It’s possible to make a living crocheting through digital marketing and content creation as a crochet designer. Taking commissions for finished objects and participating in craft fairs likely will yield some revenue, but not full time work from home income.
If you’re like me, then you’re probably obsessed with crocheting and amigurumi and love spending every second of your spare time surrounded by balls of yarn and your favorite hook. A few months after I fell down the crochet rabbit hole, I first wondered whether it would be possible to make money, or even a full time income, by crocheting. Now, I’ve been investigating and experimenting with ways to earn money through crocheting for the past year and I’m here to tell you all about it. But first, here’s the short answer to whether you can make a living by crocheting:
Typically, it’s possible to make a living crocheting through digital marketing and content creation as a crochet designer. Taking commissions for finished objects and participating in craft fairs likely will yield some revenue, but not full time work from home income.
You may be wondering, what is this digital marketing and content creation jargon I’m talking about? To learn more, I’m going to break down all the ways to earn income through crocheting and discuss the level of income you might be able to expect for each.
How can I earn a full time income crocheting?
|Job title||Estimated revenue (yearly) range for top performers in each group, assuming 3 years spent building up business||Type of activities|
|Crochet designer and content creator (YouTuber, blogger, Instagram influencer).||$40,000+||Designing crochet patterns, selling paid patterns, generating ad revenue from blog with over 100k pageviews/month, recording YouTube videos on a monetized YouTube channel, working with brands to create sponsored content on social media channels. Also earn money through affiliate links and selling other products (ebook, merchandise, etc).|
|Crochet designer||$3,000+||Designing crochet patterns and selling paid patterns on Etsy or a personal website (e.g. BigCartel, Shopify)|
|Selling finished crochet products and teaching workshops||$1,000+||Crocheting and selling finished products through social media with a large audience (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest). Teach workshops in person at community centers, libraries, or in a private studio.|
As you can see, if we take a full time income to constitute $40,000, then although all of the job titles in the chart can make some level of income, becoming a designer and content creator is the only viable way to make a full time income. Let me break down each of these categories for you and review how I arrived at those numbers, as well as my personal experience with each one. I also want to note quickly that the job title with the highest possible revenue is also the one that takes the longest to come to fruition, with months of work before you may see any money. The one with the lowest possible revenue, selling finished products, is the easiest to earn money from in a quick time frame, but also does not have a huge earning potential long term.
The second thing that you might notice is that as you progress from the bottom of the chart to the top, the type of income goes from active to passive, and the activities become much more scalable. Active income means that you are trading time for money; whenever you earn money, you put in a certain amount of time (e.g. selling finished products, teaching workshops). Passive income means that you might put in a certain amount of time once, but you can continue making money off of it forever (e.g. selling crochet patterns, ad revenue). Generally, to run a successful and lucrative business, as much time should be spent on increasing passive income as possible. That’s because when working on passive income streams, whenever you put time in, it will continue to pay off infinitely, so over time your annual income will continue increasing ad infinitum even if you work the same amount of time each year. When you have active income streams, this effect does not happen, and the total amount you can make is capped by the amount of time you put in.
Of course, some active income streams are better than others, such as brand sponsorships that may pay $300+ for several hours of work. However, the majority of your time should still be spent on passive income streams so that your yearly revenue will automatically increase on its own.
Since selling finished products is likely the method of earning money that you may be most familiar with, I’ll cover it first.
How can I sell finished products?
The process of selling finished products is fairly simple. The question of how to price products to actually earn a profit is more complicated, which I will address below. However, I will describe the ideal circumstance that I alluded to in the chart above.
In order to sell finished products, a seller must crochet popular crochet items such as shawls, toys, and baby items, and then sell them for a profit to an audience either online or in person. This can include craft markets, family and friends, social media platforms, and a physical storefront.
The most difficult parts of this process are pricing at a profit and finding the right audience. Pricing is difficult because the vast majority of crafters who sell goods do not price in a way that yields a profit, as I will address below. Finding the right audience is difficult because selling anything at all involves some level of marketing. Simply put, the more marketing you do, the wider the audience you reach, and the higher you can price your products. Done well, marketing can take up as much as time as crocheting itself.
At this stage, you might also try to teach workshops at a community center or privately, which can be much more lucrative than selling finished products. However, this activity still constitutes active income, meaning you need to put in time each time you earn money.
I arrived at the figure in the chart by assuming a seller was earning around minimum wage for time spent crocheting. This constitutes a high estimate because the vast majority of crocheters who sell finished products do not earn a minimum wage of $10/hour.
Continue reading for a more detailed explanation, or skip to the next section to learn about how to earn closer to a full time income crocheting.
How should I price finished products to earn a profit?
