It’s not universal by any means, but it’s not the least bit unusual to sit up one day and think ‘hey, I could make money making this crafty thing!’
And with going into business as easy as setting up an Etsy account and posting a few pics, it seems like everyone is doing it.
Frankly, I’m in favor… in general. I believe in the handmade, the homemade, and the unique. If I didn’t, I sure as shooting wouldn’t be writing this blog! I make stuff, too, and surround myself with as many handmade things as I can in my home. Why? Because it makes me happy and satisfies my urge to be an obviously unique person.
But when going into business for oneself, it’s important to remember that it’s not just a matter of churning out doilies, sewing Teddy Bears, or doing that crazy thing you do with rubber bands all day. There’s the business end, too. From determining your product line to marketing it to handling deliveries, returns, and the inevitable customer complaints, there’s a lot of work that ranges from the tedious to the frustrating.
Luckily, there are also experts out there who can help you figure out what you haven’t thought of and help steer you in a good direction.
And just to oblige, I found a few of them to read if you’re thinking of making the leap from enthusiastic amateur to small-time business owner.
Lateral Action has a great article from last year on the 10 Biggest Mistakes Artists and Creatives Make on Internet Marketing (And How To Fix Them) which has some great advice to help you avoid potential pitfalls if you’re selling online.
If, on the other hand, you’re considering going the fair route, take a look at this great list of general tips and tricks at Borsheim Arts Studio. Some are no brainers (wear comfortable shoes, make your booth visually appealing), but just because they’re basic doesn’t mean I haven’t met dozens of crafters at fairs who don’t seem the get the concept.
Of course, if you want to sell at fairs, you have to know where to look and when to apply. For sixteen years and counting, The Crafts Fair Online has been giving just that information to new and experienced crafters. From listings of events you can apply for to crafting ideas to resources to help you design and build your own website, there are a lot of possibilities here. There’s also a message board where you can connect with and get advice from other professional crafters.
Oh, and before I go, one piece of advice I wish I had taken before I started my own (short-lived) crafts business: don’t do jewelry. The market is incredibly saturated, making things about 500% harder on you than they would be if you made anything else.