A hobby vs. a handmade business

Something on my heart lately is the difference between a hobby and a handmade business, and how to effectively price your handmade items to have a successful business.  Because these are two different posts surrounding a similar topic, I decided to do a part 1 and a part 2.

Handmade dog bow-ties by Little Blue Feather

Part 1: A hobby vs. a handmade business

Lately I have thought a lot about what makes your craft a hobby vs. a business.  Sometimes I find myself stumbling over words to try and describe what I do to people.  I always fear the comments I might receive about my blog and Etsy shop not being a "real" job, or that it might be a little silly that this is what I am working toward for my job.  
You see, there is a huge difference in a hobby vs having a handmade business.  The work involved in maintaining an online handmade shop is more in depth than what people might see on the surface.  

A hobby is something a person does in their free time for fun.  It is not their main occupation.

A handmade business is someone {and possibly small team} making items from their own hands, designs and ideas in their workspace with the intention of selling those items to make money.

A hobby is something you do for enjoyment; maybe a craft you give someone as a gift or a small collection of your craft to display at your home.  Usually a hobby isn't an everyday thing.  While I love what I do, I would have to say that repetitiveness can take the joy out of making a specific item.  Screen printing a boston terrier shirt is not as exciting now as the first couple that I made, because you get used to doing it after a while.  This is what motivates a business owner to constantly be thinking about new ideas, designs, colors and fabrics.  Ya know, to keep things fresh!

For an online handmade business owner {like thousands on Etsy} to sell their items, there are several things that need to happen.

The items need to:

  • be made
  • photographed
  • listed to their site with descriptions, photos, and prices 
  • labeled
  • packaged
  • shipped 
  • market items through social media, blogs, events and word of mouth.  
  • maintain your blog and site
  • answer emails and custom request
  • .....
In addition to that, a shop owner must always think about what's coming up; holidays, seasonal items, new designs and so on.  It's a balance that needs to happen in order to fill current orders, but add new items for returning customers.

For me, Little Blue Feather is always on my mind.  Updating listings, new designs, blog posts, events, shows, sponsoring blogs, marketing, creating, fabric/supply shopping, answering Etsy messages, and the list goes on.  It isn't something that I easily can turn off the switch.

When you buy handmade you are supporting a person that is putting their passion into a business.  You can look at the work they have done in the items they are selling, but also in their photography, marketing and listing descriptions and pricing.  There is a connection you can make with the handmade business owner and their community when you purchase online.  I hope you discover some talented handmade designers to support in 2012!

Source: google.com via Michelle on Pinterest

Check out these great sites listed below:
Etsy is a great place to shop handmade and vintage.

An article on buying handmade:

linking up with Casey's blog:

12 friendly comments:

Sue Grilli said...

Michelle, so true and right on point. Handmade businesses have received a bad rap in the past but I think there are so many new possiblities coming in the future and I'm looking forward to it.
ps: love the bow tie for the puppies!

stephanie said...

this is so great michelle! i wish i could have read a post like this when i had my etsy shop! but clearly it was just a hobby because it isn't even in existence anymore!

wanda said...

I agree! All of the time and effort you put into your work is more than an average person has toward their regular job. At least at the end of the day that person can leave the problems at work whereas you are constantly working to make your shop better. I admire all that you are and do!

Jersey Blogess said...

these are beautiful bowties - I love them and I been wanting some for the longest.

LittleBlueFeather said...

Thanks Sue! I hope there is more awareness in the future for handmade businesses.

LittleBlueFeather said...

Thanks Stephanie! You will have to tell us about your old Etsy shop when we get together for lunch!

LittleBlueFeather said...

Oh how I wish I could tell my mind to stop constantly thinking about LBF. Thank you momma ;)

LittleBlueFeather said...

Thank you! They are all for sale in my shop -----> LittleBlueFeather.Etsy.com if you would like to purchase one!

Aubrey said...

I loved reading this because youvare so spot on. I have a hard time "turning off" too.
A scary part about being a business owner too is the lulls in inspiration....once in a while that happens and its hard not to panic! ;)

LittleBlueFeather said...

Thanks Aubrey. It's nice meeting and talking with other business owners. They get you and offer so much support. I'm glad you were able to connect with this post and I definitely understand "the lulls in inspiration". Hope you have a good weekend!

Mimi and Tilly said...

There are so many small steps that need to be taken to create a handmade business, all of which are time consuming, demanding and very important. You are creatng a business and running it. Basically what Donald Trump did but on a smaller scale. This is a massive achievement. I imagine it must be very hard to "turn off" from all of that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today. They resonated with me. Em x

Bip and Bop said...

I love this post! I totally have the same problem with my wheels always turning! So glad I found your blog! xo