Holy cow, you guys. This is tough. You’re a handmade business, and trying to sell the things that come from your hands and your home during a global pandemic. Some questions that arise: will people still buy? am I unknowingly transmitting the virus? how do I keep my business going while my kids are home remote learning? is my favorite craft store open? can I still get the supplies I need if people ARE ordering? Running a crochet business during a pandemic is not an easy feat, but you CAN do it. Here are some answers or tips for those questions running through all of our minds.
First, know you’re not alone running a crochet business during a pandemic.
In a time when we’re all socially distanced, and trying not to be together, know you’re not alone in this. There are a lot of other people running their crochet business during the pandemic as well. Every struggle you’re experiencing, I guarantee someone else is as well.
Reach out if you have questions or need help with something. If you’re not a member of any crochet groups on Facebook, I recommend checking out Crochetpreneurs: Tips for Crochet Business Owners, Designers, and Bloggers, as well as Maker Strong. There are so many other crochet groups out there, but these are my two favorites that lean more toward business help, rather than just hobby crochet. I also have a great crafting group, The Crafty Cabin. It doesn’t focus as much on the business side, but is a great place to share your makes (not just crochet!)
I have been able to network and meet several new like-minded crochet friends. It’s nice to be able to have people to bounce ideas off, talk about the pains of certain projects, and just have people know what you’re talking about. My husband is great, but really, it’s just easier to talk to people who understand the terms.
Give yourself grace.
You have a crochet business for a reason. I’m guessing that reason started out as crochet being something you love, something you’re really passionate about. So, I wouldn’t say a pandemic would be reason enough to give that up. Yes, you have a lot of extra things on your plate right now. However, give yourself grace. None of us have ever been through this before. Allow yourself a moment (or several) to breathe and evaluate.
No one expects you to be perfect right now. If they do, they’re not the people you wanted to be surrounded by. If you need to take a step back from orders, or stop taking custom orders, that’s FINE. Whatever you need to do for you, DO IT.
Set up a schedule for running your crochet business during a pandemic.
Okay, so this is easier said than done. I know that from personal experience. However, I know I run better, and my kids run better, when we have set times for doing certain tasks. It may even help to get a big white board or big piece of paper and write your schedule out so every on in the house can see it. Separate out the time you’re going to need for the kids’ schoolwork. Just don’t forget to separate out that time for your business, too.
In addition to that, yes, you can find the times to work in between other tasks. I do this all of the time. Oh, the baby is napping, so I’ll do a quick row or two here, then fold some laundry. However, don’t forget to set things down and walk away when you’ve had enough. You can’t let yourself get so burnt out on a project or task that you don’t even enjoy it anymore.
Be upfront and honest with your customers.
There’s a point and time to take on a bunch of extra orders, but that time probably isn’t during a pandemic. You really don’t want to be rushing right now, and stressing yourself out. If you’re weeks out on a custom order, or on whatever it is, don’t put yourself into a situation of promising too much. Tell your customer how far out, and give yourself the time you need.
People will (should) understand that handmade items take time. Add into that all of the extra with working from home and schooling from home. Tell them what’s up ahead of time, so they can reassure you they can wait, or they can decide to look elsewhere. If their choice is the latter, try not to be offended or hurt by that. I know it’s hard, but really, it’s for the best.
Better yet, making those connections like I mentioned above could really help you here. If you’re not able to get a project done, refer the customer out to one of your crochet friends. They’ll appreciate and remember the business you sent their way!
Use online ordering & curbside pick-up.
For a while there, it was hard to get into any stores. Then, when you could, a lot of stuff was sold out. The stores either couldn’t get stock from their suppliers, or people were buying them out so quickly. Add to that the anxiety about going to the stores. PHEW.
I am such an in-person shopper. I like to see things, touch things, etc. I want to know exactly what I’m getting. Okay, and a little instant gratification is nice, too. However, online ordering and curbside pick-up has been a lifesaver for me during this time. Thankfully, my business has picked up. Also thankfully, I’ve been able to find everything I need online, or for curbside pick-up. If you’re anxious about going in-store, curbside will be your best friend. If you can’t get exactly what you need in your store, look around a few places online. I’ve been trying new yarns and products during this time, and I actually love them more than what I was using previously!
Know your worth.
I mentioned above about being upfront and honest with your customers, and this kind of plays into that. Don’t be afraid to tell people what you’re all about. Be confident in what you charge for your products. Your ideal customer will truly appreciate the money, time, and talent put into your handmade items. Don’t undervalue yourself.
Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If someone has a problem that you can solve, SOLVE IT. Post your link, without being spammy of course. Tell them how you can help solve their problem. Baby shower coming up? No problem! I can make this for you. New to writing crochet patterns and need a template to work from? No problem! I have a free template for that! (Shameless plug.)
You can never run out of things to do, even without orders.
No orders? Not really a problem. There are a lot of other aspects to a crochet business that you can focus on.
- Improve your photography skills. Every business owner I talk to (and not just crochet) is always saying they can improve their photography skills when it comes to their products and designs. Shoot, even photographers are always improving.
- Learn a new social media platform. Sure, we’re all most familiar with Facebook and Instagram, but surely you know that Pinterest is GREAT for makers! Think about one of the first places you go when you’re looking for a pattern or a handmade item. Google, Pinterest, Etsy, Ravlelry. Figure out how to get yourself on those platforms and really dive in. I’d really recommend starting an email list if you don’t have one yet.
- Track. Those. Finances. Nobody really wants to do the business side of a business, right? That’s what accountants are for! Well, you just might have to do this one yourself. Figure out the best way to keep track of your expenses. Buying materials? Keep the receipt and keep track in a spreadsheet or other software. Making deliveries? Track your mileage. You can write that off on your taxes.
- Get caught up on anything else. Most places may not be having their craft fairs this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get ahead with your inventory. Double-check all of your listings and make sure they’re up-to-date with your current contact information, product details, etc. Anything you can think of that will help you be ready to go again once you’re back up and running.