At the close of a year, it’s always a good time to reflect on all the things we accomplished, as well as the areas we want to improve upon. If you watched my live with Ashley of A Crafty Concept last night then you heard all about our 2019 maker goals. I have that video linked below for any of you who missed it. We answer quite a few questions you guys submitted on markets, Etsy, and photos as well.
I know that the last few years I really struggled with business goals. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make number goals like “# of sales”, or “# of followers”, or less specific goals like “Post on Instagram # times a week”. Now that I have a better understanding of my business and what direction I want to go with it, I thought I’d help you guys out with your 2019 goals.
*This post may contain affiliate links meaning that if you purchase an item through one of these links I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
2019 Goals for Makers
These are things that I currently have, or have had on my makers goals lists at one point in time. Some of them I accomplished in 2018, and some I will conquer in 2019. I hope this inspires some of you to aim high and work hard to reach it. 2019 isn’t going to know what hit it when our maker community comes at it hooks in hand and ready to grind out these goals.
Start a Blog
I plan to write a lengthy post about how blogging has changed my life and what it can do for growing your business, but for now I will keep it short. If you have even been considering starting a blog, now is the time. I have a free course to help you get it all setup (in less than an afternoon).
Why start now? Right now busy season is coming to a close. You will never have more time to invest into your blog than you do right now. Do the hard parts like setting it up (made easy with my free course), deciding on your branding, and getting your first few posts up while you can. This way when crochet picks up again in the late summer, you’ll already have tons of great content that will help you grow your audience without the stress of trying to do it all amidst market prep.
How does a blog help you sell patterns or finished items? It helps you grow and connect with an audience in so many ways that you never could from a social network like Instagram or Facebook. If you share high quality content, people will trust you. Trust leads to support. Support leads to sales and having a whole army of people who advertise for you.
I can’t even tell you how many times someone post something like “Looking for a beginner sweater pattern to try! Help me out!” and one of my readers directs them to my Comfy Cozy Sweater Pattern or my Essentially Fall Cardigan. Not only did the girl looking for a pattern click to my blog, but so did the other people scrolling through the comments. Views help my blog, but also people tend to click right from my blog to my Etsy shop which means more sales.
Already have a blog? Aim to grow it
Blogging isn’t always easy. We rarely see instantaneous results. It is very up and down depending on the time of year. BUT it is rewarding and fulfilling if you stick with it and remain consistent. So what things can we do to grow our blogs in 2019?
Post more often. If you are like me in 2018 then you posted when it was convenient, and there was no sort of schedule as to when that was. I want to make a goal to post weekly to my blog. That doesn’t mean that every Monday I will have something to post. I won’t be making new patterns every week either because, honestly, as someone who works and goes to school full time, I don’t have time to design that many patterns that quickly. BUT I will be posting relevant, useful, and valuable information for my readers. That is what keeps them coming back to your blog week after week. Write about your passion, but in a way that helps others. That is how you create an awesome community of your own devoted readers.
Collaborate with other makers. This could be something as simple as a giveaway on Instagram that will help expose you to new followers. It could be something as big as guest posting on another makers blog. We have such a loving supportive community here, so lets work together and find mutually beneficial ways to help each other grow!
Grow your Instagram
Instagram is a powerful tool when utilized. Make a business account so you can add your Etsy, blog, or shop to your bio. This way followers will know where to find all your great makes when they see them on your feed. Instagram is constantly changing and altering algorithms, but don’t stress too much about that. Here are some simple things you can do to help grow your following.
Post 3-5 times a week. Posting regularly helps grow your account. To put it as simply as possible, the more you post, the more people who will see content from you, the more they are likely to click that follow button. This doesn’t mean that you don’t put out quality photos with well thought out captions. You still want to keep content fresh and relevant. I found the best way for me to do this is to spend 1-2 hours one day a week and take all the photos to post throughout the rest of the week. This really helps take the stress off about taking new photos every day.
