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Is Crafting A Frugal Hobby?

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The Complete Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn, is my personal finance bible. So, when Amy advised switching to frugal hobbies, she got me thinking. Is crafting a frugal hobby?

The answer is a loud and resounding…maybe.

Here’s why –

– An everyday sweater, made from yard sale wool, is thrifty. A cashmere sweater, that was never finished, is not.

– Homemade orange peel candies are thrifty. Homemade chocolate truffles are not.

– Quilts made from fabric found in your scrap bag are thrifty. Quilts made from fabric bought at an upscale specialty store are not.

– Scrapbooking with acid-free paper and a lot of imagination, is thrifty. Scrapbooking with acid-free paper and store-bought embellishment kits is not.

– Creating mosaics from chipped Salvation Army dishes is thrifty. Creating mosaics from glass tiles purchased at the craft store is not.

Here are a couple of tips to ensure that your next craft project is thrifty…

Use free materials whenever possible. Out­grown cloth­ing, dis­card­ed lin­ens, or don­at­ions from friends can be made into won­der­ful fin­ished proj­ects.

Never buy full price. If you must pay for craft materials, try hard to save money. Check out your local thrift shop and yard sales. Shop ebay and Craig’s list. Comparison shop at online craft shops.

Make sure your crafts have a purpose. Before you start a new project decide what you will do with the finished product.  Will it be a holiday gift? A knick knack for your living room? Will it actually be used?

Don’t take on more than you can chew. Unfinished projects are a waste of money. Be sure, before starting a new needlepoint, outfit or craft kit, that you actually have the time and skill to complete it.

In general, like most of life, crafting is what you make it. You can make the kind of decisions that make crafting an expensive and frustrating activity. Or, you can make choices that make crafting economical and enjoyable. You decide.

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20 Ways To Make Crafts Pay

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20 Ways To Make Crafts Pay

source: epSos. de

With today’s problematic economy, folks everywhere are searching for alternative ways to bring in extra income.  For crafters, our hobby provides an obvious source of extra cash. Four popular income producers are teaching, selling our products, writing and providing services.

Teaching

1. Local community centers and youth groups frequently have teaching jobs available. My aunt taught sewing at our local JCC for many years. The pay wasn’t great, but she was able to do a job she loved.

2. Give weekly craft classes for adults out of your home. I sometimes go to a Tuesday morning craft class in my neighborhood. We each bring our own project and the teacher walks around giving advice and ideas as we need them.

3.  Several times a year, a neighbor of mine gives jewelry classes out of her home.  The classes are aimed at pre-teens and usually last for six weekly sessions.

4. When I first got my new sewing machine, I decided to take a series of sewing classes, given by another neighbor of mine. We each worked on our own pattern and the teacher helped us through each step of the process.

Selling Our Products

5. Try selling your product on Etsy. Thousands of people have had great success using Etsy as their primary sales venue.

6. Ebay also offers sales opportunities. However, because of the cut-throat competition, look carefully before investing too much time and money.

7. About 10 years ago, I sold handmade hats out of my basement. I advertised to a very specific group of individuals and I usually made about $400 – $600.00 a month profit, working part-time. I did this for four years.

8. Three or four times a year, I sold my hats at local fairs…Hanukkah fairs, local chamber of commerce fairs, etc. These were a great success.

9. Craft fairs are an obvious outlet for craft products. However, as these can be very expensive to enter, do some research before jumping in.

10. I once sold some handmade greeting cards, on consignment,  in a museum gift shop. For me, the sales were extremely slow. But who knows? You might have better success.

11. My handmade greeting cards also made the rounds of stores in the hands of a sales rep.  Again, the cards didn’t sell, but another product might have.

Writing

12. Consider starting your own craft blog.  I’ll never get rich from Craft Stew, but it does bring in a nice, consistent, monthly income from advertising.

13. Not computer savvy enough to start your own blog? Suite 101 and About.com always need writers.  Problogger also advertises blogging jobs.

14. If you think you can come up with enough material, writing a book may be another way to go. Sterling and Krause are two of the major craft book publishers.

15. I always see tutorials for sale on Etsy. They cover subjects like jewelry making, knitting, crocheting, sewing tote bags and lots more. As a matter of fact, I’m planning on purchasing a tutorial on macrame jewelry making.

16. Magazines frequently pay quite well for craft articles. Many of the larger publications have staff members write the articles, but small specialty publications, use primarily freelancers. Check out Writer’s Digest for appropriate magazine markets.

