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The Creative Sea Change

I was very honoured to be asked to write a foreword for a new book being released next month called 'Get paid for your passion', a book aimed at helping artists and creatives capitalise on their talents. I'll let one of the authors Mike Carthew, tell you a little bit about why he has written the book - I think you will enjoy his approach and obvious passion for the subject...

The Creative Sea Change
The shift in UK consumer spending towards handmade crafts is significant to say the least. It is apparent that the UK market has a newfound pride in handmade, artisan products. News programmes celebrate makers, handmade events and festivals are rife, even Top Shop has a ‘Made in Britain’ collection. We’re on the cusp of a new era, where creatives and crafters have the tools to access huge audiences and sell on a global scale. Social media, ecommerce and success stories have engendered a ‘can do’ approach within the UK creative community and micro-businesses run by talented individuals spring up on a daily basis. Our sector is in its hayday.

The whole craft sector:*

  • Employs 88,250 people in the UK.

  • Makes a £3bn annual contribution to the UK economy, higher than that of the visual arts, cultural heritage or literature sectors.

  • Demonstrates higher employment growth rates than any other creative industries sub-sector (11% between1997 and 2006).

  • The contemporary craft sector alone (as defined by the Crafts Council) serves a market of 16.9 million people in England, and a further potential market of 9.6 million people in England.

This is inspiring talk, but like any gold rush it’s easy to get swept up in the positive press. So to the question – as creatives at the heart of this flourishing sector, how can we truly capitalise on the opportunities at our fingertips? The answer perhaps is to become more objective about our pursuits. Analyse our market, get to know our customers and, to put it bluntly, start to approach creativity with one eye on the business side of the equation.

You see many consumers love your products purely for what they are – a stunning silver ring, a hand-carved piece of furniture. They also buy into your individual story – a talented designer maker, steered only by passion and creativity. But here’s the crux of it – they are used to very slick marketing and effortless transactions.

We’re dealing with a generation of buyers who have been pampered by a fast moving and efficient consumer market. So where does this leave us as individual creatives? The answer is simple – if we want to excel in this sector and build a successful income from our creative talents, we have to step up to the challenge.

Wherever we sell or market our creations we’re competing with big businesses. They know exactly how to talk to customers, they use the right language and images for their highly targeted demographic. They know where to find them, what colours they prefer, what magazines they read and what brands they support. This puts us on the back foot. Many creatives back down from this challenge, but look a little closer at the really successful designer makers and you’ll see that when it comes to the business side of creativity, they’re as slick as the biggest high-street giants.

This highlights that we each have the ability to turn our ‘create and post’ approach into a far more efficient micro-business. By analysing our online traffic, customers, current trends and copywriting, by making our customer service and communication precise and fun, the opportunities are endless.

My partner and I have recently completed a new book which aims to help you commercialize your creativity in this way. ‘Get Paid for Your Passion’ was written with help from some of the top 10 selling Etsy creatives in the UK and the world – illustrators who’ve shipped over 5,000 prints in 48 hours, photographers with internationally selling books and globally recognized social media gurus have all come together to put together this book which will give your creativity true strategy and direction. It’s had fantastic write-ups from the editors of some of the leading UK craft blogs and will be out in November. Check out the website here.

Whether you continue as you have been or decide to evolve and grow, it’s worth bearing one thing in mind - our sector is beginning to blossom. This opens up a wealth of opportunity for creatives like us, but it also means that the competition for sales will only continue to increase. As the first wave of creative people in this new era we’re in an incredibly strong position, we can be amongst the first to market with well-run creative micro-businesses. This will give us a brilliant chance of making an income doing what we love.

Mike Carthew and Anna Ward run and deal with a community of talented creatives on a daily basis. They are the authors of ‘Get Paid for Your Passion’ which will be available on Amazon and in ebook format in November.

*Statistics from Crafts Council ‘Contemporary Craft Sector Profile and Analysis -

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