8 Income Stream Ideas For Your Creative Business

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Adding income streams to your business not only adds more variety to your work but you also opens your business up to a wider audience - making your business more profitable and sustainable - yay.

But, without an infinite amount of time on your hands, where to start? At the moment I’m seeing more and more inventive ways that creatives are diversifying in their businesses. 

Here are 8 income streams you can add to your creative business

Teaching your craft

Some makers are nervous of doing this because they feel it might reduce sales of their physical products. However the people who buy your products are likely to be less interested in learning how to make them. While the audience you’ll be tapping into, who want to learn about your craft, will be a new audience  for your business. If you want some tips on starting to teach your business check out my podcast with Emma from Emma May Stitching on Teaching Your Craft.

Virtual products

Is there an ebook that you’d love to create that fits in with your business? Even if you usually sell physical products, creating an ebook that would be useful or entertaining for your audience is a great way of adding an extra income stream to your business.

If you make home decor you could make a short ebook on ‘a guide to styling your living room’ or you could educate your audience about something your business has strong values around, if you strive to reduce plastic in your packaging and making process you could write an ebook helping people to reduce the plastics they use in their daily lives.

Think about your audience, what struggles, wants and needs do they have that you could answer with a virtual product?

 Notebook on french linen backdrop with fountain pen and ribbon

Commissions

It’s not for everyone but taking on commissions can be good way of driving a welcome cash injection every so often. Make a note on your website and product pages that you’re happy to discuss commissions and add a mention of it on your about page as well (usually the most visited page of your website).

Don’t forget, if you go down this route, that commissions are usually time consuming and require good communication with your client. You will need to be clear on exactly what they’re looking for and you’ll also need to communicate your boundaries with them, such as how many rounds of amends you’re willing to do within the price, how long it will take you, how you want to recieve feedback and your pricing.

Make sure you charge accordingly for the time commissions take and get paid up front for your work. When it’s done right, taking on commissions can add a nice bonus to your income.

Do some consulting or mentoring

If you’re been running your business for a few years, your experience and knowledge could be invaluable to another maker. You could put the feelers out via social media and see if there are any up and coming business owners who would really appreciate some mentoring. Set yourself some boundaries (how much you’ll charge and how much time you’re willing to give up) and put the offer out there.

You could meet in person for a morning or do a series of Skype calls – the format is completely up to you. Mentoring is such a valuable and fulfilling way to share your knowledge, so why not give it a go? 

Physical products

Even if you’re a surface pattern designer or graphic designer who usually makes money through licensing or commissions, have a think about what you could offer as physical products. 

 
Adding physical products to your product offering would mean that you’d need to ship products, photograph them, write descriptions and get them made up in the first place (either by yourself or manufactured) but if you like the idea of offering a small line of products this could be a great place to start. You could sell them through your own website and even apply to Not On The High Street or Trouva for some additional exposure. For more on this check out my podcast episode with surface pattern designer, Victoria Jowett on Getting your Digital Prints onto Products.

 Tea cup with ribbon and snips in linen backdrop, sewing tools

Selling DIY kits

Selling craft kits has been a really successful move for lots of handmade sellers. You’ll need to write some clear instructions and get the kit tested by a couple of willing guinea pigs, create some pretty packaging and you’ll be good to go. 

You’ll have to make up the kits so some cutting out and measuring might be required but not the actual making, meaning these products will be relatively quick to make up, especially if you do a batch of 10 kits in one go. This is a great way of expanding your product ecosystem and opening up your product line to an audience who love your products but are looking for something at a lower price point.

Selling off cuts

I’ve seen both Lauren Aston and The Sewing Alchemist do this really well, you might think no one will have any use for them but they can actually be a bestseller and add a nice bit of extra cash to your balance sheet. Or if you're looking for ways to make your business more meaningful, you could donate these profits to a charity.

Sell your patterns

If you’re a knitter or a sewer you could make up simple patterns to sell on their own. You don’t need to include the fabric, wool or materials like you would with a kit meaning that you can sell this product at a lower price point which might appeal to yet another new audience for your business. With this you also have the option to sell your patterns digitally or as printed patterns.

[OVER TO YOU] 

  1. Using the suggestions in this post, note down some new income stream ideas
  2. Shortlist - There’s definitely a balance to the number of income streams you can have running in your business in relation to your time, but if you can add some variety to your business in terms of what you sell, you’re only going to make your business more sustainable by appealing to a larger audience
  3. Make a launch plan! Just introduce one new income stream idea at a time and enjoy experimenting.
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