We’re living in a crazy time right now with the Coronavirus. People are losing jobs or getting furloughed, salaries are getting cut, but life still goes on and you still have bills to pay.
You may not think this, but this is a great time to start or to be running your own handmade business. While you may have seen on the news that some businesses are struggling and closing, there are also a lot of businesses that are absolutely thriving!
Being successful in a chaotic time like this might just come down to a slight shift in your product offerings. I don’t mean in a sleazy, exploit the situation kind of way, but in a way where we know that people need certain products, and there’s just not enough supply for them.
That’s where you, as a maker, can come in to help serve and contribute your community and help stimulate the economy.
Today, I’m going to share with you the 10 top-selling products right now during COVID-19. My hope is to give you some ideas for your small business, or to help you find ways to pivot.
Hi! I’m Mei, and I help makers, artists and designers create a consistent income selling their handmade products online.
So, what’s selling right now? Well, it’s no secret there are more people spending a lot of time at home.
Even as lockdowns get lifted, it’s likely that people are going to be home a lot more than they used to be in the coming months and they’re spending money shopping to add more comfort to their life during this stressful time.
Plus, they’re just bored and looking for something to do.
1. Face Masks
Number one product that’s selling well right now are face masks. I know that’s obvious, right? But, if you run a sewing business, and if you haven’t yet, you may want to shift to offering a line of face masks.
They’re in demand, and show no signs of slowing down soon.
In many states and countries, face masks are a requirement for going on public transportation or in shops and since most of us don’t do laundry every day, the average person will likely want a few face masks to own for everyday wear.
That means people aren’t just going to buy one mask, but possibly multiples at a time.
Just like clothing, people are looking for comfort as well as a way to express themselves. Using cool patterned fabric, nice finishes, and establishing a clear style with your masks are key in providing a good quality product that your customers will pay a premium for.
You’ll want to make sure your search terms are on target so you’re attracting new customers to shop from you.
Once you have a new customer, you’ll want to give them a great experience shopping with you, so they’ll become a returning customer for your other products.
2. Hand Sanitizer
Another obvious one, right? Everyone is using hand sanitizer and I can’t imagine this slowing down!
Even before Covid-19, hand sanitizers were already selling like hotcakes in stores like Bath and Body Works.
This is great for you if you’re already in the soap or beauty market.
So, here’s where I want to talk about something that’s so important to any handmade business: your special sauce.
What makes you unique? What are you doing that sets you apart from your competitors? This is so important when you’re competing with a commercially-made product.
What would make someone pay more for your artisan hand sanitizer compared to what you can buy in the store?
There are so many ways to set yourself apart. Like, I have some scented hand sanitizer that actually makes me happy when I use it. I never thought hand sanitizer could be enjoyable, but it can be, especially since it’s such an important part of our lives right now.
- So can you add some fun or interesting scents no one else is doing yet?
- What does your packaging look like?
- Can you stand out in that way?
- Can you win customers over with unique branding for your sanitizer line?
- Can you make your label really funny and comedic or sassy?
Whatever it is, make a product that’s uniquely yours!
We’re spending way more time at home. Candles, air fresheners, aromatherapy diffusing reeds, even diffuser bracelets are super popular right now!
People want stuff that smells good and makes their crowded and confining home smell nice and feel relaxed.
I don’t want to harp on this special sauce thing, but it’s really the key!
For instance, can you make vegan candles? Do you use scents and branding that evoke a tropical vacation? Cause you know, no one’s traveling right now either and I can bet you people are really jonesing for some ocean waves and drinking martinis on the cruise balcony.
What about candles inspired by the customer’s zodiac sign?
Candles with wicks that make a fireplace crackling sound? Yes! You can make those with wood wicks, FYI!
It’s a crowded marketplace, but there is so much room to make your own path!
4. Soaps + Cleaning Products
We’re obsessed with cleanliness right now, and soaps are really hot.
You know what I’m going to say — make some soaps that are amazing. If you can really blow your customers away, you’ll develop a loyal following that stays in place well after we’re through this epidemic.
On the topic of soaps, I want to talk about gift boxes.
Soaps can be tricky because a single bar doesn’t cost too much, and ideally, for a successful business, you want the highest average order amount you can get.
Wouldn’t you rather make $30 sales than $5 sales?
