Teaching & Workshops

It's time for another Design Your Biz segment! Today, I want to talk about teaching & workshops.
Me teaching at Stitches Midwest in 2015. Photo courtesy of XRX, Inc.

When I first started teaching, it all felt a little overwhelming and scary. Over the last few years, I've been able to put some systems into place and, with more experience, teaching has become a breeze and one of my favorite things I get to do as a designer. I love getting out there and meeting all the knitters!

Here are some of my tips for teaching and workshops (in particular order):
  1. Make yourself class kits. I bought some clear bags online and labeled each of them with the class name. It has all of the swatches I need, as well as needles and yarn for doing demos. This has really cut down on my packing time for teaching engagements. I talk more about packing for a teaching trip in this post.
  2. Put your contact info on your handouts. So many of my teaching jobs I book have come off of someone in the class going home and telling their knitting guild about the class. Make sure they have a way to get a hold of you. 
  3. Have a Plan B (& C). I think this one comes with time/experience. Developing a way to explain things more than one way is critical. Everyone learns in different ways, so being able to explain the same thing 3 different ways means all your students are happy.
  4. Set a schedule. At first, I only taught 0-2 times a year (see point number 2 about increasing teaching gigs). As I started to get more requests to teach, I sat down and decided what was going to work for me. I don't want to be traveling all the time. I like being at home writing knitting books. So I've decided that I will only accept 6-8 teaching jobs a year and I avoid teaching from mid-November to the end of January, when possible. I made an exception earlier this year to teach in Southern CA in January....hello, I'm from Chicago. :) Decide what's going to work for you.
  5. Most importantly, teach what you love to knit. I love shawls and lace, so most of my classes focus around those things. By teaching the subjects you're especially passionate about, you're sure to have lots of fun teaching about it!
If you're a designer, I'd love to hear about any tips you have for teaching. And, if you love taking knitting or crochet classes, do you have any tips for the teachers?


Design Your Biz: Ravelry Ads That Work

I'm back today with another Design Your Biz segment. Let's talk advertising!
I've experimented with advertising over the last few years and I thought I'd share what I found works for me.

For designers, probably the most popular place to advertise is Ravelry. The site has millions of users and the advertising is very affordable. I typically run Featured Pattern Ads, which can be found on the patterns page of the website. It's a prominent location, and it costs $40 for your ad to rotate there for 2 weeks. I've found this to be the best place to advertise my patterns on Ravelry. I try to run one as often as I can!

Ads don't have to be fancy - I like to keep mine pretty simple actually. I have noticed that certain types of photos get more clicks than others. For example, in September, I ran an ad for my Yingarna pattern:

And in October, I ran an ad for my Bedford mittens:
The ad for Yingarna was one of the top ads for the two weeks that it ran, and had more than 3 times the clicks that the Bedford mittens did.

For me, ads that have show a close-up detail of the pattern get far more clicks than the ones that show the entire pattern. With the Yingarna ad, you can tell it's a shawl, but you can't see the full shape of it. You're enticing the knitter to click for more.

It also goes beyond picking the right photo. My shawl ads do much better than the other accessories. And the timing is important too. I would never, ever run an ads for those Fair Isle mittens in the summer. Most people aren't thinking mittens in July. :)

So, the big question: does it translate to sales?

My answer: yes! I've noticed that in my slower months (January, May, June), I've been able to increase my sales a little more with the addition of a Ravelry ad. And, I've discovered that the Featured Pattern Ad absolutely increases sales if you can time it with the release of a new pattern (and obviously run the ad for that pattern). 

If you're a designer, where do you run ads on Ravelry? And, if you're a knitter/crocheter, what ads do you click on?

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