Is Selling Crochet for You?
Selling art is a unique profession. There is a constant internal struggle between caring for the art enough to hook pieces of your soul into it and then being able to turn around and sell it. Beyond the logistics of pricing, choosing your audience, and keeping inventory, there is a very emotional side to selling crochet items, or any art for that matter. It is something you have to decide for yourself. Are you ready to sell your art?
I love my job. I feel like I’m doing what God has guided me to do, because it makes me happy and He keeps telling me this is where I am supposed to be, which is a pretty awesome feeling.
However, it does not mean that everyone should assume selling crochet items is always rewarding and fun. It’s work. And no matter how much you love something, once you start making money doing it, it become work. (A dreaded 4-letter word if I ever heard one.)
These are things that I have discovered in the last few years of running my business, and they are sometimes a struggle for me. I have to ask myself these things over and over.
What do you like to make?
- What is your favorite thing to make?
- What could you make 20 of and not get bored? 100 of?
- What makes you squeal with delight when it is done and dance around the room with it? (Can you tell I do this with stuffed animals?)
THAT is what you should be making. Not whatever is popular. Not what sells best at craft fairs. Not what you can crank out fastest.
Make the thing you love.
When I got started, I had a lot of people tell me, “When you do something you enjoy for work, you no longer really enjoy it.” I was determined that that didn’t have to be the case. I started out taking custom orders, saying I was willing to make anything for anybody. That got old fast. Why? Because I was making little girl hoods, slippers, and a lot of character hats! These are cute, but do not make me sing and dance.
So I changed my attitude. I do occasional “out there” custom orders for my close friends but beyond that, I make things based on my own patterns and offer custom orders on things I already know and love.
If you “chase the dollar” by making whatever anyone will commission, you will be end up making things that you don’t care about, and art is all about caring! If you don’t care, your work will suffer and so will your creative muse.
Make things that make you feel happy to make and proud to sell.
Do you have time to crochet for strangers?
As soon as I started my business and the orders started coming in, I realized that the projects first stuffed in a drawer were those intended for me or my sons.
I hate to admit it, but my oldest son is still waiting on a Tepig (Pokemon) that I told him I would make years ago and haven’t gotten to because I’m always working on an item that has a deadline. When you make things for other people, they expect it in a reasonable time frame, which means you end up making the orders first and your personal projects second.
My small way around this is to always have a “car project” going that is not work related. It is usually the only thing I have going that is not work-related. I take it with me everywhere and work on it waiting for school to let out or waiting for appointments to start. It gets about an hour of work a week, if I’m lucky.
But the truth is that none of the projects on or around my work space are for me or my family.
Are you willing to give up the generous nature of making a blanket for every new baby in your bible study? Are you willing to sit on that amazing shrug pattern for six months before you get a chance to make it for yourself?
3. Can you really let go of the items?
When you make something to sell, it gets purchased. You get money, they get the thing — whether it be an adorable beanie for their son/daughter or an afghan into which you have poured 40 hours.
When you hand over that item and get the money, you HAVE to let it go. For your own sanity, you have to remember that that item is, literally, not yours to worry about any longer.
I hear a lot of crochet artists who make something for someone, even sell things to people, and then don’t like where they end up (often a thrift store) or don’t like how they are being treated (“It is just dusty up in a closet!”).
Someone could buy your 25-hour afghan and use it to catch oil drips under their car. Heartbreaking? Yes. But that is the risk you take when selling items.
The item isn’t yours anymore. You sold it.
Can you deal with that?
I have to ask myself that a few times a year, especially when I put a LOT of work into something, like a custom stuffed animal, and then put it in a box on its way to Canada, knowing I will never see it again and probably never hear from the owner.
I can be proud of my work, take the money, and hand it over. That was the choice I made. I chose to sell it.
I listed it, took payment for it, and made it for someone else. Now it’s theirs.
(See my post about letting go of stuffed animals, and you’ll see why this is a hard one for me, every dang day.)
If this makes you cry uncontrollably (and even your significant other can’t calm you down), then you may want to rethink selling your items.
Don’t Expect the Gracious Thank You
Try to remember that with every payment a person thinks that your work is worth them giving over their hard-earned money so that they can have a piece of it.
That is the biggest compliment you can get.
Kati is the designer behind Hooked by Kati. With thousands of patterns sold around the world, Kati prides herself in creating innovative, easy-to-follow amigurumi patterns. She has designed for several publications, including Crochet!, Crochet World, Simply Crochet, and I Like Crochet. Kati finds her inspiration in science fiction, video games, and numerous visits to the zoo — all passions she shares with her husband and two boys.