Running a Handmade Business
Make your first steps as a handmade business count.
So you're an artist, designer, or craftsperson and want to take your first steps into making money from your talent and skills? This lens is full of advice for anyone starting a handmade business.
This is only a starting point to learn, it's up to you to make it happen.
The boring but important stuff.
Get in touch with your local SBA, state government, or chamber of commerce to find out exactly what you need to do from a legal standpoint to get started as a business. You need to make sure you are clear on taxes and any permits and licenses you may need.
They also will have valuable information on running a successful business so take advantage of the resources out there.
Small Business Links - US Government Resources
- US Small Business Administration
Small Business Administration, sba.gov, About SBA, Newsroom, Services, Small Business Planner, SBA Programs, E-Newaletters, Administrator, Local Resources, FAQ
Small Business and Self-Employed One-Stop Resource.
- Business.gov - Official Business Link to the U.S. Government
Business.gov provides information and resources that help small businesses comply with federal, state and local business laws and government regulations.
Free and Open Source Business Software
Starting a business is pricey enough, so here's some completely free software that can help you manage your business.
- Open Office
OpenOffice.org: The Free, Open Source Office Suite
- Free Personal Finance Software, Online Money Management, Budget Planner and Financial Planning - Min
Free Personal Finance Software, Online Money Management, Budget Planner and Financial Planning - Mint.com - Free personal finance software to assist you to manage your money, financial planning, and budget planning tools. Achieve your financial goals
- Free Accounting Software | GnuCash
GnuCash is personal and small-business financial-accounting software, freely licensed under the GNU GPL and available for GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. Designed to be easy to use, yet powerful and flexible, GnuCash allows y
Pricing Your Work
Pricing your work can be an agonizing process. You have to charge enough to cover materials and pay yourself for your time and effort but still make it a price people are willing to pay. It's better to price too high than too low. You can always drop your prices if you have to, but you don't want to suddenly have to jump your prices up significantly higher because you've found you aren't making enough profit.
What to Consider in Pricing
- Cost of materials
- Fees from selling online (both fees from processing payments and any fees from the selling venue)
- Entry fees for shows and festivals
Commission for galleries
What's My Time Worth?
This is a difficult question to answer. How much do you think you're time is worth? $10 an hour? $20? $30? Try to think as objectively as you can about this, it's easy when you enjoy doing something to think that time isn't worth as much as if you were working a regular job, but it is. Don't undersell yourself! If you wouldn't work a 9 to 5 job for the what you are planning to pay yourself then you are not paying yourself enough.
Don't forget taxes, when you are self-employed you are responsible not just for regular taxes but also for taxes that an employer usually pays directly. Your tax rate will vary depending on your state and income level, but make sure you factor it into your self pay.
- Etsy :: The Storque :: Art of Pricing
The Storque: Etsy's superblog, geared toward Etsy members and readers interested in the handmade lifestyle.
- Online Art Magazine - Archive - Pricing your work
Self Representing Artists
- Don’t Sell Yourself Short: Price Your Art for What it’s Worth
Do you guess, when it comes to naming a price for your art? I hope not. There are a lot of factors that I consider when pricing one of my paintings - here's how I go about putting a price tag on my artwork.
There are a lot of creative people out there creating great work along with all the mass produced products out there. You have to make yourself stand out. This involves good marketing, promotion, branding, and of course good products.
I can't really help with the good products, that's up to you and your creativity. The rest of it though there are some good principles to keep in mind.
- Act professional
- Treat customers well
- Be consistent
- Promote often and in a variety of places
- Be as creative in marketing and branding as you are in creating your products
Have fun! How many people get to do what they enjoy and make money from it? Don't lose sight of the fun. If you're customer see your passion for what you do they just might get caught up in it too.
Links for Handmade Businesses
- Tell Your Craft Business Story
How to start, run, and market your own successful craft business
- Handmade Business Blog
All about running a business selling handmade products. Advice on promotion, presentation, organization, etc.
- How to Start a Craft Business: Interview with Bramble Berry's Anne-Marie Faiola - LoveToKnow Crafts
Starting your own craft business can be a great way to earn extra income while pursuing your passion. In fact, you may find that your home-based business soon turns into a full
- CraftBoom - Marketing an Art & Craft Business Online | Sparkplugging (Formerly eMoms at Home)
How to start and market an art or crafts business online, offline, and everywhere in between!
- Buyer Turn Offs - CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE
Buyer Turn Offs - Craftster.org is a crafting community that includes craft forums, diy craft projects, and craft ideas for members and casual viewers.
- Etsy :: The Storque :: How-To :: The Etsy Seller Handbook: All Our How-Tos about Selling
Dear Sellers! Below you'll find a handy index of all the useful How-Tos about Selling on Etsy. We're calling it the Seller Handbook. We'll be adding all new how-tos for sellers to this index.
The internet gives you a chance to reach potential customers that are unlikely to otherwise see your products. This is especially important if your making a product with a very niche audience.
There are many many places to sell online, you need to evaluate what exactly you need in a selling venue before you choose one (or more than one, selling on multiple sites is becoming more common).
Art Festivals, Craft Shows, and Other Outdoor Venues
Art festivals and craft shows are incredibly popular. Many also include entertainers and food vendors so it's an all around fun day for visitors. The casual nature of the shows also make buying fine art and crafts less intimidating.
On top of the opportunity to sell your work is also the opportunity to meet other artists and craftspeople. Share knowledge, support, and make friends.
Online selling books
Other Selling Venues
This is by no means a comprehensive list of places to sell your work. Consider these as a starting point and expand from there. Be creative and don't be afraid to aproach and talk to people about featuring your work. To quote the old truism "nothing ventured, nothing gained".
Art galleries generally take a commission from the sale of your artwork, it generally ranges from 30-50%. This makes galleries best for large or high-priced work in order to really be worth what you'll have to price it in order to make a profit.
Galleries can be hit or miss. Some galleries are great and promote your artwork well, some will delay paying you and never promote your work beyond hanging it on the wall. Do your research and talk to other artists who've shown at the gallery to find out what their experience was.
I'm not saying galleries are bad, I have some of my work in a gallery but they aren't for everyone.
Co-ops are very similar to galleries in look, you have a bunch of artists and/or craftpeople displaying their work. The difference is with a co-op those being displayed also run the gallery, usually there is a monthly fee, small commission rate, plus a commitment to work at the co-op for a certain amount of time per month.
You keep more of the sales price of your work but there is the increased time commitment which can cut into your time for creating especially if you also have a full-time job other than your art or craft.
If you have a product that fits with a local shop go talk to the owner about selling your products there. Examples would be homemade bath products at hair salons, jewelry at clothing stores, or paintings at coffee shops.
You'll need to negotiate with the business whether they want to buy your work wholesale to sell or whether they take a percentage of the sale price.
Rent Booth Space
If your local mall rents booth space to small vendors consider renting one a couple weekends a month. Make sure you check on local and state regulations for this, you may need certain permits first.
Links for Selling in Other Venues
- How to Approach an Art Gallery with Your Paintings
How to approach an art gallery with your paintings: tips for artists wanting to get an art gallery to represent them and sell their paintings.
- Approaching an Art Gallery: Contracts and Pricing
How to approach an art gallery with your paintings: tips on contracts with galleries and pricing your work.