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Are you thinking about starting a home-based food business in Illinois? Maybe you're in Michigan and wondering if you need a permit to sell food from home. Each state implements its own rules and regulations regarding homemade food production.

These regulations are known as cottage food laws. While cottage food law Michigan and cottage food law Illinois regulations have similarities, you need to review your state's specific policies. For example, your cottage food income must not exceed $36,000 per year in Illinois. In Michigan, there's a $25,000 cap.

Read on to discover five things you need to know about making food at home to sell.

1. Cottage Food Law: Making Food at Home to Sell

In considering how to start a small food business at home, the biggest thing to keep in mind is that it's a business. And selling food is a bit different from selling other products because certain foods can potentially harm people without following safety procedures. The bottom line is that a home-based food business requires planning.

Example: Cottage Food Law Illinois

We can use Illinois as an example to illustrate how to get licensed to sell food. The state provides a comprehensive infographic that outlines what to do, including:

These guidelines will help you get started regardless of where you live.

Example: Cottage Food Law Michigan

Home kitchens may have food operations that do not need permits. Michigan defines cottage foods as specific types of food that are okay to make in an unlicensed kitchen in your home. The thing to keep in mind is that not all foods qualify.

Some examples of food that does typically count as cottage foods include:

Cottage foods must not be potentially hazardous. Additionally, they can't require time or temperature control to ensure safety.

2. Find Out What Other Business Permits and Licenses You Need

Cottage food law requires food handler's cards and may require other licensure depending on the state. Likewise, many states require business licenses or permits for home-based food businesses. That's why it's vital to research licenses, certifications, and food safety, specifically for the state and county where you live.

It's also a good idea to check zoning laws to ensure you can operate a business from your home. What's more, you'll want to get your tax profile set up. And, while it might not always be a requirement, it's an excellent idea to cover your business with insurance.

You'll be set up for success if you take care of those details before launching your home-based food business.

3. Types of Food and Food Products

Maybe you're wondering how to make money selling food from home. With some planning and research, you can find the best products to sell. You might want to start with easy food to sell to make money, like gourmet popcorn or candied nuts.

Of course, cookies and baked goods are an easy food to sell to make money. There's almost always a market for sweets. Meal kits are also convenient and perfect for cottage food businesses because the product doesn't have to contain anything perishable.

For example, a subscription box could include beautifully crafted recipe cards and a supply of the dried herbs and spices needed in the ingredients list. Meal kits are a popular food delivery service.

The bottom line is, you should make a list of acceptable foods according to your state's cottage food law. Then have fun and get imaginative about all the ways you can sell it.

4. Selling Homemade Food Online

If you're wondering how to sell food online, it's easier with platforms set up for cottage food producers. Once you have the legalities in order, you can use a platform like Castiron to build your online business. A subscription service like the recipe boxes we previously mentioned is an excellent way to make money online because it provides repeat business.

With Castiron, you can create a free eCommerce website. The platform makes it simple to conduct business and centralize your orders, payments, fulfillment, and more.

5. Don't Forget About Marketing

Social media is one of the most cost-effective ways to get the word out about your home-based food business. After all, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram are free. Marketing is all about your audience. So take photographs that show off your product.

Share the story about your business with your social media followers. And build a mailing list that you can send notices to when you add a new product or have a sale. Castiron's social media, automated email, and SEO tools can help you get there. Sign up to get started.

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