginning of the company:


“I think people really kind of enjoyed seeing the process behind how things are made and kind of feeling a little bit more of a connection between the company and the products that they're seeing.”



Influencer marketing


At some point, Ben decided to give influence marketing a try. As he recalls, the results were not very satisfying or impressive:


“I find that typically it's not worth it. So I might give them 50% off to cover all of the materials and the costs. I know at least I won't have lost money on it.”


Paid Ads/Campaigns


Paid ads are one of the most popular tools when it comes to online marketing.


Stark Creations has done a couple of paid campaigns in the past. Although, as Benjamin admits, they tend to perform rather poorly, so they haven’t done many of these. The biggest complication is the fact that their posts and ads get taken down sometimes due to community guidelines on social media platforms.


Customer service tactics


In terms of customer service, Stark decided to keep things simple. Most of the time, they communicate with their customers through emails or social media platforms.


While setting up the products for their clients, they update the customers about all the available options for the product they’ve ordered. Then, they make sure to keep their customers updated about the production time. Later, they send the packages with contact information and a little note encouraging them to share their opinions on the product on social media.


The Stark brothers also make sure their customers receive the information when they release a new product.


Obstacles, Lessons learned & Advice for beginners


During our talk, Benjamin Stark shared loads of tips and recalled a lot of lessons he has learned while managing his business. Here they are!


For Ben, the first (and the hardest to overcome) obstacle was knowing when to fully commit to starting the business officially:


“I kind of started and knew that there were some people that were interested in buying. But I didn't really know if it would be worth investing the $4,000 to get the nice grinder that I was wanting to buy. So I was kind of unsure about that and almost stopped because I wasn't sure if it would be worth it, but then once I did invest that money, then it definitely was worth it because it made me much more efficient and also made the product quality better.”


The next lesson Benjamin learned was knowing what products you should focus on making at the right time. When Stark started his company, he chose the name Stark Creations because he wasn’t sure what he wants to focus on. Unfortunately, soon, the domain starkknives.com was purchased by another company. This gets people a bit confused, Ben admitted.


According to Benjamin, taking care of building brand awareness and connection with your audience is the most important aspect of building a successful online craft business:

“Share as much as you can and communicate with people because the relationships that you build with customers and followers are probably the most important thing to having continued success.”


The next thing you need to keep in mind is that you have to keep things as organized as possible. As Stark admits, keeping the business together can get quite overwhelming really fast. You definitely want to avoid that!


Another piece of advice brought up by Stark is keeping the financial side well-structured, so you can be sure you’re on top of the tasks like paying your taxes.

Benjamin highlights the importance of having your own website, as it makes your business feel more legitimate. Creating a website for your business is one of the steps to attracting more and more potential customers!


When it comes to content creation, Stark’s advice is to pay attention to the form of the content you’re sharing. The best content is rather short and attention-grabbing, such as videos and tutorials, showing the behind-the-scenes of making your products. This is what makes people want to follow you!



Trends & Predictions


The popularity of craft businesses is increasing. As Benjamin noticed, people are getting more and more interested in handmade products:

“I definitely think that that market is kind of expanding the last couple of years. I feel like we're kind of in the middle of that expansion”


Recommended Apps and Resources


Benjamin was kind enough to share with us all the apps and resources he found useful along the way. He mentioned such online tools like:


  • QuickBooks for keeping track of the financial side of his business

  • Excel Spreadsheets for managing the order lists

  • iMovie for content creation

  • MailChimp for their newsletter

  • Squarespace for their website

  • Social Media Apps (Instagram, Facebook, Youtube) for content sharing


Benjamin mentioned a few interesting resources, that keep him inspired, such as, How I Built This podcast, Conan O'brien’s podcast. Ben also listens to a ton of audiobooks while he’s working.


Starting out in a new field of business can feel quite overwhelming at first. However, with proper resources and people like Benjamin who are willing to share their experiences with other people, it’s much easier to achieve success!


We hope you enjoyed our interview with Benjamin Stark and found it useful.


Thank you, Benjamin, for your time! It was a pleasure to talk with you. We wish you continued success!




 

This article was originally published at smartinbox.user.com






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