The Industry of Making is On the Rise

Whether you define yourself as a tinkerer, maker or craftsperson, protecting your business may look a little different than traditional avenues. According to an Association For Creative Industries study, at least 65.5 million people take part in at least one craft and the total industry is now a $44 billion market spend, a 45% increase from $30.1 billion in 2011. With the revitalization of regular artist community events and the ever-increasing presence on the internet, home-based artisan businesses are more prevalent than ever.

Where are people selling their work?

Your own website: Starting your own online gallery or website has all the potential you give it. With low start-up and upkeep costs, starting your own gallery has room to grow as large as you want. This option gives you the most control and the ability to build your own customer connections in an unlimited market. 

EtsyThe most well-known of the online marketplaces, Etsy was founded in 2005 and has been steadily growing ever since. Offering the most well-rounded shopping experience for unique goods and one-of-a-kind creations, whatever your craft is, you have a place on Etsy.
Amazon HandmadeLaunched in 2015, Amazon Handmade is a platform for artisans to sell handmade goods. All products sold through Handmade have to be just that, entirely handmade, not from a kit. There is a 15% fee for each sale, which is high compared to Etsy’s 3.5%.
bonanzaOffering a combination of marketplace and webstore, Bonanza, founded in 2008, is on the rise amongst sellers. It’s free to list items on Bonanza with a 3.5% fee per sale.
eCRATEREstablished in 2004, eCRATER is free to list on. They offer templates that help you design a successful store and only take 2.9% of the sale made when they bring you the sale.
Society6Arriving on the internet in 2009, Society6 is a marketplace for two-dimensional art that spans multiple mediums.
eBayActive since 1995, eBay has a separate category called Crafts, where handmade items are sold. eBay offers artisans two listing options: auction-style listings and fixed-price listings.

Local markets and galleries

Selling at art fairs and pop-up markets is a great way for artisans to sell products and connect with new customers. As many makers know, it’s easy to miss these opportunities if you aren’t already involved or have contacts within the organizations. Establishing yourself as part of the community is a great way to stay connected. Gallery events are also a great way to expose new people to your craft. However, there is a predetermined percentage of each sale that goes back to the gallery, sometimes it’s even as high as 50%.

Online marketplaces

Public exhibition spaces and commercial gallery spaces are a great way to earn an income, but not the most reliable. What do you do in the time between shows? Many artisans make the lump sum of their money from online marketplaces. Luckily, there are a lot of options. It’s important you take the time to research which marketplaces you will promote your work on, as each has its own associated fees, audience, and listing process. 

Protect Yourself from Losing Your Business Before it Gets Started

 If you do experience a break-in, burglars may invade your creative space and run amok all over the business you worked hard to create. As a home-based business, it’s important that every step of your startup process is thought through, from your chosen craft to how you purchase the tools you need. For small business owners, theft is a bigger threat that has a substantial impact on your business, which is why ensuring its protection is all the more important. Home intruders can damage the tools you work with, compromise supplies, and even interfere with finished products and shipments you plan to send out, which in the end will cost you money. Thankfully, there are some preventative measures you can take to protect yourself and your livelihood. 

Keep a detailed inventory of your equipment, supplies, and finished works

It’s good practice to keep a detailed inventory of your supplies, equipment, and finished works in case of a break-in. Snapping a picture of each item and referencing receipts will help you if you ever need to file a claim. Not to mention the fact that maintaining inventory is essential for taxes and keeping your business running. Without an updated inventory that features estimated costs of each item, it will be hard to update your insurance policy if needed. Handy tools like Artwork Archive make keeping track of all the moving parts of your business a breeze. With tools like inventory reports, sales and invoicing, and cataloging, Artwork Archive aims to make the ups and downs of running your business just a little easier. 

Home Insurance Can Cover Artist Losses

Generally, fine art, collectibles, and antiques are covered under the personal property limits of a homeowner’s insurance policy. But most of these policies only protect your collection up to $2,500. If the work stored in your home is more than this, you should consider specific art coverage. Declare all of your high-priced equipment and tools on your home insurance and alternative artisan insurance to ensure you’ve covered all your bases and the materials you work with are protected. These are the most common types of artisan insurance for makers:

  • Arts and Collectible Insurance: This type of insurance usually costs only 1% to 2% of the individual piece you’re insuring. It covers if your work is stolen, damaged (total and partial damage), or lost. Arts and collectible insurance does not cover deterioration over time or very expensive items and there is a limit to what every policy will cover. 
  • Art Studio General Liability Insurance: General risks associated with operating an art studio or workspace are covered under art studio general liability insurance. These risks include accidents in your studio, damage to a piece of art after it has been sold or damage to artwork held for sale. 
  • Art Studio Commercial Auto Insurance: Commercial auto insurance is great for makers who use their vehicles to pick up supplies or drop of work. It covers protection against bodily injury and damage that results from an accident. 
  • The Master Policy: This wide-ranging policy covers things that are excluded by your homeowner policy: equipment, supplies, and finished works. Insured on an “all-risk basis,” meaning that everything is automatically insured unless the specific circumstance of loss or damage is excluded in your policy. 
  • Special Personal Property Endorsement: This type of policy extends coverage beyond what is included in your homeowner’s insurance and allows you to insure items to their full value.

