If you've ever been stuck, then you know the first thing to come your way is advice- lots and lots of well-intentioned (or harshly critical) advice, most of which has little bearing on your personal situation.
For a while now, I've been thinking of selling again. I've sold my crafts on and off for years. It is a very bumpy road, even if you make really awesome stuff that people want to buy. I have never made enough money off of sewing to support myself. I always need a full-time regular job to pay the bills. Crafting, at best, gives me a little extra money. I can buy more books or I can go out to eat more often. I get a little extra gas money or I can buy more groceries. Mostly, I buy more craft supplies, make more shit, and still don't come out ahead.
I've been trying to figure out a way to make more money without struggling quite as much. It would be nice if I sold my wares as soon as I created them, or if I could command a higher price. It would be nice if I got regular orders. It would be nice if I had the support of a larger shop or a company that would pay me to design on a regular basis. And it would be really, really nice if I had time to make more stuff.
Ordinary life gets in the way a lot. I mean, a lot. It's hard to be crafty when you work overtime, when you can't afford the materials you need, and when you're stressing about which bill is more important to pay- power or water?
I'll go slow this time. At least that's what I tell myself. I'll just make a few things here and there, no stress. Doing this because I like it. Nope, no stress. It's a fine fantasy until you realize no one wants to buy your ONE thing. People want to see a collection. They want to see baby quilts, throws, queen-sized quilts, and pillows. They want cross-stitched wall hangings (framed, of course), key chains, bags, and pillows. They want a scarf to match the purse that goes with the dress, and hey, why don't you have this in a larger size?
Usually, no matter what I'm selling, no matter how pretty it is, no matter how long I worked on it, I will have that unsold item in my possession for at least three months. I will cart it to flea markets and trunk shows, show it to a dozen local shops, list it online...and it continues to linger with me. People will admire it, like it, reblog it, everything but buy it.
I'll make other things, bigger things, smaller things, finer things, more useful things, raise my price, lower my price, offer a trade, try a new venue, relist it, and suddenly, something I didn't think was all that great will sell. Of course, I still have a closet full of stuff.
All the while I struggle to make a little cash, people will tell me what's wrong. "Why aren't you crocheting?" "Red is the new black." "Etsy." "Artfire." "Your own online store." "Quilted bags." "Clothes." "Sew on patches for soldiers." And then there's the bottom line advice, "Just get a real job and give your work away as gifts."
Thanks, that's so very useless. I'm looking for the venue that accepts me and my work. I don't want to re-invent myself or my sewing, and I sure don't want to give away what costs nearly all of my spare time. Most people don't know how many hours of the day I sew. When I explain it to them, they usually have something dumb to say like, "You can buy these at Wal-Mart." Sure, and it was made by people in third-world countries earning slave-wages.
This year I am going to large outdoor festival. I have until October to get ready. I'm going to have new things to sell. I'm going to have a few old standbys that always go fairly quick. I'm going with people who have done this before, so I won't be alone. And I'm going to be pretend to be a non-English speaking deaf-mute so customers can't ask me to turn a red quilt into a blue one.