Family Bugs’s 5 Secrets To Being The Top Crochet Artist


I started selling my crochet a month before my youngest daughter was born. In retrospect, that was probably the most stupid decision I have ever made. I had a 2-yr-old, a 1-yr-old, and a however-many-months-old and trying to crochet for a profit. There were weeks when the housework just did not get done, and the meals did not get planned, and the kids watched way too much Netflix. But, I became very good at crocheting and at selling. I never gave up, and seldom slacked off, doing the research, and developing the skills. Now, almost six years later, my children are all in school and I am a very successful and professional pattern designer. So, what are my secrets? How did I manage a creative business while also raising three children? In retrospect, there are five key ingredients that I implemented from the beginning to get me where I am today.

  1. Prayer. While that may seem irrelevant to a business, and I’m sure several entrepreneurs try to keep religion and work separate, I am a strong believer that God is carefully intertwined in every aspect of our lives. I found a very direct and obviously noticeable correlation to my prayer life and the success of my crochet business. When I was more zealous in praying and studying the Bible on a daily basis, my business was much more successful. And when I say much, I mean immensely. I don’t mean that you should read the Bible and pray every day for the soul purpose of growing your business, that is not how it works. Putting God first, however, puts everything else in perspective, and I like to think that He was blessing me accordingly.
  2. Patience. I’ve spent almost six years working to get where I am today. It didn’t happen in a week, a month, or even two months. My etsy shop was open for three months before I got my first sale. And it was a very LONG three months. I did get sales through Facebook much quicker, and I remember rushing to fulfill Christmas orders in the hospital just hours after giving birth to my ladybug baby.
  3. Tools. Well, duh! But more than just having the right tools for the job, use quality tools. It may be tempting to create with red heart super saver, but your product is not going to be very high quality. Yes, it will last forever, and never unravel, and be washable, but the end result is just not very pretty or comfortable. Besides, everyone and their dog has access to red heart super saver, using that common yarn will not make you a top crochet artist no matter what you make with it. Invest in some good fiber, and then mark up your prices accordingly. It will be so very worth it! While you’re at it, don’t forget to use smaller hooks. I have seen so many Amigurumi dolls that were made with too big of hooks, and after they’ve been stuffed, there are white gaping holes throughout where the stuffing can easily squeeze out.
  4. Change. Of course there is changing trends that you need to keep up with. It is ok to make “yet another owl hat”, I promise. Just make sure that you are making the best owl hat that you can. Also, change according to what you are selling. When I first started making dolls, they were big, floppy, and did not sell well at all. But I LOVE making them, so I adapted, changed, used better yarn and a smaller hook, used safety eyes instead of button eyes, gave them names and a personality (read THIS post), and now they sell like hot cakes. If you’ve got a product that you just really enjoy making but it isn’t doing as well as you would like, change it up. Maybe try different marketing methods, or advertise differently. Don’t give up just because one thing isn’t working.
  5. Perseverance. When I first started, my husband spouted off a whole bunch of business related statistics. Like, how 50% of businesses don’t make it past the first year. Well, I was determined to make it. And that is the joy of a crochet business – as long as you are creating and selling, you are still “in business”. If you keep going, you’ll have to get better, and make more sales, and earn more income…it’s a spiraling up effect that is so much fun. It takes 100,000 hours of experience or practice to become a professional. Keep on swimming ๐Ÿ˜Š

It doesn’t require a business degree or an artsy education to be the best. Do the work, stay on top of trends, update and adapt as needed, and use your common sense. Have you discovered any amazing secret to being the best? Please, share the wealth, and we will all succeed together!

Advertisements

Unique Halloween Crochet Patterns


Halloween might be one of my favorite holidays, always has been. I spend months planning and preparing and making my children’s costumes. And during the month, I peruse Pinterest and Etsy almost nonstop just enjoying all of the themed creations that everyone is making. The colors are beautiful, the weather is perfect, and it’s the beginning of cookie season for me (my sugar cookies are amazing!).

Most of the time, October is also when I also participate in a big craft show that is in town. In the past this has been a great way for me to get rid of a growing inventory that I don’t want to hold on to. However, it’s also become increasingly harder as my children get older, and I’ve opted to not participate this year. I cannot even begin to explain how much stress is not sitting on my shoulders this year. So, now I can focus on growing my online business and make amazing costumes for my kids this year.

