Hi everyone, Wendy Piersall here. Although I don’t run a crafting business, I wanted to peek in between Lisa’s great posts and say hi to all of you. Sparkplugging may be my business now, but it wouldn’t be in existence today if it weren’t for my first business, the one I started with absolutely no business experience at all.
My first dip into entrepreneurship was, you guessed it, as a crafter.
Now before you go getting any romantic notions about my past accomplishments, I’m the first to admit that my crafting business pretty much failed from my lack of experience. But 12 years later, I still rely on the lessons I learned as I struggled to figure out how to both make and sell my artistic creations.
If I knew then what I know now, I’d be the one writing this blog, not Lisa. Thank your lucky stars that I’m not, as I believe she is much more entertaining than I am. 😉
My love for the crafting community has never gone away. Which is why I hope that I can drop in every now and then and share a few tips on helping you run your business – and I wanted to share some ideas with you today on how you can build up different sources of revenue.
Because if there is one thing I have found – it’s always good to keep your eggs in several baskets.
Teach how-to classes
No matter what you sell as an artisan, there are other people out there who would like to learn how to do what you do for their own pleasure. You can teach classes at community colleges, park districts, churches and schools, and even to a group of your less-than-creative friends. Throw in a few materials and don’t forget to charge for your time!
Offer consulting and coaching to other startup craft businesses
Although you may be a little afraid of helping the ‘competition’, I think you’ll find there are more ways to make money off of helping the crafting community rather than competing with it. If you have been running your own business for a while, consider taking on clients who want to pay you for your expertise and knowledge. Usually this kind of professional can charge between $50 and $150+ an hour.
Make money off of your website or blog traffic (in addition to product sales!)
This is my own area of expertise these days. You can very selectively and tastefully add a small amount of advertising to your site, or learn how to incorporate affiliate marketing into your content or newsletter. You needn’t be too sales-ey or blatant about it. Sometimes your site visitors will really appreciate your help in sourcing new products or services they need.
Sell crafting kits
I know all too well that the reason that we craft is for the joy of the creative process. But sometimes it’s really hard to make enough money to justify the time spent on a piece (but we do it anyway because it’s fun!). If you ever had a customer say, “well, I could make that for less than $XX”, then you have the perfect thing to sell to them – a kit to let them put their money where their mouth is. 😉 Plus, you can hire someone else to package up the products, which can free up your time to focus on what you are really good at – creating and designing.
Sell your own articles
Never underestimate the value of what you know. Magazines, blogs, websites, and local publications all pay for good content. If you enjoy writing about your craft as much as you enjoy doing it, I highly recommend contacting publications who would have an interest in your work. A good source for more information on getting writing work is our own Freelance Parent, in which Lorna and Tamara talk about how they are building their writing business.
Create and sell e-products
Write an eBook. Do a video tutorial series. Create a downloadable pattern. All of these things may take a little time to create, but then with a little savvy marketing, they can be an ongoing source of revenue that you don’t need to think about too often. You can find cheap shopping carts (I use a private label version of 1ShoppingCart) or PayPal makes it super-easy to sell products online.
Sell your scrap materials on eBay
Ah – if only eBay were around when I ran my business… 😉
Think of all the things you throw away. Or WORSE, that clutters up your basement and you never use it again. Cut up scrap fabric into squares, throw old beads into a few ziplok bags, or bag up your yarn scraps and make some money off of it! Megan over at eBay Selling for eParents will help if you have never sold on eBay before (though my guess is that most of you have… !).
Buy and resell wholesale art and craft supplies
Lisa can actually speak to this better than I can, but she has done a remarkable job of matching her passion for bags and getting loads of goodies for herself and other bag fanatics with U-Handbag. Bug her for a separate post on this, because I think she has so much expertise to offer on this subject!
Organize your own local craft fairs
Admittedly, this is a really big project, and not for the faint of heart. If you have never done this before, my suggestion is to start small to learn the ropes of event management. And pick the brain of someone who has run similar events before! But the reward is that not only will you learn a ton about selling crafts in fairs, but you’re also giving back to the crafting community by helping others to sell their products.
Sell photographs of your work
You may not be a photographer – but if you sell pretty stuff, chances are that people would like to look at it as well as buy it. Sites like Stockxpert & ShutterPoint take picture submissions and help you sell your photographs to the graphic design community. And it’s awfully cool to see your products on someone else’s website – sometimes they will even provide a link back to your store, which means they will actually pay you AND advertise for you!
Now, I know that these things aren’t as exciting as the creative process of making your crafts. But if you want to ensure that your business can bring in revenue even in the slow season, or if you even just want to be able to take a few weeks off, putting just one of these tips to use will help you to create a more consistent cash flow in your business, and some of them may surprise you with what they are able to add to your earnings.