This week’s episode is a special one-year anniversary episode of the Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show. Listeners and former guests share their best advice by telling us the one thing they’ve done in the past 2 years that has had the most benefit for their businesses.
Before we started on the advice, I shared the top 10 episodes from the first year of the show. Can you sense the themes?
- Episode 8: Affordable Crochet and Knitting Fonts with Adriana Hernandez
- Episode 1: Identify the Right Magazines to Target for Your Article, Tutorial, and Design Submissions
- Episode 9: Selling on Etsy, An Interview with Ijeoma Eleazu from the Etsy Conversations Podcast
- Episode 2: 10 Ways to Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business (In Just Minutes A Day)
- Episode 3: 8 Tips for Organizing Your First Pattern Test
- Episode 23: Diversifying Your Income and Boosting Your Blogging with Tamara Kelly from Moogly
- Episode 29: Selling on Etsy, Passive Income, and Using Trending Keywords with Alexandra Tavel from Two of Wands
- Episode 21: 10 Habits for Successfully “Owning” (or Working) from Home
- Episode 4: 6 Ways to Engage with the Blogging Community
It seems that topics related to blogging, selling on Etsy, and self-publishing patterns are enjoyed by most listeners!
And, now on to the advice!
Michele is a knitting designer and owner of Gauge + Tension, a pop up yarn shop in Brooklyn, NY. I previously interviewed her on Episode 13 about how (and why) she started Gauge + Tension. Michele says:
In regards to my design business, the one thing that has been the most beneficial is outsourcing. I’ve found a wonderful tech editor to work with, and have also worked with great sample knitters. It’s increased my productivity and allowed me to focus more on designing.
Write your patterns!
Crochet lends itself to improvisation so easy. Many crocheters can see a picture on Pinterest and they make a similar pattern off the top of their head. They assume that others can do the same and do not write the patterns that they come up with. So if you are making the same thing as everyone else, say you make a Minion hat, write up the pattern and offer it for free. If you make a pattern that fills a need that you have noticed so you made the product, write up the pattern so that others can make the item too. Don’t be intimidated by your own skill level whether you are an expert or a beginner.
I think the most important thing is to stay true to yourself, and your own voice. It’s important to listen to your readers/customers, but you have to keep going with the stuff that made you passionate about getting into this business to begin with. Otherwise it becomes just another “job” – and burnout will follow along soon enough!
I have noticed a shift in my business since I made the decision to approach my business with the same attitude and focus that I gave to my prior careers. I have taken the systems and tools that I used successfully in my previous ventures and adapted them to be applied to my knitwear design business. This has given my business structure, routine and made me much more productive.
One thing that I have been doing for the past year or so, that has been the most beneficial to my blog, is sharing my posts across many social media sites. People are constantly on social media. They use it for news updates, to stay in touch, and get inspiration for projects, recipes, fashion, and more. I noticed that by sharing my patterns on different social media sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon and even Ravelry, I am able to get more exposure for my blog from different groups of people. It has helped me tremendously with my traffic.
Anita Bose Natarajan
Anita is the knitting designer behind NitaB&NishaN, Inc. Anita says:
Invest in Yourself!!!
Learn financial, business and ‘your area of interest’ skills.
If you are starting out and have no funds, learn from all the freebies you can find – internet, people, print articles – anything.
If you have some funds, research classes/subscriptions that will really benefit you, check on their pricing regularly and when the prices drop, buy them and learn.
If you have funds you can set aside regularly for investing in yourself, keep a listing of nice to have classes/subscriptions, keep tabs on the pricing, and when the price is within budget, buy them and learn.
I have always done one of the above depending on my financial situation and managed to move ahead – snail pace, but still ahead.
I agree! I talked more about how I invested in myself and my business in Episode 18: 8 Best Investments I Made In My Business in 2014.
Lindsay is a knitting designer and maker, and the owner of Knit Eco Chic.Lindsay was one of the organizers of last year’s Indie Design Gift-a-Long I interviewed in Episode 12, and she was also my guest in Episode 26. Lindsay’s advice:
Let your passion and character shine through each design.
My business is fairly new so the conclusion I came up with is: I didn’t quit. Staying motivated to keep going and not give up is a must when you’re dealing with a business that cannot be grown overnight.
There are a variety of ways I keep motivated but the most impacting has been listening to podcasts. Listening to your podcast, small business podcasts, mom business podcasts, affiliate marketing podcasts, SEO podcasts, really anything I can get my ears on. Hearing tips as well as other regular people’s success stories really motivate me to keep going, and to up my game.
