Making a living as a full-time craftsperson takes discipline, careful planning, and hard work. Today’s successful craftspeople are educators, marketers, teachers, businesspeople, travelers, and community builders. It is not enough to be good at making nicely handcrafted items. You must think about your own story and why you are passionate about your craft.
Your story becomes the armature for the image you create for yourself, for your products, and for the markets you develop to sell your wares. Share your story widely – use social media and other tools to reinforce your story and build your brand. Travel to meet people and build networks – the community you create around you will continue to expand and will nourish you, as well. Production handcraft can be a very challenging way to make a living. You have to continually strike an inner balance between your goals for product output and your excitement and passion for the craft that got you started in the first place. Make time for research and reflection – ask four or five people to serve as your mentors. From time to time, bring them together to give you feedback and advice on your business planning, your product marketing and packaging, your handcraft items themselves, and the like. Seek commissions – special pieces are usually ordered by people particularly appreciative and committed to handcraft.
These relationships can develop over time and provide you with that necessary periodic break from production, so you can focus on challenging new designs and pull yourself to new levels of your craft. Offer classes – some of my greatest insights have come from teaching others and my skills and process have been fine-tuned. Most importantly, I’ve learned to communicate why handcraft is important to me, as well as its connection and relevance to the wider world.
–Peter Lamb, excerpt from “A Partnership with Nature: An Interview with Peter Lamb,” in Issue Seven