Providing Services

17. I have a friend who made  a decent income crocheting replacement hair into high quality wigs that were starting to bald.  She went on to travel all over the world giving classes on the process.

18.  My old next door neighbors used to make baked goods for special occasions and events. They rented commercial equipment and worked out of the house.

19. My great aunt did mending from her home. Some of my earliest and most comforting childhood memories are coming into the house each day after school and seeing ladies being pinned in the living room.

20. A friend of my husband used to do bookbinding during college to earn extra money. His work was not the fine sort, that museums and collectors require. Instead, it was the strong and efficient kind of binding that students need for their books.

These 20 craft business ideas are just a sample of the hundreds of categories of businesses that crafters participate in.  I picked these 20, not because they are the easiest to duplicate, but because they are the ones I have personal experience with.  I hope, after reading this list, that you’re inspired to at least consider, starting a craft business of your own.

Note : This article was originally posted in four parts, but for the convenience of our readers, we are reposting it as one longer article.

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The Problem With Underselling

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7185427943_ee6214f6d9_zsource: Robert Couse-Baker

I made a lot of mistakes in that business, but I think perhaps the biggest one was underpricing.  I sold hats for $10 to $15  and skirts for $5- $15. Even a decade ago, my prices were considered dirt cheap.

However, because of the competition, I felt I had to undersell. I knew I was doing the wrong thing business-wise, but I couldn’t figure out why. How could being the cheapest guy in town (or gal, in my case) be bad for the bottom line?

Now, with years of experience under my belt, I understand the tremendous disservice I was doing myself, my competitors and my customers.

Underselling – yourself, your customers, and your colleagues – is a big problem. It’s just wrong, philosophically & financially. It will ruin you, anger your customers, and frustrate your colleagues.

For a great article explaining in detail the problems with undercharging, check out Tara Gentile’s article on Underselling: Why Discomfort Is A Terrible Pricing Strategy.

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8 Ways To Find Inspiration

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14420946270_5f877a92f9_zsource: Larry Vincent

Very few of us, even when following project instructions, follow the design exactly. We like to add our own fabrics,  our own em­bell­ish­ments,  our own little touch. Something that makes the project our own.

But what happens when inspiration just won’t come? Eight ways of “forcing” inspiration are discussed in an article at Marc Makes Art.

Here is my favorite :

Other Artists. When I feel uninspired, I go to the library and sit on the floor with art books sprawled around me. I always like to choose some favorites, and a few that are unfamiliar. I keep a notebook of ideas that sometimes includes rough sketches of an idea, but always a line or two about a project I want to start. Sometimes, it isn’t the library, but the Internet where I look at inspiring artwork. Drawn!, Flickr, DeviantArt, PhotoJojo, a random Google search, The Wooster Collective, or even a place like Bighappyfunhouse….Always explore the unknown genres of art, music, whatever when finding yourself uninspired.

Head on over to read the rest of the article for seven more inspiring ideas.

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10 Ways Crafting Reduces Stress

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In today’s  bustling world, taking the time for deliberate  relaxation has become a modern day necessity.  Between work, family life, and other responsibilities,  the average person spends his day going from difficult situation to even more difficult situation. Crafting  provides  a great way to break out from this routine and de-stress for a little while.

Here are 10 reasons crafting is good for your mental health:

1. Crafting focuses our minds on a productive activity.

2. Crafting allows  our stressful energy to be released through our hands in creative ways.

3. Crafting provides  an outlet for creative problem solving, which creates the  flexibility that is an essential element of stress  reduction

4. Crafting, like any  focused activity, creates a mild trance state which is highly conducive to relaxation and letting go of  stress.

5. Crafting gives us  time in our busy lives in which we can reconnect with ourselves.

6. Crafting is fun; and fun  things reduce  stress.

7. Crafting creates  a time in which we are free from worries (about time, money,  relationships, and the many other things we tend to worry about).

8. Crafting keeps us  productive and when we’re productive we stress less.

9. Crafting is a great get-a-way without having to go  anywhere.

10. Crafting is something we can do for ourselves (a self-care activity), and doing for ourselves (self-care activities) reduces  stress.

So, the next time the stress becomes overwhelming, consider skipping the beer and chocolate, and reaching for the knitting instead!

Ben Klempner, LMSW, founder and  editor of Effective Family Communication,  is a trained social worker. Please visit  his blog at: http://www.EffectiveFamilyCommunication.com

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