There are TONS of Halloween related Crochet patterns floating around. I mean, zombies and ghosts, witches, spiders and jack o’lanterns, bats, cats, and a whole slew of other generic Halloween things. Then there are Costume-related creations: Spider-Man, Harry Potter, Jack Skellington, Princesses…the list goes on forever! So, his month for “Telling Tuesday”, I wanted to focus on more unique Halloween-related Crochet patterns for you to enjoy. I mean, these artists have been so clever, and I think that they deserve to be shared. So, I hope you enjoy ๐Ÿ˜Š

*************************************************************************************

These Halloween Burgers from AmigurumiFood is just adorable! I would be tempted to make some of these myself, and I sure would love to know how she came up with the idea to make these! Really, ALL of her patterns are delightful and I recommend you check out her whole shops.

HelloHAPPY has designed this hilarious octopus scarf. I only wish I had the confidence to wear something like this out in public ๐Ÿคฃ octopus.

I don’t think a unique idea went into this particular crochet creation, but it is VERY well-designed and amazingly intricate. An almost lifelike skull pattern by designshop would be a perfect table centerpiece for you Halloween party. It’s bound to turn heads and start conversations, too.

Monster hand puppets? What! Knotbygranma has these hilarious novelties that any child would enjoy playing with. Great for use in a library story time program, or an elementary aged school. Just full of Halloween-themed potential.

I’m suppose to be a Mockingbird for Halloween this year (our family is doing “Texas-themed”, and the mockingbird is the Texas state bird), but, I really really want to make some of these monster feet from KnitsForLife for myself. I can be a monster mockingbird, right?

12 Facebook Post Ideas for the Crochet Artist to Increase Fan Engagement


It can be so hard to keep your Facebook fans engaged and constantly coming back for more. Especially with how rapidly the Facebook algorithms seem to be changing these days. I don’t even know how many countless hours I have spent researching Facebook and how to manage my page to get the most benefit. Only to find out that it’s changed just two months later, it is so frustrating.

So, how can you stay on top of it, reach the most people, and be the best crochet-er? Honestly, it all boils down to good posts. That’s really it. You HAVE to have good and relevant posts that interest your fans. Take good pictures, use stock pictures from google, or throw in a video clip for some visual interest. Mostly, just make sure you are creating the right kind of posts and scheduling it for the optimal times. No, you don’t have to use only your pictures. Yes, take advantage of the scheduling! And keep chugging on. You will attract those who are most interested in what you have to offer if you just keep on offering it.

What type of words should you, as a crochet artist, be using in your posts? The simple answer, my friend, is easy: whatever you are working on or have completed. The more complicated answer involves a very extensive list that I am sure you will find helpful ๐Ÿ˜Š I realize that my title says only 12 Facebook posts, but I’ve actually got so many more posting ideas for you to take advantage of. Just 12 of them are specific to increasing your fan engagement.

All about YOU

  • What’s on your hook?
  • Work-space
  • Yarn storage
  • Completed project
  • Packages getting mailed out
  • New supplies getting shipped in
  • Delicious new yarn
  • Wonderful pattern-designer (FamilyBugs, right?!)
  • Favorite or most-used hook
  • Share a picture and story about a pet (have him wearing your crochet)
  • Donate
  • A picture of yourself/family
  • Other social media sites your on, or link to Etsy shop
  • What has crochet taught you about life!

Encourage Interaction

  • Share a picture, using/wearing my crochet
  • Name my newest doll
  • What do you want to see me make next?
  • What is your favorite piece of crochet you’ve ever seen?
  • Create a color-based poll – which color combo would make the cutest baby blanket?
  • Share a picture of different ways that you could use one of my crocheted hats.
  • Which flower would look best on this purse?
  • I like to Netflix while working, what show/movie do you recommend?
  • Selfie Saturday (bonus points to include crochet)
  • Ask for snack recommendations that are healthy and not messy
  • Would you want to pay more for faster shipping, or wait longer for free shipping?
  • Make a blanket or scarf and have fans pick the next color

Generic Crochet Posts

  • Funny yarn memes
  • Relevant Crochet jokes
  • Show off someone else’s crochet creation – not related to what you make
  • Share another artists non-Crochet creation that can be used with your products
  • .example: this Etsy artist makes gorgeous shawl pins that compliment my shawls perfectly!
  • Business-related wish list
  • Share testimonials
  • Customer spotlight
  • Sneak peaks (be a tease, encourage guessing)

