Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back from the 2013 TNNA Convention in Columbus Ohio

Just attended my very first TNNA convention in Columbus Ohio with my daughter Katy. We had a great time! But there were some not so great things too.

We found some great new yarns for our store but also unfortunately found a lot of bias against us for being an "online" shop. I was really dismayed that our name tags (that you have to wear to get in the convention) said "online/mail order store" Ughh. I have no idea why TNNA and some vendors do not like online stores! In the past I have had a couple vendors refuse to sell to us. Thats okay we are doing great without those vendors! Their loss.

We were really excited about attending the runway show on Friday only to find there were not near enough seats. There were close to 100 of us having to stand to watch the show. Unfortunately I was standing behind some very drunk rude people ughh. There was plenty of room to have more seating so to me this was a huge error on the part of the TNNA planners.

Saturday was the first day to see the sales floor so naturally everyone was excited to get in at 10 am. We walked in and as we went to the first booth (it was about 5 minutes till 10) the vendor yelled at us to get out of her booth as the show doesn't open till 10. Wow what a great way to welcome a buyer to your booth! Seriously if you don't have your booth ready at 5 minutes till opening; well you have bigger issues than us. Its a shame as it was a booth we were looking forward to, but once that happened we skipped it and put it on our "do not buy from" list.

We did end up meeting many fabulous vendors and had a great time despite the nasty ones. I will do a new post on the new yarns and products we have coming.

I will say though that this bad attitude to "online stores" is really short sighted on the part of TNNA and some vendors. I really feel that brick and mortar specialty crochet/knit shops will become a thing of the past. Sad? Yes! But in this economy I cannot see how they can continue to make a profit with the overhead of a brick and mortar store. More and more people are wanting to shop online.

New Bernat Baby Blanket Yarn in Stock! Little Petunias

Just got some Bernat Baby Blanket yarn back in stock called Little Petunias. I love this color!! But it is very hard to get as Bernat has not been able to keep up with demand. If you are purchasing this color please be sure to order enough for your project as I never know when I can get it in stock again. I am thinking about whipping up a new baby blanket design with this color.

Then again my daughter in law Ruby is begging me to make her an adult blanket with it.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Highest Selling Crafts Part Two

So I was reading back on my blog and read my old post on highest selling crafts being niche food. Which is still true. But as my life evolved I gave up the food and went to crochet items, supplies and patterns.

Honestly what sells the best is what you are passionate about. I was successful selling hand painted items, jam and now crochet items.

One field I would not go in unless I had something really unique is jewelry. This is a flooded market. Normally I don't pay attention to that as many feel crochet is flooded too and I do quite well. But hand made jewelry truly is bursting at the seams. But again if you have something super unique and you are passionate you may still do well.

A little nice field that I think will always sell well is accessories. Scarves, gloves, hats etc. They can be sewn, knitted, crocheted etc. As long as you stay up on trends and colors you can always do well with accessories.

Baby items will always do well because people are always going to have babies. Personalized baby items sell even better. I know in crochet I get asked a lot for handmade baby sweaters. I don't make those but they do sell very very well. Baby booties are another big seller. I know when I have baby hats in my Etsy shop they sell like crazy. And of course I make and sell a ton of baby blankets. Other big sellers are car seat covers, baby room decor, and hand made baby clothes.

Another craft market I see exploding right now is hand made birthday party favors. This is for people that want that handmade decoration look without all the work. People spend huge amounts on their kids birthday parties. And birthday parties happen all year long. If you like cutting and gluing paper this is for you.

The New Etsy Forums

So Etsy has recently revamped their forum structure. They said it was to get more people to come and participate in the forums. Major fail in my opinion.

Why they shoved all the text to the left with all that white space on the right is beyond me. And it gets my OCD going as I prefer things to be lined up and centered. Its a very strange layout for a discussion forum.

I have to say the software they use for their forums is so out of date its not even funny. With all the techs working there you would think they could write a better program.

