Believe me though, if I had the money to do crafting as a full time hobby, I would because it’s really my life’s calling. So, in this post I’ll talk about how I turned my hobby to a business and offer some of my tips as well as some advice. To qualify myself, I’m not a marketing or business expert. I learn new things all the time, my purpose to just share some information and possibly tips Interview Style! These are some of the questions I’ve sees and read so I thought I’d give you my take, let’s hop to it!
First off, what type of crafting is considered to be in the creative industry?
This list can get pretty long so I’ll try to cover the basic categories which can be any of the following:
- Paper crafting (creating greeting cards, stationery, junk journals, scrapbooking, photo albums or other books, etc.)
- Writing/blogging (novels, short stories, plays, scripts, articles, technical writing, poetry, non-fiction, photo books, etc.)
- Fiber arts (crocheting, knitting, weaving, cross stitching, silk accessories like scarves or shawls, etc.)
- Painting (prints but also can be applied to mixed media pieces, cardmaking, woodwork, 3D art, etc.)
- Jewelry making
- Digital artwork (illustrations, 3D clipart, graphic design, etc.)
- Multimedia (creating videos, movies, presentations, etc.)
- Performing Arts (acting, dancing, etc.)
- Interior Design
- Fashion Design (also can include modeling and professional wardrobe shopping)
- Beauty/Makeup/hair (stylists, makeup artistry, beauty blogging, etc.)
Is your crafting a hobby?
If you craft or create items that you give away or you do it only for yourself no matter if part time or full time AND you don’t need monies to fund your supplies or time, then you have a full time hobby or call it a ministry. That’s great! However, if you need to recoup monies to buy new products, create new content or pay yourself a salary then you have a business. It’s important to understand the differences.
In my case, this is how I want to make a living because unfortunately hubby nor I can retire any time soon. And, we don’t have a savings to fall back on. I also don’t want to do my day job forever. Creating has always been my career but crafting handmade items that I can sell is my dream.
How do you answer people in the industry that feel creating artwork, crafts or anything handmade or in the Arts should be free?
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I don’t dispute that art should be shared. With that said, I believe in doing something I love as my career and ministry. I love to create with my hands. I get so much satisfaction when I make something that never existed before and then to promote that piece to someone who thought enough of my work to purchase it adds a seal of approval for me as an artist.
The world is full of people working for a living in a field they don’t like. Some of them may want to leave their job to start a business doing what they love, but feel stuck. Life is too short to spend the majority of it working in an unfulfilled job.
How did you get started crafting for business?
Well, for me I started in fiber arts crocheting and eventually knitting. I did that for many years selling for church bazaars but I also opened an Etsy shop and began selling my handmades there as well as locally in my town. However, because of health concerns I could no longer crochet and knit to keep enough items for sale. Because I had made cards before and ran a gift shop, I transitioned. I reshaped my website and Etsy shop to offer my cards for sale.
I advertise my makes on social media, my website and occasionally with video. I also will be participating in a local show next month to sell my cards at. Check the calendar for specifics!
Does creativity come easy for you?
No, not at all! My experience has been in graphic and web design for so many years which is quite different from handmade crafting. I take inspiration and help from a lot of resources. Sometimes, I can sit down at my desk and the ideas just come out like a running faucet, other times it’s like a dried desert and that’s when I have to look online or social for ideas.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Because I work a full time day job, I can only run my crafty business at night. I take about a 3-hour break before crafting to just wind down. So, typically my creating starts at around 6 PM – 2 AM. I divide that time into several components:
- Creating cards (making card bases, watercoloring designs, stamping, die cutting, etc.)
- Photo shoots (taking pics of my cards and supplies)
- Social media sharing + commenting on other crafters, creating collections of ideas I see that inspire me – Instagram and Facebook mostly
- Education / training (YT video tutorials, blog posts, etc.) as I am still learning cardmaking techniques.
- Shopping for additional supplies
- Blog writing
- Updating my website and/or Etsy shop
What tips would you give a person who wants to turn their crafty hobby into a business?