Utilize the tools Instagram gives us. I post in my stories daily. The best part of stories is they don’t have to be pretty branded photos like your feed. People love behind the scenes clips, or silly videos of you in your every day life. I think its good to go live on Instagram at least once a month to chat with your followers and share news about what big things you have going on. IG TV is not something I have ventured into as of yet but it is on the list to tackle next. I know stories and lives can be scary. It is scary putting your face and voice out there, but people can’t connect with you in the same way by just browsing photos in your feed. I promise it gets easier after every single story or live you do.
P.S. If you’re really scared to do a live, ask a friend to do one with you. With Instagrams awesome new features you can invite people to do lives with you so you’re not alone. Not sure what to talk about? interview each other about crochet, pattern making, blogging, business, etsy…. etc.
Do (more) Craft Markets
Whether you’ve never done a market or you’ve done 20, setting a goal of doing your first market, or doing 5 markets in a year is an attainable goal. 2018 was my first year of doing markets. I learned a lot from the ones I did, and I cannot wait to do more in 2019. Each market is so different, so if you did one and it was terrible (sales wise, customer wise, management wise), please don’t give up. Sign up for 2-3 more in different areas with different people hosting them. This will allow you to get a feel for which markets are worth returning to in the future.
How do you find markets to participate in? Google. I am not kidding I just google “Craft markets in Lowell mi” or “craft markets in west Michigan”. You can venture out to “craft shows”, “festivals”, and “farmers markets” in your local area. Once you find a website you will usually be able to find a spot to apply as a vendor for these events. If you missed the application date on a market you are really interested in, just see when the due date is to apply for next year and add it to your calendar to ensure you don’t miss it again.
What kind of markets tend to be best for handmade? From the markets I’ve done in 2018 I have noticed a trend. I tend to have a much higher rate of sales at shows that are marketed strictly as craft or handmade shows. I did two shows at town festivals where was tons of other events going on. People didn’t come for the craft show, they came for the events and just browsed our tents to kill time. When a show is strictly a handmade craft show, people are coming to shop handmade. They tend to value the time, effort, and quality of handmade items. They rarely balk at prices because they realize what it means to shop handmade. These are the customers who tend to stay and chat about your process, take business cards, and share your shop with their friends.
Not ready to start a blog? Guest Post
Who says that you have to be a blogger to write a blog post? Guest posting on someone else’s blog is a great way to dip your toes into the blogging waters. Maybe you’ll feel super inspired and love it, or maybe you’ll dread the whole thing and just be glad to get it over with. Either way its a great way to connect with other’s in your niche (or maybe other bloggers outside of your niche!).
How do you guest post on someone else’s blog? Get in contact with your favorite bloggers! I know that bloggers like Sewrella, the Hook Nook, and Make and Do Crew have all had open calls for guest posts. Keep an eye open for those opportunities and apply when they arise. If you go to a bloggers site and don’t see any way to apply for a guest post, that doesn’t mean they aren’t open to it. Find their email address and shoot them an email introducing yourself.
How do I ask to guest post? The best advice I can give about asking to guest post is to have a plan. I would be 10x more likely to say yes to someone guest posting on my blog if they came at me with a detailed outline of what they wanted to write about for their blog post. Are you going to write a free pattern? Send them a photo of your finished item and send them a link to your Etsy shop where you sell other paid patterns. Going to do a post about craft shows? Tell them what you’re specifically going to focus on. Setup? Customers? Finding a good market? The more details you can give, the more likely that your request will be accepted.
What if they tell me no? Who cares! The answer is always no if you don’t ask. When I first started my blog I emailed probably 15 other bloggers in our niche just introducing myself and asking for any advice they have. Only 3 bothered to email me back. Am I mad at the 12 who didn’t? Not even a little. Everyone is busy, our inboxes are crammed full, and now I realize trying to give someone who just starting out blogging a “quick bit of advice” is like trying to tell someone every species of fish in the ocean. There’s a lot to cover. Donn’t be discouraged. Even when someone tells you no, they may offer advice on anther blogger they know who is looking for someone to guest post, or even give you some tips. Be patient and be kind.
