Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Arts and Crafts: Business or Hobby?

I've decided to try something new with my monthly newsletters.  I'll still send them out once a month, but they will mainly contain links back to my blog.  Each month, I'll post a business article on my blog and will link to it in my newsletter.  You will also get a nice link list of all my tutorials for the past month.  I thought having a resource where you can see a list of tutorials would be helpful to both my newsletter and blog readers.

So, if it all comes back to the blog, why should you bother to subscribe to the newsletter?  Because I'll be giving my newsletter subscriber special coupons and offers good for items in my Etsy shop and for my ebooks and ecourses.  I'll probably also throw in a few bonus tutorials, so if you aren't already a subscriber, please take a minute to sign-up now.  If you look at the top of my blog, you will find a page link for my newsletter.  Click on it to find the sign-up form and to read past issues of the newsletter.  Still can't find it?  Click here.  I'd love your input on my new format idea, so feel free to leave me a comment.

Okay, ready for this month's article?  Here we go:

Arts & Crafts:  Business or Hobby?

I was working in a booth at CHA when a crafter walked up and started talking to another demonstrator.  The conversation went something like this:

Demonstrator:  "Hi there Crafter Lady! Are you working this booth later today?"
Crafter Lady:  "No.  If it was just volunteer work, I would, but since they are paying I don't want to screw-up my family's income taxes, so I'm not doing it."

I had to bite my tongue.  What I wanted to point out to Crafter Lady was that by offering to work for nothing, she is making it VERY difficult for me to work professionally.  The same goes for all those artists and crafters out there who submit their work to magazines and books and don't expect any payment in return.  If publishers and manufacturers can get crafters to work for fre*e, then they aren't motivated to hire a professional to do the job. 

While I certainly appreciate that many artists and crafters are only creating as a hobby, I do believe that we all need to know how our actions are affecting others who are trying to make a living.  As a professional, I charge clients for my work.  I believe it's beneficial to them because I treat my projects and assignments as a job and they can be sure that they will get professional quality work, an adherence to deadlines, access to my contacts and marketing services. 

Now, if you are hobbyist, please don't take offense.  I know that many artists and crafters don't  even know that can charge for their services, and that's really why I'm writing today's article.  To educate you and encourage you to learn more about the business of crafting and how your actions affect others in the industry.

Another area where I see artists and crafters making it difficult for themselves to make a decent living is in how they are pricing their work for sale on websites like Etsy.  There's been a lot of talk about how the prices on these sites are undermining the economy of our industry.  If we all priced our items accurately, we would all profit financially. (Here's a fantastic article about it.)

If we all profit financially, we can continue to support one another by buying cool things from each other!  See how beautifully it all works? 

So what are your thoughts?  Should artists and crafters start to pull together and find a way to make a living from our creativity?  What should we charge for our artwork, published works, tutorials and services?  I'd love to hear from you!