Getting creative is perhaps one of the most personal endeavors someone can get into. Regardless of if you’re writing a book or drawing up some pictures, there’s a great amount of personalization and personal experience that you can put into your works. It’s a great way to showcase your skill, but it’s also a wonderful platform to express yourself and your passions.
That’s why many people have taken to websites like Etsy to turn their creative passions into business ideas that can make them more than just a simple living. With enough exposure and attention, creators on a site like Etsy can spin their startup into a fully-fledged business if they have the will to do so. Someone could go from making their stickers and character designs to running a business that ships those exact same designs on a global scale to every country in the world—and it’s all possible due to the internet.
However, there are many things to consider before taking the plunge and blowing your small startup balloon into something huge that will lift your business and products onto the global scene. If you don’t manage it carefully, that balloon that represents your business could expand and explode before you know it, and not only will you be left with a failing business, but you might also be left with no backup plan to continue your passions.
So to give you some advice, here are a couple of points to consider before you decide to expand your startup into a full-sized business.
1. Turning your passions into a job is tough work
We’ve all thought to ourselves at some point in our lives that we’d love to turn something we love into a job. For example, if you love to play computer games then the idea of being a YouTube content creator or a video games tester for a well-known developer would get you excited. However, both of those jobs don’t involve playing video games for the majority of the day.
A YouTube content creator has to market their brand, engage in social media to promote their content, and edit videos on a near daily basis just to have enough content to keep their viewers engaged. A video needs to accumulate several thousand views to even make a single dollar, so it’s not like you’ll be printing money anytime soon. A video games tester, similarly, has a lot of responsibilities such as finding software bugs and writing up documents explaining their experience with a game. You need decent writing skills, an analytical mind, and you play video games to find problems with them—not for enjoyment.
Hopefully, that gives you an idea of what it means to turn a passion into a job. Arts and crafts are no exceptions to this rule and, in many cases, turning a home crafts passion into a job carries a lot of weight with it. You’ll be under constant criticism by your potential customers, you’ll receive ridiculous requests, some people might send your products back and demand a refund, and you won’t be engaging in home crafts for entertainment anymore—it will be your job. There will be deadlines, there will be late nights and you will be struggling to keep up for a long time. As a result, you can’t expect to have a lot of fun when you craft products for paying customers—you need to take it seriously.
2. It’s expensive to gather all the equipment
When you craft things for your own enjoyment, you probably have a tonne of shelves, boxes and drawers full of equipment and materials. Even then, you probably wish to yourself that you had x or y, a new piece of equipment, a bigger desk, anything of the sort. But sadly, there comes a point when you realize that it’s not going to be enough for a startup, let alone a business.
Gathering all the materials might be cheaper when you start buying in bulk, but that’s about the only money you will be saving compared to your regular purchases to maintain your crafting hobby. There are many pieces of equipment that you need to buy, such as industrial-grade printers, a 3D printer, extra cans of paint, glue guns, a larger desk, more storage space… the list goes on! And that’s just for your startup as well. When you move on to creating a business, you’re going to need an entire office and even some production machinery such as a powder coating oven to coat your products in paint, or a set of precise robotic arms to help you manufacture your products on a large scale. There are sites like www.reliantfinishingsystems.com/powder-coating-equipment/powder-coating-ovens/ where you can get quotes for large pieces of equipment such as a powder coating system.
Once you’ve invested money into all of your equipment, you’re also going to need to maintain it. Malfunctions can happen so you will need to repair your machinery now and then. If one of the parts is faulty, you’ll have to wait days or weeks for a replacement to arrive and hire a specialist to replace it. Because these large pieces of machinery are so expensive, it’s worth mentioning that a lot of factories actually buy their machines second-hand. This is because second-hand machinery is usually well-kept and has had many part replacements in the past. It’s also a lot cheaper than buying brand new machinery.
3. It’s a business, so need to treat it like one
Something that a lot of people can’t get over is the fact that you’ll be turning your passion into a business, meaning that you will be spending a lot less time actually indulging yourself in crafting items and spend more of your time managing a business, hiring people to do the work that you love and promoting your brand to potential investors, consumers and social media.
Owning a business is entirely different from running your personal store from a site like Etsy. You need to set up all of the eCommerce, shipping, packaging and delivery services yourself. You’ll also need to hire someone to design a website, get employees to help you deal with finances, and even hire people to manage your social media accounts. Going from a home crafts business to a full business means you’ll be taking on a managerial role, so make sure you understand that responsibility before you invest in a business.
However, the other option is to start with a business partner. If you have friends or family members that can assist with the managerial parts, then you could put your time and effort into developing new products, perfecting existing ones, or even promoting your products on social media and to your friends. It’s a far more attractive option if you want to focus on your craft instead of worrying too much about managing your business.
The good thing is, when managing an online business, there are a ton of resources to help get you up to speed. Considering you are most likely growing a strong following across all your social you should look at additional ways to monetize that following. Influencer marketing platforms like Grin streamline a lot of the tedious tasks when it comes to finding sponsors for your content. These channels are also generate completely incremental revenue to Etsy or your other core business, which is a great thing!
4. Not everyone will like your products
You’re planning on becoming a public business and you are aiming to be exposed—that opens you up to criticism. In the past, you may have gotten a couple of mean comments from customers who received goods that were damaged in transit or people that bought the wrong thing. However, with a wider audience, you’re going to get a lot more bad comments, unconstructive feedback and angry messages. You also might receive bad reviews or people will criticize you for the types of products that you are selling.
Although it makes sense to ignore unconstructive comments, it can be damaging for someone that doesn’t have a hardened business demeanor. You might second guess the quality or design of your products, and you might feel like you aren’t putting in enough work. It’s important that you understand the difference between constructive criticism and blatant attempts at trying to make you feel bad. If possible take on any constructive comments and try to make new products or changing existing ones. However, it’s a good idea to stick with your style so that you don’t end up tweaking your products just to fit consumer demand. You are still an arts and craft business at heart, so your consumers should learn to love your style instead of controlling what you do.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
This is one of those general tips for anyone starting a business, but it’s still an incredibly important point to get across when you’re inexperienced and turning a passion into a business. You will always have help if you look for it. Whether it’s online business communities to ask for help or a more experienced friend, there is plenty of help around us if we look for it.
You can also consult online arts and crafts communities for assistance. There’s likely someone that has written a journal that is similar to your situation, and there will always be creative professionals ready to give you advice on your business. Just remember that when you’re in doubt, always ask for help and don’t be afraid of failing a couple of times before you get your business right. Turning your passion into a job is tough, but with enough dedication, assistance and planning, it could be the right path for your life.