When you first think of making money from crocheting the first strategy that may come to mind is selling finished objects or taking commissions either through word of mouth or on Etsy or at craft markets, but this is a not a good option if you want to earn a full time income. If you just want to recoup the cost of your materials and support your yarn buying habit, then this is perfectly fine, but not as a long term work from home option given the devaluation of homemade goods.
The central problem with trying to earn money crocheting finished objects is that crocheting is extremely time consuming, and handmade goods are very devalued in the modern age of cheap, imported consumer goods. Essentially, it is extremely difficult to be able to turn a profit.
The reason is simple: even the smallest coaster will take up to half an hour to whip up, and larger items such as shawls, sweaters, and toys easily take from 10-30 hours to make.
Common business acumen suggests pricing your products in a way that includes materials, ideal hourly wage (starting at minimum wage), and including a profit margin. If you are not able to make a profit (after paying yourself for the time you put in), then selling finished products as a way to make a living is not possible. The reason is that if you are not able to make any profit, and if you are only earning a minimum wage from crocheting, then you will be essentially working a minimum wage job for your skill and experience.
Sticker price = Profit margin – (hourly wage * # of hours spent + materials)
Besides the obvious fact that a business without profit isn’t a business at all, the psychological effects of not getting paid what you are worth can be very demoralizing, and result in a loss of motivation.
The secondary problem with the scenario that I just described is that it’s extraordinarily difficult to earn even a minimum wage of about $10/hour for your time, so most of the time you will not only not make a profit for your work, but you will be losing money and paying yourself below minimum wage, hovering around sweatshop levels of pay.
To be able to price your products at a rate that includes a profit margin, it is necessary to reach a large audience of potential buyers that are able to afford your wares. This means that you will need to somehow reach a huge amount of potential shoppers through some form of marketing or advertising, that could include building a following on various social media platforms, paid advertising, extensive word of mouth, craft markets, etc. The larger the audience and the better you target them, the more likely you are able to actually get paid a price that allows you to continue running a viable business. This constitutes the basics of business marketing, but when trying to sell handmade crafts, it’s even more of an uphill battle because these types of goods are devalued because modern society does not value or understand the time, skill, and experience it takes to create a shawl or amigurumi toy.
That is to say, it’s as much or more work to market yourself as it is to create your products, just to be able to break even and make a small profit. Of course, you should pay yourself for the time you spend on marketing too, meaning that the equation I wrote out above doesn’t even encompass the full cost.
Unfortunately, because most crafters who sell finished goods do not price their work so that they are able to earn even a minimum wage, it further drives down the perceived value of handmade goods. Next time you see a crochet or knit cowl on Etsy, divide the price by 10 and ask yourself whether you could make it in the time allowed.
Actually, let’s try that. I just searched “crochet cowl” on Etsy and found this listing in the first row of results:
This cowl is being sold for twenty dollars with free shipping, meaning that if this seller paid themselves a minimum wage of $10/hour for their time crocheting, then this cowl would have taken them 2 hours to make. My estimation is that something like this would take me between 7-10 hours, plus $5 worth of yarn. This listing is also marked free shipping, which means it’s already included in the cost. Let’s say the shipping cost is $5, conservatively. If this seller is a very fast crocheter (let’s say it takes them 6 hours), and we take out the shipping and cost of materials from the price (20 – 10 = 10), then we’re left with 10 dollars with which to pay the seller for their time. 10/6(number of hours spent crocheting)= 1.66, so this seller is earning $1.66/hour with no profit.
If this person wanted to earn a profit, they would need to increase their price to $70 + profit margin, so likely around $100.
Let’s look at another example:
This listing, also in the first row of results, appears to be slightly better! Let’s go through the same estimations to find out how much they are paying themselves hourly. This cowl looks much more dense and thick, so my guess is that it would take me 15 hours to make. I will also assume that the materials cost $12 and shipping is $5 (this listing also includes the shipping cost in the sticker price). 59.53 – 12 – 5 = 42.53, so we have $42.53 left to pay our lone employee of this business. Once again, let’s assume this person crochets faster than me and will finish this cowl in 12 hours. 42.53/12 = 3.43, so this person is earning $3.42/hour and is making no profit. To adjust the price to include a profit, this person should charge $137 (12 + 5 + 12*10) + a profit margin, so maybe $160-$180.
I hope these two examples were illustrative in demonstrating how selling finished products, if improperly priced, is not a viable business model.
Nowadays, my business does not include selling finished products. Occasionally people might ask me whether they can purchase one of my creations that they have seen on Instagram, and I always quote them a price that’s equal to a minimum wage according to the formula I provided above — usually between 50 to 100 dollars. Though these numbers may seem high for the small crochet dolls I make, they are actually on the lower end of the spectrum and I allow that only because at this point I have a large surplus of dolls and feel that I need to downsize. In any case, most of the time these inquirers will decline to take my rate, but from my perspective, if I sell any of my precious handmade creations for anything less than minimum wage, I will feel like I have disrespected my time, skill, and work. I would significantly rather part with my creations for a customer who values my time than to one who does not realize they are paying me sweatshop labor rates to hand make a product for them. As a result of asking my worth, I happily sold one of my favorite dolls I made for $100 to a young woman purchasing a precious gift for her younger sister. For more thoughts on this topic, I recommend watching Chantal at Knitatude’s discussion on Instagram here, which inspired and helped formulate my own thoughts.
