The 8 best business moves I made in 2012

You see… I really can’t get enough of the ‘wrap-up’ genre of blog posts! This is my last one… I think…

2012 was a fabulous year. It was the year of increasing my interaction with my customers while cutting the time spent on boring tasks. The result was a significant increase in sales coming through FreshStitches.

None of the things I do are a secret… so let me share some of my best time-saving and business-building moves. Maybe they’ll help your crafty business, as well!

Here they are… in no particular order:

I shared customer photos

I adore customer photos. I get giddy every time I receive an email with a photo of a critter that someone has crocheted using my pattern.

Amigurumi Customer Photos on Facebook

Previously, I had kept this giddy-ness to myself. In 2012, however, I began sharing customer photos on the FreshStitches Facebook Page, so that we could all share in the awesomeness.

As a result of the great customer photos (the most well-liked items on my page), my number of fans has catapulted from 1400 (in Jan 2012) to 6,290 (today). Besides increasing fans (and no doubt, sales), the customer photos have helped create a sense of community on the page, because we’re sharing our latest creations. Love it!

I downsized my record-keeping

I used to record every pattern sale in a spreadsheet. Every single one.

I had vague ideas that such meticulous record-keeping would be useful. That I’d run all sorts of fancy stats. To be honest, as sales kept pouring in, recording each individual sale became a time-consuming burden.

Paypal reports screen

Then one day, I decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore. Instead, I download a weekly summary from PayPal. The individual information about sales is there, if I need it. But my spreadsheet-data-entry has been cut to near-zero. Fabulous.

I started a Ravelry Group

Ravelry group screen shot

As a designer, I was slow to form a group. But this year, I did it, and I couldn’t be happier! It’s become an amazing collection of folks where share a love of crocheting. It’s a place for batting around ideas, sharing information (including organizing CALs) as well as a place for off-topic chatter.

How did I get along for so long without one?

I didn’t join instagram

There’s a temptation to sign up for every social media site that’s out there. In 2012, I stuck to sites that I could manage, and resisted signing up for more sites than I had time to spend on them.

So, I’m not on instagram/plurk/[insert site here]. But, I think my blog, facebook and twitter accounts are happier for it.

I focused on promoting the sale of items from my patterns

I’ve permitted the sale of items made from my patterns for a while, but in 2012, I really stepped up in providing resources to crocheters who want to do so: such as providing posts about pricing items and free downloadable tags.

Crochet Platypus

Just one example: a platypus crocheted by Adriana who runs an amazing Etsy shop full of her crocheted creations!

I find that the crocheters who sell items made from my patterns are some of my best customers: they’re active participants in my Ravelry group, frequently buy patterns and provide beautiful customer photos! Rock on!

I continued to embrace Etsy

When I began selling crochet patterns on Etsy, my goal was to transition to my own website, then close the Etsy store (as a side note, Abby Glassenberg wrote a great post about the merits of Etsy vs. your own store).

Why was I looking to get out of Etsy? I had the idea that traffic through my own site was better. My website automatically ships patterns to the customers, and individually emailing pattern purchases through Etsy is cumbersome. And when they rolled out direct checkout, I wasn’t a fan.

But, I kept promoting and stocking my Etsy shop, and have been rewarded. Etsy fixed the many of the problems with direct checkout (for example, by adding online shipping capability) and a large percentage of my sales continue to come from Etsy:

Income from Etsy

Etsy continues to be a great source of new customers and is currently the only way I can manage my custom animal orders. For me, it’s worth the manual labor of individually emailing patterns.

I set up online shipping

When I first began selling kits, I took each one to the post office. Then, I discovered shipping by using PayPal. What a time savings!

It’s not perfect (I still need to go to the post office for international shipments), but it’s wonderful! And the massive time-savings I’ve gained has made me ponder upgrading to a subscription shipping service (which, for a monthly fee, also handles international packages).

I vended at a craft fair

For the first few years, I sold only online. Then, in 2012, I vended at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival.

Knit and Crochet Festival

It was scary to take the plunge: it cost a fair bit in travel and set-up (because really, who already owns a bright blue table cloth?), but it was so worth it. I turned a nice profit and even better, met a whole lot of fabulous people!

What worked for you?

Do you know what struck me most in 2012? The handmade community is a fabulously friendly place. I learn oodles from my fellow bloggers and blog readers, and I have no doubt that in 2013, we’ll continue to share ideas and learn from each other.

That said, it’s time to dish! What worked for your crafty business?

9 replies on “The 8 best business moves I made in 2012

  • Maggie

    Great advice and an interesting read! I just came across your blog whilst googling about knitting needles on a plane! I will subscribe by email. I run a crafty business making quilts and selling fabric, ribbons etc. Maggie xx

  • Adriana

    Thanks for the mention Stacey! I was wondering why I had an increase in views for my etsy shop today until I saw they were coming from here. :D
    I’m so happy for you that you had a great 2012 and hope 2013 will be even better. I’m also glad you started the ravelry group its nice to have so many people who share the same interest to talk to and I love seeing what everyone is working on. Jen is right you are very inspiring!

  • Knitterella

    Great business moves, Stacey! Thanks for posting this. It’s always nice to hear insight from other businesses. You’ve done some things that I’ve been meaning too for awhile now. I’m glad to hear they have been successful for you!

    Have you heard of StitchLabs or Shopify? I’ve been wanting to revamp/streamline my website and I’m currently switching to them. Seems like a good move so far. Especially with StitchLabs inventory tracker!

    P.S. I too just started using Paypal for shipping at the end of last year. Man, what a time-saver!

    • Profile photo of Stacey


      @Knitterella- I hadn’t heard of StitchLabs or Shopify… I’ll have a look! Right now, my website runs 2 carts, which I know isn’t ideal: Ravelry for patterns and PayPal for the physical stuff. I should get around to working on that :)

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