Confessions of a professional crocheter

crochet kitRecently i have been receiving lots of emails and messages asking for my advice on becoming a professional crocheter. At first i wondered why these queries were directed at me, but then i realised that from the outside, from an observers perspective i look like i’m successful. Who knew? πŸ˜‰

I won’t lie, i don’t like receiving these emails. They are usually from excited (and skilled crocheters) who have a dream of giving up their day job and spending their day, yarn and hook in hand designing one beautiful pattern after another. It sounds like an AMAZING dream doesn’t it?! It’s my dream too. And the reason i don’t like receiving these hope filled emails, isn’t because i don’t want to offer advice or share my experience, it’s because i don’t want to squash or discourage anyone’s dream……BUT, i also feel like i have to be honest. And honestly, it is very hard to make money being a crochet designer.free granny square cushion

Now, if you’re just looking to make a few extra dollars to fund your yarn (or coffee) addiction then go for it! You can definitely make a few extra bucks here and there, and there’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing other makers recreate your designs. It never gets old! I love it. πŸ™‚ But if you’re seriously considering giving up your job and planning to replace that income with crochet work, then please read on. It isn’t easy to become a professional crocheter.Β Round granny square

The Realities of Being a Professional Crocheter

(1) I make VERY little money….very.

(2) I work hard…really hard! I spend at least 50 hours a week blogging, instagramming, pinteresting, working on commissions, creating tutorials, photo taking and writing patterns. Actual designing/crocheting time is about 5 hrs per week….not including stuff i’m just making for fun that i work on at night.

(3) It cost money to maintain a decent blog, have an email newsletter service, to run an online shop, to buy yarn, have photoshop and other design related software. Some weeks my income doesn’t cover these costs.

(4) It can get lonely working from home.

(5) Everyone wants your patterns for free (i want stuff for free too, so i understand). The MANY hours and hours it takes to design, photograph, write and chart patterns isn’t always valued and sometimes people get cranky when you charge for patterns. It’s hard to compete when hobby crocheters offer all their patterns for free (i’m not boo booing them, they’re entitled to share for free if they want to), but it’s a very competitive industry and it’s hard to compete with FREE. πŸ™‚free crochet patterns

In the interest of keeping things fair, here are the positives of becoming a crochet professional –

(1) You get to work with yarn! Lovely, squishy, colourful yarn! And that’s priceless as far as i’m concerned.

(2) You will meet and collaborate with other yarn creatives. It’s a wonderful way to make new friends and learn new skills from them.

(3) You can work from home and your hours are flexible! Hooray! This is definitely a positive.

(4) You will learn a variety of new techie skills – photoshop, wordpress, social media, stitch charts etc.

(5) Being able to work everyday on your passion will bring you immense joy!

Okay – if you’ve read this far and you’re still keen on becoming a cro pro then i’d like to share my tips for success (keeping in mind i’m not successful yet)crochet mandalas

(TIP 1) Work on your photograpy skills – News Flash! I am not the best crocheter (really, it’s true) but i can take pretty pictures that people like to admire. It also important if you’re creating patterns with step my step images. They need to be clear so the instructions are easy to follow.

(TIP 2) Create a decent blog that users can navigate easily. I’ve recently updated my site and my traffic has grown immensely just in the last 3 weeks.

(TIP 3) Start collecting emails for newsletters. I’m using mailchimp to for my newsletters and it’s fantastic! It is user friendly and FREE up to 2000 subscribers. Once you hit 2000 plus then you have to pay to use the software.

(TIP 4) Diversify your income streams! I strongly believe that if i’m going to be successful in this yarny world, then my income needs to come from a number of sources – pattern sales, affiliate links, crochet kit sales, sponsored posts etc.

The hardest thing about affiliate links is that often others will think you’re selling out, but it’s not like that at all. Currently, my affiliate commissions are small and wouldn’t cover my coffee habit so i’d hardly call that selling out. Also, any affiliate links you see here on my blog are items or services that i believe in 100%! I won’t attach just any affiliate link to my blog, i am very choosey, and you should be choosey too.

