Sell Crafts 10 Different Ways
If there is one thing I feel pretty comfortable tooting my own horn about, it’s how to be successful at being self employed. As an inherently right-brained, creative person, this knowledge hasn’t come easy. I’ve done a great job at making lots of mistakes – and learning from them.
Quite honestly my background is so whacked I don’t think I could go out and get a job if I tried. I’ve been all over the place – crafter, graphic designer, recruiter, dot com exec, blogger, and marketer. But it’s the perfect resume for what I do now, which is good. Because I like being able to pay my bills.
It’s also good to help share some knowledge with my fellow creatives on how they can make money as a crafter – in tons of other ways besides simply selling your crafts. One of the biggest mistakes I made (more than once, I might add) was having all of my eggs in one basket. Then when something happened, like an economic downturn, a Google algorithim change, an illness, or even simple burnout – my income was dramatically affected. I’m still not as diversified as I would like to be, but at least if I get sick for a month, my business is still supporting me.
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! Alternatively, if you have the technical expertise and the marketing savvy, you can put together teaching materials to sell online. Just be sure that whatever you put together can’t be found for free elsewhere.
Offer consulting advice 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.
Monetize your website or blog (in addition to product sales!)
This is my own area of expertise these days. You can very selectively and tastefully add 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.
If you can get into an ad network like FM, RGN, or BlogHerAds, DO IT. They might not be taking new publishers right now (the first quarter of the year is especially bad), but be both patient and persistent.
An alternative to this would be to start your own podcast or video channel. Then you can find sponsors for these avenues as well- here’s what I’ve done in the past to find a sponsor for my blog.
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.
Create and sell e-products
Write an eBook. 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. Or you can add these to your Etsy listings now, too!
If you don’t have the technical expertise to create a downloadable product, you can hire someone on Elance for a very reasonable rate to convert your work.
Sell your scrap materials on eBay or Etsy
Ah – if only eBay were around when I ran my first 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!
Buy and resell art and craft supplies
Lisa Lam is a great example of someone who 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. The online shop was so successful she expanded to selling on Etsy. She got so busy she had to hire two employees, and her reputation grew so much that she’s now writing a book. That gal is one smart cookie!
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. Getty is the big time stock photo king – and they periodically do a call for artists on Flickr to find new talent (one is open right now!).
Distribute your artwork through merchandising
I’m 41 years old and I’m still intimidated by the word “merchandising“. But sites like CafePress make it so brain dead simple that you can skip the fancy words, set up shop in minutes, and start selling your stuff!
If you want to ensure that your business can bring in revenue 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. As much as I love hearing success stories about Etsy sellers making six figure incomes, I honestly wouldn’t do it if it meant 13 hour days. I’m too old for that.
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