Kimberly is a 19-year-old jewelry artist, soap maker, and crocheter. She lives happily with her boyfriend in northern Minnesota.
Commissioned projects are a great way to start your business, and the word of mouth you can get from them is incredible. Starting out this way won't pay your bills, most likely, though there are always exceptions to the general rule.
You can get started this way, obviously, by telling your friends what you do, and having them tell people, and so on. Your specific crochet niche defines where you will want to spread the word about your new business. You can make flyers and post them in places someone who would like a nice crocheted item might go. You might post them in places new moms, grandmas, or middle-aged women might frequent, depending on what kind of items you crochet. If you make baby blankets, you'll want to post your flyers and ads in daycares, laundromats, and restaurant boards if you can post there. If you crochet fandom hats in custom colors, then you will post in places you would think young adults or members of that fandom would frequent.
The pros of making commissioned projects are that typically no two people will want exactly the same item, so you will be able to branch out and learn new techniques, and you will always be creating something new. This kind of business also involves no cost for rent and no shipping fee. If you live in a large enough area where many people might go to you, advertising with flyers could make you a full-time income. I do say that tentatively, though, as it would be hard and time-consuming.
The con of making commissioned projects is that you will have to be able to adapt to what your customers want as the customer will be giving you your instructions. You're kind of limited to what the customer wants, and you can't be too creative.
Doing commissioned projects is a great way to begin your business, but it should be combined with other techniques as word of mouth may not earn you a full-time income.
Creating an Online Retail Site
Another way you can make money with your crocheted items is by creating an account on an online retail store that will take care of certain specifics for you. Many of these stores are free to join, though some do require a listing fee, or you can create a premium account. The top sites, among the many out there, include Etsy, Bonanza, eBay, and Artfire. Each site has its own unique pros and cons, so you should look into them individually to see what will be best for your business, though I personally would recommend Bonanza or Etsy.
The benefit of creating such an account is that you will be able to reach a huge number of people as millions of people browse the internet every day. This can get your items in places all over the world, and you can gain lots of experience with this. You will also have full control over what you make, allowing you creative freedom.
The downside of this method is that you will typically need to pay a fee for the listing, and you will need to pay a shipping charge. Though the customer does get charged for shipping, shipping the item out can also be a hassle. You also have to worry about making sure you have good photography. And you have to do a lot of your own advertising, and many times you will have to pay for this.
Build Your Own Website
A great way to begin earning a full-time income is by owning your own website with your own domain. You can do this on wordpress.org, where you can make a website. The best hosting service to go with for this, in my opinion, would be Bluehost. To buy your domain and pay for hosting costs about $50–300 up front. This is because you pay for one to three years in advance: in reality, it's only about 6$ a month if you buy three years and $12 if you do one year. You will have to pay for advertising, and you will want to update it often so Google can find your page. For that, I suggest you look up what SEO (search engine optimization) is, and there are some great tutorials out there for people interested in learning how to do this. I suggest you do as it is vital for your store.
This is one of the best ways to be successful as it makes you look more professional and allows you to be seen as an expert in your field (especially if you have a blog as well). Out of all the ways listed, this is probably the most likely to earn you a full-time income if done correctly.
The pros of having your own website are:
- Your store is completely yours.
- Your account can't be closed.
- You don't have to pay listing fees.
- You don't have to create items to be appropriate for a specific website.
- The startup fee is really the only cost associated with this unless you pay for a plug-in (you can find free ones, but if you really love a paid one, then get the paid one).
- The layout is completely yours.
- You're not competing with other people on the same site for attention.
The downside is:
- You do have to pay for the site upfront.
- You have to design and maintain the website yourself. By design, I do not mean coding: If you use a hosting service like Bluehost and a platform like Wordpress, you just have to decide where things go, and they code for you.
- You also have to do your own advertising. A good way to do this is to have a blog and a website with just slightly different URLs, and link to your shop through your blog.
A brick-and-mortar shop is just a small, locally owned business in a certain town. This is a great way to get some interest from the community and also establish yourself there as well. Someone is much more likely to hire a commissioned artist who owns a store and can be found than someone off the streets that they don't know. This can also gain you a nice amount of income, especially if your town has tourists and you are in a noticeable location. You will need to find a place to rent to run your business out of and get the correct licensing for your area.
The pros of using this method:
- You gain a lot of foot traffic.
- You can get a good reputation in your community and good word of mouth.
- You can also get a lot of extra money during tourist season.
- You can design your store how you want.
- You don't have to compete with anyone inside your business.
- You can't expand outside of your town unless you pair it with owning an online business.
- You will always need to have enough inventory to keep your store stocked even on busy days, and if you get commissions, you will be extra busy.
- This is not a work at your own pace business idea, as you will need to be in your store, managing it and maintaining it at all times. Even if you hire employees, you will have to take care of a lot of responsibilities day to day.
- There's also a very high beginning cost for this option for renting and furnishing a storefront.
I'm going to start out by saying craft fairs will not be enough to earn you a full-time income. They are infrequent, typically expensive to join, and do not get enough traffic to supply every booth with the money needed to pay their bills. I'm adding them to the list of options, though, because when they do appear, they are a great way to earn some extra cash.
Another good thing about craft fairs is that oftentimes, people will come from out of town to see them, and you can hand out your card, which can attract people to your website or store or encourage them to contact you for a commission.
The pros of this method are:
- You can gain exposure and possibly generate extra traffic for your site.
- You also don't have to pay shipping costs, just the cost of setting up your booth.
- Sometimes people can make thousands in a day at a craft fair and can hand out hundreds of cards.
The downside of this method is that it will not generate you income at reliable intervals. In some areas, craft fairs are few and far between. Also, the table space in the craft fairs that get the most traffic is oftentimes expensive and over-saturated.
If you have enough experience in crocheting, another fantastic way you can make money is by designing your own crochet patterns. Now, this is intimidating to a lot of people, but it doesn't have to be. There are so many platforms you can use to publish patterns, even here on HubPages! Then once you're ready, you can move to your own blog or website, or even sell your patterns on sites like Etsy or Ravelry.
- You get to make things you enjoy making.
- You only have to make one or two of each thing instead of repeating the same thing.
- You don't have to deal with potentially unsatisfied buyers.
- All your money comes from the pattern, so you get to design things that you can keep or give as presents!
- You may up with a lot of crochet items around your house (I donate the things I don't want to homeless shelters to avoid this problem).
- It can be frustrating at times and is very time-consuming.
- It's difficult to get started and takes time to take off.
This is my favorite way, and I highly recommend it. However, it will be very slow going, and you really want to take your time with your patterns to make sure they're correct. It takes me about a week to a month to design a pattern depending on the size, so to build up a lot of patterns, it will take time and patience!
What Should I Do?
Now that you have all these options, deciding which one is right for you might be difficult. The great thing, though, is that a lot of these can be used alongside each other and actually yield better results in the end. Craft fairs are great, no matter what solution you decide to go with, because it will allow you to hand out business cards that help you use the other options as well. The possibilities for this are endless. If one choice doesn't work out well, then try a different one!
I hope this helped you feel better about turning your hobby into a business. And happy stitching, everyone!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
RTalloni on June 15, 2019:
A neat post with great ideas for earning by crocheting.