The Business Side of Designing

5:21:00 PM

It's fun to create. It's in my blood and essential to my happiness.There's nothing I'd rather do than design and knit or crochet all day. It's who I am. Still, at the end of the day I need to eat... and pay bills just like everyone else. And at the end of the day being a Designer is my trade, it's my job and we usually don't make very much.


So, why is it then that anyone who happens to be associated with working in the arts is just expected to practically "work for free." A lot of it has to do with society at large but a great deal also has to do with the artist his or herself and how he or she expects to be treated. There are a lot of artists who work for free (maybe they're financially well off and don't care? or have self esteem issues?) and there are also a lot who have to live off what they make and command respect and be paid for the work they do. Back when I ran my Etsy shop I would lower prices on items and often ate shipping costs because I thought that being nice was good customer service. Boy was I wrong. It was a thankless gesture and I ultimately paid the price for it. I didn't make enough to ultimately sustain the business. I'm divulging my mistakes to you so hopefully you won't make them.

Now that I'm designing and in the business of selling patterns I will tell you that I almost settled back to my old ways by offering a few free patterns. I quickly stopped that and nipped it in the bud. For me personally, it did not add up to any additional sales of my paid patterns. It actually led to people expecting more free stuff! Spending countless hours thinking up, writing, testing patterns, not to mention spending my own hard earned money on the supplies to make samples with and then getting nothing in return? Sure, some of the patterns come easier than others but what are we really teaching others (and ourselves) when we encourage them to treat us this way? Don't get me wrong, I'm not ALL about money at all. I wouldn't be doing what I do if I was. I could have continued in my studies (I have a Psychology degree) and have become a Psychiatrist making the big bucks. Would I be happy though? Would I being doing something so inherently me that I consider it a calling and vocation and not just a job as designing is to me? Absolutely not!

So, how do we as artists go about actually making a living? We just keep on creating and use social media, marketing etc. to get the word out about our awesome creations because if your product is not seen how will people even know such a thing is available for purchase? We also need to take ourselves and what we do seriously. We need to network with other artists and see what they're doing and if it can also work for us too. I need to do more of this admittedly since I always feel like I'm working in a bubble and don't personally know that many crafty people. Not everything will work for everyone but it's always good to try things out to see what works. That perhaps is the toughest part of this business. X Designs might get tons of sales by simply tweeting and using Facebook while Y Designs might have better luck adding patterns to Craftsy.com and blogging.

Also, another very important thing to realize as an artist, most of the time your income will end up coming from several different streams. Perhaps you will have some pattern sales on Ravelry. In addition to this you might also get ebook royalties from Barnes & Noble. Sometimes you may even be lucky to have your design submission chosen for a magazine. You can perhaps do some teaching on the side. It's ever-changing and the possibilities are limitless. You just have to keep at it, never stop learning about these parts of the business, and never settle for anything less than what you deserve.

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