Making Money from your Hobby
The cottage craft industry is growing. You can be making money from your hobby! The Guardian reported in 2015 that the Craft Council had recently compiled figures showing that there were 11,620 craft business in the UK with 43,000 employers. The overall value of craft skills to the British economy each year was £3.4 billion. I, for one, decided very early on that I loved my craft, I got pleasure from working from home, and I knew there was money to made doing what I loved to do. So here are some tips towards making a successful living doing what you are passionate about and making money from your hobby!
What is it that you want to sell?
If you have a hobby in the fibre crafts then I’m pretty sure you love doing what you do. So this is what you need to be selling. There are some options you can go for:
- You could choose to sell the actual products that you make.
- Offer a product and take bespoke orders for your range. You could offer a choice of sizes, colours, themes etc.
- If you design your own patterns then why not sell the patterns?
- Or you could choose to sell supplies to crafters, for example hand dyed yarns, hand made tools etc.
- A combination of the above.
Where do you want to sell it?
This part of the equation has got to make you happy. If you are content to stay at home with your craft and your computer, then perhaps selling online is your thing. But if you are a ‘getting out there’ sort of person then the thought of staying ‘home alone’ might not appeal. There are plenty of options either way:
- Sell your craft items online through platforms such as Etsy, Folksy, or your own website.
- Sell your patterns online through platforms such as Love Knitting, Amazon, Ravelry, Etsy, etc.
- Sell finished products through venues such as craft fairs, expos, your own store, or commissioned through local stores.
- Sell your patterns through third party magazines or websites.
- Sell your skills as a crafter and teach folks, online or off.
Presentation of your goods
Whether you are selling a digitally downloadable product or a physical product, your overall presentation is important. I remember purchasing some yarn for the first time from a particular company. It came in good time, was presented in a lovely bag with a ribbon, and there was a little sweet inside the packaging. Needless to say, I have purchased from them again.
Online presentation is important too. An easily navigational website is a must. Even if your product is digital, there are ways to make it special. A thankyou note for one thing, and a superb follow up service too. If customers know they can come to you with after service queries, and get their needs met, then it adds to their customer satisfaction and repeat buys.
Also, providing all information relevant to your product is essential. On a website you can give a good description of your product. And you can follow up in the packaging with details of the product source, yarn content, allergy precautions, washing requirements, etc.
Take good photos!
Whatever you are selling, people want to feel inspired. A dull, dreary, out of focus, or over fussy photo won’t attract an audience and probably won’t sell your goods. Whether you are selling online or through print advertising, you need to take an inspiringly good photo. Lots of tips to come on this one!
What’s your uniqueness?
Competition is huge, so how do you stand out from the crowd? If you can find your own unique style, then market it and milk it! It might be your style of knitwear, your colour schemes, your novelty factor, your unique style of service. Whatever it is, if people start to recognise your brand then perfect it and share!
Your pricing depends on the market you are aiming at. Do some research, and just as important, some costings! Research online platforms where similar items to yours are being sold and get a price range. Do some experimenting. If you are new then perhaps you could start just below the middle of your discovered price range. You can always increase in price as your customer base grows.
Take into account your cost of supplies. Try to obtain your materials wholesale. The less you pay for them, the greater your profit margin.
A controversial subject with crafters, but what should you cost in for your time? One factor to be considered is whether you spend time purely dedicated to your craft in your studio, or whether you are multi-tasking, ie. crafting while in front of the TV in the evening, or maybe while looking after the kids or walking the dog. How fast or slow are you in your production process? What is important in the long run is that you don’t want to be over pricing or under pricing your product.
Become involved with your audience
Whether you are selling online or offline, or both, I would highly recommend getting involved with like minded crafters. Facebook groups and online forums, such as Ravelry, are an excellent vehicle for learning more, making friends in your field, and marketing your crafts. You can easily set up a Facebook business page or group and develop your audience, create great content, and offer your goods and services. Just be prepared to put some hours in getting to know folks and what they want.
If you are selling your craft, you are earning an income and therefore need to be aware of the laws. Whether you register as a self employed sole trader or set up as a company, or form a partnership, there are rules and regs to adibe by. Tax man!
There are also the issues surrounding copyright. For instance, if you are selling craft items made from another crafter’s pattern, or using another artist’s photographs, have you got the appropriate permission from that crafter to use their work? Or maybe you have entered into an agreement with a third party who will be selling your work. Be sure to know exactly what the exclusivity rules are in your contract.
There is a lot of advice you can pick up online. Or you could seek advice from your accountant or lawyer. Just make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed!
There certainly is a lot to learn about being in business for yourself and making money from your hobby. You might not become a millionaire overnight – boo hoo! But you will be constantly learning from the folks around you. That’s great. Times change rapidly and the world we lived in 5 years ago is massively different from the one we live in today…especially with fast changing technology. But as long as you are enjoying the journey, crafting your craft, and gaining pleasure out of creating happy customers, what more could you ask for?