How to Start a Business Selling Soaps Online
Soap making is something you’ve enjoyed for a while now. People have told you how much they’ve loved your soaps, and you’ve enjoyed the opportunity to test out new ingredients and produce some beautiful bars of soap.
So why not take it the next step? Why not turn your hobby into a real business?
How many times have you heard others lament that they were putting up with the daily grind to support their hobbies? This is your chance to earn money doing something you actually enjoy.
Having said that, transitioning your favorite hobby into your daily job can be a little jarring. It’s not just about having fun, anymore. It’s also about work. And that can change things.
That’s not to say you won’t have fun. You’ll still be expressing your creativity and developing wonderful products all the time.
There are just a few things you need to keep in mind if you’re going to start a business selling soap online.
You don’t need to be the Amazon of homemade soaps the day you launch your business.
It’s better to specialize and make a name for yourself by doing a few things really well, instead of a lot of things okay, at best. Keep your initial product line small enough to handle so you can focus on a single market.
You can also get started without a website to call your own. Instead, you can begin to sell directly to customers on other sites, like eBay or Etsy, and start building a name for yourself. This is usually the most affordable way to start selling because, while there are some fees, they are set up to make it easy for new businesses to jump right in.
Then, as you start to generate some reliable income from these initial endeavors, you can think about branching out a little further.
(One final note for this startup phase is that any business that sells hygiene or cosmetic products, could have a number of regulations that you must conform to depending on the state. Be sure to check research as you begin this process.)
But Have a Plan to Grow
It’s a good idea to start small, but that doesn’t mean you have to always limit yourself to a 10-item product line. As you gain more customers, you’re going to spot more opportunities to grow.
Listen to your customers. What did they like about your previous products? How can you improve on them?
Half the fun of this business is experimenting with recipes to create the most unique and visually attractive soaps, and this is the opportunity to develop your offerings and slowly grow your line. (Not sure how to get started with that? We have plenty of great soap recipes you can play with.)
Just remember, though, a plan for growth isn’t just about what you will sell, but how you will sell it.
It’s a lot of fun to make and develop new soaps, but if that takes all your attention, some of the important business functions can start to slide.
So, create a plan. Make sure that you don’t add more products than you’re capable of delivering. Don’t get so caught up with the fun of the R&D that you aren’t taking enough time to run the business.
Determine where you want to go with this business. Are you in it to earn a few extra dollars, or do you want to have a retail store front or distribute through a local chain of stores?
There a lot of possibilities, and if you have a plan from the very beginning, you’ll have a much greater chance of seeing it happen.
Perfect Your Soap Making Skills and Processes
You can really set yourself apart from the competition by selling soaps that are of a much higher quality (in appearance, aroma, and actual cleaning ability). You can use some simple soap making tips to perfect your recipes, and then determine how you can increase your production without losing any quality.
This is particularly important in a market where people are starting to be suspicious of the ingredients that goes into the mass market soaps. They want to feel confident that their products are safe and natural, and as you build your brand as a maker of quality soaps, more people will want to keep buying from you.
You Need a Brand to Sell Your Soap
People want to buy from someone they trust. They may not be able to get to know you on a personal level, but they can get to know your brand’s reputation pretty easily.
Trust and recognition are immediate competitive advantages. It may take some time to build them up, but they will quickly become some of your most valuable assets.
Your brand involves your colors, your logo, and your tagline, but it’s also about the voice and the personality of the business. It’s about their experience with you.
So, as you go through this startup period, take the time to carefully define your brand with the understanding that it will guide many of your future business decisions.
There are a lot of people out there trying to sell soap online, so there will always be competition in the marketplace, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
You need to be competitive to keep up, but you shouldn’t just try to compete on the price alone.
And if you’ve build a strong brand, you won’t have to.
In this industry, people are looking for quality. They’re looking for unique. They can get cheap and generic off the shelf at the grocery store.
They want to buy from you because you have created something that has a lot of value.
So, compete on that level – compete by providing more value. Offering better products from better soap making supplies may mean charging a little more, but that’s okay, too. You just have to make sure you’re targeting the right market – the market that really appreciates quality and value.
