Starting a Crochet Business

by Laura Eccleston

12 Dec 2019

2,897 Views

Starting a Crochet Business
Tips to help you get starting on a new and exciting career! If you’ve ever wondered how to make money from your crafts then this article will be a great starting point and will cover all the things you need to think about.

"How do you start a crochet business" is a common question I get asked a lot and to be honest there is no simple answer because there are many ways to go about it. Probably the most frequent request though is how to grow quickly and get noticed in what is a very swamped industry and it really comes down to three important things, be passionate, don’t do it for the money and have good photography!

Step 1 – Brand Identity

This is definitely your first step and doesn’t need to be complicated. It simply means to think about what your product is and who your target audience is going to be. A lot of people make the mistake of trying many different things at once, especially if you’re inspired by other people’s work. If you’re a crocheter you may want to make baby clothes, toys, blankets, everything at once, but the problem is, is that you become a bit of a jack of all trades and can confuse your audience or be seen as just another crocheter with no direction. There is no reason why you can’t do everything, but in the beginning it may be best to focus your skills on just one particular avenue and stand out as a maker of something unique. Try to think about what you enjoy making the most, what is the one thing that you have mastered and feel confident about or want to master? As you grow you can make lots of different things and launch them as different ranges if you want to. When I first started HappyBerry I focused on baby items because my daughter being born was what inspired me and this was a good first step. Ten years on I have designed all sorts of things and now have quite a selection, but it was a gradual process. 

Many people also choose to design a logo and build a website, but this really isn’t necessary, especially with the use of social media today. You can simply work under your own name and set up a dedicated Instagram and Facebook page as well as an Etsy, LoveCrafts or nuMONDAY shop to begin with. As your business grows you can invest in websites and logos and all that jazz.

Step 2 – Product Development

One of the most difficult things when starting a business is how to find wholesalers. You don't want to be buying all your materials at retail prices or waiting on companies from eBay based in China. The best way to find wholesalers all in one place is to head to a trade show. They are often free to enter and they can get you in front of lots of different companies that sell at wholesale prices. Many people visit as individuals so don’t feel like you can’t go if you’re not in a big company. Each wholesaler will usually give you a form to fill in asking for some basic information and then they set you up as a customer. Some can be fussier than others with how big your customer base is, hard if you're just starting out, but it’s a good place to start and will give you an opportunity to talk to people in the industry and ask questions. A simple Google search for "Craft Trade Shows near me" will bring up lots of different options. There are often shows at the NEC in Birmingham for craft businesses and they can be fun to attend!

Step 3 - Photography

Once you have decided on what you want to make, make a few examples so you can launch a selection of things rather than look like an empty shop, and photograph them, but photograph them well! Think of your new Instagram page as an artist’s gallery. You only want to show the best of your work in the best light possible and the key word here is light! But you don’t need fancy equipment or expensive DSLR cameras, a simple point and shoot camera and natural light from a bright day is really all you need. Try to avoid dark rooms and rainy days as it will give your photos a washed out orange glow from all the artificial light in your house, which can make your photos look unprofessional. Also when taking your photos try to use a neutral background and add some complimentary props. This can really add to the feel of your photo. Think of every photo as telling a story rather than just taking a picture for the sake of it. If you’re showcasing baby clothes maybe add a ball of the yarn you used plus a small toy in the same colourway, maybe add flowers or some little trinkets or even head outdoors and into nature.

Here is a list of two fairly inexpensive cameras from Amazon that I have used over the years and some decent extra photography lights, used both for photography and video tutorials, but often your smart phone works just as well! (affiliate links)

Camera 1: Canon Powershot
Camera 2: Canon EOS M50
Studio Lights: ESDDI Softbox Studio Lights

Step 4 – Marketing

Getting your work noticed is easier than you think and doesn't have to cost money. Instagram and Facebook etc have many policies and the first one, which goes without saying is don’t spam other people’s channels with links to your work. It will immediately put people off and make you look desperate. Think of yourself as an artist who doesn’t care about what others think or see, you just want to create your art! If you’re only creating to make money you will find it very difficult to grow and will become despondent quickly. Starting a crochet business is a long process and has to be something you put heart into as that will show through in your work. 

Avoid putting endless hashtags in your posts too, again it will look like you’re trying to cover all bases and ironically Instagram’s algorithms will down vote your posts making you less visible. Perhaps pick four or five hashtags relevant to your post and change them for every post. If you’re photography is good then you will naturally entice people to your page like you would a gallery exhibition. 

