Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My First Etsy Sale!

I think I created my Etsy account, oh, back in 2009, but other than making a handful of purchases, I've never engaged much in its other features, like creating treasury lists or selling things. However recently, a reader reached out via email and wanted to commission me to make a crochet beard hat. You know, like a regular hat but with a faux yarn beard connected at the sides to cover and warm your chin. Think of it as the hipster, less-coverage-but-less-creepy version of a ski mask.

Hmm, generally I don't like making crafts to order, not even requests from friends. I feel all this pressure to finish it in a timely manner and it just isn't as enjoyable. I work best when I'm inspired to make something out of (I know this sounds cheesy) love and not need. Plus, so much time goes into crocheting/knitting projects that if I applied my regular hourly rate for work, there's no way anyone would buy my stuff. I certainly wouldn't pay that amount. As a min-maxer, I'd rather make money off designing patterns because then I can just design something once and sell the PDF over and over again (until someone decides to rip me off and sell it as their own). And like software products, they both have high gross margins.

That being said, I thought this commission might be the perfect way to experiment with going through the selling process on Etsy. So I low-balled the price, the customer accepted my bid, and I got cracking. Now if you've checked Etsy and Ravelry, there are tons of crochet beard hats out there, but the client specifically wanted me to add my "special twist" to the project and gave me little direction other than that. So I pretty much winged the whole thing. Here's how it went:
  • Hat: Piece of cake!
  • Beard: Once I got the basic pattern down for making loops of varying lengths, easy peasy. Had to redo the chin area a few times to make sure it curved under at the right spot, which was time consuming, but overall not too bad.
  • Mustache: What. The. Heck. This tiny, final piece was supposed to take no time at all and yet I could not make it work. First it was too flimsy. Then it was too thick. Then it wouldn't stay up and kept collapsing over the mouth opening. Then it wouldn't center correctly because it was too tight or loose on one side. GAAAAHHHH!!!
I've never gotten so close to cussing over a yarn project. All I can say is that K deserves a huge thanks for his infinite patience as I kept making him wear the stupid thing while I adjusted, readjusted, ripped out, resewed, etc. that darn mustache. Here's what I learned from the entire experience:
  • As confirmed, I dislike making crochet items (versus patterns) for sale, especially given what a perfectionist I can be.
  • Etsy charged me a little more than a dollar for the transaction! Oops, next time I'll need to raise the price accordingly. Other than that, the whole sale process was very smooth sailing on my part.
Anyway, took me about a week of evenings working on it on and off, but it's finally done and out of my hair. Here's photographic proof from my customer showing how satisfied he is. ^_~

Crochet beard hat

P.S. I forgot to mention, but another motivator for me to take on this project is that I've been trying to raise money to get that luxury item I mentioned before. To let you on the secret, it's a fancy-pancy automated cat feeder that I've been in love with since last year, and K finally convinced me it was ok to buy it, especially with the baby on its way soon. Can't wait for it to arrive! It's an engineering masterpiece, and I think both Chairman Meow and I will be much happier if she can be automatically fed multiple times a day. :)


geekturtle said...

I know is difficult to do something personaliced (I hope is well written) but it is also a great way to learn new things
Great job girl!
and keep it up

A Gamer's Wife said...

Thanks, GeekTurtle! I just heard back from the buyer and he loves it. So glad it ended up fitting since that was my biggest challenge by far. O_o

Sadie said...

Hi there!
Loooove this beard hat! I have been searching around for a pattern to make one for a friend and just haven't found one that I am satisfied with. I stumbled upon an image of yours and its perfect. I was wondering if you wrote a pattern for it and would you be willing to sell it to me? Thanks for your time!

A Gamer's Wife said...

Hi Sadie, sorry that I didn't write down the pattern for it! Here are the patterns that I used for inspiration though; hopefully they can help.

* Beard loops
* Beanie hat
* Beard base shape (I looked at several free patterns)