Lifestyle

Turn your craft into your career

Here are some tips to make your hobby a viable source of income

Whether you love crocheting, quilting, painting or drawing, find out how you can turn your DIY projects into a viable source of income.

Ms Vivien Tan, craft instructor and founder of online craft store The Cotton Shoppe on Etsy, spoke of how to start a successful craft business while sticking to your full-time job.

DEVELOP YOUR IDENTITY

"Your products are a reflection of your unique disposition, character and identity," said Ms Tan.

Every aspect of your design should tell your customers something about your style.

She said: "In the retail industry, you can have similar products to your competitor's brand but still make good sales by having a competitive pricing strategy.

"But the craft industry doesn't work like that. Your crafts must be difficult to imitate."

FOCUS ON YOUR PROCESS

Good workmanship is one of the reasons why people pay more for handmade products than for something mass-produced. Fine-tune your process and make sure to source for sustainable, high-quality materials.

DO YOUR MARKET RESEARCH

"While many crafters start off making things they like, they need to think about how this can tie in to what consumers like," said Ms Tan.

"The truth is that what you like to make may not be something that people want to buy."

Think about how you can put your skills into designing a new product that is in line with your customers' needs, the latest trends or festive periods.

While many crafters start off making things they like, they need to think about how this can tie in to what consumers likeMs Vivien Tan, craft instructor and founder of online craft store the cotton shoppe on etsy

CONNECT WITH CUSTOMERS

"Communicate your brand story to your buyers either through a well-planned social media campaign or at craft markets," said Ms Tan.

"People love human interest stories and are more likely to part with their cash if they are impressed with the story behind each handmade product."

Your handmade products will gain a following through word-of-mouth referrals once happy customers start sharing info about your products on social media and with their friends.

Another key factor is customer service. She said: "Think about how you can add value for your buyers.

"Instead of rushing to close an order, take time to talk to them about their requirements and offer suggestions on their choice of materials and designs."

MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY

Before her crafting work became full-time, Ms Tan would make use of her bus rides to and from work and lunch hours to reply to customers' e-mails and social media posts.

"It is very important to draw a line between work and your home business," she said.

"You wouldn't want to be caught in the act by your colleagues or bosses and risk getting a bad appraisal, or worse, getting terminated!"

If you have a very demanding full-time job, do not be afraid to ask for help with your craft business.

"While you may want to handle the bulk of the making process, consider roping in a friend or family member to complete other simple tasks like social media marketing, packing or shipping.

"This allows you to focus on the creativity process and production instead."

PLAN AND PRIORITISE

Set up a daily, weekly or monthly calendar and plot out your day job and business-related tasks. Give yourself a realistic timeline to complete a project.

Break up big crafting projects into feasible, smaller parts that fit into your work schedule to prevent getting burnt out.

"If you have lots of orders to fulfil and you know your customers need them urgently, then other priorities and commitments will need to take a back seat," said Ms Tan.

This means you may need to cancel that shopping date with your girlfriends, postpone travel plans, or tell your spouse you are unable to have a long dinner date during the weekend.

This article is adapted from Simply Her. Simply Her is now available in both print and digital formats. Visit www.simplyher.com.sg to subscribe.

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