Your Year in Crochet – A Review

by Alison Stapleton

Your End of Year Review

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

Keep records

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.

Social media

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.

Time

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:

    • 5% maintenance
    • 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.

Ask Yourself

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?

Next Year

We will have a look at your next year’s crochet micro-business goals in another post.


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Own Your Niche

by Alison Stapleton

Own Your Niche

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.

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.

Take ownership and own your niche.


Your First Crochet Sale

by Alison Stapleton

Your first sale is defined as the one where you sell a hand-made crocheted item to someone you have never met.

When you make your first sale it is one of the five steps towards building your prosperous crochet business.

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!

Amazing!

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.


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Micro Business Ideas that You can Start Today

by Alison Stapleton

Here are some ideas for your micro business

Many people share the dream to have their own little business which will make a bit of money and through the actual art or craft involved will satisfy their creative urges and needs.

micro business that you run from your home, or on the go from your virtual office, will typically fall into one of five main categories:

  1. Craft – Crochet, knit, sew, bake, art
  2. Writing and editing
  3. New age skills
  4. Personal services
  5. Selling digital products

You may do more than one activity and some will appeal to you straight away.

You have to be realistic. Clearly if you are not a hairdresser you can’t cut hair as a micro business. But if you can crochet then you can make crochet your micro business.


Craft and Handiwork

If you can do any of the crafts in the list below then you can sell your items at flea markets and wholesale to shops.

  • Knitter
  • Crocheter
  • Artist – painter
  • Wood worker – bird houses
  • Cookie baker
  • Sandwich maker
  • Dressmaker
  • Artist – fibre
  • Jewelry maker
  • Candle maker
  • Candlestick maker

Writing and Editing

If you can write compelling copy you could turn your hand (or your pen) to one or two activities and projects on this list.

  • Write feature articles
  • Write patterns – knit and crochet
  • Write stories and memoir
  • Write “how to” articles
  • Write recipes
  • Travel writer
  • Horoscope writer
  • Cooking writer
  • Restaurant critic
  • Stringer
  • Novelist
  • Author
  • Poet
  • Lyricist
  • Local ad newsletter (selling ad space in the coffee news)

New age services in your home

If you have skills in the New Age professions as listed here you could easily start a micro business or practice in one of them.

  • Astrologer
  • Palmist
  • Tarot reader
  • Reiki master
  • Clairvoyant
  • Crystal ball reader
  • Tea leaf reader
  • Runes reader
  • Numerologist

Personal services

This list is slightly more skilled and maybe you did go to hairdresser school years ago and if so you can dust off your scissors and start your micro business right now.

  • Hairdresser
  • Dressmaker
  • Manicurist
  • Makeup artist
  • Bookkeeper
  • Personal trainer
  • Garden lady

Things to sell online – digital items

Selling digital downloads online does need you to have some skills in computers and a bit of writing but is can be done. Make sure you write about a topic that interests you and your passion for the subject will come through the words.

  • Worksheets “how-to” ideas
  • Ebooks
  • Webinars
  • Videos classes on YouTube
  • Copy writing and editing services
  • Resume writing
  • Form filling in for non English speakers
  • Blogger – Adwords
  • Images – info graphics

Not all will appeal to everyone. If you can be quite clear on what you can do and what you can’t do then that makes the choice easier.

Know your limitations

Most people can fry an egg but that doesn’t mean you can be the cookie baker for a vegetarian deli down the street.

It can be seductive to fall into the trap of doing something that you are nearly good at (like baking). If you are not passionate about the thing then dismiss it as an option for you.

If your sister-in-law knows a dahlia from a dandelion and can weed gardens that doesn’t mean you can too.

Back to your notebook. Draw three columns titled, “Yes I can”, “No I can’t” and “Maybe I could.”

Take the list above and write five options in each column.

This will make your choices clearer.

 





What is a Micro Business and Do You Have One?

by Alison Stapleton

Micro Business

What is a micro business?

A micro business is any little business that makes money. For example when you crochet something and sell the finished product or the pattern. Typically a micro business is a one man (or woman) show.

If you crochet (or knit or craft) and sell your items you have a micro business.

A micro business can also be referred to as a the new word of solopreneur. Like an entrepreneur, but going solo, or on your own.

A micro business can grow to two, three or four people working together but it is usually that one person does it all, all the business things like:

  • The ideas,
  • design,
  • sourcing materials,
  • manufacturer of the items,
  • advertising,
  • production,
  • marketing,
  • promoting,
  • website management,
  • social media, pricing,
  • selling and
  • banking.

Phew!

You may not realize you have a micro business

If you make items and give them to others or to charity then you are not a micro business.

If you do take money for your crafted items then you have a micro business.

Good karma

All income and costs need to be declared to the tax man.

Don’t start pocketing the cash if you do it creates bad karma around money for you in the future.

You want the money to flow towards you and that you will prosper. If you cheat the system you create blockages for the money stream and this stops other good things like prosperity Being able to gravitate towards you.

Start today and get your abundance flowing in

Note every cent in and out from day one. You will likely get a refund anyway if your turnover is low and under one thousand dollars a year.

Do not worry about this now, but make records. Money in and out.

Keep receipts for every purchase for your creations like that ball of yarn from the wool shop or a new paintbrush for your art.

Start today. Let the universe know that you are in business.

If you think you may have taken a vow of poverty now is the time to let it go.

Thought, word and deed

First you think of the idea of say, to make a hat. Then you speak about your ideas to make the hat. Then you do the deed and make the hat.

There is a sequence to creativity.

I want to add another step and that is to journal the process and to capture the moment.

Journaling your ideas

Get a notebook.

Open it to the first double page.

On the left hand side draw the image of the item, the pattern diagram the finished garment. Here you can add the color palette and note or scetch any special details.

On the right hand page write “Hat” (or whatever your craft project is) at the top. Write all the details of the yarns, pattern and hook, and instructions to make the hat.

Two thirds of the way down the page draw a line across the page.

In the lower right part express your feelings about the project. Are you excited, scared, happy, overwhelmed, or finally at peace?

Keep your notebook handy.

Over the days and weeks of the project, journal the process and your feelings about the item.

Choosing your Notebooks

photo-1429032021766-c6a53949594f-2I like Moleskin note books. Size A5 which is about 5” wide by 8” long. Get the one with plain blank pages and no lines.

On a side note, they also have a screenwriters design with a story board format which is fun to use for a “How-to” project.

Don’t let another idea pass you by. Note it in your creative journal. You can go back over your many ideas later and weed out what is good and doable, and look at why a project is not going to get done.

Become used to capturing your ideas.

Evernote is a great app for journaling (or note booking) as well, and you can capture images from the web or photos as you go along.

Either or both are good tools to develop your creative side.