5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Candle Making Business

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Have you considered candle making for a fun hobby, an exciting side hustle, or even a small business?

Since I have been there before, hopefully, I can help you avoid some of the mistakes I made. Even if you started and quit (like me), you can start again!

Mistake No. 1:  You don’t even really start making candles

If you are thinking about it, do yourself a favor and start. If you can find a local class, sign up to take it. Or, buy a beginners kit online and try it. The kits are affordable and include everything you need to make a few candles.

You can always go on YouTube and watch a few videos…I highly recommend Black Tie Barn, which is full of great information. 

Don’t get stuck researching or just watching the videos.  You can do it!  Take small steps and keep going!

Mistake No. 2: You don’t test your candles

This is a big one. Although It takes time and money to do this step, if you don’t, there is no way you will be successful. When I first made candles, I did not do this and looking back, I’m so glad I took that Etsy listing down! 

If you plan to sell your candles, or give them away as gifts, you must test them. Final. No professional candle maker who would tell you otherwise. 

You may wonder why? First, you don’t want to make a crap candle.  Therefore, testing will ensure 1) they burn properly and 2) they smell great while they are burning (hot throw) and when they are not (cold throw). 

By testing, you will learn so much about waxes, fragrances, dyes, and wicks, that you will never make a crap candle!  Because you have tested your candles, you will have the confidence to sell them anywhere, which is huge.

Mistake No. 3:  Your candle business plan is to…wait, what?

This mistake and I are old friends.  So you want to start selling your candles, now what?  You need a plan.  This will keep you from getting overwhelmed, and from overwhelm it’s a short hop to quitting.  Been there, done that.  Don’t overthink it because a simple plan to start will do. Some things to think about are:

What wax, wick, and container will you use?

Will you use soy, paraffin, or coconut? A mason jar or straight-sided? Make sure you have the right wick! These are fun decisions to make and what the testing if for. Now you’ve made some decisions on what you like and what works.  Now you have your wax, wick, container, and several fragrances you like.

Because there are so many choices, start with 4 to 6 fragrances and 2 to 3 jar sizes. Remember your theme so you can narrow down choices (discussed below). You can build from there according your sales.

What will your label look like?

Your label is your first impression. What do you want your customer to feel or think when they see it?  Is it elegant, casual, or fun?  You can design them on your own (probably a good idea for a beginner on a budget) or a platform like Canva.com. 

There are online options like Avery.com and onlinelabels.com to print them yourself or have them printed for you.  If you want someone to design labels for you, try fiverr.com or upwork.com.

Where will you source your candle supplies?

You need to know where you can buy your supplies.  If you have a local candle supply store, start there.  If not, here are some great options:

Candlescience.com, candlesandsupplies.com, candlewic.com, cjcandlesupply.com, and many others.

What’s the name of your business?

Put some thought into this and brainstorm many ideas. Once you have some ideas, be sure to check them on a domain checker to see if they are available. 

Something to think about is if you only want to sell candles, then try to put candles in the title. But if you want to add items like soap or lotion, pick a more general name.

Then go to namecheap.com or godaddy.com to check its availability.  You can also try the Shopify name generator for free. Once you find an available name, you may want to buy it. It’s around $10 for the year. Note: some webhosts offer a free domain when you sign up for a hosting plan, which is something to consider if thinking about starting a website.

What is the cost to make your candles?

Although you may or may not love numbers (I do not), you have to know how much it costs to make your candles. Knowing your numbers will help you price your candles and keep you in business. 

How will you track your supplies and inventory?

This can be a simple Excel spreadsheet, Google doc, or a craft business website like craftybase.com.  The important thing is that you stay organized.

Where will you buy your packaging supplies?

Don’t forget you have to send your candles to your customers!  Be ready for this with a small amount of packing materials to start.  Also, check out usps.com for supplies that can be shipped to you and, of course, Amazon.com.  Also, to begin, you will need boxes, tape, shipping labels, and packing materials.

What about insurance and registering your business?

I am NOT a lawyer! However, be smart and pay attention to this legal stuff before you get too far in your business.  Insurance is to protect yourself, and registering your business as a sole proprietor or LLC will help you with wholesale prices with some suppliers and, of course, taxes.

Please look this up for your state, and consult a small business attorney if doing it yourself seems too overwhelming.

Mistake No. 4: You don’t have a theme for your candles

Ah, this is another mistake I know well. Just make some candles and sell them, right? This is not a plan and is guaranteed to fail. Knowing why you are making candles gives you a better chance at success.

If you make a candle with a linen scent, now what? This is what I did, but with a beach scent. Again, so glad I took that listing down.

Why should or would anyone buy your candle? This is why your theme matters. A linen scented candle is great, if it’s a part of your theme.

This is not to discourage you, but to encourage you to think about your candles.

Your story is your theme. If you get stuck on this, think about the candles you buy. Why do you buy them? Is it a candle that you purchased only once? Why? How about the candles that you buy over and over again?

When you have your story or theme, the people that like it and relate to it will buy your candles and become repeat customers.

Mistake No. 5: You don’t know where you want to sell or market your candles

You made your candles, now what? How will you sell and market them?  There are many options, from in-person craft shows or farmers markets to Etsy, Amazon, social media, or your website. You need to decide what you want to do. 

Maybe you only want to do in-person venues.  Maybe only Etsy.  Also, another idea to consider is starting on one platform like Etsy, and then go to Shopify or your own website.

A good place to start is on Etsy (where I had my store for less than 1 day) because it’s easy.  You are less likely to quit if you can make some progress.  Also, there is a built-in audience, so people will likely find your candles without you doing too much.

You can get experience with customers, packaging, and shipping.  You can add social media to help promote your store, and from there, you can go to Shopify or your website.

The best part is this is up to you!

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