What I Have Learned Along the Way

Things I’ve learned since opening 
When I first opened my Etsy store in October 2009 I wasn’t completely sure what I would sell patterns or product I did a little of both in the beginning but quickly found that I loved to create new items and being a stay-at-home with two very busy boys I wanted something I could do in my own time.
So Speckled Frog Crochet was born.
First and foremost Etsy is an incredible site!  I could not and would not do what I am doing if it weren’t for Etsy.  Setting up my store was so inexpensive, professional looking and easy.  I am not incredibly computer savvy but I was able to do it in just a few hours.
The opinions posted hear are only my opinion take or leave what you like but someone, may find this useful.
So let’s start at the beginning!
Deciding What to Sell
Because I do so many different crafts this was a little hard for me to decide.  Like I mentioned before I am a stay-at-home mom so I needed something that worked in my time frame and was flexible.  Also space was an issue I love to sew but with no area available to dedicate to that it really wasn’t an option.
Choosing to sell Crochet items and patterns was a great fit both time wise and space wise.  All I needed was an area for my yarn and laptop.  I worked on my patterns once the boys were in bed and sold some odds’n’ends along the way. 
So take into consideration the time, money and space you have to work with.  If setting up is a chore every time this will infringe on your production time and you may not be working as efficiently as you could be.
How much to Invest – time and money
Well what I would say here is that expect to spend money and not necessarily make any in the beginning anyway.  I was pretty frugal here.  I did not invest in many extras till much later.  Basically I paid for my listings and my yarn.  However as most crafty people will agree it is very easy to overspend when investing in your favoured craft.
As your business grows expect to spend more time doing other things other than crafting.  I would say I easily spend at least 6 hours a day doing something related to my business.  It could be staying in touch with customers, reading the forums, organizing my work space, jotting down ideas (always keep a note pad handy if you are like me they will come and go in an instant), cleaning up my store, and finally crafting.
I made many items which were sent to photographers and those are basically a write off – no money made there (be sure to ready the section on professional photos)
I set goals for myself and would invest more money once those goals were met.
Best Investments Made in my Business?
#1 Quality Materials whatever you are making will be far more impressive with quality materials.  I see it all the time at craft shows.  People buy cheap materials then spend hours at their craft why?  Is your time and creation not worth it?  Make your product the best it can be!
#2 would be my Blackberry – I love that I am alerted right away when I get a sale and that I can communicate with people immediately.  I offer full support with all my patterns and if someone gets stuck or has a question for any reason it is nice to be able to respond quickly.
#3 best investments would be purchasing my domain name www.speckledfrog.ca which I forward to my Etsy store.  It is short and really easy to remember.
Worst Investment?
#1 Cheap yarn!  Spend the money and buy good supplies – people are paying for what they expect to be quality items.  Now I have yarn that I will never use.  If your supplies are expensive work it into the price it will be worth it in the end.
#2 Would probably be my business cards – only though, because I sell patterns which are emailed – what was I thinking?  I spent $60 glossing them up printing on the back side matching fridge magnets etc.  Man does my fridge look good! Lol
#3 Items sent to photographers at n/c don’t do this – see the next section.
Renewing and Listing
Be sure to do this – A LOT!!!  If your listings are current or even just a few from your shop you will get lost in the crowd.  I list all throughout the day.  Morning, Lunch, Mid Afternoon, Dinner Time, Mid Evening and just before bed.  Don’t forget we are selling to all time zones.
Customer Service is Key
If you have no customers you have no sales.  Be sure to really treat them well go above and beyond whenever you can and they will come back to you!  Personally I love keeping in touch with my customers and have formed some fun friendships with mine.
Professional Photographs
First let me say my experience is not a reflection on all photographers – I am simply sharing my story with you so please do not be offended if you are a photographer.
In the beginning I was desperate to get some beautiful  pictures of my items.  I posted adds in the local classifieds and had a variety of responses – some offering to shoot my items for as much as $200 per shot, to non-professional photographers trying to pass themselves off as experienced to people just starting out trying to build their portfolios to seasoned photographers who knew the value of what I was offering.
I spent many hours preparing my items to be photographed and met with a few photographers giving them anywhere from 2 to 8 items each.  Well here is what I got: Photos that I could not use because they were shot on children they did not fit, no photos at all! and some absolutely perfect shots.
It is a real gamble and I would say I still have at least 10 items I sent out in the beginning  that I have never received photos of.
This is what I did.
Through selling I have met many great people along the way (see my special mention at the end) these people put me in touch with some wonderful photographers and I had much success with them.  I also put a note in my shop announcement that I am always looking for photographers.
I ask now that the product is paid for upfront, once I receive USABLE photos I refund their money 100% less shipping and handling.  Use your discretion here maybe you only want to ask for a 50% deposit – whatever works for you.  The point here is that you are not the only one investing something.  If they have money on the line you are sure to receive your pictures.  Also your product is worth something too – so don’t feel bad asking for a deposit.    If they are serious they will gladly oblige – I can say I have had a 50/50 response to this often I never hear back when I tell people my terms – and that is okay because someone else will see this as fair.


Be sure to leave feedback – this is one of the things I am worst at.  I find I put it off and then I have so many to leave it is overwhelming.
Be sure to leave it though – you want to get as much feedback as possible and if you leave feedback for someone I think they are more likely to leave it for you.    I know personally I look at the item – then the feedback before I buy from someone.
Oh man did I struggle with this one – I finally wrapped up all my items separately and took them to the post office so they could tell how much it would be to send. 
So what now?
Well this September I was planning to re-enter the work force – thanks to Etsy and my little business  I will working from home growing my business.  I am so excited to see next year has to hold and so excited that I can now work from home and be here when the boys need me.
To everyone that took the time to read this thanks so much – if you have questions about any of this or maybe have questions about a topic I did not post on please feel free to send me a convo.

Did you try this pattern? What did you think?

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