Starting a Blog

In today’s world, any business, including a machine quilting business, needs a web presence – and starting a blog will do this for you.

Starting a blog is relatively easy – much easier than starting a website – and, in my opinion, easy to maintain and easy to post information and photos.

But starting a blog can be an overwhelming process. I have found a FREE e-book “How to Start a Blog.” And it really is FREE! You can download this e-book (pdf file) at

http://firstsiteguide.com/blogging-intro

I have looked at this book and it gives you good information to start your blogging journey. It is NOT a “how to” manual but more of a general overview of the process. The organization that is giving this information to you is a web hosting / blog starting company, but they are not “in your face” about this.

I haven’t used their services so I’m not endorsing them, but from what I have seen, I am impressed with what I am seeing.

I would recommend downloading this FREE e-book, looking at the information, learning from it, and then decide if you want to join the blogging world.

Here is a tip for you – search engines don’t search social media. If you only post/advertise on FaceBook, Google, Bing, etc., will not find you or your services. If you have a blog – even just a free blog – tag your posts with quilt names, quilting design names, pattern and quilting designer names, and anything that will identify what you are blogging about. Then when someone does an online search for that particular tag, your blog post will show up.

Example: Do a Google search using the phrase “cable wreath quilt design.” Click on images and scroll over the photos. Look at the bottom of each photo and most of the photos will have my personal blog address – cindyroth1.wordpress.com – the Longarm University website address – www.longarmuniversity.com – or my machine quilting website – www.cindy-roth.com on them. You can click on the photos, then click on the “Visit Page” button. My photos are showing up in this search because of the way I have “tagged” them.

When you have your blog up and running, let me know, I like to follow other machine quilting business blogs.

A Milestone

A Milestone
I have been a professional machine quilter for nearly twenty years and in all that time, I have never had this happen – until now. I made $100 per hour working on a quilt!

This is the first time I have made this much per hour on a quilt, and who knows, it may be the last time that “things” lined up for this to happen.

Here are the details – it was a Queen size quilt, so it was going to cost more than a few $$ to quilt anyway. After talking to my customer about several quilting designs, she saw another (customer) quilt hanging in my studio and said “I want that quilting.” I looked at the quilt, and enthusiastically said OK!

The quilting design was my free hand, all over swirls and hooks pattern – which was totally appropriate for this quilt. This all over swirls pattern is a really fast and quick pattern and I use it a fair amount on charity quilts. I knew that this was going to be quick quilting, but I didn’t know HOW quick it would be to complete.

Including putting the quilt on the machine, it took me 3 hours to quilt. So, at a quilting fee of $300, I made $100 an hour!

Quilting like this doesn’t happen all the time, so please forgive me if I may be bragging a bit.

I don’t have a multi-tiered pricing system. I have a “base” price of 3 – 4 cents per square inch, and then an “and up” price which as no limit. I have used this pricing system for many years with great success.

Using this system, for this particular quilt, the quilting fee was $300. Batting and binding was extra. I would have charged this much if I quilted a pantograph or some moderate custom quilting – and my customer agreed to this price.

I know that some of you may be thinking “if it was that simple of a quilting design, I should have charged less for it.” And yes, I did consider that, but only for a second.

Here are some thoughts on charging less for simple quilting.

When you charge less for simple quilting, I feel that you are devaluing your skills and time it has taken to LEARN those skills. I have been machine quilting for almost 20 years. I have 20 years of experience that, in a perfect world, I should be compensated for. My compensation in the real world is – learning how to quilt efficiently, having a few patterns/designs I can quilt quickly and knowing when to use these designs on an appropriate quilt.

If you continually use those quick quilting designs at a lower price, when your customer’s quilt really need custom quilting or detail work, they will probably balk or be unhappy with a higher price. You are training your customers to expect simple quilting! Imagine if you were quilting only two, maybe three designs on almost every quilt you quilt! BOOOORING!!!

I know, everyone has the “little old lady on a fixed income” customer. Yes, do the simple, less expensive quilting on her quilt. But remember, some of those “poor” old ladies may be in a better financial situation than you are – especially if you depend on your quilting income as your only source of income or as a significant supplement to your income.

In every business, there is something that is relatively easy and cheap to manufacture, do or create (wholesale cost), that is sold at an extremely high (retail) cost. And, we willingly pay those high costs! (What are the profit margins for a cup of brewed coffee in a restaurant? And how much do we willing pay for it?) Our quilting businesses are the same!

