Hermit Garden

Selling Terrariums: A Quick Guide To Turning Your Hobby Into Cash

So you’ve made a few terrariums and they’re starting to pile up. What are you going to do with them? It would be a shame to just throw them out.

While there are some challenges you’ll have to face when selling terrariums, it’s definitely something that’s doable with enough planning. You’ll have to consider shipping, where to find your customers, and the possibility of turning your hobby into a job.

At the same time, there are some pretty nice advantages to selling terrariums over a lot of other products including: low cost, portability, and relatively low barrier to entry. It’s pretty easy to get started selling terrariums.

Let’s take a look at what needs to happen to make your new side hustle a reality.

Where to sell terrariums

Where to sell your terrarium is probably one of the first things that you’ll have to consider to even begin thinking about converting your terrariums to cash. 

There’s always the option of selling them to friends and families, but you’re going have many more potential customers selling to strangers on the internet or strangers in your neighborhood.

Here are the best places to sell them:

  1. Etsy
  2. Craigslist
  3. eBay
  4. Facebook
  5. Your local farmers market

I won’t get into too much detail on how to get set up on each of these sites, but the process is pretty much the same:

  1. Create an account
  2. Create an ad listing
  3. Ship to your customer
  4. Earn money

From a quick browse on Etsy, terrariums usually go for between $10 and $50 when selling online. A very special, large design might go for $100-$200.

If you want to sell at the farmers market, it’s a little bit more complicated. Since you’re taking up physical space in the market, farmers markets usually have you fill out an application.

Applications usually include business licenses, permits, licenses to sell, insurance information, and a description of your growing practices. They really want to make sure they’re not bringing in any bad apples to their list of sellers.

How to ship a terrarium

So now that you’ve got the logistics of selling down, now you’ve got to figure out how to ship your terrarium.

We all know the UPS guys aren’t always careful when handling your packages. Boxes get flipped around, shaken, and dropped all the time. Are you sure your plants are going to survive the trip?

A terrarium is mostly loose dirt and maybe some gravel/rocks after all. That’s quickly going to turn into a jumbled mess after a few flips without proper planning.

One option you could consider is requesting special shipping with extra care, however that’s going to cost extra and will eat into your profit margin.

So naturally, the best option left for you is to add some additional packaging protection yourself.

The key here is that you pack things tightly so there’s no room for things to drop when the box flips over.

And if you’re wondering if your plants will survive in a dark box without sunlight for the trip, don’t worry. Most plants can survive about 1-2 weeks without sunlight, which should last the duration of the trip. Just make sure to pack them right before sending them out for shipping.

One word of warning: you’ll want to make sure that your post office is aware that your shipping life plants. Every state has different restrictions about which plants are prohibited in certain states. There are also strict rules about pests and diseases.

You can check with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) database to see if your plants are endangered or prohibited in certain states.

There are two ways you could think about shipping terrariums:

  1. As a DIY kit
  2. As a fully assembled terrarium

Shipping a DIY terrarium kit

There are a few advantages to selling your terrarium as a DIY kit:

  1. Shipping and handling will be simpler
  2. There’s less work on your end for assembly
  3. You don’t have to worry about someone not liking your terrarium design
  4. You may be targeting a broader global audience of hobbyists

If you’re shipping a terrarium kit, shipping and handling will be much easier because each component of the terrarium will be packaged individually.

The false bottom, soil, and moss can all be packed in Ziploc bags. As for the other plants, you could gently place them in your container and pack it tightly with packing peanuts. This will protect the plants in the event that the box flips over or there’s a lot of turbulence on the journey to your customer.

For some extra protection, you can consider wrapping it all up in bubble wrap. This might be especially helpful if you’re shipping a glass container.

It’s also going to be helpful to include some instructions for a customer to have a greater chance that they will assemble it properly. That’s going to make sure that both your plants and your customer are happy.

Shipping a fully assembled terrarium

If you’re really set on the idea of selling a fully assembled terrarium, that’s still a possibility with careful planning and thought.

There’s a couple of advantages to selling terrariums this way:

  1. You can assemble the terrarium properly and you don’t have to place as much trust in the skill of your customer to make sure the plants survive
  2. You can showcase your terrarium design skills
  3. It may be easier to sell these locally to people looking for decorative plants than hobbyists, meaning a broader local audience

The challenge with shipping a fully assembled terrarium is it may be more difficult to keep the false base, soil, and plants in place inside their container, especially if you have an intricate design.

If your design is relatively flat, you may be able to get away with stuffing your container with packing peanuts and sealing it. 

If your terrarium is a little bit more intricate, you may have to resort to using epoxy to make sure the components stay in their place.

It’s going to take a little bit of creativity to make sure that nothing moves around in there, but it’s definitely doable.

Why you might not want to sell terrariums

There are a few reasons why you might not want to start selling your terrariums:

When you’re trying to sell terrariums, it’s not as simple as collecting a pile of terrariums, storing them in a warehouse, and shipping them. Terrariums require active maintenance not just for keeping them alive, but also cultivating and growing plants to create more terrariums (at a reasonable price).

That’s going to take time and money to do that. And it’s not something you can just take a break from when you feel burnt out. there’s going to be a constant schedule to keep things going without disrupting your plant life cycles or your business output.

You’re also going to have to be prepared for the psychological aspects of this.

You have to be willing to completely give the hands of your terrarium into the hands of someone else who may not know what they are doing. There’s always the chance that they could ruin the beauty of your hand crafted terrarium.

And you’re just going to have to be okay with that (but of course willing to support your customers if needed).

You’re also going to have to be prepared for the possibility of starting to hate building terrariums after this. It’s a pretty common thing that happens to people who try to turn their hobbies into jobs.

If you’re aware and are prepared for these things, then you should be prepared to start selling terrariums. All you have to do is just get started.

Try taking a few photos, list your ad online and just see what happens.

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