by Alison Stapleton
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.