Anyway, they narrowed it down to generic discussions, questions and bugs. Normally its a good idea to keep forum sections to just a few but it doesn't seem to be working well on Etsy. But part of that is they are now much looser about what you can post. So what used to be business discussions is now just discussions. So I guess you can post about your cat, your un supportive spouse, your milestones etc. 

I think the theory was if they were looser about what you could post they would get more people posting. But I do think its backfiring. I think most are like me in that we enjoy connecting to like minded people and learning from others. But I don't really want to read about spouses, cats, milestones etc.

And now the forums are being over run by spammers. It amazes me that Etsy cannot control forum spam. Heck when I owned my Shetland pony forum I paid extra to have spam control that worked like a charm. So all those techies that Mark talks about cannot write a bot/spam control program? Crazy. Or they could just hire some Etsy shops that are there all the time (and I do mean all the time) to delete spam on weekends and nights. Its really not rocket science. I used to have volunteers help me.

I do think if they don't get the spam under control and get some interesting discussions going the percentage of users using the forums is going to go even lower

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Selling Crafts at Craft Shows & Fairs

I am working like crazy to get ready for our big yearly craft show called Backwoods Fest. Woohoo I can't wait! This craft show is known across the United States. For those that have heard of it; yes it is worth paying the high booth fees!

I have been in the crafts industry going on 30 years and I will say this is the biggest and best most profitable craft show I have ever participated in.

Here are just a few quick thoughts on how to sell at a Craft Show

Have a good mix of price points. You should have things to sell in all ranges. Mine go kinda like this

$5.00 to $10.00  For me this is a lot of small baby hats and hair bows/accessories

$10.00 to $25.00 This is for sure the top selling price point. I would venture a guess to say that 90 percent of the sales will be in this range.

$25.00 to $50.00 This is the upper range and I sold out of this range last year as I underestimated. For me this is handmade crochet baby blankets that are very high quality. For sure I will take a lot more in this range this year! My Baby Mason blanket sold for 50.00 at this show and I sold out

$50.00 to $100.00 Last year I did not take anything in this range which was a mistake. I will rectify that this year and report back.

I also got a ton of request for fingerless gloves last year so I am crocheting those like crazy for this year.

My biggest mistake with this show last year was not having holiday themed items (Halloween, Christmas) So I am also making a bunch of those items. Last year we got a booth at the last minute when another person backed out so I really was not prepared. And I way underestimated the crowd this show gets. Its just crazy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How To Get Started Selling Craft Supplies on Ebay or Etsy

So I have some extra time today so thought I would blog about selling craft supplies as I get asked about this a lot.

Craft supplies sell! Unique craft supplies sell even better. However, I do believe the key is selling what you are passionate about and educating yourself on what you sell. You have to become an expert in whatever you are selling.

I first started on Etsy with skip stitch blades and my self published crochet patterns. Because the blades are so unique they immediately drew traffic. So I thought to myself, "what other supplies do I use that are hard to get?" And I found more such as the Sharp Crochet hook. And I wrote patterns using these tools. Because these are so unique there are very few instructions/patterns.

I went after all the supplies that you could not get at the big box craft stores. Eventually I spread out to knitting supplies even though I don't knit. But it goes hand in hand with the other things I sell. So I had to research (and still do) and educate myself on knitting supplies.

I now offer some things that can be bought in a big box store; but only ones that are hard to get or go with another item. I in no way want to compete with Hobby Lobby or Micheals. I am going after the niche market.

So think about the tools you use or come up with a unique tool yourself. If there is something you use that you can't live without; and isn't easily found, chances are it will sell well on Etsy and Ebay.

A few months ago I needed some neon yarn. Hobby Lobby was the only store selling it and they ran out and had a bad shipment so they advised everyone nationwide it would be months before they got more in. So I hunted and hunted and found another supplier of neon yarn. Put it in my Etsy shop and it sold like hotcakes. Still does. In fact I am out of it right now.

Always be on the lookout and observe what is going on in your own industry!

Fear of Failure Holding You Back?

