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How T-Shirt Crafting Makes Me Money with No Website

In 2008, I had an idea. Since I was passionate about drawing and collecting graphic tees and hoodies, I decided it was penquinforpost2time to begin my side gig in apparel crafting. I had an extensive collection of t-shirts and hoodies and as time went on, I got really good at picking out unique designs that usually attracted a lot of attention when I went out.

I always found that the attention my t-shirts got sparked a burst of creativity and motivation in me. So I began to draw my own designs on tees and hoodies I had at home.

This became so much fun for me that I found myself buying many portfolio books to keep my sketches organized because my ideas were popping in my head too fast for me to keep up in producing them onto tees.

When I first started crafting, I used Heather Grey tees and hoodies. I figured the coverage with the markers I had in mind to use would be easier. Other colors would be too dark and I wasn’t a fan of white hoodies so I worked with what I liked and had at home.

I started using a Sharpie to draw the outline of my picture and paint markers such as Decofabric to fill in the drawing. This is a picture of one of my first designs.alien

I began wearing my designs.

Soon after, my friends and family members started to approach me about designing tees for them. Some people even asked me to teach them.

In time, I had a developed a following so I decided to make it a side business and registered my brand as Inner Monster.

Eventually I started changing things up because I realized the colors weren’t as vibrant as I wanted them to look. And every time I washed a shirt or hoodie, the colors would fade.

I started thinking about what I needed to do to get the fabric to feel like I was working on a white canvas. So I continued to use Sharpie markers for the outline and then started filling in the outline with white Palmers Fabric Paint.

Now that it felt like a piece of blank canvas I was able to add color over the white. I would use Palmer Fabric PaintMarvy the Fabric MarkerSetaskrib+Crayola Fabric Markers or Elmer’s Paint Markers.

I definitely preferred the brands of paint and markers I was using (Crayola, Marvy, Setaskrib+ and Elmer’s) because the tips were softer and others were too stiff. I found that the softer tip adhered to the fabric paint better. On the other hand, Sharpies were the best for outlining because the tips are stiff.

Once I was done with the design, I would let it settle for about 24hrs. Then I would take a piece of blank white paper and monsterplace it over the image. I would iron over the white paper covering the image on low heat just to set the colors.

After starting to use the white paint as a base, I could use any color tee or hoodie because I wasn’t painting directly onto the bare fabric.

Here’s a picture to the right after I made some adjustments in the materials I was using.pebbies

A couple of years after designing and producing my own apparel, I thought about exploring ways of transferring my drawings digitally. I began to research printing shops for mass production. The demand for my tees had increased for what I could supply – I simply couldn’t keep up because I was working a full-time job.

I eventually had some of my designs produced at a screen printer and others I would craft by hand as limited edition designs.

I sold my tees at flea markets, craft shows and car shows and managed to not only enjoy it, but also make extra money on the weekends.

Car shows were quite good and offered a better return on my investment. My Inner Monster theme went well with the muscle car perception of car enthusiasts.  As a car enthusiast myself, I was enjoying this aspect of my marketing.

moon

I also started uploading images unto Zazzle which I promote on Instagram and make some sales that way too. I’ve even graduated to making custom tees for children’s birthday parties.

I put up a website through Wix to showcase my designs but since I did it myself, and I’m not the least bit techy, I decided to take it down because I didn’t want it to represent my brand. For now, I send people to Zazzle to look at my designs but have plans to have a website made professionally.

So if your thinking about not knowing where to get started with making your crafting hobby a business, do like I did. I knew nothing except how to draw. The rest just flowed as it came to me.

I still work a full-time job but I also make a pretty decent side income in t-shirt crafting with no website. To be able to engage in my craft and get paid for it is a nice perk.

Four Ways To Make Money Selling Your Crafts

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Crafting can be a great source of income.  If you feel you’re ready to turn you hobby into a money-making venture, there are several ways by which you may go about it.  You can start small and test the waters with only one method, or jump in with both feet and do them all!

Sell Directly From Your Home

An easy way to start is with friends and family.   Give them free items in exchange for spreading the word.  Don’t forget teachers, doctor’s offices, clubs or parents from your child’s various activities.

Print business cards at home with your business name, phone number and/or email. These will also double nicely as tags.   Give extras to friends and customers requesting they hand them out to anybody interested in you creations.

