Over the weekend, I made a decision. Maybe it’s not so big, but it felt kind of big to me. I decided to close my Etsy shop and shut down my Facebook business page. Four years ago, when I was newly obsessed with knitting and staying home with the kids, I was knitting ALL the things, more things than my family could possibly need or want. Sometimes I made things just for fun, even though I didn’t know anyone who’d want it. At that time, selling handknits seemed like a great plan. I’d get to knit, do something I love, and make a bit of money. I set up the Etsy page and started doing craft shows. Well, if any of you have done something similar, maybe you discovered what I did: it’s hard to sell handknits. I did well at craft shows, but Etsy never took off for me. There’s a lot of competition and it’s hard to get noticed, and I made what I wanted instead of mass producing what I thought customers would want. I needed people who could see and touch each piece, and fall in love with them. And I’m sure I could have taken some courses on SEO and photography and online business, but for a number of reasons, I didn’t. So I’m not blaming Etsy; it’s great for a lot of makers. It just never did much for me. The customers I did have were delighted with what they bought, and all my reviews were 5 stars. I had fun, but never came close to profiting.
I started the Facebook page when I felt like I was overloading my personal page with knitting stuff, and I didn’t want to annoy my friends by trying to sell things that way. A business page seemed like a good solution, and I really enjoyed that. I shared new pieces, blog posts, fun photos, all kinds of fun yarny things. I sold very little through the page, and most was to friends, but again, I didn’t put as much effort into it as I could have.
Then a year ago, I went back to work. My knitting time dwindled, and my other creative time disappeared. I focused on selfish knitting and only renewed the existing Etsy listings when they expired. My Facebook posts leaned toward funny shared posts with the occasional blog post. I definitely didn’t have the time or energy for craft shows. I didn’t worry about it, thinking I’d settle into the job and figure things out as I went along.
Now, I’ve been back at work a year. I have no more time than I did six months ago. What I do have is a renewed desire to be creative for myself. I love the more thoughtful knitting I’m doing now. I’m not churning out a bunch of hats, as much I love hats. I’m choosing projects carefully, selecting wonderful yarn that’s worth my time, and making things that bring me joy to wear or gift. That’s one of the beauties of knitting: it can be whatever you need it be, and that can morph and change depending on your needs.
I want to get back to blogging more regularly, and there’s a novel kicking around in my brain, and I want the mental space for those things. Something had to give, and Etsy and Facebook were the prime candidates. They had become dead weight, offering nothing of value.
Once the decision was made, it felt right. I let the girl go through my inventory and pull out what she wanted. I reduced the prices on my listings to do a closeout sale in hopes of recouping some costs. (You can check them out here if you’d like.) What’s left after a month or so will be donated to a worthy cause. Then I went through my craft room and pulled out all the stuff I’d bought for craft shows, stands and racks for displays, and put them in a box to donate. None of it is fancy, and all came from a thrift store to begin with, so that’s not a loss. With all of that done, my craft room was a tiny bit tidier. And my brain felt tidier too, like I’d deleted a few files.
So that’s where my head is right now, and it feels good. I feel renewed, and I promise my next post will have some actual knitting in it!
What about you? Has your knitting changed over time too?
Yeah, as you’ve probably seen me say, I don’t do great on Etsy with my crocheting, but it’s the easiest way for friends to pay me for the, ah, Very Special Things I wouldn’t have time to make without a little reimbursement! I think we just got on the Etsy train too late. But I’m glad it works for some people. You could consider keeping your Etsy store on hiatus, so you don’t get charged, in case you ever want to do short run sales? Or not, since I don’t mean to give advice to someone who knows more about this than I do :). I enjoy your knitting stuff!
Thank you! Haha I definitely don’t know more about this than almost anyone, so I appreciate the feedback! I did think about putting it on vacation, but it would still be hovering in the back of my mind, because I’m crazy like that. But I suppose I could still clean out the inventory and keep it hiding just in case. I’ve got a little time in case I change my mind. 🙂
Knitting for me has changed since my grandma passed away. She even taught my daughter to knit. I have not picked a needle up, this summer will be 7 years.
Have you thought about essential oils in place of knitting? I started with Young Living Essential Oils two years ago and I have turned it into a business and love it.
That’s too bad. I hope you’re someday able to get back to knitting. It’s brought me through a lot of rough times.
And no, I haven’t. I have no desire to replace knitting with anything–I love it! I’m not looking to add anything or replace anything; my goal is to refine my focus to the things that really bring me the most joy: knitting for ones I love, and writing.
If it feels right for you it’s the right decision!
Thanks, I think so too!
I find that I am more successful with selling my items at craft shows as well. As a full time working woman, keeping up with Etsy got to be really stressful for me. The making, taking photos, and listing took a lot of time. As you know when you have limited time you would rather be knitting. 😊 I ended up donating my extra stock to Wool- Aid, which provides hats to children in need. Love reading your blog and I am looking forward to seeing more posts!
Thanks so much! I think handmade just does better when you can connect it to a person, so craft shows might always go better for us. And yes, when time is short, one must prioritize and knitting always comes first. 😉
I have been having the same feeling about Etsy. The things I make are One of a Kind and they just don’t fly on Etsy. I do Ok at shows and word of mouth. I think the biggest reason I haven’t closed my Etsy shop is because it’s on my business cards. LOL
My condolences for your having to get a Real Job. Some people thrive like that, but I’m surely not one of them.
Best wishes in whatever way you go!!!!
Thank you! I appreciate it! It would be nice if I could make as much with my creative pursuits as I do at work, but hopefully I can achieve a good balance. 🙂
It sounds like this is the perfect decision for you!
You’ve got to do what’s right for you! It’s been fun watching all of the socks that you are knitting. I find that I don’t enjoy making things to sell.
Same here. I like selling things, but only things that I’m inspired to make and then don’t need to keep. It’s not as much fun when you start with the “must sell” mindset.
When I have a cool new idea often the voice in my head says, “But would someone buy that?” I work really hard at quieting that voice.
Haha! Yes, that voice needs to be quiet!
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I’m a bit late to this post but i know exactly what you mean. I gave up my folksy shop a few years ago because nothing would sell, at least not for my prices. I found it took the fun out of knitting for me. I still occasionally do custom projects for friends but even then i feel pressured to finish them and get stressed out. Now i am into sewing as well its just lessened the time i have to knit. I want to make things for myself nowadays. Also did you find when your (non knitter) work colleagues find out about your talent, they are always saying “you should sell on etsy!” 😂
Yes, exactly!! It did start to take the fun out of it. It’s more fun now to make things for myself, or choose to make things for people I love. And yep, I’ve gotten the “you should sell/do you sell” lines too. I even had one guy ask me if I sold socks on Etsy! Heck no!
! I mean handmade just does better when you can join it to a person, so workmanship shows might always go better for us.
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