Yesterday morning, I tweeted:
HUGE milestone reached: in February I earned more than when I had a day job! I’m awestruck..! #crochet #pro #dreamjob
…and all day, people were asking me how I did it. At first, I said “I have no idea!” but as the day progressed I kept thinking about it and I realised that’s not at all true: the last two months have been amazing, business-wise, and I can track that back to the fact that I decided not to let money be my priority any more. Putting that into practice, I’ve started to make changes. For example:
- Sellers’ List: I don’t want to, or have the time to, sell finished toys. So, I set up the sellers’ list so I can field those enquiries to my customers who do want to sell finished toys made from my patterns. (I make nothing from this service.)
Unexpected result: More pattern sales to happy customers who are selling the toys they crochet.
- Videos: I want to continue to help other people improve their crocheting skills, so I’m aiming to create one new crochet tutorial video per month. Each one is a big time commitment, but it’s important to me, and people are responding well to my videos and asking for more, so I know it’s worth it.
Unexpected result: As my videos become more popular, I’m actually starting to make a significant amount of money from the ads on my YouTube channel.
- Succulents: I didn’t think my Succulent Collections would be big sellers; I just really wanted to make them for myself! I thought that, if I was lucky, maybe half the people who enjoyed the Cactus Collections might pick up the succulent designs too…
Unexpected result: Not only have the succulents been wildly popular, but they are generating more sales of the cactus patterns too.
- Baby Bunnies: I also didn’t expect my Baby Bunnies to be especially popular – I mean, there must be hundreds of bunny patterns out there already… I just wanted to use my angora yarn and make something cute that would make me happy.
Unexpected result: Turns out that my Baby Bunnies make a lot of people happy!
So what does this show? Well, embarrassingly, it shows that I’m clearly terrible at making calculated decisions when it comes to my business – after all these years in business, I still can’t predict what will be popular and where my time would be best spent! If I was just going for profit, I probably wouldn’t have designed either of these hugely popular patterns; I wouldn’t make a free list just to help my customers make money; and I certainly wouldn’t be ‘wasting’ my time making videos for free.
But all these things have actually helped to bring in more customers, more money, and more publicity for my site – all without me doing any advertising or marketing.
How can this help you?
I’m not telling you to stop thinking about making money! What my decision has really done is allowed me to be more me – to concentrate on what I do well and what I love, instead of what I think may make the most money. And people are responding to that – I have (inadvertently) created the PlanetJune ‘brand’.
You can do this too! There are countless designers/artisans/crafty business owners out there, but there’s only one you. What makes you special? It’s your unique qualities – your passions and skills – that set you apart from everyone else, and if you can build those into your business, you can create something that’s all you.
Take some time and figure out what you’re really passionate about, in your craft/business and in life. (If you can bring the two together, even better!) It’s about finding your own style and developing a brand for yourself, based on the real you. If you love what you do, it shows.
- It’s pretty clear, when you read my blog, who I am and what I love: animals and nature; discovering crochet techniques and passing them on; finding a balance between a realistic design and an easy-to-follow pattern.
If you design crochet patterns, but when you’re not promoting your designs, all you talk about are your food photography and baking projects, it’s easy to see that your passions, at least partly, lie elsewhere. How can you bring those into your business? How about creating a line of crocheted baked goods that each include your recipe for the edible version? It’d be a unique and popular selling point, and help build your brand.
What can you do well, and how can you apply that to your business? Even the most mundane jobs and past experiences build your skills, even if the jobs themselves are totally unrelated to your business.
- For me, I’ve learnt a lot of things that have no use to PlanetJune, but: 2 science degrees taught me the importance of accuracy; years of technical and research support taught me how to help people; and my technical writing experience taught me how to explain things clearly.
Maybe you have skills in photography, face to face communication, drawing, project management, storytelling… How can you make those skills work for you, to make your business better and more uniquely you? How can you provide a service that your competitors can’t?
What sets us apart, as indie businesses, is the way we can interact with our customers. They get to know us and trust us through our blogs, through social media, and through the way we respond to their emails. They aren’t just buying a pattern from a faceless company, they are buying from you, a real, genuine person.
Let the world see a little more of the real you, and use your skills, passions, and personality to shape your business into something that only you could do. You can create a brand that will get people talking, make you stand out from the crowd, and sell your work for you!