creating a culture of profit

A while back, I ran a survey for CMBA readers about which business topics they were most interested in learning about, and marketing was at the top. That’s not really surprising.  It’s easy to view marketing as the magic bullet to running a successful business.  But I don’t think lack of marketing prowess is what’s keeping most craft businesses from making money.

The problem isn’t marketing, it’s mindset.

I think there is this prevailing mindset in the crafts community that it’s not ok to want to make a lot of money. I don’t know if it’s the starving artist myth, the idea that we shouldn’t get paid well to pursue things we love, or that the creative community tends to attract political liberals (myself included) who view the unchecked pursuit of profits as the root cause for much of the world’s suffering.

But I’m not talking about completely unchecked profits. Quite the opposite.  I’m talking about crafts businesses that are struggling to make the kind of profit that could provide a basic living for the owners and their families. The kind of profit that allows you to get out of debt and live a life of abundance.  The kind of profit that allows us to have a political presence and become a viable, visible alternative to big box retailers and mass-produced junk.

The crafts community has so many positive attributes, but embracing the importance of profit isn’t one of them.  I want that to change.  I want us to talk about money.  I want us to feel good pursuing growth and profits.  I want us to look at profit as the logical result of running a business.

I want to create a culture of profit within the crafts community.

In his book The 1% Windfall, Rafi Mohammed outlines the two basic principles that form the foundation of a culture of profit:

1. Be confident about the value your product provides.
2. Embrace the idea that it is ok to make a profit.

In order for each of us to make our businesses (and the greater community) into a culture of profit, we need to get comfortable talking about unique value our products provide.  We have to articulate what makes our products unique and valuable to the customer.  As Mohammed says in The 1% Windfall, we have to gain the ability to say, “Here’s why we are so proud of our product and why customers should buy it over the competition.”  And we have to say it out loud, over and over again.  (And this goes for both your individual products and the greater craft/design/indie community in general.)

We have to get over the idea that talking about our products like this makes us boastful, or a pushy sales person.  Instead, you need to view this as providing a service for the customer.  Your job is to help your customers understand why your product is the right choice for them.  You need to help them see what differentiates your product from all the other alternatives.  If you can’t stand up and articulate what makes your product great, how can you expect anyone else to?

(Two side points about this:

  1. Words and actions are both important here.  I’ve said before that use is one of the best forms of marketing, and I think wearing and using your products is an important step.  But so is being able to clearly articulate, again and again, why your product provides the most benefits for your customers.
  2. If you can’t naturally talk about why you are proud of your products and what value they provide, then you need to practice.  A lot.  Make a list of the benefits your product or business provides.  Then practice saying it.  Practice in front of a mirror.  Practice in front of friends and family.  Practice in front of a video camera.  (And when you get really comfortable, post that video online.)  Practice until you are comfortable saying to a stranger at a party, “This is what I make, and this is why I’m proud of it.”)

And perhaps even more importantly, we need to get over the (completely limiting) idea that pursuing profit is bad.  Mohammed writes, “Companies are in business to make profits and are entitled to do so.”  Let me repeat that.

Companies are in business to make profits and are entitled to do so.

For some reason, the crafts community seems to have this taboo around talking about money and profits.  If you open the pages of any business-related magazine or newspaper, you see it filled with numbers.  Businesses don’t seem to be shy about sharing their quarterly earnings or latest round of venture capital funding.  (To be fair, this is public knowledge of publicly traded companies, but there are many privately held companies featured in these publications that also share these stats.)  Yet this doesn’t seem to trickle into craft-based companies.

There are many factors that contribute to this, but I think I major one is this unspoken rule that crafters aren’t supposed to make a lot of money.  Why is this?  Are you a business or not? Because if you are a business, then it is your JOB to make a profit.

But for some reason we don’t talk about this.  We talk about all the other reasons to run a craft-based business – to create high quality products,  because we are passionate about a technique or product, or because we want to bring beauty into the world.  But it’s hard to get us to say that we want to make money.  Some would argue that you don’t start a crafts business to make money, but I think that’s a ridiculous stereotype.  Yes, perhaps it’s not the easiest route to riches, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

And changing that stereotype starts with us.  It’s time to acknowledge that not only are we in business to make profit, but we are entitled to do so.  We need to stop viewing ourselves as starving artists, and start owning the idea that we can and will make money.  We need to start pricing our products for profit (not break-even.) We need to take a hard look at the numbers to know where and when we’re making money.

We need to embrace a culture of profit.

I understand that for many people, embracing the idea that it is ok to want to make a profit is going to take some time.  It’s going to take a fundamental shift in the way many of us think about and relate to money.  But that’s ok.  I’m in it for the long haul.  I’m making it my mission to create a culture of profit within the crafts community.

And to kick-start that mission, I’m declaring this week Profit Week here on CMBA.  I’ll be spending the rest of the week talking about different ways to embrace the idea of profit, and how to start working that idea into the core of your business.

I want all of us to run incredibly successful craft businesses, and the more we talk about, and acknowledge the importance of, profit, the closer we get to that goal.

fail fast or grow slow?


  1. maya says

    thank you megan. this is a great post. last year was my first year in business. i made $143. of course i had equipment to buy and other start-up costs, but goodness i worked hard for that $143! i know this year will be better, but it gets discouraging to see other people lowering their prices and selling so much more than i. i actually lowered my prices a bit yesterday. it felt like the right thing to do – summer is a difficult time for my more seasonal product. but i can’t help but be disappointed that i should have to make less profit in the spring/summer than fall/winter.

    • says

      Hi Maya – last year was such a tough year for businesses that any profit should be celebrated!

      When you see those people with low prices, just keep trying to remind yourself that sales aren’t the same thing as profit. Just because they are selling a lot doesn’t mean their business is making money.

      I wouldn’t try to lower prices just to get more sales when your product is out of season. Instead, is there a different product or service you can offer for when times are slow?

  2. says

    woohoo for profit week! another home run, megan.

    I think one thing you didn’t mention is our mutual desire to grow our businesses (our profits!!) big enough to support others. If we all go this alone, we will all struggle to make ends meet. If us, as creative leaders – linchpins, can embrace the idea of profit, make it okay to earn a healthy living, then we can help others who do not share our zest for leadership & innovation thrive.

  3. says

    Absolutely fantastic post – thank you!!! I want to make a living from what I do, and it saddens me when I doubt myself – when I consider not having the prices I do, because they may seem ‘too high’ compared to the competition. Well, I believe my time and work and skill is worth it – thank you for reminding me to value myself and what I do.

    • says

      Jess – your time and creative skills are very valuable! It can be a challenge when you have to compete with low priced competitors, but the more confident you are in expressing why your product is unique and valuable, the more customers will gravitate towards your product.

  4. says

    A friend of mine, who is a practicing life coach, taught me to keep a physical journal. Every day, at the top of the page, before I write down my goals and to-do’s for the day, I write down how much money I’d like to be earning each week and how much I’ve made so far that week. My vision is that eventually not only will those numbers match up, but eventually the weekly income will surpass the goal number! I can’t wait to read more of your posts on how to further nurture the mindset of how to achieve my profit goals.

  5. says

    Woohoo! I’ve been saying this for years, I love making crafts, but I love making money too. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to earn a profit, nor even wanting to earn a big profit, as long as you’re doing so in an ethically responsible way. Maybe it’s because I come from a sales background, but I’ve never understood the caginess in talking about money and profits in the crafts community. Hard numbers are important for education, both knowing your own, and being aware of how others are doing.

    • says

      Caitlin – this is one of the things I love about you! You totally embrace the business aspect of what you do. (And you’re a rockin’ sales person – always confident about your products. I wish more crafts business owners could learn from your sales methods!)

      • says

        Oh, but they can learn! I’ll be giving a talk at the Summit of Awesome in Portland OR next week, all about maximizing your sales at craft shows. I’d love to share the talk with your readers after the conference, and I’d love even more to pick your readers brains before my talk, to see what questions they would most like answered. I want to show crafters that it’s ok to really SELL your work, not just put it out there and hope that people like it. There’s nothing shameful in being assertive and excited about your work, if you don’t sell it, who will?

  6. says

    I think I have struggled with this idea for a long time. I have made a business with promoting other peoples art but I find it very hard to do the same for myself without feeling “greedy”. I should be proud of creating a living by helping others promote their creativity and should also work to promote my own.

    Thank you for this timely and insightful post.

  7. says

    Great post!

    I definitely fall into the trap of feeling guilty at the prospect of making a significant profit. Especially in light of the fact that I have a decent day job and don’t really *need* to make a profit in my jewelry business to live comfortably. But of course, if I want my business to grow, I do, at the very least, need to make enough of a profit to reinvest in my business, even if I choose not to draw a salary at the moment.

    I also decided, back when I started my business, that I want to use part of my profits to fund microloans through Kiva, as well as make periodic donations to the Dear Jack Foundation. This is a big motivator for me in wanting to increase profits, because it’s about something more than just me. The larger my profits, the more I can help other people in the process.

    But this post reminded me that even if I wasn’t doing those things, it’s ok for me to want to make a whole bunch of money, as long as I’m creating a good product and charging a fair price.

    Also, I think AuthenticAwakening’s post is so true, about having no problem promoting other people, but being hesistant to do the same for ourselves. We need to place the same kind of value on ourselves that we place on others. :-)

    • says

      Why is it that we are so confident promoting other people’s products, but can’t seem to do it for our own?

      What if you paired up with someone else in the crafts community for a week and worked on promoting each other’s products? If you listened to someone else brag about your products for a week, would it make it easier for you?

  8. says

    As a business owner I have to make decisions based on how much profit I can make on an item (amongst a few other things) because I have to make a profit to have a life that pays my bills and allows me to create. I’m on the cusp of having to drop a design, or two from my line since I can’t cut down on the materials and labor cost and still make a decent profit (I’ll just have to make these designs as gifts for the holidays!!). it’s disappointing, but necessary. I have definitely spent too much time in the “Am I greedy? Will I lose my artist cred if I make money?” place and am heartily agreeing with Megan that that mindset is detrimental to a creative person’s business. Oh, and well said, Tara, about helping others thrive using the profits of our businesses. My long-term plan for my textile accessories empire includes the help of people I know with exceptional skills I would love to pay them to use!

    • says

      Xmittens, I dropped 4 items from my design line because like you I couldn’t bring the cost down with labour or materials. I’m happier now that I did because I think it has helped me develop a more focused product line.

    • says

      I think it’s great that you are able to evaluate that certain products aren’t profitable – and I think it’s important to always be looking at your product line to keep things relevant.

      After looking at my numbers, I made the decision to focus on promoting certain products in my wholesale business, while others I’m trying to promote more through my own e-commerce site because they are more profitable for me to sell retail.

      • says

        Not to be contrary, but sometimes having one line of less profitable products can bring more profit in the long run. It’s called a Loss Leader, ( and can be very effective!

        I have a product that I don’t make much on, for the time I put into them, but it’s one of my most popular designs, my Naughty Bits. I tried to drop it a year ago, and my customers were mad! I don’t make much on them, but the reactions I get from customers, and even better, the reactions they get from their friends when they see them, are worth it in long term sales. If someone buys a $10 item from me when they can’t afford the $150 one, but everyone they meet freaks out about how awesome it is, it keeps my business fresh in their mind, and when they can come back for the $150 purse, they have confidence in my work that is worth way more than the $10 product I make very little on.

        • says

          Interesting observations! Since posting, I decided to keep one of the items in my retail line for the rest of 2010 since it really rounds out the line and people really have loved them! Instead of really dropping it, I just won’t offer it for wholesale. It is one of my more expensive, time-consuming items, so we’ll see what happens. Makes me feel good to read we are all thinking along the same lines.

        • says

          Caitlin – I’m totally a fan of the loss leader. That’s actually how I view my cozy/cuffs when I take them to wholesale shows. My profit margins are pretty slim for those at wholesale prices, but I still bring them to the shows to work them from the press angle.

  9. says

    Great topic – I’m so glad you’re planning to dedicate the entire week to this subject.

    I agree that more artists & craftspeople need to see themselves as business people as well and look to some of the same factors for success as any other businessperson, including profit. Profit is not a bad thing – big companies as well as small can use profit for good. Just look at bigger brands like Ben & Jerrys, Newman’s Own, Patagonia, The Body Shop… We can follow their leadership and develop a triple-bottom-line for ourselves which includes profit and makes it possible so we can make a better life for both ourselves and those around us.

  10. says

    Hey, we even have debates about whether workers in general should make a decent wage, so I’m not surprised that the artist community is even more hesitant to speak up on this issue. For some reason it’s fine for large companies to turn a profit, but as soon as regular workers start speaking up for their rights, we’re afraid of being seen as pushy.
    Crafting is labor, plain and simple. We have labor issues that are particular to our own community and need to articulate those issues.
    Part of the problem is that any of arts are seen as “extra” in our culture. Therefore it’s as if we are supposed to work for free or offer deep discounted prices.

    • says

      I love the idea of reframing some of this as labor issues. It’s sad when we as business owners aren’t treating ourselves well as employees.

  11. says

    Great post Megan!

    I find that many artisans fall under the “starving artist” category. I consider myself an artist, but also a business owner. I love creating and am proud of my work, but I also realize it is a business. A business that I want to be successful and support my family. In order to get to that point, I take on a business mind-set in my daily tasks and it has helped me a lot.

    I am excited to read the rest of your profit posts this week!

  12. says

    What a great article Megan! And so true…we naturally seem reluctant to put into words what we all know in our hearts, that we love what we do and we have confidence in our products and skills. I look forward to more on this….yay for profit week!

  13. says

    Great post! I can’t wait to read more this week. I agree with Steph, it’s not only about making profits, but using part of them to help others, from the creative tithing that Tara has written about to funding micro loans to small businesses through Kiva, or donating money to your favorite charity. Being able to help others is empowering, we feel good about making money (not that we should donate ALL our profits, of course).

  14. says

    Great article. I used to have a really difficult time promoting my product as it felt like boasting but these days I self-promote as much as I can without being obnoxious. Still a long way to go though.

  15. says

    great advice. I just completed my first year of selling.. I had started it with decent prices and free shipping and had no sales.. then i raised the prices by a few dollars and started to charge shipping and all of a sudden i started selling.. they might not having anything to do with each other but then again it might have everything to do with it.

    I finished my year by covering all my start up costs and making a $160 profit. So I am pysched and hope to double that this year.

  16. up in the air somewhere says

    Thank you so much for addressing this topic. Reading your post was such a breath of fresh air! I look forward to the rest of the week.

  17. says

    Wonderful post! Very timely, too. I am just starting out with the idea of selling my art, and was having a discussion with my partner about how hard it can be to think big in the art/craft field. It seems like there are the markets and shows and online… and then it stops!
    The cultural acceptance of the ‘starving artist’ does alot to discourage people being serious about making a living from their art. I find people consistently expecting failure.
    We need to plan for and expect profit! Abundance means less stress and more resources for all sorts of helpful projects.
    As far as self-promotion… I’m still working on it! I like the idea about swapping with someone: you promote them, they promote you. Hmm, will have to mull that one!
    Love this blog!

  18. says

    Thanks so much for this article! I just started my own crafting business with the explicit goal of making a living with it at one point. I do not offer my creations for dumping prices. I do not believe in the “hey, it’s just a hobby”-attitude that so many crafters express, while to me it sounds more like they just don’t value their own work and creativity enough.
    However, I’m not exactly sure what to do about it, other than keep repeating how much more value a handmade patchwork bag has as opposed to some mass produced H&M purse…
    Looking forward to more articles like this! And I’m considering your workshop on pricing.

    • says

      Malwina – I also don’t buy the “hey, it’s just a hobby” attitude. designing/making and running a business is my job, and i take that seriously.
      I think it’s important to stress not only the value, but the value to the consumer, when explaining why our products cost more. Even though we understand why our products are better than mass-produced items, sometimes that “rational” argument isn’t the best way to get a consumers attention. Instead, we need to make sure that our branding strategies are consistent with our pricing to give customers the cues they need to spend more on our products.
      Let me know if you have any questions on the pricing workshops.

  19. Deirdre says


    Hi, Im a crafter since age 11, wow too many years to mention, and was always of the opinion that craft was a hobby and when u had to turn it into a business u lost the fun factor. Due to a spinal injury some years ago, I had to try to turn my hobby into a little business. Unfortunately Im not having great success. I can see now thats its my mindset and I need to work on valuing my work.

  20. Angela says

    I think those of us in an older generation grew up with the idea that homemade is what you did when you didn’t have money. That store bought was better. So changing your mindset that handmade is just as valuable (if not more valuable) is a leap. I loved your article and am looking forward to reading the rest.

    • says

      Angela – I wanted to point out a distinction. HOMEMADE is what you do when you don’t have money, or just for yourself. I think of homemade as unskilled. HANDMADE is different – it can be very fine art/craft, created by a skilled maker and often times created with the purpose of being sold to a consumer. Just wanted to point out my understanding of the difference. And there are lots of handmade objects sold at stores, like local boutiques.

  21. says

    Thank you! I encouraged my father-in-law to open an etsy site. He is a woodworker and his pieces are intricate and beautiful. He has such a difficult time grasping that other people like and want to purchase his art. I am forwarding this article to him.
    It gave me a boost of confidence as well.
    Again, thank you.

  22. says

    Thank you for this perspective. I feel confident in my crafting skills; not so much in the promotional aspects of having a business. I’ve always been proud of my work when I give it as gifts. I’ve been surprised to hear myself sound almost apologetic about these same products when I tell people I have a website business where I sell them. The other day I was asked to remake some pillow shams my neighbor bought from a high end catalog store. She paid a lot of money for those shams, and they were not well made. My pillows are carefully constructed and personalized to boot. I’m the better value, and I need to build my confidence to promote myself that way!

  23. says

    AWEsome! Can’t wait to hear more about this topic. Thank you, Megan, for speaking openly about making a profit & encouraging the rest of us to embrace it healthily as well! off to tweet this…

  24. says

    Thank you Megan, for such an insightful an unapologetic article. You have a tremendous community of readers who support and encourage one another. Kudos to you for creating such an inspired (and inspiring) space!

  25. says

    This is such a good article. I’m so glad someone is bring this to the forefront. I’ve always wanted to make a living off of my craft and it’s nothing wrong with that I take my business quite serious. I give 150 % just like all of the years I have spent working for other people giving them 100 %. Sometimes I can’t sleep for thinking about new ideas and new designs and goals for out business.

    Thank you

  26. says

    Thank you for this article! It was a swift kick in the pants for me. I just got my business license after doing hobby crafting for the last 2 years. I’m ready to make some money now!! It’s time to get serious about my crafting!

  27. says

    Great advice! I’m in a Self-Employment course right now. This is one of the concepts that they are trying to drill in to our heads. Thanks again.

  28. says

    Excellent piece! I was just at an Artist business workshop yesterday (Australia) & this issue was raised in the context of how artists undervalue their skills & contribute to the suffering/starving artist image by under pricing their work. I ashamed to say that up until the last few years I used to be one of those people too – until I realised my business was going no where very fast.
    I still have a long, hard road ahead to get things back on track but articles like this remind me that I have to be focussed & proactive about my jewellery making business rather than submissive & reactive.

  29. says

    Such a good topic. Actually, as a full-time crafter, I am doing this to make a profit and feel totally comfortable with it. It took me a while to get to this place, but I’ve been strategically increasing my profit margin for the the last year – when I wrote my business plan and 3 year financial plan. I know what I need to make in profit a year and keep pushing myself to get there. And the more I sell at the price I need to, the more confident I get. Yes, it sucks to see lower priced competitors out there selling gobs of work, but I try not to waste time thinking about it. It’s much better to think about what is unique about my product, and how my work appeals to my buyers.

    The funny thing is, I still feel that folks outside the craft/artist realm don’t get it. They don’t really see a craft/creative based business as a serious one, or at least a seriously profitable one. Definitely some education is in order.

  30. says

    This is so true. I am struggling to get rid of my poverty mentality. My CPA told me point blank, “You have got to get rid of your poverty mentality.” So many of us that grew up in less than fortuneate homes have the mindset that everyone is poor, everyone is struggling to make ends meet, and the talk about the struggling economy doesn’t help. But that is not the total truth. There still are a lot of people out there living quite comfortably and will always have money to purchase the things they want not just need.

    I’m blessed with a talent and I should be able to blatently bost about how well my clothing is made and how adorable your child will look wearing it. I am one of those that is actually needing this income to survive on. I need desperately to put my business plan on paper and do like the last person said, “Push myself to get there.”

    Good luck to us all! We deserve it.

  31. says

    So… when you do art for a living, and many of your friends are excellent artists, how do you break the doing art for money is wrong mentality? It isn’t so much the “we don’t deserve” it but the “we shouldn’t do it.” mentality. I guess I feel guilt and pressure that I am not artist enough for the community. I know some advice might be to ignore it. I have really worked hard over the last few years to create a community of artists. I am wondering if you have anything else besides the typical ignore it advice. Thanks for the great article and cheers.

    • says

      Kelly – wow, that’s a thought provoking question. And I don’t think that ignoring it is the solution.

      There are a few things that I wonder – is the “we shouldn’t do it” based on the idea that artists who make money are sell-outs? Have your friends expressed this idea verbally to you, or is this more of something that you perceive at an unspoken level? Do you think that they really think this, or does that mentality come from a place of jealousy?

      I also wonder, how, through your words and actions, you could work to change this mindset in your friends as well. (Or just feel free to have them email me, and I’ll set them straight!)

  32. says

    Great article! I’m just getting started on Etsy, trying to price my work, and trying to remember that so much more goes into the product than just materials and labor. I used to worry that people would say “oh, I could make this myself.” But when I think about how much work I’ve put into getting where I am now (time, tools, books, classes, and creative energy) it takes makes me feel more confident about charging enough to make a profit – even though I’m doing something I love.

  33. says

    I want to be profitable, but like a few other commenters have said, I tend to worry about what people will think if I price my pieces at what they *should* be rather than what they are actually worth. I can’t seem to get past this idea that it’s perfectly fine for me to lose money, as long as I don’t offend any potential customers with my price. But if the product is worth it, why can’t I set a price that reflects that?

    No other business people (and that’s what we are if we are selling our wares) would allow their product to go out the door with a loss in profit – as artisans and crafters, why should we?

    (apologies if I just repeated something everyone else has said… it’s been a long day and I’m trying to soak up as much business-related info as I can.)

    • says

      Hi Stacey – that’s really interesting that you worry about offending potential customers if you make your prices higher. I would encourage you to think from the opposite point of view – you could be offending your peers (who are selling at the price they need to charge to make a profit) by pricing your products too low.

      The other thing to keep in mind (as some very wise people recently reminded me) is that the people who will be offended by those low prices, they aren’t your customer. Instead, you should go out and find the customer who is willing to pay you the price you deserve for your products.

      • says

        Wow, Megan…That is superb advice so far as perception of who our customers are! Very often they are not other artisans.

  34. says

    Another great article! I had to skim over it tonight, but I will be back later this week to read it and all the comments in depth. :)

  35. says

    hey megan – really great post. very much looking forward to reading all of this week’s posts! thanks so much for your generosity in sharing all these insights with us :)

  36. says

    Amen sister! There is no reason why this AMAZING community shouldn’t be making money and no reason why community members shouldn’t be proud of doing so. This article is so well written, as usual, keep the insights coming, we appreciate them so much.

  37. says


    no really,
    Thank you very much for your inspiring article. You are so right!
    half the time when people I know ask me if they can buy something of mine, I’ll just knock of a big chunk of the actual price for ‘fear’ of being seen as moneygrabbing… while at home, I’m struggeling to make ends meet. Let’s not do that any more…


  38. says

    Thanks Megan for your enlightening article. Since art is priceless and first artist himself has to price its worth before anybody should evaluate it subject to the commercial angle. As a craftsperson it is our responsibility to help artesian in crating the best quality of craft of this era and should pay them reasonable reward for keep on doing that.
    Believe me without proper consideration that is not possible in our trade. So, certainly don’t feel shy to ask for reasonable profit for your healthy and flourishing business.
    Happy selling!!

  39. says

    Such a good and completely true article. I agree. Thanks for the tips. I was just pricing something for a friend . A custom order and I always feel I need to give a deal or knock off some money, etc.

  40. says

    The most inspiring thing I have read lately is the need to put maximum time and energy into the creating side of things rather than the marketing (blogs/facebook/tweets etc). I think it’s really important for others to see you as authentic and your work as meaningful (for all the reasons you mention in your article Megan). We shouldn’t need to resort to techniques used in mainstream marketing (sales/buy one get one free etc). Sites like yours are very helpful in sharing ideas and developing the creative mindset. I am sure it will get easier as a result

  41. says

    This is amazing, thank you so much! And it couldn’t have come at a better time – just a couple of days ago I chose to resign my position at my full-time job to pursue my craft as a career. Although a little scary and nerve-racking I have no doubt I can make it work with dedication, hard work, help from others, and helping others too! Thank you so much, looking forward to hearing what else you have to say!

  42. says

    Payment is verification. When someone buys your work they are valuing it. I have been making and repairing jewelry for 25 years. I do 2 large shows a year of my own pieces and sell, or consign to several places.
    Until the recession I was making a good living with a 10 hour week, fabulous – things are picking up again. It is important to build a clientele and this is a slow process, there are really no short cuts. Workmanship is at least as important as design. A poorly made piece will lose you customers.
    I love to sell my pieces now, but I am never comfortable with the role of business woman. Unfortunately, Andy Warhol aside, the artist and the businessman are polar opposites and therein lies the rub.

  43. says

    I was just joking to my daughter what a terrible sales person I am. I practically say “My jewelry is over-priced and you shouldn’t buy it.” This thread helped me realize that if I value who I am I should value my time and talent.

  44. says

    Great article – you are so right that we need to break the stereotype that handmade artists work solely for love and not for money. I am constantly struggling with pricing my items, only to walk into a department store and find something mass produced with less valuable materials priced higher than my work. Art and business go hand-in-hand. Instead of the “starving artist” stereotype, we should look to artists that understood the inherent worth of good business. One example: the great writer Virginia Woolf also ran her own publishing house with her husband, and self published her own work as well as that of Freud and James Joyce, to name a few.

  45. says

    Excellent post (and some great comments too…need to go back & finish reading them). As someone from a small business background whose father also owns his own business (and both grandfathers were small businessmen as well), I have never understood and indeed been utterly baffled by the attitude that profit and money-making is ‘bad’ or somehow unsavoury when it comes to crafting and art. If someone isn’t pulling in a profit, they’ll eventually go out of business, and hurt other small businesses in the process because they’re not purchasing supplies & materials, to say nothing of the other things they could do with their profits: spend money on a vacation or a new bedroom set or go out to dinner or buy art or…etc.

    Thanks for helping people see the light, that making money isn’t evil, but necessary and ultimately beneficial to more than just the earner.

  46. says

    This has got to be the best and most informative post I have read in awhile. Everyone has responded with such great insight and information. I have struggled with my pricing as I feel it is too low on most items but I am trying to compete with some artists who are selling similar items for no more than the cost of materials! I wish all artists would unite and agree to sell items for a price including materials and labor! Caitlin of Rebound Design also had great advice on keeping lower priced items to attract traffic. All around great advice! Thank you.

  47. says

    All I can think to myself is, “This is so true!” One of my professors at Pratt Institute once told me, you can either make your jewelry in a tiny studio and work for a meager living while riding the subway, or you can be the business owner, and ride in the Rolls Royce. You might guess which one I chose 😉

    I think we as crafters, metalsmiths, artists, businessmen/women, etc. need to get it together and have the chutzpah to be confident about our work. Our work is important and it deserves a profit!

    Danielle deCongé

  48. says

    All I can think to myself is, “This is so true!” One of my professors at Pratt Institute once told me, you can either make your jewelry in a tiny studio and work for a meager living while riding the subway, or you can be the business owner, and ride in the Rolls Royce. You might guess which one I chose

    I think we as crafters, metalsmiths, artists, businessmen/women, etc. need to get it together and have the chutzpah to be confident about our work. Our work is important and it deserves a profit!

    Danielle deCongé

  49. says

    Why don’t “craft businesses’ simply call themselves businesses or small businesses?

    Micro-business and “craft” business in some sense seem to imply a spirit of un-seriousness about the business itself.

    I love the term “creative empire”. It captures the spirit and ambition that anyone who wants to succeed in this kind of business needs to have.”


  50. says

    I was recently baffled by an artist who was applying for a job and wanted $14/hr from someone else, but wouldn’t raise their own prices to cover much more than their costs and was complaining.?!

    • says

      DomcaThis is a problem of sarhigtt dating sites/apps too.I can add types like:- the writer , who never really meets you- the genitalia pictures before face or the worst (according to my experience) doesn’t show up on a date and never calls/writes again , leaving you waiting for him for an hour or so

  51. says

    I had a long time customer stop by the studio this week to purchase a gift. She told me her brother told her my work must be more popular because my prices have increased. I smiled, but it truth I finally sat down and worked through the Pricing for Profit worksheet! When I first increased my prices in July I was nervous my work wouldn’t sell, but I did better than ever at an art fair I do every July. Now I am confident about my prices, the value and quality of my work, and have peace of mind knowing with every sale I’m making a profit. As I read this post I felt myself gettig excited and cheering along with you Megan. Great post! You are right about practicing talking about your work, it gets easier and your message becomes smoother and more sincere.

