Crochet – The Passion Behind A Digital Empire
Curious what crochet and digital products have in common? One savvy entrepreneur turned a deep seeded passion for crocheting into a thriving digital business through creating and selling patterns.
Blending a favorite past time with the power of the digital world, Tammy created Posh Patterns to broaden pattern options for crochet enthusiasts and knitters everywhere. Her natural skill combined with creativity and dedication to her craft gave birth to a vibrant selection of modern designs for newborns, toddlers, teens and even a few for moms.
Browsing through her selection, visitors to the site encountered everything from slouchy hat patterns to newsboy hat patterns to animal hat patterns and more.
Needless to say, I was beyond inspired by Tammy’s ability to successfully bring a skill started in the 19th century to the digital space. Her talented approach to creating elegant designs played a large role in Posh Pattern’s success.
Graciously, Tammy generously shared insights to her jump into the Etsy space and building out her store.
“I learned to crochet about 16 years ago after my younger daughter was born. Learning that one skill has taken my career path in a direction that I never thought possible! “
“Shortly after learning to crochet, I began designing my own projects because finding stylish and fun designs wasn’t as easy as it is today. The Internet was fairly new, so going online to find something to make wasn’t really the norm.”
Harnessing her skills for over 16 years, Tammy’s passion for crocheting led her to develop creative and beautiful designs. Over the years, I’m sure countless friends and family benefited from her passion, sporting everything from slouchy hats to vibrant scarfs.
Years later, she brought these magical designs to Etsy. 2011 saw the creation of Posh Patterns, allowing crochet enthusiasts and knitters to take advantage of Tammy’s delightful patterns.
“I think the main factor that inspired me to start my Etsy store was just my love of designing. The entire process is fun for me, from coming up with the original idea of a piece, to the trial and error of making it, all the way to the technical writing and editing of the final pattern. It’s something that I never get tired of!”
“Everywhere I go, I find inspiration for new pieces— and that is what keeps me inspired.”
Bringing Digital Products to Etsy
“In 2011, Etsy was the place to be. It was an established platform with a lot of traffic and customers, which made an ideal environment to open up shop!”
Despite having an archive of over 16 years of crocheting experience and having spent over a decade creating new patterns, getting the store off the ground took a lot of work.
“When I first opened my shop, I probably spent approximately 30 hours per week.”
“The most difficult part about getting my Etsy shop up and running was steadily increasing the number of designs that I offered, and getting professional looking images for my items. The design process for one piece is very lengthy, so it took a little time.”
Luckily Tammy’s passion for crocheting kept all the work engaging.
Even five years later, the amount of effort and dedication to keeping Posh Patterns thriving didn’t slow down.
“Currently, I spend closer to 50 hours per week on my shop, mostly due to the changes in the Etsy algorithm, and working to make items visible to customers. It’s definitely more difficult to make your shop ‘visible’ in the Etsy marketplace today.”
Facing increased saturation in Etsy, an ever-changing search algorithm, and a changing digital space, Tammy had to work hard to keep her store at the forefront of the pattern space.
She expanded her digital footprint.
“I also sell my patterns and designs on my own website and on a couple of other selling platforms including Ravelry, Craftsy, and LoveKnitting. In my opinion, it’s a very good idea to get your products on several different venues, and not to put all of your eggs into one ‘Etsy basket.’”
One of the reasons she was able to do this was thanks to evolving technology and expanding marketplaces.
“Even 5 years ago, building your own website wasn’t nearly as easy as it is today. Etsy just seemed like the best option. Today, the option of having your own website it much more attainable for most people, so I think that’s something to consider also.”
Focusing on Simplicity
Time for a little honesty – I’ve never crocheted. Minus one period exploring knitting in junior high, I never had the patience to learn the art. In addition, I could never figure out how the whole product came together. I’m pretty sure everything I created remained an oddly shaped semi-rectangle.
Which means the idea of creating all of these jaw-dropping scarfs, adorable animals, and priceless baby bonnets seems incredibly daunting.
Luckily, according to the experts, these designs are actually very simple to complete.
“The one thing that my customers have always told me is that my patterns are super easy to follow along with and read. When it comes to a written pattern, and trying to make a quality finished piece, that aspect is very important. I always take those remarks as huge compliments!”
One customer raved about the ease of the pattern after purchasing a Fox Hooded Cowl pattern, “To any new crocheters out there, you need to know only a few basic stitches to do this really and there are clear instructions. I am pretty new to crochet and whipped up an adult one in a few hours. I look seriously cool (I think!) in it. Will definitely come back to your shop for another pattern soon!”
To help beginners, Tammy also outlined basic crochet stitches. Between the extra tips and ease of instruction, these simple patterns helped countless moms, grandmas and family members create precious handcrafted knits, many of which are sure to become heirlooms.
Standing out on Etsy
“The big misconception about starting an Etsy store then, and even more so now, is that you can open up, list your items, and the sales will just start to roll in.”
This wasn’t the first time this theme came up. Simply Pallets found similar trains of thought when they opened their store.
“I overcame that by working hard on my listing titles, descriptions, tags, SEO, and images.”
“A couple of things that I try to do, to make my store stand out, are things like great images (thanks to a photographer friend) and excellent customer service. I’ve always strived to provide the best customer service and, even though it can take up a large portion of time, I find that it’s worth it. I really love to have happy customers!”
“Today, with Etsy’s new algorithm, it will require even more work to build your business so other things may have to be done too, like outside advertising and a lot of social media interaction.”
Doubling Down on Marketing
Building a pattern empire required marketing efforts outside Etsy.
“I find that social media is the most cost-effective way to promote my shops. I have accounts on most of them, but I typically try to spend my time on just one or two so that I’m not spending too much time on that aspect.”
Tammy invested heavily into growing her Facebook presence. More than 17,000 individuals liked her page featuring a delightful blend of free patterns, stunning imagery, and links to helpful blog articles.
“One of the most important tips for marketing on a social media platform, that I can suggest, is to be present fairly often. Posting and engaging daily is best if you can.”
“At the same time, don’t over-do it and bombard your followers’ feeds with too much. You don’t want to annoy them. You also want to make sure to talk about other things (related to your niche), besides your own items.”
Tammy hit the nail on the head!
If you’re curious on where to start with your marketing efforts, you can start here.
While building out her marketing strategy, not everything panned out 100% as expected.
“I ran a paid ad on Ravelry (twice) that didn’t seem to do anything positive for my shop at all. My sales for those time frames remained exactly the same.”
Research and SEO
Highlighting that running a successful Etsy store is truly a large endeavor, Tammy touched on two other important aspects to gaining traction.
“Anyone considering an Etsy shop should most definitely do their market research first, to make sure that they are not entering an over-saturated niche. Etsy has grown by a huge amount over the last couple of years, so finding a way to stand out is extremely important.”
“My best tips for Etsy SEO would be to do some extensive keyword research for your products, and to be sure to include the best keywords in your titles, descriptions, and tags.”
Building a Store Today
“Opening an Etsy shop can be a fun and rewarding experience. Having said that, remember that it is never wise to put all of your eggs in one basket. Having other platforms and outlets to sell your products is extremely important because Etsy is known for change. One small change on Etsy can have a drastic effect on a shop.”
“Building your own website, nowadays, is much easier than it used to be, and there are several well-known platforms for doing that.”