As a brand spanking new crochet business owner, I still get a little shiver when I think of myself in those terms! Like many newcomers to an industry, I have spent my fair share of time reading inspirational stories from others who have had success, and learning from their journey.
Sometimes though, it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, and to start doubting myself and my ability to reach those heights too. A lot of the articles I read about starting and running a crochet business are by people who are already successful, and while their stories are without a doubt inspiring, it’s sometimes hard to relate to people who are a lot further along the path to success than I am.
What have I learned?
So, I decided to take a couple of hours away from my to-do list and write down the most important things that I have learned in the 6 short months since I started out in the blogging and crochet designing world. I wanted to do this for two reasons:
- I want to have a reminder for myself of how far I have come already. When times are tough, it’s all too easy to focus on the negative and see all the things that we don’t know. So while I absolutely have a lot to learn, I have already learned plenty too.
- I hope that my thoughts will resonate with people who are either at the very start of the their crochet business journey or still thinking about making the leap.
My Top 5 Lessons so Far
Throughout the post, I refer to several resources that have helped me so far and I have also listed them all at the end for convenience.
Everyone starts at ‘One’
One pattern. One scarf. One blog post. One craft fair. One sale.
It’s so easy to look at people who are more established in this industry and feel inferior. They just all seem to have so much more than we do – more sales, more patterns, more inventory. And it’s all too easy to forget that they probably all started from the exact same place as us.
Think how excited you were when you made your first sale. Or when you checked Google Analytics and saw the first page view that wasn’t you! We all start out at the same point, and the only way to get past the ‘first’ of something is to do it again. And again, and again.
No one starts out with 100 blog posts or 100 patterns for sale. Everyone starts at one.
Community Over Competition
It’s not unique to this industry but I really do feel that the spirit of ‘Community Over Competition’ has been embraced by crocheters and knitters who want to take their love of yarn and move from hobbyist to business owner. Yes, the world is full of fantastic designers and makers all vying for the attentions of customers. And yes, it is not easy to stand out in the crowd. But one way that we can all boost our businesses is to give others a boost too.
Share that great pattern you see on Instagram; give encouragement to the person who is struggling to make a leap into the unknown (chances are you will need that encouragement too); congratulate the designer who has just gotten published in a big magazine.
We can succeed by working hard on our own businesses and by lifting each other up; we do not need other people to fail just so we can succeed. There is room for everyone.
Find your community
There are so many ways to become part of a crochet or knitting community – I really feel like I am only scratching the surface at the moment. You could follow some of the bigger designers and makers on Instagram. Join in a Crochet/Knit Along through a Facebook Group. Reach out to a business owner that you admire and ask if you can share one of their designs.
A couple of months ago, I joined the Crochet Business Academy and if I had to name a single group that really embodies ‘community over competition’ then this would be it. The academy has given me such a boost in terms of connecting with other designers and makers. It’s reassuring to see that others are going through the same trials and tribulations as I am, and I have already learned so much from the community. It’s also great to be able to return the favour and help out newcomers!
It might not be for everyone, but if it does sound like something that might help you then I absolutely encourage you to check it out. Entry to the academy only opens a couple of times a year but you can get on the waitlist here to be notified when it opens.
You can do all the things. Just not all at once.
This is a big one for me! I listened to a podcast by Tara Swiger recently (see Resource links at the end of the post) that talked about the different seasons in a business owner’s journey.
One of the seasons that she talks about really struck a chord with me – the season of exploring, gathering information and learning all of the exciting new things that you need to do to get your business off the ground. In this season, everything is exciting and new, you are learning new things daily and eager to try them all out! This is absolutely where I am at right now.
We are very busy. But are we productive?
In my enthusiasm to get going, I have found myself hopping from one task to the next, each one more pressing than the last. So while I have been very, very busy, I don’t feel like I have actually made a lot of progress on any one thing.
So after many, many weeks of flitting between tasks on my to-do list, I came to the realisation that I needed to be more focused, to decide on my priorities and then only do the tasks that advanced those priorities.
Prioritize to make progress
Right now, my top 3 priorities are:
- creating new patterns, having them tested and launching them (if you are struggling to get your own designs down on paper then I highly recommend this FREE pattern writing challenge)
- growing my email subscribers list (you can subscribe here!)
- Pinterest: both promoting my own pins and setting up a regular pinning schedule using Tailwind (On a side note, if you are like me and thought that a Pinterest strategy consisted of creating one pin, uploading it to Pinterest and then hoping for the best then think again! Pinterest strategy is a science in itself and while I still have a long way to go I did learn a lot from this Pinterest Launch Plan course)
And yes, I know it’s fun to scroll through Instagram and admire the projects that others are working on. It’s a whole lot of fun to browse Facebook and read about all the strategies and tactics that other bloggers and makers are using to grow their businesses. And in time I will get to try out all those too. But right now, I need to put my blinkers on and focus on my priorities. And keep reminding myself that yes, it is possible to get everything done, just not all at the same time.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint
They seem to pop up everywhere don’t they?
You’ve never heard of someone and then all of a sudden they are everywhere you look. But 99% of the time, these overnight successes have not come about overnight at all. There are months, probably even years, of behind-the-scenes work, hard graft and many failures and stumbling blocks, that have all culminated in success.
So, on the outside it might seem like someone has arrived on the scene in a blaze of glory, but in reality they have probably been working very hard for a very long time. This is something I have to keep reminding myself of when I feel like things are just progressing a little too slowly for my liking. It takes time to build an audience, and even longer to turn that audience into customers. It takes time to get Google to recognize that you exist. It takes time to implement your Pinterest strategy.
No marathon runner gets to the end of that 26.2 miles by taking off at the speed of light with the starting gun. No, they pace themselves, stick to their race plan and keep putting one foot in front of the other until they reach the finish line. It’s the same for us small business owners. We take it one project at a time (yes, it’s totally ok to have lots of WIPS on the go!), one new pattern at a time, one sale at a time. We’ll get there.
Your journey is your journey
The environment that each of us small business owners operates in is unique. Some of us are able to work full-time on our business, some might work part-time, some might only work in the “fringe hours” when our day jobs are over and the children are asleep.
Some of us might have an early success; for most though, growth comes in smaller increments. And we all have myriad other life/health/family circumstances that impact the pace at which we can grow our businesses.
The journey will not be the same for any two of us. And that is ok. So instead of wishing the time away, wishing that we were at some magical point in the future where we feel like we have “arrived”, maybe we should take the time to slow down and enjoy the journey.
We can enjoy the new friendships we are making in this fabulous community of yarn lovers. We can enjoy the feeling of discovering a new skill, practicing it and mastering it. We can pause to be grateful for every little milestone reached, no matter how small. We can delight in our own journey.
So there you have it! As I look back at the past 6 months since I started this crochet blog, these are the lessons I have learned, and the things that I try to remind myself of every day. Do I have a long way to go? Absolutely. Have I made any money? Not much! Will I keep going? Just try and stop me.
Thanks for reading and happy crocheting,
- Explore your Enthusiasm Podcast with Tara Swiger: Seasons in Business
- Just Keep Blogging Podcast with Kim Anderson
You can also read about my favourite podcasts for crocheters & knitters here