When the quilting goddess smiles on you and something great like this happens, enjoy the moment and don’t feel guilty.

What are your favorite quick-to-quilt patterns / designs? If it is a pantograph or digitized design, list the name and where you purchased it from.

What was the most per hour you have made on a customer quilt?

Post a Comment with your responses.

Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Happy Spring!

Enjoy the day with family and friends! Enjoy the warmth and sunshine of Spring!

Daffodils-6

Belated Happy New Year

I want to wish every one of you a Happy and Prosperous 2015! The holidays are over and things have (hopefully) calmed down in your life. You may be hunkered down under inches or feet of snow or listening to the rain on the roof during this winter time.

January was hectic and it has blasted past.  So many things happening at one time and now, I finally have a few moments to work on the blog. Actually, I have been working on this blog post in my brain for the last few weeks – now I finally get to see it in print!

With any business, the goal is to be prosperous and earn a few (or more than a few) $$, which is called “profit”. And, no, profit is NOT a bad word! Unfortunately, I know way too many machine quilters who are NOT making $$ and there is NO profit for them.

Since this is the (almost) beginning of a new year, let’s talk about the one thing many professional quilters don’t like to do and that is RAISE YOUR PRICES!

By raising your prices, you will bring in more $$ – which could mean a profit for you!

I would recommend reading, or re-reading, my blog posts about the Cost of Quilting – Part 1, and the Cost of Quilting – Part 2. (click on the highlighted text to view these posts)

Raising your prices is a fairly simple process – choose how much you want to raise them – then do it!

Let’s assume you decide you want to raise your prices a half a cent per square inch (.05 cpi) on all your levels of pricing.  Choose a date – I would recommend February 1 – and every new quilt that comes into your business gets the new price(s). This is easy, but how come it is so hard for some quilters to do this?

Let’s talk about some issues some professional quilters have about raising prices.

Many professional quilters think that their customers won’t “like” them if they raise their prices. You are running a business, not a popularity contest! Yes, I know, you have to keep your customers happy, but they have to understand that you ARE a business and that businesses, from time to time, raise their prices. Restaurants raise their prices, clothing stores raise their prices, quilt shops raise their prices, grocery stores raise their prices and on and on. Why not you?

Many professional quilters feel that they have to advertise their price changes in advance. That would be nice, but it is not necessary. I don’t advocate changing prices on quilts that are already in your possession waiting to be quilted, but new quilts coming into your quilting line up, those quilts can have higher prices on them. Most stores don’t say “We are going to raise our prices next week.” They just do it!

If you need to, blame your price changes on someone else. You can say, especially during this time of year when you have to get your “stuff” ready for taxes, “I have talked with my CPA / tax adviser and they say that I need to raise my prices.” You don’t need to elaborate any more than that. If a customer persists, you can always say “it’s way to complicated to get into right now.” In other words, mind your own business!

Many professional quilters feel that if they raise their prices they will loose customers. There is always this possibility, but in reality, you will probably NOT loose any customers. If you did loose a customer or two, don’t worry about it. They were probably not your best customers and they were the ones who brought you crummy quilts and were difficult to work with. Trust me, you don’t need them!

Here is my true story – Way back when, after quilting a few years, I decided to raise my prices. My prices were in the lower mid range in my area at that time. I was worried about losing customers, but raised my prices anyway. I did lose a few customers but my regular customers stayed with me and were supportive about the new prices. When I raised my prices, I began to get better pieced quilts and better customers who appreciated the work that I did for them.

Many professional quilters think that if they raise their prices they will become the most expensive quilter in their area and will loose business.  If you do become the most expensive quilter in your area, so what! You go girl! There are people(customers) who think that expensive means good! Many customers who you think may complain about your prices are actually bragging about their ability to pay your prices.

Customer “I just paid Jane Doe (quilter) over $500 (maybe more) to quilt my quilt.” Is this customer complaining about the price (this was a custom quilting job) or that she can pay it!”

Think about things in your own life. Have you every purchased something at an expensive store and (somewhat bragging) told your friends about it?

Speaking about being an “expensive” quilter in your area – where is it written that you MUST get all your business ONLY from your area? Think of ways to get business from other geographic areas. (I’ll write about this in the future. )

How about raising your prices without raising your prices? Let’s assume you have several levels of pricing – super simple all over patterns, free hand or pantos, at your lowest level, then two mid level prices, then (high) custom pricing.

