Below are descriptions of roughly what each type entails. As you read about them, think about how much your current type aligns with your the type you want to become—or if you ACTUALLY want to remain where you currently are. The point here is to gain clarity about what you REALLY want and where you currently are—no judgments!


  • These types are not ranked in order of what’s ideal or best
  • Your ideal can take you to any one of these and it doesn’t mean you’re going “backwards”
  • Your ideal can also sometimes mean realizing where you are currently is where you want to be and you just want to focus on making that situation better
  • Each of the types are not meant to be hard-edged boxes, but to give a general understanding of what is typical for that kind of business.


Even though we give you four “types”, these are fluid descriptions and just guidelines to help you find your way. Don’t fret too much if you’re on the cusp or don’t quite resonate with a the type you scored. Take a look at all descriptions and see if you self-identify a little better with one or another. Just be honest with yourself and make sure you don’t confuse what you are currently with what you aspire to be.

This type of business isn’t really a business, it just makes a little money now and then, and that’s okay. Your stuff is on Etsy mostly because you’ve made so much stuff and need to get it out of your house—might as well make some money on it, right? You might also do a farmer’s market or craft show sometimes because they are fun and/or help you unload your creations more quickly. Money is really “no object” here when it comes to making any. But you are having a lot of fun!

The thing to be mindful most about this type is that if you are wading into commerce at all as a hobby (i.e. you’re selling what you make in any way), you want to be thoughtful about pricing because 1) you never want undervalue your time even if you weren’t expecting to be paid when you made something and 2) how you price your product affects other people who are trying to send their kids to college and buy groceries. Even if you don’t think you are their competition, as business strategist Tara Gentile says: Price tells a story and sometimes you are telling the story that handmade is cheap and not valuable. Otherwise, you can keep on making to your heart’s content and get a little bonus cash as icing on the cake.

Hobby Benefits

  • All fun all the time. You don’t have to sweat the big stuff and can just focus on making.
  • Great for the maker who only has a little time here and there to make things, or whose other commitments ebb and flow greatly.
  • No pressure to sell a certain amount.
  • You can stop and start at any time.
  • You choose the sales venues that work for you personally.

Hobby Drawbacks

  • Poorly priced products can contribute to undercutting the value of handmade goods.
  • Poorly priced products can be very costly to your own personal bank account.
  • You STILL have to file with taxes.
  • Harder to maintain consistent product line if you’re making solely what you want to or drawing materials from a stash on hand.

Sample Hobby Businesses

Bernadette absolutely loves knitting. She’s been doing it for decades now and is jazzed to be able to share her creations with the world through Etsy and her local farmers market. She makes whatever fancies her and sometimes there are dry spells, with her Etsy shop looking pretty empty. That’s just life! Luckily this is all for fun because she would be making all these things anyway.

Rhonda’s quilts are labors of love—truly. Most people are not plopping down the money to pay her for the many hours it takes to make a quilt, so she’s mostly making them as gifts for friends and family. She’s sold a few at her local craft show during the holidays and has some on consignment. Occasionally she gets orders through friends or friends of friends, but because quilts are special gifts for special occasions, what’s important is charging affordably for folks. But she will turn you down if you’re just being cheap!


If you're looking to figure out where to go next in your business AND also get tools to keep you on track, our Jumpstart Your Handmade Business program is for you. Jumpstart is a combination of curriculum, videos and some pretty handy spreadsheets. Join us to jumpstart your business!

Your passion is making and you know you can make some money for it, so you are doing enough to cover your costs—at least as far as you can tell. The income is a nice bonus on top of a more steady paycheck or a family that supports you. Business principles may not come naturally to you yet, but you are keeping an eye on your sales and adjusting things as you go. You’ll cross the wholesale bridge (and how to price for it) when and if you come to it. After all, your handmade business is a big experiment—it might not last forever, but you’re going to have some fun along the way and see what you can do with it.

