Us sellers of handmade and craft supplies are living in exciting times! It has never been easier to set up a small business – the online space has opened up a whole new world of selling opportunities with minimal overheads. A fabulous idea can become a small business in a matter of days – but, even with superb craft skills and brilliant ideas you aren’t going to get far without building some strong business foundations.
There’s so much to learn, it can be overwhelming. In fact, at times you can wonder if the joys of being your own boss aren’t a bit overstated! It’s not just a case of stitching up a few goodies and watching them fly of the shelves – you have to get to grips with legal and insurance issues, keeping accounts, dealing with taxes, building a brand, mastering technology, marketing and promoting your wares…. the list goes on!
In Craft a Creative Business, the fabulous Fiona Pullen, who many will know from her excellent website, The Sewing Directory, has put together an essential guide to getting those strong business foundations in place.
Fiona’s book is a fantastic reference resource that will come in handy right from the start of your craft business adventure. There’s no waffle – just 230+ pages of essential information, with lots of links and resources for further reading as your business grows. The book is backed up with an excellent website too, which gives us all the latest marketing and selling advice for the fast moving world of the web.
There are 6 sections in the book. The first, addressing self-employment in general, really takes you into the nitty-gritty as to whether being your own boss is right for you. The next section is about all that legal and financial gubbins that you’d probably (if you are anything like me!) rather not bother with. But it is absolutely essential that you get to grips with this stuff early to avoid having to put mistakes right later on, which is no fun when it involves your finances or legal worries.
The other four sections are the fun stuff… and they cover presentation (branding, photography etc.), social media, selling online and selling offline. Even though I have been doing this stuff seriously for 5 years or so now, reading these sections made me realise how much I still have to learn, and how important (and rewarding, financially and otherwise) it is to keep up with the latest developments in online and offline selling.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes ‘how to’ books just make me feel panicky and anxious, with even less idea of where to start than I had before I began reading. Fiona’s big achievement here is to provide masses of helpful information without it being hugely overwhelming – and as an author she is a friendly and encouraging presence in what can be quite a confusing world. In all of the sections there’s a list of activities that will get you started with your photography, your branding, or your SEO etc., I found these a really helpful starting point for things I had never really looked at before (like SEO and Pinterest Analytics, for example).
It’s really evident that Fiona has done her research and made the most of the network that she has built up around her work on The Sewing Directory, because there are really useful contributions from craft entrepreneurs who have been there, done that and sold the T-shirt! These personal stories are full of valuable experience and great to learn from.
I really can’t recommend this book highly enough for anyone interest in getting a crafting business going, and it has masses to offer even if you have been doing it for a while. Thanks to Fi for all her hard work in creating this fantastic resource.