The most popular post on this site to date is The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Etsy/Zibbet/Artfire Business. It’s the one most often linked to in the forums of those sites, and the one I get the most questions and feedback about. I love that people are finding it so helpful!
Recently, someone posted the link to a frustrated Etsyer in the forum, who claimed she was going to quit Etsy after four months without a sale.
Yes, four months, no sales on Etsy.
As I wrote about in the post, most of the comments on that forum thread are helpful nudges about photos, type of product, how competitive the jewelry niche is, and so on. And then one person posted the link to my article, and another said this:
I thought this line was the most important advice in that article: “You need to think outside the box, and develop additional streams of income, beyond your craft.” A lot of people are relying on one stream of income when that’s just not reality in the current economic climate.
So, here I am, about to write something up to help you discover additional income streams for artists. You ready?
5 Additional Streams of Income for Artists
- Develop really amazing tutorials on how to do/paint/make what you’re selling. Yes, I know what you’re thinking… “But, Lara! If I teach people how to do it, they’ll never buy MINE!!” You’re right, sort of. But here’s the thing – Either YOU grab some quick cash to teach them how, or Pinterest will do it for free. Which works out better for you? You’re going to still have people who don’t want to make, they want to buy already made. You’ll also have people who want to make, rather than buy, and to them, paying you $7 to learn how to make a bunch of gifts for their friends for Christmas is more affordable and enjoyable. You get $7, which in some cases I’ve seen, is the same you’re charging people for the actual item (which is a whole other story), and the best part? When you sell the tutorial, you create it once and sell it infinitely. When you take the time to make a bracelet or a pair of earrings, once they’re sold, you have to make more. What’s easier, creating the tutorial once and selling 100 copies for $7 each, or making 100 pairs of earrings? Sell the tuts on Etsy, your own site, your facebook page, craigslist, wherever!
- Take the tutorial idea one step further – Create and sell ebooks, courses, and online classes. There are tons of great places to provide online classes, and these days creating ebooks/courses is not a big deal to do (I’m working on 3 different ones myself at the moment!) so save the excuses! You can do this, you just need to put your mind to it, WANT to do it, and make it happen. Make a plan, stick it through, and in less than 30 days from now, you could conceivably be making even more money with your craft.
- IF you’re an artist/graphic designer/illustrator/photographer and aren’t selling reproductions or working with POD sites, you’re essentially stepping over PILES of money like it’s dog doo. Yes, I know this won’t apply to jewelry makers or people who carve awesome things out of wood, but anyone who has flat, digital images (or can take super duper awesome, artsy photos of their stuff) would be remiss if they chose to ignore this option. Yes, yes, I know – You only get 10-20% of the cut. Yes, I know that somewhere, someone’s told you that it “lowers the value” of the original work. I call b.s. on that one. I’ve had people find my art on DENY Designs and then contact me for a custom commissioned piece that then sold for much more. THEN, I licensed that same piece on DENY to make further income and expand my reach. Win-Win, anyone?
- Have a party! Yes, those “paint ‘n sip” places have become super popular lately, but why not set yourself up to hold parties at someone’s home? They get to invite their friends over, drink some wine, make something cool, and you get to earn money based on however many people attend (I set a minimum requirement, but you don’t have to.) This can be jewelry makes, painting classes, or just about anything you can think of… knitting classes, fashion match exchanges, whatever your creative little brain can come up with. The bonus? You can use it as a venue to sell your creations, too! Bring a few pieces (no, not your entire collection), to showcase whatever it is you’ll be teaching, and don’t “sell” them. Just have them there. Someone’s going to ask, you know it.
- Yes, you knew it was coming: Craft Fairs, Markets, and Festivals. Now, don’t go signing up for just any open event that crosses your path. Think about location, how much it costs for the space (versus how many items you’d have to sell to at least make back your booth fees), if it’s a venue/cause you enjoy or feel good about supporting, and if you can truly make the day a great experience, even if you don’t earn what you’d hoped to. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy spending the day talking to people, meeting other artisans, and working on my projects out in plain view. (If you go to a show and just sit there like a lump, you’ll get ignored like one. Bring a painting or some of your projects so people can watch you work!) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done a show where at least half a dozen people tell me they “ran out of money” but wanted to know where they could buy my stuff online. I hand them a biz card, and within a month, they usually buy.
I know that working with the POD companies has been great for my art career, and building on the additional streams with the ebooks, courses, and classes is my next “big thing to work on”. What about you?
Please tell me – Which of the above have you either a) never thought of, b) tried but have given up on, or c) tried and were successful?