"If we wait until we're ready,
we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives"
If you're reading this, you're probably like me, you want to sell your craft or follow your dreams. You're tired and exhausted from working, doing things you don't want to be doing. Maybe you want to one day have your own storefront, but you don't know the steps to take along the way. This post will be a look into what I've started doing to try to make this dream a reality.
I'm by no means an expert, everything I've learned about this is trial and error, and I'd like to help you along the way to not make as many mistakes as I have.
#1 Farmers Markets and Pop-ups
For me, something that has been helpful has been getting into my local farmers market. This is a really great place to start. It grows along with you, lets you connect with people face to face where you can talk about your works, and your story, and just connecting with a strong local market. They're pretty affordable and I'm pretty sure you can find a few near by. I'll make a separate post about tips and trick for vending and link it here when I have it made.
Farmers markets, artist alleys, pop-ups, and more are a fantastic way to start getting your works out there to people and start making connections. They're relatively affordable to participate in (bigger things like artists alleys and festivals will cost more and you'll have to decide if it's right for you and where you are), and you don't have to have the "perfect" setup when you start. Believe me I didn't by any means. But you can learn ways you can improve it over time. This option also works where you can work them alongside your other work if you're not ready or in a place to be solely working for yourself. I love this option, it's so fun to set up and see peoples reactions to your works.
This is something I'm just starting to get into so I can't say how well it will do just yet, and it may not work with the things you sell but I think it's worth mentioning. Wholesaling allows you to get your products into more shops and stores. You make less then you do if you were to sell everything at retail price, but you will usually have larger order volume that will cover the cost of your materials and some profit. You can start doing this either with business-to-business relationships you cultivate by talking directly with the business owners, or by using platforms like faire.
This option is a good stream of revenue, and a lot of places will also include your branding elements and your ways to be found online. This will help you grow your platforms organically, plus it's pretty rad when you get people messaging saying they found your works for >insert location< and that they loved it. Maybe from this path you will also snowball into commissions, or opportunities to work with exciting new projects.
#3 Patreon & Ko-Fi
Using platforms like Patreon and Ko-Fi require you to have some kind of following to create traction, but it is a stream of revenue. They both have their pros and cons, but one thing unique to Ko-Fi is that you can receive one time donations, have a store front, and do commissioned work. You connect with your biggest fans and can give exclusive content to them ranging from behind the scenes, special polls, early shop updates and more. It doesn't require any money upfront, and they only take a small percentage of your sales. It really can be a great platform for you.
#4 Third party vending
This option may not be available to you depending on your city, but some places have co-op organizations that you can pay a rent fee to and they will retail your products for you. All you have to do is keep your store stocked and maybe also help promote it on your social medias. Each place does it a little differently, so you'll have to check them out to learn more about them. They can be pricey depending on the location to get in, but could be worth it if there's good foot traffic. With this and with the farmers market option I would recommend talking with people who currently set up there and ask them what it's like.
#5 Online sales (your own website or through marketplace apps)
Online sales can be a really beneficial avenue, it doesn't cost too much to have a domain, or to list your items online in marketplaces. This could be something as simple as posting on Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Society6, RedBubble, Etsy, SmHauler, or anything like that. You can reach a lot of people, more than you could online, and honestly in this day and age having some kind of online presence is extremely helpful.
That being said, I personally struggle making online sales. It can be hard marketing yourself and being consistent. I am pretty low energy/spoons most of the time so it's hard for me. That may not be the case for you, you may be really skilled at cultivating your online presence and if that's the case this is a really natural next step for you on your journey.
If you make products either individually or in collections, hosting an online auction could be a great and fair way for people to buy your works. You can set your starting point that you're comfortable with and potentially make more than your asking price. I've not done this option much yet, but I've seen a lot of creatives who do really well with this concept.
This one requires you to either have a space you can teach people your craft, be willing to meet them somewhere, or get permission to set up at some other venue. But teaching is a great way to share a glimpse into your process, help people learn something new, and make some money. You can also do this online through platforms like YouTube or SkillShare.
#8 Commissions and Freelancing
Commissions and Freelancing are a great way to gain revenue as a creative. Take the skills you already have and either make something for someone else (Check for my guide to pricing post soon) or use your skills for freelance clients. This option requires you to advertise yourself and work with clients to help them achieve their goals. There's a lot of good resources you can find for this to help you grow and learn what to do.
If you are a visual artist, you can create either patterns or unique designs that you can license to companies to use. Full transparency, I've yet to do this method, it seems like it can be really good for artists and gets your work in front of a lot of eyes though. That being said, be sure to research more on it and see if it is a right fit for you.
#10 Think outside of the Box
Yea sounds good but what does that mean? How I interpret it is, you determine your success. And doing what everyone else is doing might be a path to that, or maybe it means that you should think creatively. Find unique ways to reach your goals. For example, when I first started this I did a pop-up yard art sale before I had a farmers market. It didn't do the best and my city said I couldn't be doing it more than 2 days a month, so wasn't the best option. But something you could look into doing is renting parking spaces on the weekend next to some popular places in your downtown. Sometimes properties will let you set up and vend in front of them, this can be mutually beneficial as it could help bring traffic into the property giving you permission to sell there.
Success comes in many different forms. Define what that means for you and have fun along the way. If something isn't working for you that's okay, you tried, you learned, and you moved on. Remember; if wait until you're ready, you could be waiting for the rest of your life. If however you decide that this isn't working for you for whatever reason, you can always get another job.
That is a few ways to generate income as a creative and work towards your own personal goals. These are some of the things I've either personally tried or plan to try. I hope this helps you along your journey.
Let me know if you have any other tips and tricks to start making money with your works! I'd love to hear them.
Let's stay connected! Follow me on social media: @devkrea or reach out directly to me by emailing me: firstname.lastname@example.org