Are you the type of person who only has cable TV in your home so you have to watch adverts and a canned newsreel?
Do you ever buy the specialized channels and perhaps pick up the BBC or the science channel even though you have to pay for them?
How about Netflix? Would you pay $8 a month for a vast array of movies and no commercials?
You can see straight away if you appreciate the value in paying for something, over getting it for relatively nothing (but with strings – the ads).
Value is the difference between what a casual crocheter, or hobbyist crocheter and a professional crocheter provide.
You can get a crocheted hat at your dollar store for $1, or you can pay $30 for a similar hat at the mall, or you can pay $75 for a well-known designer hat.
But the expensive hat probably does the same thing, it keeps your head warm and looks trendy, or does it?
If you can see the value in buying better things, made with better materials and crafted in a better fashion, and having good, or even the best things in your life that you can afford, why would you settle for the bottom of the range?
Do you choose basic or do you want something else?
The 3 Types of Crocheter
There are three types of crocheter; the casual crocheter, the hobbyist crocheter and the professional crocheter. Each of the three types can be clearly defined if you look at how they handle money and value
You can see which type of crocheter you are by reading below.
The Casual Crocheter
The casual crochet is where we all start when we begin to crochet. You start with one hook and a ball of yarn. Over time you make things and you enjoy the process. That’s why you do it.
You may leave crocheting for a time and then come back to it. There is no pressure to complete things it is simply a leisure activity.
As a casual crocheter you:
Buy your own yarns
Pick and choose what to make as it takes your fancy
May use the finished item yourself or
Give it away to someone as a gift
No money changes hands and you do not make a profit
The Hobbyist Crocheter
If you are a hobbyist crocheter you buy your own yarn and make items or garments. These items can be to order if say, your sister wants a hat just like the one you are wearing.
You buy the yarn and make the hat and your sister gives you money to cover the cost of the yarn, and perhaps also covers minimum wage (around $8.50 and hour) for the labor (this is “for your time”), or your labor is free.
Your sister pays you, but it just about covers the yarn and maybe an hourly rate.
As a hobbyist crocheter you may barter your skills and maybe make a hat to swop for babysitting your kids on Saturday night or some other trade off.
If you are a hobbyist crocheter you:
Do not advertise or promote that you crochet
Make a few crocheted items each year
Sometimes you get reimbursed for the costs
Make things at cost
Get a nominal amount “for your time”
Barter crochet for other services or goods
Although some people will give you money (and you may tell yourself you are in “business”) you are not in business, and you do not make a profit.
The Professional Crocheter
The first two types of crocheter (casual and hobbyist) are entirely different to the professional crocheter.
As a professional crocheter you are in it to make money and not just cover the cost of the yarn and your time.
You keep accounting books and know what it has cost you and what you have taken in each day or month.
At the end of the month you have profit. The money that you have over when you have paid for your overheads (computer, phone, advertising, materials, postage etc. and your labour costs) and all business related items is your profit.
You are a professional crocheter if you:
Have a crochet business name
Have your own crochet business cards
Own your crochet domain name (YourCrochetBusinessName.com)
Run a current website and post every week
Promote to all social media channels that work for you (examples: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram)
Have a growing mailing list of clients and potential clients
Have a fan base of readers, clients and followers (weak fan base = less than 200 fans, medium fan base = less than 2000 fans, strong fan base = more than 2000 fans)
As the year comes to an end it is a great time to see where you are in your crochet micro-business and do a review.
Looking back over the highlights of your year can help you plan for the next twelve months.
In December there are often many things going on both in your private life and in your business life.
If you have a small crochet business make time to look back at the year your have just lived and see how you have improved since January.
Take a break
For us Christmas is a time for family so I like to rest and spend my time with my husband and family.
I like to take a break from my crochet business in the week between Christmas and the New Year.
This week is also a slow time for business and many customers have switched off and are doing the same.
But in December before The big day hits us there is time to look back at the year that just passed
Running a micro business does mean you have to do some paperwork. In your notebook on January 1st list the numbers of:
Your business bank balance
Cash on hand
Completed items not sold yet (as a dollar value)
Your social media presence; Facebook page fans, Twitter followers, Pinterest followers and Instagram followers etc.
Your mailing list subscribers
These are all numbers that should grow every year.
Not all social media works for everyone. You may find you got into Facebook early on and you simply love it and maybe you have not yet explored Pinterest or Instagram. If one of your social media channels is doing better than another I suggest you drop the weaker one.
It is better to do one or two things well than do many things poorly.
I have concentrated on Instagram in the past year. I expect the time I spend on social media is much the same but I have developed a better understanding of how Instagram works.
In the next year I may try to understand another social media channel as we don’t know what will be the next big thing.
