Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Making Money from your Hobby

By Christina VanGinkel

Attending a craft show, as a participant instead of a shopper, is a great way to add some dollars to your hobby fund. While selling what you make may never have really crossed your mind, there are a lot of crafters and hobbyists who do just this very thing to help fund the very crafts and hobbies they take pleasure in doing. It is also a great reason to keep making what it is you so enjoy making. For example, if you take pleasure in making lamp work beads, eventually, you may have so many, that realistically, you will want to find a market through which to sell some of them. An art or craft show may be just the place! They will provide you with a market in which to sell, without any overhead or constant pressure and stress that might come with a more permanent means of selling, such as a store of your own, or even a full-time booth at one.

How would you know if what you make is something that others would want to pay you money for though? Do a bit of research with family and friends, asking them to be as honest as they can, and inquiring if they would tell you, what they think of whatever it is you make. If they have requested items as gifts before, take that as a positive, but still solicit their response. Also, consider if anyone has ever asked you where you bought something that was actually something you had made. This is always a good sign that what you consider a way to pass the time may actually be a means for you to make a few extra dollars.

You could also check out gift shops, or shows, in your area to see if there is anything similar on not only the shelves, but also actually being sold. If there is, make note of the prices for your own future reference. If there are similar items, and you would have to charge a lot more than what another local outlet is asking, you may want to reconsider where you purchase supplies, but on the other hand, if your prices would be less, and your quality of product better, consider these definite pluses.

Getting a space at a show does not have to be difficult, but keep in mind that there are various types of shows, and your products may be a better fit for one type over another. If you make items that would be considered art, look for sales listed as art shows, or even juried competitions. These are sometimes more difficult to obtain a space at, as they cater to those people who are often more willing to pay a bit more for quality. A juried show will also require you to submit either a sample, or slides or top quality photographs of your work for them to review before they offer you a space. In addition, expect to pay more upfront for the space than you would at a different class of show.

Craft shows, held at malls, churches, and various other institutions, are often your best bet for getting a space. Prices will vary from as low as ten dollars for a table at a church bazaar, to several hundred for a busy mall that will put a large amount of time and dollars into advertising the show. Again, consider where your items will fit in best. If you create small plastic canvas bookmarks, they would most likely do well at a smaller bazaar. If you do those, plus scenic cross-stitch canvases, you might want to try a show at a mall that will have a variety of foot traffic. If you make hand thrown pottery pieces, take your pick, as you will probably find shoppers for your wares no matter where you go. If you specialize in hand finished jewelry pieces that are a cut above what you would find at the jewelry store, then an art show is probably more what you are looking for.

You will need to consider how you will display you work, no matter the type of show you go to. Always be as professional as you can be, whether you are at a juried art show or a small town church bazaar. Keep your display clean, easy to navigate, and prices clearly marked. Be sure to consider things like packaging your product, and find out beforehand the ins and outs of issues, such as taxes and any required licensing.

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