Even though the thought of earning a living through making and selling your own products might desire a foreign dream, it isn’t impossible. Whether it’s boosting your design portfolio by turning your illustrations into gift cards or learning the way to make your own pin badges, the DIY approach to creating and selling has long been a staple of savvy freelancers keen to diversify their practice, experiment with new ideas and make a touch money on the side.
And with platforms like Etsy and Not On The main street , there’s never been a far better time to show your pixels into products. Creatives can now found out a web store with minimum overheads.
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With 39 million unique visitors per annum , many sellers on Not On The main street (NOTHS) say it’s well worth the investment (£199 joining fee and 25% commission, plus VAT). The platform’s strict guidelines and hard application process mean that only the simplest of the simplest secure a spot on the location , assuring internal control and fewer competition as a result.
By contrast, US-based website Etsy competes on scale, with 33 million registered shoppers. It’s hospitable anyone, which helps if you are doing not have a diary of selling or if your products don’t slot in with the design of other, more selective websites. Listing an item for four months, or until it sells, costs just $0.20 (roughly 16p), plus there’s alittle commission and payment processing fee (roughly 10% in total) on each purchase.
Though competition is fierce and internal control is nearly non-existent, with relatively low set-up costs and commission rates, it’s still the amount one choice among the creative community.
Taking the leap
An early adopter of Etsy, illustrator Sarah Meredith found out her online store under the pseudonym RockCakes in 2008. After leaving her well-paid role as production manager at a number one London jewellery company, she relocated to Brighton to pursue a career making and selling her own products.
“I’d always had a burning desire to possess my very own business – to possess creative freedom and work for myself,” she says. “I wanted to form and sell the jewellery ideas that popped into my head. i really like clothing also as jewellery – patches bridge this gap and also are super-accessible.”
Etsy changed my life! Although it’s 24/7, so it’s hard to modify off
Sarah Meredith, RockCakes
Allowing her to be a full-time mum and worker, Meredith only has praise for the pliability Etsy has given her. “Etsy changed my life!” she grins. “Although it’s 24/7, so it’s hard to modify off.”
Finest Imaginary founder Kim Lawler sells across multiple sites. “I try to not spread myself too thin with direct sales, so only sell directly via my very own website, Etsy and Not On The main street ,” she says. “I have quite number of stores who stock my items – they place wholesale orders with me – including Hannah Zakari and Berylune, and I’m also super-lucky to be are stocked at some major galleries.”
Investing in her own production materials and equipment to supply laser cutting in-house, Lawler always has materials in mind when she starts designing, usually with pencil and paper. “I’ll then move to the pc where I vectorise the planning and split its layers ready for the laser cutter. I even have my very own laser cutter, so it’s not unprecedented on behalf of me to possess a thought within the morning, and a finished product by the afternoon.”
Lawler usually starts off with small runs, around five of every product. “Back once I wont to get my laser cutting done by another company, I’d enter at around 20-30 pieces for brand spanking new designs and cross my fingers they didn’t bomb,” she recalls.
With other products, like pins and patches, Lawler says many manufacturers have MOQs (minimum order quantities), or tempting price breaks for higher quantities. “Buying in these larger amounts are often a touch risky, but if you’re prepared to carry on to the stock until it sells (or happy to possess a transparent out sale every now and again), then it can still work.”
Lawler has also started making laser-cut acrylic jewellery, which she chose to make for the convenience of production. “Perspex is such a flexible material to figure with,” she says. “I sometimes buy different colours, finishes and special sorts of perspex without a thought in mind, simply because I just love how it’s .”
Brighton-based designer and illustrator Abi Overland recognised the potential to make a sustainable income by applying her designs to ceramics, and launched her first fine china collection in 2015. “I loved the thought of making works of art that were accessible to people in their everyday lives, and ceramics had always been an interest of mine,” she says.
It are often tough walking the road between being commercial together with your designs but not such a lot in order that they leave of fashion quickly
Taking a part-time job to secure alittle loan for the business, she purchased her first load of stock, and to stay her carbon footprint low, opted to source an area manufacturer to bring her designs to life. “Each collection of fine china is produced, screenprinted and hand-decorated in Stoke-on-Trent – I wanted to supply top quality products and support the local economy,” she explains.
Manufacturing locally has not been without its downsides, however. “It means the value of production is sort of high. I’m an advocate of slow fashion, but it are often tough walking the road between being commercial together with your designs but not such a lot in order that they leave of fashion quickly.”
Where to sell
Selling her products on a spread of platforms, including NOTHS and, alongside Etsy and her own website, Overland also has stockists within the Netherlands and Geneva, and sells at events and markets. “I find online, you’ve got to be selective with the places you sell so as to not be too available, but still create opportunities for people to get your products within the environment you would like them to be seen.”
This is a sentiment shared by Dutch graphic designers Felix van Dam and Winneke de Groot, who founded We are out of office in 2013 while both were performing at different design studios. “We love screenprinting and began to print batches of postcards for fun. We just had this urge to form things our way and that we figured if we made small products we could also design the packaging,” says van Dam.
Known for his or her bold, colourful graphics and geometric prints and quirky pin badges, the pair became something of an Instagram sensation, amassing a following of 54,000 globally. “We produce quite lot of products and almost everything in limited editions, therefore the stock moves fast,” says van Dam.
We quickly realised we wouldn’t be ready to attract a fraction of the people Etsy had for us
Felix van Dam, We are out of Office
“Instagram makes it very easy to capture all this quickly, and is simpler than listing items on a store. People can see directly what we do and the way we illustrate. It also works well for us because we make small and not-too-expensive products. tons is within the ‘I could give this as a present’ range. Our work is additionally visual, it doesn’t need tons of explanation, which is ideal for an image-led platform like Instagram.”