I was inspired to write this post because I come across this very topic all the time in the various crochet groups that I love being a part of. I, myself, have struggled with this very subject and was left feeling very defeated. That’s when I decided to research and really figure out what it would take to sell my handicrafts in this extremely competitive marketplace.
In my research, I scoured through many articles saying the same vague info… you need to have the right product, a certain je ne sais quoi, etc…, but nothing ever specific. Or worse, courses you have to pay for to get advice.
First, you need to look at what you’re offering and be critical. Is your product a dime a dozen? If you make amigurumi, then take a walk down the toy aisle at any given store. If you find something similar, then it’s time to reconsider what you’re making. Same goes for crocheters who make accessories like hats, scarves, backpacks or handbags, and garments. Spend a day cruising popular clothing stores and make a note of what there is an oversupply of so you know what to avoid.
The key is to get ahead of upcoming trends. A great way to find out what to make is to look at baby, wedding, toy, home decor, and fashion magazines. These give great insight as to what styles and colors are on-trend for the season before they flood the market. (Money Saving Tip: Check to see if your local library has current magazine issues, this way you can read them for free.)
Material. Yes, yarn is expensive, and acrylic yarn is an awesome product that comes in a zillion variations at affordable prices, but anyone can buy a commercially made product of comparable materials for far less than what you would need to charge to cover materials and labor. If you are making an item for a baby, you may want to consider organic materials. If you are making an item for sale as a wedding gift or home decor item, you may want to consider using a more luxurious material. This reason alone is enough to charge enough money to cover material and labor.
Time of year is also a factor in any business’ sales. Toy sales are higher around November and December. Clothing sales are higher in spring and fall. Baby and Wedding sales are more of a spring, summer, or fall time of year.
Consider where you advertise. I sell amigurumi patterns and advertise them in my beloved crochet groups on Facebook. The wonderful people in these groups can already crochet themselves (or are looking to learn) so a pattern on how to crochet a particular item would be something these folks would be interested in. Typically, these are not the people that would want to buy a finished crocheted item. Take a look at what you are selling and think of the type of person who would be interested in that particular item, then advertise it in that type of group. Be sure to read the group’s rules for posting. (Group Tip: I recommend avoiding business groups as these groups tend to be filled with sellers, not buyers.)
Once you have an idea of what you want to create and with what materials, go out and find a fabulous pattern! There are a plethora of patterns out there on the internet. Check websites like Craftsy, Ravelry, Etsy, Pinterest, and Google. Many patterns are free but don’t shy away from paid patterns either. I often find some of the most beautiful patterns are paid ones. (Also, you’ll be supporting a fellow maker by purchasing a pattern.) Just remember, if you sell a few items from that one paid pattern, then it most definitely has paid for itself. Be sure to refer the pattern designer on your listing as typically noted on patterns.
In a nutshell… When trying to figure out how to get buyers to trade you their money for your product–materials, color, and style are important attributes to consider. Examples: I created this black, white, and red, visually stimulating crochet book for babies out of 100% organic cotton (materials set you apart). I created this boho chic baby layette set (style sets you apart) with the option to be customized (wording signals and added cost) in 100% organic cotton (now you’ve got material and style that sets you apart). I created this throw blanket and/or decorative pillow set out of 100% cashmere. Check out this faux leather and/or cool color festival top. Etc…
Before I go there are a couple of topics I feel that I need to mention… First, use good pictures. This subject was mentioned over and over in “how to improve my online sales” articles along with elaborate ways to photograph like a pro. Let me just say this: on all of the online listings that I saw, I have NOT seen one photo that would’ve steered me away from the product. If, by chance, someone who is reading this has their listings photographed on top of a pile of dirty laundry, dishes, or other clutter/randomness, then please retake the pictures with a plain background. You can easily use white printer paper, construction paper, or scrapbook paper (my personal favorite). Second, there are crocheted creations that are more of a work of art than a toy. If you are selling a work of art, then be sure to advertise where you would expect to find art lovers, doll collectors, or other fans of your subject matter. Also, I’ve seen teddy bears that are so beautifully done that they might be considered both a work of art and a toy; at this point, you might want to advertise it as home decor or heirloom gifts.
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