Making the Transition from Hobby Artist to Novice Seller: Where Do I Start?

aspiring artistA new guest blog series by Heather Ahearn

You’re an aspiring artist or a potter or a knitter. Maybe you’ve dabbled on Etsy and even had a booth at a local craft fair. But, it’s a challenge to get product ready for shows and to continually keep on top of your Etsy shop, especially with a full-time job and/or family obligations. You love your art, you have a small following and you want to keep up your momentum and be at least a tiny bit profitable. But how do you do it within the constraints of “real life,” when time and resources are limited!?!?!?

First, congratulations on making it this far. You’ve put your passion out in the world for others to see and consume. That’s brave and exciting! There are many, including myself that have not taken that leap of faith yet so good for you – you’re ahead of the game already!

Second, this series of blogs is NOT a how-to on quitting your day job and becoming a full-time Etsy seller, nor will it provide insights on how to sell your work to a national retailer. Instead, it is a gentle nudge towards seeing your art objectively and as a potential extra stream of profitable income without compromising your own style for the sake of your customers or your bank account! How far you want to take yourself beyond this basic approach is up to you – the world is waiting for you!

Over the next series of blogs we will cover the following topics:

Organize, organize, organize: From buying the right amount of supplies, to cost tracking, inventory management, and your calendar and to-do list, we’ll talk about small changes and easy tips and tricks that can have a big impact on getting yourself organized and ready to sell.

Identify and understand your customer: You have a very personal connection to your art. This post will give you some tips and tricks to see yourself and your art through the eyes of a potential fan or buyer. I bet what you discover via this outside-in instead of inside-out approach will surprise you!

Where do I find my target customer? Now that you have identified your target audience, where are they? We’ll talk about selling online vs. in retail establishments, craft fairs, even where on a map your target buyers live, and other outlets you may not have even thought about!

Marketing and Communication: Now that you know where your target audience is, how do you let them know how to find you and your amazing product? We’ll take a high level look at communicating with an established audience as well as getting more people to listen via social media and simple advertising strategies. We’ll also touch briefly on branding strategy.

Time, Inventory, and Money: Oh yeah, this whole journey might require an investment in time and money on your end! This discussion will remind you that even your time has a cost associated with it, and how to not bite off more than you can chew from a time, inventory and investment perspective. Baby steps!

Preserving Your Creativity: Finally we will wrap up with addressing the potential struggle between compromising what you are passionate about and producing something people want to buy. I am fully confident that you don’t have to change who you are or what you do to sell your art. It’s a matter of finding like-minded souls who are moved by what you do. Don’t think you can’t have passion and a following – you can!

Feel free to comment on issues you’d like to see addressed and don’t be afraid to ask questions – I’d be happy to share my insights on any topic you want to discuss.


About the Author:

Heather has more than 15 years of proven, high-level experience in PR, marketing, business development and sales support for non-profits, Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. She earned an undergraduate degree at UMass-Amherst, and an MBA from the F.W. Olin School of Business at Babson College. In her free time she not only likes to help her sister with her art business (, but also play hockey and go to the beach. In addition, she is starting to discover her own creative spark and dreams of one day becoming a handbag and jewelry designer. Questions and comments are welcome – Heather can be reached at

Picture 4You might also enjoy: The Successful Artist’s Career Guide by Margaret Peot.

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