How To Avoid Cramping and Fatigue from Crocheting

I’ve been crocheting for quite a long time, my best estimate is around 20 years. I’m 24 at the time of writing this, and I know I learned to crochet before I started school, so somewhere in the 20 years range.

During that time, I have made quite a few projects, spanning from plain squares to practice stitches, simple scarves, full afghans, amigurumi, to even monsters like the Sophie’s Universe afghan (which I really need to dig out and finish like the 15000 other projects I have started ha… ha…).

This has helped me to understand how to most efficiently, and painlessly, crochet anything my little hooking hands desire.

When I started making amigurumi 9 or 10 years ago, I really had to learn how to keep my hands from cramping. Hours on hours of tight single crochet was tiring. Which was part of the reason I moved away from that style. The other part was that I don’t like sewing the pieces together. I did appreciate that there were no ends to weave in, however, I just took the back end of the hook and poked them back inside the piece!

What would hurt the most after a crochet marathon was my right (dominant) wrist, and my right elbow. And my left hand would start to cramp a little. It would gradually slow me down to the point I had to stop for the day or at least give myself a break. If I crocheted too close to bed time, I’d wake up with swollen hands, which doesn’t happen to me on a normal day.

I’m of course not saying this advice will 100% fix your problems with cramping and fatigue, I’m just putting this out there to help you start to make changes to the way you crochet and the rest will fall into place. Some people will naturally be more or less tense than others, so you may just be doomed. I don’t make the rules.

But, here are some things that I’ve learned along the way that have helped me to crochet for hours on end with minimal discomfort, if any.

I have also made a video about this, showing you exactly how I hold the hook and yarn, I just have a little more explanation here.

Subscribe to my channel for more tips!

The number one thing that has made the most difference for me is how I hold the hook. Before, I would hold it like a pencil, and that’s the way my grandma showed me, and how she crochets to this day. She has arthritis and I have no idea how she does it, because I do not have arthritis and it kills my wrist!

I honestly don’t know where I picked up my new method, I think I just kinda figured it out. At the time I didn’t know there was an online crochet community so I suppose I just figured it out on my own. Yay me!

Now, I hold the hook more-or-less in my closed fist with my thumb sticking out, like a toddler holds a spoon. (I meant to say that in the video, but I said “how you hold a spoon/fork” and I definitely do not hold my utensils like that haha). Then really the only motion my hand is making is reaching for the yarn and slightly rotating the hook to catch it. Minimal stress on my wrist and elbow, not to mention I have a looser grip on the hook itself.

If you’re holding it like a pencil, you are moving your wrist and elbow, maybe even your whole arm, quite drastically. Or if not, your other hand is moving a lot to compensate for it. (Demonstrated in the video).

Now about the other hand. I have what some people think is a funny way of holding the working yarn, but it works perfectly for me. It’s really difficult to explain, so watch the video and practice. But basically, I have the yarn coming from my left side (or right if you’re a lefty), hold onto the end with your dominant hand, take your pinky of the non dominant hand and grab the yarn, use your pinky to wrap the yarn around, twisting it towards you, making a loop around your pinky, then rotate your hand so your palm is facing down, slide your index finger under the yarn, and hold your index finger up, and you’ll be working from the part that’s hanging off your index finger. Your middle and thumb will be holding the piece as you go. Like I said, sounds complex but is easy.

This method will help you keep a better and consistent tension, as the yarn isn’t just dangling there, it’s being pulled slightly taut. Everyone I’ve seen or have helped with tension or figuring out why their piece is all wonky, they all hold their working yarn in such a way that doesn’t help them keep consistent tension. I’m always surprised when the big-name crocheters on YouTube or Instagram don’t use either of these methods, but like I said, everyone is different.

Then as you’re crocheting and you’re drawing up loops, it’ll pull your index finger down a little. Just pull it back up as you stitch and it’ll draw yarn from the skein naturally. Pretty cool, right?

If you’re doing this method, remember to keep both hands fairly relaxed. This will help both ensure that you’re not going to cramp up, and that you won’t get yarn burn on your finger from your tension being too tight.

Another thing to remember also, is just like a desk job or anything where you’re sitting for a long period of time, pay attention to your posture. If you’re slumped over, your back and neck will start to hurt. I often find myself tensing up and my shoulders will go up and up, and I have to remember to relax. And if you’re a young’un like me, you definitely don’t want to start out the wrong way. Up until recently, I’d always sit with one foot under my bum, but stopped real quick when it was straining my knees and lower back and was making my legs stiff. Hi yes I’d like one senior citizens discount, please.

