Sell Your Craft
Pro crafter Shannon Okey shares her top tips for turning your crochet into cash with an an online business.
By Shannon Okey
Make a Plan
If you want a successful business, you need a strong business plan, which includes a mission statement, a marketing plan, and a financial plan, among other things. A mission statement is especially important in that it distills what your company stands for and provides. Ask yourself some basic questions before writing it: What does my business do? What do I provide that my competitors don’t? You will refer back to this plan over and over again, and you can expect it to evolve over time.
Know Your Strengths
The stark reality is that many crafters are blind to essential business tasks that can make or break your business. Taxes, licenses, and financial planning are as important as your craft itself. Don’t try to be the superhero and take on everything yourself. Delegate tasks that aren’t your forté—accounting, for example, is my personal Kryptonite. Find outside help, such as an established accountant specializing in small businesses, a lawyer, and a marketing consultant. If you have a good team in place, you’ll be able to spend more time on your passion.
Research Your Market
You may think you know everything about your craft, but trust me, you’ll be surprised by how much you don’t. Thoroughly research your market. Study your competition and don’t overlook general fashion trends. See what works and what doesn’t. You may want to start with established online marketplaces, such as Ravelry.com, Patternfish.com, and Etsy.com, which provide a lot of guidance for new sellers. New online marketplaces are cropping up all the time, so innovate wherever you can.
Talk Up Your Brand
Networking and getting your name out there are essential for building brand awareness. Far too often, creative types get shy when it comes to marketing their products and themselves. Don’t let a little stage fright damage your business. If you want to make creative work your day job, make sure the outside world knows you exist. Teach a class at your local yarn store, participate in craft shows, and attend events.
Your real focus as an online craft business should be your online presence. Get a website and a blog. Sign up for a Twitter and Facebook account. Consider marketing your expertise through how-to videos on YouTube. Interact with other designers and bloggers online. Create your own group on Ravelry and start a crochet-a-long. Whatever you do, keep your brand consistent. What does that mean? Use the same username on all social media sites so people will start to recognize you. More people know me as Knitgrrl than as Shannon, after all!
Set yourself up for success, not failure, with these helpful guides:
- The government provides a lot of support for small businesses, such as the Small Business Administration and the IRS’s small business section.
- Look to books such as Meg Mateo Ilasco’s Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Business (Chronicle Books, 2007) and websites such as craftmba.com or indiebizchicks.com.
- Don’t overlook promoting your website on search engines. Google’s guidelines are especially helpful.