Diversifying Your Income Stream as a Knit Designer

"You don't quit your full-time job because you write knitting books. This isn't Harry Potter." -me

When people ask me about making knitting (and now crochet) design my full-time job, I always say the above quote. Because it's true.

Can you make a full-time living being a designer? Absolutely!

But it takes a lot of income streams to make it work. I truly believe that the vast majority of designers would tell you the same thing too. Most of us are doing other things besides just publishing patterns on Ravelry - we teach, tech edit, sell yarn, write books, do graphic design or photography, etc., to make a living at this.

So, here's a breakdown of my income for January through August of this year:
That's seven different avenues I'm receiving money for my business. And pretty much all of those can be further broken down. For example, I taught at 6 different shops or guilds so far this year, and I received payment from four different companies for "commissioned patterns." In this business, every little piece adds up!

I'm currently taking the route of writing knitting books to earn a good chunk of income. As you can see, it's making up a lot of my income these days. Cozy Stash-Busting Knits was released earlier this year and Sock-Yarn Accessories came out in the Fall of 2015. Will it stay like this forever? No - book sales (and therefore your royalties) naturally go down the longer a book has been available. But, for now, it's working. And, while I do have another book currently in the works (yay!), I'm also brainstorming other ways to further diversify my income.

So, if you're a designer (or thinking about coming one, which you should, because it's the best job), how do you diversify (or plan to diversify) your income stream? I'd love to know!

And, because I love reading about this kind of stuff, here are some links to other people discussing the subject:


Follow Me Friday....

These days, many of us are on multiple social medias. I thought I'd have a fun and quick Friday post about all the various places you can find me! You know, in case reading the blog just wasn't enough Jen for you. ;)

I'll see you around the Internet! :)


(Not Really) Wordless Wednesday

I've made my yarn decision for my upcoming Mystery Shawl KAL. Start digging in your stash for two - 400 yard skeins of fingering weight yarn, solid or semi-solids are going to be the way to go.
We'll be starting October 7th. Details coming soon. Join the Ravelry group to stay up-to-date. ;)


My First Crochet Shawl Pattern

A few weeks ago, something really awesome happened. My first ever crochet shawl pattern was officially released into the world. This is Daphne, now available from Willow Yarns:
Daphne Crochet Shawl by Jen Lucas
From the website:

Enjoy a vintage look of sophisticated elegance with this shawl designed by Jen Lucas in Willow Quest yarn.
Skill Level: Intermediate
Finished Size: 74 x 30"
Materials: Willow Yarns™ Quest; Color: 0013 Blue Butterfly—2 balls
Hook: US size F-5 (3.75mm) crochet hook or size needed to obtain gauge

Daphne Crochet Shawl by Jen Lucas
I used my knowledge of pi shawl shaping in knitting and applied it to this crocheted shawl. You work a few rows, double the stitches, work a few more rows, double the stitches, and so on. It was such a fun piece to stitch.
I really hope you all enjoy enjoy this shawl as much as I do!


Design Your Biz: Customer Feedback

Today's Design Your Biz segment is about customer feedback.
Knit & crochet designers have access to more customer feedback than ever before. Many of us have Ravelry groups, people can leave us comments on the Ravelry pattern pages, we get emails, private messages on Ravelry, notes sent through forms on our websites, etc.

It can be overwhelming. And sometimes the feedback isn't so nice.

So, first I'd like to touch on the "not so nice" customer feedback. This might not be the most fun blog topic on the planet, but it's important to talk about it. I want designers (especially the newer ones) to know that it isn't you. This happens to all of us unfortunately.

Every designer has at least one story of receiving "that message." Luckily for me, those are verrrry few and far between these days, but I've gotten everything from "get a new job" (with a few expletives thrown in there for good measure) to "I'm telling all my designer friends what a terrible designer you are." Yikes.

At the beginning, these messages would really shake me up. I'd get all upset. Sometimes I'd actually consider quitting my dream to work on this full time.

While the occasional angry feedback can still rock me a little but, I've really worked on changing my perspective.

I try to put myself in their shoes. Maybe something is going on in their personal life and they are having a terrible day. Maybe they are just incredibly frustrated that whatever they are making isn't working out (I mean, I do put my knitting in timeout all the time).

Not that anyone should be sending messages full of terrible things to someone, but, in this business, it's going to happen. So I just remind myself that "It's just sticks and string, right? We aren't exactly drafting an international peace policy." And then I kill them with kindness. :) Trust me, when you get these types of messages, the last thing you want to do is be nice, but it's the right thing to do. Many times I've actually received apology emails in return!

And, full disclosure, if they are especially terrible, I don't answer them at all. Sometimes it's better not to engage people that are going to be super-duper awful to you.

Ok, enough about the bad....let's move onto what the vast majority of my customer feedback is - the good kind! :)

I really do love hearing from my customers. They've helped me make decisions in my designs and business in general over the years. For example, when I first started designing, I included the written instructions for the charts for all my shawl designs. I've received so much feedback from knitters over the years that they love having that. Is it more work for me? Yep, a little bit, but I don't plan to change it. Because of the feedback I've received, I know that people want it, so it's completely worth it for me to do it. Truthfully, it's now weirdly one of my favorite parts of pattern writing.

I've also started working on a new design recently as a result of customer feedback. I talked about it a little in my last Design Your Biz post and you can also see my giant swatch in this video. My customers have sent me lots of notes over the years saying they want a pi shawl with armholes. So I'm finally listening! I can't wait to work on this some more this fall. I know many of you will love it, because you told me so!

I could go on and on about customer feedback. :)

But the bottom line is, good or bad, customer feedback is here to stay.

If you're a designer (or work in any job where you receive customer feedback), I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.


Giveaway Winner!

It's time to select the winner for the book Weekend Wraps. You can read the original blog post here.

Using a random number generator, the winner is.....


Her response to the question What is your favorite accessory to knit or crochet? was:

I love cowls as they stay in place while I work. Don't know how I grew up in the NorthEast without them.

Thanks to everyone for checking out my review of Weekend Wraps and for entering the giveaway! 

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