How can I earn money as a crochet designer?
Being a crochet designer entails creating your own patterns for garments, home decor items, toys, or anything else you can dream up! Patterns are generally created digitally on Canva, Google Docs, or Word, and sold as PDF files on Etsy, Ravelry, or other pattern databases. Becoming a designer is generally a process of trial and error that can be achieved through taking pattern designing classes, reading books about pattern designing, reviewing stitch dictionaries, consulting with tech editors and other crochet designers, and a lot of elbow grease.
Crochet designers make money by selling digital PDFS of original designs that are clear and professionally written and formatted patterns. These are sold on pattern databases such as Etsy and Ravelry and are a form of passive income.
Earning money as a crochet designer yields a higher income than just selling finished products because this is a form of passive income. Passive income means that you are not exchanging time directly for money, since once you create a design you can sell it an unlimited amount of times. This means that theoretically the amount of money you can earn for one design is limitless, but practically it is bounded by the amount of marketing that you do.
Crochet designers can market their designs by building a following on social media, which is a yearslong endeavor, as well as through word of mouth and paid advertising.
This is a good place to start your business because it is a low stakes way to earn some extra money on the side and potential to grow, but it probably will not yield a full time income simply because patterns are often priced between three and ten dollars. It is possible to get to a full time income given the passive nature of selling digital products, but requires many years of building a very loyal following on Instagram, Etsy, Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
How can I earn money as a crochet blogger?
Being a crochet designer and content creator entails being a designer as detailed above, but also engaging in passive income streams involving advertising for third parties. This usually takes the form of building up an audience online on one or multiple platforms, and then being paid either through ads or through brand sponsorships for third parties to be able to market to the audience that you have built. The core of this endeavor, building an audience, is extremely difficult and time consuming, but is the essence of a crochet business that will be lucrative, passive, and rewarding. In this category, your time is spent about half on pattern designing and half on “computer work,” that is, managing social media, writing content, editing videos, etc.
Crochet bloggers make money through ad revenue, affiliate links, selling PDF patterns on Etsy and Ravelry, and brand sponsorships. This can be achieved by building a substantial audience through consistent and valuable creation of content such as crochet patterns, tutorials, and product reviews.
For crocheters, content usually entails crochet patterns, but can also include tutorials, pattern roundups, tips and tricks, and anything else that might interest your target audience.
To build an audience on any platform, including Instagram, a blog, YouTube, and Pinterest, you will need to learn the specific algorithmic nuances of each and then begin producing content that is optimized for each platform. For example, Instagram best practices include posting consistently and frequently with bright, clear images, engaging captions, relevant captions, and networking with other small businesses. On the other hand, Pinterest encourages pinning 20-30 times a day with different images and varying destination links.
The key to building an audience is to learn best practices for any given platform, create content consistently, build authority in your niche, and collaborate with other small business owners to help each other grow.
After building an audience to a certain milestone (e.g. 3k followers on Instagram, 10k sessions on your blog, 1k subscribers on YouTube), you should change your focus to monetizing your audience. On a blog, you can apply to ad networks like Ezoic, Mediavine, and AdThrive to place ads on your website. On Instagram, you can reach out to brands for collaborative sponsorships, and YouTube accounts are monetizable after one thousand subscribers and four thousand watch hours. At this point, you should have substantial revenue each month, approximately $500-1,000 monthly. As you continue to grow on your platforms and are able to apply to premium ad networks and work with bigger brands and increase your traffic, your revenue will increase accordingly.
How do I know if I should try to make a living crocheting?
All of these methods are obviously extremely different in terms of the activities you will spend most of your time doing, and also in terms of how much work you need to put in to see any income at all.
As you’ve learned, being a content creator and crochet designer is the only way to make an income substantial enough to replace a full time salary, but all of these methods are viable as a form of side income if you just want to bring in some extra cash or to fuel your yarn habit.
If you’re just interested in making a quick buck, selling some finished products might be the way to go (if you price it right!), but if you’re in it for the long haul, starting a crochet blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram account is the way to go. I got started blogging with Sewrella’s course, the Sewrella Method, so feel free to check it out if you also want some guidance.
I hope this article was useful in helping you decide how you can turn your hobby into a side hustle or career! If you have any questions or want to know more please let me know in the comments below or through the contact page. I would love to help in any way I can!