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you try these tips, or if you have any of your own! Comment here or shoot me a message on Instagram @crueltyfreestitchery !

Guide to Pricing Your Knit or Crochet Items

So you’ve started knitting or crocheting – you’ve got the basics, and people are either asking to buy your stuff, or telling you that you should sell it! That’s a good sign that you’re ready to start selling!

What kinds of things you sell is totally up to you, you can just make whatever you want and sell it as you go (just remember to honor if a pattern writer asks that you don’t sell the item!) or you can have a set product lineup that you maintain stock of. Or a mixture of both.

Then, you can sell it in a number of ways. There’s Etsy, Facebook marketplace, eBay, craft fairs, flea markets, consignment shops, and I’m sure many other places. A quick Google search will help you figure out the platform that’s best for you. (Keep in mind for later that websites will charge a fee for selling, fairs will charge a booth fee, and you’ll need wholesale prices for consignment shops – that’s another big topic that you can also Google for now, I’m still a newbie at wholesale). Basically the only “free” way to sell things is to friends and family in-person or on personal social media. But part of the extra charges that I mentioned account for advertising as well – people go to Etsy and craft fairs specifically in search of handmade items and you’re guaranteed traffic to your shop or booth.

But, one of the hardest things about getting started selling your knit or crochet items is not the “what” or the “where,” it’s the “how much?” It’s not as simple as other handmade crafts like soapmaking or jewelry where you’re putting some things together, it’s time consuming and has a lot of variables to it.

For example, I could make a scarf and list it for sale at $20, and that would be a fair price – but I would have to use a cheap bulky yarn, big hook/needles, and a simple stitch. Or, I could make a scarf and sell it for $50 or even $75 if I use a fine yarn and smaller hook/needles and do an intricate lace design. And that’s just factoring in the yarn and time, there’s still more to it.

The sad reality is that people very rarely can make a living selling their crochet products. (Don’t be discouraged by that, just keep reading haha). It takes a lot of time, and you know your house is already overflowing with yarn so it only gets worse (sorry). The thing is, people just aren’t willing to pay a fair wage price for things. We’re so used to buying stuff for insanely cheap because if you go buy a blanket or scarf at any big box store or dollar store, it’s made by people who are making pennies per hour, so of course it’s going to be dirt cheap. And if you charge what people are, largely, “willing” to pay, you’re also going to be making pennies per hour.

One thing to note is that your target market for knit or crochet products is NOT going to be “everyone,” and that’s a-okay. Don’t stress yourself out over that.

This is why makers are turning to writing and selling their patterns to other makers. Awesomely, knitting and crocheting has exploded in popularity thanks to social media, and there are a lot of people looking at and buying patterns. More so, I think, than there are people looking to buy the actual items. So that’s something to consider if you’re serious about making money from it. Digital patterns are free to produce (you just pay a listing fee to Etsy or Ravelry) and you can sell the PDF file an infinite number of times, without lifting a finger.

Anyways, back to pricing. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone willing to pay $500 for an afghan, which is a fair price for a large queen or king size, which may be too low in some instances. I think I would croak if someone agreed to pay me a grand for an afghan. Just use that money to buy my tombstone.

The most I’ve ever been paid for an afghan is $200. That was a twin size and a very tight half-double crochet stitch (a.k.a. time consuming) with a large character applique. I probably should have charged more, but I’ll explain why I didn’t in a second.

Because of all this, you’ll see people selling their products for WAYYYY too low. (For other crafts, I would suggest comparing your prices to others in the same sector to make sure you’re on target, but it’s nearly impossible with knit and crochet). They’ll barely charge enough to recoup the cost of yarn. I’ve seen people on Etsy selling beanies for LESS THAN TEN DOLLARS. NO SIR OR MA’AM. Even if you used half a skein of scratchy-saver you got for $2, add the etsy fees, cost of shipping materials, gas it takes to get to the post office, you’re already in the hole and you worked an hour or two for nothing. Even if you’re not trying to make a living and just do it for fun, that’s not a smart move. There’s really no point in even selling it, it would be cheaper for you to just donate the item and write it off on your taxes.

