2014 truly is a New Year for me in ways that past years have not been. I am finally graduated from college. If you didn’t know, I was on the 12-year bachelor’s plan. Ok, so that’s my little joke, but it did take me 12 1/2 years to finish since I took a long break in between from when I started and finished to have kids. This year I am also homeschooling for the first time, which puts great pressure on me to stay home–which I want. I’m not ready to run out and get a job right now. That might come, but not yet. Third, I have my own small business–albeit very small.
The last months of November and December I made more in commissions than I had in the first year that I began to sell my crochet products. It was a very exciting time! Now don’t get me wrong, I still didn’t make a lot. It was only supplemental to my husband’s income, but it proved to me that it can be done. I only need to make a little extra to afford to stay home. Enough to start paying off my student loans and put a little extra food on the table. If I can do that while staying at home with my kids, I will be incredibly pleased.
These last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about what it will take to make my business successful in the ways that November and December were. So with that in mind I have come up with a few “Business Goals!” (no–not New Years Resolutions, there is a very strong difference, I think).
- In order to make the money I want, I need to sell 2 amigurumi per week, or 8 per month. My goal is to make 2 amigurumi per week. What I have noticed, though it has been by no means a scientific experiment, that the more I post online–usually Facebook–the more orders I get for custom work. December saw me selling away my pre-made items as well.
- Ideally I would like to have 100 animals ready for craft fairs in November, but that would mean I would need to make more than 2 per week. I will stick to the goal of 2 per week, but be very thrifty about saving the animals–no more giving them away! *ahem*Christmas, birthdays, and small children that come to my house and beg me for my toys*ahem*. I did one craft fair last year in October. The craft fair itself was successful in that it completed my two goals. 1, to make back my table fee, which I did, and 2, to make contacts and allow people to actually see the product I was making which up until that point, not many people had. The surprising part of the craft fair, was that I was invited to sell at 4 more fairs! Crafters, at least here, are in high demand and short supply. Too many people selling things like Scentsy, 31, Partylite (there is nothing wrong with these!!!) and not enough crafters for actual craft fairs. I was pretty thrilled with being invited to so many, but shortly after the fair I received a huge custom order, and knew that I couldn’t do the fairs as well. I want to be ready for next year.
- I want to blog once per week. Now, in the beginning when I was making this goal I scoffed at myself, thinking that once a week was a pathetic goal. But I also know myself really, really well and I know that once a week will be plenty. This has been a difficult one for me and the one that I have met the most Resistance (more on Resistance with a capital R later). I think writing is an integral part of who I am, and what I want to do, but for some reason I have feared committing to it. I can’t quite articulate why. One very practical and selfish reason is that in order to have time to write now, I have to get up early. People … I love my sleep. 6 am is not my friend, but here I am, making it work.
- Post 30 items on Etsy. Phew. I almost wrote 20, but no, it needs to be 30. It’s a scary thought for me, but I need to get my work out there.
- Finally, and the most ambitious and exciting part yet, is that if there is a new animal that someone asks me to make, or small accessory, I want to design it myself. I have already started on this with some ear warmers that have been requested of me. This will serve two purposes. So far, I have primarily relied on other designer’s patterns, for which I am so thankful. This last year has taught me a lot in terms of design, style, and basic construction. But I want to develop my own style. I want my animals to be recognizable as mine. I want to be able to say, with 100% conviction, that yes, this work is mine and I designed it. Also, I want to take said patterns, and then sell them online. I love to crochet, but as I learned in December, it isn’t always sustainable. I had to turn people away from orders. My wrist became sore and inflamed. It’s not something that I can do indefinitely at a feverish pace. Pattern writing, on the other hand, in theory at least, allows me to do the work one time with minimal effort later. Once a pattern is written, it is written. I don’t have to keep re-writing it, though editing and customer support will surely happen. And then once it’s out there for people to buy, if I’m lucky, it will sell and continue to bring me an income.
So that is my very wordy plan. I’m sorry about the extremely lengthy post. I needed to get it out there. This is what happens when I take 6 months in between posts … ALL THE WORDS! come out.
AND … because this is primarily a crochet blog, I couldn’t possibly leave you without some pictures! Here are a few of the commissions that I worked on for Christmas.
This fun little Square Fairy is my own design! I was quite pleased at having had an idea, sketching it, and then bringing it to life.
Taggle, from FreshStitches. This guy is so cute and fun and by chance I was able to witness the present being opened up by the little boy who got it. He loved Taggle! Note to self, next time extra, extra tie in those arms! Nothing happened, but Taggle was flying everywhere, and at dangerously high speeds. I always tie secure knots in the inside of the work … but seeing the toy being used in action was very enlightening.
Spiral Scrubbies by Judith Prindle.
Nelson the Owl from Freshstitches. This owl got a lot of hits on my Facebook page. The colors really are great. I’ll have to make another.
One-eyed Spike, the monster, my own design! I learned how to do this particular body shape from Stacey’s patterns, especially her monsters, but the huge eye, the spikes and facial expression are all mine. I actually really love this one. He was a hit with the kids as well.
Lark, from Freshstitches.
Roosevelt, from Freshstitches. He’s a favorite with the kids.
Ok, so these are not all that I have made for Christmas, but it was a fun group shot. I’ll have to blog about the pirate owl in the upper right hand corner, because he was a HUGE hit with kids and adults alike.
And last, but not least, a Giraffe from Freshstitches. This was not actually made in December, but a great example of things that I need to have in stock. It sold at the last minute from a very unexpected source. A friend through a friend. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and having items made does help. I work mostly with commissions, but if I hadn’t had this in stock, or at the very least made it before and shared the pictures, no one would have known it was available. I’m saying this more for myself than for anyone else.
Make the product. Put it out there. Product will sell. Maybe not all of it, or right away, but product sells product. Whether it is the actual item itself, or a spinoff and custom order for something else, put your product out there for people to see and to buy!
Well, I think that’s everything. If you’ve gotten this far, thank you so much for reading my post. I am very excited for 2014!