But January was disheartening. I'd talked to my knitting friends and my inlaws. Let's just say who you ask advice of is as important as the advice you receive.
Asking non-entrepreneurs about pricing is the wrong move. So is being the lowest priced. When it comes to knitting patterns Free and $0.99 means crappy and poorly put together.
I raised my prices to the $3 mark in early January plus added my patterns to Ravelry. January ended up being my best month with $16.41 in sales after Paypal fees.
Get ready to slowdown...
February had a single sale and I'm at no sales for March. Not a single sale came from Ravelry. (Considering how convoluted Ravelry is to use, it's not winning any affection from me right now.)
Winter is over in the United States too. It may be several months before I have another pattern sale.
It's not all bad...
Still, this little business paid for my domain and requires nothing to maintain. It's pretty much a passive income, abet a seasonal one. So I'm keeping it open and will add more patterns as I can. I am not going to be knitting like crazy.
Truth is I never intended Ruth Designs to be a full-time effort. Its a side hustle for some cash and a creative outlet. I'm cool with it being what it is. I'm not going to be spending more $$$ until it starts earning again.
I'm the primary caregiver for a 4-yr old and an 8-mo old. That's my full-time plus job right now.
I'm looking forward to when my youngest hits a year and my oldest enters pre-K4 in the fall. Until then, Ruth Designs will mosie along. I'll be working on some house project, enjoying the outdoors, and writing more in the coming months.
What do you think about my business that I'm intentionally not growing? Every penny it earns is still all profit. Is that something you could see yourself doing? Would you just look at it and go, "Yeah, ok, whatever," like I have? Or would you try driving it more?
Ever tried to start a business for free? I thought it would be easy with lots of info on the web. I was wrong. There's plenty of advice but it all starts with...
1) Get a Domain
2) Setup hosting
3) Build a website
Um, those ain't free!
$100+ was too high an initial cost. Seriously, I didn't want to put even a penny down until I was earning. I needed to start using only what I had or could access for free.
Here's what I did to build a business for free.
How I picked my business...
Typical Advice: Aim for something that utilizes a skill and materials you already have (or can access for free).
For me that meant knitting (and, to a lesser extent, crochet). Why?
1. I know how to knit and crochet
2. I own knitting needles and a few crochet hooks
3. Websites to sell knit/crochet stuff already exist
4. I could join those websites for free
The real hardship with my business idea came in two areas: yarn and final product.
Yarn can get expensive fast. I overcame the yarn obstacle by initially creating patterns based on what was in my stash and yarn donations. In total honesty, it was a large yarn donation to my knitting group that allowed me to start.
As for the final product, well, due to time constraints (two young kids, remember), I decided to create patterns only. I focused on hats too. Hats are fast to knit up. Plus it was October when I started and that's the beginning of hat season in central Illinois.
The beauty of a pattern as the final product really appealed to me.
I opted not to go with Etsy or BigCartel. Those sites are known for wearable finished products.
Instead I used existing memberships at Ravelry and Craftsy as my selling locations. My personal computer supplied the software to write out the patterns. My iPhone served as my camera.
It can be done.
Need some ideas to get you started?
Here are some links to pages that will help you brainstorm possible options.
No Money to Start a Business? Try These 5 Options
Business Idea Center
Low Cost Business Ideas
1001 Business Ideas
50 Small Businesses You Can Start on Your Own
I'd love to hear from you.
Seriously, I would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments if you have questions about starting and I'll do my best to help. If you've started a business, please share your story. Thanks for reading this post. I appreciate your time.
Using a combo of Notes, Reminders, and Weebly app to get posts to nearly finished. Once a week I use the computer to finalize and schedule. Its actually worked. Fairly surprised at myself.
Ruth Designs: keep things at hobby level.
This means monthly sales tracking and a single thank you email with sign-up link. It works well. Takes roughly an hour.
But I also made 2 big changes.
One: added all of my existing patterns to Ravelry. Yay! Selling on 2 sites now.
Two: redesigned my website to highlight Ruth Designs first and my sole fiction story second. Thankfully I've gotten more adept at using Weebly. The whole redesign took 2 hours.
Daily Life at Home with the Family
While I mostly write about what's happened to my online self, it's how I'm managing me on a daily basis that's had the impact.
When I have childcare help, I'm making a point to hand over both kids. No more "you play with EG; I'll juggle the baby and working." Instead I focus and get stuff done in substantially less time. Win!
The meal plan is working. It's more of a guide to "what we can eat" rather than a true plan. Breakfast and lunch are pretty much the same every day. Boring and routine but requires little thought--a plus since I'm not getting good sleep. Kind of like how successful people wear the same thing every day only for meals!
Our daily schedule is a work in progress. We're all still alive. It's a low standard and yet one I can maintain. I've given up on exercise. Formal exercise. Do a plank or two daily and play with the kids.
In some ways the bar is on the ground. Everything that needs to be done is and we're all happy and content. Sure, there are days. I lost a whole week to illnesses. I still want to do more than I realistically can. It's a daily dance. It's real life being lived.
I stumbled across this article on how to change your life. Simply reminding myself to change the thought "I have to" improves my attitude immediately. Highly recommend.