Are you wondering how you can make a full time living when you make every piece by hand one at a time?

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Yes, you really can make a full time living selling handmade crafts but you’ll probably need to scale your business.

I’ve talked about ways you can do something once and earn over and over by creating prints of your original paintings or castings of your metal smithing.

But if your craft is one that must be handmade a piece at a time, there’s only so much revenue you can make if you produce every piece yourself.

Expanding doesn’t mean you have to have your items manufactured in China. You can grow your craft business without actually manufacturing at all.  One great way to stay in integrity with the handmade movement is to have other crafters help you. Let’s say you make something that must be individually hand or machine stitched. Rather than hiring employees, you can engage some stay-at-home moms or retired folks to do piece work. Maybe you would cut the fabric and they pick it up from you and do the stitching. When they return the finished articles, you can pay them by the piece.

It generally makes sense to purchase all the materials yourself in order to get a consistent quality and price but there are a couple of other ways you can grow your business with the help of others.

Have you thought about selling your designs and brand as a “starter kit” for crafters who want to have their own cottage industries? They purchase the patterns from you (and the materials, if you choose) and then they make the goods and sell them at home parties, crafts fairs, online, however they want. It’s their business. Kind of like the Mary Kay of the craft world. You can charge a percentage of sales, a markup on the material or just sell the designs and patterns, kind of like a franchise. (Different states have laws restricting franchises so you might not want to use that terminology.) You’d be making more money than you can making each piece yourself and you’ll be doing a community service by providing others with a way to earn from home. It’s a win all around, right?

Have you found a way to expand your craft business and still keep it handmade? You’re invited to share your ideas in the comments below.

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