There are a few ways to start building your brand around value. Start learning how to take amazing photos of your products. Be transparent about your soap making processes and highlight some testimonials from happy customers.
Advertising is Part of the Business
Advertising is one of those things a lot of new, professional soap makers don’t want to think about. They assume that it’s going to be really involved and really expensive. Proper advertising is necessary, though, because you can’t just sit back and hope someone stumbles across your products online.
And, when it comes right down to it, there are some very affordable and effective options for advertising online.
Social media is the simplest way to get started. Be active in social communities, write blogs and publish them. Make videos and put them on YouTube. The only cost, here, is time, but if you stick with it, you can start to build a solid following.
Don’t try to get on every platform at once. Like the rest of your business, start with a handful of properties and go from there. Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook are good starting points. Facebook even lets you pay for ads that are surprisingly affordable.
Eventually, these communities can start sending interested people to your online store.
Run It Like a Business, Not a Hobby
Remember, every business has to deal with taxes, insurance, shipping methods, keeping everything properly updated on websites, and more. If the thought of that level of business management doesn’t seem like much fun, be sure to consult with someone who can help you through it all.
Never Give Up
There are inevitably going to be some speedbumps between startup and full-time business. Everyone has to start somewhere, though, and no one gets a free trip to the top.
It will take some time, and it won’t always be easy (and you may even occasionally miss the days when you made soap just for fun), but in the end, when you’re your own boss, you are doing something you love and getting to call it a living, you’ll see that it was all worth it.
Thanks for the information! I’ve recently gotten into making soaps, body butters, and such and was thinking about selling on Etsy so that by the time I retire, I’ll have a good business going that I can do from wherever I choose to live. My friends and family are really supportive and since they will be getting my products for birthday and Christmas presents this year, I’ll be able to get good feedback from a broad range of people before launching my brand.
That’s so great to hear! It’s so great to have that kind of support. Good luck with getting your business going!
You’re welcome; we wish you the very best with your brand!
I love reading all of the comments, it is very encouraging
Lovely; thanks for your support!
I started making soap as a hobby while I cared for my mom who recently passed. Now I am at confused on what do do with my life. Should I return to work,or turn my hobby into a business? I was thinking of doing the latter of the two. Your email has help me to refocused my energy into being my own boss. Thank you.
Thanks for reaching out! Turning something you love into a business is always rewarding, as you’ll be doing something you love and making money at the same time. Definitely consider your finances as there are costs that will need to be absorbed as a business, but more importantly do what makes you feel happy and it WILL reap its own rewards!
Sorry for your loss.
Sometimes those speed bumps can be pretty huge. I had my own business started, was doing really well gaining clientele, confidence, and knowledge….when I was hit with a stroke. it’s been a long recovery, but I’ve fought my way back to the point I’m ready to start up again. I miss it, a lot. There’s something so rewarding about the chemistry of changing the molecules of oil, and lye into something that smells sooo good. I started this 3 years ago, and can’t wait to dive back in. To those of you just getting started, don’t let anything stop you. EVERYONE needs soap! Or it’d be a really stinky world. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your encouraging words!
i love the way you say EVERYONE need soap! Or it’d be a really stinky world. i will use this quotes (by soaplady) to end my pitch.
Great; wishing you the best!
Thanks for sharing. Im currently in the process of turning my hobby into a business while in college. Wish me luck
Wishing you the very best!
I’m in the same place! It’s rough balancing school and this business, but I love it! Keep at it. I’m so happy to hear about other college makers.
Love the advice!
Wishing you all the luck you need and then a lil extra.
Good information as I try to navigate launching my soap brand!
If anyone has a link to regulations …I’d appreciate the link
All the best with your brand launch!
Thank you for the email. I am thinking about selling my soap. I guess I need to do more research on the subject. I work full time and thought about doing this when I retire.
We encourage you to get started ASAP, even if it’s a very small scale production. Wishing you all the best!
I began an online store finally but I chose to pay for a monthly domain. I have a fb page, a blog and so far I’ve made one sell this way. Any suggestions??