I have been thinking about this a lot. I do believe in my life the "fear of failure" as held me back many times. I think it can easily become a self fulfilling prophecy. Ever since my home business started going well, I kept having those negative thoughts in my head. "What if it all stops?" "Maybe I will never get another order" What if what if what if.

Instead of enjoying success I was courting failure. I do believe in the law of attraction. Like attracts like. So if you are constantly worried about failure you will attract failure to yourself.

Don't get me wrong I am a very positive person and I think that comes across in my blog. But everyone has those doubts and negative thoughts that start to seep in. I think it can be especially hard for creative people. When we create something we worry that no one will like "our baby". Whether its a painting, a crochet blanket, handmade jewelry or a book its all our creation. So it is very personal to us.

Now when I catch myself thinking those negative thoughts I replace them immediately with positive thoughts. I will be successful, I will get more orders, I will create new things etc. The great thing is it just makes you feel better. Negative thoughts equal negative emotions. So if you brush those away and replace them with positive thoughts you will just feel better all day long.

I was honestly shocked about how many negative thoughts I had in a given day. Not good!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Newest Bernat Baby Blanket Crochet Pattern Its Not Just for Babies!

Ever since I started making baby blankets with Bernat Baby Blanket yarn my adult children (and friends) have been begging me for a full size afghan. I kept telling them an adult sized afghan with this yarn would weight about 100 pounds. But they kept begging. So for my adult nieces birthday I whipped up this afghan using Bernat Baby Blanket yarn.

I posted a picture of it on my Facebook page and one of my fans commented that it looked like a field of pansies. So I named it the Pansy Blanket. This is another quick and easy crochet pattern that can be made in a weekend. I started it on a Friday evening and finished it Sunday morning. Easy peasy. Unfortunately I cannot find this green color anymore that I made the edge in so that will have to substituted unless you can find it.

Its still a heavy blanket but not as heavy as it would have been with a solid pattern.

Here is a close up picture of the pattern

This pattern is available as an instant download on my new website or my Etsy store!

Back Again with the Summer Craft Slowdown

Yes I know its been forever again since I posted on my blog. I guess I am perplexed as this blog started out as an avenue to help my friends make money from home and not get scammed. And then as my life evolved so did this blog. It went from free lance writing jobs to crafts to crochet, with some SEO Etsy tips thrown in for good measure.

I keep wondering if I should just keep this blog exclusive to how to make money in crafts (Etsy, Ebay etc) or if its okay to mix all of what I do which is crochet patterns, free lance writing etc.

For now I am just going to keep it a mix of both because I just don't have time to make a new blog to move the crochet stuff too.

If any of you has questions please feel free to ask! That may give me a better idea of what to blog about.

Right now things have slowed down which is typical of summer months. I will say I had a banner month in April with sales of 8000.00 across all venues. I was pretty excited as that beat my Dec/Jan sales! Now that things are slow I am tweaking everything and I mean everything! I am looking at old Etsy listings and changing up some pictures and tags. I am pretty much doing the same thing on my website and my Ebay store. And I am planning what I will buy for fall inventory. You have to make good use of the slow June/July months so you can get prepared for fall holiday sales.

Speaking of Ebay...I read a thread on the Etsy forums this morning about how handmade doesn't sell on Ebay. And that Ebay customers just want cheap. I actually laughed out loud. My Ebay sales of handmade scarves and baby blankets are about quadruple what they are on Etsy right now. But shhhh don't tell anyone. Its better for me if everyone believes that myth and stays away from Ebay!

I also want to point out that Ebay has revamped their fee structure. Right now the best avenue is to open a basic store and get all the free listings. My only issue with the change in the structure is that things 50.00 and over actually cost a higher rate to sell. Yuck. But if you get your Top Rated Seller discount it still comes out to about 8 percent in fees.

One of my top selling scarves on Ebay.

Kay's Crochet Mystery Boxes/Bags Update

We have been getting a lot of questions on our Mystery boxes so here you go! First some have asked why we are now shipping in bags. USPS...