You only have one or two hours a week for administration of your business. That means:
Website maintenance (clearing spam and general updating)
Buying stationery (bags for your items, tags and labels)
Invoicing and emails with customers
Maintaining your Etsy or other online store
Going to the post office to post your sales
Limit the time you spend on maintenance and put more time towards creating.
100% of your time
You don’t spend all your time doing crochet. You may have one or even two other jobs, but of all the time you have available to put towards you micro craft business it represents 100% of. your time.
Your hours available could be 5, 10 or 40 hours a week. For some of you it will be 50 plus hours a week.
How much time do you spend on your micro business was each week?
A percentage of your available time can be put towards your micro business. Whatever that time is, it represents the full amount of the time.
If you have a day job you will have less time each week for your micro business.
If you are a stay-at-home Mom your will likely have time in the day, but it may be in small chunks as your day unfolds and the kids nap and play.
There could be half an hour in the early morning as you have that first cup of coffee before your wake you family and the day begins.
There could be 15 minutes as you sit in the car and wait for the kids to come out of school.
There is likely to be time after dinner when you catch up with your family on their day or in front of the TV at night.
Weekends can be very different as your family has other needs and demands on your time.
I like to crochet in the park on a Saturday afternoon. I may take my notebook and sketch as well but it is a time for ideas and shapes to form. I can also jot some pattern ideas and diagrams in the fresh air. I have a notebook for creative ideas and buy a new one each year. I like the Moleskine A5 size with plain (no lines) pages.
On Sundays I take it easier and will try new stitches and yarns that I have not used before. I call it my free crochet time. I’m still with a hook in my hand, but I leave my weekly projects and try something new. It keeps my mind fresh and open to new things.
Have a good look at your day and find the time in hours, half-hours and fifteen minutes slots. Then add it all up.
Once you know your available time each day in hours you can calculate how much time you should spend on each activity.
How to use the time available
Of the 100% available time you can break it up as follows:
15% business promotion on social media
20% writing your blog, books and articles
60% crafting and creating your goods
If you let your creative time slip to less than half of your time available, you can lose the magic. Always keep your creative crochet time to more than half of your available time.
Weekdays are different to weekends.
If you make your crochet in the evening when you are watching TV do the social media and promotion at the weekends.
This method makes sense if you have a day job as you may be weary after your day at work. And if you have kids to look after there can be quiet times in the evening after the kids have gone to bed.
Preserve your creative time
Preserve and reserve your creative time. As it is what you love and the creative work soothes. Keep doing to creative work this is important.
Don’t let the running of your micro-business rob you of your love of crochet as this is what got you started in the first place.
A Little Exercise for You
Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help you fine tune your motives for doing the crochet in the first place and the reasons that you will continue to do so next year (or not).
You have to be honest with yourself and the answers will help you discover your inner drives and show a reason to continue.
Running a micro-business is not for everyone. To have a crochet micro-business may be something that you have done for a couple of years.
You may find that the need has passed and you can go back to just crocheting the odd item as it takes your fancy, without the pressure to craft at a high standard suitable for resale.
How do you feel about having to make goods on demand instead of whatever takes your fancy as before?
How many sales (by item) did you have this year?
Did you make any money? Did you lose money? Do you even know?
Did you like doing it?
Will you continue next year or will you choose to let your dream of having a crochet micro-business go?
Did the crocheting make you happy?
Do you complain all the time about weak sales or lack of sales?
Do you resent having to constantly be thinking about this business?
Who are you doing it for, yourself, your partner, your mother-in-law?
What are you doing it all for, money, status, independence or respect?
Are you looking forward to a prosperous New Year?
We will have a look at your next year’s crochet micro-business goals in another post.
Your niche is the special segment in your industry that you know well and where you are skilled.
In the large world of craft, crochet is a section of craft. Hats are a section of crochet in crafts. Baby hats are a section within hats in crochet and in crafts, and writing patterns for baby hats, in hats, in crochet, in crafts is a niche.
Your niche is the place where you are good and can do, whatever it is. You could call it a passion and if you can – then you know.
Millions of people craft and thousands of them crochet. Many individuals make hats, some folks make baby hats and a few of them write patterns for baby crochet hats.
Maybe you make crochet baby booties and that is your niche. Perhaps you create amigurumi animals and that is your niche. Or you produce cotton bohemian tops and that is your niche.
Your niche is not only the actual item it can be the type of crochet
You may be a specialist in tunisian crochet, Irish crochet or filet crochet. Perhaps you only work on freeform crochet like hyperbolic crochet and the Mobius. These are examples of techniques that could be your niche and you may make various items within these segments.
Your niche is the thin area within your main industry where you excel.
How to find your niche
Look at your stash
Do you have many yarns? What thickness of wool and cottons do you have? Only thin or only chunky yarns? Only natural fibres or some acrylics?
