Hobby or Business
You love to create, you are surrounded by mounds of fabric, piles of metal, beads rolling around on the floor and your fingers have been glued together more than once. Many of your friends and family have told you that you should sell your work, but are you ready to make that leap from hobby to business?
Are you ready to love your art full time? Maybe your knitting is how you de-stress in front of the TV at night or your beading is your time out away from your kids; are you ready to do it even when you don’t want to? It is a reality that you will eventually get an order for that lovely scarf in a pattern that you don’t’ enjoy knitting. At this point you can no longer walk away and say that you will work on it later; a customer is waiting on you and it must be done.
Take a good look at yourself and ask, “Self, are you willing to work on a project, even when there are other things you would much rather do and you are tired and the color hurts your eyes? Are you willing to turn ‘want to’ into ‘have to?’” Be honest in your answer
Are you ready to wear every hat? A small, handmade business can be a lot of fun, but it can also include jobs that are not your forte. Every handmade business owner, if they are honest with themselves, has to do jobs that they don’t enjoy. For example, many don’t like the hours that must be spent promoting their work. Unfortunately for them, that is a job that must be done unless you like drowning in do-dads rather than selling them. Packing and shipping may not be your idea of a fun Friday night, but when a customer is waiting, it is a job that must be done. Product photos? The bane of many handmade artists requires a ton of time and practice and is one job that I will happily avoid, however you can’t sell your work without amazing pictures.
Now, as your business grows, you may be able to hire out some of these more “business oriented” parts of your business; but in the beginning, it will probably be you and only you and maybe your spouse or children if they are willing. So ask yourself, “Self, are you ready to sit down for hours and do the business tasks that don’t get your blood racing?”
Can you self-motivate? This is one of the biggest hurdles for many handmade business owners. You may be a mom that is constantly distracted by family needs, or working a full time job and crafting at night. There will often come times when you just don’t want to craft, promote, photograph or write up copy for your products or list. Are you one of those people that can force yourself to do one more thing at the end of the day rather that sacking out on the couch?
Understand that success is personal! How do you measure your success? Are you happy working at your own pace and sales are just a wonderful bonus to doing something that you love or are you one that is planning on making a living from your art? Each business owner must set goals; both large and small, long term and short term if they want to succeed rather than just wandering. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with wandering a bit-you can have a lot of fun and discover avenues you didn’t even know existed; but if you want to own a successful handmade business, you must decide for yourself what is success. For one, it may be a new wholesale order while for another it may be a sale a week or 10 blog comments or a new product. Decide how you view success in your business based on your own goals, and not by what others view as success.
Don’t forget to have fun! You must love what you do….not like everything you have to do, but love what you do! When the fun comes out of crafting your heart will not be in your art. Remember to schedule some “play time” to distress and maybe even make something for yourself. Art is a colorful and fun filled world that can be very rewarding, so don’t let business take the fun out of your work.
Whether or not you decide to treat your hobby as a full time business is really up to each individual artist. As a hobbyist, you can still sell your work and make some pin money on the side and be perfectly happy. Less pressure and demands since you work when you want and promote how you want and relax when you want. As a business, there are more demands as well as different rewards. Have a conversation with yourself and be honest in your answers. In the end you will be happier in your art work and/or your business if you do.