Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Amy Singer, Founder and Editor of Knitty Magazine, located in Hamilton, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Knitty Magazine launched in September 2002: a high-quality knitting magazine full of patterns and articles when the only sources of knitting patterns online were scattered over blogs or through listservs. The magazine has been free for the last 20 years, and knitters all over the world use our patterns and learn from our articles.

Tell us about yourself

For 20 years, I was a proofreader and editor in advertising. I was good at it but reaching burnout having to read similar copies month after month for our financial clients. It was deathly dull. So I turned to what I loved working on most, which was editing, and what I loved in my spare time, which was knitting. I saw an increasing number of knitting patterns being published independently on designers' blogs, only really accessible via the Knitring (a bit of code you'd put on your blog that would link you to another blog with the same code).

Reader reception was rapturous. A free magazine that didn't suck was a surprise, and the internet was so new that all we got was praise and adoration. That encouragement was enough motivation for me to keep going.

Twenty years later, we have provided patterns, instruction, and inspiration to countless readers around the world. Knitty has helped launch the careers of many of the most popular handknitting designers. We continue to look for new talent, techniques, and ideas in knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, and other fiber arts.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I published the first issue in September 2002, free to readers and making no revenue, and I soon realized that this is what I wanted to do. My day job obliged me by laying off my entire department two months later. I soon transitioned to an industry-specific advertising model (knitting- and fiber-related ads only, rather than using an ad network), which carried us for about ten years. I later added google ads on our back issues, which was very lucrative for a few years, then dwindled to almost nothing.

With the financial crash of 2008, things got tighter each issue, and by 2015 Knitty needed a new funding model. I turned to Patreon, building the campaign over the summer, launching in September with our Deep Fall issue. Within the first month, we had secured enough funding to keep Knitty publishing and thriving, thanks to reader support. We are now supported by approximately 75% of our readers and the remainder by advertisers.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Asking readers for help through Patreon was terrifying to me. I have always been a creative first, and running a business wasn't ever in my plan. However, in order to be the editor of this magazine, I had to learn how to do all of the hard businessy stuff. Part of that was turning to the community Knitty had built and asking them directly for their help. Their enthusiastic response was a much-needed affirmation that we were still producing a magazine people wanted.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Keep your eye out for something that you'd want to see exist in the world. If no one is doing it already, or they're not doing it as well as you think you could, that's your niche.
  2. Surround yourself with great people and treat them the way you always wanted your bosses to treat you. Apologize quickly and sincerely when you screw up (and you will). Tell them how much they and their work are appreciated.
  3. Be careful with social media. As much as it can buoy you and help your business grow, it can also damage your mental health. Choose the channels you spend time building wisely, based on your own experience and observations. Sometimes it's better to focus on a channel where engagement is constructive than a channel with a bigger audience but more drama and conflict.

Where can people find you and your business?

Website: https://knitty.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/knitty
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/knittymag/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/knittymag


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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