Donate to giveaways and raffles held by local schools, churches, sports organizations, nonprofits and churches.  Be sure to include one of those business cards with your donation and provide plenty of extras to be given to everyone who falls in love with your amazing work!

Sell At Craft Shows

Craft shows and street fairs are popular and held year round, especially during holidays because many people love to give a more personal handmade gift, but lack the time or talent to make it themselves.  Check with local churches, business associations and artisan groups for dates and costs to participate.

Other events such as car shows, home shows and county fairs may be a good venue for you to sell your craft.  Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to get a calendar of events held in your community.

The costs for booth space vary.  Some are free and only ask for a percentage of sales, while others will charge a flat fee.  This fee can be small or very large.

When choosing which shows to participate in, be sure to consider the popularity and location of an event.  Ask other vendors who have participated before how successful the show was for them.  Consider whether a particular show will attract your target customer.  Consider your audience when choosing what you will sell at each particular show.

Make sure you are handing out those business cards.  You can also print up a list of upcoming events where you will be selling to hand out as people browse your booth.  Team up with another vendor or crafter that sells complimentary items and trade business cards to hand out to customers.

Don’t be discouraged if your first show isn’t as successful as you had hoped.  Use it as a learning experience to discover what works and doesn’t work for your next show. .

Sell Online

An easy way to start selling on line is to create a Fan Page on Facebook.  You can post photos and sell directly from there.

Etsy , Kollabora and Zibbet are popular sites for selling handmade items online.  Create a virtual storefront in these communities dedicated specifically to selling and promoting handmade items.

Finally, create your own website.  Maintaining your own website can be time consuming but you will have more control over the overall format and design.  Vistaprint, Weebly and Shoppe Pro are website hosting sites which make this process simple.  They can offer both paid and free subscriptions.

To greatly increase your customer base, use the various modes of social media to make presence known.   Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and blogs are great tools for marketing your craft business online.

Sell in Stores

Selling opportunities often overlooked by the small craft business are boutique and specialty stores.  Look for stores that fit in with the craft you are selling.  You will have better luck convincing them to carry your items and the customer will more likely be interested in purchasing what you’ve made.

For example, if you are selling children’s clothing, check with local children’s clothing boutiques.  Ask the owners if you may place a small quantity of your clothing in their stores.  This would work for other items like hair bows, whimsical artwork and child themed home goods. Offer them a percentage of your sales in return.  If sales are successful and they like your product, the stores may agree to just purchase from you at wholesale.

Consignment stores also take in a variety of items.  There are clothing consignments as well as general merchandise stores that offer a lot of flexibility in the items that may be sold on consignment.

Choose What Fits Your Lifestyle and Goals.

Combine a variety of methods to grow your business and gain a even wider customer base.  Utilizing all four will certainly give you the best income opportunities.  Learn what it takes to be successful in each and you will be on your way to becoming a money making crafter!

 

Moving Can Suck The Life Out Of You (Thank Goodness For Podcasts!)

boxesI moved last month. I feel like I spent April in a “haze” and I’m just starting to get out of it.

The first week of April I was putting things into boxes and moving them from one place to another place. The next week, I was unpacking boxes and trying to find new places to put the things I was unpacking.

Then, I had to bust my butt during the third and fourth weeks of April to get a bunch of work done, since I spent so much of the first two weeks packing and unpacking.

Moving can really suck the life out of you.

Getting used to a new place can be difficult, too. It took a little bit for my new place to feel like my place. But I am now settling in and starting to feel like a person again.

I spent a lot of time listening to podcasts while I was packing and unpacking.

I’m not sure if you know this, but Kelly McCausey, the owner of Sparkplugging and CraftBoom is a podcasting veteran. I started listening to her back in 2006! Her podcast is called SoloSmarts and is for the home based SoloPreneur, which I’m sure many of you are. Click here to subscribe in iTunes.

I just recently discovered the Young Female Entrepreneurs podcast and I’m loving it. This one is targeted specifically to women in their 20s and 30s. There’s a broad range of information and guests, with most of them being young female entrepreneurs themselves. I get a lot of inspiration out of hearing their stories! Click here to subscribe in iTunes.

I also have a podcast (The IndieBizChicks Podcast) – but I admit, it’s taken a back seat for most of the past year. I am planning on making it more regular and less sporadic. In the meantime, you can still listen to all the back episodes – and I must say, I’ve had some great guests! Click here to subscribe in iTunes.

