How to turn your doll making hobby into a career?
I interact with fellow doll makers on a daily basis. Some of them are students in my doll making classes, some of them are artists who share they work on Facebook groups or Instagram. A lot of them have two things in common: love for doll making and a desire doing it full time. For the past two years, I've been fortunate enough to call myself a doll artist and transform my doll making hobby into a career. I'm not going to lie, it wasn't easy at all. There were situations where I'd have loved to have some guidance. But I strongly believe that with the right attitude and hard work everyone could do it. Today I'm going to share the actions I took to make this happen. I hope they will encourage you to turn your doll making hobby into a career.
1. Master your craft
Let's be honest, it's not going to happen if you'll be an average doll maker. Your dolls should reflect professionalism, quality, and originality. This step is the most crucial, but the hardest and time-consuming at the same time. You don't have to be the absolute best to start selling your dolls but think about it as a long-term goal. Every doll you create should be better in some way than the last one. Appreciate your creations but critically analyze and learn from your mistakes. When it comes to mastering your craft, adopting this mindset is a must. Don't forget that your loyal audience will love your dolls no matter what! You should be the one who pushes the limits of your creative capabilities. If you seek new information on doll making, check out my doll making classes, I'm sure you'll learn something new. One of the best things about the classes is individual consultations. If you need a competent opinion about your creations, write to me!
2. Be active on social media
Dolls are very visual and unique form of art, make the most of it with social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Even though dolls are very popular in some groups of people, a lot of them will see these unique artworks for the first time. Use that to your advantage and amaze the viewer with astonishing photography. Experiment with different backgrounds, borrow DSLR camera if you don't have one and maybe invest in photography classes. Check out my article about craft photography and see how the photography classes changed the quality of my pictures! Don't forget that people can't see your dolls up close or touch them, to reveal all the beauty good photography is a must!
3. Open an Etsy shop
For me, turning a doll making hobby into a career started with an Etsy shop. Opening the shop on this platform is the cheapest and easiest way to test your creations in the real life market. Don't get me wrong, Etsy shop is a lot of work, but we're reaching for long term success and it doesn't come overnight. All that information about SEO, pricing, tags and titles could be overwhelming unless you're doing it in baby steps. My first sale happened after three or four months after opening. It's not the best outcome, so I changed titles and descriptions. The second sale came through after a few weeks. I've slowly built my inventory, constantly tweaking tags, titles, descriptions and working on my photography skills. In less than a year the sales became pretty steady. I believe that 1-2 sales on your fresh Etsy shop are a sign that you could bring it to the next level. Just improve your shop one step at the time and don't give up too soon. For a better start, you can register here: http://etsy.me/2m6dVro and earn 40 free listings!
4. Write a blog
Sharing your creative journey lets you connect with your audience. Writing a blog helps to create that connection on a deeper level than with social media posts. A lot of people who read my blog became my clients, they heard my story and felt a connection with it. Seeing behind the scenes, hard work I put in my dolls, they understand the value and the background of the doll or the services they're getting. Also, I strongly believe that if you share your knowledge and help other doll artists as a payback you're getting their support which turns into shares of your articles, mentions on Instagram and overall into a genuine advertisement. If you're not sure how to start one or need any help with marketing check free classes on Creative Live. They really helped me to figure out these things!
5. Set goals ( and reach for them)
It will be easier if you constantly set a short-term goal for yourself and work towards it. The key is to have all those goals as a part of a bigger picture - turning your doll making hobby into a career. This way you will always have something to work on and it won't get overwhelming. Think about it as having a to-do list. Give yourself a task and set a time frame for it, for example, create a new doll in a month, open an Etsy shop in April, set up a photoshoot next week. Start small and incorporate some long-term goals when you feel comfortable to do so. I absolutely love my bullet journal which helps to track my progress and keeps all my goals in one place. Maybe this system will work for you as well?
6. Be consistent and show up
Even if you complete all the steps and share your dolls hundred times all over the place, it still could feel that no one is there and no one is listening. I get that! It takes a lot of time to build your audience, especially in such a small niche as art dolls. Acknowledging that, you could push trough the hard times and create the same amount of content even if you'll get just a few people to see it. It will get better, I promise! When I started this blog in 2015, I was attracting 50-100 people per month. Most of them came here through my Facebook page, so I was writing for the same audience and couldn't get new people to see my creations. Over time my blog and my business were growing slow but steady, more and more people showed up every month. Even though I'm really happy with the results they are still pretty small by comparison to other niches. But that's ok! My results show that you can build a successful career with a relatively small audience.
7. Write a simple business plan
If you're willing to turn a doll making hobby into a career, think about where your money will come from. Realistically measure your possibilities and determine the main revenue streams. Is it only the sales of your dolls? What will happen if no one's going to buy any dolls in one month? The scary questions which need to be answered. My main revenue streams are OOAK dolls, plush dolls on the Etsy shop, affiliate marketing and doll making classes. If one of them fails one month, I still have a pretty steady income at the end. Think what would work best for you and take the steady steps towards your dream career!
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