Think about it, it takes you the same amount of time to mail out 5 soaps as it does 1, so encourage people to buy more for every order.
One idea is to bundle soaps together into sets. This is a great way to raise your average order amount.
However you want to put them together, come up with a theme and put them in a fun or gorgeous box. Maybe you have a sampler that’s 30 different mini soaps. You could take 7 soaps in the colors of the rainbow and have a rainbow box set.
There are really so many options for you to explore.
People are also wanting to connect with family and friends who are out of touch, and gifts are a great way to do so. Write your product description to suggest the idea of giving a gift of soap as a token of love. You might want to add a gift note option to your checkout as well.
If you’re creating any kind of illustration, digital art, graphic design, or artwork, think about whether you can have it printed on a puzzle. Many print-on-demand companies offer this as an option.
Puzzles are selling like crazy right now because people are bored at home and running out of things to do. You can charge a nice price point for them, comparable to a large print.
If puzzles are new to your audience, consider creating a few pieces of content like videos or blog posts or emails to walk your audience through your puzzles or even give them a demonstration.
You know, there’s the assembly, obviously, but you can also provide tips for gluing the puzzle together and framing it for a piece of artwork!
6. Home Decor
With so many people spending time at home, one place that people are willing to splurge on is home decor.
How can you pivot your products to appeal to people who are shopping for their home?
Artwork and prints are doing well. Can you turn your artwork into a framed canvas or canvas wrap to expand your product line? You could maybe even get into making wallpaper and you can make a how-to tutorial video showing a cool project with that like how to line the inside of a bookshelf?
Speaking of which, woodworkers are also seeing a huge uptick in storage and organization products. If you make pottery, you can also jump on the gardening trend by making pots for indoor plants and succulents.
Then of course, there are pillows, which are a great way to spruce up a sofa. The best part is a pillow cover is a simple shift for anyone who’s a sewer.
Or maybe you make really cool mugs or other types of kitchenware.
Even if you aren’t creating any new products, think about how you can rewrite your product descriptions to emphasize how your product might make staying at home more enjoyable.
People have more time on their hands for hobbies and they’re increasingly turning to DIY projects. But they need instructions.
If you’re a production artist, this may be the right time to introduce patterns in your business.
Patterns can be a great source of passive income. Knitting, crochet, embroidery, sewing, cross-stitch, weaving and punch needle all use patterns, so there’s a tremendous variety of products you can make here.
8. Craft Kits
Some people are starting a craft for the first time, and you can make your products more attractive to them by including everything they need in one place.
If you’re already making finished products, you probably already have access to wholesale suppliers for the individual materials. You can bring in an additional income stream by selling those supplies yourself to your end customer.
Package up all of the supplies, instructions, and materials into a craft kit. It makes it super easy and convenient for the customer, especially since they don’t want the trouble of running to the store, to get all the supplies they need.
Even if the craft kit ends up being close to the same price as the finished product, don’t be surprised if people don’t bat an eye.
The act of making the product is part of what’s fun for them, and you’re giving them that experience. So don't’ short change yourself by giving in to the temptation to charge less for your craft kits.
Food is totally in demand right now!
People are growing tired of their usual food they eat day in and day out, so they’re starting to look for a little luxury in their home dining experience.
I’ve seen so many handcrafted food products that really elevate the daily experience of eating, like chutneys, flavored vinegars, teas, artisan biscuits, the list really goes on.
Of course, you want to think about shipping if you’re in the product development stage. For example, a beautifully-decorated cupcake may have a hard time making it across the country in one piece. Also, be sure that you’re in line with all food preparation requirements and laws.
One thing’s for sure though, that previously super expensive $10 jar of jam that turns a boring breakfast into a luxury brunch now seems affordable when compared to ordering in a full-on brunch!
10. Baby Products + Toys
Babies don’t stop growing and with many retail shops closed, people are turning to shopping online for baby products.
If you sell clothing, this is your chance to capture a new segment of your market.
The whole niche of kid’s toys is also seeing a boost in sales.
Parents are looking for activities for their kids to do. This means not only classic toys like wooden trains, puzzles and dolls, but also broader types of toys for older kids, would do really well.
So, for example, if you’re an artist, can you put together like an ‘Explore Art’ package or kit with educational information? Or if you craft puzzles for adults, can you create smaller, easier versions for kids?