Becoming a Yarntrepreneur

Becoming a Yarntrepreneur

You love to knit and crochet and give the things you make as gifts. At this point, everyone in your life has one of your blankets, sweaters, or hats. Your family and friends. Your UPS guy. Your neighbor. Your neighbor’s baby. Your other neighbor’s baby.

At a certain point maybe you’ve had the thought, wouldn’t it be great to sell some of my stuff instead of always giving it away?

The short answer is yes, you can launch a crafts business — in fact, there are a lot of ways to do it. But that doesn’t mean it’s simple. If you want to knit yourself a little business you need to find your niche, market what you make, and work hard.

Here’s how to turn your passion into profit.

1. Find a Sales Focus

You’ll be more successful if you specialize, at least when you’re first starting out. Some of the things you can sell include:

  • Things You MakeIf you especially enjoy crocheting baby booties or knitting blankets, make that your thing.
  • Special OrdersYou produce items on demand based on what the buyer wants.
  • Original Patterns Maybe you love creating new designs, so sell ’em!
  • Craft SuppliesHand-dyed yarn, custom crochet hooks, knitting-needle organizers: You can use your own knitting or crocheting savvy to market these things to other crafters.
  • ClassesSell your skills as a craft teacher, either online or in person.

Whatever you do, you need a website that’s professional-looking and easy to navigate.

2. Decide Where You Want to Be

Some makers really prefer small local craft fairs, making each sale “one handshake at a time.” Sure, there’s more potential to reach a larger audience if you sell online or to large retailers, but that may not be your goal.

Figure out what would make you happy. Some of the options for fiber artists include:

  • Online StoresYou can sell crafts and patterns through sites like Etsy.
  • In PersonSell your stuff at craft fairs and fiber expos or through commissions in local stores. Or go all the way and open your own store!
  • Crafting Websites and MagazinesThis is a terrific way to find a broad audience and get exposure.

You can eventually do it all but start small, see what works for you and adapt accordingly.

3. Take Great Photos

If you’re trying to sell items online or through any type of media, then you need to take good photos. People want to be inspired, whether you’re selling them hand-knit sweaters or a crochet pattern.

4. Package Professionally

Go the extra mile to make your items look like they belong on the shelf of a fancy boutique. Add a personalized sales tag with a pretty font that includes washing information and your website address. When shipping items, wrap them in lovely packaging, so the recipients feel like they’re receiving a gift.

5. Provide All Pertinent Info

Some people are allergic to different types of yarn, or only want to purchase items that are made locally, or are concerned about buying ethically sourced yarns or vegan yarns. Make a tag or a flier insert with all the information you can give about your materials. This info should be on your website as well.

6. Find Your Signature Style

It may take a while to figure out what’s unique about you, but it’s important. I know when I attend a craft fair where every booth immediately looks the same, I spin on my heel and head off to make my own stuff instead.

Maybe what makes you original is your yarn choice, the characters you crochet, your color palette or the stitch pattern you always use. Whatever it is, find it, perfect it and share it!

7. Figure Out Your Pricing

It’s tough to know how to price your items. Check out our article on pricing handmade goods for some great tips.

8. Collaborate!

You don’t have to do this all alone. Here’s how to find help:

  • Hire tech editors and pattern testers.
  • Buddy up to share a booth with someone else at a craft fair.
  • Join craft groups on sites like Facebook and Ravelry to ask questions.
  • Connect with your local yarn and fabric stores to see if you can help each other out.

9. Learn the Law

Each avenue of craft sales has some legal guidelines you need to know about.

For example, if you’re selling patterns to a magazine, you might sign a contract that tells you when you can sell photos and if you’re allowed to re-sell that pattern elsewhere. If you’re selling finished items using someone else’s crochet or knitting pattern, you need to make sure the designer allows you to do that. If you’re selling items online, be aware of the copyright laws for photos you didn’t take.

Earning an income off your fiber crafts means there may be sales tax and even self-employment taxes. There’s a lot of information online about the legalities of the business, and you can always consult an attorney if you’re unsure.

10. Have Fun and Be Flexible

You want to open a crafts business because you love it: Never lose sight of that. If you’re not enjoying it, stop and ask yourself what’s wrong. There’s a lot to learn, but you can start small and figure it all out as you go.

This is your own business, so be flexible and adaptable, realizing your needs might change over time. You might love selling finished items one year, then decide you’d rather sell patterns. That’s okay. Listen to your gut and communicate well with your customers and you’ll not only survive, you’ll thrive!

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