One of my friends in the craft industry shared a blog post from an author that reads as if it was ripped from a crafting Facebook Group or scrapbooking forum. Replace the words “writing” and “author” with “creating” and “blogger” and you’d be hard-pressed to see any difference. I woke up this morning asking myself why I do this. Blogging, crafting, making videos and slaving over a hot glue gun for pennies in ad revenue.
I know I am not alone and other bloggers have felt this way. While I love my work, some days I have trouble finding the motivation to keep going. Some days the responses I get from people are so utterly thankless and demanding that I would get more enjoyment from watching Netflix all day or taking a nap. While I love what I do, the demands wear you down like a piece of sandpaper on wood. At some point there is nothing left to sand away, nothing left to give. A few people ruin the entire process.
Here’s why a sense of entitlement is killing our creativity and our industry:
The author who wrote the blog post above did such a great job that I am going to mirror her post with mine. I want to draw parallels between how creatives in WRITING and creatives in CRAFTING and DIY are treated. One problem is the level of entitlement we see, not just from readers but peers as well. It’s only a few bad apples who have started infecting the bunch. This is becoming more and more prevalent. My reaction to negative feedback is more intense as time passes. I deal it with it differently than before and love that delete button! It still makes me question if I can make a living in a business where I actually do make a living! That is the challenge happening for creatives everywhere in an age where we are more connected and accessible.
Let’s get started. Here are things people say:
WRITING: I’m broke and I can’t afford to pay for my entertainment.
CRAFTING: I’m broke and I can’t afford to pay for my craft supplies. GIVE THEM TO ME.
Sometimes when a company hosts a giveaway, people complain that the giveaway is US only, or that they have to “follow” the company on Instagram. The company does a giveaway to get buzz and followers plus have INSANE laws about giveaways in every state and country. It’s expensive to make sure they are covered legally and to ship prizes internationally. Same with team calls. Shipping, customs, and laws about paying people, make it hard to have international design team members.
When I post craft supplies for sale on Facebook or Etsy, at least one or two people message me with a story about how they deserve this product for FREE. A combination of gushing about how inspiring I am, to how they wish they were as talented as me. If they put half as much effort into making an income, they’d be successful.
The worst are the people who are on a “fixed income”. Who isn’t? My husband does not come home with more pay this month than last month. It’s about the same after working no less than 160 hours a month. Some months I make more money or less. If I go on vacation or decide to watch Netflix, no money for me. Entrepreneurs are on WORSE than a fixed income. I have to bust my butt or I don’t make money.
WRITING: Creative works should be free–the purpose of creativity is to tell stories and share them, and there shouldn’t be a monetary component to the process.
CRAFTING: Tutorials and classes should be free – the purpose of creativity is to share it and help others be creative, and there shouldn’t be a monetary component to the process. Crafting is an enjoyable hobby, after all.
“Why should I pay for a class when I can just watch YouTube for free?”
“Why are you charging for a class when you should just share this tutorial for free on your blog?”
“I am using an ad blocker to block all those annoying ads on blogs – I’ll stop reading their blog if they keep annoying me!”
These are just some of the comments I’ve heard. If you’ve ever taught a class or made a tutorial, you know it’s hours of work. I enjoy creating and sharing, but it takes an INSANE amount of time and money to make each tutorial. It also takes time away from family and friends and takes a toll on our lifestyle.
We LOVE what we do, but love is not enough to offset the costs. You would not ask your doctor to take care of you for the simple joy of helping people. They can only do that so long before they burn out, starve, and perish. Why do we expect creative people to share their work for free? I think we imagine there is some “other” place they are making their living from. There ISN’T. How many crafters did you follow 5 years ago who are no longer in the business?
This project takes 10 minutes to make without photos. The supplies cost $10.
Let’s see the time and cost to make this same project for a blog post:
- Preparation – Clean my studio or filming area, set up lighting and tripods, make a clean backdrop, and make sure the area is quiet. This is before I start filming: 2 hours.
- Craft supplies – I need duplicates for step by step photos and supply shots. A clean one for photos and the video (that might get dirty), and a used one to make the sample. My paper trimmers get paint on them and I need a clean one for beauty shots. Those run $20-30 a month if I don’t get them sent by a sponsor. If they are sent, I have to do FREE work to promote the company (which costs more than $20) in order to “pay” for the product. Plus I have to pay taxes on the product. Add in time for sourcing the supplies online and in stores: $50 and 2 hours.
- Photos – Taking photos or video of the steps makes this 10 minute project take at least an hour. Another hour for photos, staging and editing: 2 hours.
- Writing – An hour for writing the blog post, adding in links and SEO magic on the post: 1 hour.
- Editing – Another hour for editing the video and voice over. That’s only because I’m really fast at editing – other people, add 3 hours. I’m not boasting, I just know where I save time: 1 hour.