Also when people arrive at your online exhibition as it were, make your posts interesting. Interact with your viewers, ask questions and request feedback and ideas. Don’t simply post about prices and how you can buy buy buy as it will put people off. People want to see quality content that isn’t always trying to sell them something. A simple direction at the end of the post saying where the items are available should be sufficient. You can always add shop links to your profile/about me section as well. Try LIVE shows or behind the scenes footage in your Stories, let people get to know you. This helps to form friendships and build your community.

Other ways to gain exposure is to design for magazines or write to them telling them about the work that you do. Make sure to include some of your work when contacting magazines and always try to find a contact’s name so it shows them you have a true interest in their magazine. I personally never did this as I was lucky enough to be contacted by magazines instead and did do some initial designs for magazines in the early days, but often found it a lot of hard work for very little exposure, but this is a personal choice and something you can decide for yourself. I always found InsideCrochet magazine one of the nicest magazines to work with.

Partnerships and collaborations are also fun to do and a great way to get your name out there. If you have some favourite bloggers or vloggers who do podcasts maybe pop them an email letting them know about what you do or write an article for HappyBerry!

The one thing to avoid though is spending money on advertising such as Instagram ads or Facebook ads. I have tried this various times over the years as an experiment, but have found it to be a waste of money. I have always gained more followers organically than ever through such schemes. A little trick I did do in my very early days was to share free patterns as well as paid for patterns, which is something I still do today as you know. The free patterns would attract people to my channels from say LoveCrafts and people would go on to purchase other patterns when they have tested my free designs and found they liked them. Like a free sample I suppose. This could easily be adapted to items you make as well. Sharing your finished makes on Pinterest and LoveCrafts with links to your Etsy shop or social channels. Again, it comes down to good photography!

Step 5 – Pricing

Now, so many people ask me how much should they be charging for their work, whether it be a design or a finished item and this is not something I can answer. I have never sold finished makes because I have never had the time to make them! I’m a designer at heart so have only every sold patterns. A good starting point though is to research what other people are selling their makes for. You will need to consider materials used and the time you have put into your projects. Sometimes pricing too cheap can give the impression your work is cheap, yet pricing too high and you alienate people as being too expensive. It’s a fine line that you can adjust over time. I always say however that it is better to price high and offer discounts at various times of the year than pricing your work too cheap as it is much harder to put your prices up and you can end up overworking yourself!

Do be aware though that selling digital goods on your own website, such as PDFs will be liable to EU VAT law. A minefield and something to be aware of. To avoid this use Etsy or LoveCrafts to sell your patterns when first starting out as they will cover any VAT costs for you.

Step 6 – Sustainability

Things to consider when selling items is the materials you use as well. Some people may be allergic to wool, some people may be vegan. It is a good idea to offer alternatives, be adaptive and listen to your customers. It is also a good idea to think about your packaging and be more environmentally conscious and start as you mean to go on. It will give you an edge and help the environment in the process! It is worth investing in recyclable, compost-able and non-plastic packaging as much as possible even if it is more expensive because it will leave a better impression with your customers and give you a selling point. You don’t have to be perfect, a little goes a long way.

Also try to buy materials locally. This will reduce your chances of being faced with sudden changes in import costs or other political changes to foreign trade. It also helps support your local economy. Many factors can affect different companies so try to have a few options to hand and not rely on one particular wholesaler.

Step 7 - Legal

When starting a business it is also important to consider the legal side of things. This isn't something to be scared about, but it is important to be aware of any issues that may affect your business such as GDPR and other privacy laws, EU VAT law as mentioned above as well as liability insurance in case anyone is injured by your products. Usually if you care about your customers, look after their data and communicate well you will be starting off well. If in doubt just have a Google search on these issues mentioned or speak to a business insurer who can point you in the right direction of what you may need.

Step 8 – Customer Service

You must be nice to your customers! Even if they make you wish you stayed in bed that day. Often difficult customers arise simply from being frustrated or disappointed and just need some communication from you to be feel that you care. When they receive this they can often calm down and be very appreciative. We’ve all been there when a delivery doesn’t arrive and we can’t get through to the company. It only makes us more upset so even if you don’t know how to help, don’t avoid answering problems. Always try your best and most people will be glad that you’re just trying to listen.

Lastly - Enjoy what you do!

The key to success is simple to just enjoy what you do and to remember why you started on this journey! If you believe in yourself then you will achieve. I hope you have enjoyed this article and found it useful. Any questions just head to my Instagram page! instagram.com/happyberrycrochet I would love to hear what your new business idea is and what's on your crafting table today. 

- Laura Eccleston at HappyBerry

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