May Scripture-Writing Challenge


May 2018

Even though I am continuing to struggle with finding my new sense of normal and balance right now, I certainly did NOT want to miss May’s scripture-writing Challenge Verses. We’ve been trekking on through this year for five months already! The New Year’s enthusiasm has long since worn off — are you still on track with your business-specific resolutions? Those of us in America are reaching the chaos of “end of the school year” and related stress from too many events crammed into too little time. If y’all are anything like me, usually by this time of the year, I’m growing weary and feeling frustrated…especially if I haven’t been seeing traceable progress with my numbers and stats. My time for creating is limited, my multi-tasking abilities are waning thin, I’m probably battling the stress acne and lack of appetite. And usually, I seriously consider giving up altogether.

It was only natural in my little head to declare this month’s theme to be “perseverence”. Only by continuing to persevere will any of us be able to overcome these “middle of the year blues” as I’ve officially dubbed it. As I’ve discussed before, putting God first and keeping Him in the focus will help everything else to fall in place. Hopefully, these verses will help you to persevere in the faith, and in relation, your business as well. Take a deep breath, and remember that God is in control. Now, enjoy these bible verses that I’ve found for you to keep your focus on keeping on and perseverence…everything will be ok  and don’t forget to download your free PDF of May’s #MakersVerses

May 2018

Crocheting for God


I don’t have all of the answers. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I yell at my kids. I’ve run late to events a handful of times. I forget to do my bible readings and have to play catch-up. But, after many years of searching, experimenting, and studying, I feel like I have finally been able to take my God-given talent with crochet and use it to serve God. And when I say years, I mean it! Allow me, if you will, to provide a bit of background information.

Using My Talents to ServeI am a middle child. I fit each and every stereotype that you can use for middle children: I am secretive, calm, level-headed, rational, able to see both sides of the situation, and blame myself when things go wrong. Growing up, I tried EVERYTHING in an attempt to figure out where I fit in the world: violin, piano, theatre, softball, gymnastics, karate, hockey, candy striper, volleyball, chorus…none of it fit, and I never found my passion. Then in Highschool, I was mistakenly placed in an art class. At first I was pretty upset about this: I couldn’t draw, and I had wanted to take a different class. I was convinced to stick with it for one semester, and that is the best thing that I could have ever chosen to do. God guided my life in the direction it needed to go in, and I found my passion. The next several years were spent fine-tuning and differentiating my passion. I needed to find my niche in the artistic world and I explored several avenues here as well: pencils, pens, oil pastels, acrylics, watercolor, paper mache, air-dry clay, mixed media, abstracts, canvasses…and while I loved doing all of it, and even made several amazing pieces as gifts, life changed drastically when I had children and my time fluttered out the window.

Shortly after my first was born, a dear older friend took the time to teach me crochet. I wasn’t hooked right away (pun intended), but I was curious enough to explore this artistic avenue more. I dabbled on and off for the next two years. Then, when I was pregnant with my third, with the prospect of diapering three small children on a limited income, I realized that I had to do something to supplement Mr. Lovely’s paycheck. After countless hours of research, I opened up my Etsy shop and started selling Crochet. It was the perfect craft for me. I could set it down and pick it right back up as I found the time to work. I could keep it out of reach of the children and not take up a ton of space. I could Crochet while nursing the infant or watching tv. It just fit.

Over the next five years, I continued To develop my talent and ability and I’ve become a professional. As we’ve gotten better control of our $$, my crochet has changed from the necessity of finished products to the luxury of patterns. I have learned over the years how to use my gift for God and to fulfill Colossians 3:17 “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the LORD Jesus giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Today, I wanted to share how exactly I do that. Because I struggled for a long time to figure out how to use the arts and crafts to serve and glorify my Creator, and it makes no sense to keep my knowledge to myself.

MAKING CONTACTS

My children go to school for the sole purpose of making friends who they can share the gospel with. I will brag on them and say that they are accomplishing this task beautifully. The more people we know, the more hearts we can sow with the hope of eternal salvation, the more souls will be harvested for God’s kingdom. It’s like a pyramid: the larger your base is, the higher you can build.