What is your colour palette? Do you mainly have brights, darks or pastels. Or maybe only neutrals? Which colours appeal to you? Are you a fan of variegated yarns?
My stash is very different to your stash and your stash will be different again to the next woman. Individuality is shown by the type of yarn and colour combinations in your stash.
What do you usually make when you crochet?
Blankets, scarves, doilies, kids stuff, bags or what?
What about size? Is your work often in little projects that can be finished in a day or big afghans that take a month to complete or are they something in between?
How about the methods you use. Do you work top-down so you never have to sew seams? Do you do circles and work in-the-round, or squares like granny squares or log cabin? Are you likely to create projects with tonal stripes like light blue, mid blue and dark blue or color blocks? Do you love intricate stitch patterns or plain repetitive stitches?
By a simple consideration of what you normally buy in yarns (as shown by your stash) and what you usually make (in item) and the techniques your employ all suggest the direction of your niche.
If you can say “I make baby hats in natural cotton which I market online,” or “I specialize in lacy wedding shawls which I sell to local bridal boutiques,” then that is your niche.
Bear in mind that you niche may be wide for example, if you crochet kids fun clothing in primary acrylics, then that is your niche..
Your niche does not have to be narrow but it typically becomes so. Over the years you may slip into making a certain thing in a particular yarn with the same hook for a definite market.
Embrace your style and hone your skills to become the best within your niche.
You start to crochet the day you pick up your first hook (the day before that you had never held a hook and knew not of this captivating craft).
From that day onwards (we shall call it Hook Day) you can say you are a crocheter to some degree.
Although it may take weeks, months, years (or never) for you to turn your crocheting into a micro-business.
When you decide to set up in a crochet business there are many things to think about before you get-going and start to sell, because selling something is what being in business is all about.
You may produce crocheted goodies, designs or your skills or a combination of these options. It depends on you and what interests you enough to keep you going through the early tough days of your business.
Your Dream Customer
I used to think that my dream customer was anyone who bought my stuff. Maybe you think this too, but take that thought another step forward and tune into who exactly your dream customer is and could be.
If you know who your dream customer is, it is one way to decide on the thrust of your creative and promotional effort. This is important as we, as crocheters, only have so much creative effort each day and it is best not to waste it.
They say you can make more money but not more time and this is very true for creative types which I’m sure you are as you are reading this article.
You need to work out whether you will sell:
Crochet supplies bought wholesale
Your handmade crochet goods
Your own crochet patterns
Crochet classes that you teach
Crochet books and videos
Kits for beginners with a hook, yarn and pattern
Other – because you never know
If you are going to sell your hand-made crochet goods like hats and scarves you can sell them:
By word of mouth and thus in your local neighbourhood only.
At a local shop (kids shop or kitchen store for example) – locally
At craft fairs – locally and regionally
Through an online shop like Etsy – globally
On an auction site like eBay – internationally
Other ways you can think of
If you are going to sell digital goods like patterns, eBooks or videos there is no choice, like above with your actual physical crochet hats and scarves, you will sell your digital products online and globally to an international market.
This means all of these types of items need to be very clear and use standard crochet terminology and easily understood by all.
Your Dream Customer has two facets
The thing is, who is your customer and more importantly where is your customer.
There are four areas in where your customers are found:
Locally – In your neighbourhood where you can walk, cycle, bus or take a cab to reach them and you sell face-to-face
Regionally – In your area around 200km tops and it takes a bus or car ride to get there and you sell face-to-face
Nationally – in your country – you send the goods by post in the mail
Internationally – Anywhere in the world and you send the goods by post in the mail
It depends again who they are:
Businesses (shops and retailers)
Wholesalers (who buy in bulk and sell to retailers)
Examples of who is, and where to find, your dream customer
Your dream customer may:
Live in your neighbourhood
Live near regional craft shows where you have a stall
Live in your country and buys one item for personal use and to give to friends.
Live anywhere. Likes your style, your goodies and your message.
It may take some time for you to decide who your dream customer is. But the benefits to you of this simple exercise are immense in saving time, money and effort. Not to mention the agonising over why things are not working if you are pitching to the wrong people or madly crocheting things that they don’t want.
“When you know who your customer is it tells you where to expend your creative and promotional effort.”
If you have an online store
There is no point making twenty winter hats if you live in a warm place unless you have an online store selling to cold areas like, north America, Canada or northern Europe and you sell winter hats all year round.
If you have an online store you can sell all items both physical and digital all the time.
If you sell locally or regionally
There is no point in stockpiling multiples of the same item if they are not selling.
Be aware of seasonal changes (summer and winter) and adjust your stock of made-up items to suit. Don’t carry winter hats through the summer if they sit on your shelves waiting to be bought and don’t carry summer lacy vests through the winter.
