Tag Archive | etsy

Fear and Self-Loathing

Most of us have days when we’re full of those two emotions, am I right? Today is one of those days for me. Besides my life as a mom and wife, I have my passions: my yarn craft, my writing, my proofreading. If I’m not succeeding at those, I feel like I’m failing as a person. Whether that’s right or wrong doesn’t matter. It just is. The brain doesn’t function that way, or at least mine doesn’t. I need to train myself to define “success” more loosely.

So yesterday, you might have seen, I posted about starting a sale on my Etsy shop. I wrote about it here, and I posted a photo on Facebook. I tried to boost the photo but it was rejected, so I tried again with a different photo. Maybe I was obnoxious about it because someone unliked my page yesterday. This morning, I found that I’d lost two more likes. Does it matter? It shouldn’t. It’s not a comment on ME. Except that my knitting IS me, so a rejection of that does feel personal. Thankfully, I also got two new likes (YAY) so that made me feel better. Maybe I should get rid of the Facebook page and just focus on Etsy. I get so caught up in the numbers that I lose focus of what really matters.

Those of you with small crafty businesses, what do you do? Does FB help or hinder you?

Also, rejection just sucks, doesn’t it?

Yesterday, I also handed off my manuscript to a new reader, a former co-worker, and I’m anxious to hear her feedback. What if it’s horrible? I don’t always think it is, but today I do. And soon, I’ll be sending this piece of myself out to agents to critique, and reject.

Yes, rejection sucks. But I guess that’s the risk you take when you put yourself out there, isn’t it? And you just have to keep going to find the reward: those people who truly love what you’re doing and who aren’t shy about saying so. It’s too bad those voices are less frequent and harder to hear/believe.

But here’s the bright spot of my day: I have a potential proofreading client, and as much I love proofreading, I think I need to bump that up in my priorities. I love being that person who helps others shine. So getting a basic website up is on my To Do list, and soon. I’m sure I’ll share it when it’s up!

I’ll close with another highlight. I finished another project last night, a fun slouch hat with some of my newer yarn. I love it, can’t wait to get some better photos so I can list it on Etsy. IMG_4932

I have my knitting, but what about you? How do you cope with rejection, with fear and self-loathing?

Watch me WIP!

I have SO many works in progress right now, it’s crazy. Maybe not, maybe everyone else has 10 unfinished projects hanging around. Do you? I tell myself it’s okay because one is in deep hibernation, and six are for me that need to be on hold while I finish some money-making projects. So really, that only leaves three, and that sounds a lot better!

I did finish the Royals gloves and earwarmer and delivered those yesterday, and I’m proud to say that for the very first time I was able to make two gloves that matched each other in size! Not only that, I did it TWICE. Whoooa, that’s serious knitting success for me. Fresh off that high, I decided to jump off the deep end and start my biggest project: a crochet mermaid afghan. I’m sure you’ve all seen the photos. Well, it’s my turn to make one. IMG_3751I’m using Knit Picks Brava Worsted in two shades of purple and one shade of teal. Funny story: I picked up my crochet hook and my yarn to make my chain…and froze. I’d kind of forgotten how to chain! I did two stitches like a knitting cast on before my brain was like, No, stop, I got this. Fortunately, once I got going, I realized it’s not really a difficult pattern. The hard part for me will just be keeping myself interested enough to make something blanket-sized! But I’ve got a deadline so I feel confident.

Of course, I’ve also got a couple of hats on the needles. My Knit Picks Preciosa has just started to become a hat. I’m trying the Spiraltini pattern because it’s a simple pattern that looks more complicated than it is. I’m not at the fun part yet, though. It’s still in the ribbing phase. IMG_3756Last night the girl had a choir concert and I needed something super simple and portable so I grabbed a skein of Cascade Eco Cloud and cast on for another Broken Rib Slouch hat. I love how the chained texture gives it such awesome stitch definition. IMG_3753I’ll probably finish this up today when I need a break from the mermaid. Gray and rainy day means a day spent with my yarn! Except I’m out of wine, and that’s a problem…

Craft Show Results

This show freaked me out. Big time. I showed up to set up and it was in this BIG pavilion, and there were all these vendors with fancy displays and tons of product, people who clearly did this all the time. And then there was little old me, with my styrofoam heads and makeshift thrift-store displays and a wide variety of products. I was paralyzed for a little while, with no idea how I was going to do this. Thank goodness, my Knitting SIL showed up to help and jump-started my competitive nature. Between the two of us, we set up a professional, attractive display. IMG_3590 IMG_3591The first day was disappointing. Big crowds for the first three hours or so, but over the course of the 8-hour day, I made less than $100. Plenty of people stopped and admired, but no one was buying. I was discouraged but still hoped the second day would be better, and it was! The crowds weren’t as big but I made some sales, enough to sell twice what the booth space cost me. Great? Nope, but good. The Royals hats didn’t sell as quickly as I expected but I sold four of the six button slouch hats I just made last week, so I’ll be making more of those.