I have met so many people through crocheting. Those at the craft fairs. Those who want to learn from me. Those who want to share in the joy. Those who also sell. Those who buy. Those who create. So many beautiful souls who are being placed into my life. It would be a disservice to God if I didn’t take advantage of these contacts.

MAKING MONEY

Unfortunately, the world runs on $$. You cannot live with out it. A church cannot function without it. I have been able to take the extra money that I have been earning through Crochet and use it to supply bible class materials, provide food for those who are ill or struggling, and further the work of the church. A little extra can make a big difference.

ENCOURAGEMENT

Not Burying Your TalentsEncouragement comes in many different forms. I like to mail cards to people who may need a little extra boost. While not specific to any craft, one of my favorite things to send is tiny crocheted paper clips. The application of these are endless. I have also sent mixed media paintings with bible verses, homemade stationary from water colors, and other little doodads.

The world is dark and cruel, and oftentimes seems unbearably lonely. By taking the time to make something small, and the consideration to send it off to someone else, I am reminding them that they are still making a difference in this world. Tiny little acts can add up so quickly to make such a big difference for some precious soul. Never underestimate the power to encourage.

GIFTS

This one feels like a no-brainer to me. And goes in hand with the previous point. Doesn’t matter what sort of crafty or artistic talent you claim, make things for other people. Remember their birthday, anniversary. I have made scarfs, hats, dolls, Slippers, bookmarks, and probably other things that I can’t even remember anymore. Saves you money. Let’s the other person know they are valued and appreciated. And then, every time that person uses one of your creations, they will hopefully remember you and how amazing of a friend you are! Doesn’t have to be extravagant. 

My goal is to be like Dorcus/Tabitha whose funeral was filled with all of the garments she had made for the brethren. Because of who she was, and how she had I,packed everyone in her life, Paul brought her back to life to serve a little bit longer.

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God gave me the interest and ability. I put forth the work to develop my skills. It is only proper that I use what He has given me, to give back to Him. It seems so insignificant and small compared to His sacrifice of dying on the cross. But the other alternative is to bury my talents, or use them for selfish reasons. I know that is not a pleasing choice in God’s eyes. So, I serve! Hopefully, this will encourage you to serve as well ☺

How To Manage Bulk Orders


Rabbit&Fox BoxCrochet is not a quick craft. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing it, or how fast you can work. It’s still gonna require a sizeable investment of time to crochet something. Sure there are “mile a minute” blankets, and “hour long” scarf patterns, and several projects that brag about the limited time to complete them. But if you are ever in a situation where you are asked to make just 10 of these, it’s going to take up the better part of two days, and maybe even a couple of weeks depending on your schedule.

A couple of months ago, I started working with a dear friend making her these cute little woodland animals. She purchases them from me at the absolute lowest price possible and adds them to similarly themed products from other artisans. She then sells these collections at a marked-up price for a profit. Rabbit and Fox box. Absolutely adorable stuff, definitely worth your attention! I do not offer these patterns for sale, and I do not allow the animals to be purchased from me. They are exclusives!

So, I’ve got to work up about 12 of these tiny creatures, owls this time, and I want to do it as fast as I can (mostly so I don’t get bored and can keep moving forward). Each individual animal may take me an hour, maybe two to complete from start to finish. While you might expect me to spend an entire week working on these (the math comes out to approximately 30 hours of work), I can usually finish them in 3 days, or about 10 hours. There is one secret and only one for how I manage this magic: assembly line!

