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Are you a creative kind of person? Maybe you like to draw, sew, design or sculpt? Whatever your craft, thanks to the internet it’s easier than ever to utilize your talents and turn your passion into cash. Setting up a website and starting from scratch can be hard, getting your site seen and your information out there can be time-consuming and expensive. However, well-known online marketplaces like Etsy mean that creative individuals from all over the world can set up their own little shops and be easily found. Whether your goods are digital or physical, big or small, made in a factory or created at home, this is a great way to get them out there and make yourself some money.
If you’re a designer, for example, you could create things like prints, postcards and clip art. These could be sold either as digital copies (which people can download and print themselves) or you could invest in a professional printer and sell finished pieces. Of course a finished piece would get you more money, although you’d then have to consider things like shipping costs. You could design logos and banners for blogs and websites, or if you’re an experienced coder even create full blog templates. Even if you work in a physical medium- for example, painting or drawing on paper- you could upload this and turn it into a digital piece. Any kind of digital designs are good to sell, as once the original piece of work is done the buyer can download it from Etsy as soon as they have paid. This means there’s no more effort needed from you- the money goes into your bank each time someone buys, and each design can be bought an unlimited number of times. If you’re selling physical items be sure to work out the shipping costs, especially if items are very heavy or very delicate. You might need to tailor what you sell to make it worthwhile. For example, if your work contains glass or other breakable material then you could need to alter your designs to make them easy to transport. If you’re selling framed art for example, you could choose frames with perspex instead of glass. Jewelry could get easily tangled or broken without the right packaging so consider this carefully. Getting this right the first time prevents unsatisfied customers due to their items arriving broken, and saves you money where you’re not having to keep resending things out.
If you are selling digital work online, be sure to specify how it can be used. Using clip art as an example, you would first need to state that it cannot be redistributed and sold it its original form (since this would mean the seller would be taking profits from you). From there, you can decide how you will allow people to use it. For example, can it only be used for personal use such as cardmaking or scrapbooking? Or can it be used by small businesses as part of a bigger design? Many Etsy designers sell an extended license which businesses can purchase if they want to use their work in designs that are then sold for a profit.
When you’re setting up any kind of venture to earn money, of course you need to let the relevant authorities know. This would be the IRS if you live in the US, HMRC if you live in the UK and something else if you live elsewhere. Be sure to register your business as early as you can, even if you’re not making much right away. It helps to avoid penalties or other legal issues and ensures you’re paying the right amount. Every year you will need to file a tax return and pay taxes on your income if the thought of this gives you a headache you could consider hiring a small business CPA. For a fee, they can ensure everything is correct and save you a stressful task. When you’re selling in one place like Etsy, it allows you to keep good records as all of the purchase information is available in one place. As opposed to working freelance or selling in multiple places where you would need to ensure the right records are kept and that all paperwork is correct. Having good records will make your accountant’s life much easier, and make it cheaper for you too since they won’t take as long to get through it.
If you’re going to be creating physical items, do you have space at home to work? You may need to transform a room in your home or a garage into a workshop. Eventually, you may even need to consider hiring premises, especially if the business grows and you need to hire more people. If you want to keep it simple, a spare bedroom or even a well built shed could do the trick. If you design or work online, you will need a quiet space where you can sit and concentrate, as well as up to date technology and programs to make your life easier. If you’re planning on making this your full-time job (or business is booming meaning it has quickly become it), you need an area you can treat as your work. When you’re working from home, it’s easy for the work day to become twenty-four hours, and so it’s important to have that separate space and create a cut-off point to maintain a work/ life balance. For this reason, it can be useful to set working hours for yourself too.
So if you’re currently creating awesome things just for fun, why not start a new business venture? Other people get to enjoy your work, you’ll make some extra money, and in many cases, it’s something you can do right from your own home.
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