Here is the official transcript from Crochetville’s live chat with crochet designer Pam Daley that took place on our Facebook page on Friday, November. We had so many questions that I’ve had to divide this blog post up into multiple parts. Links to all the parts can be found at the end of this post.
(Note: Text appears as it was entered during the live chat.)
We hope you’ll join us on our Facebook page for future chats with more of your favorite crochet designers.
Transcript of Live Chat with Crochet Designer Pam Daley, Part 2 of 4
Carrisa: I just started my shop with my sister and we only have two items posted(final products). We do not have inventory but do you think it is okay to post pictures of items that we can make?
Denise: I made gifts to friend and family, meanwhile write down my pattern and take picture before I give out them. Then I post it on Etsy for sell “made to order”… hope this helps!
Donald: I need hats and scarfs for my son and daughter. She 3 and he’s 4 months.
Pam Daley: Yes, you can put up a listing for a “custom made” item and show pictures of examples. Just BE SURE to say that those are samples and not what they are ordering.
Denise: Donald, many of us here make hat/scarf set (me 2 from Crochet Fantasy or justgoshopping at etsy)
Pam Daley: I also wanted to add that if you go this route of custom orders only, make sure you state very plainly in the listing what the turnaround time will be. Don’t commit to making something in 2 days – you never know what will happen! Always err on the side of more time than you think you’ll need. If you finish early, the buyer will just be impressed.
I’ve had turnaround times of 6 weeks when I’m super busy.
Lynn: How do you keep track of your sales, accounting, etc?
Pam Daley: I’m an Excel geek.
Eileen: Spreadsheets are my best friends!
Pam Daley: Expanding a bit on this – Etsy also keeps track of your sales. You can download the information each month. I have one Excel workbook for expenses & one for income with pages for each venue.
I break down my expenses by category each month (using the same categories that the IRS wants) and then I have a cover sheet that keeps a running total by category.
I also have a separate 2 page excel workbook that just tracks the number of sales each day. Helps me see at a glance how well each venue is doing for me overall. The downside is that I have to enter each day’s sales (# of Etsy sales, # of Ravelry sales, etc.) This time of year that gets a bit hectic, but I really like being able to see those numbers
Nada: 1. How can I start my own publication or even an online based publication and shop when I’m just a beginner? I love crocheting, start to learn by myself just about 6 months ago and still learning by doing many projects.
2. How can I know that are my finished crocheted items worth to be promoted or not?
Please give me some suggestions…. Thank you so much.
Pam Daley: Hi Nada – I’ll try to answer #2 first. If you’re unsure whether your finished items are good enough to sell, are there any local yarn shops or craft stores that have classes? You could take a class and ask the teachers to look over your work. If that’s not an option, do you know any other crocheters? Maybe someone who has been crocheting longer and is more advanced and who can help you critique your work?
If you want to sell your items, obviously you want the quality of your work to be as excellent as possible. Maybe make some things for your family or friends and ask them to use them a lot and let you know how they hold up?
About #1 – I’m not sure what you mean by your own publication – but as far as starting a shop, it takes a bit of perseverance, that’s for sure! Once you are confident your skills are good enough to make items to sell, then you need to figure out what kinds of things you will have in your shop.
Choose a place to sell them (Etsy or another venue), read everything you can about that place – their fees, their rules as far as what can be sold, how it all works. Spend some time looking at other shops; get a feel for what others are doing there. Etsy even has a mentor team where you can ask questions. https://www.etsy.com/teams/8744/newbies-and-mentors
Nada: hmm…i got it… thanks Pam, your answer teach me lot… *hope my english don’t bother you much…hehehe…i’m sorry…*
Pam Daley: Your English is fine!
Ann: How to you figure out shipping costs for selling things on Etsy?
Pam Daley: I package up the item, weigh it and then figure out shipping costs to the US, Canada & Everywhere Else. You really need to have a scale and take the time to weigh the items.
Eileen: Once you know the weight of the item, including packaging, you can go to USPS.com to calculate the shipping charge.
Frederica: Or www.Canadapost.ca if in Canada.
Pam Daley: If you use USPS to calculate your price, know that if you ship through PayPal or Etsy you’ll get the commercial rates – a bit cheaper than it shows online.
Carrisa: Pam- what software do you use for your final product pictures?
Pam Daley: Some of my pictures are from a modeling agency; the picture I take are done with Microsoft Digital Image. A program I don’t think is even available anymore?
Any program would work though – I did a blog post on this. Hang on – I’ll cut and paste some info.
Carrisa: Great thank you!
Denise: i thought we take picture by our own,
so how much it may costs for having modeling agency let’s say for a hat and scarf set
Pam Daley: This is from the post on did on this –
Once you’ve taken all your pictures, head to your computer and start editing them. This is where you can do some tweaking of the photos – brighten them if needed, crop to show your product better, etc. If you don’t have photo software on your computer, there are a couple of (free) online sites you can play with – (I have not used either of these, but they come highly recommended by others):
http://fotofuze.com/ (this one has some great before & after example photos!)
