Turning your Art & Craft Hobby into a Business

December 2009
BIG differences between working your art as a hobby and working it as a business. A list of resources to help you make business plans and decisions.

Photo by Neil Gould <a href=" />Photo by Neil Gould

The bottom-line with any business is the bottom-line.  We are huge proponents of running the numbers first.  Almost eighty percent of new artist/business owners find themselves initially working for free.  How?  Because they are so excited  that someone wants to buy a piece of their work, they don't price their work appropriately...taking the time to figure in material costs, time overhead AND profit. 

Another common mistake is to spend a lot of time creating items that are beautiful but not very commercially viable, ie work that will earn you the most or at least a living wage for your time.  So how do you figure this out?  The first step, just as with any business is to do the proper research and pull together a business plan.  There are hundreds of resources on the internet on in libraries, but we love the SBA.  America's Small Business Association exists to help new businesses prosper.  With them you have access to multiple tools, classes and retired executives who contribute their time to help coach you through a start up process.  Most of these resources are no to very low cost.

The SBA can also help you with some basics you’ll definitely need to consider when it comes to state and county rules regarding taxes and insurance.

There are several websites where you can find information about starting your own craft business, including, where you can find articles about processing credit cards, pricing your crafts, and selling your items wholesale. The site also has articles about selling on ebay, which could be a good supplement to the money you make selling crafts at local fairs and festivals.

There are also literally hundreds of books about running a craft business, so you should never be lacking for resources on how to keep your business going. Check out books like Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco, Handmade for Profit!: Hundreds of Secrets to Success in Selling Arts and Crafts by Barbara Brabec, and Making a Living in Crafts: Everything You Need to Know to Build Your Business by Donald Clark.

Another great resource that you can use is other crafters. You’ll meet hundreds of people who do what you do at different fairs and festivals across the country, and you can draw on the knowledge and experience of anyone who is willing to share information. Even if crafters have been in business for only a few months, they’ll still have unique advice and experience to share, so don’t be afraid to get out and talk to other people who may be able to help you on your journey to creating a well-run, efficient crafting business that focuses on fairs and festivals.


do i need a business license or sellers permit to sell some crafts i made at craft fairs?

By paula on December 13, 2009

Most cities will require you have some sort of sellers permit in order to sell at a craft fair when you are selling items for personal profit.  Sometimes all you need is a temporary permit, sometimes you’ll need a state sales permit.  These permits are really all about taxes…making sure that taxes are collected on goods sold within a city, county and state.  With budget shortfalls, there is a lot of focus on this area so you want to make sure you’re in compliance or you face steep fines and responsibility for paying the taxes you don’t collect.

Some small craft shows put on by schools or others to raise money where items are donated do not have the same restrictions.  Bottom-line, check with both the show promoter and your local city tax board they will let you know what types of permits you need for what types of shows.

By Fairs and Festivals Staff on December 20, 2009

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