Submit a pattern to a magazine
I never knew how designers got their patterns in magazines. I always assumed that the magazine had “their people” contact prominent professional pattern designers to make their patterns. Turns out any of us can apply! Just google some of your favorite crochet magazines followed by “pattern submission” and go to their page and apply.
How do I know what kind of patterns to submit? Most of them will have guidelines to follow. They want a never before published pattern to be submitted. Magazines like Happily Hooked Mag have submission calls for specific months with a specific theme. For example they have “July 2019 – Home Decor” so you have an idea of what they are looking for.
Invest in your business
I am a HUGE believer in investing in yourself and your business. I cannot stress enough how important this is. That doesn’t mean wasting money on buying pretty office supplies (even though I totally do this…), but investing in things that are going to help grow and improve your business. You need to decide what is important to you, set a goal, and make a plan to make it happen. So what sort of “investments” am I talking about?
Courses. I am online course junkie. Like really,I bought a course to learn to start my blog. I bought a course to learn to make courses for you guys. I bought a course on how to use my camera. You guys get the jist. You do not have to be over the top like me and buy a course for every little thing, but I do want to share some that I think are definitely worth while. The Debrosse Masterclass. This course is designed specifically for crochet and knitwear makers like us. Its for people who sell patterns AND/OR sell finished items. T covers literally every aspect of selling, marketing, packaging, and organizing your business. If you want to learn more about the Debrosse master class check out my Masterclass review/ Q&A here. You can use the code TAYLOR25 for $25 off.
Equipment. This is important. Invest in a good tent for markets if that’s something you plan to do often. I know I plan to do multiple markets for multiple years, so I have no problem investing in a good tent. You can check out all the things I use for my market setups if that’s an area you are thinking about investing in. I recently invested in an Addi Knitting machine and it is a game changer for market prep. Whether its box lights because you have no good natural light available, a better camera, or photo editing software. It is okay to invest in these things IF they add value to your business.
Get your finances organized
Most us like to act like tax season isn’t something that happens every year. I have a habit of saving all my receipts (Good Taylor), but I save them in a giant pile in the corner of my craft room (Bad Taylor). I am always scrambling come year end to enter all my receipts into a spreadsheet to send off the the accountant who can hopefully make sense of it all. So here are some things you can do to help stay organized in 2019.
Open a checking account used for business purposes only. This does not mean you have to open a business checking account. A personal one will work fine. Most business checking accounts have fees and usually a minimum balance requirement. What I did was find a local bank that had no minimum balance requirements, no fees, and gave me a debit card for my account. I will use this account to make all business purchases as well as have all my business related income streams deposit to. This way I can store my receipts in folders by month and use the monthly bank statements to keep me organized all year long.
Get Quickbooks. I know QB seems scary. Its not. I have an accounting degree so I am very familiar with quickbooks, but trust me it is very user friendly even if you’re a complete novice. Quickbooks self-employed is a great (affordable) option for tracking your business revenues/expenses. This is a great option for the DIYers out there.
Hire help. There is no shame in hiring an accountant. Like I said, I have a degree in accounting, but I am not all knowing. You can get someone to do your monthly accounting pretty cheap (I’ve heard as low as $25-50 a month for small businesses like ours). Taxes are confusing, and the IRS is not forgiving. Don’t stress about these things, hire someone else to stress about them so you can focus on making and creating!
2019 is all about them goals
I know we just covered a ton in this blog post, but trust me any one of these goals, or even all of them together, are possible for 2019. The best way to reach a goal is to have a plan. The best plans have ACTIONABLE steps to follow. Let’s write down our goals and the plans we have to reach them. Mark them on your calendar, add them to your check lists, and starting knocking them down one by one.
Are any of you using one of these goals? Have a goal that’s not on the list? Let me know about them in the comment section below! I love hearing from you babes and you lovelies are the reason I am so excited for 2019. XOXO, Taylor Lynn