And because of THAT, people think that a “fair price” is outrageously expensive. It’s driving the market value down, which hurts everyone. Raise your hand if you’ve heard somebody say “well so-and-so can do it for way cheaper!” Because so-and-so isn’t making any money, which isn’t the customer’s fault, it’s theirs.

But, with all that being said, there is still a market for knit and crochet items, it’s just better in certain months and also in certain areas of the country. I sell a LOT more things around Christmas for gifts. I live in an area with all four seasons, so it gets cold. If you’re somewhere south that is warm all year, you may want to consider stuffed animals or lightweight items. And people are much more open to paying a little more than they normally would for something when it’s for a gift, especially when that something is handmade.

You can use this gift tactic to boost your sales in late summer and fall. Use that “FOMO” strategy and let people know when is the last day to get their order in before Christmas, or “orders are piling up, get yours in quick to get it in time!” I do this on my Facebook page and my Etsy shop announcement section.

Ok, getting sidetracked with a mini marketing rant. Now let’s get into actually pricing things.

So the short answer to this is that there is no exact mathematical formula that works for every item, every time. However, my starting point is to just calculate the cost of my yarn (and other items like buttons or safety eyes). The important thing that I do is to use the FULL price of the items, not the sale price. That way, if you ever reproduce an item if someone wants a second one down the road, you won’t feel pressured to raise the price on them if the yarn isn’t on sale the next time around. This has actually happened to me before and I was glad I thought to do that. If you get the yarn on sale and nobody buys a second one, or it’s also on sale the second time, then more money for you.

After that, I take the cost of materials and multiply it by three (3). This is the “industry standard” pricing method, but I use that as the baseline, or the bare minimum on a large item. It works because, generally speaking, the more you paid in materials (i.e. the more yarn) the longer it takes you to make.

I price custom items and pre-made items a bit differently. For custom items, I guess based upon the 3x rule, how much yarn I’ll likely need, how long it took to make a similar item in the past, and the complexity of the design. Then I give the client a final, total price up-front. This is so I don’t surprise them at the end and they change their mind because it’s too much. You do not want to be stuck with a large afghan and wasted dozens of hours. Personally, I require a deposit up-front if it’s going to be bigger than a baby afghan to front the cost of yarn in case they bail on me.

But, with pre-made items, you can be more precise. You can time yourself, charge a fair amount per hour, add your exact materials, listing fees, shipping mailer fees, everything.

With other handmade crafts, you would have to factor in any overhead costs like equipment, electricity, warehouse space, etc. But with knit and crochet, your only physical cost is just your hooks and needles which last indefinitely (until you lose them, I should say haha) or a pattern if you need to buy one.

Most importantly, though, is the cost for your expertise and good craftsmanship. That’s ultimately what will keep people coming back to you and recommending you to their friends. That’s why you never want to sell yourself short.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more about crochet!

5 Things I Wanted to Learn This Year

Almost exactly a year ago, I posted a blog about what I needed to learn in order to be my own boss here.

I was living on my own (well, with my fiance, I mean away from family) and was frustrated with my job/career situation. I have always wanted to be self employed since I learned that it’s a thing people do. Working at my own pace and on my own schedule is when I work best, which is why I absolutely loved online classes in college.

I had a few things in mind that I wanted to do, so I thought they would make a decent blog.

Looking back at the post, it’s clear that I was almost desperate for a second income.

A few months later, I quit my job and moved back with my parents. I had a few weeks of vacation time so I had some cushion to find another job, but I exhausted that pretty quickly. I spent a few months doing what I thought I needed to do in order to get the business off the ground, and also worked on my other unrelated YouTube channel. I was for sure I’d start making money off at least one of those ventures.

No such luck.

 

I had spent time doing the wrong things. I was focused on looking at what other people were doing, without actually doing the things that they were doing or even trying to make them work for me.

 

A few months later, I finally got the footing for my business structure. (I still don’t have a business bank account because the state’s registration website is outdated to say the least, it’s impossible to navigate and the bank needs proof that I am registered… long story, working on it).

I have a tentative product line that I am going to reproduce as they’re sold out, then I’ll do a few special pieces here and there, and of course take custom requests. I would like to get into craft fairs eventually, but I always vastly underestimate the amount of time it takes to prepare, especially since one blanket can take weeks to finish around my work schedule.

 

I was going to go through the list of 5 things I wanted to learn this year and talk about each one. But the truth is that I didn’t really…. do… anything about them.

