5 Ways to Create More Income for Your Small Business

{Editor’s note: This guest post is written by Michele Howarth of Quiet Mischief and Company}

I recently helped coin the term “polyentrepreneur” to describe myself and many other creative business owners that I know.

In a nutshell, a polyentrepreneur is one who embraces the idea of having multiple income streams, especially diverse ones. I’m an extreme example as I am currently running a jewelry shop with three distinct styles, studying vocal performance, and have just launched a fine art photography shop and small business blog; Lisa Jacobs is a much more moderate example with her Energy Shop Jewelry, this Marketing Creativity blog, and her coaching and programs.

It’s important to realize that most creative business owners will never be able to create a full livable income with just an Etsy shop. However, I understand that “multiple income streams” and all that jibber jabber I wrote above can sound daunting. So what are some easy, quick ways creative business owners can dip their toes in the water?

5 Ways Create More Income for Your Business

1. Expand current product offerings with new techniques or markets.

This one can be so much fun. Learning new techniques from others is always great, coming up with new techniques yourself is even better, and discovering you can reach a whole new market by creating a slightly different product is fantastic! What’s best is that this can come unexpectedly. For example:

When I first started making kumihimo jewelry, I showed a piece to my aunt (we’re both creative business owners and often bounce ideas off each other). She fingered the bracelet – a strong, shiny, flexible cord – glanced at her dogs playing to the side, and said “You know, I bet this would be great for show dog leads.”

A few months later I was sitting at a booth at my first dog show, smiling as owners and handlers ooh-ed and ahh-ed over my luxury show leads. So get creative and brainstorm! You may be surprised at what you come up with.

2. Build new income with an old skill.

Just as new techniques and markets can be found to apply your creativeness to, skills you have from running your business can be put to work. The two that almost any creative business owner can turn into extra income are photography and writing.

While art photography is an entirely different beast from product photography, stock photography is remarkably similar – in fact, depending on what you sell and how much of a handle you have on taking photos, many of your product photos could be stock photos! Check out a site like Shutterstock to see how well your product photos would translate, or to get ideas on what else you could start taking pictures of.

As with photography, I don’t think writing copy and pitch emails are a good bridge to writing creatively, but that writing can be put to other uses – for example, writing blogs! A blog is a great way to drive more traffic to your shop and talk about what you love, and a blog can bring in income by selling advertising as well.

3. Try something new/turn a hobby into extra money.

I’ve met photographers who knit in their downtime, knotters who make cards to send to their friends and family, beaders who cross-stitch on the weekends, and costumers who occasionally paint; it seems that it’s almost impossible to be confined to only one creative outlet. So use it! Find a way to tie it into your current shop or even open a new one entirely (you know how everyone has those “what I wish I knew” lists? Opening a second shop is an opportunity to apply what you learned the first time!)

I’ve done this several times as my business has grown: my sister joined with her duct tape jewelry, I picked up kumihimo while on a knotting break and ended up selling it, and now the DSLR I purchased for product photography is seeing far more use for my art photography shop than for product photos!

4. Sell supplies and patterns.

There will always be people who love your items but would rather make them themselves. Instead of having those people wander off on their own to try to figure it out, capitalize on your knowledge by offering tutorials and supplies in your shop!

This is probably my favorite tip because of how much it has done for my business. More ethan half of my shop’s 2700+ sales are of our signature duct tape tutorials or of the duct tape itself. The tutorials take quite a bit of work initially, of course, but after that they’re simply passive income. With Etsy’s recent addition of digital listings, I do literally nothing when I sell a tutorial – just collect the cash.

Some craft stores like Michaels or Joann also frequently run crafting classes and may be willing to pay you for your expertise.

5. Coach other creative business owners.

Just as you probably know enough about your chosen craft(s) to teach them, after a few years you probably know enough about running a creative business that you can give others some advice. Don’t be scared off by how many business coaches there are – your approach and teaching style should be unique, which means there will always be people who really click with you.

And there are several ways to go about teaching as well – writing books or a blog, one-on-one coaching, running workshops, or putting together a full course for a group.

Good luck improving your income streams! Keep crafting!

Michele HowarthMichele has been running her creative business Quiet Mischief and Company since late 2009. She chose to call it “and Company” on purpose, as she wanted to have the freedom to change and add to her income streams at any time. Currently QM includes a jewelry shop, a photography shop, and a blog.

{Image credit: I’m loving the free-for-blogs stock photos from Lime Lane Photography}

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