  Alright, are you listening? This is how I made twelve little owls in three days:

  1. Purchase the desired colors
  2. Gather ALL of my materials in a box (for easy clean-up, and to keep them all together)
  3. Make 20 tiny wings
  4. Make 20 white circles
  5. Whip stitch the circles together, embroider the eyes
  6. Make an owl head
  7. Add on the eyes and embroider the beak
  8. Finish the owl’s body attaching the wings as I go
  9. Repeat steps 6-8 until they are all completed

If I were making one owl at a time I would be repeating steps 3-8. Six steps is a lot more time consuming than three (by more than twice). Especially when you take into account the putting down of one color in order to pick up the next color, and locating the yarn end, and finding the needle, and re-threading every single color for the embroidery, and all of those tiny in between actions. By creating each part at a time, I can better utilize my time and complete this bulk order at a faster pace. I can embroider all of the eyes at the same time, thus eliminating the painful re-threading of the needle. I can establish a rhythm for making all of the wings and shave even more time off of my creation process (I noticed, especially while I was making the wings, that each one took 3-4 seconds faster than the previous one). Tiny parts of creating one owl can be lessened or even eliminated altogether by using the assembly line process.

The Calculations

Crocheting in BulkSo that there cannot be any arguments or confusion, I even used a stop watch to calculate it all out for you. To make one owl all the way to completion took me 57 minutes. Multiply that by 12, and we can round it up to 12 hours. Whereas by using my assembly line method, I could crank out 12 eyes in 52 minutes, 24 wings in 31 minutes, and finish up 12 owls in about 6.5 hours. Meaning 12 owls took a total of 8 hours! By using the assembly line method, I was able to knock 4 hours off of the creation time. Now, I can spend that time on my packaging, or on writing a blog post about it, or on more crochet projects ☺

It did take me a little bit longer than 8 hours to make these, because of distractions, and a badly wound skein of yarn that kept tangling, and having to stop and hit the “lap” button on my stop watch, and having to make a few extras to get accurate calculations. But, I think I’ve made my point!

So, the next time you have someone ask for a whole bunch of one crochet item, don’t forget to “assembly line” it where you can. Your brain will thank you for it!

Keeping Track of Projects – free printable!


crochet-project-tracker

I’ve been designing crochet Patterns for Three years now. One pattern can easily take me several weeks from the day I start hooking until the day I hit that terrifying “publish” button. I’m sure you know all to well how much can happen and change in just a few days, not to mention several weeks! One of my constant complaints is the overload of ideas paired with the overwhelming lack of time. Even now I have an idea I’m itching to start, but I’ve got two other projects in queue already.

Or what about those really good ideas that you struggle to execute? I don’t know about you guys, but I have several works-in-progress that still seem like really good ideas. After working on them for a while and not getting very far, I put them up to let them simmer. Usually, I never come back to them and end up throwing away the pieces when I clean out my craft closet. There must be a better way!

While I prefer to Sell Crochet patterns, I still have way too much inventory that I need to get rid of. Every occasionally, I have flash sales to get rid of these for a little profit. The only problem is when someone asks for a similar product like the one I just sold. Unless I’ve written down the pattern (which I only do 50% of the time) it is impossible to duplicate. So what do I do then? Usually I wing it.

To solve all of these problems, I Designed a simple worksheet, dubbed the Crochet Project Tracker! You can record all of your information about any given project and keep records of it all: pattern source, hook size, who you are making it for, the yarn you are using, any changes you’ve made to the pattern, and so much more. There’s even some motivation thrown in there to keep you going when you want to quit…but not really give up. Just click the image below to download your free copy and print off as many as you need!

crochet-project-tracker

Disclaimer: this is my first printable, so please be patient as I perfect my process. Give me some feedback so that I can make future printables better! Or some requests of needed crochet worksheets that you would love to utilize ☺️

As always, thank you for the support, and please do not redistribute these. They are for personal use only.

What Should Creatives Be Blogging About?


I’ve had this blog for about 5.5 years. The first two years I was very dillegent to post 3-5 times a week and my blog’s stats slowly and steadily increased. However, I never could figure out how to monetized this blog, and without that extra motivation, I sort of fizzled out. Especially when my crochet business started taking off. Quite frankly, I just didn’t have to time to exert energy into something that wasn’t going to profit much. Sure, the blog brought extra customers to my Etsy store, but not enough to make it valuable to me.