Once you know that you really want to have a crafty business, I would write a business plan especially if you plan to approach a financial expert or investor. This shows the seriousness of the business, an outline for future operations + how the funding will be used and paid back. I would also suggest hiring a tax person or consultant. There’s a lot of resources out there that detail the administrative specifics you need (i.e., tax forms, licenses, etc.), so I suggest doing a Google search or on YT.
Other tips to share:
- Work your business like a business. Take it seriously even if you’re working out of your garage. If you do, others will too. Set your hours and keep to them as if you have a boss to report to.
- Devote a pocket a time everyday to advertise. It may be a couple of hours to do all your social sharing, commenting, liking, etc.
- Get business cards and pass them out + I like to include mine in every online sale I make.
- Don’t forget the administrative tasks like organizing your work space. I invested in a good sitting chair and tables that are at the right height for me to work from. I also advise purchasing shelving, drawers for holding supplies. For example, I have two shelves on the floor under my desk that each have three drawers, one of them I keep all my pre-cut papers and envelopes, the other contains all my stamp sets and stencils, one for my ink pads, one for my heat embossing tools, one for my dies and the last has my embossing folders. I have other shelves that hold extra supplies like stickers and shipping essentials. Organizing is essential and saves time when you’re ready to create.
- Stay encouraged. There are times when the sales go up and down but being committed and staying consistent will get you through those down times.
- Take breaks when needed. It’s really easy to burn the midnight oil everyday when you’re first starting out, but don’t. Get enough sleep and don’t skip meals. Your body and your business will thank you for it!
- Get advice. This can be a mentor, someone you look up to or even a crafter you follow online. Learn from them, their best practices, their mistakes, their success stories. Tweak their advice to fit your business model.
Yeppers, I do. I belong to a couple of affiliate programs where I help promote products and make a small commission. It’s an additional way to make income because you can tailor your products to ones you use and recommend. Trust is so important in life and business and we often will purchase from people we trust. I stick to several product categories because I love them:
- Craft/art supplies
- Knitwear/Fiber Arts
- Fashion (accessories, dressmaking)
- Beauty supplies
- Online crafty classes
I really think this is a personal choice. I see crafters that do collaborate with others and produce content like onlinecardclasses.com or free online tutorials and videos. Others work entirely alone. It really depends, however if you choose to collaborate I would suggest outlining exactly the steps, purpose and deliverables on paper to avoid any misunderstandings. Conduct regular meetings to ensure the entire team is on the same page with what they’re responsible for. Good communication would be key in any partnership especially if you’re working with people remotely.
What if you’re only trying to recoup your costs, would you run your business the same?
Great question, I would definitely not do all I’m doing if I only wanted or needed monies to just keep buying supplies. I would more likely sell online (Etsy, eBay, Amazon), local shops and/or tradeshows. I still would advise:
- Having a tax accountant
- Keep good records and receipts
- Organize your work space
- Share your products on social or do video marketing (optional)
Any other words of wisdom?
I also talk to my hubby a lot since my crafting business is part of our overall company that we run together. We have regular business meetings to discuss our stats, financials, pending and future projects. We regularly bounce ideas off each other and because we’re both creatives, it’s refreshing to me to get his ideas. Many times, he comes up with something I had never thought to do and vice versa. We feed off each other very well so I said all that to say that if you’re running your crafting business alone but you have friends that you can talk to about your struggles, successes, advice, that’s great…utilize them.
Staying busy or working smart. Exercise regularly and eat healthy. I also recommend getting away and going for a walk or eat outside. I love to take a notebook with me and go outdoors, being around nature jogs my mind and I can easily write down ideas in my book.
Believe in what you’re doing. It’s easy to want to give up no matter how much you love what you do. Love only goes so far. But believing in yourself and your talent coupled with loving what you do is the equation you need day after day.
Lastly, to wrap this up, keep learning. No one knows everything about their specific craft. And, we live in a generation that’s not running short anytime soon on information.
For additional reading, check out these articles:
- 10 Tips to Turn your Hobby into a Business – LegalZoom
- How to Turn your Creative Hobby into a Career – Artsy
- How to Start a Craft Business – SBA
If you have any questions, let me know! I’d love to hear what you think, leave a comment below: