Why Being a Craftpreneur is Perfect for Older Adults… and How to Succeed
Do you have a passion for knitting, crochet, soap making, woodworking, metalworking, photography, painting or sewing? Are you looking to make a little extra money in the years leading up to – or during – retirement? Then, being a craftpreneur may be for you!
What is a Craftpreneur?
Simply put, a craftpreneur is someone who makes a living by selling their crafts. From luxury soap maters to baby toy crocheters, men and women the world over are making money from their passions.
Of course, being a craftpreneur is not all ice-cream and sprinkles. Since so many people want to make money from their passions, competition for customers can be fierce. In addition, from a revenue perspective, craftpreneurs are limited by their ability to produce.
That said, there are also many reasons to believe that craftpreneurship is perfect for members of our generation.
Why is Being a Craftpreneur So Attractive for People Over 50?
The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that being a craftpreneur is a great option for many older adults.
First, unlike starting a franchise, coffee shop or company, being a craftpreneur doesn’t require you to manage any people. You are the business and the fruit of your labor is your product.
Second, by the time we reach our 50s and 60s, most of us have been enjoying our hobbies for many years. This means that we have decades of experience to share with the world through our creative work.
Finally, being a craftpreneur gives older adults the flexibility that they want in “retirement.” If you want to take a month off to travel, you can simply create a set of “limited edition” items and head out to explore the world.
Of course, as I mentioned before, becoming a successful craftpreneur is not easy. The good news is that there are simple ways to separate yourself from the pack. Here are a few ways to increase your chances of success as a craftpreneur.
Specialize to Succeed as a Craftpreneur
Type in “crochet” into the search window in Etsy, one of the largest sites for craftpreneurs to sell their products, and you will get almost 1-million hits! As a result, if you set out to sell your crochet work without a plan to specialize, you are in for a rude awakening.
If you dig a little deeper, you will find that most of the crochet items on Etsy haven’t been sold more than 10 times. The items that sell like hot-cakes are the ones that have a unique style or twist. For example, Lalylala (63,000) focuses exclusively on hand-made dolls. Their signature style encourages repeat purchases and almost certainly simplifies the production process. Matildasmeadow (12,000+ sales) focuses on crocheted shoes. Yes, that’s right! A shop focused entirely on crocheted shoes!
So, before you set up your shop, take the time to think about what your signature style or category will be.
Act Like You Own a Business… You Do!
Being a craftpreneur, like being a freelance writer or marketing consultant, involves every aspect of running a larger business – with the possible exception of managing people.
This means that you need to think about how you will attract new customers (marketing) where to get the best value on materials (operations), what to create (product development), where to sell (distribution) and what to do with your profits (finance and legal).
As a creative person, it’s easy to ignore anything that doesn’t directly impact your ability to create beautiful things. This is usually a mistake!
In a future article, I’ll cover exactly what it takes to manage your craft business. For now, I suggest that you ask yourself the following questions every month.
- What can I do to help more customers find my products?
- What feedback have I received from customers (and potential customers?)
- What are my best-selling products? What does this tell me about what new products to create?
- How much money do I make on each item?
- How can I encourage people to buy more items with every purchase?
- Am I working with the most effective sales channels? Why or why not?
- What could I do to reduce my costs without impacting quality?
Dig Deep and Prepare for a Tough Journey
Being a craftpreneur can be a dream job; how else can you bring joy into the lives of others, while making extra cash and doing what you love?
At the same time, just because craftpreneurs love what they do, it doesn’t mean that they have it easy. Far from it! The very fact that craftpreneurship is so attractive means that you will likely face serious competition, especially at the beginning.
Don’t expect to make a serious profit right away. In fact, many craftpreneurs have told me that it took a year or more to make a significant amount of money from their work. If you expect to make money quickly and easily, you will be disappointed.
Try to see your journey as a craftpreneur as a marathon and not a sprint. If you produce every day and force yourself to focus on the non-creative aspects of your business at least once a month, you will almost certainly succeed. You just need to give it time!
At the end of the day, being a craftpreneur is an excellent option for many older adults. It allows us to make money from our passions. It gives us flexibility. And, it lets us start a business without having to manage people or go the office.
Is it a “get rich quick” option? No. But, is it a valid way to supplement your income in the years leading up to – or during – retirement? You bet!
Have you ever thought about selling your crafts? What has stopped you from doing this in the past? Please join the conversation!