 

And that’s the one thing I DID learn this year, just to DO it.

 

My favorite video was the one of Shia Labeouf where he’s saying “Don’t let your dreams be dreams – just DO IT”. I always tell my fiance that I’m going to get a tattoo about that one day.

 

You can plan until your hand falls off and your head explodes, but it’s all for nothing if you don’t do what you planned.

 

So one year from now, I’m going to do this again. And we’ll see what a difference this will make – actually DOING versus talking about doing.

 

“If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.”

 

With love and yarn,

Abby G.

Extreme Yarn Stash-Busting! (aka I have too much yarn)

Hello everyone!

 

I have posted a few stash-buster patterns on the blog previously. I have a few that I will post to Instagram (@crueltyfreestitchery) since they don’t necessarily require patterns, just a metric crap ton of yarn.

 

I’ve purchased um…. upwards of 150-200 skeins of yarn over the past year or so. Not exactly sure since I purposefully omitted the purchase date from my stash spreadsheet haha. Plus I started the inventory way after I had accumulated 4 or 5 bins full and I would have no way to tell how old they are. Anywho. The recent huge clearance sale at Hobby Lobby was a blessing and a curse…. high profit margin, low storage space.

 

Currently (as of June 27th 2018) I have 447 full and/or partial skeins of yarn. Round it up to 450 as I’m certain there are some that were missed. Also not including yarn that I am using for personal projects (gifts, etc), probably 50-60. But I won’t be necessarily focused on those for what I’m talking about in this post.

 

I’ve been severely slacking in a lot of things, thinks to some personal stuff. Crochet is one of them. I got my ducks in a row to get the business started then they all scattered. Such is life. I make primarily blankets and scarves to sell on Etsy, maybe some day a craft fair. This project will be a huge step in the right direction. I’ve got a huge basket full of finished blankets that are waiting to be listed and sold on Etsy but alas I’ve only listed one…

 

So, about this project.

 

My wallet and bedroom/office/yarn warehouse are suffering, and my sanity is right there with it. It’s less than 6 months until Christmas and I have a LOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTT of work to do.

 

My plan is to use up at least 100 skeins of yarn by Thanksgiving. I know, that’s a ton. It’s about 2.5-3 storage bins worth. I need to focus on that and not buying any more, plus I need the bins freed up to store the yarn that’s in bags on the floor…. yikes. I refuse to buy a 13th bin. If I focus (ha) I can use about 2 skeins per day, maybe more if it’s a bulky yarn.

 

During that time I’ll only buy yarn if I get a custom order, and hopefully I won’t come across any clearance sales.

 

If you’re a nerd like me, you might enjoy these totals and we’ll see how much I can use up.

 

I have…

  • 5 Bernat Baby Blanket
  • 8 Big Twist Sincerely
  • 14 Big Twist Value
  • 53 Caron Simply Soft
  • 63 I Love This Yarn Chunky
  • 25 I Love This Yarn Cotton
  • 92 I Love This Yarn solids/variegated
  • 13 Knit Picks Brava Bulky
  • 7 Knit Picks Dishie
  • 43 Lion Brand Heartland
  • 7 Lion Brand Homespun
  • 23 Lion Brand Landscapes
  • 2 Peaches and Creme
  • 3 Premier Sweet Roll
  • 9 Red Heart Scrubby
  • 10 RHSS stripes (all my other RHSS was picked for the stash busting, I had at least 80-90 at one point)
  • 17 Sugar n Cream
  • 4 Yarn Bee Eternal Bliss (I have more for a personal project…  the skeins are bigger than my head)
  • 5 Yarn Bee Scrubology
  • 8 Yarn Bee Soft Secret
  • 27 Yarn Bee Sugarwheel
  • 6 Yarn Bee Sugarwheel Cotton
  • 3 Yarn Bee Urban Chic

 

Another purpose for this is to move towards using more cotton yarn. It makes up a very small portion of my collection. What stinks is that cotton is more expensive and comes in smaller quantities than acrylic, so it’s more tempting to just get acrylic. I also wish there were more options for plant based yarns than just worsted and DK cotton besides using boutiques. Sure people will pay a higher price for cotton over acrylic, but probably not over $100 for a scarf. I feel bad charging that much for a blanket! (But not too bad, because it’s hard work).