If you want to keep it at the Jobby level without getting frustrated, you’ll want to make sure your expectations for your business are set appropriately. A jobby business usually doesn’t provide steady or reliable income, and the wild successes touted by those who were able to quit their day job are thinking bigger and broader than the side hustle of a jobby. Stars (or dollar signs) may come easily to your eyes as you go about selling at craft shows and markets, just know that it takes a bit more work to build something sustainable. A jobby, however, gives you tons of flexibility—need to close up shop for a while to tend to an ailing relative or focus on your kids? It will be waiting for you, ready to go when you are.

Jobby Benefits

  • Keeping things fun and enjoyable is easy to do because your passion for making guides your jobby business.
  • Your in a time of experimentation where you can try a lot of different things with little risk.
  • You can focus on the craft and you don’t have to spend a lot of time on the typically “unfun” parts of business.

Jobby Drawbacks

  • Pressure put on by your customers or peers for more can be misleading and distract you from your goals and capacity.
  • Your pricing and production process probably does not have much capacity for growth.
  • If you are not in a growth mindset you can miss, underutilize or be unprepared for opportunities.

Sample Jobby Businesses

Missy makes camera straps and her Etsy shop has really taken off. She’s tweaked her listings and even took a class on mastering Etsy SEO. Orders are fairly steady, but there are occasional droughts. That’s OK because it’s not a primary source of income… it’s really hardly any income. It pays for the supplies and gives her “mad” money to take her kids to the movies or go on a date night with her husband. She’s not super worried about her prices—she wants to make things that are affordable for her friends and family too, but she’s not losing money. Holiday craft shows are where she shines and the money from them pays for gifts for the people in her life.

Rachel learned to make wire wrap jewelry as a kid and now is discovering it’s a nice side income for her while she’s studying to be a social worker. She’s not really “serious” about it long-term, but she’s doing what she can to make it be as profitable as possible. It’s work she can do in random student off hours. She’ll probably keep it after school when she’s a social worker since it doesn’t pay a ton. At least she knows how to use her creative skills to make her extra money if she needs it.


If you're looking to figure out where to go next in your business AND also get tools to keep you on track, our Jumpstart Your Handmade Business program is for you. Jumpstart is a combination of curriculum, videos and some pretty handy spreadsheets. Join us to jumpstart your business!

You’re nailing your price, selling steadily and if you were to close up shop tomorrow a substantial amount of income would disappear. Your sights are turning away from Etsy and craft shows to gaining more wholesale accounts, and your product line is growing and hitting multiple price points. Many decisions in your business are calculated and you have a good grasp of most of the nitty gritty business details. You’re probably working full time (or close to it), and you’re profiting at least enough to keep things going. You know how to keep your customers happy and coming back for more, to boot!

You may or may not want to make this full-time. That’s cool, too! In this business type, you’re making money, but it’s probably not enough to fully sustain the lifestyle that you enjoy, so you supplement it with other income (from teaching your craft or doing something else totally different) or might rely on a spouse/partner.

This tends to be a level that many who have kids or are dealing with chronic illness find is most suitable for their business needs. Or often makers who tend toward the artist side that find having a “non-making” job helps keep income regular. This does NOT mean that your business isn’t part of a career of making. For our labels here, we are simply using it to distinguish between an all-consuming product-making business and one that is one slice of the maker’s career pie.

A word of caution: a sustainable business can quickly become the opposite if you let scaling surpass your capacity to make what you love. Be aware of your limits and keep an eye on your finances to make sure what you’re building affords you the income you need to continue to feed your creativity and keep your cup full, instead of letting the demand for more wear at your joy of making.

Sustainable Benefits

  • Consistent and significant business revenue
  • You’re still doing most if not all of the making
  • Flexibility with your business based on other life/work needs
  • Income is a contributing factor, not a make-or-break pursuit

Sustainable Drawbacks

  • It’s easy to surpass your capacity to make by trying to scale up to bring in enough revenue
  • The DIY and “can’t stop, won’t stop” mentality runs high risk of business burnout.
  • Making the transition to majority wholesale is usually desirable but harder to achieve because making up for sales in volume may be constrained by your capacity to make product.
  • Learning bigger business principles and strategy can be challenging to do when you’re used to doing things all by yourself or making things up along the way.

