Sometimes, it's the unexpected turns life takes that end up defining your future.
That's what happened to Timothy Adam, a science major who planned on becoming a science teacher, but instead took a welding class that changed his life.
A window delivery truck driver by day, Adam started creating welded metal furniture and jewelry by night. His first major sale —a $2,300 guitar-shaped table that sold to a designer at the department store Barney's —launched his career as an artist.
Seven years later, at age 31, Adam is a very successful seller on Etsy, the huge online handmade marketplace, and the author of the new book "How to Make Money Using Etsy: A Guide to the Online Marketplace for Crafts and Handmade Products" (John Wiley & Sons, 2011).
[See Adam's 5 Favorite Etsy shops ]
The secret to Adam's Etsy success is that he realized early on that creating a successful commercial venture —no matter what you're selling —depends on building a community of people who are interested in what you've got to offer. In other words, Adam embraced social media early on.
Adam's community includes his 90,000 Twitter followers , 15,000 Facebook fans and hundreds of thousands of readers on his blogs, including a very successful one called Handmadeology.com.
"I don't think a lot of artists understand how to write a blog or use social media," Adam said. "You really have to put in the time and learn how to market your shop."
Adam offers BusinessNewsDaily readers five tips for succeeding on Etsy (or wherever you sell your art):
- Etsy is not magic. "You can't just list an item and think it's going to sell," Adam said. "There's a lot more to it. You're not going to be an overnight success. It's going to take work."
- Treat it like a business. "Put as much time in as you want to get out of it," he said. "If you're going to treat it as a hobby, it won't become a business."
- Have good photography. "If your pictures suck, you're not going to sell anything," said Adam. "Etsy is an online gallery. People can't touch it, so the pictures have to tell that story."
- Have a full shop. "You have to have at least 15 items to start shop. You want to have diversity," Adam said.
- Have varying price points. "I have from everything from expensive furniture to less expensive jewelry," Adam said. "There needs to be something for everyone."
Timothy Adam's portrait is courtesy of Grace Designs Photography.