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How to build a thriving handmade craft business

How to build a thriving handmade craft business

Many of us have dreamed about a simple and wholesome life making something at home with our own hands and selling it to make a living.

That’s cool when you’re selling samples of your handiwork to friends and family, but how will you fare on the open market with real customers making real buying decisions? They have the power to buy whatever they need from Amazon with a few clicks, and will generally only buy things with lots of five star reviews.

If your product is good and does sell well, it won’t be long before cheaper imitations start arriving on the boat from China and flooding the market. So how can you make your product stand out when it’s such a buyer’s market? How can you scale up production when it’s a handmade product? What’s your USP?

A wholesome wish to make and sell something nice can quickly turn into an episode of Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den. Tough questions that you can’t answer will shake your belief in the whole thing.

What you need to succeed is some sound business thinking for creatives. It’s great to have your head in the clouds, but your feet will need to be firmly on the ground.

Things to consider and plan for include brand definition and differentiation, how to price your product, how much to pay yourself, knowing your product’s strengths and weaknesses, how you’re going to do marketing, calculating ROI and profitability, competitor analysis, product development, finance …

If you skimmed over the last paragraph and inwardly said ‘Yeah, yadda yadda’, then it might be worth taking a ‘business for creatives – type course to better grasp the fundamentals of starting and growing a craft business. Many have succeeded through a mixture of resilience, goal setting, ambition and dreaming, and a few of them teach how to do it.

One of these people is designer, metalsmith and educator Megan Auman, who has got her jewelry lines into stores across the US and online. She has created an online course called How to Make a Living Selling What you Make. It covers the essentials of business thinking for creatives and goes further with lessons on crowdfunding, event marketing, shifting your money mindset and analyzing business opportunities.

Auman’s course is part of the ‘Money and Life’ section of creativelive.com, an educational site dedicated to creative people.