The Business of Selling Your Creative Practice

The Business of Selling Your Creative Practice

Monetising hobbies has been something of a modern phenomenon, as the ‘side hustle’ becomes more common amongst working individuals across the world – largely in response to harder times. However, there are those of us who commit ourselves to practices above and beyond mere hobby craft. Artists and creative individuals have the potential to turn their work into their sole earner – but how to sell your creative practice?

Your Brand is You

Firstly, in treating your creative practice as a budding business, it is important to think carefully about what exactly it is that you are ‘pitching’ – to platforms, to consumers, or even to potential distributors like local craft shops or small chains. Simply put, you need to cultivate a brand from your work. Even simpler: your brand is you!

But how can you define your brand further? Your chosen materials, creative output, and artistic style will naturally inform the shape of your wider brand, but you may also wish to fold in some personal values or mission goals into your brand. This will impact some of the public-facing aspects of starting up selling your work, such as the creation of a website – which will simultaneously act as a contact form, a portfolio, a testimonials board, and even a shopping portal.

Calculate Your Costs

Since you are approaching the way of selling your creative practice as a business would, it is only right that you dedicate a significant amount of time to the administrative and financial aspects of starting such a business. Your art has inherent and cultural value, beyond that decided by the markets in which you are selling or the materials used. These still need to be held in mind as you draw up a financial plan for selling your work, though, if only to set a baseline price for selling works that ensure you see the right amount of income.

Depending on the scope of your business, you may also need to consult with legal experts regarding the sale of more expensive pieces; this could be to help you navigate complex tax situations, or even to ensure you remain legally compliant in the sale of your work.

Speaking of which, as a sole trader your income would be beholden to income tax regulation in the UK – necessitating you to register as a sole trader and complete annual self-assessment tax forms to declare your earnings. These earnings can be somewhat offset by the expenses you incur as an artist, though, meaning you can reduce your tax burden by claiming your materials and studio rent as expenses.

Find The Right Platform

In starting to sell your work to a wider audience, you will also need to give careful thought to how exactly you do that. There are myriad platforms online today, which enable hitherto impossible levels of integration with e-commerce products and access to audiences.

Etsy is the success story of our time, being a marketplace for independent makers that enables complex tracking of financial data as well as the opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands of potential customers. The downside is that Etsy’s selling fees are somewhat high for their service and that the platform is currently experiencing a saturation of non-creative ‘drop shippers’. Only you can decide the right platform for yourself, though!

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