Video Specific

  • Have a child talk about your crochet
  • Make a commercial
  • Illustrate the different uses of your crochet (be silly)
  • Fake news
  • Livestream a crochet (or crafting) event you are attending
  • Mannequin challenge with people wearing or holding your crochet
  • Hang some of your crochet from a ceiling fan (few seconds)
  • Jump in a pile of yarn (few seconds)
  • Have someone cover you with yarn and jump out of it (few seconds)

*****************************************************

There are also contest ideas or Facebook parties that can bring an influx of new fans and engagement, but I personally like to steer clear of those. My research indicates that the Facebook people don’t appreciate those and while you might get a sudden influx of interest, it doesn’t last and you end up with less exposure afterwards. Stick to the organic growth. Ask people to invite their friends, or post invitations on your personal page. The interest is out there, it’s just a matter of letting them find you ๐Ÿ˜Š

Do This One Thing To Increase Crochet Amigurumi Sales


Just recently, I started giving all of my crochet creations specific names. For example, instead of “winter Princess”, this particular little beauty is named “Fiona, the winter princess”, and instead of “octopus Crochet Pattern”, I’ve opted for “Pax the Octopus”. And I’ve seen several things happen because of this small change. Several good things that have benefited my business, and I was so surprised at the positive impact, that I just had to share it.

Several years ago, I crocheted a darling little red-head doll for an adoption fundraiser (Sacred Selections). The man who came to get her asked me what her name was. I didn’t have a name for her, the child who will get the pleasure to play with her needs to name her, right? I mean, my children have always given their stuffed animals and dolls their own names. Lots of times, they ignore the given names. Why would I go through the process of choosing a name when it would probably be ignored anyways.

At Christmas, my daughters received some garden fairy’s as a gift. Each of these lovely little dolls came with a name and a bit of their pretend personalities written down on a card. It was charming and delightful, and my girls played according to each fairy’s strengths. Unfortunately, the cards have since been lost and I cannot remember what was written on them. I think that I got this idea then, and it set with me for quite a while until I decided to use it for my crochet dolls and amigurumi creations.

So, I got to thinking: Every single one of my dolls has a personality. I can start to see it as I’m making her. The colors I chose for her hair, along with the style of dress I made for her. I can almost see her coming to life as I make her boots. And sharing what I see in these precious little dolls lets my customers see it as well. She’s not just “another crocheted doll” to me. I spent hours thinking about her in my head. I formed countless loops on my tiny hook for many days creating her. It took way longer than I would have liked to create her luscious hair and then fix it in the perfect style. She means something to me, and if she can mean something to someone else, then I have done my job as an artist.

How Has My Business Been Effected?

The short answer is that I’m getting noticed more now. The shares and likes on Facebook have been through the roof. I’ve finally been able to sell two of my dolls that have previously been sitting in a basket in the corner of my house for months! And when someone wants to make a custom order, they can use her name and ask specifically “I want her to have a crown like Fiona’s, and a braid like Coral’s”. Now I know exactly what to make for them, and they know exactly what my abilities are and how their doll is going to look. And my fans have found the personality additions so personable and charming: “Iris is quiet and shy? She’s the perfect doll for my niece who is also shy!” Giving my dolls a name might be one of the best things I’ve ever done for my business

How Do You Go About Naming Your Own Crochet Amigurumi?

My biggest piece of advise is to keep it simple. I had one lady fall in love with one of my dolls because she had the same name as her daughter. It isn’t a super common name (Lyla), but using an actual name, instead of an outlandish made-up concoction, made her even more delightful and enticing. Try “baby name” websites. I actually used a “mermaid name generator” for Coral. Ask other people, my daughters have definitely helped me name some of my dolls. Say them out loud, try the name on the doll and see if you think it fits with your idea of who she is.

Add a bit of personality. Maybe she is attracted to shiny things or is a bit of a diva. Does she enjoy reading, or is she more of a tree-climber? Keep it short, easy to remember, but positive and delightful. Maybe incorporate her appearance a little bit: she doesn’t need to be wearing clunky boots if she is a delicate dancer. Stay relevant: if her favorite color is pink, why is she wearing blue?

***********************************

I would love to see what different names you’ve given your own crochet dolls. And how has the addition of personalities given your creations an additional boost?