However, I’m now in a position where I can come back to the blog, with high hopes of monetizing soon! That simply means I am working on earning some money from this blog. It can definitely be done, and I’ve read several articles from blartists (blog artists – can we make that a thing?) who not only earn money from their crafty blogs, but can make a living solely on their crochet blogs! I have the need to be one of those blartists. So, I appreciate your patience as I work on rebranding, and I promise that little space to the left will soon have a shiny new logo in it! And if you also want to glean from their expertise, I’ve listed a few of them below ☺️

Sewrella

Cre8tioncrochet

ThePennyHoarder

During the past years of blogging, I have paid attention to the stats, and what people are looking at, and liking, and linking back to, and commenting on. It’s a very specific kind of post that people are interested in. To be successful, it’s important to focus on creating this kind of content.

Tutorials

People love to read how to do something. Even better is if it’s simple enough that your readers can do it themselves! I have a few tutorials that I wrote a couple years ago, and still have frequent visitors to those posts. It is also important to realize what to include in a tutorial:

  • Tools. Always, always, always include a list of materials needed to accomplish the finished product exactly as you have created it. List specific colors, brand names, and sizes. This is where affiliate marketing makes an impact!
  • Pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Good quality pictures. Show your reader how theirs should be looking every step of the way.
  • Directions. Step-by-step directions of what needs to be done and how to do it. Did you know, that there are so many many people who cannot craft? They can look at a very simple craft project and have no clue how those results were achieved. Write for these people! Precise, clear, to the point.
  • Video. Now, I’m not a video-person. I don’t appreciate my appearance on screen, and I detest the sound of my voice. But there is a great amount of value to be had with videos. Whenever you can, make and use one!
  • Resources. Books, other blogs, additional information. Make it easy for your reader to further explore the kind of craft that you are tutorialing (yeah, that’s a thing). While it’s ok to direct them off sight, try to send them to other blog posts that you wrote when you can.

Freebies

People LOVE freebies. Like, gobble them up as fast as they can. They love to benefit from your hard work without having to do anything themselves. Sometimes that’s ok, but don’t get so carried away that you suffer at a loss.

  • Printables
  • Lists
  • Information
  • Giveaways
  • Cheat sheets

Inspiration

It’s so easy to get discouraged, overwhelmed, bogged down, and just plain wanna quit. If you’ve been living for longer than a year, you’ve definitely felt “the burn-out”. So, include some inspiration and motivation for your readers. Whether that means bible verses to get through life in general, or encouraging quotes from famous people, readers love to be inspired!

Beginner’s guides

So many people are getting the idea that they want to give it a try. After all, if you can be successful, why can’t they? But they don’t even know where to start. More importantly they don’t know how to start. So, create a step-by-step guide for them. Don’t be afraid of sharing your experiences of what worked for you.

Guest Posts

This is an exciting prospect! To have enough of a following to merit the attention and time of someone else. Especially if you are able to bring in an expert who backs up your information. Adds to your credibility. And boosts your stats.

Giveaways

There is much debate on the validity of blog contests. Maybe you can run a successful sweepstakes, but are you bringing in freeloaders or an authentic following? Personally, I find giveaways to be too much work with not enough benefit. But there are some creative bloggers out there who will attest to their usefulness in moderation. I suggest experimenting and find out if it will work for you. I’ll include a few resources for you just because I’m nice like that ☺️

How to Create Social Media Contests That Convert

How to Run a Social Media Promotion and Not Go to Jail

12 Brilliant Contest Ideas

Blogging Giveaway Rules

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There are lots of different kind of blog posts that you can write: memes, narratives, FAQs, works in progress, infographics. While these are useful posts and can add to the validity of your blog, they are not as likely to bring a huge following in a short amount of time. Balance it out and you will be on your way!