I thought I’d share my simple-but-true business tip … The best thing I’ve ever done for my business is stay true to my heart. It’s important and smart to take a strategic approach to business but it’s equally important to let your head quiet down so you can hear the beating of your own truth inside, following that towards any changes in business.
As a newer designer, the two most important things I’ve done have been to 1) persevere and 2) diversify. I think it’s tempting to envision rags-to-riches outcomes in this business, but I suspect that’s not realistic, especially in the current climate. Even though sales were dismal at first, continuing to produce high-quality patterns has definitely begun to reverse the trend. There were times I wanted to give up: as I mostly design garments, each pattern is a tremendous amount of time and effort, and there were times it seemed not worth-while. However, I’m glad that I persevered and stayed true to my aesthetic style, as I’m slowly starting to see the pay-offs. Secondly, I’ve learned various aspects of the business by designing for different formats/ venues. I’ve published three designs in third-party publications in the last year and half, and all of them have operated a little differently from each other. It has been informative to see how the professional publishers display and promote my work. I also recently completed my first project with yarn support, and the logistics of the promotions and marketing have been different from what I’ve experienced for self-published designs without yarn support, or for 3rd-party publications. The skills I’ve learned by designing in each of these settings will be valuable in whichever direction I take my business in the future.
The tip that has made a daily impact on me is about my tools – If I am going to crochet everyday, I need to use the best crochet hooks out there to keep from getting hand cramps, etc. I’m not sure which of your episodes this is from, but after that show I ordered myself a set of the Tulip hooks and love them! They were expensive, but much better than hand cramps!
I’m know that I have utilized several other tips that you have passed one, but this tip is the one that stands out to me, probably because it’s the one tip I use every day.
I thought the answer to your question would be simple but I ended up with a list of ten things! Then I realized that five of them are all aspects of the same thing:
Doris Chan crocheted ALL sizes of a new design in ALL colors of DesigningVashti Lotus yarn. At two CGOA conferences we had “fitting labs” with them, and had them all modeled at once in the fashion show of each conference. This ensured that crocheters got to know the yarn in the best possible way: they experienced the yarn’s special drape and sheen as they tried on the garments. They saw all of the colors up close as well as on a runway. They gained lots of valuable and inspiring information about crocheting clothing in a memorable way: how more than one size of a well-designed garment fits fine depending on the look you want (for example, a smaller size may look trendy in a cropped, figure-enhancing way, while a larger size on the same person may have a breezy, swingy, streamlining look). How two people who wear the same size but have different body shapes look different in the same size. What good blocking does for a stylish design. Ideas for altering the pattern, for example, add repeats of the edging, or change sleeve length. (Doris also crocheted some simple variations.) And, they experienced all of this while chatting with the designer directly.
Attached is an image of Doris the Blur, in constant motion! This was her newest Lotus Lattice design in our booth on the show floor in July 2015.
For me, the one thing that has been the most beneficial is to learn to trust my gut more. By that, I mean: trusting my instincts when a design idea is working or is compatible with my design sensibilities, but more importantly, trusting my instincts when a design idea is NOT working. It could be the shaping, the yarn choice, a stitch pattern, or the whole design altogether. Learn to trust that inner voice that the idea needs to be tweaked or even abandoned. I think that the more I do that, the more my designs will reflect a cohesive aesthetic or “voice” that is hopefully unique!
I don’t suppose I could sneak away from this episode without sharing my own tips…
Since I made the transition from being the full time employee of an organization with a side business in 2013 to being a fully self-employed person, I’ve found that there are 3 things that have allowed me to be self-supporting without relying on a full time job for income.
- Flexibility. I’ve had to be willing to make adjustments and course corrections to my businesses (while still staying true to myself, of course).
- Learning. I’ve had to make frequent investments of time and money in myself to keep learning new things to help my businesses thrive.
- Diversification. I have more than one business, and within each business, I have activities that lead to multiple streams of income. I’ve found that each one contributes to the others in unexpected ways.
Kathy Kelly from Crochetbird gave the Show a 5 star review on iTunes. She says, “I am always surprised at the amount of useful information included in these podcasts. Definitely worth the time and an enjoyable listen too.” Thanks, Kathy!
If her name sounds familiar, it’s because I responded to questions from Kathy in two past episodes: Episode 4: 6 Ways to Engage with the Blogging Community and Episode 45: How to Balance Two Creative Businesses.
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What’s your best advice for another yarn-related business owner? Let me know in the comments here or in the Facebook group, Tweet me at @cyeshow, add me to your G+ circle and send me a note, or leave a message at 646-713-8973.
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