There’s never been a better time to make use of your skills in the creative arts than right now. The Internet has provided a perfect platform for those with artistic flair to reach an audience, and this, coupled with an ever-increasing demand for something different, unusual and handmade means the world can be your oyster. If you’ve ever wondered whether you could make money out of your creative talents, this is the ideal time to explore the possibility and have a go at selling your own work, without having to break the bank in the process.
First, you need to identify what it is you’re really good at and find your niche within that area. For example, if you are a very skilled potter, what can you create that will set you apart from all the other equally skilled craftspeople also selling pottery? Perhaps you could specialize in making a particular type of pot, and make a name for yourself as the go-to creator of tagines. Or maybe you are adept at painting your pots and could design a range of tableware decorated with birds in flight. Maybe what you create is in itself special. Using unusual objects or creating art out of trash, for instance, can be exactly the kind of quirky approach that gets you noticed. Sculptures made from driftwood or scrap metal can be both beautiful and desirable, as they are a talking point on more than the one level. Choosing a niche allows you to advertise yourself to a very particular audience, and will be advantageous when it comes to delving into the world of keywords and Search Engine Optimization.
Full time or side hustle?
This decision is down to two fundamental requirements, time and money. If you have a job and a reasonable income, you might decide it’s safer to make your creative project something you do in your spare time, at least to start with. If it starts to go well, you can then take the plunge and go full time, becoming your own boss and running your own business. If you have some savings and a sound business plan, you might want to go the whole hog and leave your day job behind, so you can focus all your time and efforts into your creative endeavors. This can be particularly appealing if your job is under threat or if you’ve been made redundant. Either way, do some planning in advance to ensure you have thought through all the ramifications, and make sure you have the funds available to support your project in the early days when you are getting established.
Off the shelf or bespoke?
You can choose to have a range of items that you make and sell repeatedly, or if you prefer you could make specific items to order. An established range makes it easier in terms of production, costing and stock control, but bespoke items will command a higher price. If you think about artworks, an original painting will always be worth more than a series of prints, but it takes a far greater investment of time to create new works on a regular basis. A good way to test the water is to have a stand at local craft fairs and markets, where you can get a feel for how your products are received and which are the most popular. You can also start to build up a reputation for yourself, and the income will help you fund expansion into the online market, which is where the most profits are to be made.
Finding your platform
Affiliating yourself with a specialist arts and crafts platform like Etsy is a great way to get started online. Creating an account and getting set up are made as simple as possible, and you don’t have to worry about creating and maintaining all the functionality of a stand-alone website. Marketing is pretty much taken care of for you, and as the brand awareness of these companies increases, so will your exposure to a wider audience. There are specialist platforms for specific forms of art too, for example, painting and sculpture. Your paintings are displayed on a website with many other artists and buyers can select and purchase the works they like. Obviously, if you use a platform like this, the provider takes a cut of your profits, but in return, you get increased exposure and far less hassle.
Making your products stand out
Handmade doesn’t equal amateurish. Everything about your business and your products must be done to the highest professional standards if you are to make the right impression on your customers. Having well-designed, custom printed invoices, packing slips and address labels, for example, tells a customer a lot about the quality of your business. It’s a good idea to personalize your communications so that you start to develop your own form of brand awareness too. When it comes to the presentation of your wares, consider the advantages of using unique product packaging. You can work with designers to produce high-quality boxes and wrappers for your artworks that demonstrate the value and uniqueness of your range.
Being creative isn’t the only skill you’ll need
You may be extremely talented at your craft, but without some business know-how, you will struggle to make a profit out of your work. If you lack the requisite knowledge to run a business, then studying the subject is essential. Make sure you understand all the different aspects of running a business before you start, or you will waste a lot of time and money learning on the job – and if you don’t learn very quickly your enterprise will be short-lived. If the business side of things leaves you cold, or you find it hard to get to grips with the multiple skills needed to be an entrepreneur, concentrate on the creating and outsource the facts and figures to better-qualified professionals.
There is a large and growing market for all types of handmade arts and crafts, so take advantage of the opportunities you have and share the gift of your creativity with the world.