Creating Multiple Profit Centers from your Craft

Are you feeling as if no matter how much work you sell, it isn’t generating enough income? Are you concerned that you can never produce enough pieces to make a living?  Even artists who sell a lot of work find that eventually, they hit a plateau because selling crafts that are hand made one at a time is still trading time for dollars and does limit your income. If you have to produce so much work to make enough money, it may stop being fun and actually feel like work.

So how can you increase your income as a crafter if you’re already selling as many pieces as you can comfortably produce?

You need to find other “profit centers” as my friend Barbara Winter calls multiple income streams. (she says “streams sounds wimpy”.) So what other ways can you bring in income without having to ramp up production?

The best way I know is to leverage your time and knowledge. Let’s look at some opportunities for increasing revenue that will also help get your name out there.

If you produce a product that is based on your signature design, one great way to leverage is to sell kits with all the supplies and instructions so that others can duplicate it but you are still getting paid. I wouldn’t worry about losing sales because the person who would purchase a kit to make a piece like yours is a different customer altogether than the one who would buy a finished piece. Say for example,  you are a jewelry designer. You can make a piece once and then sell the instructions, beads, findings, etc as a Make-it-Yourself kit. Or, if you make handbags, for each style you design, make up a pattern that you can sell along with the fabric, buttons, zipper, thread and any other supplies needed to make the bag.

Another very simple way to leverage your revenue from art is to teach both live classes or virtual. It’s very easy to make a video demonstrating “how-to” do your craft and sell either a digital version online or a physical DVD. Again, the client who will pay for your instruction video is not the same client who will buy the finished work.

Go through the craft section at any bookstore and you will see color plates in the “how-to” books featuring different artists’ work. An added source of income is the sale of your pattern or instructions to an author or publisher. Of course, submitting articles or patterns to craft magazines is another great vehicle for selling your design.

Some artists will choose to have two or more different series in their line. One can be a higher end, labor intensive limited edition while the other can be more competitively priced. This works well if you sub out assembly to work-at-home parents who can each have their own cottage industry. You pay them by the piece and it’s a winning scenario for everyone, including the customer who may not purchase your higher end work. Making sure the lines each have a distinct look will help to maintain the prices on the more upscale pieces.

When you offer to do a demo along with a trunk show at a home party or local boutique, you will be able to reach the crafters who will pay you for lessons and kits as well as the collectors who will pay for your work rather than do it themselves. Any exposure you can get will be a marketing step.
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Why now is the perfect time to raise money with crafts

In many areas, school starts this week. It used to be that the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day were all about popsicles, bicycles and running through sprinklers, right? School seems to start earlier every year.

With all the recent budget cuts, districts are more in need of funds for even basic supplies so expect the doorbell to ring more this fall with kids selling the usual magazine subscriptions, chocolates and wrapping paper. Unfortunately, that revenue won’t cover the arts and sports so groups will still be open to new fundraising ideas.

Whether you’re an artist, crafts person or just good at organizing, this is the perfect opportunity for you to approach the PTA, sports teams or chorus and band leaders with a new fundraising project. Any group in need of funds will be thrilled to have someone else handle the details and have something that doesn’t require the kids going door-to-door.

A craft fair can be a high revenue, low-cost event to operate and is also a convenience for the teachers and parents who don’t have to use their personal days to run around town shopping for gifts. Simply contact the person in charge of the school bulletin to put out a call for entries or send a flyer home with the kids letting parents who are artists or crafts people know that you are organizing a crafts fair and include a booth entry form with your phone number and email address. Ask each participant to donate a specific percentage of her sales to the school, teams or organization. Ideally, each craftsperson will man her own booth or table. If you don’t have a network of artists on your radar, you can approach a local crafts guild to participate. And don’t overlook the obvious. While bake sales went out with poodle skirts, the new gourmet cupcakes and artisan breads command a higher price and are well received. Of course, hand-made soaps and body lotions are also considered crafts so include a good variety.

If your neighborhood school holds a fall festival, you may choose to piggy-back on that event and run the crafts fair simultaneously or you may find it more beneficial to run it as a separate boutique. However you do it, make sure to solicit help from other parents and artists.

Remember, each event is more exposure for your craft so be sure to always have a personal bio and tag with your contact info. Look at each time you show your work as an opportunity to build your mailing list of raving fans. Rather than see this fair as a one-shot time to sell your art, view it as exposure to more repeat collectors who will not only buy from you but tell their friends about your work. Include extra cards with each purchase so that your customers can pass them out to others who admire your work.

Do you have hints you’d like to share with other readers about raising funds with your crafts? As always, we’d love to hear your comments.