Is crochet the first thing you think of when you wake up ? Can you spend hours lost in crochet books and magazines at your local library or newsagent ? Crochet books and more yarn are the only thing you can think of when asked what you’d love for your birthday present ?
Fear not, you’re not alone. And being really passionate about something is actually a good thing !
But what if, instead of feeling guilty about the size of your stash or amount paid on a luxury skein of yarn, you could actually MAKE MONEY with your crocheting talents and thus boost your self-confidence.. and maybe even buy a few more balls of yarn !
Here I’ll offer 5 ideas and ways to make the most of all the various skills you use daily while crocheting and gathering information about your favorite craft. With many different options, I swear there should be at least one you’ll be highly qualified for !
1/ Sell items you are crocheting
So you love the act of crocheting, and cannot sit somewhere without a hook in your hand ? And you’re thinking of selling your finished objects ? This is a great option to sell your original work, or items made with crochet patterns allowing the sale of FOs (more on that below).
- You need to LOVE crocheting, because that means you’ll be crocheting a lot ! Just think about it : what if dozens of people fall in love with your hats or sweaters, and you have to crochet tons of them, one after the other ? Will you still enjoy it ? If the answer is YES, then go ahead, this is the perfect direction for you !
- Crocheting away whatever takes your fancy is nice, but if you crochet to sell, you’ll need to listen to your customer’s needs and desires. It’s a balancing act, not always easy to find the right mix between crocheting samples to show what you can do, and waiting for custom orders to avoid having huge stocks of unsold items.
- Selling yes, but at which price? This is one of the most frequently asked questions ! I think the main question is which value do you want to give to your work ? Because it’s true most people cannot afford to buy a handmade sweater sold over $150. But maybe you’re not targeting the right people then ? The value of your handmade items, crocheted with love and care, may not be appreciated by everyone, and that’s ok ! Just keep looking, but don’t sell yourself cheap.
Personnally I don’t usually sell finished sweaters, yet when customers ask specifically for one I’ll ask around $130-170 + cost of yarn & postage. My “right price” is usually the price I’d be excited to make another one for. On the contrary, if I feel angry while crocheting for a fee, that means I didn’t ask enough for it :-)
- Or maybe you just want to sell items to cover the costs of the yarn, and don’t mind not being compensated for the time and skill involved in crocheting it ? That can be ok too. Just be fully aware of your choices, and why you do it.
- Once someone ask for a custom order, you could start crocheting right away.. But you surely don’t want to buyer to have cold feet. To avoid this unconfortable situation, ask for a deposit before you start crocheting (maybe a third, or half of the total). I know it’s tough, but you’ll be glad you did it !
- Where can you sell ? Each case will be different. I know friends who only sell through word of mouth, friends and friends of friends.. others will sell on local craft shows. Or you can start an online store on one of the selling platforms such as Etsy, and/or write a blog or facebook page.. Follow your heart and do what sounds most natural for YOU: if you hate spending hours on a computer, starting an online shop may not be the best place to start.
- Make sure you sell only original work (no copies of “popular styles”), or use crochet patterns from designers who allow the sale of finished items : such as my crochet patterns for instance !
- My top tip: To find your ideal customers, make sure you don’t target crochet fans: they can crochet and will usually only think that they could do it themselves ! Instead, target people who don’t even know that it’s crocheted but value the time and skill needed to produce handmade goods, and love artisan work !
- Your action plan: Make a list of items people often compliment you on. Crochet a few samples, and think about the price you want to sell them for. Then take photos, and start spreading the word via any way you can think of: email your friends and family, and ask them to forward it to any people they think might be interested… Start a blog/shop/facebook. And ask around about local craft shows, and even sign up for one ! I can’t promess you will sell tons, but the direct contact with potential customers will give you invaluable information for your budding business !
2/ Write articles and tutorials about crochet techniques
Do you love discovering new stitches and techniques, invent new ways to make things ? How about sharing your experimentations with others and earn money while at it ?
- This is perfect for you if you love the technical aspects of crochet: reading stitch dictionnaries and technique blogs…
- To start your own blog, you don’t to be already an expert: simply be open and honnest about it, and share openly your experiments and discoveries with all the other “beginners” who want to learn but may not have enough time, or your skills !
- Among other skills, you’ll need to write good copy and take great photos to illustrate your tutorials: pictures make all the difference in the impact of a blog post !