 

Leave a comment, let me know if you’ve tried stash-busting before and how it worked out! I’m saving for another apartment (I moved out, had to move back in, long story) so I need to recoup my finances, business or otherwise.

 

Extremely Easy Stash-Buster Crochet Pattern! (FREE!) Endless Granny Square

Stash-Buster Endless Granny | Cruelty-Free Stitchery

 

Hello hello, welcome to the second pattern in my stash-buster series!

If you haven’t seen the last one, check it out here!

 

I came up with this series after being pretty annoyed at myself for buying several dozen skeins of Red Heart Super Saver for a project that I couldn’t even do (let’s just say I don’t want to be sued for copyright infringement… no idea what I was thinking). So I took that and some Caron Simply Soft from another failed project and came up with 3 easy patterns! The last is coming soon!

 

If you know how to make a granny square, then you can make this pattern without much of my help.

All I did was start a granny square and that’s pretty much it.

You can change colors at the end of each row, at the end of 2 rows, or whenever you feel like it (which is what I did). Depending on how big your “stash-to-be-busted” is, you can make a baby blanket, a throw, or even a king size if you want. Mine turned out to be about a throw/lapghan size. Also depends how often you want to be weaving in ends… haha.

I had enough of a stash to continue until the thing covers my house, but I’ll show you what I did with the rest of it in the last pattern in the series!

 

If you need help with granny squares, I just so happen to have a YouTube video on it! And click here for help with changing colors!

 

 

 

Triangle Granny Square Scarf / Wrap – FREE crochet pattern

Hello there, hope you’re doing well!

Over the next few months I am planning a few new patterns that will help you use up some of your stash! “Stash-busters,” if you will.

I am overrun by Caron Simply Soft and Red Heart Super Saver and want to diversify my yarn stash, but I need to make some room before I can do so.

This Triangle Granny Square Scarf / Wrap can be completely customized to fit the type of yarn and colors you have. You can make it bigger, smaller, one solid color, stripes, sew it together to make an infinity scarf, let your imagination go wild with it!

 

I was originally planning to make it a triangle-shaped shawl but I liked this layout better. And I love how the texture worked out – it’s not entirely flat and looks almost ruffled!

 

 

Materials:

  • Any colors of worsted weight yarn, about the equivalent of 2 skeins’ worth. For this I used Caron Simply Soft.
  • Size J hook (6.00mm) or whichever size you prefer. My triangles measured about 5″ on each side.
  • Blocking board (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle
  • Smaller hook to weave in ends

Abbreviations:

  • ch = chain
  • sc = single crochet
  • sp = space
  • dc = double crochet
  • sl st = slip stitch

If you need help with any of these stitches, visit the “Learn to crochet” section at the top of my blog and I have videos on how to do each stitch, and also a demo on making granny squares. The video on how to attach squares may also be helpful.

 

Making the triangles:

They are worked in the round. If you know how to make a traditional granny square, it’s the same pattern except you just leave off one side. I opted to SC once between the clusters because it helps the piece to lay a little flatter (but normally I do not SC between the clusters).

Round 1: ch 4, sl st in 1st ch to form a loop. ch 2 (ch2 counts as 1 dc throughout pattern), dc 2 in center of loop. ch 2. dc 3 in loop, ch 2, dc 3 in loop, ch 2, join to 1st ch2 with a sl st. Sl st over to 1st ch sp, ch 2.

Round 2: dc 2 in same ch sp, ch 2, dc 3 in same ch sp, ch 1, dc 3 in next ch sp, ch 2, dc 3 in  same ch sp, ch 1, dc 3 in next ch sp, ch 2, dc 3 in same ch sp, ch 1, join with sl st to 1st ch 2. ch 2.

Round 3-4: repeat in the same manner as above. After round 4, ch 1 and fasten off, leaving a tail at least 12″ long for sewing together.

I usually don’t leave a tail, but now I think I am a believer because this dramatically reduces the amount of time you spend weaving in the ends, because you can just weave in the end with the yarn needle when you’re done sewing.

 

At this point, you can block the triangles, or just start sewing.

I arranged mine on the blocking boards and let them sit overnight just to help them keep their shape. I made the squares in a few batches because I didn’t have enough space on the boards for them all at once.

 

After that, lay out the squares until you’re happy with the colors.

 

Now comes the fun part. Sewing! (ok not really the fun part haha)

Pick up the first triangle (I keep wanting to call them squares), and thread your yarn needle with the tail.

