Starting your own craft business is a great way to share your creative passion with the world. Taking a hobby or an expertly honed skill and building a business around it is an exciting and rewarding journey. There was a lot I didn’t know when starting Zelma Rose and while I managed to learn along the way, having a clear plan from the get go would have been helpful to say the least! I work with a lot of creative business professionals as part of my consulting services and no matter the specific field of expertise; all creatives have similar concerns and questions when starting out. The beginning is exciting and challenging for all of us simply because there is so much to tackle at once. To help get you moving in the right direction I pulled together my top 5 tips for starting your craft business and having some fun along the way.
- Know Your Science. I am a big proponent of understanding the science of your business. By science I mean the laws, regulations, licensing, and taxes that involve running a business in your state. While this is not the part of your business that will elicit much passion, it is critically important to your success. Most cities and counties have their own rules for running a small business. You will most likely need a business license, a fictitious business name, and possibly a few other necessary documents in order to get started. All of this information can be found on your town or county’s website, where they will most like direct you to any federal forms you will need to fill out as well.
- Think Branding. Often times we become so excited about putting our work out there, we forget the importance of having a brand. Whether your brand is simply your name, or something more general, you will need to have an aesthetically pleasing way to share the information about your work with the public. Having things like a logo, headshot, and business card design are great places to start. It helps to have some money put aside to hire out these tasks to an expert, but if you don’t have the funds just yet, there are great tools like Picmonkey and Moo to help you create simple yet effective logos and business related designs.
- Photography. We live in a visual world. Having great photographs of your work is as important as the work itself. I recently read a blog post written by a friend who attended the Emmys and she admitted her surprise when stars that she thought looked amazing in person were placed upon the worst dressed list. In the end, her conclusion was that it was all about the photograph. Some gowns, no matter how gorgeous in person just didn’t photograph well, and considering not everyone gets to go to the Emmys, most images of the stars are seen via photograph. If the dress didn’t pop on film, it failed. The same goes for your product. Good photography can make or break your brand so get serious about your close up. If you don’t feel confident behind the camera, this might be where you want to put your money. If your budget is small, many student photographers are often looking to build their portfolio and can provide beautiful pictures at a low cost in exchange for including your images and testimonial as part of their portfolio. Contact your local art schools to connect with emerging photographers in your area.
- Web Presence. With a basic logo, some stellar photography, and a good story, you are ready to make a name for yourself online. Having a web presence is a really important part of any small business venture and this is no different for a craft business. There are a lot of great website platforms out there, none easier than IndieMade. For those starting out, look for a platform that has lots of available support, great templates, an easy to use interface and is quick and simple to upload product and images to. I used IndieMade to create my website and while I have tweaked it here and there since the beginning, it was a painless experience. Do your research and decide on a sales platform that makes sense to you, you will be spending a lot of time there after all!
- Be Your Own Social Media Mogul. Social media is easy to use, great for building a following, and better yet, it's free. If you don’t fall in love with all the big ones at once like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, pick one to get started. Consistency is key, so trying to maintain a presence on a social media app that you don’t like is a waste of time. Commit to one that you like and keep to a schedule of a few posts a day or week, depending upon your level of commitment. Share your product, announcements like show appearances, new stockits, milestones for your business, and related information. Be not only interesting but also interested. Get engaged with your customers and other makers and designers who you admire. Social media is my favorite way of gaining the attention of big guys like West Elm, Crate and Barrel, and even Barney’s.
As a new business owner you will have an ever-growing number of tasks to attend to. That’s part of the excitement of starting your own craft business! Take it one step at a time and enjoy all the surprises along the way. The day you start is the smallest your business is ever going to be from that day forward, so forget the downs and celebrate the victories.