- You can also write articles and submit them to magazines, both in printed or digital format. Think of your favorite magazines, and try to find their contact info to pitch an article ! As one of my favorite saying says, “if you want something you’ve never had, you have to try something you’ve never done” ;-)
- Making money with it: it’s easy to add affilate links to a blog for all the materials used in your tutorial. Amazon and Etsy, to name a few, offer affilation programs which will give you between 5 to 12% of the sales made through your links. Oh, and if your article gets published in a magazine, of course you’ll get a flat fee for writing it.
- If you’re publishing on your own blog, some blogging platforms allow you to display advertising and getting paid for it. However, do think about it long and hard: do you really feel comfortable giving all power to somebody else to choose which kind of ads will be displayed on your blog ? Will it reinforce your credibility or weaken it ?
- My top tip: To sell well through affiliate links, you’ll need to write amazing articles and tutorials, and gain the confidence of your readers. So that they want to support you and give back for your hard work.
- Your action plan: Start by making a list of themes you’re really interested in, and which could make great articles. Work on the content, experiment, research what others have written on the subject (or don’t, if you want to avoid being influenced by others and stay original at all costs), take pictures while you crochet.. and start writing ! Do not pressure yourself, the article may not be perfect right away.. but ask your best crocheting buddies for honnest advice on how to improve it. If you don’t have a blog yet, create one (there are tons of platforms. I use mostly WordPress, or blogspot). Finally, go ahead and publish your first article !
3/ Create and publish your own crochet patterns
Do you love to crochet without using patterns, and crochet your own original creations ? How about writing down patterns for those, seing others crochet what you’ve created… and making money for that on top !
- To start with, there are two options: you can either publish free patterns, and make money for instance through affiliate links for the materials needed (see previous section),
OR publish paid patterns. Which is what I’ll focus on here, even though many aspects would be applicable to both types.
- Publishing and selling your own crochet patterns is great because patterns will sell even while you sleep or are away on a vacation, but it’s also hard because it involves a huge panel of skills to make it work.
- Selling crochet patterns involves much more than simply crocheting and writing down your notes: you’ll also need to take beautiful pictures to make your pattern really appealing to most, maybe do a lot of maths if you want to included several sizes in your pattern, network with testers to check that your patterns are error-free, spend time on updating your shop(s) and blog when you release a new pattern.. and of course, promote, promote and promote ! Which can totally be fun and a great source of networking with your fan base, but takes a lot of time.
- Once your patterns are written down, you’ll need to sell them. Or course you could simply post a picture, and let people send you check or paypal you the money to “buy” the pattern. But you’ll probably loose a good portion of your potential customers if you do not simplify the buying process, and make it secure (who knows if you’re not going to keep their check, and never send anything in return?). Therefore, I highly recommend opening a shop on one of the online selling plaforms, such as Etsy, Ravelry or Crafty to name a few.
- Yes they will keep a small % on each sale, but it’s highly worth it IMO: the transaction is secure for both parties, send the pdf as soon as the payment went through, and will even find you a few customers on top of everything else !
- One thing I love about this pattern writing business is that because the patterns are digital (pdf), you have no printing & shipping costs for every extra sold copy. So yes, you could sell your patterns directly on your blog, sell only a couple here and there and pay no fee on your $10 received by personal checks.
OR you could see the larger picture, sell to a much wider audience (international even!) thanks to paypal and other card payment systems, be able to handle large volume of sales, and generate 20 times that amount, even if that means paying a fraction of this in fees: you’ll still earn tons more money at the end of the month !
- Before crocheters buy your patterns, they’ll have to know they even exist in the first place! To do that, share pictures and stories on your blog/facebook/instagram. Create relationships with people who like your style, network with other crocheters, and start your own email newsletter to stay in touch with the “fans” of your work. (can you guess I’m currently working on an ebook on the subject? :-) )
- My top tip: Don’t try to “sell” your patterns, but rather try and explain what makes them special. Communicate with the crocheters who appreciate your work through an email list, a Facebook page or Instagram account: it’s the best way ever to get instand feedback on which pictures attract more interest on a new pattern for instance, or whether a new pattern generates interest and might be worth advertising it …
- Your action plan: Browse through your past original creations and see which one gathered the most enthusiastic comments. Would it be easy to explain how you made it ? Maybe you even kept notes on how you crocheted it ? Otherwise, make a second sample and this time write down every single row/round. And take pictures of the different steps. Then write down the pattern, including those step-by-step pictures. Make sure you use the standard crochet stitches, and think ahead: people from outside your country may buy your pattern, so be sure to include measurements both in cm & inches. Once you’re done, find a few crocheting buddies ready to test your pattern and make sure it’s easy to follow and has no error. Your pattern is now ready for posterity !
