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Handmade Business is Hard Work






I’m going to lay some truth on you all today.

Handmade business is hard work.

Building a successful handmade business that actually makes you a decent income? Seems darn near impossible.

But take it from me – it’s not. It DOES takes a long time and it IS a lot of work. There are no shortcuts. No-one can figure it out for you. No-one can give you a bullet-proof method for success.

And if anyone tells you differently? They’re probably trying to sell you a ‘miracle cure’.

Many of us start out – just like I did – selling stuff simply because we make more than we can ever use or give to family and friends. We never really thought this would turn into a business – but it started to evolve that way when we realised that we could actually make some real dollars from our craft.

Then we start trying to figure out how to sell more – and fall into the overwhelming and bewildering world of photography, keywords, blogging, social media,  venues, mailing lists, marketing, SEO, lions, tigers, and bears – oh my!

There’s an endless wealth of things to learn out there. The hard part is choosing what to implement, and what to ignore. You could spend your entire life learning about business and not one moment actually DOING business, and still not know all there is to know.

When I talk on this topic, I often say that when you’re starting out, you need to spend 80-90% of your time on the business side of things, and the small remainder on the actual making.

No, I’m not kidding (I know what your face might look like right now because I’ve seen my audience respond to this!).

When you’re starting out, there’s no point putting more time into making more and more products if 1. You’re not making the right things, and 2. No-one is actually SEEING them.

So, how do you make sure you’re making the right things, and creating a brand, presence, and shop that actually brings people in the virtual door – and has them walking out again having bought one of your beautiful creations?

You learn from those who are doing it right.

This is the entire philosophy behind Create & Thrive. Learning from those who’ve actually done it. Because they’ve learnt the hard way – through years of trial and error… and success.

It reminds me a bit of this cartoon, just insert the word ‘business’:

Someone who’s a few mountains ahead of you can shout back to you and warn you about that unexpected lake or storm – because they’ve already been through it. They can have a boat or bridge waiting for you to carry you across the chasm.

That’s how I learnt. And it took me YEARS to get it (somewhat) right.


2014 is my 7th year in business. Whoa! And my 5th year full-time. I don’t know it all – and I never will.

But I know enough to have built an online handmade jewellery business that brings in an average of $6,000-$7,000 in sales every month.

And what I’ve learnt about the fundamentals of getting an online shop set up – and set up right –  I’m sharing with you in Set Up Shop. Because I want every creative entrepreneur to build the business of their dreams – sooner rather than later. It’s my way of holding out my hand to help you across the chasm.

Hold on tight, and let’s get started.


Jess xx



If you want to turn your dream of having a successful online handmade business a reality, join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course where I take you step-by-step through everything you need to know to get a fabulous shop up and running smoothly. You’ll also join over 400 alumni in our private facebook group and gain invaluable support, friendship and understanding from those already turning their dream of having a handmade business into a reality!

Click here to find out more…

Cartoon by the Doghouse Diaries.


Van Den has written 319 posts in this blog.

Jess Van Den is the editor of Create & Thrive, and has been a full-time creative entrepreneur since 2010. She makes eco-conscious, contemporary, handmade sterling silver jewellery under the Epheriell label, and blogs about her jewellery and other beautiful things at You can catch her on twitter @JessVanDen.


Allison Dey

That graphic about your plans is so true. Except for the bicycle part. Can I take a cab? LOL


Some days it feels more like crawling!


I’m not a handmade business person, but the theory and reality of this applies to everything. I’m so very over seeing programs that guarantee you’ll make a bazillion dollars or something. Um, life has WAY too many variables to ever make that promise. It’s just beyond me how people don’t see it!
The good news is that the annoyance I have for bad programs has made me develop my own to launch this year!


“I’m so very over seeing programs that guarantee you’ll make a bazillion dollars or something.” <-- this. No program will magically make you money. You only get out what you put in 🙂 And good luck with yours!

What say you?