Becoming full-time


This summer has kicked my butt. And I mean that in the most loving way possible. Summer is my favorite: warm weather, flowy skirts, playing in the water, getting beautifully sun-kissed, no time-watching, sleeping in until 7…I love summer. But this past summer was the most stressed I have ever been in my entire life! I will spare you the long boring details of my summer…I’m glad it’s over wth and there is a different sort of normalcy going on. All of my babies started school last month, and I’m excited for what that means for you guys! Most importantly, this means that now I am working on FamilyBugs as a full-time job.

This is GREAT news for all of you. It means I can write my blog posts with consistency. And I can finally create an email newsletter. And the hook and Yarns are coming out of the closet for some much needed love. All three of my tiny loves started school last month (Kindergarten, First grade, and Second grade…we aren’t going to talk about how hard THAT has been for me), and I’ve been doing some hardcore planning on where to take FamilyBugs this next year as well as what to do to get it there.

THE BLOG

First of all, what does “full-time” mean for this blog? It means that my overall business focus is going to be as a Pattern designer, reaching out to fellow crochet artists. There are going to be tutorials, and tips, and tricks, and videos, and some free patterns, and some sneak peaks at patterns you can buy. There is going to be motivation and inspiration for all of you beautiful crochet artists that are feeling bogged down by life. There is going to be questions and answers about how to make your crochet even more beautiful. I’ve got some series posts in the works, and some worksheets, and some printables…lots of good things that you are not gonna wanna miss.

If you are not interested in Crochet patterns, I encourage you to unsubscribe…I do NOT want to be obnoxious, or fill up your inbox with irrelevant “junk”. But if you are a crochet artist, make sure that you DO subscribe, and do not forget to share my blog with your fiber artsy friends, because they will be furious to get left out of what I’ve got to offer you guys!

THE ETSY SHOP

Grand reopening! Patterns. Patterns. And even more patterns. My plan is to have at least one new pattern every week. Something small that will be quick to work-up. Sometimes free, usually not (I’ve gotta make a living here, to). I’m hoping to revamp my Etsy shop, and take out all of the Disney and Superhero patterns…I don’t think the sales I’ve made from those patterns are worth the legal risk of my entire business and reputation. Copyright laws and all of that deliciousness. Nope, they are gone. All FamilyBugs originals! Mostly amigurumi, dolls, maybe some other tidbits and Newborn goodies. I’m excited and I think you guys should be, too!

FACEBOOK

Join the FamilyBugs Crochet Facebook group to receive daily tips of the trade, and get first access to my patterns. Also: that will be the best place to get your crocheting questions answered. More interaction and engagement is definitely happening. Giveaways, contests, chances to win exclusive and free patterns, along with the previews into my personal life. Because my kids and dog are awesome, and deserve to be shared ๐Ÿ˜Š

YOUTUBE?

That’s right. I’ll be creating YouTube videos along the way. All of my live videos (that will be happening through my Facebook group) will be going on my YouTube channel for you to enjoy time and time again. With tutorials, free patterns, motivation and inspiration, and just for fun. And I am going to be diving a little bit deeper into the world of stop motion animation. It fascinates me how a series of pictures can create a sense of movement. So, you can expect short, monthly stop motions, and even a longer, more involved one coming soon!

********************************************

I’ve got events scheduled in my mobile planner (that I will probably talk about in a later post), and way too much free time on my hands. Hope you guys are ready to become better artists. And don’t you dare forget to subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss a single bit of it ๐Ÿ˜†

How to Nurture a Blog After It’s Been Created


Maintaining a crochet blogThere are hundreds upon thousands of blog posts written about how to start a blog. You can do it in under 20 minutes. There is definitely not a shortage in helpful people who want to add even more noise to the blogosphere. But, what do you do after you’ve started your blog? How do you get your voice to be heard above the millions of blogs that already exist? THIS blog post from Impact branding & design has some shocking statistics on business blogs. I was especially shocked to read the blogs have become the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information. Whatever kind of blog you are creating and wish to run, let’s make sure that you aren’t lost in the chaos and overwhelming information available to you.

Post consistently. Maybe one of the most challenging parts of anything that you ever do is the need to be consistent with it. Blogging is no different. You don’t have to post every single day…I think that’s a mighty tall order, and many would agree with me. But definitely more than once monthly. I aim to post 2-3 times a week. I don’t always make it happen (I do have kids that like to throw life to the dogs every occasionally), but that’s why I also have drafts and scheduled posts. Which brings me straight to my second point.

