I learned how to make my own jewellery three months ago. I sold my first piece today. Nothing flashy, just a cute little bracelet I made at the weekend. I've made enough jewellery to set-up shop online and start selling, which is something I've always wanted to do. So how do you go from crafting as a hobby to earning an income from what you love making?
Where do you start?
Firstly, you need to work out what craft you want to start. You might have to try a few different crafts before you find one that suits you. I might be able to whip up a pretty necklace, but give me a crochet hook and I'm useless. The craft that works for you might not be the one you expected. Take a trip to your local craft shop, or have a look at the exciting new courses popping up. If you're based in London then The Make Lounge is a firm favourite (and it's where I learned my stuff) but you can also take a look at The Papered Parlour or The Studio. You'll find a lot of places do introduction courses so you can try something out before you buy a lot of expensive kit. Remember, if you're trying to turn this into a business, you'll need to keep track of your costs.
Where do you sell your wares?
Of course, to throw a spanner in the works, you have all sorts of other ways to sell. Heard of Bouf? Well they're like the stepping stone between Folksy and Etsy and they cover a European market. But they're very high end and you'll see at lot of your money go to membership fees and commission which can be off-putting if you're just starting out. To get the best idea of where is right for you, start reading craft blogs. Become part of the crafting community. Remember, you don't have to get selling straight away. Wait until you're ready.
There several online options when it comes to selling your craft. Everyone seems to be jumping on the Etsy bandwagon. Etsy are a great place to start, but they're not the only craft selling platform out there. Take a look at Folksy. They're British, so you get prices in pounds, but they have a higher commission than Etsy (they take 5%, whereas Etsy take 3%). If you've got a niche product, you'll be able to stand out in the crowded Etsy marketplace. If your products are well made but pretty standard (and there's nothing wrong with that) then you might do better establishing yourself somewhere like Folksy which is smaller, but no less professional. You need to weigh up what works for you.
If you're web savvy, you could set up your own site, but that means you're soley responsible for marketing and promotion. A lot of work goes into keeping sites current and competitive, but you have control over the design and you don't have to pay anyone commission. Tools like Twitter and Facebook can help with promotion. Your friends and contacts are the people most likely to buy your products and give you word of mouth, so make the most of it.