Nice work; your website looks great! Maybe you can try using Facebook Ads or using Google Ads; creating a Facebook groups is to help novice soap makers is also a great way to get your brand known. Hope this helps!
You would benefit from creating a Facebook group. Pages you have to wait on people to like or follow, however in a group you can manually add people. Create a group, add all of your friends, and then do a giveaway. Have people add others to the group in order to enter the giveaway. ( for example: 1 entry for every 5 people added). This will help you gain a following. I started 2 months ago selling soaps and bath bombs on Facebook and already have 1300 members of my group. Best of luck dear!
I started making soap 2.5 years ago. It’s wonderful and I want to expand, just need the courage to take the plunge!
You can do it!
I have been making soaps for about 3 years. I make a wonderful Cardamom soap and have been seriously selling my soaps online. Thanks for the great info and the gentle push I needed.
I will keep you all posted.
Nice; looking forward to learning about your progress!
I started my business several months ago and I have followed a lot of your advice. I go to the flea market when there isn’t an event for vendors around. But I do have my products online on my store and a Facebook page with links to the store but I didn’t know about the ads so I appreciate that advice. I do agree that you should have a product of your own and I did just that with my lip balms and my customers will not use anything else. In fact I can’t let them get low because they just panic lol. But I have also learned a lot from reading your blog’s and I now have some new things to try. So thank you.
Thank you for sharing your lovely experience; glad we were able to help you!
I have been making soaps, body & hair sprays & it has gone pretty well. Doing special craft markets, word of mouth sales, but definitely starting to expand. Good article on doing that.
Thanks for sharing; keep up the good work!
I was wondering if there was a place to have soap molds custom made. I have just start making soaps but I would like specific molds. Thank you
I apologize, we do not offer custom made soap molds; you can check out our available pre-made soap molds.
Very informative article.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic.
I’m interested in wholesale.
We do not offer wholesale accounts, as all prices on the website are discounted; however, we offer a 15% discount, everyday, on any order over $250.00 before tax and shipping. Simply enter the coupon code 15OFF250 at checkout to apply the discount. Hope this helps!
LOVE that you offer the wholesale discount! Thank You!!
You’re welcome; we also have weekly deals that you can be notified of if you subscribe to our newsletter!
Thank you for your article. I need all the help I can get with getting my website up and running.
You’re welcome; wishing you the very best!
This is something that I have wanted to do fo a while now, and though I feel I would have a very unique product to offer, I have been afraid to take the plunge. Most of my ideas are are just that (ideas) at this point, it has been suggested that some of the items I have made should be sold. This article has been most halpful and may be the push I have needed! Do you suggest taking business classes?
Glad it helped motivate you; business classes can do nothing but help accelerate your success! Wishing you all the best.
Thank you for the great post, Daniel. Are there resources for specific action plans that we can look into /buy? thanks!
Please could someone help me… I loved your article and want to start my own business but don’t know what I need to do (legally) to do so. Thanking you in advance.
I have been making my own skincare for the past several years now and I love it.
I have decided to start my home business selling my products but now I am discouraged because florida state law says I need a permit in which the only product I can manufacture from a home residence is soap. I was planning on selling my facial scrubs, body sprays and lotions, but leasing out a workplace/space that is compliant with the state law is not in my budget.
Can anyone suggest what else I can do and or who I need to seek advice from?
It would be best to contact a local attorney for advice, since this is a sensitive legal issue.
Your information is very interesting so I.want to learn and put into practice
You’re welcome; practicing is key.
Can i do this in MEXICO?
The principles are the same; you can look for service providers that support Mexico. Wishing prosperity in your endeavors!
I am a beginner. I thank all of you for the very informative comments. I am need of a logo. Any comments?
I have recently started making my own lotion (all from Bulkapothecary) but I am having trouble with preservatives. Sadly, I don’t think this site sells NATURAL preservatives? Am I wrong? What do you guys use for a natural preservative?
This article is most enlightening as where to start and the fact that you supply starter soap recipes is phenomenal. I’ve already setup an etsy account. Thanks for the information.