Here’s the highlight of the entire show: mid-afternoon on Saturday, two women stopped by my booth and admired several of the hats. The older woman tried on a red slouch hat and liked it, the younger woman tried on a few, then they said they still needed to look around. About half an hour later, they were back. They’d seen everything, trying to decide what their ONE purchase would be…and out of 100 or so vendors, I’d won their business! That made the whole experience worth it to me. Two hats, not a huge sale, but it said huge things to me: they appreciated the work I’d done, they liked it enough to spend their money on it. THAT is why I do this. THAT is why I price my items as fairly as I can. I’m not in this to get rich. I’m in this to do what I love and share it with others.

It wasn’t just them, either. I got so many compliments about my display, my products, my fiber choices, my workmanship. People stopped and really looked at my pieces, felt them, and told me I did very nice work. No, most of them didn’t buy, but that’s ok. It was enough to tell me that I’m on the right track with what I’m doing. Enough people get it, get that my goal is to take a beautiful yarn and find the right pattern to show it off, and do it in a high-quality way to produce something that’s better than you can buy at Target or Kohl’s. I did have one person ask me if I’d take $10 on a $15 acrylic hat (I said no) but only one. That person is not my target. My target is the person who appreciates beauty and quality and is willing to pay what those things are worth.

So now I have to figure out how to reach my target. I’m not sure this show was worth doing again. I had a wonderful time, but the profit wasn’t huge. Am I better off doing smaller, less expensive shows? In the past, I’ve made almost the same amount of money at them while paying smaller booth fees. Do I search for shows in areas that are typically more oriented toward handmade/artisan/independent sellers? Areas that are higher income? Or do I just keep doing a variety? I’m not sure. I’m pondering while I start looking around for some more shows to do.

What’s my takeaway from this show? I need more depth in my kid hat inventory. People wanted them. They loved my Yoda hat, but since I only had maybe five kid hats available, they didn’t sell well. I need more colors, more styles, more sizes. And the button slouch hats will definitely be a staple. They’re quick to make, stylish, and the buttons add great flair. I want to have some chemo caps too, soft and snug acrylic beanies. I had a request for them and hated that I didn’t have anything that was just right. (Of course I also had a request for camo alpaca beanies/gloves marketed as “Hunters’ Special” but I don’t think I’ll go that route.)

I’m never going to be the both with tons of colors in only three or four styles. That’s just not me. But I think I can find a way to meet the customers’ needs and still make what I love. They want kid hats? I love making hats. Having a variety of colors and sizes is all I need; they don’t have to be the same pattern. They want slouch hats? Man, the possibilities are endless. I’ll be making slouchy beanies forever and be happy doing it.

Making money from yarn is hard. It definitely takes time and effort and patience. In the last month or so, I’ve been posting more frequently on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and it’s helping. I’m nowhere near a rockstar but I’m engaging with more people, and I think my visibility is slowing growing bit by bit. Now I need to to take the next step and be more present in person; i.e. do more shows/fairs. I’m looking at this as a job, but I’m still loving it. How lucky am I? Very! Especially since I had so much time to knit the last two days that I finished three hats, including this one. IMG_3614IMG_3613

Arizona Sunset Cowl

I finished the Arizona Sunset cowl a few days ago, washed it, blocked it, and yesterday I went outside for a little photo shoot. I’m so happy with this cowl. It’s exactly what I pictured in my head when I bought the yarn. IMG_4741IMG_4744IMG_4732You can find the fantastic pattern here, my Ravelry notes here, and the listing on my Etsy shop here. I want to make some matching fingerless gloves with the leftover yarn, and then I want to make more of these cowls with the other colors of Mochi Plus.