Hold that triangle and the next one with wrong sides together and sew under each stitch, making sure to go over the end a few times to keep it from coming undone. Then slip the needle back along under the seam to hide the end, and snip! No ends to weave in, woohoo!

It’s smooth sailing from here on out. My only tip is to be careful when you’re sewing them together, make sure you don’t accidentally sew the new triangle to the wrong side and end up making a circle instead of a line… learn from my mistakes.

Then sew the strips together longways. You’ll probably have to stop in the middle and get more yarn on the needle and keep going. Make sure that the tips of the triangles line up together, and reinforce it a little between each one.

And that’s it!

 

Like I said, you can customize this with whatever colors or kinds of yarn you want, you can even use bulky yarn. Or, if you have more patience than I, you can use a thinner yarn or crochet thread for a more delicate design.

If you want to go even farther with the “stash-buster” thing and you have varying smaller lengths of yarn, you could make each round of the triangles a different color!

 

If you use this pattern, tag me in your pictures on Instagram @astreetcrochet or post on the ravelry pattern page!

 

You may sell any finished items from this pattern, but please do not re-produce it or  claim it as your own.

Super Cheap and Easy Black Bean Burger Recipe

I know what you’re thinking… This is a crochet site. Well I would hope that some of you will appreciate this super easy burger recipe, you know “cruelty-free”… AKA “vegan”… hint hint.

 

I was getting rather hangry earlier today and I wanted a burger and was fresh out of the processed frozen variety. I have seen a few video recipes of homemade black bean burgers, but I couldn’t be bothered to look them up. So I fudged my own!

This is one recipe that you won’t see pictures of. Frankly, it looks like canned cat food…. but it’s tasty I promise. If someone wants to try it and send me an artsy pic to use I’d appreciate it haha.

Here we go:

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 small/medium onion (white or yellow)
  • 1 medium carrot (or about 4 baby carrots) diced
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup of oats
  • 1/4 cup corn (optional)
  • Any spices you prefer (salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, etc. I didn’t use any for mine)

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Cook the onions in some vegan butter or oil until slightly brown, or you can caramelize them if you have more time.

In a food processor, combine everything except corn, process until well-combined and carrots are nearly invisible.

Mix in corn if using and process for just a few seconds, or just hand mix them in if you prefer.

You can even mash the beans by hand and just dice the carrots a bit smaller if you don’t have (or don’t want to dig out) a food processor. This would also combat the “cat food” appearance and texture.

Spread mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, in round patty shapes. My mixture made about 8 smaller patties, possibly 5 or 6 large.

Bake 5 mins, flip, bake another 5 mins.

 

They end up slightly mushy in the middle, so you can fry in a small amount of oil after baking if you prefer. Or maybe bake longer, I got hangry and impatient…

This is super delicious with some mayo mixed with BBQ sauce and dill pickles. I have “texture issues” so I would suggest some fresh onions or pickles or something on the burger to give it a crunch.

Prices, in USD, can vary depending on your area of the country, prices here in Maryland are pretty high:

Can of beans: $0.80

Carrot: <$0.05

Onion: $0.50

Oats: <$0.05

Corn: <$0.10

Total = <$1.50

Total time start to finish was about 20 minutes.

Leave a comment if you give it a try!

 

I Want to Be My Own Boss: 5 Things to Learn This Year

I have wanted for so long to be able to be my own boss. To set my own hours, travel freely, do what I want to do, but still pay the bills.

It seems like a lofty goal, but I know it is possible.

Given that I am working a comfortable day job (40 hours a week, top-notch health insurance, 401k, the works) my whole family thinks I’m crazy, I’m sure.

There are dozens of reasons I want to be self-employed, but now is not the time to divulge on that.

The problem now is that I moved ~400 miles away for this job that pays the bills and not much else. Recuperating from a move, adjusting to new tax rates, and unplanned expenses are not setting me up for success. (It costs $120 per month for my fiance and I just to park our cars here. Landlord left that bit out when I signed the lease).

There are several things that I will need to learn in order to make this happen, and maybe they’ll help you as well. Then I can look back on this at the end of the year and see how much I’ve learned.

 

1. How to do taxes for self-employment

I can tell you the ins-and-outs, ups-and-downs of credit, but I don’t know a darned thing about filing taxes. Thank goodness for the free edition of TurboTax. (I’m only 22, so I haven’t been filing my own taxes for very long, ok?). I do know that I should save my receipts for all business expenses and keep track of what I earn. Other than that… not a clue. I’m sure there are plenty of online resources to research on that, I know it’ll be a long time before I can hire an accountant.

