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Can you really make a living doing that?

Returning to my car outside a coffee shop this morning, I saw a man waiting for me who I’d originally met when he was a realtor and I was trying to find out info about a vacant commercial building to open my gallery.

His greeting was not a “Hi, how’ve you been”. No small talk or formalities from this guy. He nodded toward the vinyl signage on my van: MoonstoneBeachglass.com and asked “Can you really make a living doing that?”


I laughed and said hello and then we got into a lengthy discussion about making a living in the arts. He said he’d been collecting sea glass and was interested in learning to make it into jewelry. He said he’d been in to my former gallery and spoken with the present owner. I reminded him that nearly every one of the 200+ artists and craftspeople represented there are doing their art full time. Again he asked, “Can you really make a living doing that?”.

Here’s my answer: Yes, you absolutely can but it takes a lot of hard work and creative problem solving. You can’t just make art and put up a website and expect to pay your bills.

You CAN do a combination of things to earn a living from your art; what I call a Portfolio of Profit and my friend Barbara Winter calls “Multiple Profit Centers.” Whether it’s selling your art in a gallery or shop, teaching your craft in complimentary shops, doing demos, selling kits, organizing virtual craft fairs or  trunk shows, you can choose from a buffet of ideas that will add up to making a living from your art. By combining several of the suggestions in the audio class, “12 Easy Ways to Bring in an Extra $1200 a Month from Your Creative Pursuits”,  you can replace a full-time income.

Have you experimented with combining income streams to put together your portfolio of profit? If so, please share in the comments.


Terri Belford has been self-employed for more than 30 years and been on all sides of the art and handmade craft business as an artist, gallery owner and consultant to artists and crafts people. You can follow her on Twitter@craftbizcoach and Facebook. And follow her blog for more craft business articles.