I’ve been making good progress on my Playful Stripes blanket too. It’s going faster than any blanket has a right to. I think it’s because of the colors: I keep knitting because I can’t wait to see what it looks like with the next color. I’m on my third color now. IMG_3270Want to join me in the fun? Find the pattern here; what colors would you choose? The designer, Meridith Shepherd, did one in shades of turquoise, gray and white that’s gorgeous.

And something fun happened as a result of my starting this project: Meridith saw the project page on Ravelry, found the blog post, and contacted me. She’s a retail refugee/SAHM like I am, and I’m pleased to have connected with her. She’s a knitting designer doing business as Stacked Woolens. She’s doing a sweater try-on event at one of my LYS, The Studio Knitting and Needlepoint, where attendees can try on one of her sweaters, get the pattern, and buy the Anzula yarn. If you’re in the KC metro area, maybe I’ll see you there on the 24th! And if you haven’t been to The Studio yet, check out their page here.

Now I’m off to the post office. Thanks to the magic of Etsy, as of last night my shop is sold out of little Yoda hats, and I can’t replenish until I get my KnitPicks order of Yoda green yarn. Don’t you just love getting yarn in the mail?

An Epiphany and Finished Project Friday

Earlier this week, I had a minor epiphany. I read a quote about writers, and how if they hope to succeed at writing, they need to treat it like a job. I’ve read it before but this time it really hit me, and I realized I haven’t been doing that, either with my crafting or my writing. How can I get frustrated if I don’t put forth as much effort as I can? I’ve been treating these as hobbies, which is how they began. I’ve been treating them as fun ways to spend my days, which they still are. But if I truly want to make some sort of business out of it, I have to treat it like a business, which means committing a good chunk of my day to it.

My first order of business was updating my Etsy shop. It’s been open for a while but got pushed to the back burner for a long time. But it’s the face of my business that most of the world sees, so I wanted to present the best face possible. I pulled out all my current inventory, took new photos, reassessed prices, and updated listings. I went from around 30 listings to the current, final total of 55. These are my best pieces, the ones that will travel with me to the big craft shows I’m doing this fall and winter. My photos may not be professional quality, but they’re lot better than they were when I began, and I think it’s a step in the right direction. This is my favorite photo, even though it’s not the best one to show off the details of the bag.IMG_4638 I do still hope to do more photo shoots with my daughter modeling my pieces, but there are two problems with it. 1, she’s so busy right now that I hate to take up her time, and 2, she’s got a rather large head so I hesitate to have her model some of the size small/medium hats. But she’s great with everything else!

So I don’t have a finished yarn project, but I finished my Etsy project, and I’m pleased with it. I don’t expect big immediate results; it may never be a strong source of income for me, and that’s ok. But it’s a place to showcase my things, a place to point potential customers as well as judges for juried craft shows. My ongoing goal is to list new pieces more often, take new photos when I can, and keep up with revising/renewing old listings.

On a similar vein, I’m going to devote a little more time to my bonny knits Facebook page. Sure, I always post a link to my blog, but I need more. I need to post pictures and updates and personal thoughts more often. I’d love to drive more traffic to that page, but I can’t do that without giving people something good to look at.

And then, after I’ve done my social media “work” for the day, then and only then will I allow myself time to sit on the couch with my yarn and my Gilmore Girls. Obviously that’s important work too! Last night I started my Arizona Sunset cowl, and I already love it. IMG_3225Anybody else have good tips for using social media to support your business? What are your favorite sites and how do you use them?

I’m a Winner! And: Who’s that Maker?

Seriously, I won some prizes. Remember I told you about the Meet the Makers event at Ugly Glass & Company? I got to enter a drawing for a $20 gift certificate just for attending, and then I got entries for door prizes for making purchases. Well! I got a call a few days ago that I’d won the gift certificate AND a door prize! How cool is that? (Spoiler: Very.)

First up: the door prize. I got four entries. There were several door prizes to choose from, and each one had it’s own jar. I could put all my entries in one or split them up. I was torn between a lovely handsewn tote bag and a wonderful rainbow dotted cup, and ultimately decided I have a lot of tote bags (I think it’s a legitimate addiction) so I’d go for the cup. With four entries, I felt pretty good about my odds. And I won it! See how cute it is?IMG_2051I’m pretty sure each little dot is hand-painted. I can’t imagine how long that took. But I absolutely love it. It was made by PiCeramics, and she’s got a lot of beautiful cups, vases, pitchers and more.

