I just want to share a little enthusiasm. Maybe it will give your flagging momentum a boost. Threads Magazine wrote me. Out of the blue. In the middle of a mediocre work week. Here’s the scenario…
You’re a Crafter. You craft. Not (just) because you like to, but because it is like breathing to do it. And we all know it’s best to keep breathing. So you keep at it. Some days more than others. Your clothes have dangling threads from sewing, your fingers are tinted from tie-dye or paints. You spend money equally on food and craft supplies.
Your crafty items/projects get out of hand; they are stacked up on the dining room table and are bulging out of the closet (at least mine are). Someone suggests you sell these critters/paintings/handbags/key rings. So you go online and search for possible selling venues. You read until your eyeballs protest; who has the best percentage of traffic, what do they charge per listing, how many items can you list, when do you get paid ?? You narrow down the options to three different selling hosts; to pick the most advantageous one(s) with no regrets, you use a time-proven judicious method such as throwing a dart or flipping a coin. You don’t even care at this point, you just need to make the decision and run with it !
You pay your dues; either literally or figuratively, on whatever venue(s) you’ve chosen to sell with. You learn what meta tags are and why you should like them. You write and rewrite incredible engaging text describing your crafts with great detail and wit, taking care not to bore the readers or overwhelm them. You take tedious photos of your crafts; dangling upside down (in the rain) to get the right shot, hoping the right shopper (~your predetermined target demographic) will see them and make a purchase. You try to be relevant in a search, following the selling venue’s guidelines on how to get found. You agonize over whether or not to pay for extra advertising. You spend hours window shopping this venue and others to seek out your competition and analyze their pricing structure, keywords and photo staging techniques. You neeeed to stay current.
You fill your listing pages with FuN and Unique items for sale. You intentionally create items with assorted price points to reach out to shoppers of all different disposable income levels. You promote using social media, business cards, newsletters, blogging and top-of-the-mountain smoke signals in an attempt to address as many shoppers as possible.
Sales trickle in… a few at a time. Then followers tap into your site. They tell their friends, you advertise a sale and they actually show up :) Not too many, just a few friendly buyers. Enough to make it worth the effort.
This is my story. This is what I do :) Crafting is easy. Selling is work. But to craft, I need to sell so this is what I do. And guess what ? Fun things can and do happen when you least expect it :) You’re going along, business as usual (slow, but always hoping for improvement)…
Then one day, out of the blue, I get this message:
(Person’s name) picked up your information at a sewing show, I believe, and passed it on to the editors at Threads magazine to see if we’d like to feature your products. I’ve had a look around your website, and your pincushions are adorable! We have a Gift Guide coming up in the December/January issue of Threads, and I’d like to include a selection of your pincushions. Would you be willing to send a few samples to us so that we can photograph them in our studio? We will return your samples afterward.
I look forward to hearing from you,
(Another person’s name),
Special Projects Editor
Threads Magazine, ThreadsMagazine.com and SewStylish.com
The Taunton Press
63 South Main Street
(cue upbeat music building in the background)~ Would I be willing ? Um, (micro-second pause) YES.
See ? Someone noticed. Someone bought and told a friend. Someone wrote nice things. Someone wants to publish your product photos in their incredibly popular sewing-genre magazine to share your items (YOUR ITEMS) with their loving and large, paying audience ! Isn’t that FuN ? Isn’t that totally worth it ?
Okay, enough tooting of the horn. I just wanted to share while the exciting ‘high’ was still fresh. To summarize, hard work pays off eventually. If it doesn’t, find another thing to work hard at. Because you deserve it.
Did I contact Threads ? No. They called me. Their first contact was a few years ago; they were looking for unique items to feature in the nifty tools section of Sew Stylish magazine. Was I interested ? (Yes, Thank you). They were sooo nice to work with. They gave me a workable timetable, were completely polite and then asked if I approved their requests to accommodate my items in their publication (Yes). And after the process was over, they asked if I’d be willing to work with them again (again, Yes).
What put me in the position to be contacted by a magazine ? What made me ready to work with them ? I think the answer to both these questions is that I never gave up. I worked even when I wasn’t getting the sales I wanted. I kept at it. I found ways to improve. I read through selling venue site forums. I participated in online discussions. I built up a whole new vocabulary for selling/advertising/promoting online. I developed a thicker skin and braver attitude. I learned more about the internet from my kids who patiently helped me.
