Starting a Calligraphy Side Business


In today’s highly technological society, it sometimes seems like there’s little interest in artistry anymore. However, the fact of the matter is that there’s a growing backlash against automation and generic, mass-produced products. You can profit from this trend by starting a boutique calligraphy side business. If you have a genuine love for typography and aren’t afraid of learning a new skill, the calligraphy business can be very remunerative. The key to making such a business worthwhile is knowing your audience and pursuing it in an intelligent fashion.

Formulate a Superior Plan

Without a well-thought-out blueprint, it’s unlikely that a business in any industry will flourish. Take a long, hard look at the demand for various calligraphy-adorned products like menus, wedding announcements, greeting cards and certificates. That demand doesn’t necessarily have to be very strong in your immediate area. The point is that you should research the most profitable niches and figure out how to exploit them. Brainstorm a few potential roles such as in-house calligrapher for a publishing company or a sign business.

Stockpile Calligraphy Supplies

Obviously, a first-rate calligrapher needs plenty of artistic supplies to get started. Assemble a toolkit of brushes,  flat balled or round-nibbed pens like the  William Mitchell Calligraphy Dip Pen Nib Set – Roundhand Selection Box , ground sandarac, various
inks and different types of paper. Purchase a few starter calligraphy kits online to see what kinds of equipment you prefer. You’ll probably need to purchase licenses for a few quality graphic design programs like Adobe Illustrator  if you plan on going digital. Be sure that you have a relatively new PC that’s powerful enough to run your software.

Get Your Skills in Order

Before you can charge top dollar for your work, you’ll need to master the art of fine calligraphy penmanship. There are plenty of books including  Modern Calligraphy: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started in Script Calligraphy and Learn Calligraphy: The Complete Book of Lettering and Design that can show you the ropes. Alternatively, you could always take an online class or follow along with video tutorials on YouTube. Of course, nothing can beat personalized instruction. As such, you may want to enroll in a calligraphy course at your local community college or pay for one-on-one lessons from a professional.



Work Out the Little Details

Running any small business comes with its fair share of administrative hassles, often in the form of paperwork. Be sure to get your business licenses, LLCs and bank accounts in order before you launch. For contracts and other documents,LegalZoom is a good way to protect yourself without having to keep an expensive lawyer on retainer. Set up a home office for yourself and outfit your PC with some free, opensource software like TurboCASH and to handle your bookkeeping needs.

Establish Some Credibility

At the outset, it’s always best to offer your services at a highly reduced rate to attract first-time clients. With any luck, they’ll become regulars and tell their friends. Try to join a local artisans guild to make contacts that can help you out later on. Do some pro bono work for local civic organization such as churches, schools, libraries and membership clubs. Whenever possible, pursue jobs that will remain in the public eye for long periods of time such as business logos and signs.

Market to a Wider Audience

Once you’ve gotten a few jobs under your belt and feel confident about your skills, it’s time to promote your business more aggressively. First things first, build a decent website for your business. Next, use tactics like social media and content marketing to make a name for yourself online. Now is also a good time to nail down your pricing. For reference, personally addressed wedding invitations can cost up to $300 per 100. Feel out the market and determine what you can realistically charge.

Diversify for the Future

The key to SMB longevity is branching out into other areas once you’re on firm ground. From wine labels to business cards, there are few surfaces that can’t benefit from a bit of calligraphy. If you’re strictly a print calligrapher, try moving into the signage game. You could also try your hand at engraving your calligraphy into stone, metal or woodwork. You could even capitalize on your know-how by teaching classes. Keep your options open and your calligraphy side gig will surely thrive.

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