Pattern sales will always make more money than selling actual pieces. As you probably already know, crochet projects take a long time to complete and you can never charge what they are actually worth in terms of hours spent making them. I also sell kits to try and boost income.

(TIP 5) Take on commissions…but not too many. Designing patterns for books and magazines is always fun and exciting! It is also a good way to promote yourself. Just be mindful not to take on too many because you still need to spend time on your own patterns and often you won’t be able to sell commissioned Β designs until 6 months after the edition expires. Try and balance your own design work with commissions.

(TIP 6) Embrace Social Media! I love Instagram!! Slightly addicted actually, so i think i’ve got that one under control. This year i am working on building my other social media platforms – Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. Marketing yourself though these platforms will help drive traffic to your blog/shop so it’s important to update them regularly and BE SOCIAL. I love being social on instagram so this one is a joy for me.

(TIP 7) Keep on Learning! Last year i purchased some awesome downloadable courses from A Beautiful Mess and i have learned a LOT. I’m happy to report my camera setting has been on manual for the last 6months and their blogging course has helped me to focus and work on a plan of action for the next 12months.

I’ve also recently discovered Skill Share which looks amazing! I’m hoping to delve into that a little deeper too when i have time.

granny square heart

Finally, I know this post has a negative undertone and i’m sorry. But i want to finish by saying that I’ve only been serious about cro proing for about 12 months and about half that time was spent writing a crochet book that will be released this year! Yay! So, realistically i’ve only been giving this a red hot go for about 6 months, so it’s early days. I believe that if you’re determined enough and willing to work hard that it’s possible. Hopefully, this time next year i will be writing a post titled “How i made it as a professional crocheter”.

Oh and if you have any tips for me, i’d LOVE to hear them!

Happy Making!!

Mandy xx

 

 

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49 Comments

  1. Afeefa
    February 6, 2018 / 5:02 pm

    Hello Mandy! I really love the way you’ve expressed this in your post! And being true in this matter, which many people don’t! I’m glad there’s someone talking about this too! Thanks Mandy for shaing your experiences with us!
    – Love from India

    • redagapeblog
      February 6, 2018 / 8:25 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. Yes, it’s important to be honest. And you’re right, more people need to talk about this and place more value of design work.
      Mandy xx

  2. jen
    February 7, 2018 / 1:57 am

    I always wondered how you were able to make a living doing this. Thank you for being so honest. I really loved your positive points as well. Your photos are always amazing. I really enjoy following you. Good luck with your plan. I hope you are extremely sucessful!

    • redagapeblog
      February 7, 2018 / 4:46 pm

      Thanks Jen. Hopefully it pays to be honest! πŸ™‚ sorry that’s a terrible pun. Seriously, thanks for reading my post. I appreciate it. πŸ™‚
      Mandy xx

  3. Kay
    February 7, 2018 / 2:17 am

    Thank you for this post. I’ve just discovered your blog and admire your skill & efforts. It’s great to see someone who lays it all out on the line. Good & bad. The one thing I’d add as someone who isn’t techy but changed careers to work in the industry is that it can be exhausting having all of your creative focus on just one thing. Crochet (or any needlework passion) can loose it’s calming, escapist properties when it becomes “work”. As you say , it’s hard work, very long hours for not a lot of pay. That being said, no regrets, it totally is worth it. As long as one doesn’t have dreams of becoming a superstar.
    Keep up the great work!

    • redagapeblog
      February 7, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      Hi Kay! Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, i tried to be as honest as i could. I have had people emailing me saying they’re ready to give up their day job, which scares me!!
      The moment i start to lose my love for crochet, i’ll toss it in immediately. I’m lucky in a way, because i actually enjoy learning all the tech stuff (most days), so i hope once i’ve mastered that, everything will be easier….and i’ll have more time to crochet. πŸ™‚

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