Article: Crafting For Profit & Pleasure

Spending your time doing what you love and getting paid for it seems like the ultimate dream job, but as you start crafting for profit, the pleasure can so easily wither away.

Once you’re a professional crafter, your focus is on your business and making money, and your creativity and enjoyment usually suffers first.

When you first start selling your crafts you get such a buzz from it! But what happens when you are making that same item again and again (and again!) You started crafting because you enjoy the creative process, but now you feel like a factory worker, just churning stuff out.

And then there are those customers who want something different. ‘Great!’ you think, ‘a chance to create something unique again.’ But it’s the customer who ends up ‘designing’, while you just follow orders and assemble it. Again, you’re back in the factory!

Finally, you hit a quiet period and have a chance to create some new designs and ‘do your own thing’ again. But what happens? Your muse deserts you and you go completely blank. You can’t for the life of you think of anything new to do, and don’t even know where to start.

Does any of this sound familiar? I’ve been through each of these stages and they’re no fun – you end up wondering why you ever wanted to sell your crafts in the first place! But it doesn’t have to be this way. Over the years I’ve developed some tricks to pull me out of these slumps and back into creative heaven.

Firstly, to avoid the boredom that often comes with crafting for profit, see whether any of these ideas will work for you:

  • Reward yourself with creative sessions. For every day spent doing the more repetitive jobs, give yourself a few hours of fun crafting. This way you’ll be motivated to finish the boring stuff quickly.
  • Also alternate custom orders with time spent letting your creativity go wild. As custom orders aren’t particularly time efficient anyway, you don’t necessarily need to do all of them together in one session. Perhaps reward yourself for every custom order finished with a block of time to do your own thing.
  • Make sure you account for the extra time custom orders take in your pricing (including time spent sourcing materials) in order to make it worth the hassle. You’re much less likely to become dissatisfied if you’re being richly rewarded!
  • You could consider limiting yourself to doing one-offs or limited editions. That way the customer gets extra value for their purchase and you don’t get fed up doing the same thing over and over. Or if this isn’t practical for you in terms of earning a good income, consider doing this for just a selection of your crafts.
  • When you have to make lots of the same item, get a production line going. Once you know an item sells well, rather than having to replace it every other day, put in one really good session and make loads. OK, so it will be even more tedious while you’re doing it, but you’ll get them finished much quicker this way, and then won’t have to make any more for ages!
  • Outsource the production of popular items. That way you can pay someone to replicate your popular designs while you concentrate on creating new ones.

And if you’ve run out of inspiration, here are some ideas for getting it back:

  • As a preventative measure, set aside a block of time (daily or weekly) that is purely creative time. Don’t worry about whether what you’re making will sell or not, and don’t think about the other things you need to do, just throw yourself into doing whatever feels good. I find that once I start I get carried away with all sorts of new ideas!
  • Read books and magazines about your crafts. This feels wonderfully indulgent, and you may think time spent reading is wasted, but it’s so important in order to generate new ideas and to keep abreast of new techniques and trends. So when you’re feeling a bit jaded, grab a cup of coffee and settle down with your favourite (craft related) glossy.
  • Invest in some new and different materials or supplies. I always get excited when a parcel full of new beads arrives, and can’t wait to try them out!
  • Have a clearout. You’ll find things you’d forgotten you had, and seeing your materials arranged differently can often inspire you to try new combinations or techniques that you haven’t thought of before.
  • Take a course. Learning a new technique, or brushing up on old ones can help you rediscover your inspiration. And you’ll find it refreshing to mix with others who are excited about the same craft as you.

When you’re crafting for profit, you do need to resign yourself to some of the less exciting tasks, but do everything you can to keep yourself at your creative best. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it will show in your work.

Don’t feel guilty about treating yourself to a craft magazine subscription, a day off, or whatever else you need to keep those creative juices flowing, because as a professional crafter you are the number one asset in your business!

Louise Longworth works from home selling her handmade jewelry at home parties, and has published to help other crafters do the same.


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