Award-winning blueberry pie. Homemade sourdough bagels. Trail mix that your family adores. No matter what you’re making, you’ve built a business making and selling your food from home, and that’s something to be proud of.
If you’re looking for a way to grow sales for your homemade food business, or if you just want to expand your reach, Facebook is a great place to start. You’re probably already active on Facebook, and with Facebook Marketplace, you have a built-in audience.
Ready to get started? Before you hit publish on your first product listing, there are a few things to take care of.
You might wonder if it’s even legal to sell food on Facebook.
The answer is generally yes — you just need to be aware of any local regulations around selling homemade food online.
We’ll cover cottage food laws, pricing, creating the perfect Marketplace listing, and much more below.
You’re excited to start selling, and we’re excited for you! Before you open for business, though, there are a few things you’ll want to nail down.
Before you start selling, you need to understand your state and local cottage food laws. These laws on selling homemade food will help you determine which kinds of food you can sell, as well as who you can sell to and where you can sell your products.
Every state is different when it comes to cottage food law, so do your research. Don’t be afraid to call your local health department or agriculture department to find out what you can and can’t sell. Some states require certain licenses or labels, while others allow complete freedom over what and how you sell.
The most fun part of the home food business process is selecting a menu. This is where you can express yourself — and your talents — to create products that your customers can’t help but buy.
Maybe you already know what you want to make. Do you know if your state’s cottage food laws allow you to sell your food legally, though? Most states have a list of acceptable foods — they’re often shelf-stable, and typically exclude meat, dairy, or other “hazardous” ingredients.
If your coworkers rave about your Christmas cookies all year long, maybe you should consider starting a cookie business. If you’re regularly baking quickbreads or sourdough boules, why not start a bread business?
It may seem impossible to narrow down your menu, but it’s always a good idea to start small and scale up your menu over time. If you’re a talented baker or jam maker, you might be tempted to offer 20 types of cookies, or dozens of jelly and jam flavors. Instead of starting with too many options, focus on a few core menu items and increase your selection as your customer base grows.
No matter which products you end up adding to your menu, it’s important to have a passion for what you do. Your passion shines through to your customers, and it makes them want to continue to support your business. When you create products you truly love, your customers can tell the difference!
If menu creation is the fun part, then setting prices might be the least fun part of the job — but it’s one of the most important. Pricing should be incredibly important to you as a business owner, because it lies at the center of building a sustainable food business.
Take the time to learn the costs of each of your products. Figure out how much each ingredient costs and how many of each of your products you can make from your ingredients. You’ll need to factor in things like ingredients, of course, as well as packaging, marketing costs, labels, farmers’ market booth fees, and anything else that goes into getting your products to customers.
When you understand your costs, you can understand your profits, as well. That means you’ll be able to analyze your menu over time to see which products are making you the most money, and which aren’t pulling their weight. It will also help you know when to adjust your prices to keep your profit margin in the right place.
While there’s no silver bullet to pricing your homemade food products, there are a few things that you should always take into consideration when coming up with a price:
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully it helps you think about all of the small costs of running a food business that can add up over time — especially if you’re not pricing your products correctly.
How will you get paid for your products? The time to figure that out is before you start selling! There are so many ways to get paid for your cottage food: by cash, check, credit card, Venmo, Zelle, Square, Apple Pay, and more. The most important consideration you can make when selecting a payment method is how your customers like to pay. When you make it easier for customers, they’re more likely to buy from you.
That’s why we recommend using a tool like Castiron to sell your homemade food online. You can list your products on Facebook Marketplace, and send interested customers a link to your Castiron store to complete their purchase. No need for tons of back and forth conversation — with Castiron, you’ll get all of the details you need (including fulfillment information based on the shipping, pickup, or delivery options you set ahead of time) so you can make the food and share it with your customers.
The best part of using Castiron? It’s completely free (and risk-free) to get started. If you can set up a Facebook account, you can set up a store on Castiron. Sign up for Castiron here and start selling in minutes.
At the end of the day, it’s a good idea to either offer several payment options (which can get confusing for you to keep track of), or to offer a payment option that everyone already has (like via credit card). Do what makes the most sense for your business and your customers.
Ready to sell homemade food online? Facebook Marketplace is a great place to get your business in front of others.
As you prepare to sell food on Facebook Marketplace, here are a few tasks you should complete.
Marketplace listings are an art and a science. Showcase your food in the best light by creating a beautiful, informative product listing.
These five elements make up a great Facebook Marketplace listing:
“If you build it, they will come” isn’t always the case. To get your first customers in the door, consider making an announcement on social media — any anywhere you market your business. Share a post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or send an email or text to your customers letting them know that you are open for business. Ask them to share your listings with their friends so that you can reach even more customers.
Facebook Marketplace makes it easy for your business — and your delicious products — to get discovered by new customers.
1. You’ll reach more customers.
Marketplace sellers can easily access local and national audiences for free with their product listings.
2. You’ll create a more personalized experience.
Thanks to Facebook’s advanced algorithms for showing you the content you’re interested in, Facebook Marketplace is able to surface products that are relevant to its users, helping your business find the right customers (people who are interested in food in your area).
This helps ensure that your product is being seen by the right audience, ultimately resulting in an increased opportunity that the interaction will lead to a purchase.
Facebook Marketplace is an easy way to get your products in front of potential customers for little or no cost. Marketplace is a good place to sell homemade food because:
When you use Facebook Marketplace to sell food, you're not stuck using Facebook's system to sell. You can create your own online store to sell food and share the link with your customers. At Castiron, that's what we love to help you do. You can set up your own homemade food store for free here.
Once you’ve received an order and taken payment, it’s time to get cooking! Provide the best possible experience for customers by providing them with a delicious product and fulfilling their order on time.
Some culinary artisans may require that their customers pick up their orders from their home, or they may want to meet up in public for pick up. If you offer delivery, you may want to consider adding an extra charge to cover your gas and time.
After delivery, you may consider reaching out to your customer for feedback. If they provide positive feedback, ask them to leave a positive review on your business’ Facebook page, on your Google My Business profile, or on your Yelp page.
As your food business grows, so will your approach to using Facebook Marketplace to reach customers. Test out different strategies for marketing your food business on Facebook, like using Facebook Groups or running ads, and learn what works best for your business. Good luck!