Combining what you love to do and what would be profitable, for most, is a recipe for an ideal career. For fourth-year French and political science student Hannah Park, and fourth-year commerce student Precious Benemerito, monetizing their creative hobbies through online platforms has allowed them to financially benefit from and expand the range of their artwork.

Park advertises her DIY cards on Instagram. She states that besides being a marketing platform, Instagram serves as a good source of inspiration for artists with similar interests.

At the beginning of her artistic career, Park described an early childhood interest in drawing. From there, compliments from classmates gave Park further motivation to pursue the craft.

Park said, “It was through my drawings that I could get to know my classmates and meet new friends who had the same interests and passion as me. I remember the excitement I felt when my classmates would ask me to draw them something. I could find joy and a sense of belonging through art.”

Park stated that the value of her artwork extends beyond a purely business aspect. At the moment, Park focuses on creating and selling cards for friends. Thus, there is still a sentimental value attached to the artwork that Park sells to friends.

“Through my cards and DIYs, I could leave something behind that they could remember me by,” she explained.

In terms of finding inspiration for her DIY cards, Park states that since she intimately knows the buyers, who are typically friends, and she personalizes the cards according to specific interests.

She stated: “I try to look into the person’s passions and hobbies, remember an inside joke or I’ll start off with a theme and go from there. I don’t ask them what they want in their cards, since I want to surprise them.”

On the other hand, Benemerito engages in the specific crochet art form of Amigurumi—a Japanese art form of creating dolls. Benemerito started selling her artwork while still being a biology student before switching to commerce. Monetizing her artwork led her to change academic career paths.

“When I first started selling my dolls as a biology student, I was at a crossroads with regards to my academics as well as my career aspirations. Combining arts and basic business skills helped me to understand what it meant to turn passion into profit as well as what it meant to find satisfaction in a career. Ultimately, the entire experience was the push that led me to switch degrees and start my business career,” she elaborated.

Benemerito emphasized the importance of having a unique and thorough product plan. By this, she stated that the quality of the product is of chief importance. Though a product itself may be generic, Benemerito said that what makes a difference is how the the product is marketed.

“For example, there are hundreds of stores selling knitted headbands but little things like photography, price and reputation can make all the difference as to whether people buy from you or leave you lost among the crowds,” she explained.

For marketing products, Benemerito encourages other creative business owners to find a platform best suited for their needs.

She said: “Personally, I find Instagram to be a great platform because of its focus on photography and display in addition to having such strong interactive components. As well, the dance community that I was targeting had an incredibly strong presence on the app.”

Now, Benemerito is marketing and selling her handmade dolls on Etsy—an online market for independent businesses selling arts and crafts. The site has garnered attention for its seller base of individuals creating unique, and often personalized, artworks.

Benemerito is now marketing and selling her dolls on Etsy.

In terms of balancing school and her creative endeavours, Benemerito expressed gratitude for the support of her parents.  Benemerito was in charge of making dolls and handling the social media websites, while her parents supported the output process of the products. Her parents helped with finding supplies, and mailing the product packages.

“It was great to have all the help behind the scenes especially since I was a full-time student,” she said.

When asked about the advice she would give to others interested in monetizing their artworks, she replied by saying that patience is an important value. For Benemerito, success did not come overnight and the journey to improving her business took place during her  undergraduate career.

“It’s important to remember that these things take time – success does not come overnight. You have to be willing to take criticism and tailor your project to meet the evolving needs of customers. What you put into this job is what you get out of it,” she said.

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