In the beginning of my ‘career’, I taught craft classes in person. I sewed for people I knew and then sewed for people they knew. It didn’t happen overnight. I believed my family when they said my stuff was good. I trusted them. I worked several jobs in the crafting/sewing industry… I sewed for an interior decorator making mostly pillows, placemats, napkins and curtains. I sewed for my kids when they were young. I sewed clothes for myself. I made pillowcases and baby quilts and donated some to good causes. I took a quilting class. I lead the sewing group at church for a while. I helped set up and host a few craft shows. I traveled to/dragged my little kids to sell things at local Farmer’s Markets. I read books and when we bought our first computer I visited crafting sites online. I worked for an amazing ‘mercantile’ that caters to the Amish; I sewed Amish pants and shirts. I participated in church and school bazaars. I was kind and offered help to a gentleman I met in a fabric section of a store who was not sure what he was looking for; he offered me a job on the spot as the Tailor in his busy dry cleaning business. I promised to work for him just until he found a replacement; I stayed two years. I worked for the wonderful owner of a local quilt shop. She encouraged me in my crafting and PAID ME TO SEW in her shop (I thought I had died and gone to Heaven..). She bought my items to sell in her shop. She suggested I talk to the shop’s sewing supply distributor and show him my pincushions. I did and they started buying them. Here we are 15 years later, still supplying that distributor :) These were my stepping-stones to where I am today. Am I a successful, retired, rich person ? No. I am a successful crafter who keeps going. If I can do it, You can, too.
Was it always smooth sailing ? Of course not. Life isn’t like that :) Crafting takes time and money for supplies. And space in your home. Do you do the dishes or go sew ? You do the dishes so you can sew :) I have had minor and serious illnesses but eventually returned to the sewing room. My husband and I raised four children and homeschooled them and I sewed. I struggle with debilitating migraines that arrive with no warning. Our family cared for my Dad after a stroke that left him unable to communicate. He was a diabetic that could not be on his own so he lived with us for a year and we became his caregivers :) We learned how to live with diabetes, how to cook for this and how to give shots for it. (My Dad bought me my first sewing machine when I was in Jr. High and was always supportive of my crafting !) While living with us he enjoyed watching us assemble oodles of pincushions for orders that came in each month. He even helped ‘sort’ some of the items and bag them for shipping. Later, I became part-time caregiver for my Mom when she developed Alzheimer’s. She also helped sort pincushions by color, count and bag them when she was able. So there were episodes in my lifetime that took precedence over my crafting in some ways, but still I couldn’t wait to get back to work :)
I hope that some of my words will encourage you to follow your crafting in whatever way you can. I hope you always find an outlet for your creativity. I wish for you many happy times while you pursue your craft :) And I hope that one day, you will write to say, “A magazine wrote me !”.
Here’s the December, 2014 Sew Stylish Magazine article info, featuring two of my pincushions;
Big Sew Stylish Giveaway: Books, Sketching Panels, Pincushions, and more!
OODLES OF PINCUSHIONS
It can be difficult to keep track of pins when sewing, but a cute and fun pincushion ring is an easy solution. These adorable sewing accessories are made with a wooden base and an elastic finger band so they fit all finger sizes. Also a medium-sized leaf embellished “Needle-in-a-Haystack” tomato pincushion is included, perfect for easy access to pins when sewing. These handy cushions are both from oodlesofpincushions.com.
FASHIONARY PAPER SKETCHING PANELS AND SKETCH BOOK
The sketch panels and book used together are perfect for recording on paper the fashions you imagine in your mind. There are four Fashionary paper panels: women’s figure, women’s flat, men’s figure and men’s flat. In addition to the panels, we’ve included Fashionary’s sketch book that also features a fashion dictionary, body measurements, seams and stitches, and much more.
The Fashionary Essential Boxset, *not included in the giveaway*, is also now available on the Fashionary website. It includes the A5 Women’s sketchbook which is the perfect tool for brainstorming, fast sketching, and quick referencing. The boxset also has a women’s flat paper panel, Fashionary tape, and two Fashionary pencils. These great tools allow you to design like a professional with ease.