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Competing with Hobbyists: Just Do You

jennifer cox

Jennifer Cox is one of the founders and serves as president of the National Network of Embroidery Professionals (NNEP), an organization that supports embroidery and apparel decoration professionals with programs and services designed to increase profitability and production.

Have you ever posted something you embroidered on social media because you were just tickled with how it came out? You are a little bit in love with it and want it to be seen and enjoyed. So, you post it, bopping along on those small bubbles of happiness.

And then bam, you feel like all your bubbles were popped with a huge pin because someone posted that they too could make this, and maybe they even said they would make it for less. To add salt and vinegar to the wound, it's someone you know. Ouch, with a side of ouch!

You know that you are an actual business, collecting and paying sales tax, using professional equipment and supplies, paying for business insurance, and earning an honest income with your embroidery services. You also know that your friend has a home embroidery machine and dabbles with it on her own time, without any of the costs or income expectations that a business owner would have.

What do you do? You have a few options.

  1. You can get upset about what the other person posted, but why are you giving them that level of control over your emotions? They might not even know they caused you any distress.
  2. You can challenge the other person, but what will that accomplish? Generally, it does not go well for you, the challenger. Pointing out that you are a business, and they are doing it as a hobby makes no difference to the people reading this conversation online. Getting into this conversation pulls you away from your main objective, which is earning income through the creation of custom logoed, monogrammed, and personalized goods.
  3. You can make your next item, and get back to the happy place of a job well done and the anticipation of how much enjoyment it will bring to that customer.

Even as tempting as it is to engage with people that respond to your posts about what they can do or what they would charge, just do you. Move forward, on to the next order, and the next customer. Keep your mind and focus wrapped around your goal of having a successful business that provides income and suits your life.

And when the next order percolates that little happy fizzy feeling, share that work too. Take heart that your work could be seen and appreciated by someone that is about to become your next favorite customer. You have zero ability to control what other people do and say. You could spend the time and effort to modify your social media settings so that only you can post, but then you are limiting your social media to manage someone else’s behavior.

Remember, trolls live under bridges. You have a choice. You can get down in the mud and deal with them, or you can stay on the bridge and keep moving along, doing your own thing.