Five Necessities to Grow and Expand Your Crochet Business


I love to crochet. It’s no secret. When my children were younger, I used the repetitive patterns and motions to relax and calm down at the end of the day (especially those rough days that all infants/toddlers experience from time to time). Now that my children are getting older and our lives are getting busier, I find Crochet to be my primary source of artistic expression. I need that in my life, in some form or other. An added bonus is the extra income that I am able to bring to my family! After five years of working and selling, I have learned how to function as an entrepreneur at peak efficiency. Some of my knowledge has come from the giants that have gone before me, but most of it has been the trial-and-error method to discover what works best with my personality and schedule.

Yesterday, I talked about the bare necessities to start a crochet business. I mean, like,the absolute skeletons needed to sell that first product. It is simple, affordable, do-able, and if you are wanting to start your own business, I greatly encourage you to take the leap and go for it! Today I am going to expand on that list a little bit and talk about what you need to grow and expand your business while still maintaining integrity, quality, and efficiency.

Change

Quite possibly one of the most important necessities to growing your crochet business is your willingness and ability to change. If one kind of product isn’t selling well, try another. When trends change and cycle back, so must your products. 

I was struggling to keep up with custom orders. I was stressed, my house was being neglected, and having to create something brand new with every order left me drained and I burned out quickly. So, I changed, and my business now focuses on crochet patterns. It was a slow change, as one pattern may take me a month to design (from idea to launch). But one that works best for me and my current lifestyle.

Perspective

Being self-employed with a home-based business requires self-discipline of the utmost. It’s not necessarily about “working” on your business 40 hours a week from 9-5. That may not be reasonable, and that mindset goes against the idea of being self-employed with a home-based business. I cannot stress enough, however, that you must consider yourself an entrepreneur and your craft as a business. If you are serious, and want to be treated as a professional, look at your craft as a business. Not a hobby that you work on during your free time, but a JOB that you create time for.

When I first started, I could work while my children were asleep. I was fortunate enough to get all three of them to nap during the same four hours every single day and be asleep at night pretty early. Looking back, I realize that this is not a normal phenomenon and God must’ve been very gracious to my sanity. However, as they’ve become older, naps have been phased out and bedtimes pushed back later, I’ve had to change my perspective. Sometimes, I send them outside to play while I work. Other times, I stay up until midnight to get it done. Crochet is so much more than just a craft or a hobby for me. I make the time to do what I feel like needs to get done, even if that means the dishes don’t get cleaned until tomorrow.

Organization

There are a lot of things that need to be organized when it concerns a crafty business. Sadly only a tiny portion of your business is actually crafting. There are so many hats to wear when creating and managing your own business. If you take the time to figure out how to balance it all, your business will grow and thrive.

  • Supplies. As you continue to make and sell, you will acquire a lot of yarn, and hopefully a lot of different sized hooks, and maybe some buttons or safety eyes, stuffing, pipe cleaners, dowel rods, needles, Magnets, Velcro, beads, scrap fabric…that’s just my abbreviated list. While there are a plethora of ways to organize all of these supplies, it should be done in such a way that you know what you have, and do not waste your precious profits purchasing duplicates.
  • Inventory. I know, that’s like a four letter word. Regardless of how you have chosen to do your business, there will be inventory. I have a lot of finished projects sitting around my house and I sell only the patterns. Hats are in a tote marked very clearly by size, scarfs and dolls are in another basket, and dresses and costumes are hanging neatly in a closet with sizes clearly indicated. Keep like items together and make sure you know what size each item is so there won’t be any guess work or unhappy customers later.
  • Paperwork. For tax purposes it is a wise decision to keep track of what you spend on materials, shipping, promoting, and the profits you are earning. You do NOT want to get into trouble with the government later. Also: to analyze growth of your business and success of different products. One of my best selling patterns has been one of the first patterns I ever designed. If I didn’t know that, I may be tempted to take it off the market.
  • Time. With so many different responsibilities resting on your shoulders, it can become easy to neglect different aspects of your business in order to focus on one or two. Don’t do that. Organize your time efficiently so that you can get it all done during the time you have available.

