Of course we are creators for the love of it. For the expression, for the outlet, for the story we can only tell with our art. We do it for all of those reasons. But making a little money from it can’t hurt, either.
It can be hard to master the dual tracks of creating and commerce. While many art schools these days offer two-pronged degrees that acknowledge the huge importance of the business of being a maker, most of us have to navigate those roads on our own, looking for the best route to allow the roads to converge in a symbiotic, simple way.
To get a handle on the commerce of creating, ask yourself these five questions and let their answers determine the best way for you to market your goods. In no time at all, you can be making your art, while your art makes money for you.
What is my initial investment budget?
There’s no getting around this one—the cliché is at least partly true and you’ll have to spend money to make money. But on what, where and how much depends on you. There are costs associated not only with materials, but for web hosting, advertising, shows, contests and submissions you may want to explore, and shipping and distribution. Respect your time and hard work enough to lay out an initial cost analysis and budget so you know not only what you’ll have to put into your business to make it viable, but what you’ll want to get back to make it profitable.
Where and how will I sell my goods?
Do you want to sell your goods on Etsy, an online marketplace or a dedicated website? There are pros and cons associated with each of these options, though having a web presence is pretty much non-negotiable these days. If you do go with a third-party seller, you should still maintain a personal or business blog or website that links to your commerce site, and keep it updated. If you will be selling as a vendor or through consignment, be sure that your items have all your business info on a tag. And if you create less tangible items—all the above rules still apply.
How can I stand out?
It’s imperative to learn to love self-promotion, at least a little. You need to find your market, and tell them why you are a creator they should spend money on. Sell yourself! Start a monthly newsletter, engage in a real way on social media, join and support groups of likeminded makers and let people know you are open for business. Be creative! Host a giveaway, add something special to every order or create niche posts on social media that followers can look forward to. A little hustle will go a long way.
Do I have to incorporate my small business/file for a business number/get a license?
The rules will vary where you live, so take a look at your local guidelines, tax implications and business regulations to decide how formal your business should be. Get in touch with entrepreneur or start-up groups in your area, chat with other local makers and search for business and art incubators that may host seminars dedicated to helping you find the right path.