Craft & Art the Business by Elizabeth White

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Message: 'Do you think making and sellin...' with Replies

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  • Do you think making and selling your own Craft can only be a hobby? Is it possible to earn a decent income from craft? Are some crafts more lucrative than others? To make a reasonable living, I've noticed many makers have to supplement their income by running workshops or teaching. I'd like to know if anyone is making money out of designing, making and selling their own craft?
    A painter friend of mine employed a joiner to fix her door. He charged her £10 an hour. As an experienced painter, she decided she would charge £10 an hour (or try) for her paintings. How many craft workers can honestly say they get £10 hourly rate for their labour? Not many I should imagine.
    Someone else, I know, worked flat out for a whole year but was bitterly disappointed when her year-end profit was only £5000. She was working hard and therefore earning more or so she thought. She felt like giving up altogether.
    Do craft workers do it for the love of it then? Are most craft people retired and therefore happy to earn pin money? If the money is not there, perhaps the lifestyle is the attraction? What about the post graduates who are starting out trying to run a small business? How do they make it pay and pay off their student loans?
    Has anyone got any comments or answers
    7 June '07 - 8.45pm
  • It depends on what you think is a decent amount of money. Making £5000 profit seems to be pretty good to me.
    How long had your friend been set up selling her work for profit? If it has only been a year, then she is doing far better than most businesses in their first year. Making a loss is most likely when setting up due to the cost of setting up and equipment, research and trying to build a customer base.

    In this day and age it is getting harder and harder to be able to make a living just from the money made selling craftwork. I personally feel that most craft workers know that making money is very hard, and this is not the reason as to why they are doing it.

    I myself am in my first year of business and appreciate that the likeliness of me making any money this year is minimal.

    The best option for most people to guarantee a continuation of their craftwork with out being concerned with making money is to take on a job like teaching. It allows them to remain envolved in the areas that they love, but still earn enough money to pay the bills and not compromise their making.

    Living hand to mouth today from making craftwork is virtually impossible.
    8 June '07 - 2.36pm
  • There are all strands in the craft sector like in any other business. There are the hobbyists who are just happy to cover their expenses and others who are very business like and can earn a good living.
    There are those who can easily take more than a £1000 a day at a show and many who don't cover their stand cost. You have to be totally focussed and dedicated and can't really play about at it if you want to make serious money. One can sort of tell the hobbyists from the professionals by their general attitude and presentation. Often it is producing the dull, repetitive work through the long winter months that will give you an edge from the crowd. A lot of people like to do the fancy eye catching stuff which is all very well but won't necessarily pay the mortgage. Many craft people fall into the mistake of making what they want rather than what the market wants.
    Also these days it is vital to embrace the internet and seize it's potential. I think the craft sector is years behind the times in this respect. It's like many things, the more time and effort you put, in the more you will get out of it.
    9 June '07 - 7.18pm
  • Thanks for your interesting replies. My friend who made £5000 profit has been in business for many years. I agree that a new business would most likely make a loss in the first year of trading. Thankfully this can be offset against other income (if you have any) and the loss carried forward. However, I think a new business should go into profit within two or three years. Otherwise what is the point? £5000 is insufficient income if you pay rent or mortgage with day-to-day costs etc.
    That brings me to the other points. I agree that craftspeople fall into the mistake of making what they want, rather than what the market wants. University courses encourage this: a student has to produce a unique product with an experimental approach. Unfortunately, the marketing comes after they've graduated - hit or miss?
    It must be remembered that Universities, too, are out to market themselves.
    In my opinion, marketing is the most difficult area to get right when running a creative business. It isn't just what you make, but who you sell to, where and how you sell that is the problem. Perhaps all craftspeople need to assess the market first before deciding on their uni course. Luckily now there is a lot of help out there for craftspeople. I've just joined a 'Made In' who offer plenty of help and expertise to new and older craft businesses.
    I'm pleased to say that I'm embracing the internet with a newly developed online shop (or two?). The market is changing and I want to change with it.
    10 June '07 - 1.21pm
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