Patience and Perseverence

You’ve created a beautiful work of art, maybe slaved for days getting the stitches just perfect, launch it, and no one seems interested. Don’t despair! Every single one of my patterns have sat in my stores for a month (or longer) before that first purchase. Time is often a very key component to selling. It takes time for people to find your work. Time for them to decide if they want to purchase it. Be patient. While you are waiting, create something else, don’t give up. Could be that you didn’t use the right color, maybe a different product will garner more interest. The more that you make, the more attention you will attract, the more sales you will make. Keep going!

Updates

Do not ever list an item and never come back to that listing. Updating can really boost your business if done consistently. Even if it’s just a picture on facebook, change the wording (include holidays or special sales), add an updated picture, tag certain friends who may have expressed interest in the past. Especially for your earlier products. As you get better creating and photographing and explaining, go back and “fix” your noob mistakes.

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Crochet is not rocket science, selling it doesn’t require a genius. Traveling your journey as a business-person will not always be obvious or easy or fun. There are times when you will want to throw your hands in the air and just quit. But then you will have failed. Maybe you have already encountered your first disgruntled customer, and the discouragement weighs heavy. Learn from it and know that time will heal that wound. If you want to sell your crochet, then you are going to create and profit and nothing will hold you back…I promise!

Crochet Hat Display, DIY


I know that there are tons of ideas online on pinterest and google of how to display your hand-crafted hats at a craft show. I am sure that the idea that I am about to tutorial below is not original to the brain of Family Bugs. However, there is no possible way that I could even trace back to where I got the idea from, and even more impossible the track back to the original creator of this idea. So, without further ado…here is my hat display.

  1. Get some cute little globe-shaped vases from the dollar store (newborn sized hats fit these so perfectly).
  2. Coerce Mr. Lovely to drink some coffee flavored beverage (or, if you appreciate these kind of drinks, by all means, guzzle it down yourself!).
  3. Hot glue the globe vase to the coffee jar. While not necessary, this insures that the globe does not get dislodged during transport or while the hats are coming off and on.
  4. Wrap it up in the yarn of your choice. Or paint it. Or paper mache some cute scrapbook paper. Just cover it up and make it look pretty.
  5. Add the hat, and your finished!

Pretty simple, and pretty low-cost. Which is perfect for a craft-show. This particular display is going to work better for me than my previous display for a lot of reasons. First of all, it’s a little bit sturdier, being glass instead of Styrofoam. Secondly, I only have two different kinds of hats for this particular show: Poke ball hats, and pikachu hats, I didn’t need a display with 6 different stands. Although that could add an interesting element to my overall display, it isn’t what I was going for. So, I’ve got my two little stands, and in front of each stand I will have my stacks of hats (in all sizes), and it’s going to work out perfectly!

Tiny Doll Display


I have been busy busy the past several days/weeks getting ready for a craft show that’s coming up soon. Of course I’ve done the research and I know how important having a good display can be for such an event. One of my products are these cute little garden fairies that I made out of pipe cleaners and silk flowers (I just love them, and so do my girls!). But after searching high and low I could not find a display that was perfect for them. I’m not happy just laying them out on the table, that’s blah, and putting them in a bowl or box would result in a tangly mess. They are kind of gangly in the limbs. Mr. Lovely impulsively bought some tortilla chips several weeks ago, and as I was getting ready to throw away the box, a brilliant idea came to me and I just had to share my process with you guys.

  1. Take a large box.
  2. Cover said box in white paper, or paint it all white.
  3. Splash some watercolor on that puppy.
    1. Pour some water on the surface, splash it around, no rhyme or reason.
    2. Dab your paintbrush in some watercolor, dab it on the box in splotches, swirl it around as desired. Again, no rhyme or reason.
    3. Let the paint dry. Depending on how much water your poured on the box, it might take a while.
  4. Create relevant details (in this case, the toadstools)
  5. Add adorable tiny clothes pins.
  6. Hang your tiny dolls accordingly.

It’s pretty simple, right? I really cannot believe that no one else has done one like this before. Or at least, I couldn’t find anything even remotely similar.