Make And Sell Crafts From Your Camper
Selling your crafts while RVing is both exciting and challenging, whether you’re creating inspirational painted stones, hand-carved guitar picks, fine jewelry, crocheted potholders, gourd art, or floral centerpieces. If you have a hobby or passion that involves creating craft items and you want to sell these crafts as you travel around the country, you have many options.
Think about volume
Part of how you sell your crafts will depend on how many items you can create and how serious you are about volume sales. It’s a different challenge to sell dozens of bars of handcrafted soap than selling a one-of-a-kind oil painting. Crafts can be as simple as a funny barbecue apron to a one-of-a-kind bird carving and everything in between.
- We met a full-time RVer who etched intricate patterns into dried gourds. Each one was a work of art, and they sold for hundreds of dollars. She spent weeks creating the patterns to fit each gourd’s shape and then carefully carved, painted, and lacquered them to a beautifully decorated finish.
- We met another woman that followed native Inuit beading techniques and patterns to create a variety of beaded jewelry and accessories.
- We camped next to a man who traveled with all his lapidary equipment, which he set up in a tent outside his RV, where he cut, shaped, and polished various stones and then set them into jewelry blanks like rings, earrings, necklaces, broaches, tie pins, and more.
- And we know another couple who travel in their RV throughout the Northwest for the specific purpose of selling the unique apparel items they make in their motorhome between shows.
Each craft has its own market, but finding that market and displaying the crafts can be a challenge when you’re moving from one place to another, have limited storage space, and no fixed address.
Display your wares near your campsite
One way to bring attention to your crafts is to simply put a small table near the road in your site displaying your wares or put them out on your picnic table.
This display would alert your neighbors that you have craft items for sale, and if you only have a few items, this might be sufficient, but if you have dozens and dozens of different sizes, patterns, flavors, scents, shapes, or whatever, then just putting a few items on a table where only a couple of people will pass by simply won’t produce the sales you may need.
Display your crafts in the RV park office
If you’re going to be in one campsite for some time (weeks or months), you might ask the staff if you can display a sample of your crafts in the office with your name and site number. Additionally, there are many RV parks that are part of a larger community of seasonal residents, and many of these communities have hobby and craft centers for their residents’ use. In these parks, you might be able to display your crafts in or near the craft center.
There are also some parks, like Palm Springs RV Resort, that encourage campers to participate in a park wide “garage sale” for a few hours, one day every week. You might have extra supplies in your RV that you’re trying to sell or give away, or you might have craft items to showcase and sell. It’s a fun activity to walk around the park, looking at the items and talking with the other campers.
How to sell crafts online
These strategies might work well if you only have a few items to sell, but if you’re creating a few hundred craft items a month, or if you have expensive one-of-a kind crafts, you’ll probably need to take advantage of the internet.
In this case, you’ll need a website to tell your story, showcase your wares, and allow people to purchase them. If you can’t build your own website, I can recommend an excellent web designer, PDQ Web Design, who is also traveling in her RV doing this very thing. You can see samples of some of her designs on her website.
Once you have a website, you can leverage that in signage and other displays. As a side note, giving people a place to go on the internet to see your crafts may be better than standing behind a table and staring at them while they look at what you are trying to sell. It’s less intimidating and more informative.
Sell items on Etsy
Another internet resource is Etsy. It is the quintessential crafters database, but the problem with Etsy is there are so many choices and it’s hard to capture website visitor’s attention. In that case, you might want to use a sub-niche to narrow the number of competitors to only a few.
For example, if you create unique rock jewelry, that might be too broad to be discovered in Etsy’s search algorithm. But if you create “handcrafted unique rock toe rings”, that might narrow the search results to the point where your products will be seen in an Etsy search. Even if you have a wide array of rock jewelry items, by narrowing the niche, you will bring people to your Etsy store.
Advertise your website or Etsy store
Once you have an Etsy store or a website, you should advertise with clear graphics on your RV, truck, or car, and let people in and around your campground know that you have unique crafts for sale and where to find them. Additionally, like the couple who crafted and sold apparel from their RV, you can find dates and times of regional swap meets, state fairs, county festivals, or other gatherings, and establish a travel schedule that allows you to display your wares at these gatherings.
You will probably need to rent display space and have some display tools like tables, skirts, backdrops, etc. But if you have enough product, this might be an exciting and fun way to sell your crafts.
Use a fulfillment house to sell your crafts
Finally, if dozens and dozens of your craft items are going to be sold through your website or Etsy store, the inventory may be too much for you to haul around with you as you travel, and the logistics of packaging and shipping each item to dozens of different addresses is too difficult. In that case, you might consider using a fulfillment house.
In this scenario, you would create the craft items and send them to your fulfillment house. Your website or Etsy store would showcase your crafts and you would answer all your customer’s questions, but orders would go directly to the fulfillment house. They would pull the product from your inventory stored in their warehouse, create a shipping label, package the goods, and ship each order to the customers.
Fulfillment houses charge a fee for this service, but they store and monitor your inventory and they let you know when any item needs to be replenished. This system is faster and more professional than you scrambling around to find the nearest UPS Store. Additionally, the fulfillment houses negotiate great freight rates because they ship so much volume and you and you customers will benefit from their discounted shipping charges.
Match your marketing to your products
Whether you display your crafts on your picnic table, travel to local festivals, or use a fulfillment house to package and ship your crafts, sales will depend on what you have to sell, who is the most likely to buy your crafts, and how much each item costs.
None of these ideas make any sense if you can’t make a little money in the process, so creating a whole website to sell a half dozen crocheted potholders doesn’t make any sense. On the other hand, if you are a bird carver and your one-of-a-kind carvings typically sell for a thousand dollars and up, creating a website to showcase each work of art might be the best way to sell your crafts while you’re RVing.
Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.