Think About Theft Coverage During The Buying Process

The cost of necessary equipment

The overall start-up of a business can be expensive and can stop a business before it starts. Add in the fact that there’s not always a promise of profit or  breaking even, then you’ve got a real financial problem on your hands. Regardless of what you craft, buying the equipment and supplies is a lot of money upfront, which is why you should always keep records of what you buy and how much it costs. Taking the steps to make sure the high-price tools you buy are covered by your home insurance or credit card issuer can potentially save you a lot of future headaches. Protecting the purchases you make is another layer of securing your business.

Maker CategoryEquipment TypeAverage Price (as found on Amazon)
WoodworkingTable saw$205 – $2,619
Air compressor$273 – $1,380
Compound miter saw$110 – $700
Power drill$50 – $130
Random orbital sander$200 – $30
Wood burner$20 – $250
PaintingEasels$21 – $1,000
Digital artGraphics tablet$40 – $2,000
JewelryLaser engraver$160 – $6,500
Stamping press$45 – $350
Sewing/embroiderySewing machines$58 – $999
Sewing mannequins$45 – $160
NeedlecraftsManual yarn twist tester$251 – $1,087
knitting machine$30 – $130
PotteryPottery wheel$169 – $1,995
Kiln$256 – $2,989
Hand-lettering/calligraphySpecialty pens$20 – $755
Stained glassGlass grinder$80 – $341

Purchase equipment and supplies on a credit card

Another way to protect yourself is to purchase items by paying with a credit card. Not surprisingly, many people do not know all the perks that credit cards offer. One particularly important benefit for makers is purchase protection, which will help replace the material or tools you buy if stolen or damaged. Whether you choose a card with return protection or extended manufacturer’s warranty, it’s important you familiarize yourself with the perks your cards offer. They might just save you a headache in the future. 

Price protection coverage is another helpful perk for those high-ticket items you use to run your business. Say you’re a potter who purchased a kiln for $1,500, but you see that not long after you bought it the same kiln is being sold for $200 less. For small business owners, every dollar counts. The price protection coverage of your credit card insures you against price decreases after you purchase the item. Just submit a claim and you’ll be refunded the difference. Getting a credit card with the highest level of protection or insurance is a safe bet to ensure your equipment in case of damage or theft. 

Benefit typeWhat it offers
Purchase securityThe purchase security benefit replaces, repairs, or refunds the cardholder for purchases that were lost, damaged, or stolen. However, they must file a claim within the specific timeframe for each card. Like with the other perks, there is an annual reimbursement maximum.
Price protectionAlso known as price match, price protection allows the cardholder to get a refund for an item they found for a lower price after purchase. The cardholder has 60-120 days to file a claim. Typically there is a cap for the refund and the card issuer tracks an annual reimbursement maximum for each account.
Extended warrantyThis benefit extends the original manufacturer’s repair warranty. Annual reimbursement maximum is generally around $5,000 per account.
Return protectionReturn protection is a less common benefit. It’s meant to extend the return policy of the manufacturer. The card issuer may provide a refund if the merchant falls short. The cardholder must file their claim within 90 days of purchase of the item they want to return. Reimbursement limits are enforced.

Prevent Yourself from Becoming a Target

Protect your home

Having a home security system is crucial. The first decision you have to make is if you want a professionally-monitored system or a self-monitored system. Professionally-monitored systems come with high fees, but also technicians who will set up your equipment and the peace of mind in knowing if your alarm is triggered, your home security company contacts the police. While it’s ideal to have a complete home security system, every artisan is on a budget. Even having a few key parts will help to secure your home business. 

Install door and window sensorsA sensor is placed on either side of your door frame or window sill, creating a security circuit that will be triggered if separated. Notifications are sent to your phone.
Home security camerasPlacing cameras both inside and outside your home will offer the most protection from burglars. Depending on where your studio is, more cameras may be necessary.
Motion detecting lightsIf you have converted your garage into your workspace, it’s worth installing motion-detection lights and cameras on the outside.
Don’t disclose your locationUsing a PO box as your residence on your return address and business address is a way to avoid alerting people that you have high-priced items in your home.
Place fake security signs in your yardHome security yard signs deter burglars. Place signs near the entrances of your home, ensure that at least one is visible from the road.
Choose your space wiselyIf you work in a space that could be easily burglarized, consider changing rooms in your home.

Use home automation to your advantage

You can use aspects of your home automation for other things than just security. Using your smart speakers to track the lists of your supplies, inventory, or costs are an easy way to stay organized. Your voice assistant can keep you updated on current pricing and sales, making it that much easier to purchase your supplies and track your packages. Your voice assistant can even alert you when a package is waiting on your doorstep, just enable delivery notifications.

Tricks to combat high price tags 

Many artisans feel, regardless of their craft, the process of creating is personal and highly involved. Even if your business isn’t on a large scale and just to supplement the costs of your craft, your passion is the reason you do it. It’s a great time to be a maker and time to finally make money off what you do. Here are some tips to make it just a little easier:

  • Purchase equipment with a return or insurance policy.
  • Sell tools and equipment you no longer use.
  • Ask for smaller tools and supplies as gifts from family and friends.
  • Check out auctions, liquidation sales, and garage sales to hunt down lightly-used equipment.
  • Utilize local equipment. Artisan communities across the country have come together to create incubator spaces where artists share the costs of materials and equipment.