It makes me so happy that many crocheters use my designs as a way of making an income for themselves… by selling the finished items! (Yup, it’s allowed! Read here)
I’ve asked Michaela, the woman behind Crochet City KC on Etsy to share some of tips for selling crocheted items.
Hopefully, these tips will help you avoid some common problem spots and sell with success!
And a huge thanks to Michaela for taking the time to write this guest post!
1: Get Payment up front for Custom Orders
When I first started crocheting I was very lax in requiring payment for my creations. Since then, I have revised my policy to require payment up front on orders, as I had a few bad experiences of not receiving payment for my work.
Here’s an example: I took an order for a very large project that took me about 6 months and a large amount of yarn. And although I had quoted the person a price at the beginning of the project, because this person was a coworker, I didn’t feel comfortable asking for money up front. When the project was finished, the customer claimed I had quoted a lower price, and I felt like I needed to take it because there was nothing in writing and the work was already done.
Looking back, I realize how silly I was for not standing up for myself and its definitely one of the experiences I look back on most and think to myself… wow I’ve come a long way! Trust me, you want to receive the money up front for your hard work!
2: Always Communicate!
I can’t express enough how important communicating with your customers is, if you think something isn’t turning out quite right, you aren’t sure about exactly what a customer wants or if you are behind on an order communicating from the beginning is so much easier then dodging them and then having an upset customer in the end.
For example, one time, I received an order for a blue octopus. But what blue? Royal blue? Light blue? Green blue? or who knows what kind! Instead of guessing, I took my phone to the store and sent photos of the various blue yarns available. I sent picture after picture until we found the right one, and I’m so glad I did. The little boy who received the octopus sleeps with it every night and it matches his bed room perfectly, which would have never happened if I hadn’t taken the time to clarify the customer’s desires.
3: Be Honest about Your Abilities/Time
Sometimes, a request may be out of your crochet comfort zone or just may take too much time for you to complete. Earlier this year a customer came to me asking if i could re-create a very complicated monster from a TV show and after looking at all the detail and weighing the time it would take, I decided to turn down the customer.
It may sound bad to turn down an order, but it’s actually much better than getting in over your head and being unable to deliver. It’s in everyone’s best interest to just be honest about what is in your comfort zone.
4: Keep Accurate Records
In my experience, customers often change their minds or “forget” certain aspects of your original discussion. If there’s no record of the original discussion, this can lead to disappointment!
I do a lot of orders through Etsy and Facebook (which automatically leave a written record), but there are often times I take orders in person. If I take an order in person I write out the details of what they what and have the person look over each detail and sign off on it – that way they are acknowledging it and I have proof later in case they decide they want something different.
Last year I had a customer ask why the item they ordered had blue eyes when they asked for green. I was able to send them a copy of their original message to me where it stated exactly what they asked for. Needless to say they were happy about their blue eyes after that!
5: Put Yourself out There!
I am a very shy person when it comes to meeting people and socializing, so this advice is a little weird coming from me. One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself if you are trying to sell crocheted item is to put yourself out there. No one will know about you unless you tell people!
Maybe your version of telling is maybe just carrying around your crocheting in public and having a business card on hand for when that person who asks “What are you making?” You can easily tell them and then point them in the direction of where they can see more of your work!
Just try one little act of putting the word out about what you do and chances are it will go a long way. I’m not the most active facebooker/etsy seller/tweeter in the world but I still manage to keep pretty busy with orders by just putting it a tiny bit of effort every so often!
Thanks so much for posting this Stacey. It made my day to read this on your blog! =)
I nearly always read your emails. I find them useful mostly so I saved many of them. I have been considering selling some things so that I can be self sufficient with me yarn craft. But, the caveat, I mostly charity crochet and I’ve recently learned to knit as well. I want to always charity yarn craft as it is important to me. I also accept donations for this but it is obvious that this method cannot sustain my yarn influx vs my out going projects for much longer. And, I have been contacted by a couple of entities who need my charity items. the point, I need a steady means of supply renewal or I will have to stop charity so, I am forced to open another source and that means selling or bartering my product. Is it too unrealistic to think ?i can maintain both charity and commercial means? thanks
As long as you have enough hours available for that amount of crocheting, I see no reason why you can’t do both!
I am hoping to put myself ‘out there’ in a short while. Right now I’m designing a biz card, brochure and website and crocheting like a fiend. 🙂 How customers pay you? Do you take credit cards, cheque, or paypal? I do have a PayPal account. Is it costly to set up a payment method with visa or mastercard? Any other suggestions are appreciated. Thx…MO
Have you looked into Square? It’s a device that allows you to take credit cards on your phone for not much more of a cut than PayPal charges to accept a payment over the internet. PayPal also has its own card reader that works similarly.
Forgot to ask as well…do you have any suggestions on pricing crochet items? Do you give yourself an hourly wage and work from that, or break it all down to hours, materials used, etc.
Thx again. MO
Hi Marylin! You might want to listen to my podcast episode on the topic of pricing and selling! http://www.freshstitches.com/crochet-chat-podcast-pricing-and-selling-your-crocheted-items/
Thanks for the tips!
Michaela is so right! In every aspect of business, the motto (perhaps unspoken) should be: Document, document, document. The amount of problems this could solve is “Priceless!!!”
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I’m having a problem of people asking me to make things for them after seeing a picture of an item I’ve made on Facebook. Which is great but when I ask them to send me a message and I follow up they say “l’ll think about it and let you know” or “Maybe later” or something similar. It’s not that I push or bug the people, they try to back out even before I can ask about colors etc..It’s really disheartening. What would you do in that situation and does it happen to other a lot. Thanks
That’s a really great question, and it happens to me, too. I often find that someone seems interested, but not once they find out the price or need to put money down. On social media networks, saying, ‘ooh, I want that’ isn’t quite the same as committing to a purchase.
I’d follow up once with a deadline (i.e. I’ve sent you an invoice and will need the payment by xx date to get started), and leave it alone if they don’t reply. Chances are they weren’t entirely serious with their offer.
That certainly sounds like good advice! Thank you for sharing your experience!
I want to start a crochet selling store on Dawanda (the German version of Etsy) and I will take your advice to heart! 🙂
Thank you for this! I actually just suffered your first tip – I completed a custom order without taking payment upfront and now I haven’t heard back from the person who requested the order 🙁 Live and learn. I am also a shy person but you’re definitely right about needing to put myself out there if I want people to know I exist 🙂
Thank you for this. I have been toying with the idea of really selling things, not just fundraiser selling for our garden club and this will be helpful. I am also quite shy so thanks for the nudge! 🙂
Very helpful information. Thank you for sharing.
I’m crocheting your turtle pattern currently, and at the bottom it says “this pattern and items made with this pattern are for personal use only, and my not be distributed or sold without written consent.” Has the policy changed since this pattern was made? His DOB is 2010. Thanks!
Hi Laura! Yes, you’re absolutely correct. The policy has changed since then… although ‘written consent’ really just meant sending me an email to ask 🙂
Hi, I have just come across your info. Thanks so much for all of theses helpful info. I’m nervous my work might not be enough. I have only been crocheting for about 2 years. Self taught. I’m expanding my projects. Can I still start to show what I have done? Should I put my items on FB? Thanks so much.
Go ahead and give it a shot! You can sell on Facebook or Etsy or local crafts shows – there are lots of options.
how do you keep track of you orders? i need ideas for order forms