Then it was time to spend my gift certificate. That was hard. I looked at GeekChic because I just love her nerdy handmade bags. She’s the one who made my awesome Doctor Who tote. And I looked at PiCeramics, but I needed to stay close to my budget, and her pieces had a deservedly higher price. But I kept going back to this booth of infinity scarves made with soft jersey-type fabric. I covet them every time we go to Ugly Glass, so it just seemed like destiny. I picked out two.IMG_2052 IMG_2053I love them. I put the blue one on right away, and I wore the gray/black one yesterday. I’m already trying to figure out what else I can wear them with. Sadly, I didn’t pay enough attention to the name of the booth, and the tags were removed when I bought them, so I can’t tell you the name of the maker, and I hate that.

I think more makers need to consider what goes home with their items. My cup came home with a tag that had a pi symbol on it, but I still had to go to the Ugly Glass website to get more information. For the scarves, I came home with no tags whatsoever. There are several clothing/accessory vendors listed on the website, and I have no idea which is which. I bought an adorable bag for my niece’s birthday at the craft show on Saturday, and I have no clue what her business name is.  IMG_2059I think it’s so neat how she has the little slots for crayons on the front, and it came with a Frozen coloring book. Plus there’s room for a few other things, so it’s perfect to take to church or out to dinner, things like that. I wish I could direct you to her, but I can’t because I forgot to get a business card and the tag only has a price.

So, a note to vendors: think about attaching a tag with your information on it. Or punch holes in your business cards and attach one of those. I put two tags on my items, one with a price and description, and one with my name, email, website, Facebook and Etsy. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to find me later.

Today’s puppy photo is brought to you by Grace, who seems to think she must be higher than the rest of us and therefore claims tables. IMG_1988

Another Craft Show Done

Yesterday I had a little craft show, another Etsy at the Exchange for local Etsy vendors. Here’s my little table display:IMG_1928I want to start hunting for display options at some thrift stores. I need some height variation, some visual interest, and if I could find a good way to hang purses, I’d be thrilled. These shows are short, just four hours, but they’re free and I think it’s going to keep growing into something big and cool. I sold a couple of things, gave out several business cards, met some interesting fellow vendors, and the local paper was there taking photos, so that could lead to some good exposure. Both my Etsy traffic and blog traffic were up yesterday evening. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I also bought something. I just can’t resist Wonder Woman.IMG_1938This was made by Rosete’s Thread, and she had a ton of neat stuff made with pop culture fabrics: potholders, dish towels, baby sets, dog bandanas. There was Walking Dead, TMNT, lots of superheroes, and some other stuff I didn’t recognize. She also had really cute ruffled scarfs and fleecy shawls. If you’re interested, you can find her on Facebook or on Etsy.

After the show, I found some solitude and worked on a hat, a custom order from Etsy, and this morning I finished it, except for closing the top and weaving in tails.IMG_1935 IMG_1937This is a pattern I’ve made before, and I found it much easier this time around. I even managed to do some of the cabling without a cable needle! It was a little scary, but it sure made it simpler.

But the best thing about yesterday’s show was it helped me find my short-term focus. I need to build my inventory of warm-weather knits. I think a lot of people walked past my table because it was 70 degrees and sunny, and they didn’t want to think about hats or cowls. My next show is in two weeks, so that’s how long I’ve got to make some spring hats, skinny mesh scarves, a market bag or two, maybe another purse. I’ll display fewer items and make sure they’re all perfect for higher temperatures. I better get busy!

How much is that purse in the window?

Last night, I finished my felted silk/wool bag. I hand-sewed the lining, sewed on the handle tabs and handles, and trimmed the long strands of silk sticking out. It would appear the bag is completely done.IMG_1820_2 IMG_1822 IMG_1823_2I like it. I was discouraged as I was working through it, frustrated with the felting process and not sure the lining would go well enough. But now that it’s done, it pleases me. I think it will become a knitting bag for ME.

Sure, I could try to sell it. It’s attractive, striking, unusual, handmade, handy. But I’m really not sure I could get anyone to pay what it’s really worth. Here’s a glimpse into the struggle of pricing handmade items:

  • Silk Yarn $16
  • Wool yarn $9
  • Lining fabric $5
  • Wooden handles $7

I’m already at $37 just in materials. But what about time?