4/ Become a blogger influencer:
As a blogger influencer, you’ll be sharing your opinions about crochet related products, and write reviews of crochet books, crochet patterns by indie designers, yarns… and any other new product you may think is usefull for a crafter !
- If you love to write, are always on the lookout for new and better things, have respected opinions among your peers.. then that might be the perfect option for you !
- You can write reviews and articles about a large variety of products and services: crochet books and magazines, yarns, crochet hooks, but also services: blogging platforms, services for bloggers, online softwares to create crochet charts or edit your pictures.. the sky is the limit !
- Making money with it: The easiest way is to use affiliate links, such as Etsy which offers an affiliate program to earn a % of all sales of crochet patterns by indie designers you might recommenf for instance (Hey, you could recommend my crochet patterns and make money out of it !). For books and magazines, of course Amazon has a popular and easy to use affiliate program. Each crochet magazine you might recommend usually has affiliate links, such as Simply Crochet Mag. And when it comes to yarn and crochet hooks, there are litteraly TONS of sites offering affiliate programs, including for instance Knitpicks, Annie’s craft store, Joann, Wool and the gang.. Just google “affiliate program + yarn + crochet” and you could find your favorite store has one too !
My top tip: To write interesting blogs, you’ll need to be very careful to write ONLY about products and services you are truly passionate about. Even if that means sometimes the commission on every single sale may seem tiny. If you start writing only about things that could bring in large commissions, your readers will know it and loose interest. On the other side, if you manage to gain their trust, you never know how much a review written with all your heart might bring in if it suddenly gets viral !
- Your action plan: Start out by observing during a couple days all those things which make your crocheting day fun, and the reason you you love them so much. That could be books you refer to often, magazines you cannot wait for, newsletters you love to read (hey, if you want your readers to trust you, recommending also things you don’t make money on is a must!), yarns you keep crocheting again and again because you love them, and hooks you crochet with day after day… Make a list: those are the things you’ll want to write about first, because they are the ones you’ll be truly passsionate about. And there’s no better way to “sell” something than loving it passionately ! Take good pictures, start writing your first articles, and research the affiliate programs that could work with the theme of this article and your personal values. And hit the “Publish” button !
5/ Teach crochet
So you love crochet, enjoy following patterns (or not) and exploring new techniques, … and most of all, you like to share your passion with others ? You are patient, organised, have good social skills, and most of all you are superpassionate about crochet ? You could start teaching crochet ! That could be workshops for kids, or maybe adults.. Beginners classes, or expert sessions: everything is possible !
- If you already have a network of people interested by crochet, and most of all, a studio or dedicated room, you can simply offer crochet classes directly. Otherwise, you may visit your LYS, local library or Community youth club and Arts center and ask them about the possibility of organising crochet classes.
- Afraid you’re not qualified enough for paid classes ? Start out by offering free classes to friends to gain confidence in your skills and teaching abilities: then ask them what you could improve to make your class even better. We all started out this way !
- One thing to pay attention to, if you organise a workshop around another’s design pattern, is to ask permission to the designer first ! Also, if it’s a paid pattern, make sure each crocheter buys their own copy. Organising a class using somebody else’s pattern and distributing everyone a photocopy is just NOT possible !
- How much should you charge ? Of course, we all tend to start by charging not much. But as soon as you gain confidence about your teaching skills and the contents of your classes, make sure you get a decent hourly rate, including the time you spent on preparing the class, and your taxes !
I’m in France and I’m not sure how much difference that makes, but to give you an example I tend to charge 25-35 €uros per person for a 3 hour workshop, with a minimum of 3 people attending the class.
- My top tip: To be recognized as the local “crochet expert”, it also helps to organise various events around crochet: it could be free Stitch and Bitch nights, yarn bombing actions, or even free crochet classes for kids in your local school. That’s a good way to network with people involved in crafts or local authorities…
- Your action plan: Think about your specific skills and things you’d love to teach. Would you rather work with kids, or teach adults ? Organise beginner classes, or master classes for experienced crocheters ? Do you want to offer weekly classes, or one-off workshops ? Make a list of classes you’d like to teach, and prepare a rough synopsis of the contents of each class. Then start asking around, either to your list of contacts or to your LYS/library which will already have their own list of contacts: let’s teach crochet !
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