Sample Sustainable Businesses

Carrie’s jewelry is basically art. It’s incredibly unique and there are not a lot of ways to mass produce it. But there are production pieces that are a lower price point that are a mainstay of her jewelry collection. Her business brings her income that’s steady, but she still works a part-time job she loves and that’s fulfilling in other ways (plus it gives her health insurance and that’s a relief). If her jewelry business takes off, that’s great but she is interested in not putting too much pressure on her creativity.

Trevor makes leather wallets and a few leather accessories. He’s amassed a consistent stable of shops he wholesales to, with a manageable amount of orders that gives him a nice and reliable extra income. The money he makes helps his growing family, but he still maintains a freelance graphic design business that is his main income. He likes having his leather business as a different creative outlet, but the business skills aren’t exactly the same as his freelance business and that can be kind of annoying. He’s doing the occasional craft show—mostly just the ones he likes and when he wants to travel.


If you're looking to figure out where to go next in your business AND also get tools to keep you on track, our Jumpstart Your Handmade Business program is for you. Jumpstart is a combination of curriculum, videos and some pretty handy spreadsheets. Join us to jumpstart your business!

This is your thing, you’re proud of it, and you wouldn’t have it any other way! You understand critical business principles at this point and you’ve honed your products, processes, and systems to work in your favor and achieve your goals. Your principal income is likely from your own website and a diverse list of wholesale accounts, you have a team (whether employees or a cadre or service providers and other professionals), and you plan and strategize for your business multiple years out. Your passion extends beyond what you make into the business itself—you have the entrepreneurial drive to achieve your goals and push beyond.

You really can’t have a “side hustle” because you are all in on this business, and you may have even brought your spouse or partner into the business to help. To you, experimentation is the fun part, constantly tweaking your systems or trying something new as you continue to grow and improve.

But most of all, you’re interested in building something with lasting impact on your family, your customers, and your community. Your business is your legacy.

Career Benefits

  • Significant business revenue and high potential for personal income long-term financial stability (retirement, investment).
  • Potential for stepping back in responsibility and letting the business be managed by others in important areas that may not be your forte.
  • Immense pride in the successful business you’ve built from the ground up and the legacy you’ve established for yourself and/or your family.
  • Establishing yourself as a strong community member and model business that sets an example for your peers.

Career Drawbacks

  • Making the leap to a career business often means giving up most or all of the product-making that you may find so enjoyable. Career business owners typically focus on designing work or research and development of new products.
  • Managing a team and running a business of this size can eat up a lot of your time and energy. Many career business owners who want to focus on making need to prioritize employing a business or operations manager.
  • Higher ramifications for failure. There are people who would lose their jobs if your business wasn’t going well, and this business is your livelihood. But it’s also your legacy.
  • Since most of your business is probably based on wholesale, you have to make up for lower per-piece revenue by increasing sales volume or diversifying revenue sources.
  • It can be difficult and take a lot of bandwidth to coordinate “big” business infrastructure like health insurance, employee salaries and payroll, contractor bids and payments, inventory systems, etc.

Sample Career Businesses

 Jenna runs a soap and skincare company that has blossomed into a bigger business than her days selling at craft fairs and on Etsy. She’s gone through a lot of changes and now runs production out of warehouse with a staff. Her products are featured in national chains and boutiques across the world. She is still involved in creating her product, but it’s largely through R&D and design as she is also busy running the business.

Beth and Jared run a wooden toy company together. Over the years this family business has grown into a warehouse with a small storefront. They have brought their kids up in the business, but it’s hectic as the kids are there a lot while they are trying to get things done. Because their toys have received such a prestigious reputation, they’re regularly featured in magazines and even on a national TV show. The toys are mostly made by their team in their factory, but they will do custom designs for a price. The business has grown and shrunk a few times to meet their family’s personal needs, but it’s their consistent bread and butter.


If you're looking to figure out where to go next in your business AND also get tools to keep you on track, our Jumpstart Your Handmade Business program is for you. Jumpstart is a combination of curriculum, videos and some pretty handy spreadsheets. Join us to jumpstart your business!