This does not include the classes and time it took to acquire these amazing skills to make the tutorial look freaking incredible. That’s literally thousands of dollars, hours, and years of practice.
Monthly costs that I have to figure into it:
- Web hosting, internet access, paying a virtual assistant to help with social media and admin: $600+ a month
- Equipment needed – tripod, C stand with boom arm for overhead shots, DSLR camera with lens, SD card, Computer with Photoshop, vinyl or other backdrops for photos, and a mic for voice over if I’m doing a video. Price tag for this equipment: $4000 (yes, the camera alone is $1500!)
- Other overhead costs, accountant and software, subscriptions, trade show dues, and more: $100 a month minimum
Total cost for ONE blog post:
- Blog Post Costs (from the post itself): $50
- Monthly costs divided by 12 blog posts a month: ($4000/12) + ($100+$600) = $1033 per month, divided by 12 posts a month = $86 per post
- Time investment: 8 hours
- TOTAL for ONE BLOG POST: 8 hours + $136
This happens to be a very CHEAP project to make. Start bringing other supplies and it can cost over $100 in supplies alone.
WRITING: Writers already make enough money.
CRAFTING: Crafters already make enough money (and get their supplies for free).
I am not resentful towards people who understand the value of what we do in the effort of spreading creativity. Even a cheap project that costs you $10 to recreate can cost us almost $100 to blog about.
Here are some myths about the craft industry:
MYTH: Bloggers and professional crafters get all of their supplies for free.
TRUTH: Bloggers and professional crafters get some of their supplies for free, but have to pay tax on everything we get “for free” and have to use those supplies to make blog posts. I got a kitchen item “for free” for a blog post, but received a 1099 for the item’s value as income at the end of the year. So I had to pay $400 tax for that ONE item.
In the above example, I had to install $4000 worth of counter tops to use the free item for the blog post. It’s rare that free product stands on its own. The example I gave is an extreme one, but happens nonetheless.While we might get a free bottle of glue, we need to buy other items to use the glue and spend time and money to create the blog post.
Many companies stipulate that you cannot sell the “free” product used to “pay you” for your blog post. Others think it is unethical to sell the product. My mortgage company won’t let me pay my mortgage in paint bottles. I’m not saying that to be obnoxious. I can’t sell paint bottles to get money and have to pay tax on the value of the paint bottles. The IRS takes cash, not paint, for payment. Maybe I could do a giveaway of the paint bottles, but I’d have to pay for shipping with cash, not paint. I could sell the project I made, but who would buy it after I just told them how to make it, for free?
MYTH: Bloggers and professional crafters get paid by all the companies.
TRUTH: Bloggers and professional crafters mostly make their money through ads, affiliate links, classes, and other means.
Few companies pay enough to make it worth a blogger’s effort. The few companies who do pay have high standards and few opportunities. If you have a million YouTube subscribers, a Facebook Page with 500,000 fans, or any other kind of large social media following, you are in a better position to negotiate for pay. But no one is getting rich off of being a craft blogger. People make a living. A few hit it big and make 7 figures a year. The majority are lucky to bring in $1000 a month to offset all the costs of being a blogger.
MYTH: Bloggers and pro crafters get paid for everything they do.
We get paid some of the time if we are lucky, most of the time if we are really smart, savvy, and hard-working. But never 100% of the time. Here’s what blogging or being a pro crafter looks like at any level:
- Beginner – work for free for anybody
- Intermediate – free product, sometimes work for free, maybe 1-2 times a year work for pay
- Advanced – for all of the above plus some sponsored posts and some partial sponsorships (a sponsor pays for part of a teaching trip for example), might start getting passive income, get offers to do free TV and media appearances.
- Pro – a combination of passive income (affiliate marketing, ads), sponsored income, paid trips and ambassador work but not all work is 100% paid. Make own products (ebooks, classes, licensing art, printables) for sale. Strategic about taking opportunities that have a business pay off.
- Elite Pro – all of the above, paid by sponsors and events to speak and teach, get paid to make TV and media appearances. Offer consulting or other services to clients.
I asked in one of my Facebook business groups what people wanted to know more about, business-wise. The number one request was “how to make money in the craft industry”. Most people are not covering their costs or making a profit. And even if they were, how is that bad?!
Why We Stay:
We got into this for love and stay because we are fulfilled by those we inspire. Some make a little cash if we’re smart and strategic about our business. Thank you to everyone who DOES NOT use a popup or ad blocker and to those who watch the ads at the beginning of YouTube videos. For those who click and buy from our affiliate links and click through to our sponsors. To those who buy our courses, ebooks and products, YOU are who we make these tutorials for and are thinking of when we are writing, creating, and editing. We want you to be excited and empowered when you see our projects! YOU make my day am the reason why I keep doing this.
How do you feel about this topic? Weigh-in with your opinion in the comments section.