In my trial and error of turning my hobby into a business I have learned a few things I would like to pass on to you if you are considering turning your hobby into a business. By no means am I an expert on the matter just one mom sharing her experiences with another.
1. Start with a PLAN! - Plan out your strategy, what is it you are trying to accomplish, how much money do you want to make, how much money do you have to invest, how much inventory will you need, what kind of marketing will work for you, where will you sell your products and what do you need to get started. Also it is a good idea to check out your competition, find out who is selling similar items in your area and how much they are selling it for. Find your niche and expand on it. Don't forget to check your city and state rules and regulations.
2. SELL!!! - Take every opportunity to sell your items EVERYWHERE!!!
-Try and get in local shops. There are a lot of vendor malls or stores out there. This is a great way to sell your items in a store without having all the expenses of operating your own store front. Most vendor malls charge monthly rent and a small percentage of your sales. This is a great way to get local exposure.
-Sell Online! 2 top sites for selling crafts online are Ebay and Etsy, which charge a minimal listing fee.
-Craft Fairs and Festivals! This is how I got my start and still continue to do all the local crafts fairs and holiday shoppes. Most schools have holiday crafts fairs, they usually advertise them through the PTA. Regularly check the local schools website for upcoming vending opportunities. Don't forget churches and city events. You have to be very aggressive in constantly checking websites and asking around for information about upcoming event. Make sure your registration fees are within your budget and you are able to make a worthwhile profit.
3. Network/Marketing! - If you are going to take this business seriously you will need marketing material like business cards, a website, flyers, blog, etc. Go for a theme and stick to it so that it relates to you and your business. Create a facebook page or twitter account and send regular updates to your followers. Tell everyone what it is you do, give samples, leave flyers and business cards everywhere you can.
4. You are your best ADVERTISEMENT!!! - Where the items you make, a compliment is an invitation for a sale. Where t-shirts and hats with your business name and logo whenever possible. Get car magnets for your car and advertise where ever you go.FREE!!!
For me it has been a fun learning experience some costly and most profitable. I enjoy what I do and the joy on the faces of my customers makes it all the worthwhile. My best advice is to have fun, enjoy what you do, be creative, learn from your mistakes and don't be afraid to think outside the box!!!