Or if you’d prefer, you can download this software and use it on your computer:
Re using a modeling agency – there are several that will provide professional pictures in exchange for the item. No money.
I use Adora Models for one…
Susan: I also have Microsoft Digital Image. I’ve had it for a few years so I don’t know if it’s still available.
Pam Daley: Yeah, I also have Paint Shop Pro, but I only use it once in a while. Digital Image is easier to use and works just fine most of the time.
Susan: Print Shop 22 is good too.
Lorene: I love PicMonkey. They have a free version and a paid version. I think the paid version is well worth it. I also use Picasa for free.
Susan: Never heard of PicMonkey- have to check it out.
Carrisa: Since you do use models, can you recommend a place/site where I can buy a mannequin head/torso?
Pam Daley: The only mannequin I use is a wicker one sized for a baby; I really don’t have much experience with others.
Amy, wasn’t there a website you posted in our group with mannequins, etc.??
Anybody can order from Store Supply Warehouse. Their prices are very reasonable, and you do not have to set up a wholesale account.
Carrisa: Great, thank you again.
Denise: i got mine at ebay…
Lorrie: do you think sales are better using models or mannequins?
Pam Daley: Models. In my experience, models by far.
Lorene: I second Store Supply Warehouse, they are where I buy all of my display\
Lynn: How do you control the costs of your supplies such as yarn? And how do you choose the yarn you are going to use in your products?
Pam Daley: It depends on the item – the Santa diaper sets I use are made with basic, workhorse acrylic yarns. I don’t order wholesale – I watch for sales and use those 40% & 50% coupons like a maniac.
More luxury items I use luxury yarn and charge accordingly. Play up the fact that it’s made with luxury yarn.
Eileen: Do you find having your website is a must? Or do you think having an Etsy shop is sufficient? I’m not looking forward to spending the time and money for setting up my own website.
Pam Daley: I wouldn’t try to do both at once. I didn’t set up my website until maybe 2 years ago? Ease into it..
Eileen: Thanks Pam. I’ve had an Etsy shop since 2010.
Pam Daley: Setting up a website doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You can set up a free one using Weebly. (Although if you’re planning to use their ecommerce features those have a fee). And I think blogger has more than just a blog page now – you can set up other pages
What it does take is time. I set my first business website up during a week-long retreat. Nobody to cook for, clean up after, teach school, etc. Just me and a vacation home rental. Took me 3 solid days. That was 2 (?) years ago and I’m still tweaking it every week.
Mary: I think as Etsy continues to change, having your own site is a good idea.
Lynn: How do you use social media, if you do, to promote your Etsy store?
Pam Daley: Just facebook – I tried Twitter, but meh. Didn’t care for it much.
I have a page here for my business; and I have a blog on my website – they are linked so blog posts get posted here, etc.
Denise: right now my blog has over 700+ visitors and only 500+ fans on facebook…. how do I get more fans and visitors to my blog/page?
Pam Daley: I don’t have a magic answer; it’s kind of a “ripples” thing. The more you post content on your blog/facebook page and get others to share, the more people will see it and it just grows. Sometimes really S-L-O-W-L-Y, but you have to keep at it.
Look for appropriate websites/blogs to comments on – always have your signature include your web urls for folks to check out.Carrisa: What is a good blog page/site? Is facebook page good enough.
Crochetville: From my perspective, it depends on what you want to accomplish online. You need to figure out your business goals, then decide whether a website/blog or Facebook page or both are what you need to accomplish those goals.
The Crochetville blog is based on WordPress and is hosted on our own servers (not on a site that provides free blog space). You’ll have much more creative freedom and ability to use various plugins if your blog is hosted on your own site.
Pam uses Weebly for her site.
Benjamin Levisay of Stitches/XRX has formed a new software company to make it easier for creative business owners to build their websites without needing any HTML knowledge. Drew Emborsky, The Crochet Dude, is using that software for his site as is Fiesta Yarn. Here is the site: http://hopscotchweb.com/
Pam Daley: I have a personal family website – have had one for several years; so I’ve tried LOTS of different web hosts over time. I think even blogger lets you set up multiple pages now?
Links to Other Parts of Chat Transcript:
About Pam Daley
Pam is a full-time RVer temporarily living in a “stick house” while her hubby recovers from a motorcycle accident he had in August 2012. She has been crocheting forever, and ‘officially’ designing her own patterns since 2007. She has over 80 self-published designs and has recently started offering custom made photo stitch markers for crocheters.
You can find Pam’s website at Pam Daley Designs. Her blog is there as well as all of her patterns and stitch markers.