Hobby or Business?: the quandary

Not a lot of crafting to report on this week but I have been doing a lot of thinking and researching about handmade businesses. I have been reading all sorts of ‘what to do to have a successful business’ etc and some of it is inspiring but some of it is a bit off the wall!    The course which Vicky at Lucy Blossom Crafts did recently looks quite interesting and I have been meaning to find out more about it – how fortuitous then to see she mentions it in her blog post this week!

I think I may get in touch with her to ask more about it. – But, here is my quandary regarding Patchwork  Fairy – I really enjoy making things and and it was from  this love of crafting  that the idea to try and sell some of it arose – albeit initially just to try and provide funds for making more stuff!  A few sales down the line and a couple of good craft fairs later and I began to think maybe I could try and turn it into a source of income.

A couple of years on  and things just haven’t worked out as I envisaged.  Craft fairs were dreadful, health problems took their toll on my ability to actually physically do any crafting,  and continue to do so, and my actual sales have fallen short of anything like what could be called a source of income.   At present Patchwork Fairy Is not really a business but is just a hobby which occasionally provides a small amount of funds to allow me to purchase more fabric /wool etc, just enough to fund my next makes.

So this is my quandary – do I go all out to try and make a business for myself or do I settle for making things for me and the family and just enjoy my hobby?  Of course the latter means less funds for us and my poor DH is the only one providing the income. But –   I was quite suprised to have no sales at all over last Christmas and this has led me to question whether the things I am making are special and unique enough to stand out in the ever growing handmade market. Is it actually worth trying to sell them? Am I mixing too many things in one shop? Should I concentrate just on the Goddess and Fairy jewellery or on the fabric things?

How did others come to sort out their businesses? I’d love to know your stories and any advice – folksy? Etsy? eBay? Made it? Any others? What has helped you turn a hobby into a busness?  Hoping the Handmade Mondayers over at Lucy Blossom Crafts will have some insights!

12 thoughts on “Hobby or Business?: the quandary

  1. I think your post is a dilemma lots of us face. I sell on Etsy and recently on Folksy – a good month equates to 10 sales (combined). This equates to me as a hobby income, despite the fact I take it seriously. I suspect the key is to hit on a product which is unique and appeals to many people, which you also enjoy making!! Easier said than done. Etsy is a saturated market, I am fortunate that my knitting needle cases often appear on the first page of results when a person searches for a knitting needle case, somehow I have the search engine optimization right for this product. It gives me a real thrill when I sell a different item! I am currently doing an excellent course re Etsy – http://etsy-preneurship.com/ready-to-thrive/

  2. Thanks for the link Vicky – I will definitely look later. I sell more on folksy than Etsy – I have a needle case very similar to yours but have never sold one – funny isn’t it! Even stranger is that just after publishing this post I noticed I had sold my fairy earrings on folksy, about 20 minutes before my post went live! Maybe it’s a sign!!

  3. Mine is a business and has been since 2003, it is not easy and things now are far worse than when I started (Did as a business in the 90’s as well until the bottom went out of the market). I am addicted to making and have to sell otherwise the house would be crammed to the rafters. The way I look at it you have nothing to lose.

    I started by making clowns, took orders and ended up making so many, then moved onto mice. So sometimes starting with fewer items is better as when 1 person buys others follow.

    Have you tried Etsy and Folksy etc or even have a free website with Webden. If you go ahead do not underprice your items make sure to include your time and insurance etc.

  4. It is such a tough thing to try and sell crafts, I’m still only a baby in terms of business length and I’ve still got a long way to go. I’ll send you an email about the course and other things.

  5. My husband is not in the least bit money orientated but thinks I should set up SewforSoul as a business simply because he honestly believes people would want to buy my stuff, how sweet is that? However, I can’t really see it being a viable option. I was very interested to see Vicky’s thoughts as she is a talented artist who makes high quality bags.

  6. It’s difficult. I craft only as a hobby although I do do a few local craft fairs. I did 3 at Christmas and although I did sell, I only sold about half what I had the previous year. There are SO many craft fairs now and I find particularly with sewing, fabric is very expensive so I try only to buy when I can get it for half price and then I only charge double of what it cost me to make, there’s no way I could charge for my time, people just wouldn’t pay it. I only just do very local fairs so if I don’t make much at least I haven’t travelled way across town and also the local fairs only tend to be for a couple of hours, so I haven’t wasted a whole day. Have you ever thought in teaching a local craft class – crochet or jewellery making. There’s no easy answer. xx

    • Craft fairs are out for me now, as would be teaching – I have chronic pain issues and am awaiting surgery so can’t lift or pull a trolley of stock at all. Hopefully one day I may be more able.

  7. I think this is such a common dilemma amongst crafters and there is no easy answer, i sell most on Etsy – although there are a lot of sellers on there, there are also a lot of buyers, i’ve had customers from all over the world, in fact the majority are probably overseas.

    Other people do better at craft fairs or other online platforms… i think the key is probably to follow what ignites your passion and educate yourself as much as you can – sounds like you’re already doing those things so i’m sure good things will follow! Good luck! xx

  8. I have a full-time job so crafting is very much an escape and a hobby for me. I’d never want it to become something that pressured me. Lots of people do say, “you should sell your stuff” but I’m not convinced it wouldn’t take the enjoyment out of it for me. x

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