If you’re nearing expert-level in a certain craft, be it knitting, crochet, cross stitch or something else, you may hear people say things like “you could sell that!” “I’d buy that in a shop”. Well – what’s stopping you?
Setting up a small craft business isn’t easy but can be incredibly rewarding. We spoke to Anna Maughan, a Cambridge-based crafter who left her high-ranking office job to became a virtual personal assistant and a small business owner. She set up her shop Let Me Be Bold in the autumn of 2016, and sells a colourful and quirky range of cross-stitch and felted makes. Here she tells us her top tips for if you want to start your own crafting business.
1) Find your local Etsy team
“This is the most important thing you can do”, Anna says, “especially if you’re going to run your creative business as a full-time role. There will be Etsy Made Local events you can find out about, and you may even have a local Etsy Educator, who will run workshops showing you how to set up your shop. You’ll meet people with similar interests and if you’re lucky like me, end up with a great group of ‘work friends’!”
2) Go to craft fairs
Craft fairs are a good way of getting your name out there and promoting your business and your makes to others. “I’m a natural introvert” Anna says “so I assumed I would be dreadful at them, but when I was offered a stall at a half-day market in Cambridge, I accepted it and I’ve never looked back. Now, I’ll apply for every market I can!” After all, she says, “you might love craft fairs, or you might hate them, but you don’t know unless you try.”
3) Give yourself time
We’ve all heard the statistics in some way that new businesses fail in the first year – whether it’s because of rookie errors, not enough money, or it not launching the way you expected it to. Anna tells us that “at the end of my first year I felt as if I’d made no progress, but after chatting with some other local creatives I discovered that, on the whole, we all suffer imposter syndrome at some point, and it’s important to let your business grow and change without putting the extra pressure on yourself of having to know exactly what you’re doing next. I’m now well into my second year of business and just about starting to feel like I know where I’m going… for now!”. So don’t put pressure on yourself and don’t start too big! If your product and the foundations are good, people will notice.
4) Choose your sites wisely
A social media presence is vital for small businesses to generate interest and engagement with your target audience. Customers won’t know about your business if you don’t tell them about it! Anna recommends choosing your sites wisely – not just in terms of price. “Remember”, she says “that whatever sites you choose to sell through, you have to maintain them! If you’re a whizz at web design, by all means, set up your own website if that’s the cheapest option for you. If you’re not – I’m certainly not – you’ll want to weigh up the pros and cons of using one (or more) of the established platforms. Keep on top of your listings – renewing them can often boost your visibility and create traffic for you!” Anna personally likes to use Instagram, and she schedules time each day to interact with other makers online and build relationships. “That said”, she says “I know from my own shopping experience that a beautifully styled and curated photo is what draws me to choose one product over another similar product, and I know what my strengths are and are not!” Find a style that works for you.
5) Keep your records
“I can’t stress enough”, says Anna, about “how important it is for you to keep records, even if your business is tiny. You’ll want to keep a note of your income and expenditure for your tax return anyway, but I’ve also found it useful to do a monthly round up of all the things I’ve done or been involved with recently. By doing that, I can look back at my records any time I start to feel like I’m “not successful enough” and then I always feel re-inspired.” It does always help to be numbers savvy!
- Thanks to Anna Maughan for the interview, the tips and the photographs! Click here to view her Etsy shop, or find her on Facebook at @LetMeBeBoldUniqueCreations