Developing Site Plans: Hobby vs. Business, part three

I’ve been doing some research, and have realized that there is definitely enough information out there for me to link to, in order to solve some of the most persistent questions that at least I have had, about beads and beadwork (answering which, will likely lead to more questions). That is to say, although I may need to do some of my own firsthand research to resolve some of the mysteries of, “beadland,” a lot of the work has been done previously, and is linkable. Because of this, I’m seeing where I’ve been told I can combine my Library & Information Science skillset, with my love of writing and hunting down information, and my desire to continue my beadwork practice.

Of course, that also means that, should I go ahead with the model that has been presented to me by my Career Counselor, I will be devoting a substantial amount of energy to information-gathering and writing. This is with the goal of becoming a Content Producer and Information resource around the topic of beadwork…which…should be fun! Probably not as fun as beading itself, but you know…working with beads all day every day for the rest of my life may not be as fun as it sounds…? Particularly, I know I learn from doing (which I do enjoy); however, there’s an intellectual component to research that is not quite the same thing as what I’m doing when I’m entering pure design. (When I’m just following directions, it’s really not there.)

In this, I’m looking at remaining a hobbyist when it comes to jewelry construction, and growing my Content Production skills for the future. (Yes, meaning I’ll need to learn Digital Photography.) I’ll also still be aiming to create my own designs. Along with this, however, I get the chance to test out beadwork design books and review them, and test out books which are primarily about technique, as well. Staying a hobbyist means that I don’t have to worry about some of the things I’d have to worry about, as a business owner. They aren’t even the same thing, though, really. They don’t even have the same aims, and I can see that, now.

I should be able to actually share some of my resources with my readers, which could be detrimental (to me) to share, if I were aiming to make money off of selling jewelry. A lot of this stuff is affordable. Most of the cost of handmade glass beaded jewelry comes in the form of compensation for skilled labor, and then in purchasing metals (particularly, anything with actual gold) or stones — in my experience, at least. Given that I am not using natural/mined stones at the moment (except eventually, some of what I have from the past), I don’t have to worry about skyrocketing costs which would cause me to need to sell.

There are also restrictions placed on a company’s speech, that I don’t have to worry about if I’m speaking as a noncommercial entity. An example is the prohibition on discussing pricing schemes which impacts businesses because of Federal antitrust law. If I’m not a business, and I’m not charging anybody anything, my impression is that I don’t need to worry about running afoul of that (though that shouldn’t be taken as legal advice; I’m not a lawyer). Of course, though, then my own machinations as to how much my own constructed works are worth, is essentially an endeavor run out of curiosity/for fun/for prospecting, not out of a practical need.

I should note here that I’m finding more and more parallels between beading and fiber arts (like, say, knitting). The materials might not be that expensive (though they can be), but because of all the work that goes into a piece, it would be unaffordable to purchase that piece in a finished form, unless the seller expressly undercharged for labor. (Then there are Art Quilts, but I’m speaking more on the scale of a hand-knitted sweater, rather than a gorgeous wall hanging.)

There are a few things that I could charge for, but I’ve been advised not to monetize my practice too early. These things are: original patterns and kits. I could also sell one-off jewelry; however, I think the risk outweighs the benefit, in that case. There is the alternative of offering the patterns for free and noting everything needed for them, which would shield me from any question of tax concerns, and give me the opportunity to learn how to create image-based printable digital files. It would also keep me from having to take clients’ personal information, which is an obvious benefit to the client, and also a benefit to me where it comes to my own level of risk.

The benefit of selling kits is that even if the pattern is distributed outside of my control, kits are a way to reap some income, despite it. It would essentially be a service designed to save the end-user money, if they don’t have the materials already. (I’m finding that many of the things I make, use a wide variety of beads.) The question is whether I want to invest in becoming a materials warehouse, which would still require certain aspects of going into business (particularly related to buying, packaging, and shipping; plus, keeping track of stock). Selling material goods means I have to prepay sales tax; selling just a digital file (no physical copy) does not have that requirement in my State, from what I’ve read.

There’s also the question of how many people really will not be able to buy these things separately, due to financial or shipping limitations. There are a number of sites I’ve seen, which do sell (very!) small retail quantities of beads. While this might be something of a pain for a producer; for a small-scale hobbyist, they may be ideal. The larger problem is not having the needed equipment, or not knowing how to use the equipment, once they have it.

Rectifying this problem gets into teaching, which is a dilemma. Teaching a physical craft such as beading, over the Internet, is not what I want to do: especially as I have no video skills (other than screencasting). I mean, it’s going a little too far in a social direction, and I am by no means a highly social person. As well, we need more sites and materials available for midrange and advanced beaders, not 20 more examples of beginner’s materials.

But I can compile a bunch of beginner’s materials! 🙂

I also, at this point, am still considering carrying on with the project I started some months ago, to take a tour of beadweaving stitches (not all of which, I already know). There will also be updates as to my design process, as I work through generating new patterns.

To be continued…

Hobby vs Business, part two
Hobby or Business?

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). They are now pondering whether a career in Academia is viable or desirable, given the current situation.

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