Creativity and Production

on Jul 28th, 2011 | in Editorial

Swamped with orders? We’d all like to have that “problem”, right? Maybe not. The top Etsy sellers get over a dozen orders per day. Think about your crafts on such a scale. Would it be fun anymore, or would you feel like an underpaid sweatshop worker? Would you feel creative at the end of the day, or so burned out that you just want to stare at a wall?

I recently had a large order of napkin rings for a wedding that sent me into a panic. I joked that I’d never want to make another napkin ring by the time I shipped the order. Creating the same thing over and over again can rub my craft itch a little raw – I call this repetitive creation production, like a production line. Don’t get me wrong, a large order is wildly exciting and the money doesn’t hurt either but in the midst of hammering out a hundred items, I long for the days where I can sit and create.

The pure joy of creation is the opposite of production. This is the time where the light bulbs go off, when experimentation rules and the possibilities are endless. Creation is immensely rewarding – there’s nothing quite like taking raw materials and pouring my blood, sweat and tears into them until I produce something worthy of listing in my shop. Choosing colors and creating patterns are my favorite part of my work. The creative aspect is just a small slice of the pie of being an Etsy seller, so I try to savor each bite.

The only way to avoid production is to make custom, unique creations for every single item you sell. Most handmade crafters need some element of production when selling their goods. There’s a good reason for it – making a product is hard! Finding just the right materials, figuring out how to create the product (and throwing away a few prototypes until you do), taking great photos and listing the product all consume a lot of time. Going through all this work for every single product is often not feasible if your goal is to make a profit.

Each crafter has a different barometer for production versus creation. Those top Etsy sellers are more on the production end. Personally, I have to force myself into production mode. I set goals for myself – I don’t get to start a new necklace design until I finish the three designs I already started. Finding your balance will help you figure out if being a top Etsy seller is for you. Something to think about the next time you wish orders would start pouring in!

Cover image by Kaja Kozlowska on Flickr.
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