Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ask The Mavens

This week a question was asked in the forums about how much time we spend on our businesses and what we do with that time.

If you have your own beading business and that's all your going to do to bring in income then the reality is you're going to be working a LOT. Expect to put more time in than your regular 40 hour a week job.....think two 40 hour a week jobs....but if it's something you love that won't be a problem.

Expect to have many irons in the fire because though what you love is playing with beads to make a living from it your going to have to do a lot of other things too.  If you just make beaded jewelry you will have to photograph it, write about it, price it correctly, find your market to sell it which could be opening and maintaining an online store or two or it could be presenting your work to a gallery or setting up shop/booth at arts fairs. 

If you do the solely online thing expect lots of competition and to stay visible you'll have to be active with Facebook or a blog or have some other kind of online presence.  Typically this isn't enough to bring in a decent income for the first few years....if you have had incredible success please tell us your secret :)

Now the other things you'll have to look at doing....and bear in mind all your work has to be your own original design:
  • Enter competitions to get your work and your name out there.
  • Submit patterns to beading doesn't pay much and your work will be with the magazine for eons (which means you can't sell it) but it does get your name out there.
  • Publish and sell your own patterns (you'll need to be able to either illustrate or do stage by stage photography for a good tutorial).

  • Teach (you need a bunch of patience for this one so don't even think about it if you can't imagine repeating "chase your tail" at least a hundred times a class :), hate untying knots, and don't want to see your design happens, you will smile and be encouraging!)
  • Kits...this takes financial investment which you might not be able to afford to do at the beginning. You also have to do the tutorial and be able to count/weigh all the beads into little baggies....sounds easy enough but it takes time.

If you do all these things you may be able to make a living, if you do them realy, really well it might be a comfortable living.  Personally I work at least ten hours a day, seven days a week...sometimes more.  I figure my time gets split four ways:
  • 25% spent designing...this may be drawing, working in BeadTool4, or with actual beads in hand. Plus color planning which means spending time looking for the right beads....either online or at stores and shows.
  • 25% spent writing patterns and tutorials, planning classes, packing kits, writing announcements and creating displays and teaching.
  • 25% marketing...which includes maintaining two online stores, my own blog (The Beaded Carpet), my two days of blogging for the Mavens, keeping up with the Mavens forum, having a prescence on Facebook, working with galleries and bead shows.
  • 25% actual beading....working up designs in different colorways for the kits and patterns, creating original work for competitions and making things for my stores and the galleries.
Somewhere in there you have to make time to keep your books, do inventory and all that annoying stuff.  So, as you can see, it's a lot of work, some of it you will love, some of it you may hate.  To do it all you have to be good at multi-tasking and be what they call a 'self-starter'...because when you're your own boss there's no one to tell you what to do.
I think any of the Mavens will tell you "It ain't easy!" and they'd all probably tell you "I can't see myself doing anything else". So..if you're sure it's what you love and what you want to do my advice is don't jump right into it, go into it gradually...make a plan, set some goals and do it. Life's too short to not be doing something you love.

And this is Mikki signing off at 3:45 am....because I haven't had time before this to blog. Ahh....the realities :)


  1. wow mikki that was most useful thank you for taking the time to let us learners know what it all entails , im so greatful for any imformation thank you once again :)

  2. You've done a great lead-in for my Monday blog, Mikki - and saved me going into a few points. I wonder if, when most people start out, they have ANY idea of exactly how MUCH work they'll be doing. I loved seeing your task breakdown...and I was astonished to realize how little time was actually left for beading. I thought it was just me. I'm always thinking, "when do I get to WORK?"

  3. Wonderful post!!! And it's sooooooo true - you will most definitely end up hating at least some of it. (For me, it's the marketing and figuring out the sales price.) And you have to be very disciplined, as you say... but beading...well, it's all worth it!!!!

  4. Excellent post Mikki! & if you're as disorganized as I am, there's the other 25% spent wondering what you SHOULD be doing. LOL!

  5. Nice blog Mikki.. So true.. I have a full time job, so my day is never done when I come home. I start working on my jewelry business. When I come home , I do the accounting and bookwork, spend at least 4 hours making jewelry and at least 2 hours on the internet, Participate in Challenges to get your name out there, and blog. Then on weekends I do shows which consumes about 10 hours each day.. during the selling season in the spring and at Christmas time. Then in January, I work on my photos, online store and try to learn something new. During the middle of the summer I build my stock up for shows.. It’s a process. Then there are the buying shows, get ready to spend some $$ there. You have to know what to buy which includes researching trends. If you are going all in, you have to invest in supplies. And like any business you really need to invest your money and wisely to make a profit. Some things I don't have time to do to make it work well, like teach, write bead patterns and submit to magazines. I have found, you get out in $$ what you put into your jewelry business. It is allot of work..

  6. I think a large proportion of on-line sellers had no idea of the work involved. I know I had some success selling to a small group and knew I had to expand my market. Etsy seemed so easy, lol. Like motherhood, you don't realize all the new skills you'll need. Mikki, your breakdown is spot on and something everyone selling needs to understand.

  7. You forgot to add the other 25% of your time that you spend answering questions from "mavenettes" or "maven wannabes"!!!

  8. I need to get my husband to read this so he understands why I'm happy leaving my beading as a hobby! And why it's so important for me to appreciate and support my favorite desginers and teachers by taking classes and buying kits/patterns...I have a full-time job that I love, so I am happy doing that and keeping the beading as a hobby - even though I would love a few extra hours in the day sometimes.

    As one of your fans - I know that you put a LOT of hard work into your beady business and love you for it :o)

  9. It's amazing how many things need doing! But, yes - I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

  10. done, done, and is amazing what we all do and that is why we charge what we do for classes, patterns and beadwork. After my first publication I had even hoped to charge a little bit more for my classes, however I don't. I've been doing all of these things for such a long time I don't always think about it...all I can say is it's a passion. Great post Mikki

  11. Great info! Most of the things I have been doing but I get off track. Need to make a to-do list and stick to it. Many thanks for the reminders!