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How to grow your side hustle into a full-time arts and crafts business

By amandapeters 04 Nov 2019

A side hustle doesn’t have to stay small, Charlotte Holmes-Darby, UK Market Lead at Vistaprint, shares some advice on making the leap into a full-time business

We recently surveyed 2,000 UK adults in full-time employment and found that almost one quarter (23 per cent) have turned a hobby into a side hustle. The arts and crafts market is the second most popular area for side businesses, including jewellery designers, greeting card makers, illustrators and photographers, to name a few.

Although many arts and crafts side hustles are born out of hobbies or creative interests, paired with a desire to make money on the side, they don’t have to stay small. If you have a side business but want to spend more time doing what you love, here is advice from others who have already made the leap:

Identify growth opportunities
When asked their advice on growing a side business, successful side hustlers’ top tip is focusing on tasks that generate the most revenue. You can do this by identifying your strongest growth opportunities and mapping out what you’ll need to run your business full-time.

You’ll already be running a scaled-back version of your arts and crafts business and should have a small customer base. Seek feedback on your current offering and how you could build upon it. Use this feedback to test into new marketing tactics, production processes and products that take your side hustle to the next level.

A jewellery designer could test how their product sells at events including trade shows and craft fairs. Not only will this allow you to reach new customers and generate new income streams, but you can also gain valuable feedback to further improve upon your product.

Another growth opportunity for arts and crafts-focused side hustles is to invest in a larger workspace or a studio. If you run your side business from home, you may struggle with space to store materials or equipment and work on projects. Renting a larger workspace will allow you to fulfil orders more quickly, expand your product collection and exceed customer expectations.

The key is to test different opportunities, learn from the impact on your business and determine your long-term focus areas.

Expand your network
The successful side business owners we surveyed recommend networking with like-minded people who have already taken the leap and are running their own successful businesses full-time. Their knowledge and experiences could help you realise that your dreams are well within your reach.

Websites such as Crafts Council and 10times are a good source of events for creative side hustlers, such as trade shows, art conferences and gallery openings. Meetup.com can also help you to identify more informal events for creative business owners such as meetups for illustrators or photographers. At these types of events, you can meet and learn from creative entrepreneurs who have found success, while also gaining access to potential partners and suppliers that you may not find on your own.

You should also attend more general business owner events including those offered by the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses. As well as meeting entrepreneurs at various stages of starting or scaling their businesses, people you meet at these events can be a potential source of work. A restaurant or cafe owner may be looking for handcrafted products to decorate their storefront, while an online entrepreneur might need photography for their e-commerce site.

Before going into any networking event, make sure you have you’ve practised your business pitch, that way you’ll feel prepared to clearly and succinctly present your offerings and seize any opportunities that come your way.

Build a credible image
If you’re looking to turn your side hustle into a full-time business, you’ll need to create a professional look across all your marketing to position your company as a credible brand. Designing a logo is an important first step to convey professionalism, your brand promise and values. These should feed into any other marketing materials and tactics you use.

At craft fairs and trade shows, eye-catching marketing materials can be great conversation starters that lead to business opportunities. These marketing materials should highlight your brand personality and help customers to remember you when they walk away. A large banner gets your stall noticed, flyers and leaflets create awareness about your products, business cards encourage customers to contact you while stickers turn your logo into a fun and memorable giveaway.

Similarly, having a professional-looking website and online portfolio shows customers that your creative side hustle is a serious player. It doesn’t need to be overly sophisticated, but relevant, helpful and visual content is necessary to help customers make an educated decision to work with your company.

The key is for your offline and online marketing to create a consistent, cohesive and professional look for your business whenever opportunities come knocking.

Scale through social
According to successful side business owners, building a strong social media presence is one of their top recommendations for growing a side hustle. Our research shows that the average side business owner spends 13 hours a week on their business. So, optimise your resources by focusing on platforms where your target customers are most engaged.

For a lot of arts and crafts side hustles, Instagram and Pinterest are natural choices for sharing examples of the creative work you’re most proud of. But remember that communication rather than promotion is at the heart of social media marketing. Your followers won’t stick around if you’re only pushing product, so also offer content that adds value and entertains customers. For a home décor business, this could include tips on how to decorate a home, while a photographer could share the story behind their favourite photos or provide a glimpse into behind the scenes editing.

Engaging with your customers through social media channels is also a great way to receive positive endorsements for your products. This can seem more conversational and organic than asking customers to leave reviews on Yelp, Google or your website. For example, you could send customers who purchase from you a thank you note and then ask them to take a picture of the product and tag your business if they loved it.

By following these steps, you can test your art and craft side hustle’s long-term viability, growth and marketing opportunities in a safer setting. That way, you can ease the transition into full-time entrepreneurship, and ultimately, spend more time doing what you love.

The author
Charlotte Holmes-Darby is the UK Market Lead at Vistaprint.

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