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)
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.
Do not buy wine or new shoes to “celebrate” your first sale. The money that comes in from your first sale goes into the business and can be used for more supplies (wool and hooks), or it goes towards the purchase of stationery for your business cards, website support, or sheets of tissue to keep your garments clean.
Step 2: Know Who is Your Dream Customer
Know who your customer is. Is he or she in your neighborhood or nationwide? If you are offering goods that you ship, you have to approach your sales to a broader audience.
If you are making baby goods pitch that way, if you are doing women’s accessories like scarves and hats pitch that way.
You are not selling crochet but dreams. You are selling possibilities of how good someone will look after they have worn your items.
You are selling hope for your customer to feed a need in them to look good, tren dy or sexy. You are not selling crochet.
Step 3: Own Your Niche
Your niche is the little spot where your goods lie in the general crochet market.
There are people making all sorts of crochet items but you will make one type of items and become the best there is in that area. This is your niche, a slim section of the broader market.
If you can crochet to a quality level that you can sell, and by that I mean it is good work technically, with a steady tension, and quality yarns, and your finishing is excellent with no hanging threads or knots, then that is quality crochet.
You may make amigurumi and this is your niche. You may craft hats and this is your niche. Your niche does not have to be a particular item although it often is. Your niche can be that you work in Irish crochet or using only fingerling. So the item is not the niche but the yarn or technique is your niche.
Step 4: Love Your Art
Crocheting is art. You have to love what you are doing. Some women will only crochet with top quality yarns because they believe “life is too short to use cheap wool.” Maybe so, but you have to love what you make.
You have to love the texture, the color, the way the item drapes and the end result.
As you make each hat or bag you are putting something of yourself into each piece. You have to love it. This makes a difference to the finished item. Believe me.
People shop on emotional impulses. They purchase things that speak to them either by the colour, texture or the item evokes a feeling of nostalgia and reminds them of what their granny used to give them years ago. Whatever the reason you have a better chance of selling goods that you craft if you love them from start to finish.
Shopping is an emotional investment not just a cash exchange. Know that your potential customers have to fall in love with your hats or scarves before they will hand over the cash. In this way they feel better about buying from you and they don’t feel bad about the purchase when they get home.
Only make things you love and with yarns you love in colors and textures you love and others will love them too.
If you love your work you can talk about it and sell with passion and pride, and it becomes easier to sell. You have to believe that it is your best work and know you are being true to you art. Love your art.
Step 5: Be Generous of Spirit
You could spend one whole day making a hat and sell it for $10. So the hourly rate is weak at about $1 per hour. But that is not the point. Ignore the hourly rate and focus on the craft. If you buy your wool all at once and have a decent stash of good yarns you can plan your production of hats.
Every $10 you make has to go somewhere. Some goes back into the business to buy more supplies, some goes to tax (yes it does), some will come to you as your ‘pay’ and some can go to your giving program.
Your giving program is simply the plan you have to give to others. Those of us lucky enough to earn money can give something back to those less fortunate. It does not have to be much perhaps 10c on your $10 but it is important to be generous of spirit.
I give a percentage of my profits to local charities. I don’t do this every day or every week but towards December I have a sum that I give to people and causes I like to support to help them over their year end.
You need to have a giving plan otherwise you could be giving too much away if someone catches you for a donation in the shopping center car park. You may think you can afford to give $5 because yesterday you sold two hats but this will be an emotional give (and we all do it me perhaps more than most) not a planned give. Make a plan to be generous of spirit.
All businesses and big businesses do give to others. Look at the big companies and you can see their giving donations and the types of places they choose to support. You can’t help everyone so choose a sector in your community that appeals to you and make a giving plan that suits your income and your interest.
These are the first 5 steps to a prosperous crochet business. They can be used for any micro-business start-up. People all over the world have little businesses going on in their basements and backyards making things that they love and sharing their art with the world, and you can too.