Rather have a sale in the spring (and move your winter hats) and a sale in the autumn (and move your summer tops) and reduce them to a lower price. This will free up your cash so you can buy more yarn and make what is in demand in the next three months or so of summer. This is known as cashflow.
Some crocheters like to have made-up items of whatever their speciality is neatly folded and in plastic bags ready for shipping. Whilst this is good (to be organised so you can find thing when they do sell) it does not make sense to carry stock over the wrong season because you have money invested in these items.
These are some ideas to think about as you craft your next project. they are points I wish someone had told me way back when I started selling my crochet goods.
I hope you find them of use as you grow your own crochet micro-business by knowing your dream customer.
That initial sale can be the hardest things to do or you can fall into it naturally.
Below I share with you the story of my first crochet sale which was the one that started the ball rolling so to speak.
We lived in a small town outside a large city which was about a thirty minute drive in the car. It was a seaside town and had two little shopping malls. Each mall had several line shops and one large supermarket.
In the Bayside Mall was a small wool and craft shop. This was a convenient place for me to get my yarns and crocheting supplies.
At that time I had just given birth to our fourth child, a daughter, and I was at home for several months looking after her. The two older children were at elementary school and the third child was a toddler at home with me all day. My husband was at work.
My days as a housewife were typical and there were many chores to be done each day. I organized my life so that I only left the house on a Friday to run errands and to buy the weekly groceries and Friday was my “day out.”
Because I was at home so much of the time I picked up crocheting again and began to make soft jerseys and tops for the children. My patterns were simple squares for fronts and backs and the sleeves were again straightforward with a slight increase at the shoulder. Over time I developed these patterns into complicated top-down no-seam garments as well.
I bought the wool from my local yarn store and it was usually 4ply on a 3.5mm hook. I used pastels for the girls and primaries for my boy.
By visiting the yarn store each Friday to buy more wool and because I took the two younger children in their newly made tops the store owner Shirley started to chat with me about the wool and the patterns I had used for the kid’s jerseys.
I explained that I only ever used my own patterns for items that I made. She asked me if I would crochet her a cardigan for which she would give me the yarn and the pattern from a magazine that she wanted to be made for herself.
You see, she was a knitter and not a crocheter, but she had found a lovely lacy white summer three-quarter length cardigan that she wanted to be made, but she could not crochet it herself.
Well, of course I would do it, why not?
I duly took the white light yarn and the pattern and said, “See you next Friday.”
At home that evening I started to make her pattern and it went really well. I have always been a firm tension crocheter and so could crochet to gauge. In that week I completed her garment and sewed it together.
I folded it neatly in tissue paper and wrapped a ribbon around it to make it look nice for her.
During that week I couldn’t work on my own creations and I did feel that, but the challenge of a lacy pattern kept me interested in the project.
Friday came around and I took the cardigan into the shop for Shirley. She was really pleased and put it on immediately. It fit her well and looked just like the image in the pattern book.
I was pleased that she was pleased. I mean, you never know…
She paid me $5 per ball that was made-up . The cardigan took five balls which came to $25 in all. I was excited about that. I saw it as bonus money for our family.
Shirley and I started chatting about yarns and crafts in general and then she said that if I had items that were already made-up she would put them in her window to sell. At that time she had some booties and other baby knitted items in her window but she had no crocheted goodies.
She wanted little blankets and baby items to promote the yarns that she sold. Her shop window was not big and in fact was quite small but well suited a yarn shop.
The deal was that I had to buy the yarns from her for the items she would sell in her window and I set the price and she took half. This was a good deal as I was buying wool from her anyway, and I was crocheting anyway, but now I had a chance to make some cash for the work.
I went home with new wool and a blanket pattern forming in my head. Because I’d done baby blankets before I knew about the colours that sell so I had a soft baby blue, white and a dark navy contrasting ball and well.
Over the next week I made a blanket for a baby boy in blue stripes. It was simple and a generous size. At the weekend I visited the shop again and she was pleased with the result. Shirley felt the quality of stitches and the regular tension was good and she loved the colour combinations.
I told her my price was $50 and she agreed we would split it fifty-fifty each. She must have put it in the window for the Saturday shoppers as it sold the next week. I arrived back on the next Friday and was excited to have sold my blanket. My first item to a stranger. My first crochet original design blanket. For cash. This was good.
She told me the woman who bought it was a crocheter herself but did not have time to make something ‘handmade’ for her new niece, but that she would pass it off as her own work!
That other crocheters would buy my goods and say it was their own (not that I cared what they did or said) but suddenly I saw a market for my goods, to women who knew how to crochet and were known for their crocheting, but had no time to do it. The perfect customer.
That was my first sale.
I sold a blanket, through the wool shop, to a customer I had not met, for cash.
Since that time I have sold many more garments, blankets, bags and other things although I still remember the feeling of that first sale.