  52. says

    I love all the hard work you put into this business. I have benefitted from much of your information. I wish that I could say that I financially benefitted, but I have not. I know it is a mindset hurdle that I need to overcome, but running a business is hard work, wearing so many hats, and juggling so many balls. I struggle first with the fact that I came from a lower economic class. However, after working in a children’s retail boutque for awhile, I realized the facts of the business. A retail owner won’t place an item out on the floor for sale without marking up the product 100%. They do this, of course, so that they can make a good profit off the items that sell, because they realize that not all of them will sell. So, that makes me think it’s ok to price my things more reasonable when making one item that I know is already sold. The problem with that is I am devaluing my time, knowledge, expertise, and artistic ability that others don’t possess. It’s time for me to make a change. I’ve been struggling financially too long.

  53. Staci Sterenberg says

    Thanks for your inspirational email (again) You are a real source of smart mentoring and strategic planning. I am on my second round in the handcrafted merchandise business. The first time around, I bumbled through and learned a lot along the way, but wasn’t able to sustain my business as trends changed and my style of products became mass produced in China. This time, I want to do it right, and develop and grow for sustainability and profit. For me, determining a fair market price feels like a tightrope. One moment I’m balanced and confident, and the next I’m holding on tight and hoping I don’t fall into the trap of self doubt. For me, figuring out what my time is worth seems to be the key to determining what the cost of my products are worth. I compare what a mechanic, plumber or contractor charges and think that I’m not that far off in my estimation. Do you have recommendations on how to determine how much to pay yourself for the labor invested in your products?
    Thanks again Megan,

  54. says

    Hey Megan-I’ve been following you on your mentoring website for a while now and thank you for your expertise in this field. I’ve found in my own art business that venue and marketing are paramount to building a successful art business. There seem to be 3 major issues in this business to focus on for all of us: 1) Targeting your customer/audience; 2) Location of your booth in your appropriate business venue (i.e.positioning); 3) educating customers about the value of your craft (i.e.salesmanship). Of course there are many other facets to running a business but those three have to do with MARKETING and successful MARKETING is what allows us to continue to do what we love to do. The fine art of selling what you create is actually sharing with others the the results (i.e. marketable items) of many years of experience in your field. So pricing should be appropriate and fair market value.

    So let’s say a customer is in your booth and is totally engaged in your work. You have proudly stated your sales spiel of the why’s, what’s, how’s, etc. of your beautiful work. The customer continues to talk about what’s going on in their life and everything else…all conversation except the words we all want to hear…”I want to buy this!” How do you transition into closing the sale? Do you wait in quiet expectancy? Or do you say…”OK! Will that be cash, check or charge?” I’m sure many of you have experienced customers browsing and commenting about how beautiful your work is and then proceed to walk out the door. I call it “the disconnect”. To help with re-routing “the disconnect”, I’ve found that sometimes it might help to explain to customers that although I have a website sales business, I do on-site shows to help the customer save on shipping and handling costs that are incurred with internet sales. Many times customers forget or don’t realize the savings for them at the shows offered by professional artisans. So it’s really educating folks about your product.

    Blessings! MaryB Wenzel


  1. […] So today, I was working through a pricing worksheet.  I was trying to decide if I should take my passion for pottery and turn it into a crafty enterprise.  Because while I have a deep love for the craft, and while I enjoy creating beautiful, functional items from mud and sand — I absolutely do not feel guilty about wanting to make a profit.  Isn’t that the point of a business? […]

  2. […] around the creative community about creative tithing, and a few of you even brought it up in the comments of yesterday’s post.   This is the idea that you would take 10% of your income and spend it on products from craft and […]

  3. […] Regardless of whether you went to art school, design school, or just learned your craft on your own, you could probably use a little more confidence in your own work.  Because it’s that confidence in the positive attributes of your work that allow you to successfully sell it to others.  (Not to mention helping you value your products at a price you truly deserve.) […]

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