Eliminate your lowest level of (super simple) pricing. You will still do that kind of work, but charge it at your next higher fee.  Yes, you can keep this level for the poor, elderly lady who is on a limited income, but I would be VERY selective of who I gave this price to. Think of combining the two mid level prices into one, higher price. This way, you HAVE raised your prices by not charging the lower fees.

What other ways can you bring income into your business?

If you don’t charge for thread, begin charging for thread. You will be amazed at how much you can make on thread charges. See my blog post about this by Clicking Here 

Learn how to put binding on the quilt and offer it as a service if you don’t do so already. Not all bindings have to be hand stitched. Learn how to use your home sewing machine to apply binding and you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is and how much $$ you can make doing this.

For information about an online class on how to apply binding with a home sewing machine Click Here

Carry some wide baking fabrics for your customers to purchase. Purchase the backing fabric at wholesale and sell it at retail prices. Yes, there is a little bit of investment in the fabric, but there is potential for more profit!

Specialize in a style of quilting. You can become the Feather Queen, the Sashiko Princess, the Template Goddess, etc. A specialized style of quilting makes your skills more valuable and you can charge more for ALL your quilting skills. If you are good at one thing, you MUST be good at everything! And of course you are!

I hope I have “kicked you in the butt” to raise your prices. YOU are a skilled crafts(wo)man! It has taken time to learn how to do what you do! Reflect this in your pricing and begin making a profit in 2015!

 

 

 

 

 

December Business

It’s December! Either you are in a panic or you have things totally under control. Personally, I feel like I am half way in between those two extremes – which is where most everyone is at this point.

In my “totally under control” moments, I have looked at my quilting schedule and I can quilt maybe two more customer quilts before Christmas. In order to tell my customers about these open quilting spaces, I put together a quick note and I’m sending it to selected customers.

I looked through my list of customers and their contact information. (To see my previous post about this Click Here) and chose about 10 customers to contact. They are fairly steady customers who live relatively close.

I am sending them a note through the mail which I have put into a pdf file that you can save and print out. Click on the highlighted text to download this file December Letter

You can see that I kept the note short and sweet – no discounts, no special offers – just that I can get their quilt done for them before Christmas ONLY if they call me ASAP.

I printed the notes on card stock and cut them in half. I will fold them in half and put a piece of tape on the bottom. They do need a First Class stamp, which I will get at the post office today.

If I have only one person respond, that would be great. If two respond, that would be wonderful. I am making about a $5 investment into this mailing, most of which is the cost of postage.

If you decide to do something like this, feel free to use my note as a guide. If you would like the Publisher file for this note, send me an email to longarmu@aol.com and I will send it to you as an email attachment. You can open the file and add your own information.

I know that this can be a very stressful time of year – take a deep breath or two and try to relax!

I will let you know if any of my customers respond.

Your thought and comments are welcomed.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!
Enjoy the day with family and friends.

Quilted Turkey

click on image for a larger view

Tedious Quilting?

I am working on a quilt that has tedious / boring quilting! The quilt (it is my own quilt, not a customer quilt)  is going to look beautiful when completed but until then, it is BORING to quilt! This happens every once in a while – it is just part of being a machine quilter.

Everyone has their own idea of what is boring or tedious to quilt. I personally think cross hatching is tedious and try to do as little as possible. You may love doing cross hatching, and that’s OK. Some pantographs and repetitive free hand designs are tedious / boring to quilt. Sometimes it may not be the quilting, but the QUILT that makes the project tedious. Maybe the colors are “ugly”, don’t go together well or it’s a piecing pattern that you detest!

What do you do when this happens? I have a smart phone with aps for radio stations, music and podcasts. I put my earphones in, plug them into the phone and get into my own little world.  If the quilt is large, I will number the rows so that I can see some progress in my quilting.

A quilting friend said that she keeps a dish of chocolate at the far end of her quilting machine. When she finishes a row of quilting she rewards herself with a piece of candy. (I like that idea!) If you don’t want candy as a reward, maybe a sip of iced tea or other (maybe adult?) beverage.

As I find myself working on some tedious quilting, I took a break and I’m writing this post. (Some may call this “stalling.”)

My question to you is – What do YOU do when faced with boring or tedious quilting? What do you do to make the job easier or at least not quite so boring? Post your answer in the “Leave Your Comments” section. If you have a story about a boring / tedious quilt, write about that.

I look forward to hearing about YOUR boring quilting suggestions!

 

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