Utilize Scheduling. I don’t have much experience with other blogging platforms, but I do know that WordPress will allow you to write and schedule blog posts for future date and times. On the first of every month, I take the time to write out 4-5 of my “Telling Tuesdays” posts…I Feature other artists and crafters, and can knock these out for the whole month within a few short hours. If I know life is gonna be exceptionally busy ahead of time, I will go ahead and write and schedule posts accordingly. For example, this post is being written on March 11, but I’m scheduling it for March 16, because it’s spring break and we will be busy.

Add Elements as you Go. Wanna create videos? Great! Shoot it, edit it, post it. Wanna add a weekly or monthly feature? Awesome! Title it, write it, keep up with it. How about interviews or testimonies? Yes! Call them, record them, post them. My point being, feel free to add to or remove different blogging elements as you go. You don’t have to have everything figured out and ready to go from the day you start. If you get an idea that you think will be great, figure out how to make it work for you. And if that idea isn’t generating the interest you need it to, or if it’s sucking too much of your time, it is ok to drop it like a bad habit. Maybe come back to it at a later time when you have more experience and knowledge to tweak it better.

Go Slowly. I’ve been blogging and creating for over five years. I have an aresenal already under my belt. If you are just starting off, you’ve got nothing. But your excitement and enthusiasm is high and you are eager to jump right in and spend all of your time building. I want to encourage you to slow down. It takes time and effort to build an audience and create a profitable blog. Don’t get burned out the very first month.

Save Those Drafts. Just because it is a terrible idea right now, or it wrote up badly the first time, doesn’t mean that you should just trash it. Oftentimes, you can come back to old ideas with a different perspective and make it amazing! These will create an arsenal for yourself that will beat writers block in the best way. Keep track of all of your ideas as they come up, and then expand on them later.

Be Willing to Change. Adapt as necessary. My crochet business started off as hats…terrible hats. Then it morphed into photo props, which changed further into costumes, and then became dolls, and finally has settled with Crochet patterns. I love designing new crochet Patterns. If I wasn’t willing to change and adapt, I would probably still be stuck making hats and feeling frustrated and stressed because I can’t keep,up with production right now, and the competition for crochet hats is so high! Have the same attitude with your blog. Be trendy and original and then adapt as your ability, interest, and society continues to change. I mean, last year when PokรฉmonGo first came out it was huge! But after just a few weeks, it had died down dramatically and didn’t have nearly the interest. Yes, Pokรฉmon is still popular, about like it always has been, but not nearly as much as it was.

Develop Your Niche. Sometimes you have to focus this in a very purposeful and conscious way, sometimes it just happens. As an example of an unintentional niche narrowing, I started this blog because I wanted to help hand-crafty-salesmen succeed. I thought that was a great niche to write about. And it was…but it was still way too broad. As I’ve continued blogging, I have noticed that my posts tend to focus on the crochet-artist. It’s what I do, it’s what I know, it’s what I am best equipped to write about. As my business has morphed into creating patterns, my blog posts have continued to narrow even further to focus on the crochet blogger and fellow pattern-designer. If you are blogging about writing Crochet patterns, it’s probably not a good idea to throw in a life story about how your precious 3-yo finally mastered toilet useage. Exciting? To the mom-audience, yes. Relavent to your particular readers? Probably not.

BONUS: Blog Post Ideas for the Crochet Blogger. And because I know how hard it can be to come up with such specific blogging ideas, I’m including a list of great topics for you to start with. I’m going to close with this, and say that I’m proud of you for starting a blog, and I hope you will be successful. In fact, I know you came be successful if you are willing to continue with the world โ˜บ

  1. Review a pattern
  2. Write your own pattern
  3. Talk about your recent project – go into detail
  4. Favorite tools of the trade
  5. Luxury yarn
  6. Funny memes or comics about crochet
  7. Round-up of patterns and ideas
  8. Interview a customer
  9. Appreciate your customers
  10. Interview one of your hooks – be humorous
  11. Narrate the creation of one of your products
  12. Tutorial a complicated stitch
  13. How did you learn to crochet
  14. Why are you blogging?
  15. Talk about the title of your blog/business (if it is obscure like mine is)
  16. Common frustrations of crocheting/blogging
  17. Learn a new skill and then blog about your experience (Tunisian Crochet, crocheting in the round, etc.)
  18. Feature other crochet artists – share the love!
  19. Donate to your favorite charity and write about why.
  20. Appreciate the artists of the craft.