 

Before Turning Your Hobby into a Business

Have you ever thought of turning your hobby into a business?  Like all career moves, this one comes with a laundry list of things to consider before making your decision either way.

You Get To Be Your Own Boss

Being the sole decision-maker in your own company certainly has it’s rewards.  No more feeling like a mere cog in the wheel.  In addition, it’s a great feeling to be able to take credit for your company’s successes.  But remember, you’ll also be solely responsible for the company’s failures as well.   No more passing the buck.  In the end, you’ll need to weigh the greater freedom that comes with being your own boss against that increased responsibility.

You Get Paid For Doing What You Love

It’s pretty empowering knowing that people really value and appreciate what you do, enough so that they’re willing to pay for it.  We all know that income is a necessity.  But being able to earn it by doing what you love is priceless.

You Get To Make Your Own Schedule

Being self-employed allows you to make your own schedule.  Many people find this flexibility a real plus.  However, not everyone is cut out for this type of arrangement.  Are you self-motivated?  Are you disciplined in your work habits?  If your answer is yes, then maybe self-employment will work for you.

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You Have To Have A Business Plan

You’ll need to create a business plan, or have it created for you.  It will need to encompass your vision for the company starting with initial research, going all the way up through production, marketing and sales.   Once that plan is created, can you see yourself effectively carrying it out?

You Have To Have Start-Up Capital

Your business will never become a reality without sufficient start-up capital.  For example, if you’re a handmade crafter, you’ll need to factor in costs for:

  • Crafting supplies
  • Licensing fees
  • Craft show fees
  • Marketing
  • Overhead for the traditional brick and mortar sales
  • Cost of establishing an online store

The list goes on and on.  These are just a few examples of the types of costs you may need to consider.  And a word to the wise:  it’s always better to be over-capitalized rather than under-capitalized.  Plain and simple: where are you going to get the money for this?

You’ll Have To Face The Bottom Line

It’s extremely important to be able to bring in enough money to support yourself and/ or at least replace your prior income.  To that end, it’s probably not a bad idea to preliminarily test-market your wares to get a ballpark reading on how much you can expect to earn from sales, at least initially.  In today’s still fragile economy it seems more daunting than ever to put yourself out there and risk financial failure.  Can you afford to fail?

It’s scary, yes.  But the rewards can be priceless.

Don’t go quitting that day job yet, though.  Ease yourself into the ranks of the self-employed.  Be sure to take yourself seriously, and think through all the pros and cons of turning your hobby into a business before making that big move.  And good luck!

Last Call For Summer!

Summer is drawing to a close…. This is your last chance to grab The Summer Biz Sessions and the Summer School package! Here is what you’ll be getting:

Summer Biz Sessions
This summer, we talked to some very savvy women (and one man), covering a lot of interesting topics! If you missed ‘em, don’t worry – we recorded them!

You’ll be hearing from Jennifer Perkins, Jenny Hart, Casie Metcalf, Laura Allen, Claudine Hellmuth, Danny Orendorf (of Renegade Craft) , and myself on topics such as getting a book deal, giving good blog, participating in a large craft, pitching yourself, setting up workshops, balancing your business with your family, creating a sense of community around your business, and more!

Normally priced at $14.95, we’re offering them at 50% off. Click Here To Grab Them Now For Only $7.48

Summer School Package
Are you ready to learn something new? The Summer School Package includes 6 workbooks and audios, covering topics such as:

  • Low Cost Advertising
  • Creating Your Own Affiliate Program
  • Starting Your Own Podcast
  • Defining Your Target Market
  • Connecting With Your Audience
  • Social Networking

Normally priced at $65, Click Here To Grab Them Now For Only $30

- OR – Click Here To Grab BOTH The Summer Biz Sessions & Summer School Courses & Audios For Only $35

Host A Craft Supply Swap

If your supply area is becoming waaaaay too cluttered or if you are in serious need of some new items, but are a bit low on the cash supply, it’s time to host a craft supply swap.

Simply invite your crafty friends over and ask them to bring the supplies they no longer need or want. Set up some tables so that everyone has a place to lay out their goods. Once everyone has arrived the fun can begin. You can let it be a free-for-all and allow people to take whatever they want, or if you want to make sure no one is leaving with more items than they brought, give everyone a ticket for each item they bring. Then, have every merchandise swap “cost” a ticket.

This ia a great way to un-clutter your space, get some great new supplies, and have some crafty fun with your friends!