  • Finding the right shade of blue wool to match the silk: 1 hour
  • Knitting the bag: 4 hours (approx)
  • Felting the bag: 2.5 hours (1 hour hand-felting, 2 cycles in the washer, stuffing & shaping the bag)
  • Prepping and sewing the lining: 2 hours (longer because I’m a sewing machine novice)
  • Hand-sewing the lining into the bag: 1 hour
  • Hand-sewing the handles into the bag: .5 hour

That’s 11 hours of labor. If I give myself even minimum wage (Missouri: $7.65) that’s $84.15. Add in the materials, and I should price the bag at $121. Whaaat? Sure. It’s technically worth that. Hard to argue with the facts. But where do I find the person who’s willing to pay that?

So here’s my question to you, fellow crafters: How do you price your items? Do you use a formula? Do you peruse Etsy or other sites to see what others are pricing similar items? Do you go with your gut?

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. This is an ongoing struggle for me, and I’m trying very hard to stop undervaluing myself and what I create. But at the same time, I do want to sell things. Not just for the money, but so other people can have things they love, so that I can share the joy of handmade.IMG_1821_2

The Day of No Knitting

I didn’t knit a stitch yesterday. I know, isn’t that crazy?! I wasn’t sick, I was home all day, and yet I never picked up a needle. BUT. That does not mean I didn’t play with yarn. I spent the day organizing my inventory of finished objects and getting ready for upcoming shows. Everything is priced, tagged and bagged. I pulled out the heavy winter items, since they won’t be big sellers for a while. I updated my Facebook Items for Sale photo album. And best of all, I worked on my Etsy shop.

A while back, I blogged about my frustrations with Etsy and got a LOT of great feedback. One seller graciously offered to look at my shop and give me some pointers. Thank you so much, Leonor, your suggestions were detailed and on point! I also took the time to look through her shop, Felt Buddies, for some ideas. She’s got some amazing needle felted sculptures.

Anyway, one of her suggestions was to improve the quality of my photos. My photos were better than when I first started on Etsy, but I knew they would be even better if I used natural light with a real person, which is exactly what Leonor told me. Yesterday, I finally did. My daughter already looked nice because of a morning music competition, so I told her to put on a neutral top and come outside with me. Her hair was up, so we focused on cowls and scarves, and I love the pictures I got!IMG_4077IMG_4097IMG_4122IMG_4155She had the most fun sitting on the hood of the truck, even if it was a bit too much sunshine. It was a great exercise for me too, to see how much better the photos look when they’re not in direct sun. We had fun playing with poses and backgrounds, and I can’t wait to get her out there with all my hats! Thank goodness we’re on Spring break–we’ll have time this week.

I also took my teddy bears out for some fresh air. I figure maybe they want to be in someone’s Easter basket this year.IMG_1407IMG_4193So my Etsy shop is updated now, and I’m pleased with it. It’s still a work in progress but I like where it’s headed. Today I’m going to take my new baby hats outside for some photos and get them listed on Etsy too. And I’m always open to hear how you make Etsy successful for you!

Etsy, Again

Wow, my post yesterday about Etsy generated some great conversation! I got some solid feedback and have already made some changes: I updated my profile, filled out the Policies page and de-activated all promoted listings. Best of all, I figured out how to add an Etsy widget to my blog page. I’d been waiting, thinking I’d get my techie hubby to help me, but decided I could do it myself, by golly. I’m not sure I did it exactly right, but hey, it works and that’s what matters.

I have more changes in mind: I want to update the photographs by using my daughter as a model, outside with better lighting and interesting backgrounds. Once I get those done, I’ll be adding more pieces to my shop. I have several things made but don’t want to list them until I have great photos for the listing. Once I get more pieces online, I want to create categories so people can just look at Hats, or Bags, or whatever.

But I’m still pretty sure that Etsy won’t be my main focus. I want to be more active in craft fairs, where I can talk to people about what makes each piece special, where they can actually *feel* what makes each piece special. With that in mind, I know I’ll be participating in the monthly Etsy at the Exchange events at our local downtown. I’ve got the big 2-day Oktoberfest coming up, and I’m hoping to be a part of a craft show held by my husband’s company this fall too. So I have options, and I have time to make more pieces.

Some of the comments made me realize how important it is to be patient. I need to put myself out there as much as possible, and then keep it going. So I’ll keep on trucking, trying to get my name out there a little at a time. I’m so grateful for everyone who chimed in; thank you for the kind words and encouragement and advice and suggestions. This is partly why I love the creative community so much: we support each other. We want each other to succeed, and we’ll do what we can to help. I love that. Thank you.