2. Effective Budgeting

I’ve tried just about every budgeting software out there. I just can’t stick to it, but still manage to [barely] not overspend. I was considering the cash envelope system, but I feel it would be too much hassle, since everything is done electronically. Except my electric and parking bills…. *evil glare*

Next payday I’m going to try putting away my debit card and relying on a separate prepaid card for purchases. My bank has a prepaid card that I can log into the app and transfer money onto. The reason the cash system works so well is that you physically see the money leaving instead of just swiping a card, but with the prepaid card I would have to log into the app every time I make a purchase and transfer the money. Or at least only transfer the amount I have available to spend, so it will be impossible to overspend as it doesn’t allow over-drafting. This will also prevent another incident of my debit card being compromised…

I was just thinking the other day, 5 years ago it was safer to carry a debit/credit card than cash. Now I’m more likely to get my card electronically compromised than I would be to get mugged and have cash stolen. If anyone has never had their account “hacked” please let me know which bank you use, because I want to be sure it’s not just mine that gets hit!

I’m planning to document my experiences with paying off debt and saving on my YouTube channel Loving Minimalist.

I want to have an emergency fund saved up before I even think about leaving my current job. I should probably also figure out what happens to my 401k and life insurance….

3. Establishing a cleaning routine

While I dream of a clean, uncluttered apartment – it just isn’t happening. The only closet I have is a tiny coat closet, so the extra boxes I had crammed in the closets of my old apartment are stacked into about 7 different corners. If I haven’t used that stuff by now, I probably don’t need it. The only thing that is somewhat organized is my desk.

Once I get stuff put away/sold/tossed, I want to make a schedule of when and what to clean each day. If I’m going to be working from home, I surely don’t want the leaning tower of moving boxes looming over me.

This worked well when I was younger, we had a “chore chart”. Although, that one resulted in an allowance if I finished everything. I guess all I will get now is the satisfaction of a clean apartment. Hooray.

 

4. How to make better content, regularly

I’ve been at the YouTube and blogging thing for a few years. My forte has not been consistency. Aside from the idea that more posts = more views = more followers = more $, readers and subscribers trust someone more that devotes their time to producing quality content and knows what they’re talking about. Are you going to take advice from a channel with 200 subscribers and 50 videos on the subject, or a channel with a million subscribers and maybe 2 or 3 videos?

Just like starting a “real business,” content creators need to have a solid plan for what they’re producing. It is much better, in my experience, to have a list of video ideas and a schedule versus just making something up when it’s time to film.

Maybe you’re reading and not going to be a content creator (i.e. YouTuber or blogger). The idea is to have a plan and a schedule as to when this plan will be executed, no matter what you are producing.

There are a lot of factors that go into content creation (videos or blog posts). First, you need an idea. Then, the actual content (words). Pictures or demonstrations, charts, graphs, maps, the featured product or service, final editing, uploading, the description, thumbnail… it goes on and on. Not to mention, it is insanely beneficial to promote your new post.

This can sometimes be daunting. To combat this, I film, edit, and upload in batches. That way I don’t have to do all the videos start-to-finish, and it is more efficient, so I don’t have to keep moving around my work space.

 

5. Overcoming the anxiety of selling at craft fairs

What if they deny my application? What if I can’t make enough stock? What if they kick me out because I sell out too fast? What if I don’t sell anything at all? What if there’s someone at the fair that is selling similar items?

This is going to be a tough one, because I legitimately have anxiety. I’ve learned over the years that I just need to jump into things before I give myself a chance to worry and I’m perfectly fine.

I have a sizable amount of things made up, all of which are currently listed on my Etsy shop… so either I would have to remove those listings, or just make more on top of that. I think I would rather sell at fairs because packing and shipping is a pain, especially the larger items I’ve been making.

There is a farmers market around the corner. The catch is, they’re open on Saturdays from 8am to noon…. and I go to bed around 5am. Yay for night shift. Maybe that’ll be a project for later on. And I’ll have time to make up some stock in the meantime. Look at me, figuring stuff out as I’m writing about it.

 

I hope this was somewhat helpful. If not, at least I can look back on it like I mentioned earlier.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

With love and yarn,

Abby G.